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  1. Is it possible for the physycist to explain Ferenc Miskolczi’s theories and disprove them in a peer reviewed journal?

    [edit]

    [Response: They are nonsense and so it is unlikely that anyone will take the time. See Roy Spencer's discussion for probably the best rebuttal yet. Some others are listed here. Further discussion on this is OT. - gavin]

    Comment by I am not Ferenc Miskolczi — 13 Aug 2010 @ 9:28 AM

  2. “Infrared radiation is carried slowly aloft by air currents”

    It’s resting, probably on account of it being so shagged out after its long journey and pining for the sun.

    Comment by chek — 13 Aug 2010 @ 9:56 AM

  3. One thought — the figure above works for me and is of a kind often used, but it took me a while to figure out because it’s a graphical presentation of data, not a picture. I think it’s a kind used often that’s very hard for nonexperts to interpret.

    To the naive viewer it looks like a picture or map, not like a graph.

    It would be great if someone could do an actual map showing how these different (isobars? layers of constant temperature?) lie in the actual atmosphere, a slice from pole to pole — mapping it to pictures that show the shape of the Earth and atmosphere would help. It’d make a great movie. I know this is a lot of work and not useful for the scientists.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Aug 2010 @ 10:33 AM

  4. Rasmus:

    Could you add some comments with respect to the ‘conflict’ between the approximately -0.5 ºC ‘measured’ radio sonde temperatures for the tropical upper troposphere and those of the ‘red’ upper troposphere of the models – other than the fact that those ‘measurements’ are rather sparse?

    [Response: A quick response is: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/12/tropical-troposphere-trends/. -rasmus]

    Comment by Len Ornstein — 13 Aug 2010 @ 11:36 AM

  5. Rasmus – I’m fascinated by the large-scale convective issues that you touch on here. Could you or one of the other RC folks comment on a question I’ve been idly wondering about on this for a while now?

    The structure of Earth’s large-scale atmospheric circulation seems pretty stable – the 6 large-scale cells (Hadley, mid-latitude, polar on north and south sides), the Walker circulation over the large ocean basins, etc. This sort of organized convective motion is a common feature of this sort of fluid system with heat flowing against gravity – the Rayleigh-Benard cell in particular.

    But typically the structure of the flow itself changes as the temperature gradient and other physical aspects vary. So the question to me is: are there reasons for concern that Earth’s large-scale atmospheric circulation could be disrupted by climate change into an entirely new regime, with completely different circulation patterns? Is this something climate models have seen at all?

    [Response: Hi. These certainly are interesting questions. Some of the circulation patterns are involved in the meridional energy flow, such as the Hadley cell and the Ferrel cell. Many of these circulation patterns are thought to be driven by geographical features, such as the strong heating near the tropics nd over parts of the ocean basin, such as the Walker cell (see here). Some of these, I think, are robust features, But the Walker cell, which is also central to the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), may possibly be affected, and the question as to how ENSO will be affected by an enhanced GHE is still open I think. There are also other natural 'modes of variability' which may be affected by a climate change, for instance if the heat transport in the oceans are to change (e.g. the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation AMOC). One candidate related to sea surface temperatures in the north Atlantic is the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), but again, here are still some unknowns. -rasmus]

    Comment by Arthur Smith — 13 Aug 2010 @ 11:55 AM

  6. Good post. (FWIW, Figure 9.1 does work as a kind of map for me, since it’s organized with a height and a latitude axis–albeit the rectangular geometry is physically incongruent with the real-world space.)

    What I’d like to see, though, is a fuller caption which explains what the various panels represent. Given that we are told that panel f represents total forcings, I’m guessing that the others must be specific forcings; probably c is GHE, and I speculate that maybe d is ozone. But it would be nice to know without going off to look up the original caption.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Aug 2010 @ 11:56 AM

  7. (the “finger print”-misconception assumes that the models are perfect)

    What? They aren’t?

    Or a little more seriously, is “enhanced warming in the upper troposphere” not something we can rely on?

    Comment by NoPreview NoName — 13 Aug 2010 @ 12:01 PM

  8. First, I agree with Hank that the graphs are confusing.

    Second, a study just out says that the rate of CO2 increase seems to have plateaued in ’09.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE67C1IU20100813?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=GCA-GreenBusinessUK&rpc=401

    Can this be directly attributed to the economic downturn? Is it the result of some new dynamic in the troposphere? Or are such year-to-year fluctuations to random to connect to any particular cause?

    Finally, as Arctic sea ice coverage drops below 4 million k^ 2, what affect will a nearly or totally ice-free Arctic Ocean have on troposphere dynamics?

    Comment by wili — 13 Aug 2010 @ 12:03 PM

  9. “a calmer, more slow-moving type of energy”

    The grey literature seems to have segued from WWF reports to late night TV magnetic bracelet ads.

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 13 Aug 2010 @ 12:31 PM

  10. I think the expansion of the tropics should get a mention here. I’ve always found it amusing how denialists love to raise the upper tropospheric warming issue Len references in #4, but find the warming-induced movement of pretty much the whole atmosphere to be uninteresting.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 13 Aug 2010 @ 12:37 PM

  11. The figure leaves out part of the caption: “Zonal mean atmospheric temperature change from 1890 to 1999 (°C per century) as simulated by the PCM model from (a) solar forcing, (b) volcanoes, (c) well-mixed greenhouse gases, (d) tropospheric and stratospheric ozone changes, (e) direct sulphate aerosol forcing and (f) the sum of all forcings.”

    Without this explanation, I was unable to decode it at all. It might have been clearer if only panel f was shown.

    Comment by Didactylos — 13 Aug 2010 @ 12:39 PM

  12. Here’s the link to the page of the AR4 where the figure is found. http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch9s9-2-2.html

    Comment by msc — 13 Aug 2010 @ 12:47 PM

  13. Some key issues on water vapor and hydrology:

    1) Polewards expansion of both the subtropical dry zones and the jet stream.

    Could that have played a role in the intensity of the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010? Seems likely, and it also seems likely that this “once every 500 years event” will become a one-every-five years event under warming scenarios – just like the record flooding events seen recently.

    CNN, the BBC, and numerous other outlets that tried to blame the jet stream for crisis in Russia and Pakistan all neglected to mention this issue:

    Jet Streams Are Shifting And May Alter Paths Of Storms And Hurricanes, ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2008)

    Faster Atmospheric Warming In Subtropics Pushes Jet Streams Toward Poles ScienceDaily (May 26, 2006)

    CNN did fire their entire science team for covering starving polar bears in Alaska, so it’s no wonder that they’re trying to spin down any link to global warming, along with numerous other press outlets. Instead, they’re going to do another “in-depth” ClimateGate special.

    2) Regional and global shifts in aerosols and lower tropospheric water vapor. In thinking about water vapor, it helps to consider lower and upper tropospheric water vapor (and stratospheric water vapor, and ozone) separately. Here’s a paper on the topic worth examining:

    (2009) How declining aerosols and rising greenhouse gases forced rapid
    warming in Europe since the 1980s Rolf Philipona, Klaus Behrens, and Christian Ruckstuhl. pdf

    There’s been a 60% reduction in aerosol optical depth across Europe since 1986, and that appears to have lead to an increase in surface short-wave solar radiation (not due to changes in solar output!). That’s been a prediction of climate scientists for some time, that reducing aerosols would lead to warmer surface temperatures due to a reduced screening effect.

    The radiative forcing at the tropopause of all the long-lived, well mixed greenhouse gases increased from 1.7 Wm

    Comment by Ike Solem — 13 Aug 2010 @ 1:00 PM

  14. Some key issues on water vapor and hydrology:

    1) Polewards expansion of both the subtropical dry zones and the jet stream.

    Could that have played a role in the intensity of the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010? Seems likely, and it also seems likely that this “once every 500 years event” will become a one-every-five years event under warming scenarios – just like the record flooding events seen recently.

    CNN, the BBC, and numerous other outlets that tried to blame the jet stream for crisis in Russia and Pakistan all neglected to mention this issue:

    Jet Streams Are Shifting And May Alter Paths Of Storms And Hurricanes, ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2008)

    Faster Atmospheric Warming In Subtropics Pushes Jet Streams Toward Poles ScienceDaily (May 26, 2006)

    CNN did fire their entire science team for covering starving polar bears in Alaska, so it’s no wonder that they’re trying to spin down any link to global warming, along with numerous other press outlets. Instead, they’re going to do another “in-depth” ClimateGate special.

    2) Regional and global shifts in aerosols and lower tropospheric water vapor. In thinking about water vapor, it helps to consider lower and upper tropospheric water vapor (and stratospheric water vapor, and ozone) separately. Here’s a paper on the topic worth examining:

    (2009) How declining aerosols and rising greenhouse gases forced rapid
    warming in Europe since the 1980s Rolf Philipona, Klaus Behrens, and Christian Ruckstuhl. pdf

    There’s been a 60% reduction in aerosol optical depth across Europe since 1986, and that appears to have lead to an increase in surface short-wave solar radiation (not due to changes in solar output!). That’s been a prediction of climate scientists for some time, that reducing aerosols would lead to warmer surface temperatures due to a reduced screening effect. Here’s how that’s related to water vapor in the atmosphere, and ocean heat, and the melting cryosphere – first, consider terms and definitions:

    [1] Total absorbed radiation (TAR), the sum of SNR[shortwave net radiation] and LDR [longwave downward radiation], represents the total radiative energy available to maintain the Earth’s surface temperature and to sustain the turbulent (sensible and latent) heat fluxes in the atmosphere. The observed increase of TAR is the sum of the increase of SNR and LDR, and this radiation increase forced the observed temperature rise and increased the water vapour in the atmosphere.

    [2] LUR [longwave upward radiation] is negative in the radiation budget and is calculated using the Stefan-Boltzmann law and monthly mean temperature values measured at the individual radiation stations.

    [3] Total net radiation (TNR) finally is the sum of the surface absorbed and the surface emitted radiation fluxes, TAR plus LUR. TNR is positive and in the physical sense represents the excess of radiation energy that has not been used to heat the Earth’s surface, and instead is available for ground fluxes (usually very small) and primarily to sustain the sensible and latent heat fluxes, thereby closing the surface energy budget.

    Now, to water vapor:

    Absolute humidity Uabs on the other hand, which for monthly means is proportional to atmospheric column integrated water vapour (IWV) [Ruckstuhl et al., 2007] increased by 2.8% dec

    Comment by Ike Solem — 13 Aug 2010 @ 1:01 PM

  15. Some key issues on water vapor and hydrology:

    1) Polewards expansion of both the subtropical dry zones and the jet stream.

    Could that have played a role in the intensity of the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010? Seems likely, and it also seems likely that this “once every 500 years event” will become a one-every-five years event under warming scenarios – just like the record flooding events seen recently.

    CNN, the BBC, and numerous other outlets that tried to blame the jet stream for crisis in Russia and Pakistan all neglected to mention this issue:

    Jet Streams Are Shifting And May Alter Paths Of Storms And Hurricanes, ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2008)

    Faster Atmospheric Warming In Subtropics Pushes Jet Streams Toward Poles ScienceDaily (May 26, 2006)

    CNN did fire their entire science team for covering starving polar bears in Alaska, so it’s no wonder that they’re trying to spin down any link to global warming, along with numerous other press outlets. Instead, they’re going to do another “in-depth” ClimateGate special.

    2) Regional and global shifts in aerosols and lower tropospheric water vapor. In thinking about water vapor, it helps to consider lower and upper tropospheric water vapor (and stratospheric water vapor, and ozone) separately. Here’s a paper on the topic worth examining:

    (2009) How declining aerosols and rising greenhouse gases forced rapid
    warming in Europe since the 1980s Rolf Philipona, Klaus Behrens, and Christian Ruckstuhl. pdf

    There’s been a 60% reduction in aerosol optical depth across Europe since 1986, and that appears to have lead to an increase in surface short-wave solar radiation (not due to changes in solar output!). That’s been a prediction of climate scientists for some time, that reducing aerosols would lead to warmer surface temperatures due to a reduced screening effect. Here’s how that’s related to water vapor in the atmosphere, and ocean heat, and the melting cryosphere – first, consider terms and definitions:

    [1] Total absorbed radiation (TAR), the sum of SNR[shortwave net radiation] and LDR [longwave downward radiation], represents the total radiative energy available to maintain the Earth’s surface temperature and to sustain the turbulent (sensible and latent) heat fluxes in the atmosphere. The observed increase of TAR is the sum of the increase of SNR and LDR, and this radiation increase forced the observed temperature rise and increased the water vapour in the atmosphere.

    [2] LUR [longwave upward radiation] is negative in the radiation budget and is calculated using the Stefan-Boltzmann law and monthly mean temperature values measured at the individual radiation stations.

    [3] Total net radiation (TNR) finally is the sum of the surface absorbed and the surface emitted radiation fluxes, TAR plus LUR. TNR is positive and in the physical sense represents the excess of radiation energy that has not been used to heat the Earth’s surface, and instead is available for ground fluxes (usually very small) and primarily to sustain the sensible and latent heat fluxes, thereby closing the surface energy budget.

    Now, to water vapor:

    Absolute humidity Uabs on the other hand, which for monthly means is proportional to atmospheric column integrated water vapour (IWV) [Ruckstuhl et al., 2007] increased by 2.8%

    Some central conclusions of the study:

    Almost three quarters of the energy of all radiative forcings was used to increase the turbulent fluxes and hence water vapour in the atmosphere.

    Of the rapid temperature rise since the 1980s (blue) however, about two thirds are shown by our analysis to be likely forced by aerosol
    decline and related solar brightening that strongly reinforced anthropogenic greenhouse forcing.

    It’s something like moderately good news, in that the aerosol reduction & solar brightening are temporary in nature, and once adjusted to the new conditions, temperatures will continue to rise in Europe at a more modest rate of +0.2C per decade, similar to the global warming trend.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 13 Aug 2010 @ 1:02 PM

  16. Rasmus, good article. A lot of people have been trying to explain the ‘tropical hot spot’ physically while at the same time dispelling the myth that it’s a ‘unique signature of CO2.’ See e.g., Skeptical Science, Skeptical Science (again), number 3, Deltoid, and myself.

    As an aside, your point

    //”Higher temperatures near the surface also cause increased evaporation according to a physical law known as ‘the Clapeyron-Clausius equation‘. Evaporation requires energy so that heat, which otherwise would go to increase temperatures, is instead used to transform water to water vapour (phase change)…”//

    is a bit off-target and incomplete.

    In fact, in most (all?) GCM’s evaporation (and precipitation) goes up much less rapidly than Clausius-Clapeyron, while the water vapor mixing ratio scales evenly with the saturation vapor pressure. This is seen observationally and in models as a weakening of the zonal circulation (Walker) in the tropics, and to a lesser extent, in the meridional (Hadley) since the rate of exchange of water parcels between the boundary layer and free atmosphere goes down. This puts a different perspective on the commonly-cited notion that the ‘hydrologic cycle becomes more intense’ depending on what that actually means).

    Still further, it is conceivable that a colder climate could increase evaporation if wind speeds were to increase substantially, or this could also happen if boundary layer relative humidity were to decrease. Even further, evaporation is in effect limited by the solar heating (or it can somewhat exceed the solar heating term if there’s a inversion at the surface, with sensible heating providing the missing energy), so that at some point increasing CO2 can make the atmosphere warmer but not increase precipitation. The precipitation question is examined from either conserving energy in the troposphere (i.e. looking at the condensational heating term, with latent heating being balanced by radiative cooling) or at the surface (i.e. looking at the latent heating associated with evaporation). The TOA/tropopause forcing arguments used for global temperature hold little value for the hydrologic cycle. The tropospheric energy budget, for example, is why precipitation spreads in model projections are much smaller than the temperature spreads associated with unknown climate sensitivity, as the trop. energy budget is much less dependent on the shortwave scattering component which makes up the bulk of uncertainty with cloud feedback.

    [Response: You are right regarding evaporation and the C-C equation, which describes the saturated vapour pressure. Yet, if the relative humidity is approximately constant, then the C-C equation is quite central. There are, as you say, many factors affecting evaporation (winds, air moisture, cloudiness/temperature, etc), but the vertical energy flow from the surface to the emission levels are perhaps more constrained. Furthermore, increased winds and cloudiness also involve different forms of energy, and the energy budget must balance. The question of partitioning of energy between various forms (latent, kinetic, potential, thermal, chemical) is indeed interesting. So, yes, the picture is very complicated, and my approach was to see if its possible to boil some of it down to simple physical concepts and principles. -rasmus]

    Comment by Chris Colose — 13 Aug 2010 @ 1:05 PM

  17. Actually one amusing animation that tries to interpret the greenhouse effect in a visual manor is the PHET greenhouse effect simulator.
    It makes the photons look like falling snow!

    Or alternatively I guess it looks like a volcano is ejecting a load of hot ash:

    http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/greenhouse

    I have set up a simple (it avoids convection and other issues) greenhouse effect simulator myself which was created in Flash, it’s a work in progress and I hope I haven’t made any serious blunders with the science!??!
    It can be found here:

    http://warmcast.blogspot.com

    I think there is potential for this sort of educational tool.

    Comment by Warmcast — 13 Aug 2010 @ 1:10 PM

  18. Ike: sign error (made here at RC by others recently also)

    “a 60% reduction in aerosol optical depth” should read
    “a 60% reduction in aerosols” per the linked paper.

    Reduction in aerosols equals increased optical depth.

    You don’t need to mention ‘optical depth’ at all.
    Philipona et al. refers to a 60% reduction in aerosols.

    http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/sat_training/aerosol_opt_depth/index.html

    “AOD is a measure of atmospheric extinction through a vertical column of atmosphere as sensed by the satellite’s visible sensor. The higher the AOD value, the more aerosols are within a column; this translates to lower visibility within that column. AOD values < 0.2 represent low aerosol amounts (high visibility)."

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Aug 2010 @ 1:18 PM

  19. defining optical depth:
    http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/sat_training/aerosol_opt_depth/index.html
    (Is that what Philipona et al. measured? The abstract refers only to a drop in aerosols but not to how they get the number).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Aug 2010 @ 1:27 PM

  20. The reason why Figure 9.1 in IPCC AR4 is disconcerting is that the temperature anomaly in the upper tropical atmosphere bears the signature of increased moist convective activity, which means that the hydrological cycle probably gets perturbed by increased GHG forcings, hence affecting rainfall patterns.

    I don’t get that from Figure 9.1. The appropriate moist adiabat for convective neutrality in the tropics (whatever it is) also exhibits amplified warming in the upper troposphere. Couldn’t 9.1 be interpreted to mean that the modeled tropical convection is simply driving the atmosphere to a different, warmer moist adiabat?

    The key indicators for the hydrological cycle would seem to be changes in the rate of tropical atmosphere longwave cooling and changes in the tropical convective available potential energy (CAPE). More cooling would require more convection to maintain a given lapse rate; less CAPE would imply that more convection is having a bigger impact on the tropical temperature profile.

    Comment by John N-G — 13 Aug 2010 @ 1:33 PM

  21. wili #8:

    > a study just out says that the rate of CO2 increase seems to have plateaued in ‘09.

    Doesn’t look like it. And here.

    The original article is here: it says that worldwide emissions went down in 2009 — a slightly different thing. I suspect it might be a bookkeeping artefact.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 13 Aug 2010 @ 1:57 PM

  22. HR 18,

    No, the optical depth due to scattering increases with more aerosols and decreases with fewer aerosols. tau = k rho ds where k is the scattering coefficient, rho the density of the particles and ds the path length.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Aug 2010 @ 3:08 PM

  23. A few comments in hopes of adding some clarifying information. First, here is the legend for AR4 WG1, Figure 9.1:

    Figure 9.1. Zonal mean atmospheric temperature change from 1890 to 1999 (°C per century) as simulated by the PCM model from (a) solar forcing, (b) volcanoes, (c) wellmixed
    greenhouse gases, (d) tropospheric and stratospheric ozone changes, (e) direct sulphate aerosol forcing and (f) the sum of all forcings. Plot is from 1,000 hPa to 10 hPa
    (shown on left scale) and from 0 km to 30 km (shown on right). See Appendix 9.C for additional information. Based on Santer et al. (2003a).

    Note that solar and volcanic forcing warm troposphere and stratosphere, while greenhouse gas forcing warms the troposphere but cools the stratosphere. In the composite effect (f), the greenhouse gas forcing dominates due to its predominance in observed climate change over the past century.

    Regarding the hydrologic cycle, multiple factors operate, including important changes in atmospheric circulation patterns, as Chris Colose mentioned. In addition, there is probably a timing factor that affects the relationship between excess evaporation and excess precipitation. This will be subtle with a gradually increasing greenhouse forcing, but in a thought experiment, we might be able to see it at greater intensity. If we were to suddently introduce a large excess of CO2 into the atmosphere and then wait, what would happen? I would suggest the following. The atmosphere, because of increased infrared absorption and consequent delayed emission of radiation to space, would warm quickly according to the standard radiative transfer principles. As a result, it would become “drier” (i.e., relative humidity would decline) as well as warmer. Gradually, the warming effect would also affect the surface, but more slowly, particularly because of the inertia due to oceanic heat capacity. As the surface began warming into a drier atmosphere, evaporation would slowly increase, and drought-prone areas would become even more arid. Rainfall in the drier atmosphere would not increase in parallel fashion. However, with continued warming and eventual equilibrium, evaporation, at a now substantially increased rate, would be balanced by precipitation. The latter would also exceed the original rate, and as a consequence, regions vulnerable to excessive precipitation would see themselves even more drenched.

    Current observations are, I believe, consistent with these principles, in that as the climate has warmed, atmospheric water has increased, but continues to play “catch up” in that relative humidity has tended to decline slightly.

    Comment by Fred Moolten — 13 Aug 2010 @ 3:13 PM

  24. Thanks for the distinction, MV. If emissions did go down in 09 but we are having the hottest year on record so far, with record temps being set around the world, what will a return to increased emissions bring?

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/12/pakistani-city-tops-asian-heat-charts/

    Comment by wili — 13 Aug 2010 @ 3:14 PM

  25. Re my above comment (#23) – I should have stated that volcanic forcing predominantly warms the stratosphere, and has little effect – mainly a slight cooling – on the troposphere due to its ability to reduce the intensity of solar radiation reaching the troposphere and the surface.

    Comment by Fred Moolten — 13 Aug 2010 @ 3:27 PM

  26. Worldwide emissions went down in 2009 — a slightly different thing. I also suspect that it might be a bookkeeping artefact.

    Comment by Carnaporto — 13 Aug 2010 @ 3:34 PM

  27. One more comment on Figure 9.1 Deniers have often called attention to a comparison of solar warming (a) with greenhouse gas warming (c), claiming that the “tropospheric hot spot” is a fingerprint specifically of the greenhouse forcing, since (according to them) “the models clearly point that out”. What they fail to recognize is that solar forcing has been such a weak component of the total during the last century that the energy depicted in the solar diagram is very small on a relative basis. As a consequence, the entire tropospheric temperature change attributable to solar would be between 0 and 0.4 C, which is compatible with a very significant amplification of surface temperature in the upper troposphere (e.g., even a small warming there could be many times an even smaller warming at the surface).

    Comment by Fred Moolten — 13 Aug 2010 @ 4:02 PM

  28. Hank Roberts @ 18:

    “Optical depth” is a measure of opacity: higher optical depth means greater opacity (a larger fraction of radiation being scattered or absorbed, rather than passing through unaltered). [*]

    Or, to quote from the page you linked to:

    “The higher the AOD [aerosol optical depth] value, the more aerosols are within a column; this translates to lower visibility within that column. AOD values < 0.2 represent low aerosol amounts (high visibility). Over the Middle East, and especially over the Arabian Gulf, AOD values greater than 1.0 often occur and usually indicate dust, smoke or blowing sand events with greatly diminished visibility."

    [*] One could argue that this terminology is confusing — e.g., doesn't the phrase "large optical depth" seem to imply "seeing to a great depth" and thus greater clarity? — and I wouldn't necessarily disagree… but that's the way it's defined and used, so we're stuck with it. (Astrophysicists use it in exactly the same way.)

    Comment by Peter Erwin — 13 Aug 2010 @ 5:33 PM

  29. A couple issues:

    Higher temperatures generally do not lead to evaporation
    increases following the Clausius-Clapeyron relation. The surface
    energy balance must be considered, and it generally implies weaker
    increases in evaporation than considerations of the
    Clausius-Clapeyron relation alone would suggest (see, e.g., Boer,
    Clim. Dyn., 1993). In fact, in very warm climates with an atmosphere
    that is optically thick for infrared radiation, increases in GHG
    concentrations may not lead to global-mean evaporation (or
    precipitation) increases at all, although they can still increase
    surface temperatures. See our recent
    review paper
    for an example.

    The differences in the molecular weights of N2 and H2O matter but
    are generally not the crucial aspect that controls where moist
    convection occurs and how intense it is. A number of factors are
    important, including the temperature and moisture stratification of
    the atmosphere and the horizontal structure of the boundary layer.

    The temperature signature in the IPCC figure (enhanced
    upper-tropospheric warming) does not necessarily imply increased
    “convective activity” (if that refers to the intensity of convective
    mass fluxes or convective kinetic energy). It reflects reductions in
    lapse rates, which in the tropics reflect reductions in the
    moist-adiabatic lapse rate to which moist convection tends to restore
    atmospheric temperature profiles. (The control of the lapse rates in
    the extratropics is more complicated.) Convective mass fluxes can
    decrease in a warming climate, as pointed out by Betts (Clim. Change,
    1998) and Held and Soden (J. Climate, 2006); see the above
    review paper
    for further discussion.

    The Hadley circulation is not directly connected to changes in
    convective activity. Even in the deep tropics, air is sinking much of
    the time. The Hadley circulation is a residual of rising in convective
    towers and sinking in between them, averaged around a latitude circle
    (or over large regions at least). The Hadley circulation must also
    obey angular momentum balances, and it does so in a way that is not
    simple (eddy transport of angular momentum plays an important
    role). There is no simple connection between the thermodynamics of
    moist convection and the intensity of the Hadley circulation. (Again,
    see the above review paper for more discussion.)

    Comment by Tapio Schneider — 13 Aug 2010 @ 5:33 PM

  30. Warmcast says: 13 August 2010 at 1:10 PM

    I have set up a simple (it avoids convection and other issues) greenhouse effect simulator myself…

    I like the look of that. Very nice visual design!

    I wonder if you could borrow the physics system from the Colorado sim? Not to take away all your fun, but you could adapt the engine from that w/switches etc. made more pleasing to the eye, variable complexity visible, etc.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Aug 2010 @ 5:55 PM

  31. > optical depth
    My error, and apology to Ike. I had ‘optical depth’ backwards til a few seconds after I hit ‘enter’.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Aug 2010 @ 5:56 PM

  32. Thank you rasmus. I need to read entries like this when able.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 13 Aug 2010 @ 6:30 PM

  33. Off topic, but there are prior comments on this:

    “(Reuters) – Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2009 fell 1.3 percent to 31.3 billion tonnes in the first year-on-year decline in this decade, German renewable energy institute IWR said on Friday.”
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE67C1IU20100813

    I see no reason to doubt the correctness.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Aug 2010 @ 6:31 PM

  34. i agree that the greenhouse effect and the “enhanced” greenhouse effect, otherwise known as global warming, is such a wonderful collection of physics that it would be best animated, by many, in many different ways.

    if i were to start a project to animate the earth’s energy flows, adding in the hydrological and aerial features, i would focus most strongly on :-

    a. the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with matter

    most people have no concept of how EM radiation interacts with matter, but this is perhaps the most fascinating factor in the greenhouse effect. the balance of energy in and energy out, the energy “budget”. the fact that some EM reflects, some passes straight through, (at least through the atmospheric gases, at least on the way in) and some interferes with the molecules it meets, stopping the original EM in its tracks, and jiggling the matter around so it re-radiates, almost always in a different “colour”. more carbon dioxide in the lower atmosphere means more little “point sources” for more absorbed EM in the infrared part of the spectrum, (infrared that re-radiated from the earth’s surface after sunlight hit it and got absorbed); and since point sources radiate in a spherical pattern, that means more “back radiation” to earth, on balance…and this changes the “standing pattern” of energy flow in and out of the earth system, creating a time differential, so it starts to re-adjust…

    b. how the distribution of gases and water vapour, and pressures, humidities and temperatures change at various heights in the atmosphere, and at different latitudes.

    the equator is special, not just because we put a line on the globe, but because the forces on the air masses change 180 degrees there. the el nino circulation is so clearly right on the equator…and discussion of air mass cells and oscillations and cyclones, and monsoons and jet streams – all this really needs to be animated to make sense. static two dimensional pictures just won’t do.

    c. where energy accumulates and disperses – different forms of energy.

    people often confuse “infrared radiation” with “heat” in their minds, but it’s critical to separate the two concepts and show how each travels. showing how EM radiation, heat and air/water kinetic energy (in cells, circulations, currents, weather systems and convection columns and so on) move and how long they have to move before they reach some kind of equilibrium would go some way to visualising why it takes time for the earth system to respond to radiative forcing (commitment time lag). the changes in the levels and composition of the various layers of the atmosphere would be useful to show as well.

    d. a clever way to show how latent heat of/from evaporation is transported and deposited and under what conditions…phase change energy is important in the solid to liquid changes at the poles, too…

    it’s late. i’m not being coherent. words just don’t do this justice. the images are very shiny and move around in my mind, but it’s hard to describe…which is why it needs animating…

    Comment by jo abbess — 13 Aug 2010 @ 7:56 PM

  35. David B. Benson says: 13 August 2010 at 6:31 PM

    I see no reason to doubt the correctness.

    Which brings up the interesting topic of this article in Science, looking at the relative merits of verification of C02 emissions claims by satellite remote sensing versus terrestrial means: Top-Down Versus Bottom-Up

    The objective being to not end up in an verification deadlock a la nuclear weapons test bans. Possibly a promising tertiary delay tactic for parties interested in foot-dragging over C02 emissions. A movie we’ve seen before.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Aug 2010 @ 8:25 PM

  36. 26 Worldwide emissions largely affect the rate of increase in CO2 concentration, not the absolute concentration. It is the concentration that controls the size of the anthropogenic forcing, not the rate of emissions. Denialists try to conflate these in order to misinform the unwary.

    I don’t like the H2O is lighter than N2 explanation for the greater propensity towards convection of moist air. The primary contribution, is that moist air, once it has cooled to the dew point has a lower lapse rate than dry air. The lower lapse rate is accounted for by the change in latent energy as moisture condense to droplets or evaporates.

    Comment by Thomas — 13 Aug 2010 @ 8:51 PM

  37. Rasmus,

    Thanks for the nice post. Two small comments:

    (1) I agree with Tapio Schneider (# 29) that the change in evaporation with global warming does not follow C-C relation.

    (2)

    —————————————————————————————
    Thus, increased evaporation favours convection, which transports both energy – as sensible (higher temperature) and latent (vapour) heat – and moisture.
    —————————————————————————————

    People might imagine that the sensible heat flux increases with warmer climate based on your statement. It is not the case, however. The sensible heat flux decreases under a warmer climate, while the evaporation increase. Over global ocean, it is found the fractional decrease of the Bowen ratio follows C-C relation (1).

    (1) Lu, Jianhua, Ming Cai, 2009: Stabilization of the Atmospheric Boundary Layer and the Muted Global Hydrological Cycle Response to Global Warming. J. Hydrometeor, 10, 347-352.

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2008JHM1058.1

    Comment by Jianhua Lu — 13 Aug 2010 @ 9:41 PM

  38. Simple logic: In a 1-dimensional equilibrium climate, the net upward and downward fluxes must balance at each level. At the surface, the solar heating – net LW cooling = net radiative surface heating = convective cooling = sum of sensible and latent (evaporative) cooling. With warming (however caused), aside from cloud feedbacks, the water vapor feedback (as with GHG forcing from CO2, etc, but not solar forcing), the net LW cooling of the surface is reduced and at sufficiently warm temperatures will tend to approach zero. Beyond that point, increasing water vapor would decrease solar heating of the surface. So the total convective cooling would increase, reach a peak, and then maybe decrease a little. But the ratio of evaporative cooling to total convective cooling would tend to increase (see ‘Bowen ratio’). So the ‘strength’ of the water cycle would, with increasing surface temperature, continue to increase beyond the point where total convection from the surface peaks. Of course, warming from solar forcing (or reduced aerosols) would tend to increase the total convection even if the LW water vapor feedback is saturated at the surface (not the same as saturated at the tropopause or TOA). Also, increasing water vapor might increase the average height in the troposphere to which convection reaches even if the effect is saturated at the surface, depending…

    (Increasing temperature increases the difference in blackbody radiation over the same relative range of temperatures, and should tend to increase net LW cooling of the surface, while a decreased lapse rate would have the opposite effect. The shape of the CO2 band is such that, once saturated near the center over sufficiently small distances, increases in CO2 don’t have much affect on the net radiative energy transfer from one layer of air to the other so long as CO2 is the only absorbing and emitting agent – but increases in CO2 will reduce the LW cooling of the surface to space, the net LW cooling from the surface to the air, the net LW cooling of the atmosphere to space (except in the stratosphere), and in general, it will tend to reduce the net LW cooling from a warmer to cooler layer when at least one of those layers contains some other absorbing/emitting substance (surface, water vapor, clouds) or is space)

    (In the full 4-dimensional climate, in some places and times and weather conditions, there will be sensible heat transfer toward the surface; there can be latent heat transfer to the surface as well (frost/dew); some places will have evaporative surface cooling with sensible surface heating (cold dry air blowing over warm water or a warm moist surface). The global time average vertical fluxes still have to balance in equilibrium.)

    … The actual rate of mass flow would change with the change in convection but would also depend on how much heat can be transported for the same mass transport. A greater fraction of convective flux being in the form of latent heat would mean the same amount of motion with the same temperature distribution would tend to accomplish a greater convective heat flux. How would the temperature distribution affect this? The motion tends to pull the temperature profile towards a (temperature-dependent) moist adiabat (except below the cloud base of course; there it would be a dry adiabat) (horizontally larger-scale overturning driven and organized in part by differential horizontal heating can maintain a smaller lapse rate). But if it were precisely at this adiabat (and horizontally isothermal), then localized overturning would accomplish no net sensible heat transfer; it is the difference in temperature (at some pressure level) between upward and downward moving air that results in some vertical net sensible heat flux. So greater sensible heat flux (for the same amount of motion) would occur if the air becomes more unstable to convection in between periods of convection, or if the horizontal temperature gradient becomes larger… but that would occur if the amount of overturning is itself reduced or limited to … well, you get the idea (and if the thermally-direct overturning were reduced, the net differential radiative heating/cooling available to drive such motion would itself decrease because of the resulting temperature changes).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Aug 2010 @ 12:24 AM

  39. Re 16 Chris Colose, 29 Tapio Schneider

    Thank you.

    Regarding the zonal average cross section graphs of temperature changes – I’ve wondered what these would look like seasonally.

    Regarding a weakenning of the Hadley cells – is this specifically refering to the streamfunction between the center and edge of the cells? (with the same streamfunction, vertical velocities would be reduced by horizontal stretching and horizontal velocities would be reduced by vertical stretching).

    What does this look like seasonally? And with widenning of the Hadley cell extent, would the seasonal migration of the ITCZ also increase (and is that related to any changes in variability)? Would the ITCZ width at any one time (and longitude) (including just enough of a range of time and longitude to be able to define the ITCZ) tend to be the same fraction of the width of the whole cell (I’d guess it doesn’t)?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Aug 2010 @ 12:39 AM

  40. Re: Doug@30.

    Thanks for taking some time to have a look at the project and the positive feedback. I want to keep the project relatively simple so that it gets a few basic concepts over and then encourages people to investigate further.

    re: the visual design- I have a masters degree in electronic media design, a career in software development and a background in engineering. So I’m not to bad at graphics and coding.

    Comment by Warmcast — 14 Aug 2010 @ 3:27 AM

  41. #34 Jo Abess

    Good idea but I have a point or two to add. I’m sure you know all this Jo but some readers might not pick it up from your comment.

    I did not see much explicit reference to the warming of the troposphere which will need a discussion of the collisions between the CO2 and O2 or N2.

    I am not happy with

    almost always in a different “colour”.

    Comment by deconvoluter — 14 Aug 2010 @ 5:54 AM

  42. Does CO2 also have a cooling effect?

    Trying to understand the greenhouse effect I stumbled upon a question to which I am unable to find the answer:

    When a mixture of CO2 and other non GHGs is heated by any other source of energy but infrared, by the fact that CO2 transforms part of this energy in infrared radiation means that the respective mixture will cool faster then same mixture without CO2.

    Is this true? Where can I find more about this subject?
    Thank you!

    Comment by mircea — 14 Aug 2010 @ 8:17 AM

  43. To mircea (#42). Yes, CO2 can cool. CO2 emits radiation (a cooling effect) as a function of temperature and the emissivity of CO2, according to the Stefan-Boltzmann relationship, but absorbs radiation (a warming effect) as a function of exposure to infrared radiation. If heat in a mixture comes from a source in wavelengths not absorbable by CO2, CO2 will not contribute additional warmth, but will cool via emission of infrared radiation.

    To some extent, this occurs in the stratosphere, where much of the warmth is the result of the absorption of solar radiation by ozone (mainly UV). CO2 does not absorb UV, but at stratospheric temperatures, emission of radiation is primarily in the IR wavelengths, where CO2 is a good emitter. This contributes to stratospheric cooling resulting from increases in atmospheric CO2.

    Comment by Fred Moolten — 14 Aug 2010 @ 10:06 AM

  44. How about a preview function instead of a spam filter?

    Comment by Ike Solem — 14 Aug 2010 @ 10:36 AM

  45. To Patrick ( #39):

    The seasonal patterns (vertical-meridional profiles) of zonal averaged temperature change, simulated by GFDL CM2.0 is in Figure 2 of the following link:

    http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/2009/2009GL040133.shtml

    Hope it help.

    Comment by Jianhua Lu — 14 Aug 2010 @ 4:19 PM

  46. @deconvoluter
    #41

    i know, i know, collections of matter emit electromagnetic radiation in a range of wavelengths-frequencies, but to our eyes, which can detect a narrow range, there is often one dominant colour. grass often looks green. soil often looks reddy-brown. when i want to try to describe what happens when sunlight bounces off things, or gets absorbed then re-emitted, i use the term “colour”, because it is commonly understood. it indicates a narrow range of light wavelengths-frequencies, without trying to discuss the wave-particle duality-nature of matter and electromagnetic radiation, or the “structure” of atoms and molecules, which allows them to interact with light, or in fact using the terms “wavelength” or “frequency”. we can detect light with our human eyes down to just above infrared and up to just under ultraviolet, and we naturally assign names to various parts of that spectrum segment – colours. so it seems natural to use that word to describe wavelengths-frequencies outside our detection range, too. what i find really interesting is that we can pick up colours closely related to strong heat emissions in the infrared – probably as a safety feature. but why can we see higher energy light. why do we detect the colours blue and violet ? what do we need that for ? some rocks and mineral formations emit in blue, and so do some nasty poisonous microorganisms, so seeing in blue can be practical. but why ? is detecting higher energy light easier for biological chemistry ? that still doesn’t explain it. to be able to see in blue helps us detect a lot of water, but more interestingly, it helps us see the atmosphere as the blues scatter as the sunlight passes through. does seeing the atmosphere mean we feel more secure ? does it help us understand that earth stops somewhere, and something else starts ? anyway, back to my use of the word “colour”. carbon dioxide absorbs in several fairly tightly defined ranges of wavelengths-frequencies. it will re-emit in a range according to the rules i can’t recall, but here’s a nice animation :-
    http://www.rkm.com.au/ANIMATIONS/carbon-dioxide-global-warming.html
    since the electromagnetic radiation absorbed and re-emitted by carbon dioxide are in fairly closely defined ranges, i think it’s fair to use the word “colour”.

    as for carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas and oxygen gas and the collisions you mention – the concentration by volume of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is very small – the most significant effects in the bottom layer of the atmosphere (troposphere) will surely be the heat trapping effect of increased carbon dioxide combined with the pressure-height changes of concentrations of carbon dioxide due to the warming effect. the collision rates between CO2, N2 and O2 at any one particular height would be somewhat increased by the warming, but somewhat decreased by the expansion of the gas collection due to warming, surely ? as far as i understand it, the concentration, accumulation and depletion of carbon dioxide (and the other greenhouse gases) at different levels of the atmosphere is the key, as this determines the height at which net emissions of electromagnetic radiation to space occur, and the temperature gradients (rising in the troposphere and falling in the stratosphere over time). remind me if i’ve forgotten something or not understood your point.

    Comment by jo abbess — 14 Aug 2010 @ 4:29 PM

  47. jo @46

    Think about evolution etc. jo abbess.
    The visible range shoots down through the atmosphere and hits objects, bouncing off them.
    If life evolves to utilise the visible range, it can determine where objects are spacially, like radar is used to detect objects by bouncing electromagnetic radiation off them.
    Visible light can also give other information as you have said.
    However in the infra-red range you can’t obtain as much info about an object because there isn’t much coming directly from the Sun through the atmosphere. IR is a secondary source of info so would be less useful.

    In the evolutionary process, creatures using the visible range would be at a distinct advantage hence over a very long time, you end up with a lot of species that use the visible range for ‘seeing’.

    The processes are just chance and elimination, survival of the fittest.
    Species that live in other environments, eg caves evolve differently.

    Comment by Warmcast — 14 Aug 2010 @ 5:04 PM

  48. > why do we detect the colours blue and violet ? what do we need that for ?

    Ask any photographer who’s done daytime or moonlight photography.

    If you’re insensitive to blue, shadows are pitch black, as they’re only illuminated by blue skylight, and the moon is invisible, since its light is blue (the color of the daytime sky, once its light comes through the atmosphere). And moonlight turns out to be useful for all sorts of things, including timing.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Aug 2010 @ 6:09 PM

  49. @WarmCast
    #47

    Thanks for the context. Interesting detail : some creatures see more infrared or ultraviolet than we can – also part of the sunlight.

    @HankRoberts
    48

    Aha ! Thank you. Excellent insight. We are truly 24 hour creatures. Another aside – have you ever looked into this : that by careful observation of the Moon through its phases, and through logical reasoning, it is entirely possible to figure out the configuration of the Solar System without the aid of sextant or plumbline ?

    @Others

    By the way, nobody has picked me up on the use of the phrase “the heat trapping effect of increased carbon dioxide”. Of course, Carbon Dioxide doesn’t trap heat – it actually “traps” infrared radiation by back-radiating it to the earth. The infrared radiation hangs around longer than it would have done, some being absorbed by matter, causing heating, which causes higher re-emission (the blackbody spectrum of the whole Earth’s emissions moves slightly to a higher energy-temperature profile, in order to balance out the radiation budget of the Earth).

    Can anyone point me to the best places to read about (since the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report of 2007) :-

    a. The rising tropopause.

    b. The differential in the atmospheric layer heights between tropical and mid-latitude (North Hemispheric) regions ?

    c. Parallel analysis of similar heating profiles in different heights of the troposphere.

    d. Parallel analysis of heating in the troposphere and cooling in the stratosphere.

    e. Evidence of changes in the height-temperature profiles in any layer of the atmosphere.

    I understand there are some disputes in this field, and I want to be able to differentiate proper Scientific discussion from sceptic-denier confabulation and dissembling and obfuscation.

    Comment by jo abbess — 14 Aug 2010 @ 7:15 PM

  50. @HankRoberts
    #48

    This is interesting on moonlight in general :-

    http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2008/01/is-moonlight-blue.html

    Since blue light gets scattered as sunlight comes through the atmosphere (making the sky appear blue), surely blue light from the moonlight also be scattered ? An interesting question.

    Comment by jo abbess — 14 Aug 2010 @ 7:25 PM

  51. I know its a bit OT, but its interesting that there has been no discussion on the classical old world indicators:- the states of the North West and North East Passages.

    Cryosphere (accepting its rough resolution) suggests both passages are either open or soon will be.
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/NEWIMAGES/arctic.seaice.color.000.png

    Its an interesting indicator of our attitudes if these events have now become so commonplace as to be unworthy of note by the scientific community!

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 14 Aug 2010 @ 7:47 PM

  52. Re 45 Jianhua Lu – Thank You (PS surprised to find the reason for winter amplification of warming; had thought/read that the heat capacity of the water allowed greater summer heat build up with less sea ice, with greater impact on temperature in winter as more heat must be released before ice can form and the surface temperature can cool much below freezing.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 14 Aug 2010 @ 10:05 PM

  53. Nigel Williams says:
    14 August 2010 at 7:47 PM

    “I know its a bit OT, but its interesting that there has been no discussion on the classical old world indicators:- the states of the North West and North East Passages.”

    The North-East passage has been a regular shipping route for Russian shipping for decades. It is not regarded as a closed channel by any means.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 15 Aug 2010 @ 1:02 AM

  54. I’d like to second Nigel’s comment. The thread on the Arctic seems to have gone dead, but I and many others watch what is happening there almost every day and would like to hear what the professionals are thinking about he situation.

    By the way, jo, I got what you meant right away by different ‘colors’ and I found it an interesting concept. Do the different wavelengths CO2 emits all fall into a spectrum where they can get reabsorbed (probably the wrong word) by CO2 molecules again?

    Comment by wili — 15 Aug 2010 @ 1:57 AM

  55. Appendix 9.C is not found at that IPCC web site that shows the graphs. How closely are we supposed to look at those graphs? I mean, graph a shows a little red at the Arctic Ocean, I guess because of ice having melted or because of soot particles. Graph c shows a lot of red in the low latitude I think it’s the troposphere. C is more important in the composite. Figure 9.2 analyzes heating from fossil fuel black carbon and organic matter.
    Are we supposed to examine the shapes carefully or just look at the overall picture? Thanks to the other posters as well as to Rasmus.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 15 Aug 2010 @ 2:38 AM

  56. re jo@49

    You’re right about IR and ultraviolet.
    I was wondering whether over time creatures that had evolved to use the visible range resulted in brains developing differently.

    To be honest we are only discussing this because we have one biased perspective (we use the visual range) which through a lot of events that happened over millions of years has resulted in us being here. I wonder if there are any studies that look at the advantages/disadvantages of being able to ‘see’ different bandwidths in the context of environment and evolution?

    Another thing to consider is the range of energies/frequencies involved.
    It is unlikely that the ability to see would evolve at energies/frequencies that are to high or to low. If we could see high energy electromagnetic radiation we would be bathed in particles that would damage our material structure. If the energies/frequencies were to low, then they wouldn’t interact much with the materials around us.

    So to high, and we would be damaged, to low and we wouldn’t obtain much info about the world around us.

    Comment by Warmcast — 15 Aug 2010 @ 4:49 AM

  57. Hank, I think you have some misperceptions about colors and vision. Both sunlight and moonlight have roughly the same spectrum. Moonlight is not blue, we only percieve it to be so. Mainly at low light levels we see in black and white, the retina has rods and cones. The cones have three different color reception cells, the rods are more monochromatic. At low light levels we primarily see with the rods. So nighttime we see mostly black and white with some hints of color.

    The relected/refracted skylight contains all colors, although the shorter wavelengths are more susceptible to scattering. In the old days of photography, black and white film plus color filters were used a lot. Using a red filter, the sky, and shadows are relatively darker, but not completely black.

    I suspect the reason infrared vision is rare, is because it is hard to build good receptors. Visible light photons have energies near 1EV, which is roughly what chemical reactions require. So it is easier for the absorption of a photon to create a signal. Adding IR would be really useful. Pit vipers can detect thermal radiation, but the angular resolution is very poor. And if you think about the camera products available on the market, visual and near infrared cameras are very cheap -some for maybe $110. Thermal infrared cameras start at roughly $4000.

    Comment by Thomas — 15 Aug 2010 @ 8:50 AM

  58. Re #46 and #41

    Clarification.

    My comment was not about use of the word colour.It is possible to defend your phrase as being strictly true (the emitted one is not the same photon) but if it had been replaced by its opposite i.e. ‘almost always in the same colour’ it would be less easily misunderstood.

    I was concerned that your phrase might reinforce the common error that CO2 emits like a black body. Instead you could add that good absorbers are good emitters at the same wavelength as emphasised by the older Angstrom,Rayleigh (for sound) and Kirchoff.

    As for the other point, you can omit CO2-O2 ,CO2-N2 collisions in an elementary account but not without a loss of accuracy and not satisfactorily if you are including the warming of the troposphere i.e. the O2 and N2. Also your account describes stimulated emission by EM. That is a mechanism, is it the dominant one?

    Comment by deconvoluter — 15 Aug 2010 @ 9:50 AM

  59. Re 54 wili – yes; and in particular, at LTE (which is a good approximation for the vast majority of the atmosphere and Earth), at a given frequency (and whereever important, polarization), a substance can emit (relative to the Planck function) to the same extent that it can absorb (a fraction of incident radiation).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 15 Aug 2010 @ 12:00 PM

  60. Congrats Gavin on the CNN show. Highlight of the night
    Fareed “Mr. Michaels, is your research funded by oil companies?”

    Michaels-Not much of it

    Fareed “Mr. Michaels, how much of your research is funded by oil companies?”

    Michaels-I don’t know, 40%

    Comment by Robert — 15 Aug 2010 @ 12:25 PM

  61. Re #57 (OT, but I shall not comment on this again)

    the rods are more monochromatic

    My italics. Why more? Wavelength information requires two or more weighted averages over the spectrum. A single type of receptor provides only one such average which is sufficient to estimate the luminance and nothing else. Think of TV or photography.

    But Edwin Land once reported an experiment in dim light in which various hues were perceived. I think he was trying to demonstrate a novel kind of two colour vision using rods and the most sensitive type of cone. This was not to be confused with his more famous two colour projections.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 15 Aug 2010 @ 12:26 PM

  62. Re 60 Robert – saw it too, good show; interesting that Fareed was the only one who used the word apocalypse, and it was only in the introduction and stated as a question, until PJM said that everytime we use the word and it doesn’t happen (when was that?) we cheapen the issue… Funny how PJM didn’t try anything regarding H2O being dominant, AGW is good, etc… funny how people at CATO don’t seem to understand economics (my understanding of PJM summed up: we shouldn’t increase the price of fossil fuels to encourage development and use of alternatives/efficiency starting now, so that we have enough resources to be able to get off of fossil fuels when the price does increase)

    Re color vision – a lot of animals besides mammals have tetrachromatic vision; many mammals only have two different cones. Trichromatic vision helps identify some types of food. I’ve heard that there are two different types of red cones in humans and some have both – does this mean they have a slight amount of tetrachromatic vision? IR vision could allow organisms to see humidity.

    End OT for me.

    —–

    On circulation patterns: This may be a subtle point relative to the other changes, but changing the concentration of greenhouse gases could alter the time scale of thermal damping of various fluid mechanical waves ( (intertio-)gravity, Rossby-gravity, Kelvin, Rossby). In the stratosphere, CO2 doesn’t have much spectral overlap with anything else, so over spatial scales long enough for saturation near the center of the band, due to the shape of the band, increasing CO2 wouldn’t have much effect. However, larger-vertical wavenumber waves might be damped more effectively by increasing CO2, and increasing H2O should affect the damping of all waves. So would the thermally-indirect circulation of the stratosphere be affected by this, perhaps being weaker at higher levels because of more rapid attenuation of waves from below? Of course, the quasi-stationary Rossby wave absorbtion in the stratosphere occurs at least in part by nonlinear wave-breaking and I don’t see an obvious way that LW opacity would directly affect that. However, synoptic-scale Rossby waves penetrate up from the tropopause as evanescent waves; whatever wave activity is not absorbed presumably reflects back into the troposphere (I don’t know a lot about how the stratosphere affects baroclinic wave lifecycles except for an as-of yet vague understanding of cyclonic-vs-anticyclonic wave breaking (because I set the reading material aside for awhile, will get back to it) but anyway…); LW opacity might affect the absorption of synoptic-scale wave activity in the stratosphere, though perhaps not much from CO2 but more from H2O feedback ?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 15 Aug 2010 @ 1:44 PM

  63. Clarification: IR vision could allow organisms to see humidity.
    intended as statement of hypthetical possibility

    ——

    Of course, for sufficiently small vertical wavenumber and sufficiently large LW optical thickness and sufficient absorption band shapes, an increase in concentration of greenhouse agents could actually slow the rate of radiative thermal damping.

    Meanwhile, cooling (such as in the stratosphere) would slow the radiative thermal damping (becauses of the nonlinearity of the Planck function with respect to temperature) and warming would do the opposite.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 15 Aug 2010 @ 1:55 PM

  64. 61, Geoff Wexler,

    Visit these two paragraphs at wikipedia, and if necessary the links there to rods and cones.

    Basically, the human eye contains two mechanisms which work in parallel, cones which differentiate frequency as you describe (3 frequencies, in fact) to establish color, and rods which are not used in evaluating color, but rather are designed to more effectively provide monochromatic images in low light situations, and areas such as peripheral vision where color and detail are not important so a more economical physiology is of value.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 15 Aug 2010 @ 2:12 PM

  65. The large number of posts attempting to clarify different aspects of global warming is valuable and I hope that somebody has the time and resources to take them on board to improve the overall description and explanation of the phenomenon.

    But the very existence of this large number points to the likely impossibility of arriving at an explanation that is comprehensible and usable by an intelligent, reasonably well-educated, open-minded non-expert, let alone people who don’t fulfill all these criteria. I doubt that there are many climatologists who can come out with the observed outcomes from mental calculations alone.

    The basic problem is that there are just too many individual elements (interactions) to be considered to be confident of their combined effect from contemplation alone, no matter how well understood each element is. Many of the posts provide clarification of one or a few of these elements, but ultimately we must rely on computer simulations that iterate the interactions to arrive at the observable result- there is a net energy imbalance that is heating the planet.

    I think that the afore-mentioned open-minded person would be comfortable with expert assertions regarding the net outcome, provided that he/she can get a good explanation of each element from the experts when they ask. Its the same way that we gain confidence in any professional- we observe the overall outcome, but quiz the professional on the particulars to test their competence and confidence.

    As to people who don’t pass the open-mindedness test- no amount of reason will work- it will just antagonise them further. The best we can hope for is to treat them like the “laggards” on any knowledge diffusion curve (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations)- they are valuable in that they constantly put the experts to the test, but ultimately they are kept in check by pressure from the “early and late majority” groups, not the “innovators” and “early adopters”- ie the “experts” and “professionals”.

    So RC participants- keep working on your explanations and make them publically available- but focus your “selling” efforts on the “early majority” people and let the inexorable forces of the knowledge diffusion curve take care of the rest. Otherwise you’ll be driven mad by people who are not amenable to being convinced by you- you are poles apart.

    Comment by John Barker — 15 Aug 2010 @ 5:47 PM

  66. OT:
    We’ve had a recent paper (i don’t have the ref, but I bet most here have heard about it) about the startlingly large reduction in observed ocean chlorophyll. Could this feedback into climate change? IIRC the chemical DMSO is a very important condensation nucleation agent, and it comes primarily from phytoplankton. So might be bet setting off a potentially dangerous, but so far un-modeled feedback?

    Comment by Omega Centauri — 15 Aug 2010 @ 8:01 PM

  67. Hello just wondering if the overall windspeed of the jetstream has increased with the extension of the cells. Also since this is an extremely warm year does that effect the amplitude of longwave pattern withe deeper troughs and stronger ridges.

    Comment by Ani — 15 Aug 2010 @ 9:16 PM

  68. 65 (John Barker),

    I disagree.

    While the details are wondrously complex and entertaining hobbies for amateurs, and challenging and deathly important real work for professionals, it’s really not that complicated.

    1) GHGs hinder the escape of energy (through IR) from the planet
    2) We are introducing too much CO2, so the planet is heating as a result
    3) The temperature change causes positive (mostly) and negative feedbacks
    4) The planet heats further
    5) The climate changes in complex ways
    6) The world we know (as in our own localities, perceptions, and life style influences) changes

    Statements 1 and 2 are incontrovertible. Statements 3 and 4 are supported by multiple lines of evidence, and while one can try to nit pick any of them individually (as deniers do), the body of evidence is solid. Statements 5 and 6 proceed inevitably from 4.

    This is only complex because certain personalities and entities conspire to confuse the issue by casting doubt with singular statements of wishful or purposely wrong thinking (“The expected warming isn’t happening”, “The warming is real but is caused by land use”, “The GHG effect isn’t real”, “Clouds will provide a negative feedback before the warming gets dangerous”, etc., etc.).

    We can argue about the obfuscations, and thus concentrate on intricate details, but the facts behind these statements are all really pretty straightforward. The logic and science behind statements 1 through 3 are really not that complex. They only become complex when a contrarian tries to introduce a confusing argument, which then requires more detailed explanation, which only leads to the introduction of more confusing arguments.

    I know I’m saying this after two RC posts explicitly trying to produce simple explanations because of “comprehension issues,” but any perceived failure is in the explanations, not the facts. The facts are only complicated because one side of the debate would like it to seem that way, and works to produce the necessary confusion.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 15 Aug 2010 @ 9:31 PM

  69. 68 (Sphaerica)

    I don’t think that we are actually in disagreement. I’ve been lecturing in solar energy for almost 40 years and I’ve found that most people accept the notion of the “greenhouse effect” in greenhouses, houses, solar ovens and cars, due to the different transmissivity of glass in the visual and IR bands (noting of course that most real greenhouses are made of plastic and don’t actually display the greenhouse effect). They can accept my explanations because they directly relate to their own experiences (although most people think that the hot interior is mainly due to the car’s colour, not the large windows)and the physical and visual obviousness of the glass also provides credibility to my assertions.

    However, these are rather one-dimensional examples. It is a different matter when I point out that actually predicting the thermal performance of a building (ie its temperature vs time over days and months)requires lots of factors to be considered (R-values of walls, ceilings, floors,thermal mass, air infiltration, distribution via convection etc etc). These factors add to, subtract from and delay thermal performance. Although rules of thumb methods can get good ball-park performances for houses, computer simulations, such as TRNSYS are required to get accurate outcomes. We say that solar housing design is simple, but its subtle- each element is fairly easy to explain, but their combination can be difficult and produce surprising effects.

    The point that I was trying to make is that AGW is like trying to make an accurate prediction of a building’s thermal performance. But in this case we are dealing with a very large building (planet Earth), the “glass” is an invisible gas and the net changes are very small- about 1-2 degrees over a century. The AGW nay-sayers can therefore plausibly argue that good old planet Earth can absorb and buffer such apparently minute changes.

    In the same way that we can explain the basic physics of collection, storage, distribution and control of energy in a building, we can do the same for AGW. And we can come up with rule-of-thumb predictions and explanations for both. But we have to rely on computers for accuracy in both cases. The fact that we can empirically validate a building’s thermal performance gives me confidence in TRNSYS and by extension, I am confident that the climatologists programs are pretty good.

    But if I were a knowledge-diffusion “laggard”, or even worse, a knowledge-diffusion “luddite” (as I call the far-right-of-graph tailenders in my lectures on innovation dynamics), I only have to say that I don’t trust computers (because they are perverting our kids),and the credibility of the argument counts for nought.

    Thus, I say, ignore the “laggards” and “luddites” and concentrate on clarifying explanations as far as possible for the “lead-users”- teachers, businesspeople and the like.

    Comment by John Barker — 16 Aug 2010 @ 12:25 AM

  70. 68 (Sphaerica)

    John Baker’s post (69) illustrates precisely what you may be overlooking.

    The science of GHE is not complete enough to provide a basis for the engineering and the physical calculations that we need to be able to do.

    The extensions and connections of GHE science to Climate Change are even less complete. In fact, it is the details of the incomplete pieces that provide “…wondrously complex and entertaining hobbies for amateurs…” (like me) as well as the real (tough) scientific work yet to be done by professional climatologists.

    It would seem that your six points are not at all as evident as you would claim.

    While most skeptics and warmers would probably agree that “GHGs hinder the escape of energy (through IR) from the planet”, quantification such as how much, where, and when require more knowledge of the “details” than we yet have in climate science (think radiative- convective energy balance). That said, your statement #1 is probably OK, but certainly not incontrovertible.

    It is probably true that, while we are releasing various amounts of many GHG into earth’s atmosphere, to claim in #2 – even for CO2 – that it is “too much” implies the existence of quantitative science details that have yet to be determined (think oceans). I certainly don’t want try to make a case for pollution, I am just pointing out that, for effective mitigation, we need solid quantification of more of the details.

    Were I to continue in this same vein, I would suggest that “mostly” in your #3 is unquantified, as is “heats” in your #4 (think “natural”).

    I would agree with your statements #5 and #6, but point out that they were equally true in the past. Any paleoclimatologist would so testify..

    Comment by John Peter — 16 Aug 2010 @ 2:22 AM

  71. #68 and #69

    You have both omitted the important evidence from the ice cores which leads to a rough estimate of 3 degs.C for 2 XCO2. But that argument needs to be presented properly, not over-simplified a la Al Gore. (Try RC and also Richard Alley’s recent lecture).

    As for #68 , I am concerned about too much use of the weak analogy to a glass greenhouse. That was exploited heavily by Gerlich and Treuschner’s outrageous huge paper which is still being echoed as a talking point e.g. by the Spectator.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 16 Aug 2010 @ 5:40 AM

  72. John Barker,

    I enjoyed reading your posts and I think you make good points. The issue really is that once a mind is made up, it usually stays that way. RC provides the basic general idea of AGW and how we know along with more complex and detailed information as well. Tamino does very complex stuff at times and very easy to understand stuff for the layperson. There are others but those are just 2 that do a great job. Personally I am a big fan of Eli Rabbett. I rarely post there but his posts are outstanding for all sorts of people.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 16 Aug 2010 @ 6:14 AM

  73. Geoff Wexler (70)

    You say: “I am concerned about too much use of the weak analogy to a glass greenhouse”. Weak analogy? I can’t see that it’s anything other than a strong analogy. My mention of plastic greenhouses was perhaps an amusing distraction, although the fact that plastic greenhouses “work” throws light on the presence of other heat transfer mechanisms (particularly convection suppression) and is therefore a useful teaching tool.

    The primary mechanism of CO2 of absorbing (unidirectional)radiation from the earth and (isotropically)re-radiating it is identical to glass- although many people understandably think that glass acts as some kind of mirror. It is more than an analogy- it is another example of the same physical phenomenon. Both greenhouses and the earth have complex heat transfer systems and the critical questions revolve around the relative importance of each mechanism.

    Jacob Mack (71)- You say “The issue really is that once a mind is made up, it usually stays that way.” The notion of a “mind being made up” is very interesting. Obviously we need to make decisions based on the balance of probabilities of the evidence at that moment, but that doesn’t mean that we have to hold that “belief” if the balance changes at a later date. Of course people would like a high degree of constancy in their environment, but the basic notion of modern education is that of developing a set of intellectual tools to assess data and balance probabilities, rather than repeat medieval rote.

    My reference to the knowledge diffusion curve with its categories of “early adopters”, “early and late majorities”, “laggards” and “luddites” recognises that people have different propensities to hold to beliefs in different circumstances, although being in one category in one situation doesn’t always mean that they will be in that category in all situations. We shouldn’t sell people short by assuming that they have all been irretrievably indoctrinated on all matters by the age of seven.

    Comment by John Barker — 16 Aug 2010 @ 7:55 AM

  74. Concerning circulation changes:

    It seems not very likely that principal global circulation patterns (Hadley Cell, Walker Cell, jet stream) will change completely due to global warming. Probably the most important factor which determines these general pattern is the rotation speed of the Earth (coriolis force), and this one will not change due to GW.

    However, the factor which induces the whole circulation, the temperature difference between pole and equator, will likely change considerably. This will probably not affect the existance of these principal patterns, but might change their intensity and extension. One of the most consistent expectations is the northward extension of the Hadley cell combined with the poleward shift of the jet stream and a poleward extension of the subtropics. This is expressed in a consistent drying of the regions at the current poleward border of the subtropics in most climate model projections. This projection is also consistent with what we observe every summer, when the pole-equator gradient strongly decreases.

    It is much more difficult to project what happens with the polar front (or jet stream, respectively), since its behaviour is very chaotic. Nevertheless, there are some factors which might influence some patterns in that chaos:

    A) orography: while dynamic effects of huge mountain ranges (like the Rocky Mountains which cause on average a wave ridge over it, leading to a much warmer climate in California than at the US east coast at similar latitudes) are unlikely to change, the effects of heating and cooling of plateaus (e.g. Tibet) might be altered.

    B) land-ocean difference: the stronger warming of land masses compared to the ocean might change the effects that are connected to continental cooling or heating (e.g. siberian high)

    C) pole-equator temperature difference: This difference has also an influence on the shape of the polar front (e.g. the extension of polar front waves, the production of cut-off lows and highs). 1) Waves with larger amplitudes and strong meridional (north-south directed) flow as well as cut-off lows transport more energy equatorwards and are more effective in offsetting the temperature gradient than a more zonal (west-east directed) flow with small amplitude waves. Thus, in general the stronger the gradient, the larger are the wave amplitudes. 2) Wave patterns (of the polar frontal zone) have some kind of inertia in their geographical location, i.e. cold air outbreaks (or warm air outbreaks poleward) tend to occur in the same region as the one before. This leads to a certain persistence of weather characteristics in a region for several weeks (outbreak frequency is about one every 6-8 days). It seems plausible that there is need for rather strong dynamical forces in the atmospheric circulation to overcome this quasi-inertia. The strength of dynamical forces is also linked to the strength of the temperature gradient and might somehow influence the probability to change general geographical wave patterns.

    Given these effects, global warming might have the following effects:

    1) since continental or orographic heating or cooling supports more stable pressure fields and thus circulation patterns (the circulation in principal flows around pressure centers), warming in winter might tend to destabilize flow patterns over large land masses (siberia, Canada), while warming in summer might tend to stabilize flow patterns over these areas.

    2) Global Warming might lead to smaller wave amplitudes and less cold air outbreaks equatorwards, i.e. to the subtropics, which might lead to a further drying there and increase the effect of an extended Hadley cell.

    3) Warming might lower dynamical forces and increase the persistence of weather patterns.

    A big problem is that changes which concern the dynamical behaviour of atmospheric circulation are very difficult to identify (be it in observed or modelled climate), because these patterns are very chaotic and never identical and requires the mathematical capture of the dynamical behaviour of chaotic patterns. Common instruments to describe circulation patterns like Principal Component Analysis or weather type classifications do not contain the required information on dynamical behaviour. One would need a mathematical instrument to calculate e.g. daily amplitudes of rossby (i.e. polar front) waves or measure the duration of the “same” geographical wave pattern somehow – a nasty job. There are some studies which look at the persistence of weather patterns on a local scale (e.g. Petrow et al., Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. 9: 1409-1423, 2009; Weatherhead et al., Global Env. Change 20: 523-528, 2010) but there seems to be hardly anything in that sense on a hemispheric scale. Any ideas?

    In summary, there are several reasons to expect a poleward shift of the subtropics (much evidence) and an enhanced persistence of weather situations especially in summer (less evidence, more based on theoretical considerations). The latter would further increase the severity of heat waves and drought (besides the overall warming) as well as of floods (besides the increase of water content in warmer air), since heat- and flood-prone situations might last longer.

    Comment by Urs Neu — 16 Aug 2010 @ 9:43 AM

  75. 70 (John Peter),

    The science of GHE is not complete enough to provide a basis for the engineering and the physical calculations that we need to be able to do.

    And here’s where you completely miss my point, and are quite simply wrong. Yes, it is. The science is maturing, but it is complete enough. Delusions that things are too complex, and that there is a lot of room for doubt, are just that, delusions, made to appear real by continually trying to focus on and confuse intricate details.

    On your part, your use of phrases like “you may be overlooking” and “not at all as evident” and “and warmers would probably agree that” and “is probably true that” and “we need solid quantification of more of the details” all point to typical denialspeak.

    That’s the whole point. That’s your approach. Cast doubt. Make things seem uncertain. Question the facts and make it seem like they’re mere opinions or ideas.

    The first two statements I made are completely incontrovertible, period. Anyone that doubts those two is in clear denial. GHGs warm the planet, CO2 is a GHG, we’re pumping out CO2, and the planet is warming. Period.

    The question of “how much” (since most of the serious warming comes from the feedback of increased H2O in the atmosphere) is the main, reasonable subject of contention, but this is where many, many lines of evidence come into play. Geoff mentions ice cores, and in fact many such proxies over the entire history of the earth, direct observations, computer models, and many other lines of research all point to the same 3C warming per doubling of CO2.

    So while you can argue about this point or that paper or whatever, there is a large body of evidence that combined puts a scary nail in the planet’s climate coffin. Your convenient doubts are merely a desire to ignore the facts for as long as you can.

    The clues are all there to be read by anyone who is reasonable. The problem is that certain personalities (like yourself) and entities are enticing people to be unreasonable, making use of the illusion that they are being intelligent and properly skeptical.

    Hence the need for posts like this by RC.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 16 Aug 2010 @ 10:33 AM

  76. Jo @ 50:

    Moonlight also contains an IR component. Interestingly, this fact was used by Arrhenius in his famous 1896 paper on CO2 and climate. He reanalyzed Lunar observational data from none other than astronomer (and Wright brothers rival) Samuel Langley:

    http://hubpages.com/hub/Global-Warming-Science-And-The-Dawn-Of-Flight

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 16 Aug 2010 @ 11:29 AM

  77. John Peter,
    We have the details we need even if we cannot calculate deltaT at equilibrium from the CO2 absorption spectrum from first principles. We know the climate sensitivity. We know how much energy added CO2 adds for a doubling. And these facts are validated by the evidence we see everywhere.

    The thing you have to remember about science is that there is always more than one way to “know” something. One can sometimes constrain an answer to a narrow range much more quickly than one could calculate it from first principles. And overwhelming evidence is overwhelming evidence.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Aug 2010 @ 12:22 PM

  78. 75 (Bob)

    Please forgive me for not making myself more clear. My point is about potential CC mitigation, not about the reality of GW or CC. Regardless of what you may wish to believe, more CC details are a requirement. We need them in order to choose what and how much we can and should do.

    If you can read the scientific literature and do so, as I have, you will discover that I am simply telling RC readers like yourself what most leading climate scientists already know and report there in their papers.

    Your posts are a presentation of the political (some would say religious) side of AGW. I am not interested in (or qualified to) add much to such a discussion.

    FWIW, I believe globally we are very short of resources for our world’s population. With this in mind we must certainly try to adjust our behaviors wrt CC.

    As one example, I believe we have waited much too long to try to find alternatives for fossil fuels. One result is that developing nations like China, trying to improve the quality of life of their citizens by following centuries old models that developed nations used have little choice but to continue to pollute.

    All over the world nations are searching for better (more Green) ways to live. We all would be much further along on a great deal of this had we more solid scientific CC quantification.

    It is not enough to know what should be done, it is necessary to also know how to do it. In climate physics and chemistry, this requires a higher level of scientific quantification than AGW currently provides. Not “denialspeak” about comforting details, it is an absolute requirement for choice for any widespread implementation of each and every CC mitigation attempt.

    [Response: CC mitigation is not the topic of this thread. Thanks. - gavin]

    Comment by John Peter — 16 Aug 2010 @ 12:26 PM

  79. This was a very good overview. Thank you for making TOA cooling/warming make sense to me. This should be a chapter in a short book/PDF on climate change.

    Comment by Pete — 16 Aug 2010 @ 12:53 PM

  80. Urs Neu 74

    Outstanding post! Concise, clear, and educational.

    I vaguely remember reading somewhere (probably Broeker) that during the Dryas(s), the thermohaline pattern might have been “shut off” by fresh water melt from glacier retreats.

    Do you believe that happened and might even be repeated?

    Comment by John Peter — 16 Aug 2010 @ 1:03 PM

  81. JP 70: It is probably true that, while we are releasing various amounts of many GHG into earth’s atmosphere, to claim in #2 – even for CO2 – that it is “too much” implies the existence of quantitative science details that have yet to be determined (think oceans).

    BPL: Think “global agriculture collapsing and most of humanity starving to death.” That’s my definition of “too much.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Aug 2010 @ 2:31 PM

  82. “Your posts are a presentation of the political (some would say religious) side of AGW.”

    BPL: Ah, the religion card! Every thinking person hates religion, so if AGW is a religion, it must be fought.

    In what way is a theory of how the climate is changing a supernatural worldview?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Aug 2010 @ 2:34 PM

  83. Gavin re 78

    Thank you for your time and for your clear comment.

    ISTM the degree of necessary detail ought to bear some relation to the use made of the results. Kevin was saying more detail is required to correctly account for energy balance. He had lost/misplaced some energy somewhere and believes he needs more detail to find it. You think, I believe, that the data he wants would be very difficult and expensive to acquire – maybe even “impossible”.

    The GHE absorption/emission calculations and debate are much more difficult for me to understand than radiation energy balances, for me an acceptable alternate explanation for GHE explanations. I am distressed if/when Kevin seems unsure of his accounting.

    Kevin’s argument for additional details seemed to be based mitigation analysis requirements; that’s the only reason for my focus.

    That’s my excuse. I do get your message. I’ll consider mitigation analysis OT – until we have a thread that addresses it.

    Comment by John Peter — 16 Aug 2010 @ 2:50 PM

  84. BPL Thanks for noticing.

    81 – When all is said and done you must admit it is possible, maybe even likely, thats Methane, Hydrogen Sulfide or any number of other chemically active contaminants will finally do us in. I would suggest that more data is required before you decide to bet on the wrong horse. As you point out the results are much too important

    82 – A theory of how the climate is changing is a supernatural worldview when belief overcomes detailed facts in its exposition.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against religion or beliefs. It’s just that my religion is physics and while I admit that’s an arbitrary choice on my part, I do not find it at all supernatural.

    BTW, I continue to find you and your website quite helpful in my quest for knowledge. Thank you.

    Comment by John Peter — 16 Aug 2010 @ 3:25 PM

  85. John Peter — You may find
    http://climateprogress.org/
    what you are looking for regarding OT topics here on RealClimate.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 16 Aug 2010 @ 4:34 PM

  86. Re 74 Urs Neu – very informative, Thank You! (would love to see more comments/posts of that sort).


    from my understanding, some other issues (how significant could these be?)

    If the prevailing westerlies changed speed, that could change the spectrum of wavelengths in the quasistationary pattern (which are produced by topography and geographically-anchored heating variations) (because different wavelengths would propagate freely at different westward speeds through the air as the air moves; resonance occurs when the wave propagation velocity + wind velocity = velocity of wave forcing pattern, which is zero in this context.) A latitudinal shift in the winds would alter the geographic forcing of the waves and the planetary vorticity gradient as well as the wavelength for a given zonal wavenumber.

    As the storm tracks shift poleward, they would encounter a larger coriolis acceleration (favors shorter horizontal scales of circulation structures) and weaker planetary vorticity gradient (slower westward propagation of freely-propagating Rossby waves). They would also encounter a thinner troposphere (favors shorter horizontal scales), although meanwhile the tropopause would generally tend to rise in place (favors larger horizontal scales). If a poleward shift in the specific humidity contours is greater than the poleward shift in the storm tracks, latent heating could become more important in formation of extratropical cyclones. Latent heating is one source of the asymmetry between cyclones and anticyclones.

    Are there any particular ways in which the changes with global warming would be different from the direction of change from winter to summer? (Besides such things as vegetation and ice sheet responses, which of course must respond to the whole year/decade/etc of climate.) Imagining June weather patterns shifted into May, the ‘June’ weather patterns would encounter less incident solar radiation at TOA/ but shifting July weather patterns into June would have the opposite effect on the ‘July’ weather patterns, for example (in this way of looking at things, the ‘months’ would shift different for continents and oceans because the warmest part of the year is more delayed over the oceans, etc).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 16 Aug 2010 @ 6:48 PM

  87. I’ve always been interested in the sensible heat introduced into the atmosphere by human machines. We have literally billions of automobiles, each directly heating the air and generating convection currents. We have millions of industrial sized air conditioners, heat pumps introducing a gazillion joules directly into the air. Similarly, the cooling towers at the thousands and thousands of power plants generate huge convection currents that I have observed in Winter in Europe pumping moist air tens of thousands of feet into the air.

    Additionally, the earth itself is a source of heat, caused by the left over heat from planetary formation, the radioactive decay in our core plus the heat generated in the magma from the friction from the gavitational influence of the Sun and Moon.

    Does anyone ever include these sources in these diagram graphs? Are the amounts of energy known (particularly the earth’s intrinsic energy)? Given that the CO2 we are worried about is released during the generation of all that waste heat, surely the size of that waste heat must be significant?

    Just asking.

    Comment by Surfer Dave — 16 Aug 2010 @ 7:18 PM

  88. … on that note, poleward shifting of wind patterns should generally result in poleward shifting of the upper ocean currents. The same corresponding portions of gyres would experience reduced planetary vorticity gradients – would that reduce the intensification of the western boundary currents (Kuroshio, Gulf Stream) (following the latitudinal shift)? – of course, there would be also be different ocean basin geometry at different latitudes.

    (PS generally Rossby wave propagation depends on a potential vorticity gradient, of which, the planetary vorticity gradient is an important contributor; variations in relative vorticity (horizontal shear and curvature of wind field) and static stability, or at the surface, potential temperature, also make contributions.

    Except for diabatic (in particular, latent heating) contributions, the process of intensification of extratropical cyclones via baroclinic instability can be described in terms of different sets of Rossby waves at different levels which on their own would propagate in opposite directions, but they force each other and in some conditions and configurations will phase-lock and mutually amplify each other (same for barotropic instability, except that barotropic instability results from a horizontal reversal of the (quasi)horizontal PV gradient, while baroclinic instability results from a vertical reversal of the (quasi)horizontal PV gradient). In such a configuration, relative to the circulation structure, with an equatorward temperature gradient, the air generally flows through the structure from east to west in the lower levels and from west to east in the upper levels, meandering north-south to create temperature variations that induce pressure variations that enhance the north-south flows (while conserving (in an adiabatic and inviscid case) PV, vorticity changes by vertical stretching or comressing the air as it flows through different pressure distribution patterns and as the pressure distribution patterns change; this involves vertical motion, which generally involves rising motion within the strengthenning warm anomalies and sinking motion within the strengthenning cold anomalies.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 16 Aug 2010 @ 7:23 PM

  89. Re #73 and #71 (not #70)

    I can’t see that it’s anything other than a strong analogy.

    [i.e. the glass greenhouse]

    I can’t discuss this if you do not address the comments I make. But I shall try once more. I know the reference in #70 is tedious and flawed, but you would only have needed to read the part devoted to the well known weakness of the glasshouse analogy.

    The glasshouse may be useful as a case study expecially in your hands, when you may be there to point out the contrast between the glasshouse , based on blocking convection, with the greenhouse gas effect based on escaping radiation from cold layers high up.You would be able to contrast the large fall in temperature between the ground and the radiating levels in the atmosphere with the tiny fall in temperature in the first 8 feet to the top of a glasshouse.

    You would be there to point out that the analogy might work with a huge sheet of glass placed high up in the troposphere where it would re-radiate weakly at a really low temperature.

    You would be there to explain that rock salt is analagous to oxygen and nitrogen in the sense that it is a good transmitter of infra-red, but all the same provides a good alternative to glass in keeping the glasshouse warm (by blocking convection) and is therefore not analagous after all to O2 and N2 in its actual behaviour. You would thus be able to discuss Wood’s old experiment (nearly 100 years ago) and show why this experiment would be irrelevant i.e that his contrarian claim that he had disproved the greenhouse gas mechanism was wrong.

    The trouble is that other people , not in your classroom, are reading the Spectator where Wood’s false interpretation of his results,revived by Gerlich and Treuschner has joined the other zombified arguments.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 16 Aug 2010 @ 7:34 PM

  90. Correction to my last comment.

    It should be “I know the reference in #71…”

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 16 Aug 2010 @ 7:38 PM

  91. @KevinMcKinney
    #76

    Thanks for that.

    Compare and contrast to here :-

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/simple.htm#L_M018

    “The data Arrhenius fed into his calculations (based on Samuel P. Langley’s measurements of solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface) were mostly in the right range.”

    History is full of holes, and so is memory, on occasions.

    Comment by jo abbess — 16 Aug 2010 @ 7:48 PM

  92. 78, 84 (John Peter)

    It’s just that my religion is physics

    LOL.

    I must admit I find both this statement rather unbelievable, and your unsupported attacks (religious? really? and you claim to have “read the scientific literature”?) more than a little annoying. There is nothing remotely “religious” in my statements, and your attempt to color it as such is nothing more than a predictable (denier) debate tactic.

    They are simple, plain facts, and you started off by casting doubt onto the very foundation, whether the GHE (and you believe in physics?) is real (my emphasis added):

    While most skeptics and warmers would probably agree that “GHGs hinder the escape of energy (through IR) from the planet”

    Then you dare to try to paint yourself as an authority:

    If you can read the scientific literature and do so, as I have…

    Spare me. Try actually engaging in dialogue (without easily recognizable and quite honestly merely parroted denial talking points) before pigeon holing other people so rashly. [Hint: very few people here haven't "read the literature."]

    [edit - please try and stay substantive. Characterisation of the qualities of other commenters may be fun, but it is not productive.]

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 16 Aug 2010 @ 7:57 PM

  93. Re greenhouse effect, in glass, wool, and molasses…

    Given the application of the term to atmospheric LW opacity, and the allusion to a glass greenhouse, couldn’t it be said that the greenhouse effect is simply the sustaining of higher temperatures not by increasing heat inflow but by slowing heat outflow?

    ie – the radiative greenhouse effect of the Earth’s interior is saturated, won’t change much, and thus never discussed.

    the finite molecular conduction/diffusion greenhouse effect of the atmosphere is essentially saturated except in a thin layer at the surface in some conditions, won’t change much in many scenarios and thus generally set aside.

    The radiative greenhouse effect of the atmosphere is not saturated and has great potential for changing, thus is the focus of much attention (as it should be).

    There could also be a viscosity/rigidity greenhouse effect (long-term changes in the Earth’s interior, not much change in the atmosphere), an adiabatic lapse rate greenhouse effect (not much change without massive redistributions of conditions and massive changes in composition)

    Greenhouse effects: LW opacity in the atmosphere; the impeding of all forms of heat transfer by a winter coat or blanket, etc.

    ——

    PS getting back to the original subject matter, and stated in the most general way applicable to the atmosphere, mantle, outer core, the Sun, etc:

    Absent convection, all heat transfer is by radiation and molecular/atomic/etc. conduction/diffusion; these things occur at rates determined by temperature variations (or compositional variations for latent heat diffusion – the rest of this sets that distinction aside but since latent heat is generally converted from and to sensible or other heat, the following should tend to apply with inclusion of latent heat for a climatic equilibrium state).

    Consider a layer, and then consider changes in optical properties, thermodynamic properties, viscosity, etc, in that layer (for the time being, not distinguishing between external forcings and feedbacks), and in other layers, and temperature changes in other layers (or the sun, etc.). These exert some imposed differential heating distribution on the layer. The layer’s temperature and temperature distribution will change until the temperature of the layer and the distribution of temperature variation in that layer reach an equilibrium such that their is a differential cooling distribution within the layer that matches the differential heating distribution.

    If non-convective fluxes within a layer alone would result in a temperature distribution that is unstable to convection, then some convective flux (including the overall effect of conversion of heat to kinetic energy and then back to heat somewhere else) will tend to occur that results in some other equilibrium temperature distribution (tending toward neutral stability to that convection to an extent allowed by limited viscosity/rigidity and thermal expansion, etc.)

    For some set of externally imposed conditions, the average temperature of a layer will shift to some equilibrium and the temperature distribution will shift as well. If convection acts to hold the temperature variations steady, then imposed changes in the heating/cooling of the layer may not result in much change in the relative temperature variation pattern of the layer. On the other hand, the temperature variation pattern may tend to shift in some way. However, for any given temperature variation pattern, the average temperature of a layer and the temperature at each location within the layer must increase or decrease until the total flux into the layer is balanced by the total flux out of the layer, however the sources and sinks are distributed within the layer.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 16 Aug 2010 @ 8:35 PM

  94. … in the most general description, of course there is also convection driven by compositional buoyancy variations. These may however be ultimately rooted in heating and cooling (phase changes of water in the ocean/atmosphere/at the surface), except in some gravitational potential energy delivered when the system formed (released during formation of Earth, formation of the Earth’s core, continued chemical sorting as the inner core grows – even if the latent heat flux plus sensible heat loss were less than what could be conducted through the outer core at an adiabatic lapse rate, there would be some convection driven by rejection of buoyant impurities in the solidification of the inner core)…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 16 Aug 2010 @ 8:47 PM

  95. … in that case, convection would pull heat downward (gravitational potential energy converted to kinetic energy which does work to run a heat pump)

    PS if we are helping to read text via the ReCAPTCHA system, how does it know whether our answers are correct if they haven’t already been determined? Is it the case that some answers have already been shown likely incorrect (ie 9 or 1) while others have not been eliminated (ie 2, 3, or 4) – ie some uncertainty remains but it is limited?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 16 Aug 2010 @ 8:54 PM

  96. Re 87 Surfer Dave

    Does anyone ever include these sources in these diagram graphs? Are the amounts of energy known (particularly the earth’s intrinsic energy)? Given that the CO2 we are worried about is released during the generation of all that waste heat, surely the size of that waste heat must be significant?

    Those fluxes are known, and they are relatively tiny. (The geothermal heat flux is on the order of (actually a bit less than) 0.1 W/m2 in the global average. The energy from work done by tides is an order of magnitude smaller. Total human energy consumption is on the order of 10 TW (a bit more, but less than 20 TW; 10 TW ~= 0.02 W/m2 global average), which is more than twice the tidal energy but still considerably smaller than the global geothermal heat loss. Meanwhile, the forcing from anthropogenic CO2 increase thus far is somewhere around 1.7 W/m2 (http://chriscolose.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/0108_radiative_forcing.jpg , from IPCC).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 16 Aug 2010 @ 9:06 PM

  97. for Patrick027: Captcha is explained here–> http://www.captcha.net/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Aug 2010 @ 9:39 PM

  98. > poleward shifting of wind patterns should generally result
    > in poleward shifting of the upper ocean currents

    Maybe, but a citation would be welcome, because topography determines a lot; I recall the area cooled by wind descending off Greenland happens to be an area favorable for removal of sinking cold water to the abyss, for example — now, if the jet stream moves, and the cold wind coming down off Greenland moves to a new location, can we rely on that location pushing the same area initiating the same large scale circulation? Or will it produce cold water that has to find some other route to the deeps?

    There are some modeling papers, e.g.
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2008JPO3741.1?journalCode=phoc

    “… during years of high Weddell Sea salinity, there is an increased removal of summertime sea ice by enhanced wind-driven ice drift, resulting in increased solar radiation absorbed into the ocean. The larger ice-free region in summer then leads to enhanced air–sea heat loss, more rapid ice growth, and therefore greater brine rejection during winter. Together with a negative feedback mechanism involving anomalous WDW inflow and sea ice melting, this results in positively correlated θ–S anomalies that in turn drive anomalous convection, impacting AABW variability…..”

    Perhaps one of the scientists can say more.

    I have no clue myself, but I wouldn’t assume the answer is simple and straightforward, since the topography isn’t. The interaction is much discussed, anyhow, e.g.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=catabatic+wind+thermohaline+circulation

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Aug 2010 @ 9:51 PM

  99. Bob (Sphaerica), it’s a bridge too far. Just one example, the shift from objective observations that might have some uncertainty into dogma with no allowed material uncertainty in the slightest, followed by the demon casting of anyone in the circle who so much as even raises an eyebrow is religious, not scientific. And that’s pretty much what your responses to John Peter look like. Frankly they could almost fit right in to many a tent revival meeting.

    BTW, I specifically do not call this a “religion” but rather religious sounding.

    Comment by Rod B — 16 Aug 2010 @ 9:57 PM

  100. Here’s a bit of a queer question, as the atmosphere continues to heat, could it get into a yo-yo style of trend? What I am thinking is that El Nino’s will probably become stronger, to release the built up energy, then of course, like a pendelum, the release will be more then needed, so the El Nina will be considerably colder. Which of course leads to a greater ability to absorb more energy, and so on and so on…..

    What brought this to mind, is my apple tree, if I do not prune the apples as they are emerging, the tree gets into a yo-yo of one year abundant fruit, next year very little fruit.

    Or am i just out in left field, gazing at my navel? :)

    Comment by DeNihilist — 16 Aug 2010 @ 11:11 PM

  101. Re 98 (and 97) Hank Roberts – Thanks. (Of course by ‘generally’ I was refering to the basic pattern of large-scale mechanically wind-driven gyres. As with effects of spatially-varying ocean bathymetry/geometry, I’d expect different longitudinal variations in atmospheric circulation if the prevailing westerlies shifted sufficiently that they interacted with different mountain ranges, etc…) (PS did you get my climate sensitivity reference in my question about Captcha?)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 16 Aug 2010 @ 11:21 PM

  102. Hank Roberts 98

    Hi.

    Wallace Broecker, father of the thermohaline conveyor circulation and author of a recent book chronicling these events (review at http://www.amazon.com/Great-Ocean-Conveyor-Discovering-Trigger/product-reviews/0691143544/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1) has a long term interest in abrupt climate change, its triggers, etc.

    In 1997 Wallace published a description of some of the ideas in science (at http://www.amazon.com/Great-Ocean-Conveyor-Discovering-Trigger/product-reviews/0691143544/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1). The paper now has over 650 cites. Although Wallace’s studies were of Younger Dryas and other D&O events, ISTM that they might be applicable to some of the current Arctic activity.

    You may recall a 2005 RC discussion on Anomalous Recent Warmth in Europe (found at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/anomalous-recent-warmth/) which I believe touches on the same topic (with the usual trollish diversions, of course).

    Hank, these refs may have little or no bearing on your request for references and even if they do, you are probably well aware of them. Should this not be the case however, you might find them interesting reading. [If I'm still just mixing the wrong things together, please forgive me - as you know, that's my style.]

    I was hoping Urs Neu might give us an update on how Wallace’s THC shut-off hypothesis was viewed today since 1997 was over 13 years ago…

    Comment by John Peter — 16 Aug 2010 @ 11:43 PM

  103. David Benson 85

    Thanks but no thanks. AFAIAC Gerry North (NAS) quashed the “Hockey Stick” controversy in 2006. At worst, MM was prescient.

    Mike’s current research on synchronization of NH and SH wrt stuff like MWP, or MCA if you prefer, is spot on. (What else would you expect me to say, we are both products of the same physics department [8<)]. )

    Your reference was worth a look to me; thank you, I found it entertaining. OTOH, I have little time or interest in a rerun.

    Comment by John Peter — 17 Aug 2010 @ 12:30 AM

  104. DeNihilist@100 – Not out in left field, quite … apple trees [and less so, pear trees] have a hormonally controlled biennial tendency, if they have a heavy crop one year they put all their energy into growing that seasons fruit so can’t put much into growing next years buds at the same time, hence a light crop the following year. Doubt the ENSO would follow that pattern, it appears instead that El Ninos will become more frequent with increasing temperatures.

    Comment by flxible — 17 Aug 2010 @ 12:45 AM

  105. 87 Surfer Dave: We are studying the troposphere because those heat sources are irrelevant. Heat comes from the sun and gets dumped into the 2.7 degree Kelvin [almost 500 below F] of deep space. The temperature is determined by the rate of heat dumping into deep space. Without the sun, the atmosphere freezes in 2 months. The troposphere and the stratosphere control our temperature.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 17 Aug 2010 @ 12:47 AM

  106. 99 (Rod B),

    followed by the demon casting of anyone in the circle who so much as even raises an eyebrow is religious, not scientific. And that’s pretty much what your responses to John Peter look like. Frankly they could almost fit right in to many a tent revival meeting.

    Please support this statement with specific quotes from my posts to John Peter. Be clear and precise as to how any such statement fits your characterization.

    On the other hand, if something I’ve said is, you think, simply incorrect, then point it out and point to the contraindicating facts.

    Or you could just label people that don’t agree with you as “religious” zealots guilty of “demon casting” (which is exactly the behavior that you’re currently engaged in).

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 17 Aug 2010 @ 7:04 AM

  107. Surfer Dave 87,

    The mean global flux absorbed by the climate system from sunlight is 237 watts per square meter. The mean global flux of geothermal heat is 0.087 watts per square meter. Divide A by B. Discuss.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 17 Aug 2010 @ 7:15 AM

  108. Re : post 78

    “It is not enough to know what should be done, it is necessary to also know how to do it.”

    John Peter – If you’d read the literature (like I have) you’d know not only what the costs, and human implications, of not doing something are, but also what the costs, and implications, of “doing it” are. The costs are surprisingly small. The co-benefits are large and, disappointingly, unquanitifed (this is not a oxymoronic statement. The impacts of poor air quality on Asian agriculure and health are vast, but poorly quanitified).

    Indeed, I’m struggling to understand what literature it is you read. Perhaps you should get away from physics for a little while and consider economics, health studies and engineering.

    Comment by Silk — 17 Aug 2010 @ 7:59 AM

  109. Re 80 (John Peter):

    The Younger Dryas and the possible THC shut off took place in an environment that was characterized by the end of the last ice age and thus by the melting of huge ice masses that were much larger than the ice that has remained until today. The effect of huge melt water input on the THC is plausible for the YD. However, an event like this today is unlikely, because the ice masses around the North Atlantic are much smaller and thus also the probability of huge meltwater pulses. The only remaining ice mass that could deliver meltwater in a comparable order of magnitude is Greenland. This ice sheet is almost completely grounded on land with the underground deepest in the middle and only small outlet glaciers. Therefore it is unlikely that this ice mass will melt down in a relatively short time, although we cannot exclude unknown processes which might speed up melting considerably. There are more plausible physical processes for rapid collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, since it is grounded below sea level with large borders to open sea. This would not affect North Atlantic THC but might influence ocean currents and deep water formation in the southern hemisphere. Today’s model projections do not point to a shut down of the NA THC but to a slow down which would reduce warming, but not induce cooling, in the region around the North Atlantic

    Re 86/88 (patrick027):

    There are a huge number of possible processes/influences etc. that might be induced by the shift of the polar front, you mention a couple of them. The problem is, that many of them are interconnected, some of them inducing changes of opposite sign. An assessement of these processes should include an estimate of the strength of the influence compared to other processes and random variability and a consideration of possible counter-acting processes (e.g. has the stronger coriolis force due to a poleward shift of the polar front a noticeable effect on the formation of the circulation structures, compared to other effects?). Such effects could (at least theoretically) be investigated in models, but also for these questions we will face the problem of the description and analysis of wave formation and patterns.

    I’ll take out one other example, that of the speed of westerlies. Changes are likely to be influenced by opposing influences. While a decrease of the meridional temperature gradient in general decreases the pressure gradient and thus wind speed, a decrease of the wave amplitude will possibly lead to an increase of high wind speeds, because the highest wind speeds occur in flow sections with very low wave amplitudes. The overall effect on average and extrem wind speed is not easy to estimate.

    Comment by Urs neu — 17 Aug 2010 @ 9:07 AM

  110. A partial analogy for the greenhouse effect.

    Here is my suggestion.

    The Fraunhofer lines discovered about 200 years ago and later used thoughout astrophysics. They are only a partial analogy because they do not involve two quite different forms of energy transport, short and long wave in predominantly opposite directions.But unlike the glasshouse, they do involve something similar to the lapse rate i.e that the outer surface of a star is relatively cold. The actual warming would of course be small relative to the total stellar output.

    One aspect of this analogy is that that someone observing the Earth from outer space would be able to use these nineteenth century ideas to identify the presence of CO2 and water vapour in our atmosphere and to illustrate the terrestrial greehouse effect.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 17 Aug 2010 @ 10:58 AM

  111. The “GW is a religion” line has been around for a few years. My guess is that it is preemptive. Obviously, dinialists who assume that all the science and scientists are wrong are in danger of being accused of simply clinging to their beliefs in a religious manner. But if they use the term of those who accurately present the threats of global warming, it will look to outsiders that both are just calling each other names.

    It is a clever trick, but highly ironic, given the religious views of many of those denying climate science.

    Back to that science, I’m not sure I can follow all that is being said here, but it certainly strikes me that a much warmer Arctic could play a big role in changing the strength or quality of the basic patterns of circulation in the Northern hemisphere. How far toward the equator would these changes reach in their effects?

    Comment by wili — 17 Aug 2010 @ 12:33 PM

  112. to DeNi #100. IMHO the answer is no. Though I certainly expect and hope next year will be cooler than this year, the trend of warmer temps will continue. I expect 2011 will be warmer than 1999. Though the pendulum swings some scoundrel keeps lifting the clock and putting blocks under the feet.

    Comment by Ani — 17 Aug 2010 @ 12:56 PM

  113. urs neu 109

    Thank you for another clear, concise, comprehensive right to the point answer to my query. It really helps with my education.

    Comment by John Peter — 17 Aug 2010 @ 1:27 PM

  114. John Peter – Assuming you are being straightforward, and not sarcastic, I’d suggest the following bits of literature are of interest.

    IPCC Working Group Three Report (www.ipcc.ch)

    International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook, and Energy Technology Perspectives

    David Mackay’s book “Sustainable energy without the hot air”

    The Stern Review

    This is all definitely OT now, so I’ll shut up.

    Comment by Silk — 17 Aug 2010 @ 2:56 PM

  115. I’m the last person in the world to suggest how to simply anything but I had an idea and I’ll share it with you all.

    If you want explanations that are easier for people to understand, forget “energy” and use “heat”. This should remove a level of indirection since people can sense heat directly. “Energy” is a (slightly) more complex notion and requires that “temperature” must also be addressed. Also everyone is familiar with “heat” which is all that we really sense and feel.

    We should lose no technical integrity with descriptions of climate change in terms of heat. Scientifically “heat” is merely “energy” in transit. Any tight description of a process in terms of “heat” should be easily translatable by scientific types into the language of “energy” which is what we climate scientists, being more sophisticated and educated, have been dealing with all along.

    Beginning with Archimedes earth, air, fire and water were the four universal elements of nature. In the seventeenth century, Becher added a fifth element to assist the chemists of that day to better describe their experiments and processes.Until recently scientists, mostly chemists, dealt with such a substance, named “phlogiston”.

    “”*** Becher suggested a hypothetical substance, which he called “inflammable earth” which every flammable substance contains. Stahl called this mysterious, unknown substance “phlogiston” (pronounced flow-JISS-tunn). During combustion, phlogiston is given off into the air:

    wood —> calx (ash) + phlogiston (to the air)

    iron —> calx (rust) + phlogiston (to the air)

    You and I know that this is not true, that instead various substances combine with oxygen during combustion. But, please suspend your righteous contempt for this phlogiston theory, and try to ignore your inside information, and look at the theory as a somewhat skeptical 18th century chemist would. I will continue to use some 18th century terminology, to keep your mind from leaping ahead to 20th century chemistry.***” http://www.jimloy.com/physics/phlogstn.htm

    As with “ether”, phlogiston was a substance and was easier for people, even the early scientists, to deal with. Astronomers employed the concept to describe various properties of the planets. It served pretty well through Maxwell’s electro-magnetic wave radiation formalization until Plank or Einstein, I don’t remember which, moved us into the world of dual particle/wave physics.

    To better serve Rasmus’s need for simple descriptions, global energy balance, could be described as a redistribution of heat received from the sun to the oceans, land surfaces, atmosphere and (partially) back to space.
    Heat could be stored in the ocean, absorbed by the glaciers, etc., etc.

    I could go on and on (ugh), but instead let me throw out a challenge. Someone come up with a process that Rasmus needs to cover, and I’ll try to come up with an heat substance description of that process, with energy replaced by heat and temperature as something that people could sense (hypothetically, of course).

    Comment by John Peter — 17 Aug 2010 @ 3:34 PM

  116. Patrick,

    Your reference in 96 above, to the forcings chart reminded me of a few CO2 questions. For reference, I have no science background.

    In the article below:

    http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~stefan/Publications/Book_chapters/Rahmstorf_Zedillo_2008.pdf

    Rahmstorf says:

    “Without any feedbacks, a doubling of CO2 (which amounts to a forcing of 3.7 W/m2) would result in 1°C global warming, which is easy to calculate and is undisputed.”

    “This consensus holds that a doubling of CO2 anthropogenic climate change
    causes a radiative forcing of 3.7 W/m2, which in equilibrium would cause 3°C ± 1.5°C of global warming.”

    Although I know that this is not the case, there appears to be a discrepancy in temperature change/watt. How is the 1C figure, (CO2 doubling temp effect,sans feedback) calculated? From the total 3C effect back; or from infrared line? analysis, line broadening calculations? Or both or others? Are there multiple methods of calculating the number? Are the methods independent of each other?

    So the calculation of the feedback radiative effect resides in the forcing number, 3.7 Wm2, and the 3C + – temperature increase?

    Now, back to the forcings chart. The Total Net Anthropogenic # of 1.6wm2 includes the CO2 forcing with feedback radiative effects from wv and albedo?

    Next, when considering contributions to the greenhouse effect, water vapor 50%, clouds 25%, CO2 20%, other 5%, are confidence levels in those contribution estimates similar? Or, for example, is a lower confidence associated with the cloud estimate? Are there multiple methods to calculate these estimates?

    Finally, I recall from Ray P’s book, during the writing phase, sentiment akin to the following:

    All aspects of the essential chemistry, radiative physics and thermodynamics underlying the prediction of human-caused global warming have been verified in numerous laboratory experiments or observations of the Earth and other planets.

    Are you able to flesh out, from an evidential point of view, verification of the science, or examples of it, in lab. experiments and Earth/planet obs. What are examples of intersections between chemistry, radiative physics, thermodynamics, and lab experiments, Earth/planet obs. I am looking for examples of evidence of CO2 forced warming that I can communicate to others.

    Thank you, Patrick.

    Comment by burt — 17 Aug 2010 @ 4:47 PM

  117. I think it’s very, very important that simple explanations of these processes exist, and I thank you for this valiant attempt. As science communicator, I’d like to offer some tips:

    - People who read the web tend to want a clear overview right at the start. Because there was a long introductory discussion before you began answering the question, it was difficult for me to follow your train of thought from the question to the answer. I suggest waiting until the end to discuss whether simple conceptual frameworks are valuable – especially when the post itself is aimed at people who need these conceptual frameworks!

    - Don’t use the word “simple” so much. It comes across as patronizing, and if a reader cannot understand the text, he or she might feel stupid. How about something like a “nonspeci4list’s overview”?

    - Hyperlinks within the text are nowhere near as valuable as clear explanations. It’s time-consuming and confusing to click on a word, read a new page, and then return to the context of the word and read the rest of the sentence. Just do without the term, or quickly define it.

    - Your drawing is almost impossible to understand. I know we’re not all artistically trained, but it’s getting easier and easier to whip up something in PowerPoint or some other graphics program.

    - Simplify your language. Many of your larger words could be replaced with simpler ones, while still retaining the character and credibility of the post. Your sentences are often absolutely packed with information — the resulting reduced word count isn’t worth sacrificing clarity.

    - Have a nonspeci4list read your post and give you feedback before you post it. You’ll be surprised by what you missed.

    I very much appreciate these attempts, and they’re sorely needed. But adhering to just a few quick communication rules would make these “simple” posts more accessible. I predict that the number of readers who object to the basic nature of the post will be overwhelmed by the number of new readers who now longer find these types of posts so intimidating.

    (Sorry about the ’4′s for ‘a’s — your site blocks comments with the word ‘speci4list’, but I don’t think there’s a better word.)

    Comment by Rosemary — 17 Aug 2010 @ 5:39 PM

  118. Re: #112

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

    That covers it and lots more besides, except that in a propaganda campaign its not all unconscious.
    ————————————-

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 17 Aug 2010 @ 5:44 PM

  119. Silk 115

    Not the least sarcastic, because I truly respect your analysis and articulation. Web accessible literature is easiest for me but I can try to get some books from our local library. Looking at your list however I am curious as to what you thought I meant in 78 where I said

    ——————————————————–

    “…FWIW, I believe globally we are very short of resources for our world’s population. With this in mind we must certainly try to adjust our behaviors wrt CC.

    As one example, I believe we have waited much too long to try to find alternatives for fossil fuels. One result is that developing nations like China, trying to improve the quality of life of their citizens by following centuries old models that developed nations used have little choice but to continue to pollute…”

    ——————————————————–

    I was trying to show Bob some sensitivity to sociology, resource depletion and global asset economics. What went wrong?

    Comment by John Peter — 17 Aug 2010 @ 6:44 PM

  120. burt says: 17 August 2010 at 4:47 PM

    Not to butt in, but in the nature of offering a perspective on the utility of what you’re asking of Patrick…

    Imagine you meet a person who does not believe an internal combustion engine functions in the way most of us understand to be the case. If you could supply the level of detail you’re referring to in the case of climate forcing, do you think such a person would be swayed?

    In other words, what’s the point? Why bother constructing a case designed to reach the utter fringe of the population, those who have such an unusual perspective?

    You could simply point to NCDC’s Climate Indicators page as well as Spencer Weart’s book “The History of Global Warming and achieve the same effect as you would with exhaustive personal effort. If the person is tractable, can be reached with reasoned arguments, you’re done. If not forget about it because for reasons we can only speculate about they’re beyond reach.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 17 Aug 2010 @ 6:44 PM

  121. 107 – thank you – in winter, what is the rate of insolation on the Antartic? is it different to that of summer? is it 237 W m2 at all times of the year? if is not, is that insolation more sensitive to the output of the sun, ie do variations of TSI have more impact on polar regions than perhaps on the equatorial? niave questions from me.

    does the geothermal rate vary with the season? i’m sure it would vary geographically, but can we assume it is generally evenly distributed over the planet’s surface? if i divide the winter polar insolation rate (A) by the (invarying?) geothermal (B) don’t I get zero? ie, at that time geothermal energy has infinitely more influence than insolation for that region?

    but my niave question was more about sensible heat directly injected into the atmosphere as convection currents from all our mechanical heat pumps (cooling towers, car radiators, etc). I understand that it is small, 10TW per annum and I am better educated for that fact thank you.

    btw, neither of these tiny factors (geothermal, human sensible heat) seem to appear in the IPCC diagram that one kind reader linked to. i guess the supporting text to the diagram discusses them as being too small to include.

    Comment by Surfer Dave — 17 Aug 2010 @ 8:23 PM

  122. Re 116 burt -

    1. The approx. 1 K warming is the warming of the surface and troposphere that is necessary to cause an approximately 3.7 W/m2 increase in upward net LW flux at the tropopause (global time average). A doubling of CO2 reduces the net upward LW flux at the tropopause by approximately 3.7 W/m2 (global time average); that reduction causes an imbalance – heat builds up, changing the temperature, until the balance is restored.

    (Note that the 3.7 W/m2 forcing at the tropopause level is with stratospheric adjustment. Doubling CO2 causes a larger direct (instantaneous) forcing at the tropopause level, but it causes stratospheric cooling; this cooling reduces the downward LW flux at the tropopause level, thus bringing the net effect at the tropopause level to a 3.7 W/m2 forcing. The stratosphere will actually warm up a bit in response to surface+tropospheric warming, which will feed back on the surface+troposphere via downward stratospheric emission; however, I don’t think this is very large for Earthly conditions (because the stratosphere doesn’t absorb much of the upward radiation from below – see also some of the comments at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/07/a-simple-recipe-for-ghe/ (and the approx. 1 K warming may include that effect )

    The forcings listed in that IPCC graphic are externally imposed forcings (in the sense that they are changes that have been caused by something other than climate change); they do not include climate change feedbacks.

    Optical properties that change as a function of climate will cause radiative feedbacks, and the temperature responds to those as it would externally imposed radiative forcing. (For a stable climate, the warming that results from feedback is less than the warming that causes the same magnitude of feedback; in order to sustain that same amount of feedback, some additional warmth must be supported by external forcing).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 17 Aug 2010 @ 9:09 PM

  123. Re: 119

    Not at all, Doug. I appreciate your posts, and I recall a number of them on the topic of climate science communication. In this case, you may well be right, but influence of others is also a factor.

    Prior to hitting submit,I muttered “This is embarrassing,” and then I hit submit anyway.

    I trust that Patrick will act in his own interest.

    Comment by burt — 17 Aug 2010 @ 9:45 PM

  124. Thank you, Patrick.

    Comment by burt — 17 Aug 2010 @ 10:26 PM

  125. … in case that last part wasn’t clear

    For example, consider a feedback of 3.7 W/m2 per 2 K warming, where a 1 K warming would change the net outgoing flux by 3.7 W/m2. Then a 2 K perturbation would produce a feedback that could only support 1 K of that warmth; cooling would result, and as the feedback responds to that cooling, even less of the temperature perturbation can be supported – thus the perturbation eventually decays to zero. Now starting from zero temperature perturbation, an imposed forcing of 3.7 W/m2 would cause heat to build up, eventually raising the temperature 1 K – there is an initial imbalance of 3.7 W/m2, and the imbalance decays as the temperature approaches the new equilibrium. But the feedback adds 1.85 W/m2 per 1 K warming to the imbalance, so the imbalance only decays half as quickly, and the heat builds up more. When the temperature has risen 2 K, the imbalance has decayed to zero and the system is again at equilibrium, with 1 K of warming supported directly by the imposed forcing and the other 1 K supported by the feedback that is supported by the full warming.

    ————–

    Regarding the apportionment of the total greenhouse effect, see discussion and links here:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/07/a-simple-recipe-for-ghe/comment-page-8/#comment-181122
    (which is the first of a series of comments I made, the first few being more relevant to the meaning of the total greenhouse effect):
    391
    404,405,409,

    413, 414, 420, 421,
    426, 427,
    428 – 431, 433, 436

    (PS some other comments I made pp 7-9:

    stratospheric cooling:
    340, 344, 348, 356, 368, 370, 372 – 377 (but see also 388), 387,
    my better comments: 437 – 441, 443 – 446
    (see also Andy Lacis 341 and 366, Chris Colose 343 and 359, Hank Roberts 347)

    other stuff 395,396, 398, 400, 401

    thermodynamics and radiation
    350,351,353
    390,399
    411,419,424

    412 internal variability )

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 17 Aug 2010 @ 11:26 PM

  126. burt says: 17 August 2010 at 9:45 PM

    Prior to hitting submit,I muttered “This is embarrassing,” and then I hit submit anyway.

    Well, as the saying goes, “the only dumb question is the one not asked” so don’t feel embarrassed. Me, I’m jaded. :-)

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 17 Aug 2010 @ 11:36 PM

  127. Re 121 Surfer Dave
    10TW per annum – that’s an order of magnitude statement, it might actually be 12 or 14 TW, I don’t remember offhand but it’s in that ballpark and certainly much less than the geothermal flux. TW is a unit of power; 10 TW per annum is the wrong unit for this quantity.

    There would be some seasonal and diurnal cycles in heat coming out of the ground (or ocean), but that is from solar heating variations and storage of that energy in the ocean or uppermost layer of the land surface; the geothermal flux from deeper within the crust and below won’t have any such cycle – of course there will be local fluctuations associated with hydrothermal and volcanic activity; but generally the geothermal flux is relatively steady except on much longer timescales. There will be some pulsation of tidal energy dissipation, of course (most obviously, besides the diurnal and semidiurnal tides themselves, the cycle through the spring and neap tides).

    Solar TSI variations will have their bigger direct impact where solar energy is absorbed more; in the annual average that is at low latitudes (because the tilt of the Earth’s axis is not much larger), though at TOA the largest incident solar fluxes are near summer solstices at the highest latitudes (because the tilt of the Earth is large enough for this) – the amount of solar radiation actually absorbed may still be small at high latitudes because of remaining summer snow/ice (and the angle of the sun affects scattering in the air and by clouds as well as off the surface, but I don’t know all the details of that) – but this won’t have as much effect on the UV absorption by ozone; and the solar variability is relatively greater for UV than it is for the whole spectrum in total. Of course, then we have to consider the distribution of ozone…

    But the effect of the spatial distribution of solar heating can be smeared out (horizontally as well as vertically) by convection and (essentially only vertically) by LW responses, and might be small relative to the effect of the spatial distribution of feedbacks (there is a characteristic spatial and seasonal pattern to the changes in climate in response to a generalized warming provided the external forcing that drives it is not too idiosyncratic.)

    Solar heating drops to essentially zero at each poles for about half the year.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 17 Aug 2010 @ 11:46 PM

  128. Re Justin Woods’s comment:

    “I wonder if you’ve seen this terrible description of the greenhouse effect on a UNFCCC background page”?

    Readers of RealClimate might be interested in a more terrible statement that appears in the Sunday NY Times which suggests that the theory of global warming might be “revived” after the recent Russian heat wave, floods in Pakistan, and in Tennessee.

    In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/science/earth/15climate.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=global%20warming&st=cse

    To suggest that the theory of global warming has been discredited but may demand a second look is outrageous. How will the editors of the NY Times be able to look at themselves in the mirror in the next several years as the effects of climate change become more and more extreme? The Times has truly become a second-rate newspaper.

    Comment by Len Conly — 17 Aug 2010 @ 11:46 PM

  129. Re 109 Urs neu – Thank you (and if you knew of any books specifically on the topic, I would enjoy reading it)

    - with the speed of the westerlies affect quasistationary Rossby wave behavior (as well as PV gradients affecing baroclinic instability), I was wondering (based on the dependence on winds throughout the atmosphere and not just the surface) about the effect of the increasing meridional temperature gradient at higher levels combined with (particularly at some latitudes/seasons) the opposite change near the surface – neither of which actually directly determines the surface wind, only the geostrophic wind shear.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 17 Aug 2010 @ 11:51 PM

  130. Regarding waste heat, Skeptical Science has a nice little post on the matter here, followed by a ~200 comment adventure touching on such topics as Schrödinger’s cat, Romans, magnetrons, dead horses, engine blocks, buckets of water, the Sahara Desert, billiard tables, Al Gore, the Apollo program, light bulbs, mirrors, lizards, boulders, Philadelphia, thunderstorms, Chuck Yeager, Phoenicians and much, much more.

    All this to avoid grappling with the ratio of anthropogenic waste heat to greenhouse warming, ~1:100, ~0.028 versus ~2.9 watts/m^2. A breathtaking display of agile, elliptical evasion of the very finest kind.

    The real gag is “RSVP.” Us clowns should know better.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 18 Aug 2010 @ 1:31 AM

  131. Burt 116,

    The radiative equilibrium temperature of the Earth can be found by inverting the Stefan-Boltzmann law:

    T = (F / σ)0.25   [1]

    where F is the flux density absorbed by the planet. For Earth F is about 237 watts per square meter.

    If we define

    k = (1 / σ)0.25   [2]

    Then, substituting and differentiating [1],

    dT/dF = 0.25 k F-0.75   [3a]

    And

    dT = dF (k / 4) F-0.75

    For σ = 5.6704 x 10-8, k/4 works out to about 16.2, so given dF = 3.7 W m-2 for doubled carbon dioxide, dT = 0.99 K.

    The greenhouse effect makes the Earth about 13% warmer, at 288 K, than its radiative equilibrium temperature of 254 K. So at the surface this would correspond to about a 1.1 K increase in temperature.

    With no feedbacks.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Aug 2010 @ 4:07 AM

  132. John Peter – Re: 119

    No problem with that at all. Looks sane to be.

    However, was riled by your suggestions that uncertainty (in either the magnitude of warming, the magnitude of the impact, or the cost of alternatives) precluded dealing with the problem.

    The magnitude is will understood, within (for a phyicist) fairly large error margins. i.e. climate sensitivity is around 3 degrees, plus or minus 1.5 degrees

    Impacts is not my area, but plenty of published material on this. IPCC WG2 is a good starting point. Even from my limited knowledge, I would suggest a 5% chance of a 4.5 degree C increase in global mean temperature (at 550ppm CO2e, which we will exceed on a BAU profile sometime before 2050 according to the International Energy Agency) is absolutely terrifying

    The cost of dealing with the problem (a problem that needs to be dealt with in any case, as you noted) is large, but not so large as one might expect. The documents I listed provide more details on this.

    Comment by Silk — 18 Aug 2010 @ 4:22 AM

  133. Re: #128

    You need some supporting argument. Apparent mismatch here between comment and linked article?

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 18 Aug 2010 @ 4:51 AM

  134. #128–But that’s not what the story says.

    It is not “the theory of AGW” that is (allegedly) revived, but rather “the question of whether global warming causes more weather extremes.”

    I’d agree that “revive” is not the best choice of verb, but the Times story is pretty good overall, IMO.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Aug 2010 @ 7:06 AM

  135. Len @ 128,

    I understood the term “revived” in the sense that the opinion polls showed a drop in concern after the extremely cold northern winter, but now that there has been an extremely hot northern summer, the OP’s may be “revived”.

    Comment by DeNihilist — 18 Aug 2010 @ 9:35 AM

  136. re128 and following – I like that the article was pretty dismissive of denialists …. AND included good quotes from Schmidt and Trenberth, as well as providing references – I don’t see any suggestion “global warming has been discredited”, overall I’d say it is foward looking.

    Comment by flxible — 18 Aug 2010 @ 11:55 AM

  137. 119 (John Peter),

    I was trying to show Bob some sensitivity to sociology, resource depletion and global asset economics. What went wrong?

    Let’s start from scratch.

    I have two issues with your posts (outside of their patronizing I-know-more-than-you tone).

    The first was the implication that there are large areas of doubt in climate science. I accept your overall premise that there is much doubt about individual specifics, but not the basic scenario that CO2 is dangerously warming the world. On those details, you seemed to try to hedge and further impart doubt, while to me (and I think many here) the basic equation of

    CO2 = hotter

    is beyond denial, while

    CO2 + feedbacks = too much

    is looking dangerously likely (not certain, but likely enough to warrant action).

    The accusations of being “religious” about this scientifically gained and documented, wide base of knowledge, of course, was an unnecessary side irritation.

    My second point of contention is your position that we need to know more before we can do anything about it. You are right in that we need to know more if our strategy is to proactively adapt (i.e. mitigate the dangerous symptoms while leaving the underlying disease untreated). This is, to me, a fatally flawed strategy. That expense will far exceed the cost of true mitigation (i.e. reasonably reducing CO2 emissions ASAP), and may even be impossible to do in many, many cases… not to mention the human suffering involved (see Moscow, 2010, for a possible example, specific attribution always being too difficult to make accurate claims).

    So, I’ll leave it to you to clarify your position (without going OT into CC mitigation details) on:

    1) What aspects of climate science you feel are in doubt, solely with respect to whether or not warming is occurring, how much can be expected, and what the cause is.

    2) What sort of details science does not have nailed down which you feel are required before civilization can begin to take effective action (again, without wandering too far into the actual actions that might be taken).

    Please do so in light of the post at hand, i.e. the idea that many people misunderstand the science and so need clear explanations of what we really do and do not know, and what the implications are of each.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 18 Aug 2010 @ 12:12 PM

  138. Re Patrick027, Hank Roberts, Urs Neu, John Peter, and the discussion about changing tropospheric circulation and its coupling to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, I have a rhetorical question and a few thoughts.

    Why doesn’t the Atlantic Ocean circulation mirror the Hadley tropospheric circulation, with upwelling and warming at the equator, polar motion at the surface, evaporation/salinity increase+cooling, density driven sinking near both poles, and equatorward motion of deep currents to close north and south loops?

    I once read a paper (unfortunately I can’t find a reference to it) that showed mathematically and with easy to grasp diagrams, a simple slab model of the circulation in the Atlantic. They used a rectangular box model, 4000 km wide, 4km deep, extending from 65S to 60N, with notches in the side representing the Drake passage and the region south of the Cape of Good Hope. Flow into this model ocean through the Drake passage(mean transport of 123 Sv and a range of 87 to 148 Sv ) driven by the Antarctic Polar Vortex, without any other wind or thermohaline forcings, is altered by Ekman transport(coriolis effect) into a north surface current and a south deep current(the base AMOC), and mass balance is maintained by net flow eastward south of the Cape of Good Hope.

    Equatorial trade winds divert the surface flow westward, and the net Ekman transport symmetrically across the equator is zero; this drives surface circulation of two gyres. They have north currents along the US Coast, south current past Europe, south current along Brazil, and north current near the African coast. Superposition(vector summation) of the AMOC and the gyres enhances the Gulf Stream(30 to 150 Sv, increasing to the north) and the Benguela current(ca 29 Sv), and reducing the Brazil and Azores currents(ca 18 and 10-12 Sv respectively).

    Thermohaline sinking in the North Atlantic works with & strengthens the AMOC; thermohaline forcing is working against the AMOC in the South Atlantic. The shape of Brazil diverts most of the equatorial current north into the Caribbean
    further increasing Gulf Stream flow.

    The width(northward extent) and depth of the passage south of the Cape of Good Hope provides a path for cold Atlantic bottom water to exit into the Indian Ocean/Pacific circulation, and a return path for large quantities of surface water via the Agulhas current, 40-70 Sv. A good discussion of Atlantic Ocean currents can be found at http://oceancurrents.rsmas.miami.edu/atlantic/atlantic-arrows.html, and was the source for the strength of the various currents I gave.

    My guess is that even with a catastrophic(in the scientific sense of abrupt and nonlinear dynamics) collapse of the Greenland Ice sheet and fresh water injection into the North Atlantic, the AMOC would not stop, but would slow and the sinking region would move south. There is some evidence that this happened during the Younger Dryas – http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/280/5364/725. AGW changes in the jet stream, and Hadley circulation, will likely change the details of ocean circulation, and there will be “minor” consequences – like the occasional complete snow coverage of the UK, or flash floods in France – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/16/flash-floods-france-casualties.
    The strengthening of the Antarctic vortex will tend to support the AMOC. “Table 10 shows 30-yr trends in this index calculated independently for each calendar month. Positive trends, indicative of a strengthening of the westerlies at subpolar latitudes, are evident in all but one month. They exceed the 90% significance threshold during six calendar months, and no clear seasonality is evident.”
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/1520-0442%282000%29013%3C1018%3AAMITEC%3E2.0.CO%3B2#s5

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 18 Aug 2010 @ 8:19 PM

  139. Len Conly17 August 2010 at 11:0 PM

    The NYT article isn’t as bad as you describe. Apart from the tendentious title, in fact I think it was pretty good.

    You said about the article that it suggests that the theory of global warming might be “revived”…

    But in reality it said this:

    …these far-flung disasters are reviving the question of whether global warming is causing more weather extremes…

    That is something completely different. The theory of global warming itself is never in doubt throughout the article.

    Furthermore, both Gavin Schmidt and Kevin Trenberth were quoted and no contrarian bloggers. That is refreshing.

    Comment by Anne van der Bom — 19 Aug 2010 @ 1:20 AM

  140. 128 Len Conly: Thank you. The bad news is that the NYT is representative of people in general. Nobody ever went broke by underestimating the average intelligence. THAT is our problem. Is Homo Sap worthy of survival?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 19 Aug 2010 @ 1:53 AM

  141. Silk 132

    Nice job!

    In the past, I claimed good familiarity with IPCC, and even some TAR. I’ve been all over WG1 (use it as an index to the science papers). Until your posts, did not realize I’d hadn’t even looked at WG-2.

    I’ll fix that problem.

    Thank again

    Comment by John Peter — 19 Aug 2010 @ 2:24 AM

  142. Fueled by anti-Obama rhetoric and news articles purportedly showing scientists manipulating their own data, Republicans running for the House, Senate and governor’s mansions have gotten bolder in stating their doubts over the well-established link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/41192.html#ixzz0x2Gcj8ul

    Comment by Veidicar Decarian — 19 Aug 2010 @ 2:43 AM

  143. Bob 137
    #70 is my negative review of your six point approach as to how to best describe GHE, this topic of this thread. A negative review, that’s all.

    The rest has become very tedious. Let’s stop.

    Comment by John Peter — 19 Aug 2010 @ 4:57 AM

  144. John Peter. Let’s look at a non-physics analogy for a moment.

    A medically knowledgeable person enters a community and notices a large number of people exhibiting signs of cretinism and a similar number with ugly goitres disfiguring their necks. Aha! Iodine deficiency, we say. What do we do next?

    What we don’t do is delay action while we ascertain the precise details of which particular areas of cropland display more or less iodine deficiency. We don’t wait for elaborate testing of everyone to see all the exact details of thyroid dysfunction in each and every individual. We don’t have an orgy of genetic testing to see which individuals are more susceptible or resilient to iodine deficiency.

    We straight away start supplementing everyone’s diet with iodine. In climate terms that would be mitigation, reducing the prime cause of the problem. Then we start checking all the goitre afflicted individuals and prescribing suitable doses of thyroxine to compensate for their depleted thyroid function. In climate terms, that would be mitigation. Like dealing with fire, flood and agricultural problems. And the people born with cretinism? They’re the irretrievable casualties. In climate terms, migration, starvation, drowning, death from heat.

    In this community, a couple of generations will see the casualties die off and not recur because pregnant women have adequate thyroid function. The people who needed medication lived longer and healthier and more productive lives before they died. The new generations are born healthy with normal intelligence and stay healthy so long as they keep an eye on their diet and get medication as soon as there are signs it is needed.

    For climate, it may take a few more generations to get to the happier final condition.

    But getting started is the main requirement.

    The finer details, of regional impacts especially, will require much more of the work you’re talking about.

    Comment by adelady — 19 Aug 2010 @ 9:00 AM

  145. Oh dear. That second “mitigation” should be adaptation.

    Comment by adelady — 19 Aug 2010 @ 9:02 AM

  146. Geoff Wexler says:
    16 August 2010 at 7:34 PM
    Re #73 and #71 (not #70)

    I can’t see that it’s anything other than a strong analogy.

    [i.e. the glass greenhouse]

    I can’t discuss this if you do not address the comments I make. But I shall try once more. I know the reference in #70 is tedious and flawed, but you would only have needed to read the part devoted to the well known weakness of the glasshouse analogy.

    The glasshouse may be useful as a case study expecially in your hands, when you may be there to point out the contrast between the glasshouse , based on blocking convection, with the greenhouse gas effect based on escaping radiation from cold layers high up.You would be able to contrast the large fall in temperature between the ground and the radiating levels in the atmosphere with the tiny fall in temperature in the first 8 feet to the top of a glasshouse.

    You would be there to point out that the analogy might work with a huge sheet of glass placed high up in the troposphere where it would re-radiate weakly at a really low temperature.

    You would be there to explain that rock salt is analagous to oxygen and nitrogen in the sense that it is a good transmitter of infra-red, but all the same provides a good alternative to glass in keeping the glasshouse warm (by blocking convection) and is therefore not analagous after all to O2 and N2 in its actual behaviour. You would thus be able to discuss Wood’s old experiment (nearly 100 years ago) and show why this experiment would be irrelevant i.e that his contrarian claim that he had disproved the greenhouse gas mechanism was wrong.

    The trouble is that other people , not in your classroom, are reading the Spectator where Wood’s false interpretation of his results,revived by Gerlich and Treuschner has joined the other zombified arguments.

    Agree 100% with your last sentence, Wood’s comment that he’d only given it a cursory analysis (and as you correctly point out, inaccurate analysis) is usually ignored. However the analogy isn’t as bad as is commonly stated. The atmosphere does have a convective block (the tropopause) like the greenhouse, additionally the glass provides a filter like the ghg in the atmosphere does, which passes visible and blocks part of the IR.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 19 Aug 2010 @ 9:04 AM

  147. John Peter,

    I am afraid that uncertainty provides no refuge for the inactivist. The empirical evidence makes it unequivocal that the planet is warming, and the science we know about the climate makes it clear that we are the only possible culprit. What the science cannot yet do is bound the risk. We cannot with any degree of confidence say this won´t spell the end of civilization and mass extinction. Probabilistic risk assessment tells us that the only feasible strategy in such circumstances is risk avoidance. Any other choice is irresponsible.

    And since the science does not yet allow us to exhaustively assess the feasibility and side effects of mitigations other than reducing cargon emissions,… it doesn´t help your case there either. I´ll keep saying it ´til you get it: Uncertainty is not your friend.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Aug 2010 @ 9:13 AM

  148. 143 (John Peter),

    The rest has become very tedious. Let’s stop.

    A cop out.

    It amounts to the position that you can make unsupported claims (a “review”) about my statements, but you want those claims to stand on their own because you can’t be bothered. But okay, so be it.

    You do say that despite your doubts in GHE we do need to take action… some day.

    At the same time, you’ve claimed we need far more information before we act, but you now refuse to support that position with details, as well.

    Looking back at your posts, I’m finding you have never included a clear statement of the details of your own position. Just “we don’t know enough, let’s wait.” That’s it.

    I think you should rectify that. I’ll ask again. You said:

    Regardless of what you may wish to believe, more CC details are a requirement. We need them in order to choose what and how much we can and should do.

    Please explain what sort of details science does not have nailed down, but which you feel are required before civilization can begin to take effective action (again, without wandering too far into the actual actions that might be taken).

    Please do so in light of the post at hand, i.e. the idea that many people misunderstand the science and so need clear explanations of what we really do and do not know, how and how strongly, and what the implications are of each.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 19 Aug 2010 @ 10:02 AM

  149. Ray Ladbury wrote: “We cannot with any degree of confidence say this won´t spell the end of civilization and mass extinction.”

    It’s worth noting that a single “extreme weather event” may yet prove sufficient to cause something resembling “the end of civilization” in Pakistan.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Aug 2010 @ 10:06 AM

  150. > the AMOC would not stop, but would slow and
    > the sinking region would move south.

    I recall Peter Ward makes the same point; it explains the periods of formation of anoxic deep water (warmer, carries less oxygen)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Aug 2010 @ 10:28 AM

  151. @Chris Colose #16
    This puts a different perspective on the commonly-cited notion that the ‘hydrologic cycle becomes more intense’ depending on what that actually means

    Soden & Held (2006) discuss this:
    http://www.asp.ucar.edu/thompson/2005/pdf/hydro_final.pdf

    “It is important that the global-mean precipitation or evaporation, commonly referred to as the strength of the hydrological cycle, does not scale with Clausius-Clapeyron.” [See figure 2a,c vs 2b,d - column-integrated water vapor scales with CC, precipitation does not - 7.5% per K vs. 1.7% per K]“

    “The fact that the strength of the global-mean hydrological cycle increases more slowly than does the [CC-scaled] mixing ratio near the surface has important consequences for the atmospheric circulation. . .

    This is complicated – try thinking about what would happen if precipitation did scale with CC, for example. Remember to distinguish between the strength of the atmospheric circulation (which includes the upper troposphere) and the strength of the hydrological cycle (which is mostly taking place in the lower troposphere):

    “There are a number of ways of measuring the strength of the atmospheric circulation, but by this particular measure, the circulation must weaken as the climate warms. We can, alternatively, speak of the mean residence time of water vapor in the troposphere as increasing with increasing temperature”

    Here’s the key point relative to extreme weather, however – a weaker circulation can counter-intuitively result in more intense storms:

    “. . .by the fundamental measure provided by the average vertical exchange of mass between the boundary layer and the free troposphere, the atmospheric circulation must, in fact, slow down. This large-scale constraint has little direct relevance to the question of how tropical storms will be affected by global warming, since the mass exchange in these storms is a small fraction of the total tropical exchange.”

    Now, consider the mid-latitude weather systems, in the light of the fact that average pole-to-equator temperature differences are expected to decrease as warming continues. A weaker gradient should lead to weaker storms – or is that like saying a weaker atmospheric circulation would lead to weaker storms? MIT Professor Richard Lindzen claimed that this decrease in the temperature gradient would weaken, not intensify, mid-latitude storms – but he forgot about seasonality, I think.

    The seasonal temperature changes in combination with the amount of water in the atmosphere is what leads to intense mid-latitude storms and high rates of precipitation – and that’s due to the tilt of the Earth on its axis – unlikely to change due to global warming. Yes, winter temperatures are expected to increase a few degrees – but what’s the winter-summer temperature differential at 30N? Much greater. Since the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere at the end of summer will be higher, when that water vapor-rich air hits cold masses of Arctic air, massive snowfalls and storms are expected, followed by rapid spring melts due to higher temps. This is a robust conclusion:

    “A very important consequence of the increase in lower-tropospheric water is the increase in horizontal vapor transport within the atmosphere.” [See figures 5a and 5b for the poleward moisture transport flux estimates]

    Anyway, that’s a very important paper on the hydrological cycle – and their approach is helpful – see their closing argument:

    “To the extent that we have simple plausible physical arguments that support the model consensus, we believe that one should have nearly as much confidence in these results as one has in the increase in temperature itself.”

    Comment by Ike Solem — 19 Aug 2010 @ 11:52 AM

  152. Re #146

    I agree with your comment (which occupies just the last 5 lines of #146) at a technical level, except that it is rather orthogonal to mine which was concerned with the abuse which the glass version is receiving in the denialosphere.

    My view is that simplifications which do not simplify and which are so easily distorted should be avoided in to-day’s propaganda war. That means telling enough of the truth.

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 19 Aug 2010 @ 12:34 PM

  153. This is more by way of a general comment and is probably off topic here. The sceptic blogs have been banging on about a new statistics paper (McShane and Wyner 2010) for some days now. I have been hoping to see some form of answer or response here. Are you going to produce one some time soon?

    Comment by Rupert Matthews — 19 Aug 2010 @ 1:33 PM

  154. Tapio Schneider @ 29

    In the water cycle, how does the wind influence the tranport of water into and around the atmosphere? A slight increase in air temperature results in only a small increase in humidity.

    Air pressure changes greatly influence the evaporation of surface waters and is proably more important than a slight warming of the surface air.

    When wind blows over the water, the surface cools quite a lot but the momentum of air molecules and atoms is so great that they just blast water molecules off the suface and into the air.

    Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 19 Aug 2010 @ 4:25 PM

  155. Ray 147 Listen

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=868nr1Pgxw0

    \Unequivocal\ is the wrong word for CLIMATE SCIENCE since 2003.

    Comment by John Peter — 19 Aug 2010 @ 4:29 PM

  156. Bob 148

    You claim:

    ***** “…Looking back at your posts, I’m finding you have never included a CLEAR STATEMENT of the details of your own position….” *********** (my emphasis)

    QUITE WRONG, I began my second, post #78

    Please forgive me for not making myself more clear. My point is about potential CC mitigation, not about the reality of GW or CC. Regardless of what you may wish to believe, more CC details are a requirement. We need them in order to choose what and how much we can and should do.

    Silk suggests that you were too upset by my REVIEW to even notice my POSITION. You missed it again in your research for your post #148.

    You continue ***Just “we don’t know enough, let’s wait.” ****

    You made up that quotation, it was not me. I never said “wait”. EVER. I once used the word “waited”. Further down in my post #78, I wrote:

    As one example, I believe we have waited much too long to try to find alternatives for fossil fuels. One result is that developing nations like China, trying to improve the quality of life of their citizens by following centuries old models that developed nations used have little choice but to continue to pollute.

    The absolute opposite view from your misrepresentation. Give me a break.

    You finished that paragraph with *** That’s it. ***

    Well it should be and I hope so but I doubt it.

    Comment by John Peter — 19 Aug 2010 @ 5:38 PM

  157. JohnPeter@154 Did you follow the link and read the piece?

    “The heat will come back to haunt us sooner or later,” says NCAR scientist Kevin Trenberth, the lead author. “The reprieve we’ve had from warming temperatures in the last few years will not continue. It is critical to track the build-up of energy in our climate system so we can understand what is happening and predict our future climate.”

    “Global warming at its heart is driven by an imbalance of energy: more solar energy is entering the atmosphere than leaving it”

    “unequivocal – admitting of no doubt or misunderstanding; having only one meaning or interpretation and leading to only one conclusion.”
    Sounds like the right word to me, you seem to wish the opposite:
    “equivocal – open to two or more interpretations; or of uncertain nature or significance; or (often) intended to mislead.”

    Comment by flxible — 19 Aug 2010 @ 5:57 PM

  158. adelady #144

    Excellent idea. While I’m kind of proud of my physics knowledge, my long ago biology/chemistry 101 are about gone in those areas. I am certainly not a “medically knowledgeable” person, as you use the term. I like your medical example even though I’m sure don’t really understand it in any scientific depth.

    As far as Climate Change mitigation/adaption is concerned – given your recognition of and allowance for uncertain regional impacts – I believe we also are in agreement.

    My beliefs (post# 78) are that:

    “As one example, I believe we have waited much too long to try to find alternatives for fossil fuels. One result is that developing nations like China, trying to improve the quality of life of their citizens by following centuries old models that developed nations used have little choice but to continue to pollute.”

    and my requirement for more work needed I stated as:

    “All over the world nations are searching for better (more Green) ways to live. We all would be much further along on a great deal of this had we more solid scientific CC quantification.”

    Why a few choose to make sport of me by misrepresenting my views only they could say. I never pay much attention to trolls anyway so I really don’t care.

    Comment by John Peter — 19 Aug 2010 @ 6:15 PM

  159. flxible 157

    Hi, nice to hear from you.

    If you want to parse unequivocal I’m really not very interested.

    If you want to join the Trenberth discussion,start with post #83. It should answer most of your question.

    If you want to try join the Ladbury thread, it is about climate science, not global warming or climate change. Ray is trying to be a good activist and, so far, hasn’t tried to address any engineering requirements for good climate science (data).

    Comment by John Peter — 19 Aug 2010 @ 7:25 PM

  160. BPL, Patrick,

    Thank you for the explanations, references, and post organization.

    Comment by burt — 19 Aug 2010 @ 8:25 PM

  161. Re 138 Brian Dodge
    two key differences between the ocean and atmosphere

    - while mountain ranges pinch atmospheric flow, they don’t cut it off completely, whereas the oceans are discontinuous (in at least some directions).

    - regarding non-convective heat fluxes, the atmosphere is heated from below and cooled from above-no, actually, from within (but cooling is above warming in the global time average and this characterizes the whole surface+troposphere). Solar heating penetrates deeper than net LW cooling as well as evaporative and sensible cooling, and this, as well as salt rejection from growing ice and evaporation, can drive overturning, but precipitation and other freshenning of the surface water can impede that; generally, and the solar heating doesn’t penetrate through the whole ocean, so on the scale of the whole ocean, it is both heated and cooled, and freshenned and un-freshenned (what’s a verb for concentrating salt) in the upper ocean and at the surface. Wind-driven circulation of the ocean is important, whereas the driving of the atmosphere by surface motion (lack-thereof) is mainly through frictional/viscous slowing of the near-surface wind and effects of that.

    The large scale flow of the atmosphere is mechanically affected by topography; in particular, westerly flow over topography produces topographically-forced Rossby waves; the strength of the waves that develop is larger if the speed of free propagation through the air is closer to the speed of the flow over topography. (Flow over topography also produces inertio-gravity waves, which can have effects on large scale flow but are themselves smaller-scale phenomena.)

    Wind-driven motion over the ocean cannot generally produce zonally-continuous jets in the water because of the continents. The gyres produced by the wind might be thought of as Rossby waves forced by the wind; they would freely propagate westward (because the equatorward flow in the east produces a cyclonic PV anomaly and the poleward flow in the west produces an anticyclonic PV anomaly, and this would produce equatorward flow in the center, etc.) but the continents trap them, so the result is intensification of the western-boundary currents with more diffuse currents elsewhere.

    My understanding (going from geophysical first principles here):

    The meridional winds out of subtropical highs produce an average zonal flow that is to the east in the midlatitudes and to the west in the tropics.

    The zonal winds around subtropical highs drive (via Ekman spiral, vertical average) convergence in the upper ocean into the subtropics; this raises the height of the sea surface, producing a high pressure throughout the ocean column. This high pressure will then cause ouflow everywhere, which will partly cancel the convergence in the upper ocean. Convergence in the upper ocean and divergence in the deeper ocean involves sinking motion. Because of the stable stratification of ocean water, sinking produces a region of lower density, which produces low pressure in the deeper ocean, so that the high pressure within the water decreases with depth. Aside from the ongoing direct effect of the wind, the high pressure in the water at the surface would support a geostrophic current that is eastward in the midlatitudes and westward in the tropics (anticyclonic around the subtropics). The lower density within the water (due to downward vertical displacement) supports a geostrophic shear such that the anticyclonic current will decrease with depth. (In the Equatorial region, this whole process can drive upwelling as surface water is pulled away into the subtropics.)

    The zonal flow may be interupted by coastlines, in which case, there would be (relative to the subtropical center of an ocean basin) divergence in the poleward-east and equatorward-west, and convergence in the other ‘corners’. This would produce changes in the sea level that create pressure variations in the water which would slow the zonal flows but also cause some meridional flows in the eastern and western parts of the basin in opposite directions. It can also drive sinking and rising (and upwelling), with consequences for pressure variations with depth and geostrophic shear. Because the meridional flows thus far described is simply going down a pressure gradient, the coriolis force will act on them to drive motion away from the coasts and towards the center (for an anticyclonic flow relative to the center). This produces a higher pressure in the water in the center of the basin, etc, which can support geostrophic meridional (north and south) currents (that would weaken with depth because of the vertical displacement of density values via sinking motion within the water column in the center and rising motion at the coasts).

    Thus a gyre can form that is geostrophic. However, it will tend to propagate into the western boundary because of the PV gradient (see above). Meanwhile, ongoing wind-driving should continue to support Ekman spirals (which must be linearly superimposed on the geostrophic currents?).

    Heating (or freshenning) some region of surface water would raise the sea level, the warm water will then tend to spread out; the coriolis force acts on this divergence to induce anticylonic flow about around the warmed water; spreading stops when the flow equals the geostrophic flow. (there would be cyclonic geostrophic flow just underneath the warm water because the spreading would cause lower pressure in the water column; rising motion would produce greater density at depth which would concentrate the low pressure toward the upper ocean).

    (PS the effect of rising or sinking acting on stable stratification to produce density anomalies that would support geostrophic vertical shear also applies to the atmosphere, as does the way the coriolis force acts on divergence or convergence.)

    (PS actual PV doesn’t just depend on latitude (via f, a.k.a planetary vorticity); it also depends on relative vorticity (the vorticity of the winds/currents) and static stability (potential density increase with depth as measured by pressure); jets tend to be regions of larger PV gradients.)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 19 Aug 2010 @ 9:22 PM

  162. Ray Ladbury @ 147 says “The empirical evidence makes it unequivocal that the planet is warming . . .”

    John Peter @ 155 responds with “\Unequivocal\ is the wrong word for CLIMATE SCIENCE since 2003”

    John Peter’s assertion is, in my opinion, essentially bereft of meaning (would unequivocal be the right word for CLIMATE SCIENCE prior to 2003?) and, as flexible points out @ 157, equivocal in the context of the article by Trenberth.

    Clearly John Peter’s assertion utterly misses the point regarding Ray Ladbury’s use of the word unequivocal, which was in reference to the planet’s warming, not the status of climate science.

    John, you are clearly a smart and articulate individual. I keep hoping that you’ll turn your talents in a more constructive direction.

    Comment by Rick Brown — 19 Aug 2010 @ 9:31 PM

  163. Harold Pierce Jr (154),

    you might be interested…there is a nice paper, from Richter and Xie (2008, JGR), that describes precipitation changes in terms of latent heat bulk formula, and separating the influence of near-surface wind speed, near surface stability, relative humidity changes, etc

    Comment by Chris Colose — 19 Aug 2010 @ 11:22 PM

  164. If you want to try join the Ladbury thread, it is about climate science, not global warming or climate change. Ray is trying to be a good activist and, so far, hasn’t tried to address any engineering requirements for good climate science (data).

    Oh, gosh, John Peter is trying to claim that working PhD physicists aren’t aware of the need for data.

    The world is warming, and no one’s going to care if John Peter says “there’s no data!” or not.

    Comment by dhogaza — 19 Aug 2010 @ 11:24 PM

  165. Re 154 Harold Pierce Jr -

    That’s not how wind affects evaporation. What happens is – without turbulence, mixing occurs by molecular diffusion, which is relatively slow (as is thermal conduction). To sustain a flux of water vapor, the concentration (relative to total air, assuming hydrostatic balance) must vary, so that molecular diffusion can result in a net flux of water molecules down-gradient. Thus the concentration of water molecules would have to decrease greatly from the surface through a relatively thin layer of air in order to sustain the flux of water vapor coming from the surface (would also be true of the temperature for sustaining a heat flux without convection). Surface heating can drive small-scale turbulence above the surface. Absent that, or in combination, the larger-scale wind can supply the energy to drive turbulent mixing, so that molecular diffusion (and thermal conduction) are only dominant over a very thin layer, so that the (potential) temperature and water vapor mixing ratio don’t change so much between the surface and where convection can take over, sustaining large fluxes with small gradients.

    On the larger scale, wind can transport dry air over wet surfaces; otherwise, the air over wet surfaces would tend to become more humid and this would slow the rate of evaporation.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 19 Aug 2010 @ 11:31 PM

  166. Correction – second to last paragraph of my 38:

    some places will have evaporative surface cooling with sensible surface heating (cold dry air blowing over warm water or a warm moist surface

    SHOULD BE …warm dry air blowing over cool water or moist surface…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 19 Aug 2010 @ 11:44 PM

  167. Re 151 Ike Solem -

    very interesting!

    About midlatitude storms
    1. As I understand it, because of midlatitude-storm-track-induced upwelling of cooler water (from a level that will take a while to fully recieve the global warming signal) in the Southern hemisphere, the midlatitude storm track activity could actually strengthen there.

    2. with the Arctic lower troposphere+surface warming being particularly strong in winter, there is still the low-latitude hot spot of the upper troposphere that, so far as I know, is still there in summer.

    (Baroclinic instability requires a vertical reversal of the quasi-horizontal PV gradient. In one of the simplest possible models of baroclinic instability, the PV gradient within the fluid layer is ignored and the tropopause is treated like a boundary like the surface, so that their are effective PV gradients at the upper and lower boundaries related to the temperature gradients there; the baroclinic instability then takes the form of of Rossby waves at the upper and lower boundary which mutually-amplify each other. If the temperature gradient at the surface weakens, that would reduce the growth rate. But increasing the temperature gradient at the upper boundary should increase the growth rate. Of course, there are other things that come into play in the full picture (or even in this simple two-level model.)

    Also, the zone where the temperature gradient weakenning is greatest – I’m not sure but I don’t think it actually aligns with the storm tracks all that well and I wonder if/how that would reduce the effect on storm-track activity.

    3. Very good point about the role of latent heating in extratropical cyclones.

    4. Additional stuff, speculation on my part but based on knowledge of physics and thus interesting to consider – with the increased height of the tropopause (not necessarily following midltatitude storm track activity, as that shifts poleward, where the tropopause is lower; not sure how that balances out), a reduced lapse rate (which doesn’t happen everywhere, especially lower troposphere in polar winter – PS that also affects PV) doesn’t necessarily mean the temperature difference between the surface and tropopause is reduced. If the temperature difference between surface convective cooling and the distribution of atmospheric convective heating were increased, then the atmospheric heat engine would become more efficient – there would be more kinetic energy generated per unit convective flux (potentially larger hail, other things being equal, which of course they won’t but anyway…). This of course depends both on horizontal and vertical temperature variation.

    5. I wonder what happens to mesoscale convection phenomena.

    6. If the relative humidity stayed (or fractionally changed) the same for all locations in the four-dimensional climate, then the differences in water vapor mixing ratios would increase in proportion to the average water vapor mixing ratio. I wonder if that would enhance some types of severe weather – particularly increasing the strength of microburts, or downdrafts in supercells – or if those downdrafts were from higher heights, then if the larger-scale temperature gradient (and thus, geostrophic wind shear) within that layer is not reduced too much, the downdraft might supply greater PV to the surface and affect tornadic activity …?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Aug 2010 @ 12:13 AM

  168. Re my 161 Heating (or freshenning) some region of surface water would raise the sea level

    It depends on how the freshenning occurs; actually adding fresh water would increase the total mass there; the point is that if the mass of the water column were held constant, decreasing the density has to raise sea level, creating a high pressure within the water in the upper layer (not below the level where the density was changed); adding or removing mass affects pressure at all levels.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Aug 2010 @ 12:19 AM

  169. Rick brown @162
    Welcome. Thanks for dropping by.

    Someone with a long career in public service believing that

    “…The basic elements of conservation planning will remain the same: identifying species and habitats of concern, establishing landscape-scale networks that include reserves (protected areas), a matrix that provides connectivity among reserves, and provision for aquatic and other special habitats (Lindenmayer and Franklin 2002). How and where these elements are applied will likely need to be modified and/or supplemented in light of climate change. Assessments of which species and communities are at risk will need to be revised to take climate change into consideration…”

    is capable of better than ad hominid comments. Surprisingly directed towards the one who is attempting to communicate the needs for exactly the better climate data required to support the application of such beliefs!

    That said, I appreciate compliments, even left-handed ones. As for meaning, you should try reading a whole thread sometime. Some observations are simply too complex to be expressed in a single post.

    It’s a little late in our lives to turn our talents much. Thank you however for pointing out that I should communicate more clearly. I completely agree with that need.

    Comment by John Peter — 20 Aug 2010 @ 12:55 AM

  170. 156 (John Peter),

    Your emphasis:

    “…Looking back at your posts, I’m finding you have never included a CLEAR STATEMENT of the details of your own position….”

    My emphasis:

    “…Looking back at your posts, I’m finding you have never included a clear statement OF THE DETAILS of your own position….”

    Everyone here can clearly see what your basic position is. The point is to substantiate and defend it, not just announce it and assume that you are right.

    As far the fictional quote… it was never intended as a direct quote (for that I use the blockquote tag). It was meant as a paraphrase of your position, and I think everyone here has interpreted the basic premise (again, this is a paraphrase, not a quote) of “we don’t have enough info” which by itself implies “so we have to wait.”

    But fine, take out the “wait” part. You’ve said that the science is too uncertain for us to take any mitigating action (although we don’t have to wait to do so?).

    So now you’re right, it’s not over. Once again, can you provide any clarification or support of this very, very vague proposition that climate science is not yet advanced enough for us to take any action to mitigate CC? (Something besides sarcasm and irritation and self inflation and phlogiston?)

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 20 Aug 2010 @ 7:22 AM

  171. #155 John Peter

    Unequivocal is the appropriate term. Any other interpretation is most likely based in an incomplete understanding of the well established science, or intentional denialism.

    flxible is correct about the rest of the interview. It is important when you hear a piece of information to actually explore it’s context. Facts out of context are often used to mislead understanding, especially by denialists but also by those that simply do not understand the science at sufficient depth.

    Due to the complexity of the field, it takes a while to get to those contexts but the journey is worth the effort.

    You personally can equivocate all you want, but that won’t alter the well established climates science.

    Honestly, I don’t know what point you are really making because you come off as rather ambiguous. Usin’ high fallutin’ words, maght sound impressuv, but I gotta admit, ya sound a lot like a politician in your general manner and subtle manipulations of the relevant contexts and statements that are meant to guide you down a path of better understanding.

    You see it doesn’t matter how intelligent you are. It only matters if you understand what you are talking about fomr a holistic perspective. . . that is from outside of your perspective, especially from those that are truly adept on these subjects, as I am well aware, are so many of the regular posters in this thread.

    Heck, ya can weave a blanket wid dem sentences of yourn, but that don’t mean it’ll keep ya warm at night.

    The fact that you don’t want to parse unequivocal and equivocal shows conclusively that you are not interested in the truth, but rather the ambiguity.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 20 Aug 2010 @ 8:14 AM

  172. John Peter, Is it seriously your contention that Trenbreth has doubts about whether it is warming? That IS a fascinating interpretation! Not supported by his writings, public statements, research or the evidence, but fascinating nonetheless.
    I am particularly interested in the cherrypick of 2003. I mean after all 2005 was the warmest year as far as GISTEMP is concerned, and 2009 came in at number 2 and 2010 is a good candidate to break the record.

    You claim to understand the science, and yet you seem to utterly dismiss the evidence that constrains climate sensitivity to more than 2.1 degrees per doubling and much else. Your focus on short time periods casts doubt on whether you even understand the concept of climate! And that you could listen to that Trenbreth piece and actually take away the message that there is any doubt that we are warming the planet is beyond understanding. John, I´ll say it again: It does you no good to scurry for the darkness of uncertainty every time the light of science shines your way. Uncertainty cuts both ways, and the edge is one helluva lot sharper on the high side of climate sensitivity than on the low. Learn that, and I might have some respect for your understanding of the science.

    Also, if you would care to prove me wrong and come up with a convincing analysis that shows climate risk is bounded, please do so. No one would be happier to have one than I would. Upper limits to risk really make probabilistic risk assessment a helluva lot easier.

    reCAPTCHA: Orrove eschatological

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Aug 2010 @ 8:15 AM

  173. #171 re. myself

    To be more precise, in my second paragraph (last sentence), I should have said “Facts out of context are often used to mislead understanding, especially by denialists but also by those that simply do not understand the science and/or the scientific conclusions and relevant contexts within the scope of the sciences from which those conclusions derive, at sufficient depth.”

    I don’t know the science at sufficient depth, but I feel I have a reasonable understanding of the scope of the conclusions and how those conclusions were derived via the scientific method.

    In other words I actually trust the science, error bars and all. It’s not blind trust. First thing I thought when I d news last month that we lost a large amount of phytoplankton was, okay, but if so, why did it not show up in the O2 trends? And could there be other mechanisms that are compensating?

    Based on the evidence from multiple analyses, I’m confident there is a problem with the phytoplankton, and that it will likely get worse. But I’m not yet confident that particular paper nailed it, though it did draw attention to it and now we can get more scopes on it. More context and understanding is needed. For any interested, I did a small overview in my July ‘Leading Edge’ report.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/summary-docs/leading-edge/2010/jul-the-leading-edge


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 20 Aug 2010 @ 10:18 AM

  174. John Peter (currently at #169), could you please provide some examples of what you mean by “ad hominid comments”?

    Comment by Steve Fish — 20 Aug 2010 @ 10:22 AM

  175. Ray 171

    You are not paying attention. I KNOW GW is a fact because it can and has been measured by scientists. I KNOW GW is a fact because it can be seen by anyone who has been living anywhere in the world around a glacier. I KNOW GW is a fact because it has warmed the ocean and raised its PH. I KNOW GW is a fact because it has altered growing seasons in time and space, discomforting living creatures all over the world. I KNOW GW is a fact so please don’t tell me anymore I suspect/believe/know GW isn’t a fact. Especially you, Ray Ladbury.

    You seem knowledgeable of Risk Analysis yet you put all your eggs in one basket. You do it with climate sensitivity and you do it with CO2. When you stop to think you should know you shouldn’t do that and that you don’t have to. You know climate sensitivity is yesterday’s news and other GHGs and other processes are becoming more important. We all should know, Ray Ladbury included, that no one can predict the future. In addition Ray Ladbury knows that in real life normal distributions are rare, that AIG-like financial meltdowns are unexpected and that black swans are everywhere. You have dedication, energy, a fine mind and excellent communication skills. Look beyond your current very narrow basket.

    I did not “cherry-pick” 2003, Kevin found it and not because of temperature. His conservation of radiation calculations, which are the only ones that all climate scientists have been using for the past twenty years, drifted out of balance. Neither Kevin nor you nor I want to discard thermodynamics so we are looking for lost heat. “We” certainly includes Kevin and I and I would hope that it will include Ray Ladbury. BTW, I accidentally stumbled across Kevin’s u-tube presentation but it’s the same message he has delivered as an invited speaker at semi-annual climate conferences for the past 3 or 4 years. It’s the same message that you will find in his numerous papers over that same time period. Get yourself up-to-date. Kevin believes it is critical to get the data to find the missing heat/energy. So do I.

    This is of major importance to all of us, not just climate science. To adapt to “regional” change and mitigate or what ever we wish to engineer, a lot more ocean data is required. Engineers can not function without calculations, regional calculations need more trustworthy data and there is a serious scarcity of it and of planning to acquire it. On this thread and elsewhere one hears “Oh, more data, better understanding, scientists always plug for that. But we don’t really need it, we know warming is unequivocal, that’s incontrovertible.” We need only one egg – CO2 – in our basket”

    Well, what if that’s wrong? Suppose we succeed at the enormous tasks involved in stopping or slowing down anthropogenic CO2. Suppose it comes boiling up out of the oceans or wherever it’s hiding from Kevin? What do you want to do then? Will anyone believe you?

    Ray, in addition to being a fine editor, you’re a solid engineer. Kevin needs to know what, when and how our heat is being lost. Let’s work on it.

    Comment by John Peter — 20 Aug 2010 @ 10:30 AM

  176. Bob 170

    Untrue

    Comment by John Peter — 20 Aug 2010 @ 10:39 AM

  177. Steve @174

    Nice catch. I should have typed “ad hominem.

    Comment by John Peter — 20 Aug 2010 @ 10:48 AM

  178. The relevance of discussions in this post and comments on the hydrologic cycle is illustrated by an article in Science (Aug. 20) – “Drought-Induced Reduction in Global Terrestrial Net Primary Production from 2000 Through 2009″ – Maosheng Zhao and Steven W. Running
    Science 20 August 2010: 940-943.

    The authors report that net primary production (accumulation of carbon in biomass) increased in the decade preceding the current one, but has since declined on a global level. The most important factors appear to be drought and a temperature-mediated increase in plant respiration, leading to an increase in CO2 production. These findings are consistent with the data reported in earlier comments indicating that as temperature increases, the rate at which water accumulates in the atmosphere is not matched by a similar increase in precipitation. As a consequence, many dry areas tend to become drier. Because precipitation does in fact increase to some extent, flood-prone areas may become wetter, but on a global average, the drying effect predominates.

    The decrease in NPP also implies a reduction in the capacity of the terrestrial carbon sink to accomodate additional anthropogenic CO2 emissions – in essence, a positive feedback effect of CO2 on its own rate of atmospheric growth.

    Comment by Fred Moolten — 20 Aug 2010 @ 10:49 AM

  179. We all should know, Ray Ladbury included, that no one can predict the future.

    It will be dark outside here in Portland, Oregon 12 hours in the future.

    Well, what if that’s wrong? Suppose we succeed at the enormous tasks involved in stopping or slowing down anthropogenic CO2. Suppose it comes boiling up out of the oceans or wherever it’s hiding from Kevin? What do you want to do then? Will anyone believe you?

    It’s clear, John, that you do not understand Kevin’s point.

    Let me repeat this snippet:

    Suppose it comes boiling up out of the oceans or wherever it’s hiding from Kevin? What do you want to do then? Will anyone believe you?

    Why wouldn’t they believe climate scientists? Kevin’s saying we don’t have the data to, in essence, back up claims that the excess energy is “hiding’, as you put it, in the oceans. An event such as you propose would provide that data … oops, there it is, “boiling up” from just where we said it was hiding …

    Comment by dhogaza — 20 Aug 2010 @ 11:22 AM

  180. John Peter, with all due respect, I really don’t understand your point, or what appears to be your point.

    We already KNOW that we need to rapidly phase out our CO2 emissions, which means we need to phase out fossil fuel use.

    Your assertion that we somehow need “more solid scientific CC quantification” in order to affirm that imperative is just plain wrong, period, end of story.

    What we ALREADY KNOW and have in fact known for years about AGW, is far more than sufficient to make the urgency of phasing out fossil fuels as quickly as possible abundantly clear.

    Certainly, “more solid scientific CC quantification” might tell us about other things that we need to do in addition to rapidly phasing out fossil fuels — particularly with regard to attempting to adapt to the now inevitable and irrevocable effects of the warming that our GHG emissions have already caused, particularly on regional scales.

    Likewise, I believe that empirical scientific observations of the ongoing effects of AGW already make it clear that we need to find ways to draw down the already dangerous anthropogenic excess of CO2 — but again, that is in addition to phasing out fossil fuels.

    But that in no way changes the absolute and urgent necessity of phasing out fossil fuels as quickly as possible.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Aug 2010 @ 11:30 AM

  181. JPR @171, 173

    Thanks for taking the time, I enjoy your posts and appreciate your advice.

    If we are trying in this thread to, as rasmus put it to us

    [edit - sorry, this is crossing over in the category of trolling and is taking the thread off topic. no more of this please]

    Comment by John Peter — 20 Aug 2010 @ 11:41 AM

  182. Shorter Dr. Trenberth: it’s in the oceans
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/328/5976/316

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Aug 2010 @ 12:51 PM

  183. #180–I’m with SA; it’s become increasingly unclear to me just what the point at issue is in the “John Peter” subthread.

    I suppose that in general, though, acrimony and informational value tend to be inversely related.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 20 Aug 2010 @ 1:01 PM

  184. Trenberth pdf here:

    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/TrenberthSciencePerspectives-1.pdf

    My take on the shorter version:

    “We still don’t completely understand where the missing heat is.”

    (For clarity, I don’t particularly like that conclusion, but that appears to be what it is.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 20 Aug 2010 @ 1:10 PM

  185. “We still don’t completely understand where the missing heat is.” Is a bit of misdirection for JP [just like his "collegial" addressing of others here] – an interesting and puzzling question for scientists, especially with respect to geo-engineering proposals, but the fact that the “missing energy” will bite us in the rear sometime is clear and SA states it correctly, we need to stop adding to the energy budget soonest, not wait to act until JohnPeter is satisfied that some as-yet unclear mitigation is appropriate.

    Comment by flxible — 20 Aug 2010 @ 1:58 PM

  186. SecularAnimist @180

    I agree with you.

    Comment by John Peter — 20 Aug 2010 @ 3:04 PM

  187. dhgaza @170

    OK, just be sure to pick the right ocean.

    Comment by John Peter — 20 Aug 2010 @ 3:10 PM

  188. Kevin McKinney

    @183 I agree. Completely

    @184 Right, me too.

    Fix global. Find regional. Sleep soundly.

    Comment by John Peter — 20 Aug 2010 @ 3:23 PM

  189. Hank Roberts @ 182

    Thanks Hank, another good one, right on. But a wee bit too short, read their last paragraph.

    “Proposals for addressing global warming now include geoengineering, whereby tiny particles are injected into the stratosphere to emulate the cooling effects of stratospheric aerosol of a volcanic eruption (15). Implicitly, such proposals assume understanding and control of the energy flow, which requires detailed tracking of energy within the climate system. How can we understand whether the strong cold outbreaks of December 2009 are simply a natural weather phenomenon, as they seem to be, or are part of some change in clouds or pollution, if we do not have adequate measurements?”

    Comment by John Peter — 20 Aug 2010 @ 3:53 PM

  190. Patrick 027 — 19 August 2010 @ 9:22 PM “…key differences between the ocean and atmosphere…”

    Don’t forget compressibility; air is, water isn’t.

    Consider a lump of air at the top of the troposphere, and a lump of water at the surface of the North Atlantic, both cooling by radiation compared to their surroundings. The lump of air will shrink, according to the ideal gas laws, and the lump of water will shrink according to its coefficient of thermal expansion. Both will become denser and start to sink through their surrounding fluids – convective flow familiar to most of the readers of this blog.
    As the cool lump of air descends, the increasing pressure of the surrounding air will compress it – some of the compression will go into reducing the volume, and some of the compression will heat the air. As the cool lump of water descends, it won’t compress or warm, even though the pressure is increasing.
    The end result is that the troposphere has a vertical temperature gradient – dry, moist, or environmental lapse rate – that the oceans don’t have. Warm water floats on the surface, and the solar input is concentrated near the surface as you pointed out. Heat is carried by waves, currents, and conduction down into the ocean, but below a kilometer or so, the oceans are cool, over a relatively narrow temperature range. The Gulf of Mexico drops from ~24 degrees at the surface to ~8 degrees at 500 meters, but only to ~5 degrees in the next 500 meters.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 20 Aug 2010 @ 3:55 PM

  191. JP, citing sources might help folks understand where you’re trying to take the conversation (and help you see why people aren’t engaging your issues much).

    Yes, energy budget needed; yes, troposphere is connected to that. But mostly you’re restating familiar and obvious points, to anyone who’s been reading here a while. Trenberth has been clear about the need for, and difficulty and expense of, more and better instruments, e.g.
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/NatureNV10.pdf
    NATURE|Vol 465|20 May 2010

    “The ocean is warming, isn’t it? — Kevin E. Trenberth
    A reappraisal of the messy data on upper-ocean heat content for 1993–2008 provides clear evidence for warming. But differences among various analyses and inconsistencies with other indicators merit attention.
    Global atmospheric temperatures at Earth’s surface are often taken as an indicator of global warming. Yet the atmosphere is battered by all sorts of natural variability associated with weather phenomena. More robust indicators of a warming planet come from evidence of increasing ocean heat content and associated sea-level rise. Yet observing sys-
    tems to capitalize on these insights are in their infancy….”

    (When reading that, if you notice a temptation to post about other uncertainties, I’d suggest a search beginning with site:realclimate.org followed by the keywords. That finds previous discussions. For example the ARGO thermometers: revised, not news)

    More interesting, I think, would be to reread the original post and inquire about the ideas brought up there that suggest new ideas.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Aug 2010 @ 5:43 PM

  192. It helps to keep in consideration when discussing delays in responding to our problem with C02 emissions, many of us take into account the remarkable benefits accruing to certain parties from each year’s procrastination.

    8 of the 25 largest corporations by revenue on the planet are firms primarily concerned with production and distribution of petroleum. Their combined annual revenue is ~2.2 trillion dollars.

    In this case of the threat we face from fossil fuels, we confront corporations whose bylaws include nothing about public welfare that might substantially affect their financial performance. Leaving aside feel-good public perception cosmetics, their legally stated, mandated objectives are effectively divorced from social good.

    In the past 100 years the art and science of industrialized public relations has been refined beyond what many of us can envision. Many of these campaigns do not respect the truth, indeed they cannot because to do so would render them ineffective. Public relations campaigns invade nearly every corner of our lives where people gather to communicate, from massive advertorial distribution all the way down to elementary school classrooms. In the middle, of late, are blogs.

    So we have a situation where we face practically unlimited means, tremendous motivation, fully evolved methods to deceive the public. From the relatively little we know of this collective adversary to improving our behavior, we’re quite certain that this is not a hypothetical battle, it’s going on right now. We also know that honesty is counterproductive to these campaigns; preserving the current flow of revenue is their objective and that cannot happen if these communications efforts fully respect facts.

    Each year of failure to address C02 emissions benefits the fossil fuel sector in an enormous way, we know this from published revenue figures. Their documented efforts to distort public discussion of climate change are a truly remarkable bargain for what they receive in return for paltry expenditures, arguably something in the neighborhood of ~0.5% of annual revenue for the entire time this prolonged argument has been going on. Fossil fuel concerns are richly rewarded by the tiny amount of money spent on prolonging effective decisions to seriously confront fossil fuel emissions via public policy.

    We know we live in a synthesized climate of procrastination. Op-eds, pointless congressional investigations of climate scientists, multiple fossil fuel lobbyists per legislator, all of these are weather effects from this climate. We can be fairly certain these weather phenomena include paid shills appearing in any public venue where climate is discussed as avoiding the cost of doing so is immeasurably small compared to the stakes at hand. As with physical weather, hard attribution of particular opinions expressed in support of delay is impossible, but the statistics we’re confronted with make it impossible to assume we’re not speaking with a public relations puppet in such cases.

    So, pointing no fingers here, just trying to explain a little bit why encouragement to do nothing may elicit surprisingly negative reactions from some of those following this matter closely.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 20 Aug 2010 @ 6:34 PM

  193. John Peter (currently #177). I am very disappointed with your “nice catch” response to my identification of your “ad hominid” typo. This is because of the very large wasted humor value (argument to proto humans?). So instead, because claims of ad hominem criticisms are often claimed by common trolls who wish to sound educated, could you please provide a few examples of actual ad hominem comments that have been directed at you by Rick Brown, or whomever? I didn’t see any.

    Comment by Steve Fish — 20 Aug 2010 @ 6:35 PM

  194. Re 190 Brian Dodge – Good point.

    If the atmosphere were not so compressible, it would be possible to saturate the greenhouse effect (adiabatic cooling would bring the fluid to some finite nonzero temperature at the ‘surface’ at TOA, so large opacity would allow all emissions to come from very near that ‘surface’ temperature, etc; okay, there would be a layer where convection would give way to molecular conduction and diffusion, allowing a superadiabatic lapse rate there, but with limited effect… of course, this assumes none of the atmosphere evaporates into space forming some gaseous layer above it that provides some additional greenhouse effect :))

    And the geometry of vertically-propagating mechanical waves would be altered.

    But even with that, the atmosphere could still have a Hadley cell and midlatitude storm tracks. (Maybe the parameters of fluid dynamics would be altered so that their would be multiple storm tracks as could otherwise be the case for a more rapid rotation…?)

    Water does actually cool or warm adiabatically upon changing pressure; the effect is just small. Because salinity is so important to determining density, the potential density is used in the ocean in the same way that potential temperature is used in the atmosphere (in the approximation of small compositional variations) (potential temperature and potential density value indicating density at a particular pressure that is conserved by adiabatic processes).

    In either layer, a well-mixed (adiabatic) layer would have constant potential density. Static stability is greater if the potential density decreases with height more rapidly.

    Both the atmosphere and ocean have some horizontal differential heating. Also including concentration or dilution of impurities in the ocean, this can drive overturning that increases static stability not just to zero but through positive values. But the atmosphere, also being heated significantly from below, tends to only get a little bit stratified overall.

    Maybe the solar heating within the upper ocean combined with cooling at the surface might still drive Hadley cells, etc, in the upper ocean (?), but maybe the mixing driven from the winds (and tides and planckton) and wind-driven currents and mass rearrangements just dominate over such a pattern. Also, the solar heating of the water would be a maximum outside the atmospheric ITCZ (cloud cover) and the freshening of surface water by precipitation has to be mixed downward in order to have density-driven upward motion there… (no latent heating – oh, that’s another big difference between the atmosphere and ocean.)

    PS forgot something about wind-driven gyres before. The Ekman spiral is an equilibrium solution in which the water at each level moves so that the coriolis acceleration balances the frictional acceleration – the later tending to generally pull the velocity toward an average between the velocity above and the velocity below. But continual input of momentum from the wind should tend to continue to accelerate the currents. The Ekman spiral spirals around and in toward a non-wind-driven (or more indirectly wind-driven) current at depth, which will not always be zero, of course.

    The winds about the subtropics should continually add anticyclonic angular momentum to the water. The equatorward flow can balance this effect by bringing the water to where the planetary vorticity is less cyclonic, so that the water’s PV at a given location could reach a steady state value. The western boundary current can lose anticylonic angular momentum via viscosity/mixing (enhanced by larger horizontal shear via the larger speed via the narrowness of the current) as the speed drops toward the coast.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Aug 2010 @ 8:49 PM

  195. Part of the difference between atmsopheric and oceanic circulation behavior could be explained as a consequence of the greater kinetic energy per unit mass in the atmosphere; the effect of visocity at the surface, even over the ocean, is generally to slow the winds down, while the effect on the ocean is to add energy and significanly shape the circulation of the ocean.

    PS not sure my second to last sentence of second to last paragraph of my prior comment is quite accurate (at the bottom of the ocean, an oppositely-handed Ekman spiral would tend to develop, so there would be some layer that couldn’t fit a single Ekman spiral and thus might not be in equilibrium but continue to adjust, which could ultimately result in some background flow throughout the interior…?)

    But my last paragraph seems to be in agreement with something from a textbook (Hartmann, “Global Physical Climatology”, 1994, pp. 191-192) (it should, since I learned about it from that source, though with sufficicent intervening time that, after that comment, I decided I should review it to be sure, hence this paragraph), which makes the interesting point that divergence in the rest of the ocean caused by convergence in the upper ocean in the subtropics would induce anticyclonic vorticity there, which could be compensated by equatorward flow in steady-state circulation. Maybe more on that later…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Aug 2010 @ 11:36 PM

  196. Steve Fish @193

    Yeah, ad hominid attack is pretty funny.

    No more examples. Moderator said knock it off.

    Conservation planning will require better climate science. If you have any substantive disagreement about this ask Rick Brown, he’s the expert.

    BTW do you have any references for your trolling assertions? I’d sure like to see them.

    [Response: Stick to substance--Jim]

    Comment by John Peter — 21 Aug 2010 @ 1:13 AM

  197. 176 (John Peter),

    Bob 170

    Untrue

    Simple denial. But it seems to work well for you, so you stick with it.

    Yet you said it yet again in post 196, and you keep saying it, with no detail or support, as if the mere incessant echo makes it true:

    Conservation planning will require better climate science.

    Your response to not defending your own position is to direct people to another poster (Rich Brown).

    The silence is profoundly deafening, and sums it up.

    You’ve set yourself up as very well educated / widely read. You have a strong opinion on the subject. You chose to post here, and you chose what you said.

    But you can’t defend it?

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 21 Aug 2010 @ 10:38 AM

  198. (at the bottom of the ocean, an oppositely-handed Ekman spiral would tend to develop, so there would be some layer that couldn’t fit a single Ekman spiral and thus might not be in equilibrium but continue to adjust, which could ultimately result in some background flow throughout the interior…?)

    Okay, never mind that part, it could be wrong…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 21 Aug 2010 @ 12:07 PM

  199. Sphaerica @197

    Conservation planning can be found in a National Forest Restoration Collaborative publication titled “The Implications of Climate Change at:
    http://www.defenders.org/resources/publications/programs_and_policy/biodiversity_partners/implications_of_climate_change_for_conservation,_restoration_and_management_of_national_forest_lands.pdf

    I believe there will not be enough climate science to do what the forest folk want to do. They will need regional data with much better granularity. The computers aren’t powerful enough to provide this from global models, regional planning will need better radiation accounting than Kevin can give them. The current level of understanding of horizontal heat circulation in the atmosphere (Hadley cells?), the level of understanding of horizontal heat in the oceans, the vertical depth of ocean heat storage and the coupling between them is not understood and the current data for the ocean – which covers over 60% of the earth’s surface and absorbs over 90% of the annual heat. Until recently, we assumed most of the heat remained at the surface where storage times were measured in decades and years, if we have to find Kevin’s lost heat in the deep ocean, where storage times can be centuries (or more?) we have a lot of rethinking to do. IMO Kevin’s lost heat is important – if we could do energy balance at a regional level we might avoid the global computer power in favor of more restricted calculations.

    I believe the climate is warming, we can measure that. I don’t see myself as a denier. I am scientifically skeptical of AGW because, AFAK, the anthropological correlation can only be established over a very short time period, speaking paleoclimate-wise. In scientific terms, correlation is not causality. In crude terms it is only a mathematical form of guilt-by-association.

    Even though I believe in global warming, I’m not at all sure we can do much about it. I certainly do not believe we can control it. I can support fossil fuel use reduction for a number of reasons starting with conservation by a growing population in a finite resource world. I don’t require AGW to support action requirements.

    I have no trouble supporting CO2 emission restrictions because I believe in the tracking we did and the molecular tracing. After all, since we added so much it can’t be harmful to slow down. We should watch that we don’t impact regional agriculture though, plants need some CO2. I can’t defend that very well, I don’t claim any biological or chemical skills or even much knowledge.

    I object to Ray’s and others use of such extreme terms as “unequivocal” or “incontrovertible”. I also am discomforted by your suggestion “We are introducing too much CO2, so the planet is heating is a result”. I really don’t to debate it any more, I’ll get labeled a “denier”. But you’ve put a lot of effort into this exchange and I wanted to be fair and try to offer some explanation of my logic and beliefs. As to my actions – well, the moderators have asked each of us to stay OT.

    You’re right again, I do have strong opinions. The NFR ref was interesting to me, but I am not competent in that area. If you’ve understand my statements above, and followed the Kevin sub-thread you should also know why I believe that we need better climate science. It might even help the deafening silence.

    OK?

    Comment by John Peter — 21 Aug 2010 @ 5:52 PM

  200. > I certainly do not believe we can control it.

    There’s your problem. Try this and the links on this page:
    http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/?p=1121

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Aug 2010 @ 6:58 PM

  201. JP 199: I am scientifically skeptical of AGW because, AFAK, the anthropological correlation can only be established over a very short time period, speaking paleoclimate-wise.

    1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
    2. CO2 is rising.
    3. The new CO2 is anthropogenic. This was tentatively established from its radioisotope signature in 1955 (Suess) and confirmed in 1957 (Revelle and Suess).
    4. Temperature is rising.
    5. dT and ln CO2 correlate to r = 0.87 from 1880 to 2008 (76% of variance accounted for).

    Which of the above do you dispute? #3? On what basis?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Aug 2010 @ 7:06 PM

  202. John Peter @199 cites, for the second time, my paper on climate change and forests.

    Thanks, though I demur at your suggestion that I am an expert; if I’ve been successful at anything it is integrating and summarizing the findings of experts.

    I also wouldn’t want others to infer that my writings are consistent with your point, for example as you expressed @ 78: that “. . . more CC details are a requirement. We need them in order to choose what and how much we can and should do.”

    I acknowledge that there are considerable uncertainties around climate change and the likely responses of ecosystems to that change, but I feel strongly that those uncertainties should not preclude action. There are a host of activities commonly considered “robust to uncertainty,” such as reducing the extent of roads on public forest lands and improving the ability of those that are retained to resist extreme precipitation events, or reducing the density of forests vulnerable to drought and fire while retaining trees and species more tolerant of these stressors. I provide other examples in my paper.

    I share SecularAnimist’s inability, expressed @ 180, to understand your points relative to uncertainty and its implications for taking action (or not), but I would suggest that your comment @ 78 about finding alternatives to fossil fuels indicates that the notion that there are actions that can be robust to uncertainty isn’t entirely foreign to you. Thanks again.

    Comment by Rick Brown — 21 Aug 2010 @ 8:37 PM

  203. HR @200

    JP said
    I certainly do not believe we can control it.
    “it” = global Warming = Climate Change, not CO2 or even all the GHGs.

    Wallace Broecker: Sun melts ice which flows as fresh meltwater into the ocean which plugs the TH circulation which (tipping point) switches the heat distribution paths. CO2 doesn’t control these processes it only greases them after awhile. Even all of Greenland’s meltwater isn’t enough to plug the THC, currently it would require the East Antarctica ice according to RC.

    GHG can adjust between insolation points but GHG doesn’t provide the power. That comes from the ocean and the Sun. It’s a non-linear chaotic set of processes that I don’t believe we will ever control.

    Thanks for the reference to Steve’s “The role of CO2 in the earth’s history” though. As always, it was worthwhile.

    Comment by John Peter — 21 Aug 2010 @ 10:04 PM

  204. #199 John Peter

    Please keep in mind that the regulars here have seen so many, such as yourself, come into this thread purporting themselves as reasonable people in the debate, and concerned citizens, saying well we don’t know enough yet to prove that we need to do anything or any degree of anything (ref. Lomborg)

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/the-copenhagen-distraction

    Those experienced here can pretty much recognize and deduct approximately when that person will come out and just say, well I don’t ‘believe’ we know enough, or I don’t ‘believe we can yet prove it’s human caused, unt, unt, unt, etc., etc., etc.

    It’s really quite predictable.

    As to your post points:

    Don’t worry, improved resolution is on the way, though not needed to begin down a meaningful policy path, please see:

    http://www.climatelobby.com/

    Re. Kevin’s lost heat, it’s probably not under the bed. In other words, it’s probably not in the atmosphere. The lost heat is important and will probably come back to bite us as suggested by Kevin. I highly doubt that the heat disappeared, so the only reasonable concern is when will it manifest in the areas we are measuring and how will that change the scientific picture. To be more succinct, it will likely not change the picture favorably for human benefit.

    You say you “believe in the climate is warming”. As I have mentioned before, the climate really does not care what you believe. You raise a number of long debunked memes here, and back in that place I like to call reality, the anthropogenic correlation is significant as illustrated through the maths, physics, models, and observations. Saying correlation is not causation to this rather more informed audience is not winning you any points on the reasonable scale. Pretty much everyone here knows that.

    See:

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/attribution

    Your notion that we can’t do much about it is naive at best and requires further context.

    It is now well established, id est unequivocal, that we have left that path of natural cycle. Therefore, in the application of Ockhams/Occams Razor, entia non sunt multiplicinda praetor nesecita tatum, the current changes are deductably human-caused.

    Therefore, we have sufficient resolution in our understanding of the problem, that of the long lifetime of atmospheric CO2 and its associated warming capacity in relation to atmospheric increases to begin setting policy for limiting the offending emission.

    Summary, your general assertions are unfortunately based in naive understanding of the overall connections between relevant points. We are introducing too much CO2 to our atmosphere.

    Just because you don’t understand it, does not alter facts or well established science.

    OK?


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Aug 2010 @ 4:22 AM

  205. Re. my response to #199 John Peter

    For clarification (missing preview again)

    My paragraph

    It is now well established, id est unequivocal, that we have left that path of natural cycle. Therefore, in the application of Ockhams/Occams Razor, entia non sunt multiplicinda praetor nesecita tatum, the current changes are deductably human-caused.

    is incomplete in thought. Sometimes I skip forward in my mind and forget to go back and complete. So for the sake of clarity and avoid being accused of over application of the Razor, I will apply Einstein’s limiter “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.”:

    Unequivocal on natural cycle is fairly well founded as shown in the NCAR work from Mheel et al. But also in the list needs to be included a host of other points that are reasonably considered unequivocal in the well established science (Barton already provided you a nice succinct list above):

    - isotopic signature
    - CO2 atmospheric lifetime
    - CO2 traps long wave infra red
    - planet is warming
    - natural variation is still happening but is now on a positive biased path, or under the influence of said positive bias
    - humans added the extra CO2
    - soil moisture content is dropping is important agricultural areas
    - warmer oceans evaporate more water into the atmosphere
    - H2O is a greenhouse gas also
    - warmer oceans and consequent increased H2O can/will contribute to enhanced greenhouse effect

    I could go on, but you should be getting the point by now. There is enough evidence, both in the instrumental record as well as the paleo record to parse equivocal and unequivocal.

    Also, I object to anyone that makes a claim and then says I don’t want to debate it anymore. It is an argument to ones own authority and reprehensible in the context of your usage thus inviting censure based on lack of evidentiary reason-ability.

    Applying false logic based on incomplete understanding will absolutely get you the wrong policy. But your reasoning is a bit Lomborgish, with relevance of priorities somewhat backwards.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Aug 2010 @ 4:48 AM

  206. #203 John Peter

    You are presenting a classic red herring by focusing on irrelevant context.

    You’re saying that if you go outside of your door today and tell the climate to cool down, it won’t. Since your telling the climate to cool down has no effect, then it makes no sense to try anything else. Ever heard of a straw-man argument?

    Check out:

    http://www.uscentrist.org/news/2007/word-play

    So you have presented the idea that we should not do anything now because we don’t have enough information.

    Then you say we can’t do anything anyway, even if we have more information.

    Hmmm. . .

    Then why are you posting anything here at all. Go hang out on a nice little island, sip rum, and watch the sea level rise.

    In fact it sounds like you are using the M&W paper technique illustrated in the next thread

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/08/doing-it-yourselves/

    The main logical fallacy is that you are claiming that we can’t control something we are already controlling. We added GHG’s and that is warming the planet and diverging the course of the climate path on a warming path. So your argument fails.

    It’s very simple, in fact unequivocal, slowing down, leveling off, and reducing atmospheric concatenation of CO2

    Also, not a lot of power being generated from the oceans, it’s more of a heat storage system that slows changes through inertial capacity. Pretty much all our heat comes from the sun and there is also a bunch of molten stuff under the mantle of the earth that gives us a small fraction of the warmth.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Aug 2010 @ 7:44 AM

  207. Geez, sorry guys. I screwed up again

    It’s very simple, in fact unequivocal, slowing down, leveling off, and reducing atmospheric concatenation of CO2

    should be

    It’s very simple, in fact unequivocal; slowing down, leveling off, and reducing atmospheric concentrations of CO2, will reduce future global warming potential.

    And since this relates to human behavior, it absolutely is possible. The claim that it isn’t possible is akin to saying 300 years ago that humans can’t burn fossil fuels in order to improve their standard of living and level of relative luxury.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Aug 2010 @ 7:53 AM

  208. 199 (John Peter),

    Thank you for a reasoned and substantive response, with which we can engage in a discussion without hyperbole.

    Others have responded to you, so I’ll try not to retread too many points, but instead to try to get more directly and clearly to what to me is the heart of the issues, or, more specifically, your issues.

    I believe there will not be enough climate science to do what the forest folk want to do. They will need regional data with much better granularity. The computers aren’t powerful enough to provide this from global models, regional planning will need better radiation accounting than Kevin can give them.

    Without arguing any particular specific, I agree there will be many cases where we do not have detailed information to try to micromanage climate effects, but as I said before, to me this is a losing strategy to begin with. Knowing exactly how the Amazon or the Arctic or the Sahara will respond to warming, and then engineering local solutions, is not the way to go.

    Simple, effective reduction of CO2 emissions, to reduce the overall degree of warming, is the only reasonable course. Doing so does not take more detailed knowledge, or even better knowledge on the extent or likelihood of warming. It merely involves recognition of the fact that warming may be very dangerous, and as such preventive action is warranted.

    I am scientifically skeptical of AGW because, AFAK, the anthropological correlation can only be established over a very short time period, speaking paleoclimate-wise.

    You previously have stated that physics is your religion, and yet you are ignoring the physics. The physics are, in fact, at the heart of the whole thing.

    Physics, pure math and scientific knowledge, predicts that the GHE will occur, how, and to what degree (with error bars). When we make such a prediction based purely on theoretical knowledge, and then see that prediction confirmed in multiple real world observations, it adds substantial weight to the theory.

    In this case, the science is absolutely rock solid. Please stop focusing on the paleoclimate evidence. It is very useful, but just a small piece of the puzzle, and hardly the most important or even necessary piece.

    I object to Ray’s and others use of such extreme terms as “unequivocal” or “incontrovertible”.

    If you study and understand the physical science (not just the paleoclimate history, but the physical theories, mechanisms, and observations), combined with the full body of evidence supporting (or failing to contradict!) the theory and predictions, then it is unequivocal. There is enough weight of evidence, when taken as a logical chain of connected, factual, statements, for an intelligent person to say “whoa, this doesn’t look good at all.”

    The evidence is strong enough, and if you don’t believe so at this point, then I would put it to you that there are pieces of evidence or elements of the science that you do not understand strongly enough. If that is the case, people here would be more than happy to help direct you to the gaps in your knowledge which will help you to change your own mind, i.e. to convince yourself that the theory is more solid than you currently think.

    If I were you, I would begin with improving your understand of heat, energy, and chemistry at the atomic level (degrees of freedom, quantum energy, etc.). I’m not implying that you are weak in this area, only that it is the foundation in which one should be strong in order to proceed to the next step.

    Two other brief notes:

    We should watch that we don’t impact regional agriculture though, plants need some CO2.

    This statement demonstrates some serious misunderstanding of the role of CO2 levels in the biosphere. I accept your admission to a lack of understanding of biology, but this statement is so out there that I had to point it out. CO2 levels have been such that they have supported life on this planet for a half billion years. Nothing we could possibly do will lower CO2 levels so far that it hurts plants, and while the added CO2 may help some plants grow more robustly, the changes in precipitation and temperature will greatly offset this.

    Plants grow with a “reaction limiting” sort of system, where they will respond only as well as the worst ingredient (light, water, temperature and CO2 being the main components). You can raise CO2 levels to extremes, but without all of the others in optimal supply, the increase is irrelevant. If any of the others fall away from the optimal ranges, the plants will suffer. [That said, it is true that most plants will benefit from CO2 above today's levels, but they've also done just fine for quite a long time at previous levels, and like all life forms some plants will respond better than others to raised CO2 levels, so once again, this is a change that will impact the biosphere, and possibly in a bad way if the plants that do better are weeds and not productive crops.]

    …if we have to find Kevin’s lost heat in the deep ocean…

    You keep bringing it up, and I don’t entirely see the relevance, or, rather, the weight you seem to attribute to it. Yes, we don’t know. Yes, as a scientist I’d say “shoot, this is embarrassing, I hate having a gap like that in my knowledge.”

    But all that this hidden heat sink is doing is to slow the rate of warming, not the final degree of warming (unless the heat is being beamed away from the planet by aliens to a distant star, as energy, because they’re too smart to foul their own atmosphere with too much CO2). Finding the missing heat will help us to better predict the rate of warming, especially if that sink is one that can become saturated (thus causing the rate of warming to suddenly and unexpectedly accelerate) or has other, unexpected side effects (such as depletion of ocean life).

    … Kevin …

    Sorry, this isn’t really relevant, and it’s a bit inappropriate, but could you refer to him as Dr. Trenberth, or just Trenberth? Referring to him as Kevin sort of implies that the two of you are drinking buddies. It gives your posts (to me) a bit of a flippant, disrespectful taste. It’s not important, but it just… irks me.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 22 Aug 2010 @ 9:26 AM

  209. John Peter has jumped right past prevention and is discussing mitigation.

    I know this is a popular policy position: delay until it is too late, then say it is too expensive or difficult to do anything.

    But that idea is predicated on the notion that it is already too late. And clearly, it is not, yet our window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

    But even if the window does close, we will still have to reduce our emissions in the end. We can’t waste time and money on mitigation while simultaneously pumping out ever increasing levels of CO2.

    John Peter: you claim to be open to the idea of reducing emissions. Why do you think it won’t make any difference? All the studies I know of show that the sooner we reduce emissions, the sooner we can stabilize temperature. And, since CO2 is well mixed, reducing emissions is a global issue not a regional one.

    You have been dabbling in some complicated issues, but you have yet to grasp the basics. Paleoclimate or advanced radiative physics won’t help you – not if you can’t get a good grounding in the basics.

    Comment by Didactylos — 22 Aug 2010 @ 11:05 AM

  210. JPR@201

    Correlation does not prove causality. Other than for that I agree.

    *********************************************************************

    Rick Brown @202

    I also wouldn’t want others to infer that my writings are consistent with your point,

    I thought your words I quoted were very good ones. So are your words:

    “…Because policy is at least partly values-based, science
    cannot determine policy; however, basing policy on science increases the odds that policy will provide the values we seek…”

    supportive of a regional CS requirement also. You don’t have to have it, but it sure might help.

    I cited your report because it was high quality. Others can read it and make up their own minds. I won’t cite it again but I regret that you changed your mind.

    Perhaps you are not an expert in climate science but I am still impressed by your cv:
    http://www.defenders of wildlife.org/about_us/staff/rick_brown.php

    ***************************************************************************
    JPR@204
    JPR@205
    JPR@206
    JPR@207
    Geez, sorry guys. I screwed up again.

    I agree

    ***********************************************************

    To everyone:

    Ordinary citizens need your support, otherwise they have to go it alone. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/globalwarming/6449982/Indian-engineer-builds-new-glaciers-to-stop-global-warming.html

    Regional CS could be useful for planning dams and other geo-mitigations.

    Comment by John Peter — 22 Aug 2010 @ 12:45 PM

  211. 208 Sphaerica says Thank you.

    You are quite welcome. As you so often stated, you certainly deserved my response.

    OTOH, you may also see why I was reluctant to express my viewpoint in more detail on RC.

    I consider your post to be reflective, responsive and to the point.

    My intention all along was to get Dr. Trenberth’s recent work more widely recognized. I hope I’ve been successful.

    You are a good and very capable communicator. I consider #208 to be an excellent piece of work.

    Comment by John Peter — 22 Aug 2010 @ 1:08 PM

  212. #210 So sayeth the anonymous John Peter “I agree”

    re. @201 Correlation does not prove causality. I think everyone here agrees with that. But the science of the evidence of human-caused global warming is not such a house of cards as you seem to infer. It’s not merely based on correlation, it’s based on the physics and maths, and models, and observations, and ice mass loss, and rising temperatures, and warmer oceans, and sea level rise, all matching well to the expectations from the basic science and the models, i.e. it’s a bit more robust that inferred. So in this case, it is not about mere correlation; therefore the argument correlation does not prove causality does not apply.

    re. @204-207 Other than the mistakes I pointed out in my bad typing habits what precisely are you inferring is mistaken? Or are you just purporting your belief again?


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Aug 2010 @ 1:16 PM

  213. John Peter @210

    Thanks again, but I continue to be confused (a not uncommon feature of my life). Regarding improved regional climate science you say “You don’t have to have it, but it sure might help.” This is an acceptable summary of my perspective, about which I have not changed my mind.

    Perhaps it’s a summary of your perspective? But you also @ 210 (and @78 and 175)refer to a “requirement” for regional climate (or other) science “. . . in order to choose what and how much we can and should do.”

    Which is it? Would more science be good to have but not necessary to take action, or is it a requirement before we can choose what to do?

    Comment by Rick Brown — 22 Aug 2010 @ 1:26 PM

  214. Bob (Sphaerica) (208), just a short observation: you say, disagreeing with John Peter, “….it is unequivocal.” Followed immediately with, “There is enough weight of evidence…. for an intelligent person to say “whoa, this doesn’t look good at all.”” The 2nd statement is not the same as the first and does not logically substantiate it.

    I (and possibly John??) might disagree with the conclusions of the latter statement, but it is a valid opinion founded in fact, substance, and scientific interpretation. The first statement is extreme and incorrect.

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Aug 2010 @ 4:48 PM

  215. 214 (Rod B),

    Your statement that the 2nd statement is not the same as the first is certainly true. Why would I say something twice?

    Your statement that the second does not substantiate the first is confusing. It’s not meant to. It’s meant to build on it.

    Your problem probably comes from the uses of the words “unequivocal” and “weight of evidence” together.

    To me this is playing word games by making something nuanced (i.e. science) seem simple and black and white.

    Science never, ever proves anything to be true. Every single belief in science is a belief, not a fact. All of science is a series of interconnected beliefs which fail to contradict each other, and are supported by observational evidence that further implies their truth by failing to contradict it, with the understanding that at any time surprising evidence could be uncovered that shatters or at least requires modification to previous views, or an Einstein could pop up and interpret confusing, contradictory evidence to say “Surprise, look, speed isn’t simply additive, that equation is way more complex than that.”

    Right now, the physics is sound and there is no reason in the universe to doubt it.

    Right now, a vast body of observational evidence supports the theory and estimated degree of warming, and there is an undeniable dearth of evidence to contradict it.

    The science is unequivocal and must be treated as such unless and until someone succeeds in proving otherwise.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 22 Aug 2010 @ 6:19 PM

  216. Have you looked into the trend of tropospheric heating in recent years? It’s pretty dramatic when you look at the data , downright scary none the less. It seems that the global level of CFCs is historically high which is reflecting heat into the troposphere causing it to heat which is quite un-natural.

    Comment by Brandon — 22 Aug 2010 @ 8:59 PM

  217. Rick Brown@213

    The former. Not required for action – e.g. Glacier man. Required to HELP choose between actions.

    Regional RC may you help decide. for instance, when to come in from the cold. Global average is little or no help. Regional CS could be more helpful because it may give a more tailored answer depending on latitude, for instance.

    OTOH you may decide to accept or not accept CS advice.

    I think of CS as a tool. Regional CS should be a more useful tool in some cases; “requirements” mean tailored to fit the user.

    Comment by John — 22 Aug 2010 @ 11:27 PM

  218. JPR@212

    wrt #201, I disagree.

    wrt to #204-#207, I still agree you screwed up.

    Most blog entries are opinions, usually the author’s

    Comment by John — 22 Aug 2010 @ 11:57 PM

  219. 216 Brandon said: “It seems that the global level of CFCs is historically high”

    These guys claimed that CFC’s peaked in about 1994.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ozone_cfc_trends.png

    Comment by John E Pearson — 23 Aug 2010 @ 4:08 AM

  220. #214 Rod B

    Not sure which John you are referring to but I’m with Bob on this. It’s the whole story that counts, being the sum of the understanding of the parts inclusive. Building the story through the supporting lines of evidence from multiple disciplines is what leads one to what can reasonably be called an unequivocal reality.

    It’s like looking at the Arctic Ice. I don’t think you will find an ice researcher that does not agree with the evidence that we are losing the ice. The current consensus that I seem to be reading from the various comments would put confidence that we are simply losing the Arctic around 95% to 99.9%. Virtual certainty. Unequivocal. Both seem to capture the general understanding.The time range seems to be between 10 to 30 years. I’m still thinking that we will lose a very large portion of ice volume earlier, rather than later.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Aug 2010 @ 6:06 AM

  221. Bob @208
    HR, JPR, RL

    Leaving Dr. Trenberth for awhile, but continuing to address regional CS, I am curious as to your views on Dr V.Ramanathan’s work, a prolifically published CS researcher. I find his papers very easy reading – probably because they often also relate to his CS more directly to a physical science.

    For a hopefully less contentious examination of the meaning of terms applied to CS (unequivocal, incontrovertible, settled, et al), I would be interested in any views you would care to share as to where you would position science such as: http://www-ramanathan.ucsd.edu/Project%20Surya/References/Ram-Feng-AE-2009.pdf .

    Basically, I am asking about dimming. Does this work unsettle CS as a science or does it simply represent stored warming that will come back to haunt us later? Or both? Or something else?

    I would recommend as a level-set, The Greenhouse Theory of Climate Change:
    A Test by an Inadvertent Global Experiment V. RAMANATHAN at: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/240/4850/293.pdf
    Although more than 22 years old, you should find it an interesting read.

    Comment by John Peter — 23 Aug 2010 @ 6:57 AM

  222. #218 the anonymous John

    Is the anonymous John the same as the anonymous John Peter?

    I really wish people would just use their real FULL names. it would make life much easier and certainly gives the impression that one is willing to stand publicly by their claims. It’s an integrity thing.

    AGAIN I ask. Screwed up on what specifically? I was merely saying I screwed up on my typing. What are you talking about?

    What specific piece of information do you think I screwed up on?

    You see, what I write can have opinions reflected in it, but generally speaking, I’m representing something I read form the scientific understanding. So what is it specifically from my post that you disagree with and I will do my best to address it from the science perspective.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Aug 2010 @ 8:34 AM

  223. #221 the anonymous John Peter

    Global dimming has already been worked into the radiative forcing assessments.

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-spm-2.html

    Unequivocal has already been reported in the ‘very’ conservative IPCC AR4 WG I Physical Science Basis

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/contents.html

    No need to dig further than the SPM

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/spmsspm-direct-observations.html

    read the first tan colored box.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Aug 2010 @ 8:42 AM

  224. #221 the anonymous John Peter (by the way, my name is John Peter also)

    As to your last questions. RC has done some articles on this subject as well.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/index/

    The first subject is Aerosols

    These are very good pieces and will give you a handle on the dimming discussion.

    I have alluded to this in the past as the Sword of Damocles. We have put ourselves in a rather precarious position, that of if the aerosol pollutants begin to cause serious damage in the system in relation to human reality, then we may have to remove some of that. In doing so we actually allow more of the positive radiative forcing potential to warm the planet.

    Of course this is only one of the many swords we have chosen to hang over our heads hoping none if not one or more of the horses hairs will break.

    I believe our arrogance considering the risk ratios to be profoundly unsettling.


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Aug 2010 @ 10:29 AM

  225. 221 (John Peter),

    I’ll read the PDF (skimmed it, for now), although I don’t know if I can get to it today (deadlines, paying work, etc.), but before I answer, what do you mean by:

    Does this work unsettle CS as a science…

    What element in the paper appears to “unsettle” anything? I don’t see much that is contentious there… just a study of the details and importance of ABCs.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 23 Aug 2010 @ 12:44 PM

  226. Bob (Sphaerica) (215), it seems to me you are the one playing word games. “Unequivocal” is about as close to “proves to be true” as there is, especially when supported with, “no reason in the universe to doubt it” and “incontrovertible.” When you say ‘never ever proves” it can’t be unequivocal, for any reasonable purpose, unless you customize the definition so you can make a hopefully accepted claim but later deny such. So when called to task on “unequivocal” you can claim you really mean the 2nd statement in your earlier post (which seems to me to be what you really mean from your other comments, BTW).

    I was simply expressing the thought, contrary to yours, the climate science as a whole is not unequivocal. Some aspects of climatology is quite distant from unequivocal, though, to be sure, some other aspects, I would agree, are unequivocal (such as your point #1 in post #68.) You say, “The science is unequivocal and must be treated as such unless and until someone succeeds in proving otherwise.” I have no idea how that works. Something is absolutely unequivocal until it becomes…, well, equivocal??

    You might say I am being nit-picky and you might be right. But frankly the loose semantics and wording that gives license for hyperbole hurts your credibility, IMO.

    Comment by Rod B — 23 Aug 2010 @ 1:55 PM

  227. 226 (Rod B)

    When you say ‘never ever proves” it can’t be unequivocal, for any reasonable purpose…

    Okay, so when I say “unequivocal” what I mean is “as unequivocal as any science that you currently believe in.”

    Do you take ibuprofen for pain relief? Fly in planes and assume they won’t fall from the sky? Expect the sun to rise tomorrow?

    Stop nitpicking over the definition of unequivocal. The point is that the science is solid beyond any assault by things like an arbitrary, hopeful and irrational belief in the Medieval Warm Fantasy or other children’s tales.

    In deference to the terminology used in AR4, if you prefer, when I say “unequivocal” you can hear “very likely.”

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 23 Aug 2010 @ 3:28 PM

  228. 226 Rod B, unequivocal is an absolute, and like all absolutes in real life it comes with a caveat– that nothing can be proven. The vanishingly small difference gets entirely too much attention.

    Comment by RichardC — 23 Aug 2010 @ 3:52 PM

  229. Bob@227

    It’s possible that the difference of opinions is over the meaning (extent) of “climate science” rather than the equivocal/unequivocal state.

    For example “CS” could mean anything done by any climate scientist anytime. It could mean the concept of radiative forcings (many different values, many different combinations, but unequivocal concept and theory and exclude say, the concept of climate sensitivity climate.

    This distinction might help, who knows?

    Comment by John Peter — 23 Aug 2010 @ 4:18 PM

  230. Bob@227

    It’s possible that the difference of opinions is over the meaning (extent) of “climate science” rather than the equivocal/unequivocal statement.

    For example “CS” could mean anything done by any climate scientist anytime. Or it could mean the concept of radiative forcings, many different values, many different combinations, but unequivocal concept and theory – but, exclude say, the concept of climate sensitivity climate.

    This distinction might help, who knows?

    (corrected for typos)

    Comment by John Peter — 23 Aug 2010 @ 4:22 PM

  231. Bob and JP: I really like the legal phrasing “beyond reasonable doubt”.

    Of course there are unreasonable doubts! There are many unreasonable people in the world, prepared to equivocate about the silliest things. Nothing in the real world can be proved with absolute certainty.

    Note that “beyond reasonable doubt” is a verdict reached after careful probing of the evidence. It does not exclude genuine sceptical enquiry.

    I hope this is an end to these word-games. When one starts arguing over definitions, it usually means one has lost sight of the issue at hand.

    Comment by Didactylos — 23 Aug 2010 @ 4:57 PM

  232. Didactylos wrote: “I really like the legal phrasing ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.”

    I agree.

    I wince every time a scientist says, in the course of explaining the scientific evidence for AGW, “there are no proofs in science” — where by “proof” the scientist means mathematical, axiomatic “proof” that follows necessarily and indisputably from abstract premises and pure logic, as in Euclidean geometry.

    No proof. And yet, every day of the week, all across America, juries convict accused persons of crimes, and sentence them to years or decades in prison, or even sentence them to death, because they conclude that a prosecutor has shown the jury proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty.

    When a scientist says “there is no proof”, the ordinary listener doesn’t think about mathematical axioms and how clever the scientist is to distinguish between abstract, logical proof and evidential proof. The ordinary listener thinks “not guilty”.

    And the carbon polluter in the dock is free to go.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Aug 2010 @ 5:23 PM

  233. As far as I can tell, \incontrovertible\ and \unequivocal\ are sometimes used to describe or debate about warming. Here on RC and elsewhere.

    The only examples using such extreme terms to refer to climate science has been here on RC. Even here such usage, when questioned, has been discarded.

    Such extreme adjectives have little or no meaning applied to climate science or, FWIW, any science.

    Comment by John Peter — 24 Aug 2010 @ 4:24 AM

  234. JP 233,

    Let’s put it this way. Doubting that AGW is 1) real, 2) anthropogenic, and 3) a deadly threat to civilization is in the same intellectual category as believing that aliens built the pyramids or NASA faked the Moon landings. Capiche?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Aug 2010 @ 6:10 AM

  235. 233 (John Peter),

    In the context of this thread, and other similar threads, “unequivocal” is generally used somewhat casually by some parties here in response to expressions of denial of the overall concept that the globe is warming, perhaps to a dangerous degree, due to the effect of CO2.

    General ideas like “climate science” (as a whole) or every single detail of climate science are not included in such statements, weren’t meant to be, and there’s no reason to infer that they are. Obviously it’s all far more complex than that.

    In a very narrow sense, unequivocal does apply, in that the science is sound, and the two overarching concepts, that CO2 is the problem, and that there is a fair chance that the warming will be frighteningly dangerous before we get it under control, are undeniable. You may find serious scientists like Spencer and Lindzen who claim that clouds will fly in with superman capes and save us, but they don’t deny CO2 or its effects. You may find scientists like Pielke Sr. who minimize the overall effect of CO2 by trying to shift most of the blame to “land use,” but to him warming (and CO2) is still a problem.

    [And, as a side note, I'd think that he'd be jumping up and down in extreme panic if he really believed that he's right, because if land use is a big part of the problem... how the hell are we going to control the land use required by industrialization, with 6 billion people on the planet, and growing? Has he ever quantified the effects, to determine how many people we must cull or force into starvation to keep from turning the world into a huge desert?]

    And you don’t see anyone but people like Monckton, Watts and Nova saying the really, really silly stuff… which is then mindlessly parroted here, which draws a reaction of “oh, please, it’s unequivocal…”

    Or maybe we should be saying, “oh, please, it’s undeniable…”

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 24 Aug 2010 @ 7:45 AM

  236. #235–I wish we could say “it’s undeniable.” But since it is, in fact, very frequently denied, that would be counterfactual, too.

    Unfortunately, the phenomenon of denial is not constrained by logic–within its own psychological realm, the “magic” works.

    Also unfortunately, as far as we can tell the physical world doesn’t care what we–any of us–think. So the physical realm will, we may confidently expect, be quite a different story.

    Denial does not prevent–and may in fact facilitate.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 24 Aug 2010 @ 8:48 AM

  237. #233 John Peter

    Your statement:

    Such extreme adjectives have little or no meaning applied to climate science or, FWIW, any science.

    I pointed you to the IPCC AR4 above. Did you read it?

    First you need to realize that the IPCC process is very conservative science. I think some or even many here would agree that they are overly conservative, generally speaking, up to this point. This is because if you want to get a reasonable consensus among a very large group of scientists, then what passes muster is generally the most conservative view. This is why the cutting edge assessment work shows that we have likely locked in at least 2 meters of sea level rise, while the IPCC is still looking at centimeters.

    Re unequivocal: Here is the IPCC statement:

    Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level

    Do you also think that the notion that gravity holds things down here on earth is equivocal? Or that the crazy idea that the earth is round, not flat is equivocal, or the bizarre theory that the earth revolves around the sun is equivocal?

    Or would you possibly consider those to be settled science?


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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 24 Aug 2010 @ 9:03 AM

  238. BPL, your 234 comment is hand waving (which may be acceptable in other environs) and does not refute John Peter’s 233 comment.

    Comment by Rod B — 24 Aug 2010 @ 9:32 AM

  239. “Such extreme adjectives have little or no meaning applied to climate science or, FWIW, any science.” states John Peter unequivocally with incontrovertible authority.

    Comment by flxible — 24 Aug 2010 @ 9:56 AM

  240. Bob (Sphaerica) your 235 comment has a logical basic thread of thought but unfortunately breaks apart with the tap dancing around the use of \unequivocal.\

    You say it is O.K. to use extreme terms in response to extreme arguments. That may be true, even recommended, in debating and political discussions, but not in scientific discussions. Beyond that you claim you are responding to John Peter’s extreme position of total denial of AGW (which, BTW, is a common meme to demonize a skeptic), which, as best I recall, he never did.

    2nd, you say ‘unequivocally…. there is a fair chance that the warming…’ This is a clear contradiction in terms. There is a possibility that it is undeniable??? That’s true for everything in every physical and social science.

    Maybe you can define \unequivocal\ down, but IMO, as precision is important in scientific discussion, I think it hinders and muddies the discussion.

    Comment by Rod B — 24 Aug 2010 @ 10:01 AM

  241. John Peter, you’re doing something you may think is novel and interesting, but it’s a very familiar old pattern.

    Someone comes in and says “what about this, doesn’t it mean the science is uncertain?” and people point out how it’s been considered.

    Then the person comes up with something else. “What about this?”

    And the history of work on that is pointed out.

    Then it’s “but this, over here? Surely it casts doubt?”

    And what about “dimming. Does this work unsettle CS as a science …?”

    Shorter form: “Anything, anything at all but the IPCC!”

    Now that may not be what you’re trying to do, or you may be going through the material one chunk at a time innocently.

    But it’s a pattern often seen from people who are sure there has to be something wrong with the science, somewhere, and they seem to come in with whatever they find somewhere else, where someone’s claiming these are flaws, and bringing them up one after another, instead of reading the FAQs. If you’d say you’d read the material at least in the Start Here link at the top, and ask questions about that — you’d likely get answers from more of the real scientists who watch the thread.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Aug 2010 @ 10:22 AM

  242. Unequivocal means simply: not ambiguous, plain, clear. I looked it up. Calling the term extreme doesn’t make it so, as it is clearly and plainly a qualitative and moderate term, especially in this context.

    I’ve got another word. Equivocate: to use equivocal terms in order to deceive. Example: Badgering adults over the use of the word ‘unequivocal’ in order to equivocate is ironic.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 24 Aug 2010 @ 11:54 AM

  243. 240 (Rod B),

    Beyond that you claim you are responding to John Peter’s extreme position of total denial of AGW (which, BTW, is a common meme to demonize a skeptic), which, as best I recall, he never did.

    Let’s see, from his post #70, only:

    It would seem that your six points are not at all as evident as you would claim.

    (The six points being a simple breakdown of AGW).

    1) GHGs hinder the escape of energy (through IR) from the planet
    2) We are introducing too much CO2, so the planet is heating as a result
    3) The temperature change causes positive (mostly) and negative feedbacks
    4) The planet heats further
    5) The climate changes in complex ways
    6) The world we know (as in our own localities, perceptions, and life style influences) changes

    6 points all not “as evident” as I would claim.

    Denial.

    While most skeptics and warmers would probably agree that “GHGs hinder the escape of energy (through IR) from the planet”

    “Probably agree?” Subtle but it looks like denial to me.

    …your statement #1 is probably OK, but certainly not incontrovertible.

    Oops, okay, that’s clear denial in the form of equivocation (“oh, well, yeah, sure, it could be, but what if it’s an angry liberal gremlin elite, did you ever think of that? We have to consider the possibility!”).

    Let’s try for more…

    It is probably true that, while we are releasing various amounts of many GHG into earth’s atmosphere…

    “Probably” again. More denial.

    …to claim in #2 – even for CO2 – that it is “too much” implies the existence of quantitative science details that have yet to be determined…

    “We don’t know.” More denial.

    So far, he’s refuted firm belief in the greenhouse gas effect, whether we are actually putting too much CO2 into the atmosphere, and whether we know enough to evaluate whether or not it’s too much.

    But there’s more…

    Were I to continue in this same vein, I would suggest that “mostly” in your #3 is unquantified, as is “heats” in your #4 (think “natural”).

    Okay, so “unquantified” for points 3 and 4.

    Then he finishes with:

    I would agree with your statements #5 and #6, but point out that they were equally true in the past.

    So he agrees, but says that they’re meaningless statements because it has happened, killing of thousands of species of animals, many times in the past, so it doesn’t matter that we’re triggering it ourselves.

    All in one post. All of it. And this doesn’t sound like “denial” to you? Let’s drop the definition of unequivocal and go back to that of denial.

    2nd, you say ‘unequivocally…. there is a fair chance that the warming…’ This is a clear contradiction in terms.

    Quick show of hands… how many people get this? And don’t? Okay, you can sit down now, Mr. Rod B. We all know that you don’t get it.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 24 Aug 2010 @ 1:27 PM

  244. RH@242

    Agree. Read this http://scentofpine.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/aps/

    Or this from 50,000 adults http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm

    Comment by John Peter — 24 Aug 2010 @ 1:27 PM

  245. 240 (Rod B),

    By the way, you’ve done this to me before…

    I said this (emphasis mine, here):

    “unequivocal” is generally used somewhat casually by some parties here in response to expressions of denial of the overall concept that the globe is warming, perhaps to a dangerous degree, due to the effect of CO2.

    Which you then misrepresented as this (emphasis mine, again):

    Beyond that you claim you are responding to John Peter’s extreme position of total denial of AGW

    You do realize that other people in the world besides yourself can actual read, don’t you?

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 24 Aug 2010 @ 1:32 PM

  246. HR@241

    Thanks for the helpful analysis. Taxonomy is a guy’s tool.

    The answer should be. No, sorting out “dimming” is part of the natural progress of Climate Science. Unequivocally.

    Comment by John Peter — 24 Aug 2010 @ 1:37 PM

  247. JPR

    Another success for the look almost alike. Hurray!

    Thanks for your numerous high quality references. Most I already know about, many I have already read, but a few are very important to me and I will work my way through them – albeit slowly.

    To repeat myself, all of them are high quality. Keep them coming, I can sort them out. It’s well worth my time.

    Oh, and thanks again for the “guys” id. I agree that it can be useful

    JP

    Comment by John Peter — 24 Aug 2010 @ 1:46 PM

  248. Cautionary note; beware the temptation to reply when offered:

    “an apparently foolish contradiction of common knowledge, … insult to the readers …, or a broad request for trivial follow-up postings.”

    You know what that’s about.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Aug 2010 @ 1:49 PM

  249. Bob@243

    So he agrees, but says that they’re meaningless statements because it has happened, killing of thousands of species of animals, many times in the past, so it doesn’t matter that we’re triggering it ourselves.

    I thought THC was the Dryas trigger.

    Comment by John Peter — 24 Aug 2010 @ 1:56 PM

  250. flxible@239

    You got it right! APS Climate Change Policy ref backs you up
    http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm

    Comment by John Peter — 24 Aug 2010 @ 2:13 PM

  251. HR@248

    Follow up

    Now I understand what happened to Ray. Reflecting on RC servers contributions to AGW after reviewing http://kb.iu.edu/data/afhc.html , I’ll give it a serious try. Thanks (for future reference, remember I prefer access to the full story.)

    Comment by John Peter — 24 Aug 2010 @ 2:45 PM

  252. 249 (John Peter)

    I thought THC was the Dryas trigger.

    The statements were:

    5) The climate changes in complex ways
    6) The world we know (as in our own localities, perceptions, and life style influences) changes

    The unspoken qualification on both, clear when placed in the context of the other four points, was that these result, in our current case, from CO2 and GHE.

    There have been many climate swings in the past, caused by many different events and types of events.

    We’re causing this one. The fact that other events have caused other climate swings have little baring on the discussion, except as sources of information to help us understand what we’re doing now.

    This isn’t that hard, and I know that you know that.

    Your responses are starting to look like gamesmanship instead of honest efforts to engage.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 24 Aug 2010 @ 4:06 PM

  253. FWIW, I also like Ramanathan. The papers I’ve read verge on elegant. What I don’t understand is how anyone could take from this the idea that Ramanathan casts serious doubt on anthropogenic causation of the current epoch of climate change. Aerosols are a bit of a wildcard, and because different aerosols can have opposite effects, and are almost always mixed, the effects can be quite difficult to sort out. However, aerosols have a finite lifetime. If we stop spewing them into the atmosphere, voila, a few months later the effect goes away. In contrast, CO2 is a gift that keeps on giving for centuries or even millennia. CO2 wins eventually–just as it would if we tried to mitigate with aerosols.

    The history of aerosols is also interesting. The famous paper by the late Stephen Schneider that predicted cooling was wrong, precisely because the CO2 related forcing was underestimated. One more piece of evidence telling us we get more than 2 degrees of warming for a doubling of CO2. Likewise, despite the dimming discussed by Ramanathan, I would note that warming continues apace.

    John Peter, Look, I understand you wanting to be “sure” and that different people might have different levels of what constitures sure. But we are talking 95% confidence here. Where is that not good enough to accept a proposition? Where can you not take that to the bank?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Aug 2010 @ 6:36 PM

  254. guys
    This is my second try at saving energy by reducing the load on the RC servers. I hoped that a twitter-like approach would help. It does, for straight forward Q&As. However as pointed out in Hank Roberts reference on trolling http://kb.iu.edu/data/afhc.html
    “…The content of a troll posting generally falls into one of several categories. It may consist of an apparently foolish contradiction of common knowledge, a deliberately offensive insult to the readers of a newsgroup or mailing list, or a broad request for trivial follow-up postings. The result of such postings is frequently a flood of angry responses. In some cases, the follow-up messages posted in response to a troll can constitute a large fraction of the contents of a newsgroup or mailing list for as long as several weeks. These messages are transmitted around the world to thousands of computers, wasting network resources and costing money for people who pay to download email or receive Usenet news. Troll threads also frustrate people who are trying to carry on substantive discussions… ”
    OK. This my second try will be to try to post in real time, only OT questions or answers that can meet a couple of sentence, twitter-like requirements. The rest of our enjoyment, I will try move my part to the end of the day to save energy by transmiting at nighttime, Pacific Time, when networks are less crowded and surplus power may be available. I hope you will help me do our part to try to reduce AGW.
    ***********************************************************
    JPR @204
    I am a member of APS and I support its policies, including the one addressing incontrovertible Climate Change, I was and am skeptical but became even more supportive when 5000 members reviewed the policy and APS board kept it and added an interpretation of each sentence on their web-site. I’m sure you are familiar with both the policy and its interpretation.
    When it can or could be interpreted that I am not in tune with the APS policy including the interpretation detail, I would appreciate being notified and will try to address the issue. BTW I am confident that Climate Scientists appreciated the thoughtful action of the APS board and their attempts to address the problems of Climate Change http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm
    Let me thank you for the references and your long time fine work and mention that I found most of the non-referenced portions of your posts 204, 205, 206 and 207 patronizing at best.

    @220
    What did you intend to do with the ice that you claim we are “losing”. Doesn’t it come back each winter as snow?
    @224
    We can agree that it’s the warming that is equivocal, not the science.
    @233
    Archer->IPCC AR4 WG1->googlescholar->papers is the path I use.
    Steve or Linl or someone mentioned WG2. He was right, i had missed it. I’m reading it now, it’s good.
    ***********************************************************
    Didactylos@209
    I believe we’re closer together than you think. We SHOULD reduce the CO2 emissions because it might help and it won’t hurt. What “basics” precisely am I missing.
    My glacier man ref illustrates just how late we really are. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/326/5953/659

    @ 231
    We agree
    ****************************************************************
    Bob@208
    You are ranting
    @227
    Very good, but if you mean very likely why not say it.
    @235
    The problem I have is that someone makes a statement about the science and a debater says that the science is unequivocal. At this point coherent communication ceases.
    It’s the warming that is incontrovertible, not the science.
    Bob@252
    You said “triggered”, not “caused”. In the past GHGs partially caused CC. The triggers were small changes in the sun’s orbit, volcanic eruptions, meteors, etc. After the heating was triggered, it was helped along by CO2. Most people including yourself may not care about the difference but real CS do. Please be more careful in your choice of words, especially verbs.

    I thought we had agreed to be explicit and not rely on qualifications developed after the fact.

    You’ve got things backward again. The causes are always the sun. The way we know CO2 is involved is because it always has been in the past after it got hot enough and wasn’t there for the cold periods. If we knew the triggers, we could look for them. We don’t and that’s one of the scary parts of AGW. We pump more CO2 into the atmosphere and oceans, making them more and more dangerous to current life when CC gets triggered.
    I view your last sentence as evocative and ad hominem. You are causing the RC server s to use waste more energy, the very thing we are all trying to prevent. Otherwise my response would have been “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
    ______________________________________________
    BTW You might find this quite unlike the Dr. Feynman you imagine, more like the Richard or Dick that I knew.
    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=1-D0tayXZ9cC&oi=fnd&pg=PR2&dq=nature+climate+feynman+richard&ots=aNiHGi4SGu&sig=TO0k9IS22UhhMSB7g88PszJTC1U#v=onepage&q&f=false
    and I am not alone
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R1YU8YO70IPCE
    ****************************************************
    Secular Animist@232

    I agree with your very good point but the guys can’t hear us
    ****************************************************
    BPL@234
    AGW has to be real. It must be anthropogenic because tha’s what the A stands for. Three sounds like good science fiction and I’d like to hear more of it.

    Comment by John Peter — 24 Aug 2010 @ 8:07 PM

  255. Ray@253

    Yes I picked Ramanathan because he’s an excellent climate scientist and a good teacher. The physical climatologists understand, the biological climatoligists respect him.

    Ramanathan describes GHE in the first reference. He describes dimming in the second, 22 years later. The descriptions are different. The science is different. The science has evolved. Same kind of stuff happens in every good science – it evolves. If I say that’s not as true for religions they tend to be more static, some guy will accuse me of “playing the religion card” whatever that may mean.

    What can be incontravertable, unequivocal, settledd,… are FACTs. Global warming, anthropogenic global warming, Climate Change are FACTs. They are not science like chemistry, biology, physics,geology,.. which are DISIPLINES and are changeble.

    Statements such as ” climate science is unequivocal” are menaingless if you want it to be a science. Any science that is truly settled is dead. Facts can be settled, but not science. Certainly not climate science.

    So RAM can fit his new science of dimming into his old different science of GHE. To be correct, both sciences have to explain the same unequivocal warming data. Seems ok to me.

    When you tell people climate science is immutable you are wrong. Not only do you turn them into deniers but you also sound like priests of the only true religion.

    You’re the editor. Fix it…

    Thanks for listening

    Comment by John Peter — 24 Aug 2010 @ 8:45 PM

  256. Bob (Sphaerica) (243), both “unequivocally there is warming” and “unequivocally it is not warming” are statements with consistent logical form. “Unequivocally it is possible that it might be warming” is a statement that is an inconsistent illogical contradiction of terms. It says ‘unequivocally maybe…, unequivocally maybe not’.

    Comment by Rod B — 24 Aug 2010 @ 10:59 PM

  257. Ron 238: BPL, your 234 comment is hand waving (which may be acceptable in other environs) and does not refute John Peter’s 233 comment.

    BPL: Ron, go look up what the cake said to Alice.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 25 Aug 2010 @ 4:58 AM

  258. Setting aside for a moment the real-world impact of the AGW denialists — who on behalf of their godfathers at ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, etc. have succeeded in obstructing and delaying action for a generation, with grave consequences — with regard merely to the endless, drawn-out, repetitive, predictable, nearly mechanical \arguments\ that they engender on this and other blogs, there is just this to say:

    They are tiresome and boring.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 25 Aug 2010 @ 6:13 AM

  259. John Peter – How do you reconcile your position, as expressed in post 70, with the position of the APS, set out in the link in post 250?

    Comment by Silk — 25 Aug 2010 @ 7:53 AM

  260. 254 (John Peter)

    You said “triggered”, not “caused”. In the past GHGs partially caused CC. The triggers were small changes in the sun’s orbit, volcanic eruptions, meteors, etc. After the heating was triggered, it was helped along by CO2. Most people including yourself may not care about the difference but real CS do.

    Tell us all something else very, very basic that everyone here already knows.

    I said “triggered” because it was what I meant. Climate change in our lifetimes is being triggered by instead of merely accelerated by CO2. This point is obvious and should not need to be stated.

    Still seems like gamesmanship on your part.

    Please be more careful in your choice of words, especially verbs.

    Please be less condescending, and listen to what I actually say. If you don’t understand it, reread it a few times. If you still don’t understand, ask a reasonable question. I can help you through this.

    [Condescension is less appealing on the receiving end, isn't it?]

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 25 Aug 2010 @ 9:21 AM

  261. 258 (SecularAnimist),

    They are tiresome and boring.

    Agreed. The two deniers are on this thread are both predictable and unimaginative, and the level of discussion is miles below where it should be.

    It feels like a visit to WUWT (shudder).

    I’m done with both of them.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 25 Aug 2010 @ 9:25 AM

  262. BPL (259), Hey! More hand waving!

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Aug 2010 @ 10:26 AM

  263. John Peter, I wish you’d get a blog. Let this thread go back to the topic.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Aug 2010 @ 11:22 AM

  264. “@220
    What did you intend to do with the ice that you claim we are “losing”. Doesn’t it come back each winter as snow?”

    No. There is a long term decrease in winter ice as well. http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seasonal.extent.1900-2008.jpg

    Furthermore, even if the ice did come back completely in the winter (or increase around Antarctica in the winter, which it does, but not enough to balance the concurrent Arctic loss), the positive albedo feedback would still be there. No ice in the summer, when the sun is high, trumps ice in the winter, when the sun is low or below the horizon.

    Third, the ice isn’t the only thing melting in the summer. Methane and CO2 from the thawing seabed and permafrost don’t come back in the winter. Methane has an atmospheric lifetime of 12 ± 3 years and a GWP of 72 over 20 years[1], and it “disappears” by conversion to CO2. The lifetime of CO2 is comparable to man’s oldest cave paintings[2][3].

    [1] http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter2.pdf
    [2] http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~archer/reprints/archer.2005.fate_co2.pdf “… we expect that 17-33% of the fossil fuel carbon will still reside in the atmosphere 1 kyr from now, decreasing to 10-15% at 10 kyr, and 7% at 100 kyr. The mean lifetime of fossil fuel CO2 is about 30-35 kyr.”
    [3] http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/290/5491/419 “The slabs, painted with red ochre, had apparently fallen from the cave roof and become embedded in floor sediments previously dated to between 32,000 and 36,500 years ago. That would make the images at least as ancient as some found in the Grotte Chauvet in southern France–the current record holder at 32,000 years”

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 25 Aug 2010 @ 12:05 PM

  265. Rod B 262,

    I don’t propose to educate you in climate science in one post. What I said was factually correct, so deal with it, pal.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 25 Aug 2010 @ 4:30 PM

  266. Rod B., On the basis of your #256, I am ready to hand you the trophy for most pathetic misunderstanding of the word “unequivocal”. The fact that you think “maybe” and “unequivocal” belong in the same sentence is just sad.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Aug 2010 @ 5:22 PM

  267. John Peter, Uh, I am sorry, but where on fricking EARTH did you get the idea I was saying climate science or any other science is immutable?! Of course science changes. If you aren’t imporving the theory continually, you aren’t doing science. THAT DOES NOT, however, mean you get to go all postmodern on us and tell us that science can make no definitive statements! It is simply true that the planet is warming. It is simply true that greeenhouse gasses warm the planet, and that we’re increasing the amount of ghg in the atmosphere. And it is definitively true that you cannot understand JACK about the planet’s climate if you assume a climate sensitivity less than 2 degrees per doubling, The evidence (which for shorthane, we sometimes call “the science” meaning “the results of the scientific investigation of the phenomena”). Now on one side you have mountains of evidence. On the other side…well, bupkes, really. So much so that these propositions are established with better than 95% confidence.

    Or let’s put it another way. Let’s say that we have an urn full of balls that are either black or white, with unknown percentage of black balls. We draw with replacement 30 balls, and none are black. This establishes with 95% confidence that 10% or fewer of the balls in the urn. I now give you 10:1 if you b_e_t that the next ball is black. So what’s it gonna be, punk. Feel lucky?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 25 Aug 2010 @ 5:49 PM

  268. Ray, you missed my point completely, which was “unequivocal” and “maybe” DO NOT go together.

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Aug 2010 @ 8:02 PM

  269. Ray Ladbury (267), I respond about 1 out of 10 times just to try to keep it honest. Briefly, there has never been any macro observations that support the forcing as precisely (within small wiggles) as the ln of the concentration ratio taken to the 5th power when CO2 was leading temperature and starting from roughly where we are today. There have been some highly constrained and stylized lab experiments using e.g. enclosed tubes, gas, LEDs and spectrographs that point in the general direction despite the vagaries, uncertainties and surmising about the molecular absorption process. The 95% confidence comes from a looks-pretty-good-to-me projection (supported by a man made mathematical construct) of a statistical record sans alot of physics underlying support.

    GHG forcing is not anything akin to drawing balls out of a jar.

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Aug 2010 @ 8:30 PM

  270. 255John Peter says:
    Any science that is truly settled is dead.
    … like the old dead coral that gives structural support to the next generation (sorry if my understanding of coral is wrong). The boundary shifts. Part of a science may be dead while the whole still lives.

    Facts can be settled, but not science.

    I think sometimes people use the term ‘science’ to refer to either the body of scientific knowledge that the process of science produces, and/or to the process itself. Maybe that’s incorrect(?) but why bother too much with it?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 25 Aug 2010 @ 11:02 PM

  271. Re Rod B 269 – optical thickness (at a particular time, along a particular path, at a particular frequency, at a particular polarization) adds linearly. You really don’t need to measure optical properties at every point in the atmosphere. But rest assured that predictions from laboratory work (and/or quantum mechanics theory, which can be verified by lab work of course) can be verified by satellites.

    You need to know other climate variables (temperature, clouds, humidity) to calculate CO2 forcing, and some uncertainty can be found there; of course, there will always be some uncertainty even with the results from the controlled environment of a lab. But we know there are clouds, and we also know there are clear skies. We have constraints – strong constraints. Some things are settled.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 25 Aug 2010 @ 11:15 PM

  272. My attempt to reduce AGW
    http://kb.iu.edu/data/afhc.html

    Silk@ 259

    Sure.

    JP@70: John Baker’s post (69) illustrates precisely what you may be overlooking.
    The science of GHE is not complete enough to provide a basis for the engineering and the physical calculations that we need to be able to do.
    The extensions and connections of GHE science to Climate Change are even less complete. In fact, it is the details of the incomplete pieces that provide “…wondrously complex and entertaining hobbies for amateurs…” (like me) as well as the real (tough) scientific work yet to be done by professional climatologists.

    APS policy: With regard to the last sentence of the APS statement, the role of physicists is not just “…to support policies and actions…” but also to participate actively in the research itself. Physicists can contribute in significant ways to understanding the physical processes underlying climate and to developing technological options for addressing and mitigating climate change.

    JP@70: It would seem that your six points are not at all as evident as you would claim.
    While most skeptics and warmers would probably agree that “GHGs hinder the escape of energy (through IR) from the planet”, quantification such as how much, where, and when require more knowledge of the “details” than we yet have in climate science (think radiative- convective energy balance). That said, your statement #1 is probably OK, but certainly not incontrovertible.

    APS policy: The evidence for global temperature rise over the last century is compelling. However, the word “incontrovertible” in the first sentence of the second paragraph of the 2007 APS statement is rarely used in science because by its very nature science questions prevailing ideas. The observational data indicate a global surface warming of 0.74 °C (+/- 0.18 °C) since the late 19th century.

    JP@70: It is probably true that, while we are releasing various amounts of many GHG into earth’s atmosphere, to claim in #2 – even for CO2 – that it is “too much” implies the existence of quantitative science details that have yet to be determined (think oceans). I certainly don’t want try to make a case for pollution, I am just pointing out that, for effective mitigation, we need solid quantification of more of the details.
    Were I to continue in this same vein, I would suggest that “mostly” in your #3 is unquantified, as is “heats” in your #4 (think “natural”).

    APS policy: With regard to the last sentence of the APS statement, the role of physicists is not just “…to support policies and actions…” but also to participate actively in the research itself. Physicists can contribute in significant ways to understanding the physical processes underlying climate and to developing technological options for addressing and mitigating climate change.

    HR@263 OK.

    As far as I am concerned, I have:

    1-My answer from Urs Neu as to the chances for a Broekner THC plug in near future.

    2-Stated my belief that the ocean parameters and the lost heat need to be established.

    3-Showed an example of CC mitigation, glacier man, that is regional and unsupported by CS in sufficent detail to use CS as a CC mitigation tool.

    4- Presented the APS CC policy statement as a valuable contribution to CS.

    5-Have re-examined this thread and become much more aware of how easy it is for a comment to become a tipping point for thread diversion OT.

    6- Demonstrated to myself, once again, that most important beliefs can not be overcome by logic alone.

    That’s more than enough for me for now. OK

    Brian Dodge@264
    Thank you very much. Following up on your references will be my next learning project. Thanks for pointing me in a better direction.

    Ray Ladbury@267
    I thought you would be helpful. I stand corrected.

    Patrick 027 @270

    Believe you’re right, a science that does not build new layers on top of old layers is dead also. I haven’t understood much such structure in CS yet – but I intend to keep looking for it.

    I think sometimes people use the term ’science’ to refer to either the body of scientific knowledge that the process of science produces, and/or to the process itself. Maybe that’s incorrect(?) but why bother too much with it?

    I don’t know. Experimental physics and theoretical physics are refered to as physics in any but fairly detailed discussions. Software scientists keep programs separate from data or get into all sorts of maintenance difficulties, but still software is the term generally used. Practioners ought to keep processes separate from results, but I really don’t know…

    Comment by John Peter — 26 Aug 2010 @ 2:40 AM

  273. Patrick 027 wrote: “I think sometimes people use the term ’science’ to refer to either the body of scientific knowledge that the process of science produces, and/or to the process itself. Maybe that’s incorrect(?) but why bother too much with it?”

    Because prolonged semantic quarreling is useful to people who enjoy wasting other people’s time on blogs.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 26 Aug 2010 @ 6:18 AM

  274. JP 254,

    How does “global agriculture failing and human civilization collapsing as a result” grab you?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 27 Aug 2010 @ 5:39 AM

  275. JP 254: It must be anthropogenic because tha’s what the A stands for.

    BPL: It must be anthropogenic because we’ve known since the ’50s that the new CO2 is coming from anthropogenic sources (Suess 1955, Revelle and Suess 1957). The term “radioisotope signature” ring a bell?

    JP: Three sounds like good science fiction and I’d like to hear more of it.

    BPL: You think insulting me because of my profession is an argument? Yes, I write science fiction. I also have a degree in physics and write atmosphere models. Rising drought will break human agriculture, and human civilization with it, if we do nothing to control greenhouse gases. That’s science, not science fiction.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 27 Aug 2010 @ 5:49 AM

  276. Rod B 269: The 95% confidence comes from a looks-pretty-good-to-me projection (supported by a man made mathematical construct) of a statistical record sans alot of physics underlying support.

    BPL: “sans alot [sic] of physics underlying support???”

    Which part of “the greenhouse effect is radiation physics” do you not understand?

    Or “the Clausius-Clapeyron relation is physical chemistry?”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 27 Aug 2010 @ 5:54 AM

  277. >>Response: They are nonsense and so it is unlikely that anyone will take the time. See Roy Spencer’s discussion for probably the best rebuttal yet. Some others are listed here. Further discussion on this is OT. – gavin]

    Gavin–the link leads to an empty page. It looks like someone deleted all the info.

    [Response: Just a mistyping. The link is still there. - gavin]

    Comment by Paul Tremblay — 3 Sep 2010 @ 4:02 PM

  278. I’m looking for info clarifying climate sensitivity, modeling and/or GHG forcing budget implications arise from the Beer et. al. and Mahecha et. al. papers, which are referenced here:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/sci;329/5993/774

    I’m only aware of these papers because of a response to a claim Fuller made this morning at Watts:

    “CO2 should cause about a 1.5 to 2.1 degree Celsius rise in temperatures if we double its concentration in our atmosphere.”

    What are the interesting or important points these papers make? What (if any) fraction do processes related to GPP and R contribute to the output from current climate models?

    I’ll need to visit a library even to read the PB Reich commentary I linked above….so please assume that I don’t know anything and please don’t hold my ignorance against me.

    Comment by andrewo — 4 Sep 2010 @ 10:37 AM

  279. andrewo, this may help, you’ll find articles on climate models and plant respiration.

    I didn’t find a short simple clear general answer to your question (as an amateur reader, in five minutes) but did find it’s a lively area in modeling, much written quite recently, some models described.

    Each idividual specific model will differ in what difference this makes (and answers only emerge with time and enough runs after they improve that particular model). Some modelers have written about doing that.
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=plant+respiration+Q10+climate+model&btnG=Search&as_sdt=2001&as_ylo=2010&as_vis=1

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Sep 2010 @ 12:31 PM

  280. #279 -Hank Roberts

    Thanks! This search result/discussion has proven very helpful:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03343.x/full

    ——–blockquote———
    Historically, such models have handled respiration rather crudely, with little or no attempt being made to predict the rates of respiratory CO2 release using process-based approaches or to account for the impact of dynamic responses to factors such as temperature and drought on scaling relationships. In some modelling scenarios, respiration is assumed to represent a constant fraction of photosynthesis, even though we know that the ratio of respiration to photosynthesis often varies (e.g. increasing under drought – Jaume Flexas, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain). In other models (e.g. that used by the Hadley Centre; Cox, 2001), rates of respiration at 25°C are linked to variations in tissue nitrogen, with respiration being assumed to be temperature dependent (with a constant Q10 of 2.0 – indicating that no account is made for thermal acclimation). Impacts of drought are also estimated without reference to the consensus emerging from empirical data (Jaume Flexas). Moreover, while the assumption of a strong relationship between respiration (R) and nitrogen (N) is supported by global data sets (Peter Reich, University of Minnesota, USA), variations in R-N scaling often occur (Atkinson et al., 2007;Wright et al., 2006; Atkin et al., 2008). Thus, there is a pressing need for models to move away from reliance on outdated and potentially inaccurate algorithms linking respiration and other plant traits.

    How should the next generation of dynamic vegetation–climate models better account for spatial and temporal changes in plant respiration? Should efforts be placed on constructing a new process-based model equivalent to that of the Farquhar et al. (1980) biochemical model of photosynthesis? Or should we continue to rely on correlative approaches (e.g. R-N scaling relationships) that better account for the dynamic effects of temperature, light, nutrient availability and drought on respiration? While there was no overwhelming consensus to these questions among meeting participants, all participants agreed that only by strengthening linkages among the different scales shown in Fig. 1 can we more rapidly understand the impacts of climate on respiratory metabolism.
    —————–

    I suppose the next thing on my reading list ought to be Cox 2001.

    ( My end goal is to figure out if/how much the argument made here actually matters:
    http://www.theresilientearth.com/?q=content/climate-co2-sensitivity-overestimated )

    Comment by andrewo — 4 Sep 2010 @ 6:08 PM

  281. > theresilientearth
    > … more proof that the climate models used by the IPCC
    > and other climate researchers don’t have a chance in
    > hell of getting future climate change correct….

    Notice he’s got the answer and is just searching for references that support what he wrote. This kind of after-the-fact “citation” is perilous, as those who write this way don’t happen to mention or even remember reading stuff obviously incompatible with their conclusion.

    I’d suggest trying to read the science without the blogger’s filter.

    Watch for “gross” rather than “net” CO2/respiration numbers.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Sep 2010 @ 1:05 AM

  282. I am somewhat new to RealClimate, have always enjoyed the content though have not attempted to understand many of the details. From scanning through these comments and the enormous amount of technical info in them, I assume that many if not all the posters are scientists involved in disciplines touching the GW issue, rather than (like me) simply interested non-scientists (I was a software engineer before recently retiring). Would it be possible for someone who is familiar with many of these posters to comment on that assumption?

    Thanks. I’m going to touch this site more often now that I have more “free” time. :)

    Comment by ted schmeckpeper — 8 Sep 2010 @ 11:21 AM

  283. ted schmeckpeper @282 — Many of the regular commenters here on RealClimate are indeed scientists by training, but only a selection of them in disciplines “touching the GW issue.” For example, I am not, but being (like you) retired choose to learn a fair bit of climatology.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Sep 2010 @ 2:36 PM

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