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  1. Good on ya!

    Comment by Martin Hackworth — 11 Nov 2008 @ 12:17 PM

  2. The October anomaly was originally documented as 0.88 C, right? I thought that was strange, especially after I looked at Hadley’s. Good for the quick fix. Also, your link to GISTEMP from when you write “visible analysis” needs an “s” to make it work.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 11 Nov 2008 @ 12:41 PM

  3. Watts up with that is seriously fixated on the temperature record, though it is clearly not the only evidence of real and rapid warming.

    I tried my hand at a response to his recent UHI in Reno post, here and visited his comment section, but got no satisfying response to my challenge about the lack of correlation between urbanization and warming anomaly.

    They are definitely devoted over there to obscuring the forest with as many trees as possible!

    Comment by coby — 11 Nov 2008 @ 1:02 PM

  4. True, the story may be greatly overblown. There are some things I noticed following what was happening that caused me to go HUH?

    The enormous dark red blotch this Oct in Eurasia is due to a data error. There is a similar red blotch in the western Antarctic in Sept that I would question. I would think that any obviously abnormal anomaly warm or cold would be more thoroughly investigated.

    There was a similar 3 degree C jump in north western Europe around 1990. That appears to be a real temperature change, not data error. It would appear to be to a oscillation reversal, not AGW or ACC if you prefer. I have yet to see a good paper that jump in temperature.

    Each abnormal anomaly should offer a learning opportunity. Whether improving data management, improving programming or improving our understanding of weather.

    [Response: Spend a little time looking at other individual months in recent years. Anomalies (cold and warm) in the range of multiple degrees C are not that unusual. At the global level, and if you look at whole years, they smooth out, but at local spatial and short time scales these kinds of anomalies are ubiquitous. – gavin]

    Comment by captdallas2 — 11 Nov 2008 @ 1:36 PM

  5. It appears that there are systemic errors in Russian data collection that results in significantly overstating the ST anomaly by several degrees C warmer for an extended period of time. The October data are counter intuitive and contradicted by UAH troposphere temperatures and Arctic ice extent increases during October. I find your explanation as implausible as Russian October ST.

    Comment by Paddy — 11 Nov 2008 @ 1:41 PM

  6. I want to wake up tomorrow and find that the globe hasn’t been warming, that the sea ice hasn’t melted, … Even if it make all my blog and lot of my efforts look completely stupid. But when the prediction of sea ice turn to be wrong it was because it disappear much faster. I just hope not to wake up tomorrow and not to hear that CO2 or CH4 are going high and none know why.

    [Response: Good point! – gavin]

    Comment by Eyal Morag — 11 Nov 2008 @ 2:12 PM

  7. Behind this there is an important general point: if results are as expected they are less likely to be rigorously cross-checked. Given the implications, and potential costs, of climate change it is important that there is a group of devil’s advocates scrutinising every piece of data.

    Comment by Julius St Swithin — 11 Nov 2008 @ 2:21 PM

  8. The Climate Science community in general has had greater scrutiny over
    the last decade, largely due to the internet. This was an unusual case where
    large numbers of anomolous data was easily detected due to posted values not
    jiving with reality. However, it brings into question historical data and
    its quality and more questions regarding the GHCN and GISTemp processes. How
    many other similar issues have gone un-noticed and un-corrected?

    If the Climate Science community is ever to get buy in from AGW-ers and skeptics
    alike, then there must be complete transparency and less condescending tones,
    from both sides. There isn’t at the moment. Ruffled feathers of those who
    have felt the sting of academic critisisms, are getting more shrill and closing
    ranks. AGW-ers must concede that the science isn’t settled and the skeptics
    must concede that GCMs have merit. Otherwise, things will continue ad nauseum.

    But then again, the weather in the end will prove either side incorrect.

    [Response: I mostly agree, but you fall into a trap when you think that science has to be put into a box that is labelled ‘settled’ or ‘unsettled’, or that scientists must be either ‘AGW-ers’ or sceptics – these are completely false dilemmas and lead people into making all sorts of mistakes. There is instead a spectrum of confidence that the IPCC tries hard to quantify (moderately successfully). And all good scientists are sceptics – but that isn’t the point at issue at all. – gavin]

    Comment by Fred Nieuwenhuis — 11 Nov 2008 @ 2:37 PM

  9. For a moment I thought this actually was some groundbreaking news by the way it was presented and commented upon at WUWT. Turns out it’s much ado about nothing. Thank you, RC, for the quick article on this anomaly.

    Comment by Neven — 11 Nov 2008 @ 2:42 PM

  10. I realize that technically NOAA was to blame for not processing the data correctly…but shouldn’t there have been someone at GISS who was able to spot this before they came out with their monthly number? After all, when you are looking at all of Russia being 4-13.7C above normal for a whole month, that should raise a flag right there. I don’t understand how such a simple and obvious problem could have been overlooked…it really does seem to raise issues of quality control.

    Comment by Jared — 11 Nov 2008 @ 3:02 PM

  11. This will undoubtedly be disappointing to many, but they should comfort themselves with the thought that the chances of this error happening again has now been diminished. Which is good, right?

    Nope, this is not an accepted way for code / application procedures to be corrected. Finding comfort in the fact that people, whose motives you detest, find your bugs after publishing calculated results is simply wrong. Additionally, all the motives you list are (presumptive) assumptions on your part; naked strawmen.

    Some people just want the numbers to be correct. Hard to believe isn’t it.

    [Response: This has nothing whatsoever to do with the GISTEMP code. Some people just want to use anything that happens to push their agenda. Hard to believe isn’t it. – gavin]

    Comment by Dan Hughes — 11 Nov 2008 @ 3:13 PM

  12. Leaves one wondering about errors that lead to underestimating global warming, and whether they might be significant. That would be the real concern, not slightly underestimating it in non-sig ways, or even in sig. ways.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 11 Nov 2008 @ 3:35 PM

  13. > before they came out with their monthly number?

    Jared, you don’t want releases of raw scientific data held up for official approval, do you?

    More eyes catch more problems. Corrections get made.

    People who don’t understand uncertainty get upset.
    Promising them more certainty isn’t helpful.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Nov 2008 @ 3:47 PM

  14. Gavin,

    A dignified and measured response.

    Just to be clear – is 908 the number of stations in a single corrupt data file, which is one of several such files? Or is 908 the total number of GHCN stations used in GISTEMP? Seems surprisingly low, if the latter.


    [Response: The rate at which stations report varies. This month 908 stations were reported by Nov 10 for October. The number of stations that will report eventually is about 2000. Of those 908 stations, 90 had this oddity – which is a significantly higher percentage than one would expect. – gavin]

    Comment by John Philip — 11 Nov 2008 @ 4:01 PM

  15. Hank-

    I don’t see what this has to do with certainty or uncertainty. It was a rather obvious and simple error that apparently got overlooked by both NOAA/GHCN and GISS. That demonstrates rather poor quality control…something that I think is important when monitoring the global temperature record.

    That being said, it is good to see RealClimate quickly responding to this issue and addressing the error.

    Comment by Jared — 11 Nov 2008 @ 4:02 PM

  16. > no politicians (with one possible exception) will take note.

    Let me guess … is that politician Rodney Hide, recently elected in a change of shoes election result in New Zealand?

    [Response: Actually no. So maybe there are two. – gavin]

    Comment by Sam Vilain — 11 Nov 2008 @ 4:15 PM

  17. Reference response to 4. Agreed, but if they plateau and persist for a decade or so I find that unusual. I am still trying to decipher Tsonis, but his approach is unique and I feel of value.

    Comment by captdallas2 — 11 Nov 2008 @ 4:20 PM

  18. BTW the only modeling errors that stands out in my lay opinion is that Hansen used 4 degrees for CO2 doubling. I believe he himself said that may lead to an over estimate. Since you feel that you know of other errors, perhaps you would discuss. It is in the interest of science.

    [Response: The best guess from paleo-data is around 3 deg C, but 4 deg C is well within bounds of what’s possible. Our current model has a sensitivity of 2.7 deg C. But this is not an ‘error’ or a bug – it is what comes out of the analysis and from the small scale processes. – gavin]

    Comment by captdallas2 — 11 Nov 2008 @ 4:39 PM

  19. Well put Gavin. The combination of quick reactions through quality controls and the rare correct findings if outsiders has been beneficial in fixing the glitch quickly. Still as you noted, nothing changes, global warming is still happening and the actual errors which need corrections cannot be found by the so called “whistle blowers.”

    Comment by jcbmack — 11 Nov 2008 @ 4:44 PM

  20. However, I have found an error in the GISS ModelE code. The OLR emitted by carbon dioxide is calculated using the kinetic temperature of the atmosphere, but CO2 emits at its vibrational temperature.

    Einstein showed that in “normal” conditions the kinetic, rotational, vibrational and electronic temperatures are all equal, but at atmopheric temperatures the electronic emissions are completely “frozen out” and the vibrational temperatures are partly “frozen out.” CO2 absorbs radiation from the surface at a higher temperature than that at which it emits, and so it warms heating the air. The greenhouse effect is due to CO2 absorbing more radiation than it absorbs as was shown by Tyndall and later by Koch.

    This error is common to all models, and has partly arisen because it it believed that planets maintain their top of the atmosphere (TOA) radiation balance by altering their outgoing long wave radiation (OLR), whereas in fact the balance is brought about by changes in incoming shortwave radiation (ISR) due to clouds.


    Cheers, Alastair.

    [Response: Nice try. Bzzzz. -gavin]

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 11 Nov 2008 @ 4:46 PM

  21. Watts, exaggerates every finding he has, even when there is actual cause for concern; he also is trying to discredit every weather station in the country, as if no other data exists and suddenly every thermometer is impproperly placed and is not calibrated…funny really, and many people follow him as if he is the best bet to discredit AGW. I agree with Eyal, I wish this were all not true, however, scientists and science itself is not incompetent in this day and age to be wrong; should we feel good the science is good enough to offer warning or angry that it is correct and so little is being done?

    Comment by jcbmack — 11 Nov 2008 @ 4:49 PM

  22. I would think that the scientists involved in this field would be very appreciative to those that check the data and the processes used to model the data. Isn’t truth what scientists desire most? I don’t understand the antagonism directed to those that have discovered these types of errors. If I had handed information to my boss that was clearly in error without verifying it, I’d be out of a job.

    Comment by Ed — 11 Nov 2008 @ 4:56 PM

  23. Gavin,

    Thank you for addressing this. Perhaps this is an opportunity to find 2 points of agreement: 1. Finding and fixing errors is a good thing. 2. Giving credit where credit is due is a good thing.

    So, thanks to John S for finding this error and thanks to John Goetz for finding/ isolating the step at which the error appears. As Goetz writes :

    “The NOAA error seems to be with the processing of the .dly files. I did a spot check of a couple Russian sites that have the September / October twins at GISS. The NOAA .dly files show a clear difference in temperature. The resulting NOAA GHCN v2 file, however, contains the twins.”

    is it that hard to mention these guys and thank them for their contribution?

    Comment by steven mosher — 11 Nov 2008 @ 5:35 PM

  24. Hank – That’s just not a good enough answer. What has happened is that GISS has put out an *analysis* of the raw data without noticing major major errors in it. The error should have been picked up by normal quality and data handling procedures. That it wasn’t, and was picked up by external commentators, is a failure on the part of GISS. It reduces confidence in GISS and opens the door to the possibility of other major errors not being revealed.

    [Response: Rubbish. All real-time data products are substantially automated – otherwise they won’t get done at all. That means that the analysis gets done initially without much supervision. Subsequently a much wider circle of people look at it and if anything seems awry it will be brought up. If you don’t mind waiting years for the data, fine, let all the QC happen prior to it being put online (many datasets work fine that way), but if you want to know what is happening in real time, you have to put up with the occasional glitch. This is true for sea ice measurements, sateliite temperatures and the surface analysis. Deal. – gavin]

    Comment by Martin Audley — 11 Nov 2008 @ 5:38 PM

  25. I believe John S and the others who noted the anomalies and took the time to determine the cause are due thanks. Nothing more. Just thanks.

    Comment by Bob Tisdale — 11 Nov 2008 @ 5:44 PM

  26. Hank,
    Excuses, excuses, excuses.

    “More eyes catch more problems” – open your own eyes!

    Comment by Dave Andrews — 11 Nov 2008 @ 5:55 PM

  27. Humans want certitude in everything. We are like Voltaire, we curse irrational desires, but when trouble hits or we have great uncertainty, we cry out for 100% assurance and comfort…

    Comment by jcbmack — 11 Nov 2008 @ 6:23 PM

  28. From DailyTech:

    “NOAA’s Deputy Director of Communications, Scott Smullens, tells DailyTech that NOAA is responsible only for temperature readings in the US, not those in other nations.”

    I do not understand why you attack sceptics for your own errors, and quoting comments in other blogs is not gonna make things look better.
    Pull yourself together, admit the error, move on. Be men (and scientists).

    Comment by Mikael H — 11 Nov 2008 @ 6:28 PM

  29. If an error of several degrees C in October anomalies for half of Eurasia is a “molehill,” I’d hate to see the “mountain.”

    Comment by sky — 11 Nov 2008 @ 6:55 PM

  30. Great post.

    Nothing is more important to the deniers and delayers than finding even the tiniest and most irrelevant mistakes in NASA datasets

    Yet, nothing is less important to the deniers and delayers than finding or even acknowledging the whopping mistakes by fellow deniers and delayers or frankly by anybody who publishes anything that might seem to support their anti-scientific views. See, as but a tiny sample,

    Should you believe anything John Christy and Roy Spencer say?
    Yet another denier talking point melts down
    Sorry deniers, hockey stick gets longer, stronger: Earth hotter now than in past 2,000 years
    Killing the myth of the 1970s global cooling scientific consensus
    Nature article on ‘cooling’ confuses media, deniers: Next decade may see rapid warming
    A bunch of huge mistakes by Michael Crichton

    Go figure!

    Comment by Joseph Romm (ClimateProgress) — 11 Nov 2008 @ 6:58 PM

  31. Gavin wrote: “but you fall into a trap when you think that science has to be put into a box that is labelled ’settled’ or ‘unsettled’, or that scientists must be either ‘AGW-ers’ or skeptics”

    So Gavin, let’s say you are talking to some well-meaning guy, who has not had college, and he asks you “is global warming happening and is it human made”?

    Are you going to give him a 1/2 hour response including phrases such as the “IPCC”, 90-95% confidence level, shades of gray, etc, etc, etc?

    In order not to lose the three minute attention span of the guy, you are probably going to have to simplify it to something like, “yes, most scientists think it is happening and that it is mostly human caused.”

    This is an awfully affirmative, yes, kind of statement. If you go into any more detail, he will probably go back to munching on his pretzels, swigging his Bud and staring at Archie Bunker on TV.

    [Response: Agreed. That is pretty much my standard answer. But you mustn’t confuse a sound-bite with reality. -gavin]

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 11 Nov 2008 @ 7:06 PM

  32. “A few examples from the comments at Watt’s blog will suffice to give you a flavour of the conspiratorial thinking…”

    While I agree the comments that you quote are pretty unreasonable, I think it is unfair to characterize or associate the more responsible skeptics (who provided the diligence to first find this error) with those quotations.

    I’m sure the RealClimate staff would not like to be associated with some of the more unreasonable comments made at various web sites on the opposite side of Watt’s blog in the AGW discussion.

    [Response: We only have control of this website, and I would take exception to the nuttier end of the spectrum and I do screen comments for idiocy. We don’t agree with every comment posted but we don’t allow slander. If you see any offensive commenting, let me know and I’ll delete it. I’m a firm believer in taking responsibility for your own space. – gavin]

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 11 Nov 2008 @ 8:23 PM

  33. Hank (12), they should release the unmodified raw data along with the corrected data (with explanation) as a gesture of openness. But, yes, were it practical and known, raw data that is clearly incorrect should not be released naked and willy-nilly (meaning without official O.K.)

    Comment by Rod B — 11 Nov 2008 @ 9:04 PM

  34. The major point to be taken from this is that the error has been detected and is being corrected.This is in spite of the grassy knoll crowd who spread canards about conspiratorial cabals of scientists who are insidiously giving out spurious data.This is a molehill. It would be much more productive to refocus on the mountains.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 11 Nov 2008 @ 9:36 PM

  35. Gavin , the only thing tragic about this mistake; it is warm Up Here! I am sure the revision will show so. My high Arctic location was +4 C above normal for October. I really appreciate the correction,
    to err is normal to correct errors is simply science at work.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 11 Nov 2008 @ 10:10 PM

  36. Relevant — see “John P.A. Ioannidis responds”

    Hat tip to

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Nov 2008 @ 11:18 PM

  37. I think the complaints about GISS data-checking might be well-taken :-)

    But I think that means that commenters should:

    a) Write their Reps and Senators demanding that GISS’s budget be increased.
    b) Send a check with every request for GISS to do more work.

    1) How much more staff and $$ would you need to do all the things that RC readers here wish you to do?
    2) If you had that extra resource, is that the way you’d spend it, or would other things have higher priority?

    [Response: Good questions. 1) Current staffing from the GISTEMP analysis is about 0.25 FTE on an annualised basis (i’d estimate – it is not a specifically funded GISS activity). To be able to check every station individually (rather than using an automated system), compare data to the weather underground site for every month, redo the averaging from the daily numbers to the monthly to double check NOAA’s work etc., to rewrite the code to make it more accessible, we would need maybe a half a dozen people working on this. With overhead, salary+fringe, that’s over $500,000 a year extra. All contributions welcome! 2) No. Those jobs are better done at NOAA who have a specific mandate from Congress to do these things. With extra resources, I’d hire experts on ice sheet models, cloud parameterisations, model analysts and programmers. – gavin]

    Comment by John Mashey — 12 Nov 2008 @ 12:05 AM

  38. I made the indisputable point a year or is it years ago that having a set of partisan people only trying to find “overs” in data does not improve the data.

    Comment by Marion Delgado — 12 Nov 2008 @ 12:49 AM

  39. Ed,
    noone said anything about not wanting to correct errors.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 12:54 AM

  40. Re: Gavin’s answer in #24. I check river levels often for whitewater boating. On the USGS Real-Time Water Data page it states prominently at the top of the page “PROVISIONAL DATA SUBJECT TO REVISION”. That ought to be a standard disclaimer on any real-time data collected by automatic sensors.

    Comment by Dave Werth — 12 Nov 2008 @ 1:07 AM

  41. Gavin – I agree that this is mostly a mountain out of a molehill thing, but… it does display a disquieting lack of QA/QC both on the part of NOAA and GISS that is not easily explained away by the size of the database or it being a “realtime” product (it isn’t). Suppose for a moment that instead of GISS monthly temps, this had Exxon with its monthly surface water quality monitoring reports or Title V air permitting reports for one or several of its large facilities. Would such misreporting of 10% of its data on required monthyly monitoring reports be acceptable to the regulatory agencies? Probably not, particularly when some third party points out the problem rather than Exxon finding the problem first.

    No, this was not the end of the world nor evidence of any sort of conspiracy on the part of GISS, but it should have been caught before the data was issued.

    Comment by Bob North — 12 Nov 2008 @ 1:23 AM

  42. You guys may find David Archer’s books and publications useful… just finished reading “The Millenial atmospheric lifetime of anthrpogenic CO2 by both David Archer & Victor Brovkin and Long term fate of anthrpogenic carbon among other titles available online. His books are very clear as well, if you read them carefully; he packs in details as well as practical facts. This site offers a plethora of information if you just look for it; one error or a string of nuanced errors do not undue the accurate findings in the multi faceted research methods.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 2:08 AM

  43. Re: #36 Wayne

    The reason for your high temp, depending on location, may be the rapid ice build up in the Arctic. See the latest news release from the NSIDC.


    Comment by ccpo — 12 Nov 2008 @ 2:08 AM

  44. Each one of the moderators has a list of published research and there are quite a few books that would clear up misconceptins of the average joe as well.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 2:09 AM

  45. RodB, 33. Why? For example, looking at the raw data and the corrected output will make denialists think “see! It’s all a con! NONE of this data is what they told us it was”. They definitely aren’t going to go through the literally reams of mathematics to work out if the corrections are valid.

    With a satellite microwave profiler, who apart from the very few people who understand quantum physics as pertaining to the radiative transfer models could check the corrections are valid?


    So we’ve now added what is effectively noise to the information to no avail. Those who want to be convinced it is wrong can use the changes they can’t understand to say it is not a problem, all a scam and ignorable. Those who don’t will have a load of useless data (not information, data) made available to wade past.

    If I can get hold of some data from AMSU-A (or whatever it is spelt as) the raw data, would you be able to turn that into a temperature figure?

    If not, what use is it?

    Comment by Mark — 12 Nov 2008 @ 3:44 AM

  46. Dave #26, and what is the result of those mistakes? The ten hottest years, seven of which are in the last 20 years. The order of which was hottest is changed. But, since one single day isn’t enough you must take averages.

    And the averages are the same even after the mistakes are corrected.

    And denialists have their excuses, excuses, excuses not to do anything in the abject fear they may lose out if anything changes.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Nov 2008 @ 3:48 AM

  47. My point here is that the evidence supporting the work on AGW is very strongly supported regardless of an ephemeral glitch this acute. The scientists are owning up to the glitch, but this is not an issue that shpuld be overly politicalized since we are all at risk from the consequences of over use of fossil fuels.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 4:09 AM

  48. Gavin

    I believe this to be a genuine error, but your defence of the GISS position is nonsense. The Russian data contained such obvious outliers it’s difficult to believe that even the most rudimentary data quality checking is performed. Of course mistakes occur but it’s incredible to think that so-called professionals allowed such obvious rubbish to be released.

    As far as the analysis “being pulled within 24 hours”. That only happened bcause the “cottage industry” you speak of immediately jumped on the large anomaly AND the causes. It was that obvious to them.

    Russia and Europe (the same happened in UK stations) are reasonably well monitored (by the blogosphere at least) but what about other regions of the world. How confident can we be that the GISS record is a true representation of globe as a whole?

    [Response: Oh please. GISS is not the international weather service. GISTEMP is an analysis of data collated by the NWS and NOAA, and it is not independent of their efforts. GISS maintains no stations, employs no on-site monitors, and takes part in no international negotiations on the sharing of weather data. GISTEMP provides that analysis as is and can’t possibly certify the work of all the individual agencies whose data gets used. When problems are noticed (as now), all GISTEMP can do is query the originators of that data. Most often problems are noticed in comparison with other products (and that goes for the other products as well), it is clearly more efficient to release the analyses relatively quickly and have more people looking at the output than spend weeks comparing everything internally before release. If that’s what you want, only look at the data at the end of the year and ignore the monthly releases. – gavin]

    Comment by John Finn — 12 Nov 2008 @ 4:21 AM

  49. Thanks Gavin,
    I was absolutely delighted to find your letter demolishing the denialist article by columist Michael Duffy in our local rag, the Sydney Morning Herald. (I hesitate to dignify the newspaper with the term “broadsheet” as that would imply choosing its columnists on the basis of scholarship rather than as agents provocateurs.)

    For others, Duffy’s article can be found here:

    Gavin’s response here:

    Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Bruce Tabor — 12 Nov 2008 @ 4:34 AM

  50. Here’s the deal Gavin, if you are proposing that the world is warming faster than any time in recorded history and that the cause of this warming is human activity and you release a report showing a temperature anomoly of 12C which is found to be incorrect it is not a molehill. Whatever your beliefs on this issue large amounts of money and reputations are at stake, so if you are an AGW proponent and you make data public which subsequently proves to be an easily identifiable stupid mistake you leave open the prospect that some people will use this to discredit you. It is therefore wise, whether the systems are automated, or not, to check any anomolies carefully before publishing.

    What this looks like to people outside the church of AGW is that evidence supporting it is accepted without question, while anything that doesn’t will be filtered out. That is probably unfair, but there is a lot at stake both in terms of scientific reputations and government actions and a careless attitude towards the publishing of data will not increase confidence in the AGW proponents, or their science. That’s why it’s not a molehill.

    Comment by gerrym — 12 Nov 2008 @ 5:23 AM

  51. Re the response to #20 where Gavin wrote

    Nice try. Bzzzz. -gavin

    Wake up, Gavin! This is important. Where have I gone wrong?

    If you have no answer, perhaps others might like to comment.

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 12 Nov 2008 @ 6:39 AM

  52. Gavin – Your response to #24: No deal – and not a very constructive answer to start with “Rubbish”.

    You are setting up a straw man by implying that the only alternative to accepting errors would be to wait for human checking.

    You will probably be aware that figures are already (and logically) rejected for days where the recorded mid temperature falls outside the min and max temperatures (A not-uncommon phenomenon at sites where the figures are manually recorded and accidentally transposed).

    It’s entirely possible, and reasonable, to ask for more automated error catching during the raw data processing, without requiring a wait for human scrutiny.

    Such error catching *could* involve automatically rejecting the data if a “large” (tba) proportion of a sources figures were missing or identical to the previous set. Other obvious checks could include rejection if all values for a month were zero, or outside a “reasonable” (tba) range.

    You appear to be resistant to a suggestion for technical improvement.

    [Response: Huh? Did you even read the top post? I suggest exactly that. – gavin]

    Comment by Martin Audley — 12 Nov 2008 @ 7:20 AM

  53. The Nasa gistemp website’s offline at the moment.
    Perhaps a molehill fell on it.

    Hopefully it’ll be back online once they’ve cleared the debris away.

    Comment by BrianMcL — 12 Nov 2008 @ 8:07 AM

  54. You know, Gavin, the denialosphere is having so much fun with this that maybe you should introduce errors as a regular feature so they can thump their chest and bleat about how “Mavericky” they are. Those of us who understand science could shake our heads and wonder as they reveal their complete lack of perspective about what really matters in science.

    [Response: Maybe that was the plan all along? ;) – gavin]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:10 AM

  55. So if the exact same error occurred between April and May nobody would have double checked the results before publishing? Please. You take issue with a commenter at WUWT saying you are blinded by your own bias, as if there is no bias at all in climate science. I personally don’t believe that you, Gavin, are blinded by anything but I wonder how often you take a personal look at those biases. The funny thing about this is that just this January Had/Cru changed there endpoint algorithm because it gave the appearance of being too cold. And yet, the previous Jan when the same algorithm gave the appearance of being too warm nobody noticed. The fact is that Climate Scientist are very quick to correct any data that does not subscribe to the theory, or at the very least look to see if the data is faulty, but blissful unaware of any faulty data that coincides with the theory. Fortunately there are a few jesters out there keeping you on your toes. The molehill is faulty Russian data that would have most likely been corrected for the year end summary, the mountain is the inability to scrutinize the data without regards to any theory.

    Comment by Ellis — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:28 AM

  56. If one wanted an accurate data record, and found any errors or omissions, then one would push for more data collection. That includes ocean heat content measurements, tropical and Southern hemisphere surface temperature and vertical profile measurements, etc.

    The fact that skeptics attack data but never call for increased data collection means that they are simply trying to inject doubt into the discussion – accurate and comprehensive datasets are the last thing they want.

    The linked story ( – Ocean Cooling is excellent, but could use an addendum, on this topic:

    Wong and his teammates’ record of net flux measured by NASA satellites shows that between the mid-1980s and the end of 1990s, the amount of incoming and outgoing energy at the top of the atmosphere crept out of balance. By the end of the period, about 1.4 watts per square meter more energy was entering the Earth system than leaving it.

    Stitching the observations from multiple sensors into a coherent long-term record is complicated. Scientists are always looking for ways to check the accuracy of these pieced-together climate records.

    That was the purpose of Triana, the Deep Space Climate Observatory project, which would have given a continuous non-stitched record of the total energy budget at the top of the atmosphere from the L1 Langrange vantage point. This would also have allowed more accurate estimates of global ocean heat uptake.

    Under steady-state conditions, the radiation output at the top of the atmosphere perfectly balances the amount of sunlight being absorbed by the planet. If the planet is warming, there will be less radiation emitted from the top of the atmosphere – which is the case, according to stitched satellite measurements. (Alastair, #51 always tries to claim that “the physics is wrong” based on the same discredited argument – it’s been dealt with many times).

    Most of this is just an effort to create doubt – first, there were claims that the models were being tuned to fit the data (which was not true). Now, there are claims that the data is being tuned to fit the models – which is also not true. Nowhere do you see these skeptics calling for more comprehensive data collection, which should indicate what their true agenda is.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:32 AM

  57. Alastair, cite, show the math, and publish. It’s the only way.
    For those still aghast at the error that led to this thread, you might consider that you’re illustrating the sense behind Mark Twain’s warning about the risks of reading medical books — that you may die of a typographical error. If you base your life decisions on first-run data, you make the same mistake wattsname is making about weather instrument data sets — they will be wrong sometimes.

    Expertise furthers one’s ability to deal with dirty data in your own field — and helps learn the general lesson that all data is dirty.

    ReCaptcha: Chris- coolly
    (the oracle appears to have begun making friends!)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:33 AM

  58. Re #50, its funny how denialists always use the term “the Church” of AGW in that it has a religious bent of some kind and that environmentalists have hijacled AGW and write about it in terms of biblical effect of rising sea levels and and masive droughts and floods (40 days and nights I suppose) in order to redicule it in the media and try and decry people as being slightly mad and not in the real world.

    This (in my mind) was the reason why realclimate was founded so that articles can be posted by real peer reviewed and IPCC involved scientists who know about the reality of earth science and hence climate science in order to postulate the truth about the subject.

    If we look at the index of this site we can see many scientific articles posted by peer reviewed scientists in the field of climate change. If skeptics and denialists are trying to emote that real climate is in some way aligned to the alarmists then they are very much mistaken. Real climate is a scientific site who argues the science and it pisses (sorry but its winding me up)off that the skeptics and the alarmists seem to want to paint real climate in either of the camps (which is silly and hence shows how little the media understand the scientific rationale and its process of being scientific)in order to give their arguments more credence but both of them are wrong. Only the science is right.

    For some reason I imagine it is probably the same skeptics who denied that smoking caused lung cancer and other nasty illnesses or that AIDS was transmitted by HIV Virus as they were employed and sponsored by vested interest groups and companies to limit the capatalist scope of the profits and future of their profits.

    Anyway, the tide is turning sicne Obama recently won the election in the USA and today the IEA has sided with the IPCC and wants the alternative sustainable energy technologies to become viable and pursued in order to stop the 6C (James Hansens earth sensitivity I am presuming and not the charney 3C only of warming) of future climate change.


    Comment by pete best — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:35 AM

  59. In my opinion, $500,000 would be well worth it, if this database could be made more reliable and understandable. If the nation takes action to impose carbon taxes of some sort, the costs will be in the billions. Nothing is more important in the AGW issue than the magnitude of warming. Almost everyone agrees that the anthropogenic greenhouse gases contribute some degree of warming to the earth, the burning question is “how much?”. The ultimate test of the climate models is against the temperature record. Validation and correction of those models depends on little else. If that record is incorrect, very important and costly decisions may be incorrect.
    It cannot be stressed too much that accurate empirical data is vital to assessing and addressing the problem appropriately.
    I would be glad to spearhead an effort to turn this database into a freestanding mulitmillion dollar unit, unrelated and independent of any modeling efforts, or any efforts to influence policy. What steps must be taken to form this unit?

    Comment by Ashby Lynch — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:38 AM

  60. You would have been far better off simply saying that you found an error, are working to correct it, and the new data will be posted at that point. End of story. Instead, while complaining about much ado about nothing, you actually make much ado by: 1) incorrectly placing the blame on NOAA instead of your own processing algorithm. You can accurately model the atmosphere into the future but you can’t detect that a +13C anomaly might be a red flag? Once you take a product and use it to produce a new product, YOU take responsibility for that new product. And 2) ludicrously blaming “temperature observers” for heavily wanting to find something wrong. There are nutcases on both sides of the AGW issue, but legitimate temperature observers want the data to be correct, whether is pro- or anti- AGW. Maybe the “auditors” made your molehile into Mt. Washington, but your blame-deflection game elevated it to Mt. Everest.

    [Response: I’m finding this continued tone of mock outrage a little tiresome. The errors are in the file, not in the GISTEMP code (and by the way, the GISTEMP effort has nothing to do with me personally). The processing algorithm worked fine. Multi-degree anomalies are not that unusual (checks are made for unphysical outliers which wasn’t the case here). I daresay they’ll put in more checks now to deal with this specific issue, but you can’t check for all possible kinds of corrupted data in the input files ahead of time. Science works because people check things – against expectations, against alternate records, against other sources of data – this is what occurred here. – gavin]

    Comment by B.D. — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:46 AM

  61. 43 ccpo. Well yes some heat from ice, but there was more open water last year and October just past was warmer than last year. September was equally warm than 2007, I suspect more complexities, namely extensive cloud extent and feedbacks generated with heat reflected from above and gained from freezing water below, but the clouds have played a huge role.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 12 Nov 2008 @ 10:04 AM

  62. this has always rested with the russians. real or not, their semi-continent seems to be cursed by the warming. “mountains, molehills, gorillas, etc.”, you guys sure use great imagery for scientists.

    Comment by iheartheidicullen — 12 Nov 2008 @ 10:49 AM

  63. Gavin – Re your response to #52 – You should be aware that in #52 I was responding to your own text in #24 in which you wrote:

    “…If you don’t mind waiting years for the data, fine…”

    Your comment suggested that the only alternative to my suggestion was to switch to heavily-delayed human-checked results.

    I restate my position: There *is* a problem in the GISS data product, and it * can * be improved by better automated error trapping, *without* years of delay.

    I’ll go further and say it *should* be improved, (even at great expense) – since decisions influencing the US and world economy are being made based upon it. That’s what stops this issue from being a molehill.

    [Response: Don’t be ridiculous. No decisions are made on whether one months data was erroneous and available for less than 24 hours. No one died, no one lost out, nothing happened. Therefore there is no cost that could have been avoided. Automated error trapping is fine, but you need to know what to look for. I am unaware of anyone raising the issue of systematic month-to-month overwrites and so how automatic traps are supposed to catch errors that haven’t happened before is a bit of a mystery. Existing traps look for station specific outliers, but this was a regional effect – not a single station, so that didn’t catch it. The main point is that no automatic traps can catch every single thing – the existing ones didn’t catch this, if there is a next time, they will. But no traps are going to catch issues that have never been seen before. – gavin]

    Comment by Martin Audley — 12 Nov 2008 @ 11:23 AM

  64. MSU:

    GISTEMP met. stations: the warming trend agrees with MSU´s one.

    GISTEMP land proccessed: the warming trend is bigger. Why?

    GISTEMP algorythm works fine?

    Comment by maikdev — 12 Nov 2008 @ 11:45 AM

  65. In many scientific fields we have moved on from error prone manual methodologies, to more sophisticated ones – like automated satellite data. This screw-up is just one more indicator that it is time to move on.

    An increasingly sparse array of ground based thermometers which require post-processing adjustments equal to or greater than the trend, is simply not an acceptable way to measure a small trend. There is too much subjectivity in the process.

    Next time you should compare vs. satellite data before publishing.

    Comment by Patrick Henry — 12 Nov 2008 @ 12:24 PM

  66. That analysis has now been pulled (in under 24 hours) while they await a correction of input data from NOAA. Yes only after Steve Mac informed you [edit]

    They pulled the data AFTER I (Steve Mac sent them an email notifying them of the error (which had been pointed out to me by a CA reader and which I had confirmed). They did not identify the error on their own. [edit]

    [Response: You and McIntyre are mistaken. The first intimation of a problem was posted on Watt’s blog in the comments by ‘Chris’ at around 4pm EST. By 7pm in those comments John Goetz had confirmed that the NOAA file was the problem. Notifications to the GISTEMP team of a problem started arriving very shortly after that, and I personally emailed them that evening. However, no action was taken until the next morning because people had left work already. They had decided to take the analysis down before 8.14am (email time stamp to me) since the overnight update to the NOAA file (uploaded 4.30am) had not fixed the problem. McIntyre’s intervention sometime that morning is neither here nor there. Possibly he should consider that he is not the only person in the world with email, nor is he the only person that can read. The credit for first spotting this goes to the commentators on WUWT, and the first notification to GISTEMP was that evening. – gavin]

    Comment by Rob — 12 Nov 2008 @ 12:51 PM

  67. You do have something in common with Mr Watts, Gavin: neither of you know how to use apostrophes.

    [Response: Common ground at last! – gavin]

    Comment by David — 12 Nov 2008 @ 1:16 PM

  68. NASA GISTEMP site still down as of 12:29 CST

    [Response: It was nothing to do with GISTEMP. The link to GISS goes through GSFC and they had a scheduled power outage from 7 to 3pm. – gavin]

    Comment by Ed — 12 Nov 2008 @ 1:30 PM

  69. The response from several of the RC faithful here is truly disappointing. Rather than acknowledge the fact that quality control is of the utmost importance for agencies that monitor global temperature, and that a rather obvious mistake was made here, all you guys are doing is predictably saying “It doesn’t really matter, the science is what matters”, as well as putting down skeptics.

    Well, here is a newsflash: one of the fundamentals of science is accurate data collection. If you cannot acknowlege how important that is, then you truly are blind to what constitutes good science.

    [Response: Of course it’s important. No ‘newsflash’ needed. – gavin]

    Comment by Jared — 12 Nov 2008 @ 1:34 PM

  70. Temperature problems: Hadley Atmospheric Center in London released a report last year stating that Russia and many other weather stations were making false or weak reports.

    NOAA is not reporting on world temperatures. They are strictly U.S.

    [Response: The collation of the GHCN file is done (I think) at NOAA, but relies on input from the national weather centers who decide what they want to upload. This is why national weather service web sites often have many more, and more up-to-date stations than are included in GHCN. As to their quality, there are a multitude of stories that have shown problems with individual stations – however, they are the responsibility of the weather services, not GISTEMP. – gavin]

    Comment by Jerry Alexander — 12 Nov 2008 @ 1:53 PM

  71. Ashby Lynch #54 – absolutely.

    Can I just check I have got this right? GISTEMP is, if I understand correctly, one of the main temperature datasets against which GCMs are checked. On the basis of this we are proposing to revolutionise the economies of the world. The cost is hard to estimate, but in round terms we can say many billions of dollars. It would, therefore, seem to be a good idea to get this right. But the current approximate budget (from the figures in #37) is about $20,000 per year?

    [Response: Pretty much. However, the costs of gathering the data, collating it and disseminating it is much larger (many millions I would imagine) and is found in the budgets of NOAA and the various national weather services. The GISTEMP product is an analysis of that data, not the originator of it. Other analyses exist which show very similar results. Maybe if that was better understood, the demands on what GISTEMP do or not do would be a little more reasonable! – gavin]

    Comment by Jonathan — 12 Nov 2008 @ 2:00 PM

  72. In reply to Paddy Comment’s : #3 “It appears that there are systemic errors in Russian data collection that results in significantly overstating the ST anomaly by several degrees C warmer for an extended period of time. The October data are counter intuitive and contradicted by UAH troposphere temperatures and Arctic ice extent increases during October. I find your explanation as implausible as Russian October ST.”

    I agree with your comment. I thought the October monthly average anomaly was high based on the current ocean surface temperatures anomaly.

    GCR has been increasing. Has there been any change observed in planetary cloud cover?

    Comment by William Astley — 12 Nov 2008 @ 2:34 PM

  73. The argument that GISS doesn’t have the resources to screen this data before it is posted might have merit if this function was outsourced through a volunteer activity of the local Boy Scout troop but considering it is an internal function of what is suppose to be one of the primary authorities in the field this just doesn’t hold water. Call me budget challenged, but I fail to see why it would necessarily cost $500,000 to review a measly small data set of 908 to catch glaring errors in roughly 10% of the information. The casual observation by whoever uploaded the anomaly map that all of Asia looked like a blast furnace might have been a subtle clue. I do not understand why GISS couldn’t complete this task in several minutes, as was accomplished by several third parties once the data was presented on the net. It seems to me you could save yourself $500,000 by just buying Steve McIntyre the occasional working lunch.

    Sure, mistakes happen but my view is that when your organization conducts a colossal blunder it’s probably not the best approach to simultaneously point the finger at someone else, rage against those who pointed out the blunder, state that it is business as usual and recommend that your organization receive substantially more money to prevent such blunders in the future. Instead you should probably evaluate what processing errors and cultural biases led to such an impressive gaffe.

    [Response: With hindsight, it’s trivial to spot a problem you know about. It took me about 5 minutes to see the problem in the NOAA file once I knew what to look for. That is not the point – you need staff and eyes to see things that you aren’t expecting. And please dial down the rhetoric. The opening of Terminal 5 at Heathrow was a colossal blunder, the units issue with the Mars Climate Orbiter was a colossal blunder, the choice of Sarah Palin … etc. You can start using that language when you provide any evidence that this glitch affected anyone in any negative way. – gavin]

    Comment by Andrew Thomson — 12 Nov 2008 @ 3:04 PM

  74. Governments are forming major policy on GISS data. Policy that will profoundly alter people’s lives all over the world. PLEASE, do something to assure that the data and results are correct in the future. A little quality control and responsibility is the least one can expect. The term rigorous review has to mean something again at our prestigious institutions.
    Thank you.

    Comment by Pierre Gosselin — 12 Nov 2008 @ 3:33 PM

  75. “GISTEMP provides that analysis as is and can’t possibly certify the work of all the individual agencies whose data gets used.”

    Garbage in means garbage out. If one can’t certify the quality of the data, then one ought not expect governments to form public policy based on “uncertified” results. Overall, GISS should at least show gratitude to the outsiders who spot errors, and not get all defensive about it. You’re getting quality control for free!

    “If that’s what you want, only look at the data at the end of the year and ignore the monthly releases.” – gavin

    If the integrity of the data and GISS results don’t improve quickly, then the yearly results may also end up getting ignored. Please take this as constructive criticism only.

    Comment by Pierre Gosselin — 12 Nov 2008 @ 3:46 PM

  76. As I note at my blog ( ) a number of the arguments here sound remarkably similar to those put forward by large software companies in the face of open source alternatives. I don’t think this bodes well for climate science

    PS Captcha – Further Research – sounds like a message for all of us :)

    [Response: Actually, I’d strongly support an open source analysis of the same data. ‘OpenTemp’ started off with that idea I think, but enthusiasm appears to have died down once it was clear that the results weren’t that different. GISS ended up doing this kind of by accident, and given the grief it gives us, I’m sure we’d be happy to pass on to a trustworthy open source version. All the data sources are publicly downloadable and the issues involved in producing the end product have been discussed ad nasueum. Go for it! – gavin]

    Comment by FrancisT — 12 Nov 2008 @ 3:49 PM

  77. Alastair #51 you have overcomplciated matters. That simple. The analogy from #57 is fitting here. Also I read Gavin’s post, he cleary states he knows of several errors, and makes suggestion for hasimprovement; the thing is the sceptics have not been able to find them or suggest logical ways to make improvements. Science is cold as ice, all this finger pointing and jumping up and down because the data is not perfect is nonsense. If a patient comes in with a head trauma and the CT shows no bleeding, but 3 hours later the patient’s personality grossly changes and a seizure; the CT is performed again, lo and behold there is bleeding (acute hemmorhage) that was not there before, the patient operated on and saved; do we tell the doctor’s they are incompetent? Or if a patient with metabolic acidosis comes in the ER, the sodium bicarbonate is admistered immediately to treat the symptoms and save their life, but does not work; the doctors probe deeper and discover their error and resort to proper treatment… get the picture?

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 3:50 PM

  78. Re 59:

    Ashby, the real problem with this idea is that these anomalies, even if uncorrected, will average out and have little to no influence over the long term–which is what we need to watch. (This assumes randomness, of course, but I’m not a conspiracy nut.) So the $500 G wouldn’t buy us any more real certainty about actual trends.

    In short, it needs to be about climate, not weather.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Nov 2008 @ 3:54 PM

  79. Patrick you sure do get around. : P

    Welcome to RC!

    Dill Weed

    Comment by Dill Weed — 12 Nov 2008 @ 4:03 PM

  80. Unfortunately, Patrick (#65) the network required for ground based systems is HUGE.

    Who is willing to pay 2p in the pound for taxes to pay for that???

    It’s cheaper to do this and keep the vigilance up.

    PS Gerrym, #50, so what if it wasn’t 12C? What change does it make to the output? If another measurement is 10C and turns out it’s 8C, that’s still a big anomaly.

    PPS Alistair #51, the BZZT try again was because this statement:
    “The OLR emitted by carbon dioxide is calculated using the kinetic temperature of the atmosphere, but CO2 emits at its vibrational temperature.”

    Is incorrect.

    a) “vibrational temperature” is a meaningless and unscientific element. I.e. It doesn’t exist.
    b) Excitation relaxation lasts far, FAR too long for it to survive the collision with another (non-CO2-excited) molecule in the air

    Therefore finding something wrong based on these erroneous statements would be akin to Neo noticing the black cat walking past twice.

    Someone would have had to change the Matrix…

    Add that if you HAD found something wrong in all these radiative models, you wouldn’t be here talking about it. You’d be getting this paper published and garnering fame.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Nov 2008 @ 4:07 PM

  81. “Response: I’m finding this continued tone of mock outrage…”
    We are your employers, and this is not mock outrage. This is rather righteous indignation. You should accept responsibility, apologize and beg that you are not fired.

    [Response: No it isn’t. It politically-driven piling on. What responsibility do you think I should take for a project that I am not involved in (other than it happens in my building)? – gavin]

    Comment by Mike Bryant — 12 Nov 2008 @ 4:26 PM

  82. I find this site and the discussions extremely useful. Gavin is right in insisting that scientists should be seeking the truth about climate change rather than supporting the pro- or anti-AGW factions. So please could we balance Gavin’s rather pro-AGW Responses with some more sceptical comments on what seem to me to be often quite serious contributions which he chooses to rubbish? If not, this site could start to look like an upper-class Greenpeace marketing emporium.

    Comment by Derek Smith — 12 Nov 2008 @ 4:27 PM

  83. Conversely, if one were to accept all data at face value with no analysis, then we would suffer the possibility of grave consequences as Twain pointed out.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 4:32 PM

  84. Pierre, #75. However, ***is*** this garbage? I mean, even if the result came back as 8.0, that’s wrong, because the average of the dataset was both

    a) Note ***precisely*** 8.0 but may have been 8.00000032283004376. GIGO?
    b) The measurements were a sampling, so the “true” answer may have been 8.4854975303005058689600376663829002481011, GIGO?

    This is called “sensitivity”.

    And as Kevin says in #78, what would this error do to the model outputs for climate over the next 150 years? Done the maths on that?

    If not, you don’t know if this error really IS garbage or just an error.

    Then again, assuming that it must be is exactly what this entire topic is about. You haven’t done the maths to see if it IS garbage, but you’ve just assumed that since a correction had to be made, it MUST be.

    “Begging the question”. And in its true sense. “GIGO” begs the question “How do you know it to be garbage in?”

    Comment by Mark — 12 Nov 2008 @ 4:50 PM

  85. If I understand your explanation for the flawed October global ST data, it is:

    You get garbage from NOAA, its compiler; you feed it into the black box that you designed and built; and after processing when garbage comes out, it is not your fault.


    [Response: No it’s not (and note that I did not design or build this). If you can show me a piece of software made for any purpose that gives the right answer regardless of it’s input data, I’ll be very impressed. – gavin]

    Comment by W F Lenihan — 12 Nov 2008 @ 4:53 PM

  86. Mark (45), Hank (if still interested), et al, re 12 & 33: That raw data should not be released willy-nilly is still a correct idea, IMO, but Gavin (24 & 48) makes a solid case that this would be too pristine, impractical, and probably in the end, not very helpful. Every now and then s__ happens and the lumps should just be taken and problems corrected as soon as discovered rather than delay the data for weeks or months while bureaucrats scrub it — as Hank said.

    There will always be someone criticizing any output from any group, so it’s a fool’s errand to try to get around all conceivable attacks. Mark should mitigate his paranoia a bit. And, BTW, if I’m looking at satellite spectrographic data and it shows variances from 0.003 to 0.007 over months and then shows a couple of months at 7.6, no, I don’t need an education in quantum mechanics to make a damn good assertion that something smells.

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Nov 2008 @ 4:56 PM

  87. Gavin,

    Do you guys have access to people who process data commercially? I’m thinking some good lessons could be learned from a meeting with folks from a place like D&B. Since they have clients who pay $$$ for their data, they can afford to invest heavily in improved data QA processes. There are quite a few similarities; they too are consumers/reporters in many cases.

    What I’m thinking: such entities have refined their methods and processes to be very efficient/effective. It may be possible to arrange a mutually beneficial agreement that would take care of these kinds of issues.

    (Yes, I have some experience with this.)

    [Response: Sure, but remember the no budget thing. You/They should contact the GISTEMP team to see. Note that there is already an independent rewrite of the base code being volunteered by a software company. – gavin]

    Comment by MrPete — 12 Nov 2008 @ 5:00 PM

  88. #78 Kevin

    I agree, Kevin, that it ultimately comes down to climate, not weather. However, climate trends are composed of lots of weather over periods of time. If weather data is not interpreted properly, then climate data has the potential of being corrupted over time as well. Obviously, if this mistake had somehow not been caught, the huge GISS October anomaly would have represented a serious divergence with the satellite sources – and it also would have altered the yearly data/trends.

    Some mistakes and problems are caught, and I’m sure some aren’t, but the bottom line is that we should be doing our best to make sure our weather information is as accurate as possible – and the climate trends will follow.

    Comment by Jared — 12 Nov 2008 @ 5:26 PM

  89. Gavin;

    “Actually, I’d strongly support an open source analysis of the same data. ‘OpenTemp’ started off with that idea I think, but enthusiasm appears to have died down once it was clear that the results weren’t that different. GISS ended up doing this kind of by accident, and given the grief it gives us, I’m sure we’d be happy to pass on to a trustworthy open source version. All the data sources are publicly downloadable and the issues involved in producing the end product have been discussed ad nasueum. Go for it! – gavin”

    Actually the enthusiasm did not die down because the results “were not that different” The problem we encountered was twofold. First, we only had results for CONUS, and the issue there was we only had a handful of class1 and class2 sites. So the “match” achieved with GISS had no statistical relevance. Further, I had results showing a difference in trend for the worst sites ( class5) versus all others,
    again with a small sample size and no statistical relevance. The small sample size raised the issue of getting more surveying done by surface stations, a volunteer run organization with a budget less than zero. It also raised the issue of how well “nightlights” works as a proxy for rural sites. Both of these issues remain unresolved. Second, the result achieved in CONUS has not been extended to the ROW. As people started to look at the ROW ( see the where’s waldo posts on CA) more data problems cropped up. You guessed it, in RUSSIA. There is a reason why the CA crowd is particularly sceptical about the Russian data, once you understand the background.

    WRT “all the data being publically available.” Most is.
    One thing lacking is the data from intermediate steps. GISSTEMP has multiple steps. At the end of each step intermediate results files are output. In doing an Open source rewrite of GISSTEMP this data would be hugely helpful. that way the new program could be verified step by step. Ordinarily we would compile and run the original GISS source and pull the intermediate results from that. But alas no one has been able to get the code to compile fully or run. ( Little things like infinite loops and EOF problems bedeviled folks every step of the way.) Even in that case we would still want to check that the intermediate results achieved on the recompiled code matched the intermediate results on the original code. particularly since folks had to make minor code changes and change fiddle with compiler flags to get rid of some of the errors . I know that seems anal, but its a QC/QA thing.
    The other issue is that some of the algorithms are still somewhat obscure. The funny thing is after I noted one of these obscurities, my next download of the code contained a clarification of the line we had been discussing at CA for two days.

    A Open Source version of GISSTEMP would require a bit more work than just tossing the code and data over the fence, but not that much work. It would be much better to get done and over with. Otherwise, who knows, another “Y2K” problem could crop up and steal the news for a week, or another bad russian data day. It’s actually in NASA’s interest to divest itself of this responsibility. Devote the .25FTE to open sourcing the product and the savings over the next 100 years will add up.

    [Response: But you are not thinking like a true open source pioneer. You have the same source data that GISTEMP uses, you’ve read the papers on the various issues that arise (splicing different versions, correcting for UHI, filling in missing data etc.), you should make a version that addresses these things indpendently and at the same time build in a better level of flexibility and portability. Linus Torvalds didn’t build Linux by going back to see what BSD did every time he had a problem. Make something new and truly independent. Don’t wait on other people to spoon feed you stuff. That would be a real contribution. – gavin]

    Comment by steven mosher — 12 Nov 2008 @ 5:37 PM

  90. During most of my business career. I had to sign my name on documents cerifying that the data contained therin was accurate. It didn’t matter who or what source provided the data. Moreover, there were legal consequences in the event that inaccuracies were subsequently discovered. Later in my career, the disclaimer, \to the best of my knowledege.\ was no longer acceptable. I never quite understood why some of my USG counterparts weren’t held to the same standards.

    Comment by Harold K McCard — 12 Nov 2008 @ 5:45 PM

  91. # 81: Seriously? Please name me one line of work, one type of human endeavor, where mistakes are never made.
    The only place where you can be 100% certain of something is if you simply choose to believe in it without asking for data or proof. You know, like having faith in god or something. Nothing wrong with faith if that is what you choose as your guide to understanding the truth. But accept that other than divine perfection, humans err. It’s the way we are. And there is a lot of integrity in being honest about it.
    The great thing about science is that we immediately accept the errors we make as soon as we realize we made them and take action to correct it. And as you see in this post, they even openly broadcast it that errors were made and are being corrected. You think people should be fired for that?

    Comment by Figen Mekik — 12 Nov 2008 @ 5:49 PM

  92. .25 FTE’s is someone devoting 2 hours a day to verify the accuracy of this data. That sounds like enough given the number of sites (2000) and frequency of measurement (one report per month?). $500,000 for 6 people working full time 8 hours a day sounds like overkill. What am I missing? One person on the web was able to catch this glitch and probably did not have to spend 2 hours to do so.

    [Response: The work on this is done over a one or two day period once every month. Add in a bit more for code maintenance, writing for papers etc. But remember that this is an analysis not data generation. NOAA has a whole division devoted to what you are concerned about (and I’m sure there are counterparts in the other national weather centers). If you want GISTEMP do that level of additional investigation it takes people to do it. As you say, this was caught very quickly and with no cost. Seems a pretty good deal. – gavin]

    Comment by Ed — 12 Nov 2008 @ 5:54 PM

  93. Hey Gavin, it seems to be that this website is so scientifically important and successful that every contrarian/skeptic is attacking it here now.

    Congratulations, at least they are posting here and hence you are now able to demonstrate how silly they are being.

    Comment by pete best — 12 Nov 2008 @ 6:01 PM

  94. Derek Smith likes his climate science “fair and balanced.” Only one problem Derek, the basis of this site is science, which means that things need to be consistent with the evidence. Tell ya what. If you can find a reputable climate scientist with an extensive publication record that really illuminates the phenomena of climate and whose opposition is not based on either misunderstanding or outright obfuscation, we’d all love to know about it.

    [Crickets chirping…]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Nov 2008 @ 6:15 PM

  95. Mike Bryant it seems you are confusing a few issues, there is a Division Of Labor. The mathematical modeler does his part, inputting, adapting information into the computer; the scientists who make the oberervarions and measurements assist in the data to be input; the quality control measures ensure that errors like this one are caught efficiently and additional checks help improve quality; also speaking of business and error analysis and calculated errors, are you familiar with Six Sigma? Think about it, everything from pacemakers, to a tuna fish sandwich has a margin of error and probability for errors. The science of climatology has evolved quite rapidly, and it continues to do; just read the last IPCC report with one from 2-4 years prior; what a massive improvement in attribution and evidence to support such claims!

    And Jared # 88 you are oversimplifying matters. Try reading some of the articles available on this site regarding weather and climate. You are neglecting the long term averaging done. To say that weather patterns average out into climate trends or that weather is chaotic, well, yes, however, over time climate itself as an average is easier to measure out and predict than weather two weeks from now.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 6:31 PM

  96. Then there are the actual software engineers and computer programmers, and the repair teams…

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 6:35 PM

  97. The denialist agenda has no leg to stand on when looking at the facts, the data, the models, the artic ice sheets melting etc…

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 6:40 PM

  98. Once again… read, learn, solve the equations, see how data is transduced and analyzed… we all begin as lay peopel, but our own eforts are what take us into a given area(s) of expertise. Take some courses at night. Read the realclimate literature, suscribe to journal nature. Again a goed engineering community college offers calculus 1-3, (some offer a type of IV) modern physics, enginerring, and advanced engineering mathematics; state universities with no prestige, offer excellent courses in a wide variety if courses that will enable one to understand errors, error analysis and the process of quality controls. Read the IPCC report, all of it.

    A layperson can ask a question, but how can they criticize? For every one Einstein there are a billion wannabes:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 7:06 PM

  99. I would love to get Watts in a debate.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 7:22 PM

  100. #76, Gavin: thanks for the encouragement. My Fortran 90 is mediocre at best but I got pretty far with reproducing the GISSTEMP steps. So far I found the homogenisation (step 2) to be the most complex to unravel. Some of the methodology is not entirely clear to me but I still have to check the papers on that. My set-up is slightly different than GISSTEMP, mostly on the level of I/O: all input data is stored and continuously updated in a SQL database. All program source code is in comprehensible C++. An attempt is being made to publicise a work-in-progress version before the end of the year. No guarantees though, it is all done in spare time next to my forecaster job.

    Comment by Ben Lankamp — 12 Nov 2008 @ 8:01 PM

  101. #

    I would love to get Watts in a debate.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 November 2008 @ 7:22 PM

    Go over and ask him. Or, you can have a go at me, if you like.

    Comment by Les Johnson — 12 Nov 2008 @ 8:02 PM

  102. Ad hominem and Strawman fallacies have no place in scientific discussion either.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 8:34 PM

  103. Given these four points:

    1. The GISS code is a mess that most likely requires a complete reimplementation (in my professional opinion).
    2. If, as Gavin has stated, only 0.25 FTEs are invested in this process, there seems little hope of this improving in the future.
    3. The key selling point of the GISS code (that it can automatically spot and correct data quality problems) has never been demonstrated to my satisfaction, and was clearly not demonstrated earlier this week.
    4. There are prefectly reasonable alternatives available.

    doesn’t it make sense to switch to the hadcrut datasets? Admittedly, they haven’t yet opened up their code for inspection, but could it be worse than the GISS situation?

    Comment by Jason — 12 Nov 2008 @ 8:40 PM

  104. Gavin wrote: The credit for first spotting this goes to the commentators on WUWT, and the first notification to GISTEMP was that evening.

    For what it is worth, Chris posted his discovery on WUWT about 45 minutes before I made my update indicating an error existed. However, I made my posting because of two emails Steve Mc sent me about two hours prior. The first was the email John S. sent him, quickly followed by a confirmation from Steve. I simply had not checked email due to being busy with work. Steve had already written most of his post by the time I saw the emails.

    Not sure it really matters who was there first. I am ashamed to say I saw the big red blotch in central Asia and was so insensitized that I did not investigate it further. Perhaps I’ve lost my critical eye.

    Comment by John Goetz — 12 Nov 2008 @ 8:46 PM

  105. The “Gotcha! Gang” is really ooming out of the woodwork on this topic. This is what some of them live for. Finding tempests in a teapot and attempting to turn them into full blown storms.

    I can’t help but feel that some of the critics about these temperature glitches must know better. After all science is a work in progress. Errors are made, detected and corected for, asap, as has been the case here.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:07 PM

  106. 93, Pete, If that is true I want to say: for every ounce of outrage on and admitted mistake, quickly to be corrected, you contrarian guys have 1 metric ton of lack of curiosity as to why its warmer in the Arctic for the same October just past. Yes, we don’t need a graph to make us concerned when Northerly winds were consistently warmer, Warm Northerly winds in the High Arctic… Curious?….. May be?…. Just a little curious?…. Perhaps…. Any sense of amazement? Or is it too important to trash the people who warned us about this warming 20 years ago?

    Comment by wayne davidson — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:14 PM

  107. Les Johnson, whatever floats your boat. I will ask him as well. Where would you like to start?

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:14 PM

  108. Gavin, hang in there! The fuss being made by a number of people about this issue is pure nonsense. Sure a mistake got through, and it was quickly corrected. Who was first to notice and call attention to it is entirely irrelevant. It is a minor blip in an ongoing analysis and has zero impact on our understanding of global warming. The only people making a big deal about this are the paranoids who think there is some kind of great conspiracy among climate scientists to bring down the entire industrialized world. What baloney. They have no understanding at all of what is really important in scientific work, which is to get closer to the truth, not whether any mistakes were made along the way.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:14 PM

  109. It is human nature to accept data without question when it supports a position that one has a strong emotional attachment to and to vigorously question data only when it is in conflict. This is the nature of bias – it is not necessarily intentional, but if unchecked, it destroys credibility. Would you have released a data file that showed a negative .88 anomaly? I suspect not.

    [Response: Actually that would have been considerably more surprising (since anomalies have been running at around 0.66 for the last decade). The equivalent negative anomaly based on that expectation would be 0.66 – (0.88-0.66) = 0.44. And last January was 0.14. So, yes, they did (and would) release a data file with a much more equivalently negative anomaly. (For reference, the last -0.88 anomaly was February 1895). The last >0.88 anomaly was January 2007. – gavin]

    Comment by Braden Sneath — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:15 PM

  110. What would you say are the three chief reasons for doubting AGW, or if you are not a deniar, but a skeptic, like Watts claims to be; what are the major reasons to doubt the models, satellite data, ice core data, ecology reports, coral reef, and artic ice melting right in front our eyes?

    I can understand that some people feel, and some meteorologists and other scientists believe the data is not compelling or is skewed beyond what is reasonable for adequuate analysis; where is the evidence to support these assertions? No doubt there are margins for error, however, that is nothing new, and it is interesting to note that in weather forcasting there are even larger margins for error, as cold fronts, warm fronts, wind directions and the like vary, and even small perturbations in the system can quickly lead to quite different results than a weather forcast can predict; yet, meteorology has become refined enough that 1-2 weeks of forcasting are considered reasonable by most experts and the lay public generally has no problem understanding short term variance, or so it would seem… Yet long averages, say classic 30 year, becomes a major issue for those who do not comprehend that as more long term analysis is conducted the climate record can be understood in far more detail and with greater accuracy. Surely the thermometer placement issues are better understood in light of factoring in urban effects, and by the very fact that these weather stations are never used solely to undestand global warming trends. Also, independent data from these weather stations provides strong evidence to support AGW. Also the system is in dyamic equilibrium, meaning that water vapor and co2 has gone up, and even with responses from the system, more infared radiation is trapped in, which is in line with both the physisc and chemistry that has been well known for quite some time in relation to the atmosphere, ocean obsorption rates and soulubility rules, and mixing.

    Should we ignore some of the facts like: CO2, SO2,SO3, CH4, among other gases have increased in the atmosphere, and that more cancer cases, exacerbation of asthma among other cases have become far higher?

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:36 PM

  111. Or is this data:

    Huge ongoing warming right now, including Siberia… Not interesting?

    Comment by wayne davidson — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:37 PM

  112. Braden, 109, you are referring to confirmation bias, and such strong bias as to ignore actual findings; I have seen reports here and elsewhere that have shown ephemeral cooling, and temporary small reversals, such as when a volcano erupts. No one has denied global dimming and localized cooling effects from temperature gradients and so forth.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:38 PM

  113. # 110 that is for you Les. Fate is a hunter…keep your eyes on the VSI:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:42 PM

  114. Who was first to notice and call attention to it is entirely irrelevant

    I don’t know the details here but certainly it *is* very relevant who is finding errors and how they are processed. There’s a very legitimately concerned that the debate has become so partisan that advocacy – or simply time contraints and assumptions – have poisoned some of the data and data interpretations. Clearly this happened in this case and with the earlier GISS model revision to the “warmest years on record” press bonanza.

    If quality control trends only in one direction it suggests a systemic bias in the system. Off the top of my head I think it’s more likely to bias people *against* AGW than *for* it because there are probably more skeptics looking for mistakes than objective folks, but it remains an important consideration in all science.

    Comment by Joe Hunkins — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:42 PM

  115. name a place, mack. Just remember that this, and Anthony’s, is not our house.

    Comment by Les Johnson — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:43 PM

  116. Very true. You may email me at anytime. I will try and find a suitable place to debate, will keep you updated:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:47 PM

  117. 109, This is an important point. Inadvertent mistakes when handling data are inevitable. The interesting question is whether bias can creep in when that happens.

    Comment by HankHenry — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:47 PM

  118. I did feel though that the debates here and the minor glitch do fit the content we are posting…no?

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 9:49 PM

  119. The corrected data is up. Met station index = 0.68, Land-ocean index = 0.58, details here. Turns out Siberia was quite warm last month.

    Comment by gavin — 12 Nov 2008 @ 10:00 PM

  120. Personally I think debate is distraction, and meant to be. Look who’s been buying huge newspaper ads trying to provoke more “debate” — and compare the cost of buying such ads to the funds available to do the science. People with no publications. Glory hounds without peer.
    No, wait, that’s not quite right.

    Earlier Gavin wrote:
    > With extra resources, I’d hire ….

    Time for a bake sale? We have a couple of solar ovens we don’t use often enough….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Nov 2008 @ 10:27 PM

  121. Pardon asked if already covered. A little bleary eyed from reading posts.

    Is there anything on etiology? e.g. Do the station reporting packets/records include a time/date stamp?

    Comment by Jaynicks — 12 Nov 2008 @ 10:54 PM

  122. Solar sails:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 11:09 PM

  123. Warren Meyer has responded with the following points (I paraphrase):
    #1 It would have been far better to simply thank the person who discovered the error out and move on. It is not necessary to opine about the motivations of a “cottage industry” and blah blah blah. The more you try to save face by slinging mud, the more significant the error seems. This is unnecessary; Meyer acknowledges it is a very minor and understandable error after all.
    #2 It is indeed quite cheesy to troll the comments section of other blogs and repeat them as if they were sanctioned positions. This ploy does not improve your own image.

    [Response: Thanks! – gavin]

    Comment by Paul — 12 Nov 2008 @ 11:18 PM

  124. Gavin,
    are you familiar with the Climate Hotmap that Union of Concerned Scientists put together? It’s at

    To me it seems like an awesome resource. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated since 2005. I’ve sent a few emails trying to find out what’s going on. Some are undeliverable, others aren’t answered.

    I don’t suppose you know anything about what’s going on with that.

    It seems to me, given the new administration coming in ~ that The Climate Hotmap could be extremely important resource for public education. But, only if updated.

    Any thoughts?

    Peter M

    Comment by peter miesler — 12 Nov 2008 @ 11:26 PM

  125. My post on Watts up with that:

    fail to see where the embarrasment is to be found. Siberia is shown to be experiencing a heat wave. 2007, 2005 and 1934 still are the hottest years on record and the variance of 1934 being hotter is around 0.01, so where is the inconsistency, the rebuttal to a multitude of data or the cause for doubt in the first place, based upon real data? The northern latitudes look like they experienced quite a warming, actually from either map.

    Did you look over the 2007 graphs, models, and empirical results?

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 11:33 PM

  126. …celsius, in contiguous states:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Nov 2008 @ 11:37 PM

  127. All good points: Paul and Hank, Gavin. Then again a considerable amount of what occurs in these blogs, anu of them is debate; between ‘moderate,’ ‘denialist,’ ‘alarmist,’ ‘lay person’, ‘scientist,’ then the reseracher or modeler answers a question or two (like here) or the non-expert in some other blog raises doubts based upon incomplete or distorted information. Still, I will not post anymore back and forth posts between blogs. It does, however, perturb me how self proclaimed experts can deny the warming trend and consequences thereof. And if people just read and understood a few things, they could atleast get the idea and see the that the accuracy is quite phenomenal.

    Every thread has heated debate, and such is the basis of blogging here by and large… but I digress, I do not want to turn this site into a rompa room either.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Nov 2008 @ 12:21 AM

  128. Follow up on #119 – the eagle eyed among you will notice that more data has been added to the GISTEMP maps in between the original posting and the new corrected posting. This is because different weather services post the data at different times and it takes time for them all to do so. Roughly half the data takes more than two weeks to come in. However, between last friday (when GISTEMP downloaded the first GHCN data) and today (thursday), stations in Australia and northern Canada were reported. People claiming on other websites that Oct data for Resolute, Cambridge Bay and Eureka NWT are not in the latest download, should really check their files again. (To make it easy the station numbers are 403719240005, 403719250005 and 403719170006). Why anyone would automatically assume something nefarious was going on without even looking at the numbers is a mystery to me. None of these people have any biases of their own of course.

    Comment by gavin — 13 Nov 2008 @ 1:43 AM

  129. Thanks for the update and explanations, Gavin.

    So the corrections resulted in just over a .2C drop for the monthly anomaly. That’s quite substantial. Interestingly enough, there is still quite a disconnect between the satellite (RSS and UAH) anomalies and GISS. RSS and UAH both had October anomalies under .2C (easily below the 10 year average), while GISS still has .65C (right around the ten year average). I understand that the base periods are different, but even with that accounted for, GISS is still much warmer. I also am aware that the satellites do not measure the same exact thing that the surface record does…that being said, this large of a discrepency between the satellite and surface record is not normal. I have noticed that 2008 in general has had quite a few months where there was significant divergence between the satellite temp anomalies and GISS. If someone has a good explanation for why this might be, I’d appreciate it.

    [Response: They measure different things. – gavin]

    Comment by Jared — 13 Nov 2008 @ 2:13 AM

  130. Good article, what is vital for the scientific community to get credibility in governmental circles is consistancy and coherency. That’s why I’m not too concerned that the IPCC is usually on the conservative side. It’s better that way and for the IPCC to make periodic admendments upwards to the world’s media to maintain the sense of urgency than to immediately give the worse case scenario and be heavily critisised by all and sundry for being too unrealistically alarmist. On the other side of the coin quality and reliabilty of data would prevent yet another dramatic shortening of the time frame this time for the oceans crustateans incl. coral. Now they say a collapse in the crustatean pop. is expected within the next 20 years if ocean acidification and warming continue unabated. The alarming thing with this is two fold: world fish stocks will be decimated but we will also have another very powerful +ve mechanism working against loss of planckton. I would imagine that the thin shelled calcium carbonate animals will be affected first. Diatoms then krill then shrimps etc. Planckton and diatoms et-al use sunlight to transform CO2 into carbohydrates. No micro crustateans = fatally compromised oceanic CO2 sink. Do we really want to turn 4/5 of the world’s land area into a slag pond??

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 13 Nov 2008 @ 2:20 AM

  131. Some perspective:

    Send demands for resignations to John Christy, Roy Spencer and anyone who has ever used their data.

    Come to think of it, RSS was low by 0.15 degrees for an entire year (2007), and certainly no competent person could *possibly* miss that, given the holy hell raised over a 0.2 degree error for one month. Pink slips for everyone!

    Comment by cce — 13 Nov 2008 @ 4:07 AM

  132. In re: commment 89 and your response.

    ( )

    Linux may be a poor example. Samba might be a better one. Unix and its APIs were quite clearly documented so reference to the code was not required. SAMBA on the other hand had to decrypt a proprietary poorly documented protocol and that effort was often severely delayed by bugs (or at least deviations from the limited published documentation) in the original closed source implementation.

    I also think you are missing the point, and I think its the same point you miss when you write “Even downloading the output (from here or here) is eschewed in favour of firing off Freedom of Information Act requests for data already publicly available – very odd.” in the original post.

    The first thing anyone should do is replicate the results using new code. Then once the new code provides a perfect match (to within rounding errors etc.) you can start tweaking bits to improve things. If you start tweaking things without first getting proof that you’ve replicated the original results then you can’t say whether your tweaks are good or not. With GISTEMP (and with the Santer paper) the process is a multistep process. If you have the output of the intermediate steps then you can do two things
    1) find out where in your emulation your results start to diverge
    2) debug each stage individually

    The critical point here is that right now GISTEMP is still a fairly opaque box even if it isn’t completely black. If “open source” climate scientists are to try and take over, fix, fork etc. GISTEMP then this will be greatly facilitated by providing as much intermediate data as possible.

    Comment by FrancisT — 13 Nov 2008 @ 4:30 AM

  133. “Response: No it’s not (and note that I did not design or build this). If you can show me a piece of software made for any purpose that gives the right answer regardless of it’s input data, I’ll be very impressed. – gavin]”

    Are you implying it’s not GISS responsibility to verify the quality of the raw data?
    Concerning the new revised temperature, GISS reult is still way out of the ballpark when compared to RSS, UAH and Hadley figures. Do you still think your latest October numbers are accurate? I still see a red flag.

    Comment by Pierre Gosselin — 13 Nov 2008 @ 4:55 AM

  134. Re #106, As Real climate have pointed out many times it takes 17 years of data to tell us about climate. The contrarians are trying, 8 years (real climate have a big discussion with Roger Pielke about it all recently), now onew month as if the measurement guys would not have realised the error at some point but the contrarians have made a massive example out of a couple of months error in the data and hence that must make all the data somehow incorrect. We must deny all of the data!! This is absurd, typical of the contrarian viewpoint and where is their peer reviewed work?

    I have read around real climate for the past 3 years and the work of other climate scientists such as James Hansen now and as they are real peer reviwed climate scientists they diss both the skeptics and the pro climate maniacs and quote the science only.

    The guys at GISS and other valid places have formed real climate and it is a scientific site who has taught a lot of us interested other scientists and layman a lot of inspiring stuff about earth and climate science.

    I have read many a book and many a article and real climate has cleared up all of the stuff that lets me know that this posting by RC is necessary in order to answer the contrarians but has nothing to do with the science and validity of climate change.

    Comment by pete best — 13 Nov 2008 @ 5:06 AM

  135. Gavin, on open source: you’re correct that Linus didn’t need to constantly go back to BSD source. Unix has always had well-specified documentation. Its basic paradigm is the use of small well-specified blobs of functionality.

    Imagine how well the Internet would work if we didn’t have the RFC specs. Not.
    Imagine how well we could assemble today’s computers from parts if we didn’t have the various interface (USB, ATA/SATA, PCI, memory, video, …) specs. Not.
    Imagine how well business-to-business data interchange would work without today’s XML standards. Not.

    All of these enable more-or-less sensible and reliable data and equipment connection between various providers and partners.

    Read Eric Raymond’s Cathedral and Bazaar for context. And recognize that even Microsoft is learning to itself invest in open source. As has Sun…IBM…and many more.

    Isn’t it time to apply data interchange and QA methodologies to the climate data value chain? All the way from sensors to google mashups? This does not require all-new equipment. My first full-time job involved telephone interconnections, from the latest digital phones to 1890’s-era mechanical critters in a back corner of New York. A reasonable spec can be wrapped around *any* data source. Given the right wrapper, even crummy data sent two weeks late by a vodka-inebriated fisherman can become a useful part of the global picture. That’s the fun of it :)

    My earlier suggestion stands. Commercial entities have expertise that may be of surprisingly great value to you. They’ve already learned these lessons the hard way.

    Unix, email, web, newsfeeds, PC’s, ecommerce, JIT mfg, data security… even *competitors* cooperated to see these become reality. Sure, there’s vigorous discussion. But that’s the point: things get better a lot more quickly when wide open to dynamic contributions of insight and critique.

    Comment by MrPete — 13 Nov 2008 @ 6:48 AM

  136. Gavin,

    I’m sorry but you seem to be missing the point and the OP here just looks like making feeble excuses. Attacking the CT-driven goons just looks like an attempt to divert attention.

    Who found the error?

    The error was found within 24 hours of the data being made public, showing that it wasn’t that hard to find. Are you telling us that there is no one tasked with the most basic data validation? This error was obvious, and was therefore corrected, but confidence in the data as a whole has been seriously damaged by this fiasco. Who knows what other errors remain undiscovered and uncorrected?

    You might assert that this is a matter of mountains and molehills, but you are being naive. The deniosphere has enough to entertain itself seeing mischief where it does not exist without stuff like this being handed to them on a platter.

    Why does realclimate exist in the first place? Is it not to counter the propaganda emanating from the deniosphere? Does no one in the organisations collecting and processing weather data realise how important it is to take extra care and not to give the “sceptics” ammunition they didn’t even ask for?

    I’m no GWSceptic, just someone who wonders “what *were” they thinking?”!

    Comment by TrueSceptic — 13 Nov 2008 @ 7:05 AM

  137. As Scott Adams has noted, one of the major fallacies of the human mind is “Anything you don’t understand is easy to do.”

    By assuming that it should be easy to spot any error, whether there has ever been one like it before or not, many of you are revealing just how ignorant you are. While credit goes to those who spotted it first, this is the sort of error that would have been caught fairly quickly in any case. To jump to the conclusion that this implies that there is some sort of bias or worse conspiracy merely makes you look dim.
    Science ain’t easy, folks. That’s why becoming a scientist involves 4 years of college >5 years of grad school, several years as a postdoc and finally you’re ready to be taken seriously. Moreover, science is always done on a shoestring. There are never enough eyes or hands. If some of you would like to cough up some extra tax dollars to improve things, write your representatives. We’d all appreciate it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Nov 2008 @ 7:55 AM

  138. Re #88:

    No question but that all reasonable effort should be made to ensure the accuracy of all data. However:

    “Obviously, if this mistake had somehow not been caught, the huge GISS October anomaly would have represented a serious divergence with the satellite sources – and it also would have altered the yearly data/trends.”

    I am a mathematically naive layperson on this site–however, the difference in the anomaly was .24, according to CA. If you average this over just 2008, that gives us .02. Not so serious for the long term. And again, in the event, the error *was* caught quite quickly. Kudos to the eagle-eyed.

    “Some mistakes and problems are caught, and I’m sure some aren’t. . .” As long as the sign is random and no systematic bias is introduced, they will average out over time. Observers of all stripes clearly need to be vigilant. “. . .but the bottom line is that we should be doing our best to make sure our weather information is as accurate as possible – and the climate trends will follow.” Amen. I’m in support of anybody who really does want to get to the truth. I believe that the result will confirm the present mainstream consensus, but time and effort will tell, in an increasingly definitive way.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Nov 2008 @ 8:37 AM

  139. Ray Ladbury said: “this is the sort of error that would have been caught fairly quickly in any case.”

    I think fair questions to ask are how and when, exactly, would an error like this have been caught in the current process if private individuals were not taking it upon themselves to analyze this information?

    Simply answering these questions puts us on the road to preventing similar errors in the future. It may also quell some fears that similar errors have been made in the past.

    Comment by JWS — 13 Nov 2008 @ 8:46 AM

  140. Maybe someone who is current on the overall data quality assurance processes could comment on this?

    All measured data is subject to quality checks at the many levels of processing. In most countries, one very elaborate stage is within the weather forecasting process where the same data is applied. The climatological process may benefit from that, or a separate pathway and different procedures may be provided. Historically (maybe somewhere even today) “weather” and “climate” data flows were separated at the observation station level as this provided a more comprehensive climate record, but now this has apparently been mostly discontinued. Basically data quality is the responsibility of national weather services providing data for international exchange.

    Many organizations then use these data sets, following their own procedures. To me this particular case appears as a human error of picking a wrong line on some screenful of data. Computers do not pick wrong months from a list. In which organization this error was made is not obvious.

    It is not reasonable to propose that full data quality processes are run on the same data at each user terminal. You have to accepts a level of confidence on the other members of the team. Different national services have different procedures, although all of them endeavour to meet or exceed the standard quality level set by the World Meteorological Organization.

    As to detecting such random errors, to me this is just normal peer review. Hope it works equally well on all the other offered data and claims.

    There is ample litterature on these processes, much more than I could ever absorb.

    Comment by Pekka Kostamo — 13 Nov 2008 @ 9:19 AM

  141. Re #24
    Hank – That’s just not a good enough answer. What has happened is that GISS has put out an *analysis* of the raw data without noticing major major errors in it. The error should have been picked up by normal quality and data handling procedures. That it wasn’t, and was picked up by external commentators, is a failure on the part of GISS. It reduces confidence in GISS and opens the door to the possibility of other major errors not being revealed.

    Is your confidence in UAH-MSU similarly shaken by the error in their results due to a coding error (pointed out to them by Mears)? Or in RSS by the error which persisted in their data for about 1 year ( which was pointed out to them by S&C)?

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 13 Nov 2008 @ 9:25 AM

  142. Groan… The NOAA fixes are not complete. There are still some stations where they have some Sep data in the Oct column. Stay tuned for more updates…

    Comment by gavin — 13 Nov 2008 @ 10:14 AM

  143. Gavin
    “Turns out Siberia was quite warm last month.”

    “Siberia is shown to be experiencing a heat wave.”

    Really? This is not the case according to weather underground or according to

    According to both these sources, Oct 2008 temperatures in Irkutsk and Bratsk were normal.

    Comment by PaulM — 13 Nov 2008 @ 10:42 AM

  144. If anyone has influence there, I suggest that they do not publish so quick. HadCRUT3v is not before the 16th or later of any month. If each report were to be published with a little review verbiage it would sort of force the “review before”.

    These data are used for climate trend indication and no one is jumping to policy decisions based on a 1 month anomaly, lest there are knee jerkers in government, any government.

    Now on temps, can someone confirm which of the regular indices of HadCRU, NCDC, GISS, do or do not include polar region temperatures. Just to get a notion what is global and “global”. Saw several comments to that effect in the last few weeks.


    reCaptcha says: Rohl confusion … Royal indeed ;-)

    Comment by Sekerob — 13 Nov 2008 @ 10:55 AM

  145. #141 Phil Felton

    There is a reason that the UAH-MSU error took so long to fix – it wasn’t an easy thing to spot. It was a mathematical error in the formula. There really is no comparison between a formula error that wasn’t noticed for years and a glaringly obvious quality control error such as this (that took a matter of hours for lay people to notice once it was released to the public).

    I echo the sentiments of a previous poster: if people don’t like the response from skeptics, then they should urge GISS and NOAA not to let things like this get by that give skeptics easy ammunition.

    Comment by Jared — 13 Nov 2008 @ 11:29 AM

  146. but Gavin what is the problem with NOAA data?
    Have you some contact with somebody in this administration?
    What are they doing ?
    It’s the second known time in few days!
    I know that you, personnaly, are not responsible of this problem, and we can appreciate that you are alone, fighting on the “front”.
    But in your opinion, frankly if possible, is this problem considered seriously in both administrations or is it the indifference?

    [Response: There are still (at least) four stations that have Oct data in place of september data but that didn’t report have september data in the GHCN file (Kirensk, Irkutsk, Bratsk, Erbogacen). I expect that the SEP=OCT check that NOAA did, just didn’t catch these. Still, this is embarassing – but will be fixed today. Nobody is ‘indifferent’. – gavin]

    [Updated response: I originally mispoke in the above comment since the data is missing from the collated file rather than non-existent in any file. I’m happy to correct any mis-interpretation that might have caused. That collation is the responsibility of NOAA and any queries as to what goes into it or why should be directed to them. Now if people want to correct their insinuations that including Northern Canada data in the last update was akin to a shell game, we might be getting somewhere. – gavin]

    Comment by Pascal — 13 Nov 2008 @ 11:34 AM

  147. #58. pete best:

    Do you know that is the first time I’ve used he phrase “church of AGW” and I was quite surprised to see it in the post. Your point about the apocolypse and armageddon is well made, that’s exactly how I see the AGW alarmists. That, however, doesn’t make me a “denialist” (I find it distasteful by the way that a debate should take place where one side tries to smear the other by implying they are the type of people who would deny the holocaust), I am not denying anything, not even that smoking causes cancer. I simply don’t know, it appears in our little location that we are getting warmer, less snow in the winter etc. But the warmer winters have come on quite suddenly, in fact before 1988 they were the same as they’d always been. I don’t know if we are warming because of human activities either, and from what I’ve read of the debate, no one really knows.

    Regardless of the arguments I think it’s a good thing to move towards renewable energy, but I don’t think there is any need for alarm, and there are many in the AGW camp who also believe this. Even if we are alarmed I don’t think we can do anything useful in the timeframes we are told we have available. What can we point to that the kyoto agreement has achieved in ten years?

    I used to see you at the Cavern when you were playing with the Beatles and have to say that being thrown out of the group at the cusp of their success must make you the unluckiest man in histoy. Given your bad luck you have every right to expect, indeed, demand armageddon.

    I will make every effort never to use the church of AGW again.

    Comment by gerrym — 13 Nov 2008 @ 12:13 PM

  148. Re: #147–

    Unfortunately, “denialist” is a very accurate term for some, who deny virtually every aspect of the science, no matter how uncontroversial it is (or ought to be.) We know:

    1) that it’s warming; all datasets (including the denialist’s favorite, UAH lower troposphere, which I checked this morning) show a warming trend, and these direct measurements are buttressed by many proxy observations such as decreasing sea ice extent, worldwide de-glaciation, and biological habitat shifts;

    2) that CO2 has the correct physical properties to cause “greenhouse” warming, as validated for over 5 decades now by lab experimental data and atmospheric study;

    3) that we put the CO2 there, as demonstrated by the studies of its isotopic composition, which show it to be of fossil origin;

    4) that serious, repeated efforts to find alternate ways to explain the observed warming have not (so far, at least) succeeded–these explanations include changes in earth’s orbit, earth’s albedo, solar irradiance, and gamma ray flux;

    5) that the effects of continued warming will be largely negative and potentially serious in human terms, with possible problems in sea level rise, disease patterns, food production, direct negative health impacts due to heat or other extreme weather events, and severe economic and/or ecological losses.

    Basically, what we *don’t* know is exactly how bad it will be, or how fast it will get really bad. That’s why many of us feel it really is time to start putting together a coordinated plan–because it would be tragic if the answer comes in as “very bad, very fast” and we aren’t ready because, well, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to face reality. It is an accepted axiom that one of the most important survival skills of all is the ability to recognize a potential threat for what it is–and that emotion-based denial is the biggest inhibitor of that ability.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Nov 2008 @ 1:35 PM

  149. (Reply Jared, Peter, & #147)

    I just look at data. The reason I get upset with denialists is because they hold a position that is not changed by any amount or quality of data and observations. The fact DOES remain, that we do have time to fix things.As I have stated here and elsewhere, a volcano could erupt and really change matters… I get emotional not as an alarmist, but as a realist and human being. Having taken courses in weather and climate related subject matter, and having an extensive science background, and reading the papers here and from other sights moderated by professionals, well, the GHG’s are serious issues, even if AGW were somehow disproven (as unlikely as that sounds) we still face higher mortality rates, morbidity, diseases, comorbid features, contaminated aquatic life and other food sources, set points for many plant life in which more CO2 is detrimental, poisonous plants thriving on CO2 increases, (not good) and other changes in the planet’s state, that we cannot even predict the ramifications of as of yet.

    This may not be the NOAA’s brigtest hour, to be sure, however, to attack the agency,(some people, not all of you) rather promote positive assstance or critique does not help matters; whether proessional in the field or first time poster with no science background; but the responsibility does fall on us with the background to speak responsibly, even myself, rather than attacking an opposing veiwpoint, whether they are reasonable or not. What does remain clear, is that these gas emissions are not healthy and do pose threats to most life forms, and humans have a responsibility in curtailing these detrimental effects.

    Now pete if you look closely at the data on the NASA site you will see what we were referring to, as well as last years stats and heat waves, global mean temp rise etc..

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Nov 2008 @ 2:01 PM

  150. This may not be the NOAA’s brigtest hour, to be sure, however, to attack the agency,(some people, not all of you) rather promote positive assstance or critique does not help matters; whether proessional in the field or first time poster with no science background; but the responsibility does fall on us with the background to speak responsibly, even myself, rather than attacking an opposing veiwpoint, whether they are reasonable or not. What does remain clear, is that these gas emissions are not healthy and do pose threats to most life forms, and humans have a responsibility in curtailing these detrimental effects.

    Now pete if you look closely at the data on the NASA site you will see what we were referring to, as well as last years stats and heat waves, global mean temp rise etc..

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Nov 2008 @ 2:02 PM

  151. Kevin #148, well said.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Nov 2008 @ 2:19 PM

  152. RE 89. There are several issues here. One of the driving motivations behind FOSS is to increase reliability. many people looking at the same code finding solutions, posting patches. However, Stallman and FSF tend to argue for “open software” from an ethical point of view:, more explicitly here: where Free software is construed as a social movement.
    Torvalds has taken the position that Open Source is preferable on pragmatic grounds. And it’s fun.
    ( see the title of his autobiography) It produces better code. There is nothing in either philosophy that advocates or dictates “blank slate” development, in fact, quite the opposite. the community is driven by people reusing other peoples code. And so having good regression testing is a must. If somebody submits a patch, you have to vet the patch before it’s released. That’s what I’m driving at WRT the intermediate data files in GISSTEMP. In fact, recently GISSTEMP was altered to provide some intermediate data files. This was greatly appreciated. In short, replicating GISSTEMP output, final output, is geatly simplified by releasing the data files created at each intermediate step of the program. Finally, there is another motivation behind all of this and that is the drive toward reproducible research. Reproducible research goes beyond the requirements of supplying code and data. Here are a few sources.

    Think about reproducible research as an executable document.

    Another good source on Open Science — a really funny guy in person and on the tonight show, creator of Nomic –Peter Suber.

    Bottomline, The issue is not pioneer status or priority, science’s version of copyright, the issue is the most effective way of replicating GISSTEMP so that the various assumptions it makes ( interpolating over the polar regions, excluding certain sites, using “nightlights” instead of population to gauge rurality, merging records from adjacent sites, etc etc ) can be tested. You see before one wants to measure the impact of certain assumptions made in the program one must be able to reproduce the results of the program. The task of reproducing results, as I noted in my post, is made easier by making the intermediate files, files written by the program in question, available to the public. We know the files are written out to disk by looking at the code. It’s a simple matter to include them in the zip files.

    anything less is just a polite version of fork U. ( FOSS joke sorry)

    Comment by steven mosher — 13 Nov 2008 @ 3:00 PM

  153. I suspect that critical comments would decrease significantly if the parties that made the original mistakes (and promulgated the error) would apologize, act embarrassed, beg for forgiveness, publicly discuss the source of the errors, openly report the steps (and time line) that they are taking to rectify the problem, and gladly receive all offers of help, instead of rushing out a quick response that still contains errors. A massive public apology is in order for this train wreck.

    Comment by petras — 13 Nov 2008 @ 3:32 PM

  154. gavin you wrote

    [Updated response: I originally mispoke in the above comment since the data is missing from the collated file rather than non-existent in any file. I’m happy to correct any mis-interpretation that might have caused. That collation is the responsibility of NOAA and any queries as to what goes into it or why should be directed to them. Now if people want to correct their insinuations that including Northern Canada data in the last update was akin to a shell game, we might be getting somewhere. – gavin]

    As i pointed out in comment #23, john Goetz had determined that the data WAS available in the .dly files at NOAA and the error seemed to have occurred in collating this into the monthly numbers. By the way thanks for giving him credit.

    Comment by steven mosher — 13 Nov 2008 @ 3:59 PM

  155. I suspect that the obscenely critical comments will never stop; we’ll hear about this from Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts until long after the Greenland Ice Sheet has disintegrated.

    Although the error originated NOT with GISS but before numbers even got through their door, I’ve heard no cries for heads to roll at NOAA or NWS — just vicious attacks on GISS. The reason? Personal distaste for James Hansen and his prominent advocacy of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    If an apology is called for, it’s from those who have promoted their agenda by attempting what amount to character assassination against GISS.

    Comment by tamino — 13 Nov 2008 @ 4:19 PM

  156. [Updated response: I originally mispoke in the above comment since the data is missing from the collated file rather than non-existent in any file. I’m happy to correct any mis-interpretation that might have caused. That collation is the responsibility of NOAA and any queries as to what goes into it or why should be directed to them. Now if people want to correct their insinuations that including Northern Canada data in the last update was akin to a shell game, we might be getting somewhere. – gavin]

    For someone who isn’t involved in GISTEMP I have to admire your dedication and affinity for blog that shall remain nameless.


    Comment by captdallas2 — 13 Nov 2008 @ 4:24 PM

  157. Perhaps, Gavin would respond to this.

    Cosmic rays are also connected to climate change. In 1998, Henrik Svensmark of the Danish Space Research Institute filled a reaction chamber with the earth’s mix of atmospheric gases, and turned on a UV light to mimic the sun. He was amazed as the cosmic rays coming through the building’s walls quickly filled the chamber with huge numbers of microscopic, electrically charged droplets of water and sulfuric acid—the “cloud seeds” that help create low, wet, cooling clouds in the earth’s atmosphere. Since such clouds often cover 30 percent of the earth’s surface, they can play a crucial role in the planet’s warming or cooling.

    Currently, the World Meteorological Organization uses the photochemical model to predict that the Antarctic springtime ozone hole will increase by another 5–10 percent by 2020. In sharp contrast, Dr. LU says the severest ozone loss will occur over the South Pole this month—with another large ozone-triggered hole occurring around 2019.

    If the South Pole gets an ozone-hole maximum in the coming weeks, it will strengthen the case for cosmic rays, and endorse a Modern Warming driven by solar variations rather than human-emitted CO2. The solar model is already endorsed by oxygen isotopes in ice cores from both Greenland and the Antarctic, by microfossils in the sediments of nine oceans and hundreds of lakes worldwide, and by cave stalagmites from every continent plus New Zealand.

    The case for a solar-driven climate is also strengthened by a drop in global temperatures over the past 18 months: The temperature decline had been forecast by the sunspot index since 2000, but was not predicted by the global climate models.

    The original is at

    Comment by snorbert zangox — 13 Nov 2008 @ 4:42 PM

  158. Tamino-

    I suspect that criticism of poor data gathering/quality control/publication never will stop, nor should it.

    No matter how you feel about them, NASA GISS is regarded as one of the premier authorities on global temperature. For such an organization, there is no excuse for not having an error-checking system in place that would prevent gaffes like this. It doesn’t matter where the data is sourced from, GISS is responsible for making sure it is accurate before they go public with it.

    That is not character assassination, that is common sense and taking responsibility.

    Comment by Jared — 13 Nov 2008 @ 4:53 PM

  159. Petras, are you talking about the worldwide collapse of the financial system, or the brief error in reporting some temperatures?

    A sense of proportion suggests the former, but alas, if so, you’re in the wrong forum.

    High dudgeon sometimes tries to overreach.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Nov 2008 @ 5:02 PM

  160. taamino (154) wrote “If an apology is called for, it’s from those who have promoted their agenda by attempting what amount to character assassination against GISS.”

    I agree. The whole thing is a tempest in a teapot.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Nov 2008 @ 5:28 PM

  161. Regarding comments that because of these errors, some should lose, or beg for their jobs. Get real! If everyone who has made mistakes were to lose their jobs,we’d have a 99.999% unemployment rate. The only exception that comes to mind is our Chief Executive, who at a past news conference,when asked if he’d made mistakes, replied that if given a couple of weeks he might think of something.

    “I used to be conceited, but now I don’t have any faults” (author unknown)-possibly someone from the API or a top executive of the American auto industry

    My sense is that GISS is being scapegoated, being singled out for attack is because they’re one of the biggest thorns in the side of the those who still wear blinders on the cause of our current changing climate.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 13 Nov 2008 @ 8:01 PM

  162. #154 Tamino – I could not agree more. This is the kind of nonsense that wears everyone down. Let’s just get to the facts, please, and stop looking for ways to clobber GISS, which is one of the heroic organizations in the global warming crisis (for that is what it is rapidly becoming!).

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 13 Nov 2008 @ 8:16 PM

  163. I’ll worry about this kind of error when you guys are not quick to correct yourselves. I’ll give the inactivist bunch a teensy bit more credit when they are quick to acknowledge their errors, which are numerous and often repeated long after they’ve been pointed out.

    I wonder where the people getting so excited about the occasional error do their science. Peer review is a filter, but not perfect. A lot of mistakes slip through. Competition from other scientists who try to replicate results and cross-check against other work keeps things on the straight and narrow. The fact that this error was spotted quickly and not by the people who created or posted the data is good. It means the system is working.

    Blogging on the other hand has no quality checks whatsoever as noted before here (and on my own blog).

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 13 Nov 2008 @ 8:24 PM

  164. If the whole thing was a “tempest in a teapot” and a “molehill”, why did it need 1,100+ words to be explained, and more than 150 comments?

    [Response: More words are devoted to much more trivial topics (Paris Hilton anyone?) and I am not responsible for what people want to comment on. But perhaps you would care to give a monetary damage estimate for this little episode? Then we could compare it to a chocolate bar or a beer or something… – gavin]

    Comment by Maurizio Morabito — 13 Nov 2008 @ 8:34 PM

  165. Hey, a mountain just moved:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Nov 2008 @ 8:47 PM

  166. I fear many here miss the point. This is not a ‘usual’ science. The data sets, the hypotheses, the conclusions – all will have a profound effect on civilisation. Not to mention the opportunity cost, billions of dollars of research funds that could be spent in other scientific areas, such as medical research.

    Outside of science, say for example in the engineering arena, there is audit, there is review, there is sound replication – this is because mistakes can not be allowed (otherwise bridges fall down). What the climate science community needs to get used to, is that they are an unusual science, and that they are the ones that need to adjust – not McIntyre, not Watts.

    With respect to this topic, the sooner the data sets and the finest details of methodologies are open to absolute scrutiny (and replication) the better. If AGW is the dire problem as asserted, then this should trump individual or laboratory ‘ownership’ of algorithms and methods.

    regards, sdw (scientist and engineer)

    Comment by sdw — 13 Nov 2008 @ 9:38 PM

  167. 156 David, IT is good to see who gets excited for this systemic human error, and not excited about trying to understand Climatic mysteries
    unfolding now. I would judge those who are fascinated by climate
    mysteries the most powerful climate experts around, I find those quick to criticize a wonderful service which is reliable by its honesty amongst other virtues, experts in sarcasm by far, what do they know about Climate when they spend so much time refining vengeful strategies designed to weaken the best science messengers we have?

    Comment by wayne davidson — 13 Nov 2008 @ 9:41 PM

  168. I guess that I come from much humbler stock, and I just don’t have the ego to play in the arena. If I screw up, I certainly apologize, and I do my best to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. I feel that my credibility is built upon an honest appraisal of my own work and of others; not invectives or updates released without much reflection. My research group would have handled a botched international release of important policy-relevant data differently. I hope that there are others that feel the same. Perhaps I’m just too old fashion for this competitive climate-science research.

    Comment by petras — 13 Nov 2008 @ 9:53 PM

  169. “Humankind cannot bear very much reality” said T.S. Eliot

    Denialism, like delusion may be an understandable psychological reaction to the stress of realizing the news is very bad, possibly bleak. And reactions must be swift and painful and no matter how much we sacrifice, we can only mitigate and adapt – not fix.

    Certainly some will have always have tunnel vision preventing them from seeing looming danger ahead. The added challenge is be polite and tolerant while continuing to attack the problem.

    Comment by RPauli — 13 Nov 2008 @ 10:57 PM

  170. It produces better code.

    Good engineers and good project management, coupled with adequate resources, produce better code.

    Regardless of development methodology, you need people who know what they’re doing. One thing successful Open Source projects do is to run as a meritocracy. You need to attract expert compiler writers if you want to produce a truly excellent compiler (and, speaking as a professional compiler writer, I’d have to say that early versions of gcc, at least, truly sucked, though I imagine the robust development community that built up around it coupled with decent funding has fixed that).

    The original version of Unix was proprietary, and excellent. I hacked on the first version released in source form (to educational institutions) back in 1974. Better or worse than Linux? There’s no way Linux would be able to run on the limited memory resources offered by the PDP-11 architecture, so from one point of view OS Linux sucks compared to proprietary Unix System 7.

    If you want to build an independent, Open Source, competitor to GISS you’re going to have to attract people who are familiar with the science and the data munging techniques usual in the field. Blaming the failure of your project on a lack of cooperation by GISS staff is, well, not terribly convincing.

    Speaking as someone who makes his living writing code for, and managing, an Open Source software project, and has done so for nearly a decade now. After having previously made his living developing the proprietary technology underlying a rather large list of minicomputers back in the 1970s and 80s, for a company he help fund with sweat equity.

    BTW, the OS model would not have worked in the 1970s. Few people would’ve been able to afford $50K or so for a personal development platform (I’m considering inflation here), and the international communications network really didn’t exist (Usenet opened the door but the internet made things practical) that would support a distributed development model. Proprietary or not. I’d argue that the distributed development model is necessary for OS development of large scale software.

    Comment by dhogaza — 13 Nov 2008 @ 11:07 PM

  171. Hey, you’ve got friends everywhere — another major source of error in the warming figures just hit the news. I wonder why this is being reported now?

    Today’s Wall St. Journal:

    Toxic Cloud Masks Warming Effects

    BEIJING — A roughly two-mile thick cloud of soot and smog hanging over most of Asia is wrecking havoc on agriculture and health but masking the effects of global warming, a United Nations study found.

    The atmospheric brown cloud made of different particles resulting mostly from burning coal is causing hundreds of thousands of deaths in Asia and billions of dollars in economic losses, the study said. But it helps reduce the impact of climate change by between 20% and 80%, said the report released Thursday by the Project Atmospheric Brown Cloud, established by the United Nations Environment Program…..

    —————– writes:

    The pollution makes skies from Beijing to Tehran darker by blocking sunlight as it is absorbed by particles linked with burning fossil fuels. Guangzhou, a city in southern China, has reported a 20 percent drop in sunlight since the 1970s.

    The cloud may also be contributing to shifts in weather patterns, including drought in northern China and flooding the southern region of the country as well as affecting the seasonal monsoon, the UN said. At the same time, it may be having a cooling effect on the planet as some soot and biomass material reflects sunlight, the report said. ….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Nov 2008 @ 12:23 AM

  172. #172, well presented… dhogoza, if you believe you can provide improvements, contact the NOAA, perhaps you can assist them in quality support.

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Nov 2008 @ 12:40 AM

  173. Gavin:

    I expect that the SEP=OCT check that NOAA did, just didn’t catch these.

    …illustrating the futility of building in specific tests for all the possible concrete mistakes you can imagine. There will always be one more that you didn’t think of.

    Reminds me of the way Windows anti-virus works :-(

    The sad reality of life is that any error that slips through the routine consistency checks in the GIStemp processing chain, even an after-the-fact embarrassing one, can only be found by someone sitting down and looking at the data in detail. If you don’t have the resources for this, you won’t find it, but someone with too much free time on their hands just may.

    The proper question to ask is the one asked by Kevin in #138: if such errors are present in the data, how do they, alone or together, affect the estimated trends? And mathematically naive or not, the answer indeed is “not a lot”. This analysis has to be made anyway, because there are gross errors in the data. You bet there are. Trying to eliminate them all is a dream, and not even a pretty one, to paraphrase Von Clausewitz. All the consistency checks do, is put an upper bound on their size.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 14 Nov 2008 @ 1:14 AM

  174. Seriously,

    This more and more turns into a joke.

    Disregard for a second the edgy and defensive tone of Gavin, who is spending the better part of his time defending something that is not his responsibility, on the grounds that it neither is the responsibility of the guys in charge, who only happen to sit in the same building, but whose combined effort cannot seem to spend the time to occasionally (once a month) check if the latest temperature compliation is not completely out of bounds.

    This being said about one global temperature record competing with only three other records for being the most relevant available …

    OK, here’s the going:

    First GISTEMP publishes a map with an october 2008 anomaly of 0.86°C, mostly because of a giant bloodred blob over av of Sibiria/Russia with an about +12°C anomaly. Warmer than september 08, in spite of rapid growth of ice and snowcover! The hottest global october ever on the record.

    This is picked up immedeately by people following these releases. It is found extraordinary, questioned, and eventually dismissed as fawlty. Even the probable origin of the giant error is identified and reported to GISTEMP principals.

    Well, after som quibling, the data is withdrawn, pending a check and uppdate, whereafter a new mao appears. Now, red Sibiria is so somewhat less, october anomaly is stated as 0.65°C, but instead northern Canada has heated noticably since the first version.

    Again, this is quickly noticed on commented by several laymen.

    Checking in at GISTEMp again yesterday reveals yet another uppdated version. This time with major parts of Canada gray (= no data) or cooler again, and the october anomaly is stated as 0.61°C?

    Strangest thing! And when redrawing the map with only a 250km radius for a better spacial resolution of data, reveals essentially no candian data at all, neither any antarctic data points, Sibiria looks more red again, and here we are informed of an october anomaly of 0.78°!?

    C’mon! Even if one wanted to take all these different datasets/maps seriously, or more impartant, use them and their historical record for som more serious purpose. Or just use the data for anything of marginal value …

    How would one go about that?

    [Response: The numbers from various stations come in over a long period of time – sometimes months. Thus regardless of the specific glitch that occurred this month, these maps/numbers are always preliminary. In the December update, there will be more data for October, and the same will be true in January. The GISTEMP analysis is not the raw data – and it is the raw data that is the ‘historical record’. – gavin]

    Comment by Jonas N — 14 Nov 2008 @ 3:01 AM

  175. Ron Taylor, #162. Is this slow? There’s a SEVEN YEAR MISTAKE that has only just been corrected in Microsoft’s code.

    And how would you know that September figures were going into October figures until october was over? So we have a fortnight, four weeks tops (since half way though you *may* be able to think “hang on, this month looks like last month”: you can’t tell on a day’s data, you know).

    Now how long does it take Microsoft to patch their systems? Once a month, isn’t it? And this is deemed acceptable (else there would be no outrage at the disclosure of unfixed bugs by the white hat community).

    So I ask: Is this slow?

    I say not.

    Comment by Mark — 14 Nov 2008 @ 3:24 AM

  176. Sorry, that last was meant for Philip Machanick #163. Can you change it?


    Comment by Mark — 14 Nov 2008 @ 3:27 AM

  177. gerrym writes:

    I don’t know if we are warming because of human activities either, and from what I’ve read of the debate, no one really knows.

    Just because you don’t know, it doesn’t follow that no one knows. Is “what [you]’ve read of the debate” from web sites like CO2science and Watts Up? Or is it from the peer-reviewed science literature?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Nov 2008 @ 5:27 AM

  178. petras writes:

    I suspect that critical comments would decrease significantly if the parties that made the original mistakes (and promulgated the error) would apologize, act embarrassed, beg for forgiveness, publicly discuss the source of the errors, openly report the steps (and time line) that they are taking to rectify the problem, and gladly receive all offers of help, instead of rushing out a quick response that still contains errors. A massive public apology is in order for this train wreck.

    Not only that, they should have to walk to the Vatican on their knees, wearing sackcloth and ashes, and carrying a candle.

    Get real. The “critical comments” from people who want to stop AGW mitigation will continue whatever the scientists do.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Nov 2008 @ 5:33 AM

  179. snorbert —

    The fact that cosmic rays are a mechanism for cloud formation does not mean they are a major factor in Earth’s climate. The GCR flux in Earth’s atmosphere is about 5 particles per square centimeter per second, which isn’t enough to generate a serious amount of clouds.

    What’s more, the GCR flux has been stable for 50 years, so it can’t have contributed to the sharp upturn in global warming of the last 30.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Nov 2008 @ 5:34 AM

  180. I guess that I come from much humbler stock, and I just don’t have the ego to play in the arena. If I screw up, I certainly apologize, and I do my best to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

    It’s not a screw-up to fail to anticipate every possible way in which people collecting data may make a hash of it. GISS does run sanity checks on the data, but they didn’t think of this possibility (the thoroughly unprofessional error of submitting exactly the same data two months in a row).

    You might as well sharpen your knives because I can guarantee that there are other ways for the reporting agencies to screw up the data that GISS has not anticipated. Given that there are (practically speaking) infinite ways to screw up, do you honestly claim that GISS should be able to anticipate, and automatically screen for, all of them?

    I feel that my credibility is built upon an honest appraisal of my own work and of others; not invectives or updates released without much reflection. My research group would have handled a botched international release of important policy-relevant data differently. I hope that there are others that feel the same.

    Why aren’t the denialists demanding an apology FROM THE PEOPLE WHO SUBMITTED THE SCREWED-UP DATA IN THE FIRST PLACE?

    Those are the people who screwed up. Not GISS.

    Perhaps I’m just too old fashion for this competitive climate-science research.

    Perhaps you’re just too old fashioned to recognize attacks that are made purely for political reasons, with no view to improving the science.

    In case you noticed, climate science wasn’t affected by this snafu. The data would’ve been recognized as being incorrect in due course, and corrected. It’s no big deal in the big-picture view that scientists are concerned with.

    As a scientist, you should know that all data is wrong by definition, the only question is the magnitude of the wrongness, and whether or not it is so wrong as to be useless. The politically-driven denialists are intent on trying to convince people that since occasional errors are caught by people outside GISS, then all the work done by GISS is useless. As a scientist, you should know this is bull.

    Comment by dhogaza — 14 Nov 2008 @ 5:35 AM

  181. Actually, this current episode provides an excellent example of why you don’t want just anybody poking around the data–amateurs don’t have the experience or judgment to recognize what is and is not significant. What we have is a trivial error that would have been corrected rapidly in any case, and it excites an seizure of chest thumping in the denialosphere. If these guys are going to jump on every single error as a “smoking gun,” they have no business poking around anything scientific. Fix the frigging error, check for such errors in the future and move on. That’s how real scientists would handle it–indeed that is how it is being handled while everyone else seems to be distracted by the antics of short-bus crowd in the side rings.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Nov 2008 @ 10:20 AM

  182. Just an idle clarification for the record from the peanut gallery. One of my areas of skepticism toward AGW is the reliability and credibility of global temperature measurements. While other skeptics may jump all over the molehill/mountain example of this thread, I personally find it benign and not supportive of my skeptical concern. IMHO, grasping at straws for an AHA! moment by some of my fellow skeptics is unbecoming and unscientific.

    Comment by Rod B — 14 Nov 2008 @ 10:25 AM

  183. > When? And by whom?

    By people like Santer, and McI can’t be unaware of the history here.

    How much abuse like that do you expect anyone to take and remain open with and trusting of strangers, whiners, and namecallers like those?

    One more reason science journals — not blogs and PR — are the place error correction is done. Because it’s hard enough as it is to do good science without adding more opportunities for uncompensated abuse to their lives.

    Now — did you even bother to click the link? Do you have any awareness of the history here?

    Every field has episodes everyone should keep in mind. That’s one.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Nov 2008 @ 11:44 AM

  184. Gavin, if you agree with Martin’s reply recently

    Martin Vermeer 14 November 2008 at 1:14 AM

    May I suggest that (and a bit about the ongoing travails) be promoted as an addition to the main post?

    The topic will roll on; it’d be good to keep an update with the best info at the top, for new readers coming in later.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Nov 2008 @ 12:01 PM

  185. RodB, #182. Why? What is it that makes you decide that the numbers aren’t adding up?

    Why are the AGW figures open to disapproval when you do not ask the same of people? Such as snorbert zango (#157)? Paul M(#143), Branden (109)? Steven Mosher’s statements in #89? Jared’s assertion in 88, your own figure pulled from the air in 86 (in which your skepticism didn’t descend to Pierre in #75, did YOU ask whether the figures constituted GIGO in a climate sense? didn’t see one) or, indeed whether Pierre’s assertion of affecting people’s lives in #74 had any figures to back it up.

    Rob’s assertions went without comment from a “skeptic” from #66. Never heard you asking why Patrick in #65 said it was time to move on. Even Martin’s (#63) ridiculous statement didn’t raise a single peep from you.

    BD’s bold assertion (#60) didn’t result in any queries from a skeptical person such as yourself and the cost estimate from ashby (#59) was unquestioned by you or your compatriots.

    Hank had to step in in #57 to ask the pertinent sketical question of Alistair (#20).though there was ample stupidity and unscientific gobbldygook for a “scientist and a skeptic” like yourself. Ellis #55 went unqueried by you as did gerrym (50), sky(29), Lyn (12), julius (7) and captdallas2 (4) all made statements – STATEMENTS, not considered explanations – that you did not feel compelled to question.

    Again in #33 you make a demand without wondering or giving reason why this would work in real life. You didn’t try and find the problems, you merely gave out the idea and assumed it works. Hardly skeptical, is it.

    And all that just on this one thread.

    A pattern emerges, though. I have not yet seen you query anyone who is trying to say that AGW doesn’t exist or that the IPCC/this site/government are overestimating the problem and underestimating the cost. You have never turned skeptic at the “you want us to live in caves!!!” rhetoric and when someone comes up with a well understood and debunked claim (hockey stick) you remain quiet.

    So many cases and so strong a correlation.

    Are you skeptical, or just skeptical of anything that would require you to change?

    Comment by Mark — 14 Nov 2008 @ 1:12 PM

  186. Outside of science, say for example in the engineering arena, there is audit, there is review, there is sound replication – this is because mistakes can not be allowed (otherwise bridges fall down)

    Bridges don’t fall down despite “review, audit, and sound replication”?

    This will be news to the good citizens of Minneapolis. Hurry up and make sure they are informed that the I-35 bridge didn’t fall down. Apparently the earth and river fell up …

    Comment by dhogaza — 14 Nov 2008 @ 1:12 PM

  187. Just take a course in meteorology and one cousre covering climate; the chemistry of CO2 is pretty clear, even if one does not blog or read sites on AGW, scientists way outside the major groups know it is a fact.

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Nov 2008 @ 1:33 PM

  188. jcbmack, can you give cites, please, for the many statements of fact you’re making? They may very well be accurate, but it’s a time sink trying to check what you say.

    Given no last name, I can’t look up your publications and decide whether to trust your opinions based on your work and those citing your work. Without that track record, cites to sources are the next best thing.

    It would really help.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Nov 2008 @ 1:45 PM

  189. #165 (Hank Roberts)

    “Hey, a mountain just moved” Indeed it has

    And the waters may be parted:

    Comment by Joseph O\'Sullivan — 14 Nov 2008 @ 2:19 PM

  190. The Russian stations wernt the only error. Originally it showed temperatures over Britain higher than normal, which was certainly not the case. I now see they have been corrected. What caused this?

    [Response: It was the same issue. – gavin]

    Comment by dp — 14 Nov 2008 @ 2:43 PM

  191. Ihave given my references, the books, the journals and some of the courses I have taken;it is quites easy to see if I am accurate. #188

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Nov 2008 @ 3:24 PM

  192. I am just into science, I teach and tutor part time and have free time to write here and stay abreast to the latest developments in climate science which effects us all.

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Nov 2008 @ 3:27 PM

  193. jcbmack, maybe it’s “easy” but you’re asking us to redo your work.

    Your typos show you’re in a hurry; please slow down, and give sources. It’s a courtesy to the reader who most needs your help.

    The next reader may be a grade schooler who deservesthe best help you can offer. That would be citations.

    With a good cite, any kid can ask a librarian to find the source and check what you say about it.

    Else you’re just “some guy on a blog said” and making work needlessly.


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Nov 2008 @ 4:13 PM

  194. jcbmack — As an example of Hank Roberts’s request to you, I recently needed to check the approximate sea level around 10,000 years ago. So I looked at

    to discover that it was about 50 meters below the current level.

    Now anybody can check the same for themself, with little effort.

    [reCAPTCHA agrees, entoning “cheaper said”.]

    Comment by David B. Benson — 14 Nov 2008 @ 6:08 PM

  195. The typos come from being rush due to being busy, but here are the references I have used or alluded to lately on Organic Chemistry Morrison Boyd, (pick an edition you can find) Loudon Organic chemistry, Physical Chemistry Peter Atkins, Advanced inorganic chemistry Peter Atkins, Calculus with applications by Daniel L. auvil, Advanced Molecular Biology by R.M. Twyman, Fundamentals of Biochemistry Life at the Molecular Level (the little boat) and Biochemistry (the big boat:) by Voet, Voet, and Pratt, Global Climate Systems: Patterns, Processes, and teleconnections,2006, by Howard Bridgman, John Oliver, and Michael Glantz, Global Biogeochemical cycles in the Climate System,(2001)by Ernst Schulze, Sandy Harrison, Martin Heimann, Elisabeth Holland, and Jonathan Loyd, The Rough Guide to Weather (2002) by the meteorologist Robert Henson; Earth magazine and, journal nature and,I also keep up with reports from scientific american for anything way outside my field or that I mat have missed in other magazines and journals. Usually I quote and leave the reference or state the name of a book once or twice and then I cease citing them, but I use Environmental organic chemistry by René P. Schwarzenbach, Philip M. Gschwend, Dieter M. Imboden: Books; which I highly recommended early in my posting debut here; thick book a lot of information; and the Pchem textbook virtually constantly;Statistical mechanics by R.K. Pathria, and molecular physics and biophysics (pick an author you like, they all get nasty, detailed and sometimes vague:)

    all of the appropriate keywords from,, and the listed publications by the moderatore here at and most of their books I have gotten my hands on an read:)

    Physics.web graduate and post graduate (teacher selection) Einstein, relativity, gravity. faraday cage, atmospheric fluid dynamics, solar forcing, etc… (you get the idea) and everything on climate, weather, physics, models etc available on, but then again I also have a well read set of Britannica anyways; – 223k

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Nov 2008 @ 7:39 PM

  196. I also recommend for those who lack a background or are rusty on stats: Elementary Statistics by Mario F. Triola, and get a subscription to one of the aforementioned magazines atleast, or, if you are real new to science, get the magazine New Scientist; read Dacid Archer’s books and publications. Wikipedia is not just unacceptable in academic writing, and in referencing for peer review, but also, the accuracy and details are serious question. Britannica is superb for introductory and detailed preliminary information and anyone can read it, even if they are in grade school of they are patient and dedicated. Also climate in prehistory by William James Buroughs, may be of help to some and, Global warming and global politics by Mathew Paterson, systems biology Bern O Palsson Systems Biology Kathryn Johnson, physics in molecular biology by kim sneppen and Giovanni Zocchi. Many of these books can be found in part online Google books/scholar, and some in public libaries; others if you have ebooks linked to a major library, you should be able to find them. I have these books in my personal library and others I can recommend on specific topics downloaded to my computer upon request, I can get you the info.

    Most of my references are NOT understandable by the typical grade, junior high, high school, or college freshman student, but there are enough there to get them started. The rest are advanced undergraduate, graduate and training texts for those in a given field… read and learn; if you require more advanced stuff or less I can lead you in the right direction:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Nov 2008 @ 7:56 PM

  197. The plane and medical analogies were extracted from: Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, and DP Davies, Handling The Big Jets.

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Nov 2008 @ 7:57 PM

  198. Oh and I will watch the typos a little more, but this is not english class, you know what I mean even if Global Climate change is spelled as GLobael Climate chaneg:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Nov 2008 @ 8:00 PM

  199. – 12k – 17k lots of info there.

    Also a decent Analytical Chemistry textbook assuming one has a chem background.

    It is my desire that people learn, bit also people need to read, learn and form a foundation for critical thought, utilizing the tools of science and math.

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Nov 2008 @ 8:05 PM

  200. I’ll defend Wikipedia’s entries related to climate as generally an accurate and clear place to begin. Of course one needs to look to the references and other sources if more substance is required.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 14 Nov 2008 @ 8:23 PM

  201. The rest one can learn by going to a community college, four year university or into a masters/PHD program… it matters not whether it is ivy league or not, though I hear good things about Oxford; any accredited college will instruct one in the matters at hand; I am tired… I prefer my college faculty position and tutoring; “life happens to us, when we are busy making other plans…” There are us nerds well educated who are just tired and come to a blog like this, discuss and then go back to teaching their cockatiel to speak and saying… yes dear to the spouse (newly married:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Nov 2008 @ 8:27 PM

  202. For those in NY,

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Nov 2008 @ 8:29 PM

  203. jbmack: Its generally the policy to give a reference with the item you are quoting.

    Can you imagine trying to follow a published paper, without foot notes or reference numbers?

    Comment by Les Johnson — 14 Nov 2008 @ 8:36 PM

  204. This fixation over surface temperature as the prime indicator of GW should be of a secondary nature perhaps in the near future, I give example: Resolute a few days ago, surface temperature -18 C, today surface temperature -29 C. So it would seem that the atmosphere has cooled by 11 C.
    Yet the Density Weighted Temperature of a few days ago was 242.61 K tonight it is 242.37 K . The entire atmosphere cooled all right by by 0.24 C. THat is because there was a steep inversion off surface along with a warm thick isotherm right above. Which is the better indicator of true temperature change ? How long would it take for a nice outfit like NOAA or NASA or some other group to make total atmospheric temperature changes more popular ?

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 14 Nov 2008 @ 9:04 PM

  205. Mark (185), Branden’s general comment, “It is human nature to accept data without question when it supports a position that one has a strong emotional attachment to and to vigorously question data only when it is in conflict.”, is generally true, following the law of expected results. Though his follow-on specific assertion, that a deep negative anomaly would not have made it through the raw data, is totally incorrect. In this particular case we’re talking raw data anomalies that escapes detection; how one then would block an “undesirable” anomaly has no answer.

    I don’t know my discrepancies viz-a-viz ‘157, 143, 109, 89, 88, my own figure “pulled from the air in 86”, etc, etc, etc’. I’m not sure what you think I said in my #182, but it was nowhere near the complex convoluted analysis you gave it. What I said was (and my sole point was) that I do not think that the data anomaly discussed in this thread adds any weight to skeptical arguments. I did then add that I wished skeptics would quit jumping all over it. In my earlier post (retracting my comments in 33, BTW) I very very simply said that I think Gavin is correct and no Herculean effort ought to be done to weed out sparse and random raw data anomalies at the outset, but should be found and corrected as they are today, and everyone ought to hear the outbursts form some skeptics and move on.

    I can’t cogently respond to your post because I really can’t comprehend what your complaint/assertion toward me is. Are you asserting that I am not a true skeptic? Are you bothered that I don’t lambaste fellow skeptics whenever they say something? Are you PO’d that I claim to be a skeptic but support Gavin in this case… (and some others)? What??

    Comment by Rod B — 14 Nov 2008 @ 10:46 PM

  206. oh I should also mention that the special issue of Scientific American Earth 3.0 features Hansen and Gavin says a few words as well. The article begins on page 60.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 12:23 AM

  207. Britannica is a better source for such information. Shout out to Sci Am; good issue.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 12:33 AM

  208. Wikipedia is trash.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 12:34 AM

  209. Rough guide to weather is a nice place to begin.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 12:34 AM

  210. There is no defense for wikipedia.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 12:37 AM

  211. AOS princeton is very good as well.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 12:41 AM

  212. Hugh Hurt has a fine book: Aerodynamics for naval aviators; the reason it is good is that alot of problems involving square roots, many basics of physics and chemistry are contained within well written book; the math skills applied and the understanding of forces, like weather on the aircraft, is quite telling and can assist one who needs balanc, perspective, and practice. Many sources outside of the global climate change debate end up supplementing looking at data in various areas.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 12:46 AM

  213. What’s up with Steve M at CA?

    Re: Gavin 128

    This appears to refer to a recent CA post “Watch the pea” (now renamed to the less inflamatory “Watch the ball”).

    It seems, though, that SM was not claiming the Canadian data was missing. Rather he appeared to insinuate that Hansen may have changed the “methodology” when he “‘fixed’ the problem”, since he saw no difference in the Canadian data. Or at least that’s what I infer from these comments:

    “Why can Hansen obtain values for October in the Canadian Arctic Islands today when he couldn’t on Monday?”

    and in the update, *after* getting set straight at RC:

    “It is also reasonable to inquire as to whether changes in methodology had occurred.”

    The original title, with its allusion to the nefarious “pea in the thimble” would appear to confirm this interpretation.

    But of course as usual he didn’t make himself entirely clear, so who knows for sure? I’m sure Gavin will be reassured to find out SM was “only” speculating about a possible sudden convenient change in methodology, with the usual lack of evidence, not making a statement about missing data.

    Apparently SM still hasn’t learned that when downloading a file from GHCN, or anywhere else, one really should note the exact timestamp. If he had done that, he might have realized that the GISS analysis could not have been based on that version of GHCN and avoided his silly mistake.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 15 Nov 2008 @ 1:38 AM

  214. #213 Deep Climate:

    Sigh. Yup, that’s a typical McI. post. I’ve long given up on McI. and lack of intelligence at CA because of his shiftiness, among other less-than-desirable traits. Have you read this? It sums up the tripe that permeates that site these days:

    OT: Don’t you mean “Watt’s up with Steve M at CA?” instead? :-)

    Comment by Former Skeptic — 15 Nov 2008 @ 3:55 AM

  215. RodB, #205, so “generally true” is fine if it’s giving the message that AGW is overblown at best, made up at worst?

    Just trying to find out what “skepticism” means.

    Comment by Mark — 15 Nov 2008 @ 5:43 AM

  216. Several people have commented on the presumed difficulty of QC/QA for data emitted by NOAA and/or brought in to GISTEMP.

    A data QC/QA professional would not find it all that difficult. What we’re looking at here is detection of valid sensor data (from nature) vs invalid data (due to human or computer error.)

    I’m hoping that simply making that suggestion would help spark some ideas. A few simple tests, plus some more sophisticated ones, would reveal much. For example:
    * Outliers (way too high, too low)
    * Zeros of all kinds (test the data chain: what comes out when zero is inserted at various points?)
    * Missing data (again, test the data chain)
    * Data propagation errors (check deltas between values in time and data-proximity… a few identical values can be natural, but not very many)

    All of the above can be automated.

    Statistical analyses can help, as can more sophisticated understanding of sensor failure modes (e.g. too many all-zero or all-one bits force a particular set of available values… if one understands what that looks like after passing through the data chain, it can be detected.)

    As always, QA is most effective early in the production chain. By the time the problem propagates to the Real World, many people are affected.

    On the significance of the challenge. Yes, I agree with some who say the actual data error may well be a minor nit. However, the revealed lack of QA/QC in the entire data processing chain is not minor at all. We’re dealing with a global sensor network designed to provide important data.

    Suppose instead of sensing global temperature, that this was a nuclear power plant. How carefully do you think those sensors and data should be QA’d? The parallels are pretty good. Minor blips are no big deal but we do not want to be fooled by our data measurements. It’s more than embarrassing; it’s potentially catastrophic.

    Comment by MrPete — 15 Nov 2008 @ 6:35 AM

  217. jcbmack — I wish that rather than post a dozen short comments that are less than perfetly coherent, you’d take the time to collect your thoughts into one, or just a few, comments. It’s a courtesy to your fellow readers.

    Comment by tamino — 15 Nov 2008 @ 7:40 AM

  218. And, Mr. Pete, what is your evidence that such checks are NOT performed?

    And surely you’re aware that no matter how many such checks are made, human ingenuity will lead to mistakes that will, from time-to-time, defeat them.

    The burden is upon those of you who claim that, in essence, no data QA is done at all to demonstrate that this is true.

    Given that we’ve been told that “SEP=OCT” (presumably generalized to “this month = last month”) as been added to the set of EXISTING QA checks, I’d say it might be difficult for you to meet that burden.

    As always, QA is most effective early in the production chain.

    Which is obviously true to anyone with even minimal experience in the area. Which simply underscores the point that the attack on GISS, rather than those who provide the datafiles they use, is a politically-driven attempt to discredit them.

    However, the revealed lack of QA/QC in the entire data processing chain is not minor at all.

    Again, there’s no evidence of this at all. The fact that a particular error was not anticipated in advance and therefore not guarded against, is not evidence that “there’s a lack of QA”.

    Again, if QA were able to predict and test for, in advance, the (in practice) infinite number of ways for people and machines to screw up, airplanes wouldn’t crash, bridges wouldn’t fail, etc.

    You know this.

    Comment by dhogaza — 15 Nov 2008 @ 9:20 AM

  219. jcbmack: I have two science degrees from Oxford and am now a professor at an internationally famous institution. I have 60 published papers including articles in Nature and PNAS, and commissioned opinion pieces in Nature and Science. On the whole I can reasonably claim to know what I’m talking about.

    Two years ago I believed, like you, that potentially catastrophic global warming was a well established fact. I started reading the blogs (principally RealClimate, WUWT and ClimateAudit) purely out of interest to see how deluded the “denialists” were. It didn’t take long to realise that they in fact had a number of excellent points, and that the evidence for catastrophic global warming is far more shaky than is commonly believed.

    Please don’t pretend that all sceptics are fools or knaves. Some of us would just like to see little more evidence and a little less spin.

    Comment by Jonathan — 15 Nov 2008 @ 9:35 AM

  220. William Connolley’s publication record, plus his reputation for tenaciousness and accuracy in the edit wars, are good reason to follow the Climate section of Wikipedia.

    Yes, it’s Wikipedia. Don’t trust — verify. You can watch attempts to insert bogus material happen — and be confuted.

    In this particular field, there, science and PR are interacting at fast-forward speed. It’s a meta-message just in how it exists.

    It’s an education in how to read and cite sources — basic to teaching people without an academic background how to think about the field.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2008 @ 9:59 AM

  221. Gavin,

    Thanx for clarifying that: “The GISTEMP analysis is not … the ‘historical record’”

    I guess that’s the main point made by critics here and in the past, ie that GISTEMP data should not be taken as a world climate thermometer.

    But even if the different misstakes and data-updates for october can be sorted out, on thing still baffles me:

    How can the current dataset (regardless if correct or properly updated) give an ‘anomaly’ of 0.61°C when plotted with a 1200km smoothing radius, while a 250 km radius gives a completely different value of 0.78°C ?

    A striking difference of 0.17°C depending on plotting parameters!? (I’ve noticed the same thing for older data, mostly with somewhat lower discrepancies)

    How can this be?

    [Response: The average is only over the area that is filled in – depending on how clustered the anomalies are, the map with the wider interpolation could have the same, less or more. Only the 1200km product is the ‘official’ number. – gavin]

    Comment by Jonas N — 15 Nov 2008 @ 11:19 AM

  222. > the blogs (principally RealClimate, WUWT [Watts] and ClimateAudit)

    Have you noticed a difference in reading those three, at all?
    Care to say what general area you’re publishing in, and whether it’s related to climate science?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2008 @ 11:40 AM

  223. Mark (215), when I say the law of expected results is generally true, it means its robustness (accuracy) follows a scale — sometimes solid and seemingly almost conscious and deliberate (“seemingly” because this process refers to a functional result that in fact is NOT conscious or deliberate), sometimes not evident at all, and all steps in between. It is not a phenomenon unique to climatology. But in that arena it would apply to scientific endeavors that both support AGW and that are skeptical of AGW.

    “Skepticism” is the doubt about the professed truth of something. It ain’t complicated, but is evident with varying degrees . In my case (which may be different from other skeptics), there are some aspects of AGW that I am scientifically troubled with and do not fully accept. If you’re upset that I don’t hold other skeptics to the same standards, well, 1) I’m not trying to understand them, but 2) I do in fact occasionally take some to task as can be found in a few RC threads, including THIS ONE.

    Comment by Rod B — 15 Nov 2008 @ 11:45 AM

  224. Jonathan, you say that you would like to see more evidence? Like what? Do you seriously doubt that the planet is warming? Do you doubt that we’ve increased atmospheric CO2? That CO2 is a greenhouse gas?

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that the science in which you claim to have two degrees isn’t related to climate.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Nov 2008 @ 12:06 PM

  225. It didn’t take long to realise that they in fact had a number of excellent points, and that the evidence for catastrophic global warming is far more shaky than is commonly believed.

    Then you’ll have no problem listing a number of them, in specific detail, along with an intelligent response to the scientific debunking of them (since you’ve gotten them from denialist websites)?

    Comment by dhogaza — 15 Nov 2008 @ 12:14 PM

  226. Jonathan (219) wrote “… potentially catastrophic global warming …”

    Do you doubt global warming, or just that it is potentially catastrophic?

    Here is a suitable definition for

    catastrophic – extremely harmful; bringing physical or financial ruin; “a catastrophic depression”; “catastrophic illness”; “a ruinous course of action”


    This already has occured to peasants in Bolivia and Nepal; possibly to ranchers in Chile. As best as I can tell it is happening in southeastern Europe, especially the southern Ukraine. In Alaska momentous changes have occured and are occuring; whether these are catastrophic or not might depend upon perspective.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Nov 2008 @ 1:49 PM

  227. Perhaps the problem is the same one on which that debate a while back foundered. Catastrophe is anticipated, not yet shown to have happened.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2008 @ 2:01 PM

  228. tamino #217
    How dare you suggest that. Next thing you know he will be talking about vegetable stew.

    Comment by Richard C — 15 Nov 2008 @ 2:12 PM

  229. #214, Former Skeptic:
    Thanks for the link – that’s a pretty hilarious dissection of the general cluelessness that reigns at CA. But at least that thread seemed to have avoid the insinuations of scientific fraud that all too often find their way into the meanderings at CA.

    #219, Jonathan:
    I gave up on WUWT pretty fast, as it borders on the cretinous IMHO (for example the fatuous posts on the big “temperature drop” between January, 2007 and January, 2008). CA is marginally better, but not by much, and seems to contain more dark mutterings about the motivations of Mann, Hansen et al. I’d be interested in what you consider to be the strongest points raised on CA and WUWT – perhaps the #1 post from each?

    You (and everyone else) should also check out Tamino’s Open Mind – some great insights there:
    Although he did get the relatively minor PCA issue wrong (as used in MBH98 and MBH99), he’s more than redeemed himself with some great posts on the problems with UAH satellite-derived tropospheric temperature record, sea ice, the recent curious CO2 discontinuity and on and on.

    #220, Hank:
    You’re right – Connelly does a great job at Wikipedia. Unfortunately some dreck still creeps in. For example, the article on “Solar Variations” actually cites Soon and Balinuas’s Fraser Institute publication on sunspot correlation, apparently in all seriousness!

    Comment by Deep Climate — 15 Nov 2008 @ 2:57 PM

  230. Tamino thank you for expressing your opinion, but I have my reasons for doing this from time; also I am not incoherent, but you have been less than accurate, so perhaps you should do more referencing? to time and so shall it be… Jonathan there are a few climate skeptics out there with a good background, but they are not as numerous as the ones who understand the seriousness of global warming; I never pretended as if no one on the other side of the debate had no education; I myself have two associates degrees, two bachelors degrees, and two masters degrees plus 38 credits, and I have attended both non prestigious and prestigious universities and I have to tell you that the education is the same and sometimes the the non prestigious is actually better with smaller classrooms, and teachers who are atcually paid more to teach and train us. Tamino, again in brief you make some good contributions, but you should check what you type sometimes.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 2:58 PM

  231. Hank #220; verify, yes, however, that goes with any source, but a non-scientist or non science student can be easily misled by errors, especially the frequent ones in wikipedia; britannica like any edited text does contain some errors, but far fewer and once a person has the ability to read Britannica they should have better critical thinking skills.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 3:01 PM

  232. Now one last incoherent post Tamino, having said what I did, I enjoy reading many of your posts, and we should be civil, but take a look at the recommended reading; I cannot stand when people want to comment, but not have the education, and this was the point I was making with short sentences:)Hank is an infomrmed lay person and I am familiar with your work online Tamino, but, I alod know that many green movements are more harmful for the environment becuase they are what I call a wikipedia generation.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 3:07 PM

  233. Just wandering in, really, to ask Gavin Schmidt if he would be interested in a two-cents worth of rebuttal to some critical posts on Newsvine (topic: sunspot activity as end of global warming) by someone called Spaceman, whom I suspect of being Steve McIntyre, or at least a surrogate of same. I’ve thrown some good punches for Mr. Schmidt, but thought since that site has a large readership, that a personal response might be of some value in the junk science and cherry-picked claims and facts. Just a request. I wholly support Gavin and crew and applaud their efforts.

    Comment by wittgenstein — 15 Nov 2008 @ 3:19 PM

  234. But what were we discussing??? Oh yes, the NOAA errors, the process of rectifying them and what are the warming/cooling trends for October; any progress Gavin?

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 3:37 PM

  235. In academic writing, Hank, wikipedia is not allowed.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 3:43 PM

  236. With regards to catastrophic, what about Katrina. Ok, it cannot be laid at the door of global warming, and GW changes with be much slower. However consider that this happened in the richest country in the developed world and the city still hasn’t recovered. How are poor countries going to cope with rising sea levels happening in slow time?
    Does anybody else find it ironic that Bangladesh and Sri Lanka offered aid?

    Comment by Richard C — 15 Nov 2008 @ 4:06 PM

  237. It is my concern, that we disuss these matters of the climate in a real fashion, meaning, that from the lense of our own areas of expertise, experience, readings and observations we must disseminate and analyze the data in a fair and balanced manner in light of most of the evidence. I respect all my fellow posters, even those who have zero background, those who are alarmists, but have no idea why, and denialists of the same stock. I have research experience, but no, I do not work for NASA or the NOAA, I am just a scientist, and educator who has a clear view of the dangers of several global climate change trends and causal factors.

    What should be made clear, despite lack of the biology and some chemistry in the models, great improvements have been made and we do not base our knowledge on global warming on the models; they supplement. Personally I understand how the models work, the shortcomings and advantages, and most atleast know general examples, however, this does not change global warming pattern.

    For skeptics regarding some cooling in the artic, the answer is very simple: increased precipitation will cause cooling and lead to thicker vertical thickness:) I am not happy about the NOAA discrepencies either, however, this is not the fault of NASA and hopefully in the future a new quality control measure will decrease this type of incident; also my keys stick on my laptop, so sometimes words get typoed:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 4:42 PM

  238. > in academic writing … not allowed

    Your experience is not universal. Once you get past your thesis, it will be up to you and your journal editors (who are often constrained by the journal’s copyright rules). Much discussed. See, e.g.:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2008 @ 5:16 PM

  239. Gavin and all @ RC despite the ignorant & objectionable accusations, I for one appreciate all your very hard work very much.

    Comment by ScaredAmoeba — 15 Nov 2008 @ 5:37 PM


    Lose the (formerly?) web-standard trailing slash, for that link to work.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2008 @ 5:56 PM

  241. Bottom line wikipedia makes me nervous and has enough mistakes and omissions to not be helpful.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 7:23 PM

  242. Most writers stay away from wikipedia, and I never -allow my students to use at any level,though there may be some helpful info, their Biology, chemistry and physics articles are more than terrible; and I digress.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 7:26 PM

  243. #219 Jonathan:

    I’m a retired chess IM with a former peak rating of 2500+ ELO; I’ve been a Mensa member since high school and was my college’s homecoming king. Don’t believe me? Good. Feeling’s mutual. Credentials – especially those of the amorphous kind you list – mean diddly squat on the interwebs unless you can prove who you are.

    I used to follow CA, WUWT, CliSci, Prometheus, Lucia’s rank exploits blackboard, Motls’ blog etc. and devoured their stuff voraciously. Then I did myself a favor and looked at their claims with the peer-reviewed literature – with RC, Deltoid, Rabett, Stoat and Tamino being good signposts – and judged the merits of each. It was then easy enough to call BS on the skeptics. Looks like you haven’t, or are not applying your supposed scientific training well enough.

    >Please don’t pretend that all sceptics are fools or knaves. Some of >us would just like to see little more evidence and a little less >spin.

    And some of us, finally realizing how scientifically empty the claims of the skeptical camp are, decide to get with the program.

    reCAPTCHA: pride Jamaica. “I don’t like cricket…I love it!”

    Comment by Former Skeptic — 15 Nov 2008 @ 7:44 PM

  244. Mountains and Molehills…speaking of. Russia’s winter temp anomaly looks to have been skewed warm by uninsulated central heating pipes and rooftop sensor locations.

    Siberia is one big chunk of real estate.

    Your thoughts?

    Comment by Ray — 15 Nov 2008 @ 8:47 PM

  245. Of course that got messed up.

    #216 Mr. Pete, such checks are made at NOAA for the USHCN, and here is a description of some of the things done with global data at NOAA. Eli’s experience is that when you wander into a field and say, gee, that is obvious, why don’t they do that. The answer is that they thought of it too. This all goes to show that google is your friend. Visit him.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 15 Nov 2008 @ 9:15 PM

  246. And continuing my JCBMack, here is another paper by Peterson and Co on quality control in the Global Historical Climate Network

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 15 Nov 2008 @ 9:19 PM

  247. If anyone references wikipedia after they have a masters degree, they have serious problems; you cannot use wikipedia in a PHD thesis and you certainly cannot publish in peer review either. Wikiepedia is second rate and no university takes them as a serious source for a thesis or research paper.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Nov 2008 @ 9:22 PM

  248. Jcbmack: “But what were we discussing??? Oh yes, the NOAA errors, the process of rectifying them and what are the warming/cooling trends for October; any progress Gavin?”

    Jcbmack, you read as if you are in a — how can I put it — very ‘up’ mood. Is there something you should be taking for this?

    Comment by Brendan H — 16 Nov 2008 @ 3:10 AM

  249. RodB, #223
    “Skepticism” is the doubt about the professed truth of something

    But you maintain you’re a skeptic yet you only require adamantine proof of AGW’s effects, not of the “notA-GW” effects. In NONE of the cases where someone has come up with an idea that “explains” GW by something other than Anthro CO2, you do not doubt the professed truth. If someone says “there are lots of things that show the considered truth of AGW is a lot more shaky than commonly believed” you do not ask “what are they?” and thereby show skepticism. Or if they say “it’s cooling now, so no problem!” you do not ask for their proofs of this effect nor of the causes thereof.

    Your skepticism is directed. And the direction of it is at best partisanship (the same partisanship that others rail about with the climatologists: all in a huge world-wide scheme to keep high paying jobs with the governments of the world going along because they can tax us poor rich people). At worst, denialism.

    So which is it? Are you biased to find only problems in AGW or are you a denialist? You aren’t ***skeptical*** since you evince this only on one side of the situation. Rather like me saying “I am an honest man” but I am only honest when it looks like I could get caught.

    Comment by Mark — 16 Nov 2008 @ 6:32 AM

  250. RodB, further to #223: “2) I do in fact occasionally take some to task as can be found in a few RC threads, including THIS ONE.”


    After I pointed out your duplicity in claiming neutrality under the title of skepticism when all evidence points to being false?

    Comment by Mark — 16 Nov 2008 @ 6:35 AM

  251. @Ray, whatever the WUWT/CA/Blackboard skewing you hear, if you take the temperature trends of UAH/RSS or GISS/NCDC/HadCRU, they all show the same profile which is UP. But who knows do the “illuminated” in control of the MSU have an auto-align build into the chips too to let it look warmer. Maybe latter have their heads up into brown clouds (UN report on China aerosols).

    My take:

    Could not care less what James Hansen et al smooths the heck out in voodoo algorithms. It matches up pretty well… who cares about 0.001C “unresolved discrepancy” as read at Watts’.

    but anyone could have picked up over there a…

    reCaptcha: fooled pe-

    Comment by Sekerob — 16 Nov 2008 @ 7:07 AM

  252. Mark (#175, 176): now you have me puzzled. I didn’t say anything was slow.

    Hank Roberts #171:

    Why is aerosol cooling “another major source of error in the warming figures”? This is a well-known effect and accounts for the slowdown in CO2-induced warming around the middle of the 20th century. I wonder though to what extent this current batch of pollution is taken into account in the common models.

    I wouldn’t be too excited about it as a cause of slowing down warming though: as soon as far east industries clean up their act, the local cooling effect will go away and the CO2 will still be there.

    jcbmack: for someone who sternly advocates never referencing wikipedia, you have single-handedly upped its hit rank on every major search engine.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 16 Nov 2008 @ 7:24 AM

  253. jcbmack- Yes, you do digress. Enough about wikipedia. Please stick to what you know about climate science. Thanks.

    Comment by Rich Creager — 16 Nov 2008 @ 7:53 AM

  254. JCBMack, Do you have anything to back up your assertions about Wikipedia? The last research I saw said that on technical matters it was pretty much equivalent to Brittanica. In those areas where I do have expertise, the articles are not bad–and in terms of one-stop shopping for simple facts (e.g. what are the mean and standard deviation of a Weibull distribution…), it is quite convenient. I do not view the problem so much as Wikipedia per se, as a problem of excessive reliance on a single source.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Nov 2008 @ 8:02 AM

  255. Philip, #252.

    May have been a misreading of your post #163.

    Comment by Mark — 16 Nov 2008 @ 10:37 AM

  256. Philip, re aerosol cooling, I wonder the same as you
    > I wonder though to what extent this current batch of pollution
    > is taken into account in the common models.

    Yes. It was described first only recently:

    The global effects of Asian haze [air pollution]
    Lelieveld, J.; Ramanathan, V.; Crutzen, P.J.
    Spectrum, IEEE
    Volume 36, Issue 12, Dec 1999 Page(s):50 – 54
    Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/6.809124

    Summary: The authors describe how a thick layer of aerosols just discovered above the Indian Ocean by an international team may be a far-reaching influence on climate systems. The layer of haze was the discovery of the Indian Ocean Experiment (Indoex), an international field experiment that has been collecting surface and atmospheric data over the tropical Indian Ocean since 1996 ….
    PDF here:

    They’ve been busy since. Scholar finds a whole lot of work, e.g.

    “… Model sensitivity studies of dry deposition velocity and wet
    scavenging efficiency show that model improvements are needed in the treatment of carbonaceous aerosol dry and wet removal processes. Modeled SO2 conversion rate constrained with sulfate observations at Hanimaadhoo suggests the need to increase model sulfate production rate during the dry season to account for probable sulfate production via heterogeneous pathways.”
    Adhikary, B., G. R. Carmichael, Y. Tang, L. R. Leung, Y. Qian, J. J. Schauer, E. A. Stone, V. Ramanathan, and M. V.
    Ramana (2007), Characterization of the seasonal cycle of south Asian aerosols: A regional-scale modeling analysis, J. Geophys. Res.,
    112, D22S22, doi:10.1029/2006JD008143.

    I gather the reaction products of current coal smoke being emitted from recent industrialization behave differently over time (more sunlight causes different chemistry; higher stack velocity on big power plants puts the stuff much higher than in the 1800s).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Nov 2008 @ 11:01 AM

  257. Ray, this is a good analysis, including the study you recalled:

    Reference librarians speak to this; see citing articles too:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Nov 2008 @ 11:32 AM

  258. Pointers to current discussion elsewhere, for those who like this sort of thing, there is much to be said, better said elsewhere though.

    — a good current article from MLA: The Good Web: Workshop in Teaching Your Students How to Evaluate Web Resources

    — a reference therefrom: the Web Credibility Project … part of the Persuasive Technology Lab

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Nov 2008 @ 12:24 PM

  259. Everyone scews up once in awhile, so I’m not surprised NASA Goddard got caught using poorly QA’d data. The good news is they were alerted to it and are revising their data sets to accommodate the corrections. I am a little surprised at your characterization of the “motivation” of those who found the error and brought it to light. You say “But unlike in other fields of citizen-science (astronomy or phenology spring to mind), the motivation for the temperature observers is heavily weighted towards wanting to find something wrong.” If AGW (as opposed to these changes simply being natural, cyclic climate change) is a scientific theory, it should receive constant questioning from those “wanting to find something wrong”. I thought that was the essence of the scientific method. Objective science should welcome persistent challenges to proposed theoretical explanations for observed phenomena, particularly ones whose implications have been so thoroughly advertised as cataclysmic. So be happy! At least someone is taking you seriously enough to actively investigate your issue. If you’re right, the AGW theory will withstand the scrutiny it will increasingly receive. If you’re wrong, then climate scientists will still have a lot of work to do trying to explain what variables are really behind the changes we see. [edit]

    Comment by DMac — 16 Nov 2008 @ 1:12 PM

  260. It does appear that the data sets from Hadley and the two derived from satellite measurements, after adjustments for the baselines, are deviating more and more from the GISS data set. Why?

    [Response: What is your reference for that claim? – gavin]

    Comment by Tony — 16 Nov 2008 @ 1:45 PM

  261. Former S., some of us just haven’t seen the coming of the Lord, I guess. But that doesn’t make us stupid or liars about our background, just irreligious.

    Comment by Rod B — 16 Nov 2008 @ 2:51 PM

  262. DMac, By all means, any discipline in science needs to be subjected to constant critical analysis and checking. However, this is most effective when it is done by people who actually understand the science–and have an idea of when an error is significant and when it is trivial and would have been quickly discovered anyway. The current chest-thumping in the denialosphere is an excellent example of why neither climate science nor any other science needs to be “audited”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Nov 2008 @ 3:10 PM

  263. 229 Deep Climate… Tamino’s analysis of “LT” AMSU resembles closely what I am gathering by other means. There is nothing surprising to me about stronger trends than with surface temperature readings. Proving this would be made easy by studying Density Weighted Temperatures from Radiosonde profiles… Examples abound, surface temperature readings vary a lot more than a DWT computations, for instance Upton NY Radiosonde profiles, Nov 11 12z DWT of troposphere: 250.58 K. From the surface temperature reading -0.7 C warmed up for the next radiosonde release to + 6C. However the DWT merely warmed up by less than 4 degrees C to 254.33 K. Now this is less of a variance, a smaller variation ultimately means a better temperature trend can be calculated. The atmosphere as a whole, changes a lot less in temperature than at the surface. More certitude is achieved by using data which varies less. Finally the Upper troposphere cooling also found on Tamino’s site gives no contradiction, there is a greater cooling of the Upper atmosphere because
    the adiabatic lapse rate of a warmer troposphere is inherently bigger. Using this example:
    4000 meters -25 C at 6 C per Kilometer at 6000 meters gives -37 C… At 8 C per kilometer
    the temperature is -41 C. Not so much a mystery, the earth’s atmosphere is warming, along with larger adiabatic lapse rates.

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 16 Nov 2008 @ 3:28 PM

  264. Mark (249), you say in NO case, when someone has come up with an idea that “explains” GW by something other than Anthro CO2, do I doubt the professed truth.

    I have so disagreed with and explained stuff to other skeptics or questioners, but that is not the pertinent point. Do you somehow believe that a valid skeptic must be skeptical toward everything? Or somehow I should join the mob and lambaste fellow skeptics that may have a twist different from mine? Three points: 1) That ain’t my yob; it’s your’n (and you’re doing quite well IMO) 2) The burden of proof is on the plaintiff — the one who professes something is true, like AGWers. The onus is NOT on the skeptics to prove the negative. Though you (generic you) do a good-sounding effort by pointing out we have not written our own jillion lines of code to run our own models on the massively parallel supercomputer that we don’t have. Followed by Nya! Nya! and often some reference to our heritage, our nasty acquaintances, and total lack of cognitive skills. 3) The burden is not on any one defendant to keep other defendants in line — even though I, for one, may do a little of that anyway.

    And, just for kicks, how do you prove it is not cooling, from say 2000 to the present???

    (250) You say “where” have I taken some to task??? In a post that you read, I said, “.. grasping at straws for an AHA! moment by some of my fellow skeptics is unbecoming and unscientific.” This followed my post, which you also read, that Gavin just ignore (more than not) the skeptic naysayers over this mountain/molehill anamoly. Lastly, just for the record, it was Gavin’s comments that caused me to retract my #33 post, not your attack (which I specifically criticized).

    Comment by Rod B — 16 Nov 2008 @ 3:53 PM

  265. #262 Ray: “…this is most effective when it is done by people who actually understand the science–and have an idea of when an error is significant and when it is trivial and would have been quickly discovered anyway…”

    Speaking as the first person to post anything on WUWT about the errors, I understand at least the basics of “the science”, I spotted the errors because it was obvious there were discrepancies (not because it’s my mission in life to look for them), and I am not chest-thumping.

    My motivation in checking the latest temperature trends each month is that I want to understand the current global weather/climate as well as possible (my real interest has always been meteorology, to be clear), and so I want to have the most up-to-date figures to work with. It shouldn’t be necessary for members of the public like myself to have to spot errors in such important data in the first place.

    In my opinion, sensible “consensus” readers ought to accept that such errors are not something to be dismissed lightly, and sensible “skeptic” readers ought to accept that the significance of the errors should not be exaggerated.

    I object to the expression “denialosphere” – may I suggest the more neutral “in parts of the blogosphere”?

    (#263 Wayne: dry adiabatic or saturated adiabatic, or what combination?
    For dry: “…temperature decreases at a rate of 9.8 degrees Celsius per 1,000m”
    For saturated: “…It varies strongly with the moisture content,[4] which depends on temperature, and lightly with pressure from +3 °C/km (high temperature near surface) to +9.78 °C/km (very low temperature)…”
    I take it there’s no problem with wiki for uncontroversial definitions like these :) )

    ReCAPTCHA suggests “Wasserman less” – maybe it’s trying to tell us something about the magnitude of positive feedbacks, in Wayne’s example?

    Comment by Chris — 16 Nov 2008 @ 4:21 PM

  266. The “Credibility Crunch” goes global!

    [Response: …further enhancing the telegraph’s reputation for (in)accurate reporting. – gavin]

    Comment by BSNEATH — 16 Nov 2008 @ 5:10 PM

  267. > telegraph

    140 years of UFO sightings – Part I
    The world has never seen such freezing heat
    140 years of UFO sightings – Part II

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Nov 2008 @ 5:30 PM

  268. Ray Ladury # 254 the research that Nature did on Britannica was flawed on several levels, also, I agree with you on the dangers of using a single source, also most academic writing requires one not use or limit use of references from encylopedias of any sort, and primary journals and peer reviewed magazine articles are preferred. However, in areas such as atmospheric fluid dynamics, general chemistry overviews, and as a one stop resource on global warming, Britannica is superior. I do not doubt some of the excellent references in wikipedia, when they cite directly studies from Oxford, Cornell etc…, however, many citations exist in Britannica if one looks for them and the tradition of actual experts in the fields being written about are far mosre assured than in wikipedia. I have a subscription to Nature and enjy their publication, but thier analysis was vague and did not use lateral comparisons; there is also the issue of lack of references and incomplete entries and people making false claims in wikipedia. Britannica does have a few typos, editorial errors and occasional inaccuracies, but not to the extent that wikipedia does, nor is wikipedia more thorough or detailed than Britannica. Besides all of this, I do not see either encyclopedia cited in primary literature anyways, nor are they meant to, but a newcomer to this information or a college student who needs a general background will not find a better general encylopedia than Britannica. Also you can Google Britannica’s response to Nature and Nature’s reply. The biology on wikipedia is also, in genera horrendous, and the explanations of advanced chemisty is abysmal.

    In my early years befor college it was Britannica that gave me a general background and I do look at wikipedia’s entries and sometimes find reasonable information, but they require I look at the primary citations just to get a whole, general idea, Britannica gives the general idea with plenty of details right off, then other sources may be used to expand and of course as always, verify.

    Comment by jcbmack — 16 Nov 2008 @ 5:47 PM

  269. Chris #265, First, congratulations on your catch. I do not diminish the importance of catching errors. (I’ve worked as an editor before and value a good pair of eyes to look at my work after mine have become too bleary to see anything.) The fact that you at least acknowledge the reality of scientific consensus suggests to me that you don’t belong in the denialosphere in any case. Rather, I reserve my contempt for idiots like the editorial staff of the Telegraph and other irresponsible elements that trumpet every error as “the end of consensus,” every cool spell as “the end of global warming” and so on.
    In my opinion there is certainly room for some skepticism about how climate change will manifest (although if the consensus is wrong, the evidence favors a worse outcome more than a better one). There is room for debate about how best to handle the threat. There really isn’t room for debating whether CO2 will warm things or not–unless you have a constructive idea for how the physics would change so drastically between 280 ppmv and 380 ppmv.

    As to feedbacks–you need to understand that they apply to all forcings, not just CO2. It’s really difficult to come up with a working climate model without significant feedback.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Nov 2008 @ 5:51 PM

  270. On one more note, I like your posts and repsect you views Ray, because I do not doubt you do have expertise, and yes, one stop facts may be ok for some people, but in these times, I like a thorough background in anything before I comment as the quality of life and type of life will be increasingly determined by science regardless of the current political process. I would never allow a student to use one or two references alone, but when a high school student or freshmann in college sees these posts they should know where to go for the best information that they have hope of understanding; most people do not understand quantum mechanics whether they use wikiepedia, britannica or primary journals; these things take time, study training and hard work:) Again I respect your posts.

    Comment by jcbmack — 16 Nov 2008 @ 5:52 PM

  271. 265 Chris, Moisture mixing ratios at very cold temperatures are very low, at higher than lets say 500 mb, lapse rates are more often than not dry. NY on the 12th between 500 and 400 mb had 7 C
    per Kilometer. Same day in the Yucatan between 500 and 400 mb the lapse rate was 8.4 c per kilometer.

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 16 Nov 2008 @ 5:59 PM

  272. Hank keep in mind we do not use the MLA guidelines in science wriitng. At any rate, I would also like to get off this dicsussion and remind people that the NOAA overall has done a great jon and NASA has done a superb one… this is not an hindinburg disaster or another tragedy reported on in destroyed in second.

    Comment by jcbmack — 16 Nov 2008 @ 6:00 PM

  273. Ray,
    Your #262 response seems to reflect a desire to limit the legitimate questioning of AGW to a selected group of folks who are somehow qualified to comment (“denialists” obviously need not apply). One wonders who would be doing the selection for this elite group. When I was at Berkeley in the 60’s we actually made free speech a cornerstone of academic freedom. Your sentiments seem contrary to this concept. A little humility in the face of complex natural processes might be in order.

    Comment by DMac — 16 Nov 2008 @ 10:21 PM

  274. dt/dz= -Id… the equation representing the dry adibatic lapse rate,the magnitude of the vertical temperature gradient is approximately 0.0098 Cm-1,or 9.8 C km -1 however, saturation always gets involved… so the the moisture in the low troposphere about 1 KM above the local surface, begins to saturate the air.

    Tired today, briefer than usual, need to spend more time with wife; the details are here:

    Fundamentals of Weather and Climate By Robin McIlveen Google books has this alot of this book featured.

    Comment by jcbmack — 16 Nov 2008 @ 11:44 PM

  275. The individual scientific concepts involved in understanding why carbon dioxide warms the atmosphere are fairly simple to understand and to explain. They’re basic high-school level concepts: the absorption and reflection of light, the motion of gases and liquids, the freezing, thawing, evaporation and condensation of water, the chemistry of fossil fuel combustion, and the biochemistry of photosynthesis.

    What’s complicated is the interaction between simple forces in a wide variety of situations – and to get numerical forecasts you need computers to run the models. To compare the model output to the real world, you need comprehensive data on ocean temperature, atmospheric temperature, moisture, etc. – the more the better. This is the basic model – observation approach.

    Weather models don’t rely on CO2 data at all, but they do rely on ocean surface temperature data, which is an output of climate models, which do rely on CO2 data. Thus, if you take the Keeling CO2 curve and plug it into a model that has been running at pre-industrial CO2, do you expect a warming response, and if so, how much?

    The answer is yes, based on simple physical arguments. The hard part, and the part that matters practically, is the how much. The only way to predict that is to use very complicated numerical models of climate, based on weather models. To test those predictions, you need good data about how the climate is evolving over time.

    The main point here is this: No one has managed to recreate 20th century climate observations with models that don’t include fossil fuel CO2 emissions. Neither has anyone constructed plausible models of glacial cycles that don’t include CO2 (and CH4) amplification of orbital forcing. The basic scientific conclusion is that increasing IR-absorbing gases in the atmosphere warms the planet to a new equilibrium temperature.

    The models do not provide a perfect picture. For example, what does it mean that the models missed the large reduction in sea ice in the Arctic by a decade or more? There appear to be some synergistic effects that the models don’t handle well – thin sea ice + high winds, for example. This is the process of doing science – mismatch between models and data leads to refinement of theories (or to recognition of flawed data :) ).

    So, the sphere of denialism knows this, but doesn’t like to talk about it. They are not going to be constructing any realistic new models that can match 20th century warming without including fossil fuel CO2, by all appearances.

    That leaves the only option: attack the very basis of the science itself, which is the notion of using observations and models to understand the world around us.

    Nevertheless, in the world of modeling, climate models have been great successes. Compare them, for example, to econometric models, which have been equally stunning predictive failures in all kinds of areas, from electricity demand to the results of trade agreements – not that it has led to much change in economic theories.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 17 Nov 2008 @ 3:22 AM

  276. DMac, #273. What if the questions you consider “legitimate” are not?

    “Have you included the fact we’re going through a dust patch?”

    You may consider it legitimate because you don’t know the size of change this would require. You can’t see it and you don’t want to take the *effort* of working it out yourself.

    So ask: are the questions REALLY legitimate, or is it just a load of “Could it be NOT me?” queries?

    Comment by Mark — 17 Nov 2008 @ 3:33 AM

  277. RodB, 246. I’m asking about you, Rod. You’re the one who is trying to play the “I’m just skeptical” card.

    I want to see if you can justify that statement.

    Or can’t I be skeptical?

    Comment by Mark — 17 Nov 2008 @ 3:35 AM

  278. (that should have been “#264”). While I’m there, I can prove you cant prove cooling since 2000.

    THAT is the skeptical viewpoint, not “have you forgotten something?”.

    Comment by Mark — 17 Nov 2008 @ 3:37 AM

  279. Your #262 response seems to reflect a desire to limit the legitimate questioning of AGW to a selected group of folks who are somehow qualified to comment (”denialists” obviously need not apply). One wonders who would be doing the selection for this elite group

    I think most would agree that one can demonstrate reasonable knowledge of the science fairly easily. Go read the denialsphere for awhile, and ask yourself, are those who deny basic physics, show a total lack of knowledge of even basic statistics (the very fact that trends can be noisy, and that noise can obscure trends short term), etc etc are truly qualified to comment on the science in any meaningful way?

    The major problem in the denialsphere, IMO, is not that people often lack knowledge. It’s that they EMBRACE their ignorance and repeatedly insist that black is white regarding climate science basics, and of course the fact that many then go on to accuse climate science as being in inherently fradulant field. Using their ignorance as proof.

    Comment by dhogaza — 17 Nov 2008 @ 5:10 AM

  280. Apologies if this gets posted twice. I had CAPTCHA problems.

    Wayne Davidson writes:

    Not so much a mystery, the earth’s atmosphere is warming, along with larger adiabatic lapse rates.

    Note, though, that in most of the troposphere the lapse rate is sub-adiabatic due to the presence of water vapor.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 17 Nov 2008 @ 6:29 AM

  281. DMac, Gee, is it too much to ask that people know what the hell they are talking about? Is it too much to ask that their opinions are consistent with the evidence, or even that the commenter be familiar with the evidence? In science, we have the process of peer review–where prospective papers are sent out to experts in the field to ensure that it is likely correct and interesting.
    See, DMac, physical reality doesn’t leave much room for spin (other than as a property of subatomic particles). If you consider this “censorship” take it up with physical reality, not with me. I can introduce you to physical reality if you are unfamiliar.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Nov 2008 @ 8:37 AM

  282. Mark, In Rod B’s favor, he has at least made an effort to understand the physics at some level. This elevates him above the denialosphere in my opinion. At his best, he is a true skeptic. At his worst, contrarian. I do not mean to put words into his mouth, but I think his reluctance to accept the consensus science stems in part from a certain discomfort with the inductive nature of the evidence trail. Indeed, unless you’ve followed that trail in a lot of detail (much of it somewhat subtle), it might be easy to see just how cogent the evidence is. Rod is not the worst we have to contend with.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Nov 2008 @ 8:44 AM

  283. DMac #273:

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 17 Nov 2008 @ 10:49 AM

  284. 280, Barton, Yes it is, but studying lapse rates at or near the tropopause may reveal trends. In my case where moisture is even more rare, steeper lapse rates near the tropopause go hand in hand with a warmer troposphere. The atmosphere further South is more complex in a thundercloud at tropopause heights, but in dry air the same steeper lapse rate trend should be observed. The key to understanding is the lapse rate equation which depends on gravity and the specific heat capacity of air at various levels. I would like to find a table showing Cp vs altitude, but its hard to find on the internet.

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 17 Nov 2008 @ 10:54 AM

  285. That should have read, “So what if the new regulations mean some more kids in Africa die?”

    Comment by Edward Borley — 17 Nov 2008 @ 11:15 AM

  286. Thanks for another great post. If you haven’t seen it already, there has been a response to it here ( which you will hopefully address ASAP.

    Comment by AdamT — 17 Nov 2008 @ 11:15 AM

  287. > so what if
    Compared to the current projection without a change?
    You have to compare, not simply say taking action must be bad.

    Ray Ladbury Says: … “Mark, In Rod B’s favor …”
    Well said.

    Mark, I recommend studying Gavin’s inline responses over the past few years; he’s been a patient teacher addressing all points of view effectively, praising good questions where they’re asked, blunt when rhetoric surfaces. He’s effective; credibility grows over time. He makes questions useful by how he answsers them.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Nov 2008 @ 11:47 AM

  288. Ike (275), I think your post is an excellent overview of the situation. It does give me an opportunity to state, for the record (meaning I don’t know if anybody else cares ;-) ), one area (out of 3 or 4) of the science that I do question (am skeptical about), and am trying to better understand. While I understand and agree with the basic science as you described, I’m troubled with what you refer to as the “hard part” which is simply the accuracy of the marginal increase in temperature for the marginal increase in greenhouse gases, with or without positive or negative feedbacks. I can’t refute it because I don’t know enough. But I none-the-less have scientific doubts over it; the science seems very loose. The simple example of how it is handled is indicative: in essence, stick it in a numerical computer with some approximate assumptions and see what comes out. (I know I’m over simplifying — just for clarity and to save space.)

    Thanks for the opening to clarify at least one of my concerns. Again, while I don’t agree with it 100%, IMO it is a super summary.

    Comment by Rod B — 17 Nov 2008 @ 11:50 AM

  289. dhogaza (279), I agree that the folks who say black is white probably have little credibility. But some say, “I doubt, and you have not demonstrated conclusively, that black is as black as you claim.” These folks are also excluded for the club that DMac refers to. Not because the question has no merit, but usually because we don’t have the correct pedigree or occasionally stick-up for (or at least don’t join the lynch mob) “evil” people.

    Comment by Rod B — 17 Nov 2008 @ 12:08 PM

  290. Shoot! Ray, your #282 means I now can’t jam your #281. :-P

    Comment by Rod B — 17 Nov 2008 @ 12:16 PM

  291. Solem #275 The statement “No one has managed to recreate 20th century climate observations with models that don’t include fossil fuel CO2 emissions.” does not make the conclusions of the models a statement of fact. There has been a lot of science where there has been concensus for hundreds of years only to be overturned in quick order by a new a better understanding. I think it is premature to conclude that the current GCM’s are god’s gift to knowledge regarding what overall climate trends will be over the next 100 years.

    [Response: No one is claiming that models are perfect – but they do encapsulate an enormous amount of that information gathered over hundreds of years of physics and meteorology. While their inability to reproduce 20th century trends without anthropogenic forcings is not absolute proof of the attribution, it is certainly not proof of the opposite. – gavin]

    Comment by Mary — 17 Nov 2008 @ 12:34 PM

  292. Re 155,

    A cry for head to roll.

    Heads should roll at NOAA/NWS for failing to address climate change data needs.

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 17 Nov 2008 @ 12:51 PM

  293. Ray, #282 and Hank, #287 I have not called him a denialist. Yet.

    However he isn’t a skeptic because he’s directing his skepticism. I’ll give an example.

    I don’t believe in God.

    I am skeptical about the proof that god exists, but that is because I don’t believe such a creature exists.

    There are two outcomes either of which I would accept:

    1) Rod says that he doesn’t believe in AGW and so he’s only skeptical about that. That isn’t the same as “denial” but with the amount of data for it, it *is* “in denial”. Different.

    2) Rod says “OK, I see that I’m not really as skeptical as I believe. I’ll think on it”.

    Also, please read a message on another thread. I’d pointed out to RodB that his seeming aprobation of some dimwit’s half-baked theory didn’t seem his style. I think I used the phrase: you don’t normally try half-baked ideas but come out with at least something sensible.

    Now, I ask you (all four of you, if you like, Gavin and RodB), does that sound like I’ve a hate-on for RodB?

    But I DO doubt either his sincerity or his application of “skepticism” since it is so very biased to one ideal: “AGW doesn’t exist, so prove it does” but doesn’t allow within it “Do the ‘proofs’ of AGW not existing stand up to investigation?”.

    Comment by Mark — 17 Nov 2008 @ 1:31 PM

  294. Re: 155 & 292

    Why should there be any heads rolling at NWS? So far, no one has even mentioned anything involving NWS in this. The National Climatic Data Center is a part of NESDIS. As far as I can tell, this looks like a simple case of trying to get preliminary information out very quickly. If they would have waited longer, the problem would have almost certainly been caught and corrected before it went out.

    Comment by Harold Brooks — 17 Nov 2008 @ 1:35 PM

  295. No reply from Jonathan (219) I see – I guess all the real scientists round here scared him off!

    Comment by FredB — 17 Nov 2008 @ 1:35 PM

  296. Re: 275.

    This is the process of doing science – mismatch between models and data leads to refinement of theories”

    If only that were the case!
    What happens in the real world of academia is that theories make scientists’ reputations and contradictory data are ignored or rationalized away. This is human nature and also the the prevalent modus operandi of the leading AGW proponents.

    [Response: Nonsense – it is the prevalent fantasy of people who would rather not pay attention to the full field of knowledge. -gavin]

    Comment by tom — 17 Nov 2008 @ 1:50 PM

  297. 296.

    This is the process of doing science – mismatch between models and data leads to refinement of theories”

    If only that were the case!
    What happens in the real world of academia is that theories make scientists’ reputations and contradictory data are ignored or rationalized away. This is human nature and also the the prevalent modus operandi of the leading AGW proponents.

    [Response: Nonsense – it is the prevalent fantasy of people who would rather not pay attention to the full field of knowledge. -gavin]

    To which Kuhn, I guess, says “nonsense” back.

    [Response: I’ll see your Kuhn, and raise you a Feyerabend – gavin]

    Comment by Jo Calder — 17 Nov 2008 @ 3:20 PM

  298. Re 296:

    “contradictory data are ignored or rationalized away”–this is the perfect description of those who are telling me online that:
    –the satellite record is “the only true way to measure” global temps (can’t trust those thermometers, you know), or that temperatures are now comparable to the 70s (despite all datasets to the contrary);
    –that Arctic melting is not significant because the Antarctic is gaining mass (they haven’t/won’t read the GRACE studies showing loss there, too, and don’t care that the GCMs predicted slow response in the Antarctic);
    –that *one* study showing a “statistically insignificant but visually striking” correlation between optical brightness of Neptune “proves” that terrestrial temps are driven by changes in solar irradiance;
    –that an absence of evidence for specified alternate causes for observed GW doesn’t imply a lack of evidence for *unspecified* causes (I guess if they specified the causes, they wouldn’t be “unspecified” anymore, and the evidence would magically evaporate?)

    I could go on, but you probably get the idea. These examples are all taken from recent online experience. These folk are the denialists, and their delusion is dangerous in that it delays necessary corrective action.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Nov 2008 @ 3:46 PM

  299. 297.

    To which Kuhn, I guess, says “nonsense” back.

    [Response: I’ll see your Kuhn, and raise you a Feyerabend – gavin]

    Err, why?

    [Response: Because you are throwing out names as if they had some relevance to the discussion here, and in fact Feyerabend had what I consider a better appreciation of how science actually works and the difficulty of trying to assign a methodology to what it is that scientists actually do. Look it up. – gavin]

    Comment by Jo Calder — 17 Nov 2008 @ 3:59 PM

  300. Regarding Gavin’s comment on #291 “While their inability to reproduce 20th century trends without anthropogenic forcings is not absolute proof of the attribution, it is certainly not proof of the opposite. – gavin]”

    True. But is a 100% proof of the bias of the modeller.

    [Response: That makes no sense at all. – gavin]

    Comment by Magnus — 17 Nov 2008 @ 4:27 PM

  301. Mark, For the record I have never claimed that “AGW does not exist”. Though that seems to exclude me from your definition of a skeptic.

    Tracking this debate on two threads is getting confusing to me. And probably annoying to everyone else. :-)

    Comment by Rod B — 17 Nov 2008 @ 4:52 PM

  302. Well Gavin,

    Whether it is opposing my new Kuhnian “paradigm” for climate change or just defending a Feyerabend “old theory” I think you are on the wrong side.

    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 17 Nov 2008 @ 6:50 PM

  303. In #292 Harold Brooks wrote: “Why should there be any heads rolling at NWS? So far, no one has even mentioned anything involving NWS in this”.

    But in the comment of #48 Gavin wrote: “GISTEMP is an analysis of data collated by the NWS and NOAA, and it is not independent of their efforts”.

    Furthermore, NWS continues to provide the media with misleading discussion of 30 year averages (sometimes called “normals”).

    For years, NWS Meteorologists in Charge (MIC) downplayed global warming while other NWS staff were muzzled from showing trends in temperatures at NOAA NWS climate stations, snowmelt runoff and rainfall intensity.

    Heads should roll at NOAA/NWS for failing the public on climate change.

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 17 Nov 2008 @ 7:31 PM

  304. Pat, remember — the election happened. The Inauguration is ten weeks away. After the Administration changes (particularly when changing from Republican to Democratic or vice versa) the political appointees _all_ roll over.

    At that point the career civil service people are going to be in a different environment.

    I know you aren’t sympathetic particularly with people who haven’t stuck their heads up from the civil service side during the past 8 years or so. But it can be a bad position to be in, the past Administration has really been gutting the career civil service* — and they may do much better now.

    Remember this? Don’t read it just for what it says on the surface, it’s old Admin PR –read it for what it was saying about successfully putting political pressure on the career civil servants to toe the line for the political side, read between the lines.

    THAT is changing.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Nov 2008 @ 8:21 PM

  305. Magnus, OK, let me see if I can tackle that Mobius Strip of logic: Hmm, if an aspect of a model is absolutely essential to understanding some phenomenon, then that must prove the modeler is biased.

    Ow, Ow, Ow… Boy, it hurts to think that way

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Nov 2008 @ 8:44 PM

  306. Gavin, from the wikipedia entry on Feyerabend :

    “Feyerabend described science as being essentially anarchistic, obsessed with its own mythology, and as making claims to truth well beyond its actual capacity. He was especially indignant about the condescending attitudes of many scientists towards alternative traditions. For example, he thought that negative opinions about astrology and the effectivity of rain dances were not justified by scientific research, and dismissed the predominantly negative attitudes of scientists towards such phenomena as elitist or racist”

    If accurate, this does not inspire me with confidence in his grasp of the scientific method.

    Comment by David — 17 Nov 2008 @ 9:25 PM

  307. Anyone know if there is a correlation between record melting of artic ice this summer, while Scandinavia was unusually cold (based on my mom)? All that melting ice would absorb tremendous amounts of heat in that part of the world.

    Comment by MarkusR — 17 Nov 2008 @ 10:28 PM

  308. Note _when_ he wrote that to understand what he was talking about.
    You wouldn’t like to be limited to work consistent with old theories; Kuhn said much the same. Look at the “sound science” movement for contemporary examples of that kind of thinking — arguing that credible science requires, well, all the sorts of proof the tobacco lawyers wanted to see before anything could be changed. Google….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Nov 2008 @ 11:20 PM

  309. David (305) – David, come on now, you are missing the point here. Feyerabend rejected the rigidity of the traditional notion of the scientific method, wherein theories should be tested, and judged against, real world data. If you really want to understand Feyerabend’s significance to science (and I argue his views were very significant, and influential in terms of climate science), then head back to that Wikipedia page and have a look at his views on L’affaire de Galileo. Kind of puts the whole climate change controversy in a whole new (and most illuminating) light.

    Comment by Leftymartin — 18 Nov 2008 @ 12:01 AM

  310. Denialists if you guys read the NASA reports and papers,here and on GOOGLE, you will see that global cooling, localized cooling trends, warming, and the other data collected that you think is denied by the modellers is all there in black and white; yet we still have a net global warming effect; checking again as well, parts of the artic are still warming western) while precipitation assists ice thickening in other parts. The data is dealt with as it comes, not as one wishes it to be; read SCI AM article, Gavin and others have more conservative views than Hansen based upon their looking at the data, but the fact remains warming is not a good thing indefinitely; who can go back a hundred thousand years and know all about the climate? No one! Proxy data is well, approximate at best at times.

    Comment by jcbmack — 18 Nov 2008 @ 12:56 AM

  311. The fact that no model exists that can explain the warming in the 20th century without carbon emissions could prove something ONLY if the models could actually explain the medieval warming or the little ice age. But because none of the current models would be able to reproduce these long climatic events, there is reasonalbe doubt that we could be facing another one of them, maybe smaller, for the same unknown reasons that happened then. Nobody serious enough doubts that the CO2 issue has some influence in the present warming, but historical records allow for a reasonable doubt as to whether it must be the only significant influence as claimed by the IPCC, and therefore, whether part of the warming may revert.

    [Response: What makes you think they can’t? volcanic+solar (and maybe land use) give changes over the last 1000 years that are in line with reconstructions (within the error bars of the forcings/sensitivity and reconstructions) – the problem is that the signal is not very large (a few tenths deg C) compared to the uncertainty. – gavin]

    Comment by Nylo — 18 Nov 2008 @ 5:39 AM

  312. David #305: I think that was Gavin’s point. Feyerabend was one of those “sociologists of science” who felt you shouldn’t ask the scientists how or why they did things since they were biased anyway.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Nov 2008 @ 5:57 AM

  313. Gavin – you replied to #164 “More words are devoted to much more trivial topics (Paris Hilton anyone?) and I am not responsible for what people want to comment on”

    Sometimes I do think that if I would have been a prosecutor, I would have loved to get somebody arguing in your style, as a defence witness 8-)

    Why? Because your words claim one thing but your actions show something else. You say it’s all been a “molehill” but manage to make this whole episode into a 1,000-word-plus mountain.

    All you’d have had to do was post a blog saying “Sorry. Not exactly our fault. But thanks”. THAT is what a true molehill would have deserved.

    Because if the “October faulty data” were a molehill, then the remaining 1,110 words in your blog were a waste of yours and everybody else’s time. And still you are monitoring this blog…check your reply to #299.

    Methinks your behavior shows that this particular issue is no molehill. It’d make you look very good were you to admit it, but then that may be overstretching my imagination way too much.

    ps people that write at length about Paris Hilton don’t consider her a molehill

    pps so what is the monetary cost? Quite more than a beer, considering how long this page has become.

    Comment by Maurizio Morabito — 18 Nov 2008 @ 6:54 AM

  314. After the Administration changes (particularly when changing from Republican to Democratic or vice versa) the political appointees _all_ roll over.

    At that point the career civil service people are going to be in a different environment.

    Except for those political appointees that the executive rolls over into career civil services positions, making it difficult to remove them.

    Comment by dhogaza — 18 Nov 2008 @ 7:19 AM

  315. Re #310. Nylo wrote:

    “. . . historical records allow for a reasonable doubt as to whether it must be the only significant influence as claimed by the IPCC. . .”

    Apologies if you already knew this, Nylo (I’m not sure what you’d characterize as “significant,”) but the IPCC AR4 policymaker’s summary says: “Changes in solar irradiance since 1750 are estimated to cause a radiative forcing of +0.12 [+0.06 to +0.30] W m–2. . .”

    So the IPCC considered solar forcing–to take just one example of non-CO2-related forcings–significant enough, at least, to quantify as closely as possible.

    With regard to the Medieval Warm Period, there seems to be significant (that word again!) reason to suspect that it was a regional, not global, phenomenon (see for instance, “The Discovery of Global Warming.”) This highlights the fact that we don’t just have the problem of *reproducing* the MWP with models, but a real problem of characterizing it correctly from rather limited data. All that paleoclimate research with proxies is tough stuff. Worth doing, but still tough.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Nov 2008 @ 8:12 AM

  316. Re: #313 (Maurizio Morabito)

    Have you nothing better to do with your time than to go on and on … and on and on … and on and on about how this post is over 1000 words long? What a pathetic attempt to extent your 15 seconds of “ha-ha-you-made-a-mistake”!

    The most enlightening aspect of this incident is that it shows us all just how shallow and petty is the mindset of denialists.

    Comment by tamino — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:04 AM

  317. Gavin and Lefty #308, I’m afraid I disagree on Feyerabend. In my opinion, he was more interested in generating controversy than understanding science. While it is true that methodology varies in different branches of science, Bacon and Galileo would probably still recognize what is being done as science. Most of his interpretations of scientific methodology and practice represent a deep misunderstanding of how scientists actually do science, and some of his ideas were downright loony. I don’t have much use for sociologists and historians of science who think they can understand how science works without talking to those who actually do science. His is a philosophy of science we could have done without.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:04 AM

  318. I note that the NCDC October update is still unavailable (the site is still showing it as “unavailable till the 17th.”) Is this related to the reevaluation efforts we have been hearing about?

    One of the takeaways from this whole affair for me is just how little I understand the roles and interrelationships of the various agencies and organizations involved in climate reporting.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:30 AM

  319. I just talked to Paris, and she asked me to say, “Please tell Mr. Schmidt that I am NOT a trivial topic! Remember, I ran for President of the United States this year, and I think my energy plan was pretty [darned] good.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:44 AM

  320. Kevin (315):

    “…This highlights the fact that we don’t just have the problem of *reproducing* the MWP with models, but a real problem of characterizing it correctly from rather limited data. All that paleoclimate research with proxies is tough stuff….”

    Just an aside comment: but often it is taken as unassailably golden when used in support of current AGW.

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:57 AM

  321. The Hadley Centre (HadCRU) numbers are available. Their October 2008 anomaly is +0.38 (1971-2000 base period). For comparison, GISS has +0.41 for the same base period. This means last month sits at place 6 in the top 10 of warmest October months since 1850, or place 6 since 1880 for GISS. The NCDC analysis is also available but gives a much higher number than HadCRU and GISS (+0.47). They put October 2008 at a number 2 position in their top 10.

    Comment by Ben Lankamp — 18 Nov 2008 @ 10:06 AM

  322. The Hadley Centre (HadCRU) numbers for October are available. The Hadley analysis puts October 2008 at +0,38 (base period 1971-2000) where GISS has +0,41. I could be wrong but the difference between the two appears to be within the margin of error. Last month gets a #6 position in the top 10 of warmest October months, according to HadCRU. GISS puts October 2008 at #5. The NCDC analysis is available as well, but theirs looks a tad warm with a whopping +0,47 and a #2 position only losing to 2003.

    Comment by Ben Lankamp — 18 Nov 2008 @ 10:28 AM

  323. Re 320:

    “Just an aside comment: but often it is taken as unassailably golden when used in support of current AGW.”

    A matter of perception, perhaps, relatively how often this is done on each side of the debate? Both sides have, shall we say, less-informed and more-informed advocates. Readers here will not characterize paleo data as “unassailably golden,” though they may well feel (as I do) that the preponderance of paleo-climatic evidence favors the AGW consensus. (Especially after that last Mann paper.)

    On the other hand, “unassailable” seems to be a good word to characterize the denialist perception of the MWP. (The skeptic perception would not fall under this category.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Nov 2008 @ 11:03 AM

  324. 322: Thanks for the info, Ben.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Nov 2008 @ 11:05 AM

  325. Harold, you said (#304) that I should read between the lines. Then you
    posted a link to a NOAA Press Release on NOAA Deputy Director Jack Kelly
    having received the David O. Cooke Leadership in Federal Service Award.

    While director of NWS Jack Kelly approved suspensions issued to me in 2000
    because I tried to inform the public about hydrologic change due to climate
    change happening in the Upper Midwest. At that time Clinton and Gore were
    in the Whitehouse and I was a Senior Hydrologist at the NWS North Central River
    Forecast Center in Chanhassen, MN.

    Information was being with-held from the public on global warming and climate
    change well before G.W.Bush’s 1st term.

    Incidentally, because I continued to talk about climate change my career
    at NWS ended in 2005.

    You suggest that things are changing now at NOAA. I doubt that things are
    changing enough.

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 18 Nov 2008 @ 11:54 AM

  326. Barton Paul Levenson,

    In 179, you said.

    “The fact that cosmic rays are a mechanism for cloud formation does not mean they are a major factor in Earth’s climate. The GCR flux in Earth’s atmosphere is about 5 particles per square centimeter per second, which isn’t enough to generate a serious amount of clouds.

    What’s more, the GCR flux has been stable for 50 years, so it can’t have contributed to the sharp upturn in global warming of the last 30.”

    How do you know that cosmic ray flux changes have not been enough to change the temperature of the climate? Where have we spent the billions of dollars in research funds to pursue the question? Who has investigated the sunspot/temperature thoroughly?

    By the way, what sharp upturn in global warming are you talking about? I cannot see a significant difference between the Earth’s temperature in the past 30 years. I see a rise of 0.2 to 03 degrees.

    Let’s pretend that a Martian scientist flies in and that we show him two graphs. One graph compares the climate temperature to the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air; it has a correlation coefficient (percentage) in the low to mid 20s. The other displays a comparison of climate temperature to sunspot activity; it shows a correlation coefficient in the mid to high 80s. Which do you think he would pursue in his quest to understand the reasons for increasing climate temperatures?

    Let’s go on and show him a third graph, one displaying the 2003 ice core data that show that throughout history temperature changes have preceded carbon dioxide changes by half a century. Then let’s show him a graphic that displays glacier retreat and other climate warming symptoms preceding the current upturn in carbon dioxide emissions by at least 100 years. Would those increase or decrease his interest in pursuing a carbon dioxide causation for the ongoing climate warming?

    Comment by snorbert zangox — 18 Nov 2008 @ 12:00 PM

  327. “Let’s go on and show [a hypothetical Martian scientist] a third graph, one displaying the 2003 ice core data that show that throughout history temperature changes have preceded carbon dioxide changes by half a century. Then let’s show him a graphic that displays glacier retreat and other climate warming symptoms preceding the current upturn in carbon dioxide emissions by at least 100 years. Would those increase or decrease his interest in pursuing a carbon dioxide causation for the ongoing climate warming?”

    Depends if he’s astute enough to note that the CO2 emissions are a *new* forcing, as well as an historic feedback, or to note that there are other factors affecting warming than just GHGs–see the IPCC AR4 for attributions. It’s easy to access from the RealClimate sidebar link.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Nov 2008 @ 12:17 PM

  328. Re: #326 (snorbert zangox)

    Please tell us exactly what datasets, and what time intervals, you’ve used to get correlation of temperature and CO2 in the low-to-mid 20s, and correlation with sunspot activity in the high 80s.

    Comment by tamino — 18 Nov 2008 @ 12:31 PM

  329. > let’s show … Let’s go on and show …

    Show your cites.

    Our Martian will thank you for offering the cherries you’ve picked out, but will ask for all the information in the journals and be skeptical of your claims.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Nov 2008 @ 1:18 PM

  330. I think it’s become clear from this thread that there is a perceptual disconnect between those (mostly denialists/skeptics) who view, or at least represent, the GISS data product as purporting to be authoritative and “graven in stone” and those who (like Gavin) see it as a work in progress, carried out under serious limitations of time and funding, and subject to ongoing correction by the scientific (broadly speaking!) community.

    The first tend to see this as a mountain, since they will think that but for the due diligence of amateurs, this error would have been eternally part of the record (and possibly so by some sinister design.) The second see it as a molehill, since it was caught quickly, and would have been caught and corrected sooner or later regardless.

    This leads me to wonder: is there a policy statement characterizing GISSTEMP data as it is supplied and updated over time? And if not, would it be a good idea to develop one, so that those using the data know just what they are using? If the second understanding is correct–and I am presuming it is–then perhaps an explicit statement would be helpful in educating those who see GISSTEMP (or initial GISSTEMP results) in the first manner described above.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Nov 2008 @ 1:38 PM

  331. Snorbert Zangox says: “Let’s pretend that a Martian scientist flies in and that we show him two graphs.”

    It seems that your entire approach is based on pretending. Why not actually learn the science so you can at least argue against it intelligently. We know GCR fluxes aren’t changing significantly because we can and have measured them. We also don’t know of a mechanism whereby GCR fluxes at current levels significantly affect climate. “It might be…” is not science unless you have a mechanism.

    Of course, you would then have to explain why the physics of the greenhouse should magically change between 280 ppmv and 380 ppmv, but since you’re all about pretending, that shouldn’t pose much of a barrier.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Nov 2008 @ 1:45 PM

  332. Ray Ladbury (317) – sorry Ray, I guess I was a little too obtuse in my comments on Feyerabend…in fact I agree with you for the most part. I was entirely correct in noting Feyerabend’s significant influence on, for lack of a better word, the “philosophy” of climate change science, and pointed to his views on L’affaire de Galileo as an illustration of this. Feyerabend spoke thus:

    “The church at the time of Galileo was much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself, and also took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s doctrine. Its verdict against Galileo was rational and just, and revisionism can be legitimized solely for motives of political opportunism.”

    Neatly encapsulates a lot of the attitudes one is confronted with on both sides of this debate. Does make things interesting though.

    Comment by Leftymartin — 18 Nov 2008 @ 1:56 PM

  333. Leftymartin, #332, “Neatly encapsulates a lot of the attitudes one is confronted with on both sides of this debate. Does make things interesting though”

    Does it?

    Equally? (since that is the inference from an unqualified statement such as the one you made)

    Comment by Mark — 18 Nov 2008 @ 2:18 PM

  334. In reply to comment #331 Ray Ladbury:” It seems that your entire approach is based on pretending. Why not actually learn the science so you can at least argue against it intelligently. We know GCR fluxes aren’t changing significantly because we can and have measured them. We also don’t know of a mechanism whereby GCR fluxes at current levels significantly affect climate. “It might be…” is not science unless you have a mechanism.”

    GCR has increased 18% in the last 3 years and has changed in the last 2 months. The solar wind strength and density is currently at its lowest level in 45 years. There is strong correlation of GCR changes and planetary cloud cover up until 1992. GCR has changed. Post 1992 there is a solar mechanism that could possibly explain the observations. The problem it is difficult to meaasure planetary albedo/cloud cover. Due to the measurement issues it is therefore difficult to quantifiably prove or disprove the solar hypothesis/mechanism. There is however a mechanism.

    Comment by William Astley — 18 Nov 2008 @ 2:44 PM

  335. Ray, don’t go too far with the “sound science” argument.
    Remember the notion that
    > “It might be…” is not science
    > unless you have a mechanism.

    That could come from from the tobacco lawyers’ successful attempt to stifle the epidemiologists for 20 or 30 years. E.g.,

    Correlation is not causation.
    But correlations are interesting — and selective quoting of correlations reveals a great deal also. covers this well.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Nov 2008 @ 2:46 PM

  336. snorbert zangox has not yet seen fit to reply to my query.

    I used GISS data for global temperature, Mauna Loa measurements of CO2 concentration, and international sunspot numbers, all since March 1958 (the beginning of the Mauna Loa CO2 data). The correlation of CO2 with temperature is r = 0.7936 (r^2 = 0.6299), not anywhere near the “low to mid 20s.” The correlation of sunspot count with temperature is r = 0.000603 (r^2 = 0.0000003638), not exactly in the “high 80s.”

    Perhaps Mr. zangox has given us an illustration of the difference between a skeptic and a denialist.

    Comment by tamino — 18 Nov 2008 @ 3:06 PM

  337. Dhogaza, I know you’re an experienced computer professional. I hope you understand the difference between component failure and method failure better than illustrated by your response.

    Let’s quickly set aside the sidetrack about “attacks”… Personally, I have no dog in any such fights about data QA. I just want to see the situation improve. I don’t know why you are being defensive about this. Gavin is not (at least not to me.) Perhaps something from my background and relationships can help improve things. My perspective is not about just GISS, but GISS as part of an entire delivery system. AFAIK, this posting and this blog is authored by people at NASA not NOAA, which is why I’ve been commenting about NASA-related work here. Interestingly, I googled the words noaa and blog — and the only NOAA-related item that appeared was a blog requiring an internal noaa account. Meanwhile, NASA has a whole domain for! Way to go NASA! :)

    I also wouldn’t be so quick to assume that it is obvious to “anyone with even minimal experience in the area” that primary emphasis needs to be on early-management of defects. How much consulting do you do for organizations that deal with masses of data? I try hard not to make assumptions about what people know about arenas that are not their area of specialty. This thread alone ought to be enough to give pause to anyone who has ears to hear.

    With respect to evidence about the quality of QA, or evidence that the kinds of checking I listed is NOT performed. First, I was simply providing a list of good things I’d do. I did not suggest that none of them are being done. Nor did I insinuate, let alone claim, “that, in essence, no data QA is done at all.” Please get off your high horse before it steps on you. Your anger and defensiveness simply make it more difficult to move forward. My goal, and my statements, are aimed at improving the situation.

    Dhogaza, you ask for evidence of lack of Data QA (from an outsider with zero access to NOAA and NASA internal procedures.) And our Rabbett friend (#245) suggests that it’s all been thought of before, and provides links to published literature on the subject at both NASA and NOAA. On the surface, one might assume Mr Pete is just blowing smoke. Obviously, some real Data QA Professionals are minding the store, correct?

    Why would I suspect that professional Data QA expertise might be helpful? Because both the visible real world evidence, and the literature itself (see below) lead a person who has such expertise to such an hypothesis. There are plenty of examples in the literature and in the “real world” demonstrating that all four of the basic analysis types I mentioned are problematic. And I haven’t even touched on more sophisticated statistical analyses of the data flow.

    Below, I’ve taken a few minutes to go down this bunny trail with you.

    First, let’s review what NOAA has to say about USHCN Rev 2, using the link graciously provided by Eli. It provides a simple summary of the data chain from their perspective. It also documents NOAA’s QA procedure:

    The data chain: HCN Station Sensor Data -> QA -> Homogeneity Testing -> Various Adjustments and data infilling -> Output
    Data collected: Daily Min Temp, Daily Max Temp, Daily Total Precip
    QA Tests Used: “A series of quality evaluation checks”
    QA Test Failure Result: Monthly data set to N/A if 30% of measurements are missing or fail the QA tests. (“no monthly temperature average or total precipitation value was calculated for station-months in which more than 9 were missing or flagged as erroneous”)

    Now, let’s see what Peterson of NCDC has to say; the second link again graciously provided by Eli:

    Incoming Data QA Tests Used: “A wide variety of checks have been developed to identify erroneous data points” (p 14)(***)
    Post Production QA Tests:
    * “Comparison with other data sets: they show the same thing” (p19)
    * “Comparison of Land and Ocean: they show the same thing” (p20) [the graph shows general correlation of cool vs warm decades]
    * “Comparison of Urban and Rural stations: they show the same thing (p21) [graph shows correlation to 0.05 degrees, urban vs rural]
    [I’ll stop there; the bulk of the document is on homogeneity adjustments, not Data QA]

    (*** I do not have access to Peterson 1998 other than the abstract. The complete Peterson 1998 abstract is here.

    That, in brief, sums up the documents available. If someone has access to Peterson 1998, I’ll be glad to review it.

    Eli suggests these documents should give me confidence that the data QA process is well in hand. I searched a bit more to find some full documents that say more than “a wide variety of checks” hand waving. And found a related manuscript here.

    As far as I can tell, the typical Data QA testing and procedures can be summarized as follows: a) Identify outliers; b) remove or truncate them; c) perform further adjustments, including missing data processing.

    Let’s compare with my very simple list:
    * Outliers (way too high, too low)
    * Zeros of all kinds (test the data chain: what comes out when zero is inserted at various points?)
    * Missing data (again, test the data chain)
    * Data propagation errors (check deltas between values in time and data-proximity… a few identical values can be natural, but not very many)

    For this comparison, remember that my stated emphasis is on detecting valid sensor data vs invalid data due to process/equipment/human error. To that end, I will observe whether there is evidence that each valid vs invalid data is: Detected, Accounted for, and Corrected at the source to avoid the issue in the future.

    1) Outliers: NCDC detects and accounts for, but has no apparent process to correct at the source. NOAA detects, then accounts for by deletion. They too have no apparent process to correct at the source.

    2) Zeros of all kinds: there is no evidence that this is detects, accounted for or corrected.

    3) Missing data: these documents do not hint at NCDC work on missing raw-source data detection/accounting/correction processes. Missing data is handled extensively later on as an adjustment. NOAA conflates outliers with missing data at the source level, and accounts for them both identically. No process is documented to correct such issues at the source.

    4) Data propagation errors: there is no indication that either NCDC or NOAA have processes designed to detect, account for or correct data propagation errors.

    Bottom line: I see no evidence that ANY of these are handled in such a way that the system learns to eliminate early errors. If anything, the system appears designed to allow for increasing amounts of error of unknown origin, converting errors into gaps, and then attempting to adjust for those gaps, which can consist of almost 1/3 of a data stream. And the system allows entire data streams to disappear unnoticed.

    I see nary a hint that systemic data errors ought to be detected and used to make the system *more* robust. This is a recipe for a data chain that self-destructs over time, rather than improves.

    I hope that brief interlude helps you see that perhaps MrPete has sufficient experience to say, at a gut level, “I think this process could use some help”.

    BTW, I could take a pot shot at the value of assuming Data QA is being done when comparing highly adjusted data sets (let alone mutually derived data, or data that is visually different yet “shows the same thing”, etc etc).

    But I won’t. :-D

    I think we all could use some fresh air.

    Comment by MrPete — 18 Nov 2008 @ 3:19 PM

  338. Re: #330 (Kevin),

    There should not be “serious limitations of time and funding” with GISS data.
    NOAA NWS is a large and heavily funded agency (over 5,000 employees in 140 offices).

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 18 Nov 2008 @ 4:44 PM

  339. William Astley, Cite please on GCR fluxes. I’ve seen no evidence with any of my satellites–and believe me, I’d know. There is a normal modulation out of phase with the solar cycle (max during solar min–min during solar max). That’s not unusual. Is this over and above that?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Nov 2008 @ 6:40 PM

  340. Comparable attention to everything NASA does might’ve saved a number of Mars programs that failed due to minor software errors. Just sayin’.

    Has anyone yet compared Gavin to Tom Sawyer, busily whitewashing that fence?

    Worth recalling:

    Opposition is true Friendship.

    Good scrutiny (that is not served up heavily larded with attitude) is more likely to be heard and applied.
    Being effective often requires giving up some egoboo.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Nov 2008 @ 7:43 PM

  341. I’m glad that is cleared up.

    Comment by Christopher Keys — 18 Nov 2008 @ 7:58 PM

  342. Kevin, just for the record so as to not get broad brushed tainted: As a skeptic (though Mark says not ;-) ), I early in this thread put myself in the molehill camp.

    BTW, your response to me on the paleoclimate thing was good.

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:39 PM

  343. PS – To be complete, however, being a molehill does not make it unimportant…

    Comment by Rod B — 18 Nov 2008 @ 9:49 PM

  344. Re 338:

    Pat, I am just summarizing what I have seen on the thread as I understand it–in this case, based on Gavin’s response to #37, way up at the top of the thread.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Nov 2008 @ 10:13 PM

  345. snorbert writes:

    How do you know that cosmic ray flux changes have not been enough to change the temperature of the climate?

    Which part of “the trend has been flat for 50 years” did you not understand?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 19 Nov 2008 @ 5:58 AM

  346. If anything, this post and comments have clearly shown how little the denialist fringe know and understand of the scientific process for the analysis and publishing of any data and their continued stubborn refusal to learn about such processes.

    This does come with a price.

    But, ya know what?

    I predict that their day will be over in about 12 months or less.

    [operation ear]

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 19 Nov 2008 @ 8:13 AM

  347. (340) “Opposition is true Friendship.”

    There ya go!

    Comment by Rod B — 19 Nov 2008 @ 10:01 AM

  348. Speaking of surface temperature records, and all the moles burrowing into surface temperature data collection over at Watts Up: have there been any preliminary comparisons made between the appropriately aggregated national-scale temperature results from the Climate Reference Network and the USHCN network?

    Comment by Marcus — 19 Nov 2008 @ 12:01 PM

  349. Re: #330

    Quality control software is used at NWS River Forecast Centers (RFCs) for calibration of river basins based on historical precipitation and temperature data at U.S climate stations. The effort, which began in the mid 1970s, is now called the NWS “Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service”. In the 1980s APHS had another name (then called WARFS) but it took the 1993 Great Flood and a rename to AHPS to get Congress to continue the funding. A great deal of money went into developing the the quality control software (double-mass plotting techniques, etc.). That technology should be used to evaluate historical and recent data at climate stations. Government agencies could do a lot better in evaluating historical and recent data if NWS resources were being tapped. Why haven’t those NWS resources been tapped? My answers include fear and failure by NOAA NWS in addressing climate change in NWS hydrology, weather and climate responsibilities.


    Comment by Pat Neuman — 19 Nov 2008 @ 12:24 PM

  350. “if you guys read the NASA reports and papers,here and on GOOGLE, you will see that global cooling, localized cooling trends, warming, and the other data collected that you think is denied by the modellers is all there in black and white; yet we still have a net global warming effect”

    Say what?
    How could we have global cooling and net warming?

    Comment by tom — 19 Nov 2008 @ 1:04 PM

  351. Re: 349

    Tom, I suggest that you have a look at my blog (click on my name) where more than 440 articles, each a piece of the climate change puzzle, have been posted in black & white for all to see (flamboyant or emotional trash not included).

    Read, study, learn, enjoy.

    [him UNSOUND] — LOL!

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 19 Nov 2008 @ 2:30 PM

  352. In reply to comment #339 Ray Lambury: “William Astley, Cite please on GCR fluxes. I’ve seen no evidence with any of my satellites–and believe me, I’d know. There is a normal modulation out of phase with the solar cycle (max during solar min–min during solar max). That’s not unusual. Is this over and above that?”

    First GCR was low in the 20th century.

    In the modern era (Since 1954)
    (1) The galactic cosmic ray intensity near earth has been one of the lowest in the past 1150 years
    (2) The frequency of occurrence of large solar particle events has been low compared to the long term average for a period similar ot 1889 – 1901.
    (3) The galactic cosmic ray intensity was higher compared to modern era by factors of:
    – 7.0 AT 100MeV
    – 3.5 AT 300MeV
    – 2.25 AT 1.0GeV.
    (4) The frequency of occurrence of large SPE was a factor of ~5 times compared to the modern era.

    GCR levels are inversely proportional the solar heliosphere strength which explains why GCR levels are high now.

    Comment by William Astley — 19 Nov 2008 @ 10:28 PM

  353. > …. solarwind
    The second link includes only this on climate:

    “… there are controversial studies linking cosmic ray fluxes to cloudiness and climate change on Earth. That link may be tested in the years ahead.”

    No argument with that.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2008 @ 12:23 AM

  354. William Astley,
    You have still not provided a reference for you claim that GCR flux rates are 20% higher. The NASA blurb you provided says the drop in solar wind dates only from the latter half of the 90s–so it can’t explain the observed warming.
    Add to this that there is no generally accepted mechanism to amplify a flux of 6 particles per square cm per second into a global forcing. There is also no evidence that the atmosphere is particularly starved for cloud nucleation sites, nor that if such a mechanism were to be active that it would be moreso during the day than at night, as would be necessary to provide cooling. Frankly, I don’t think we quite pass the straight face test here.

    Of course, then you’d also have to explain why physics fails and CO2 magically stops acting like a greenhouse gas when you get above 280 ppmv. That would be a neat trick too.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Nov 2008 @ 9:22 AM

  355. Warm and cool ENSO may be linked to more and less cloudiness. Cool ENSO in the 1920s and 30s may have resulted in an absence of cloudiness driving the climate during dust bowl, Great Depression, years.

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 20 Nov 2008 @ 11:27 AM

  356. Tamino,

    Try adjusting the averaging time of the sunspots (a surrogate for solar heat flux and for the intensity of the solar magnetic field) data so that it approximates the characteristic time of the system response to the heat input change. That should improve your correlation coefficient. Also remember that there lag time in the system response. The probable mechanism is that the bulk of incoming heat is first stored in the ocean and released to the atmosphere slowly. That means that the solar flux today is relevant to temperature changes in the future. If you make those changes in your procedure, you will be able to improve your correlation.

    Also, if you will include the entire 20th century temperature and carbon dioxide record you will find that the first 30 years of the century showed rapid temperature rise with little carbon dioxide and that the period between 1940 and 1970 shows cooling in spite of rapidly increasing carbon dioxide concentrations. Inclusion of those two periods will reduce your correlation coefficient drastically. The past 10 years don’t help the correlation much either.

    I made another comment (in 326) that no one has explained. That comment was that the data show that temperature surrogates, such as glacier retreat, sea level rise and growing season length, began changing in the early 1800s long before combustion of fossil fuels became significant. What I did not point out, which also is true is that the rate of change of those effects did not change as the fossil fuel combustion began increasing. If carbon dioxide were causing warming, it would seem to me that the rates of the effects of the warmth would accelerate as the concentration of carbon dioxide increased. The lack of an accelerated response appears to support the hypothesis that the increasing temperature of the oceans may cause releases of dissolved carbon dioxide as Henry’s Law implies that it should. If that were true, one would expect an excellent correlation between temperature and carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. However, we must be sure that we have the cause and effect ascribed correctly.

    Comment by snorbert zangox — 20 Nov 2008 @ 1:45 PM

  357. snorbert zangox (356) — Here are estimates of human-caused CO2 emissions since about 1750 CE:

    Those are annual emissions, not summed. Recall that CO2 forcing is logarythmic in the atmospheric concentrations:

    so using the concentration data of 280 ppm in 1750 CE and 288 ppm in 1850 CE, you can readily calculate the CO2 contribution to warming over whatever period interests you; from 1750 CE to 1850 CE I obtained about 0.05 K of warming, using a climate sensitivty of 3 K but also using that only 60% of that is expressed ‘immediately’.

    Most of the rest of the warming in the early portion of the 19th century is certainly due to recovery from the 1815 CE eruption of Mt. Tambora (and possibly a following lull in volcanic activity).

    Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Nov 2008 @ 2:54 PM

  358. The IPCC is quite clear that there’s a direction the available information goes, but some things are more certain than others. For example, the Attributing Climate Change section on page 86 of the WG1 Technical Summary in AR4.

    Robust Findings

    Greenhouse gas forcing has very likely caused most of the observed global warming over the last 50 years. Greenhouse gas forcing alone during the past half century would likely have resulted in greater than the observed warming if there had not been an offsetting cooling effect from aerosol and other forcings.

    It is extremely unlikely (less than five percent) that the global pattern of warming during the past half century can be explained without external forcing, and very unlikely that it is due to known natural external causes alone. The warming occurred in both the ocean and the atmosphere and took place at a time when natural external forcing factors would likely have produced cooling.

    It is likely that anthropogenic forcing has contributed to the general warming observed in the upper several hundred metres of the ocean during the latter half of the 20th century. Anthropogenic forcing, resulting in thermal expansion from ocean warming and glacier mass loss, has very likely contributed to sea level rise during the latter half of the 20th century.

    A substantial fraction of the reconstructed NH interdecadal temperature variability of the past seven centuries is very likely attributable to natural external forcing (volcanic eruptions and solar variability).

    Key Uncertainties

    Confidence in attributing some climate change phenomena to anthropogenic influences is currently limited by uncertainties in radiative forcing, as well as uncertainties in feedbacks and in observations.

    Attribution at scales smaller than continental and over time scales of less than 50 years is limited by larger climate variability on smaller scales, by uncertainties in the small-scale details of external forcing and the response simulated by models, as well as uncertainties in simulation of internal variability on small scales, including in relation to modes of variability.

    There is less confidence in understanding of forced changes in precipitation and surface pressure than there is of temperature.

    The range of attribution statements is limited by the absence of formal detection and attribution studies, or their very limited number, for some phenomena (e.g., some types of extreme events).

    Incomplete global data sets for extremes analysis and model uncertainties still restrict the regions and types of detection studies of extremes that can be performed.

    Despite improved understanding, uncertainties in model simulated
    internal climate variability limit some aspects of attribution studies. For example, there are apparent discrepancies between estimates of ocean heat content variability from models and observations.

    Lack of studies quantifying the contributions of anthropogenic forcing to ocean heat content increase or glacier melting together with the open part of the sea level budget for 1961 to 2003 are among the uncertainties in quantifying the anthropogenic contribution to sea level rise.

    Comment by William Jones — 20 Nov 2008 @ 3:06 PM

  359. Snorbert Zangox, You do realize that to anybody who knows what they’re talking about, it’s very clear that you don’t, don’t you? Just because I enjoy watching you squirm, how do you get the heat in the oceans without heating up the atmosphere?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Nov 2008 @ 3:31 PM

  360. #356 (snorbert zangox)

    Your latest comment looks like nothing more than a lame attempt to avoid admitting that your original comment was pure bull.

    I reiterate my original request: please tell us exactly what datasets, and what time intervals, you’ve used to get correlation of temperature and CO2 in the low-to-mid 20s, and correlation with sunspot activity in the high 80s. And since it now seems you want to “adjust” things to get correlations, specify precisely what adjustments you applied.

    Be very sure of this: we’re gonna check your work.

    Comment by tamino — 20 Nov 2008 @ 3:55 PM

  361. #356 (snorbert zangox)

    While you’re at it, inform us all of your sources for the claims that “glacier retreat, sea level rise and growing season length, began changing in the early 1800s long before combustion of fossil fuels became significant,” and “the rate of change of those effects did not change as the fossil fuel combustion began increasing.”

    Be very sure: we’re gonna check your sources.

    Comment by tamino — 20 Nov 2008 @ 3:58 PM

  362. > If carbon dioxide were causing warming,
    > it would seem to me that ….

    “Committed warming” is the search you need.
    Then try “radiative equilibrium” next.
    Also, try “Start Here” at top of page, and the first link under Science, right hand sidebar.

    You haven’t read the very basic information needed to follow the discussion yet. It won’t take you all that long.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2008 @ 4:12 PM

  363. Re snorbert @356: “the period between 1940 and 1970 shows cooling in spite of rapidly increasing carbon dioxide concentrations.”

    No, it does not. It shows cooling only from aprox 1945 to aprox 1951, and a very shallow slope warming trend thereafter to 1970.

    And strange that you make no mention of rising aerosols in tandem with those increasing CO2 concentrations being at least partially responsible for that cooling episode and subsequent shallow upward trend.

    Hmmm, I wonder why that is….

    Comment by Jim Eager — 20 Nov 2008 @ 9:52 PM

  364. Snorbert also said: “The lack of an accelerated response appears to support the hypothesis that the increasing temperature of the oceans may cause releases of dissolved carbon dioxide as Henry’s Law implies that it should.”

    Except for the inconvenient fact that the increasing ratio of 13C to 12C means that the increase in CO2 is not coming from the ocean.

    Do yourself a favor and take Hank’s advice.
    Or not.

    Capcha’s advice: finally no

    Comment by Jim Eager — 20 Nov 2008 @ 9:59 PM

  365. #355 Pat, I agree about correlating ENSO events with clouds, when down South I am always amazed by Cumulo Nimbus formations and everything about them, including anvil tops, ice crystal clouds, similar to those in the Arctic, there may be a connection at the cloud seeding level, between anvil seeding and fallout from them, not only over the Arctic but everywhere in the world. During El-Nino there should be more dumping of moisture in the stratosphere which quickly dehydrates, but the smaller particles may “hang out” just on top of the Tropopause.

    Ray, GCR theories imply immediate daily causations which should be readily observed, after witnessing 2 consecutive extensive sessions, one cloud free, the other nothing but clouds in the High Arctic, during a solar minima to top it off, I don’t see GCR’s at work but rather more earthbound aerosol feedbacks. Also, I am very curious about our solar system planets being claimed as warming by a solar mechanism, if this is true, lets say Jupiter is warming by the sun then
    the Earth should warm at least 7 times more by reverse of squares distance, Given that I can’t find other quotes in journals other than Jupiter warming internally by +10K at the equator… Never the less, assuming that it warms from a hotter sun by 1 K, Earth should warm by 7 K or more… I am curious what they are claiming as the sun induced temperature increase on Jupiter?

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 20 Nov 2008 @ 10:17 PM

  366. In reply to Ray Ladbury #354 “There is also no evidence that the atmosphere is particularly starved for cloud nucleation sites, nor that if such a mechanism were to be active that it would be more so during the day than at night, as would be necessary to provide cooling. Frankly, I don’t think we quite pass the straight face test here.”

    Your comment shows that you are not familiar with the mechanisms or with the research. Saying something does not make it so.

    Kirby’s paper provides a review of the research in the area.

    As I said the reason the issue has not been resolved is the difficultly in measuring planetary albedo and cloud cover.

    Comment by William Astley — 20 Nov 2008 @ 10:45 PM

  367. Jim (363), your reading of the graphs is worse than snorbert’s so you should sit on your chastisement. If you do a LS “trend” from 1940 to about 1970+, global temperature decreases (per most temp data sets anyway) as snorbert says and you deny. Your characterization of the shorter periods (down for 45 to 51 and slightly up from 51 to 70) is also true, though your attributing the cooling until (only) 1951 to aerosols does not match aerosol production which didn’t really start to decrease until the 70s.

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Nov 2008 @ 11:09 AM

  368. Re #365 Wayne,

    Higher surface moisture (dewpoints) are shown at climate stations for El Nino years, in the U.S.

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 21 Nov 2008 @ 12:43 PM

  369. Re: #367 (Rod B)

    Skeptic, chastise thyself.

    The decreasing “trend” from 1940 to 1975 is not statistically significant — there’s no valid evidence of a downward trend from 1940 to 1970+. And if you do the same LS fit starting in 1945 (rather than 1940) up to 1970 or 1975, the trend rate is positive rather than negative, although again the “trend” is no trend at all, failing statistical significance.

    Comment by tamino — 21 Nov 2008 @ 2:12 PM

  370. Rod @367; the short duration of the circa 1945-1951 cooling and subsequent slow rise to circa 1970 has been discussed repeatedly here at RC. You might want to look it up.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 21 Nov 2008 @ 2:13 PM

  371. Don’t read graphs. Read the underlying numbers, or trust someone competent in statistics to help you understand them.

    Graphs are pictures. Here are some from one of the longest temperature records available, from central England.

    Look at the pretty pictures. To understand them, though …

    … you’d have to read the text. Here:

    Self-test — are you leaping at the keyboard to discuss the pictures or did you read enough to learn what they mean?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Nov 2008 @ 2:39 PM

  372. William Ashley #399:

    Your comment shows that you are not familiar with the mechanisms or with the research. Saying something does not make it so.

    Kirby’s paper provides a review of the research in the area.

    As I said the reason the issue has not been resolved is the difficultly in measuring planetary albedo and cloud cover. ”

    Bill, your comment shows nothing that proves your idea. Saying something does not make it so.

    Comment by Mark — 21 Nov 2008 @ 2:44 PM

  373. RodB #367 The slope up until 1970 could be slighter than it would have been without aerosols. After 1970 ish when (as you attest) aerosols were reduced, the real heating of the indistrial revolution went unhindered (more so anyway).

    So the slighter slope doesn’t prove that Jim is wrong.

    Please try again.

    Comment by Mark — 21 Nov 2008 @ 2:46 PM

  374. I recommend rereading the many prior references to the same cosmic ray idea here. It’s been brought up over and over as though new.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Nov 2008 @ 3:13 PM

  375. Tamino (369): Nobody wants me/us to go down this path again! None-the-less — — Nobody in the posts on this discussion, including me, said anything about statistically significant. I don’t think Eager’s 5-year trend was meant to imply statistical significance. Statistical significance or no, there ought to be (and usually is) a physical/physics reason or theory why global mean temperature changes even from year to year — or at least over a few years (too few for that statistical significance thing).

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Nov 2008 @ 10:53 PM

  376. Jim (370), as has been the aerosol induced cooling through the 70s or so…

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Nov 2008 @ 10:56 PM

  377. William Astley,
    I’m all ears, William. Educate me. First, tell me the mechanism whereby CO2 stops acting like a greenhouse gas at concentrations above 280 ppmv.
    Next you can tell me the magical mechanism of how you amplify a flux of 6 particles per square cm per second into a forcing of several Watts per meter. I’m guessing it has to do with clouds, since every mechanism I’ve heard of that invokes GCR does. If so, I’m particularly interested in how you get a galactic mechanism to operate during the daytime when clouds would cool things and not during the night when they would produce a net warming. Neat trick that.
    What I’m really interested in is how you get the GCR into the atmosphere without them being detected. No increases in neutron counts. No increases in satellite measurements–either direct or indirect. See, William, every satellite out there has detectors in the form if its electronics. In particular, devices like solid-state recorders are astounding particle detectors, since a good portion of the particles that pass through them produce bit flips. Designers know this, and they have designed in error correction codes and other mechanisms that correct these errors. However, they keep track of the errors as part of housekeeping. If there were an increase in GCR flux, I’d have panicked designers camped outside my office. So, since there is evidently this vast body of research out there that proves these seemingly nonphysical ideas, I’d be really interested in hearing about it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Nov 2008 @ 7:32 AM

  378. I’ve been trying to find this looking back on a couple of threads, and searching RC and elsewhere, without success. So–I thought I saw a reference to four datasets (presumably instrumental record) relied on by IPCC. I’m aware of three: HadCRUT (UK met with significant input from the University of East Anglia), GISSTEMP (Goddard Institute by way of NOAA), and SR05 (the Smith & Reynolds product used by NCDC.) So is there another that I’ve somehow missed, and do I understand the provenance of the three I mentioned more or less correctly?

    (Come to think of it, this could be a FAQ, too–though that’s another thread, of course!)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Nov 2008 @ 8:01 AM

  379. RodB 375. But in a five year sample, the “trend” is more likely to be just random coincidence than any mechanism.

    So if the “mechanism” is “random chance” what does that bring to the table?


    After all, the Israeli Air Force had a sample where the number of female children were much higher than could be statistically explained.

    But someone pointed out “Why did you look there, then?”. To which the answer was “Because we saw that there were more girls than statistically possible”. So the mechanism in this case is that if you select millions of groups, the one-in-a-million chance will happen even if there’s no reason for it. If they looked 5 years later, it could have been “Industrial sewerage plant operators in Ukraine” that had the strange effect of having too many girl children.

    So, why were those five years picked? Because they showed something you and your mates like to think is true. AGW is overblown at best.

    But why didn’t you pick five years from 1993-1998? If you had, you would have seen catastrophic global warming. Oh, that’s the reason. Sorry.

    Now what you SHOULD do is pick a period that is statistically significant. 30 years at least. And what does that tell you?

    Or is the answer “AGW is real” not the answer you’re looking for?

    Comment by Mark — 22 Nov 2008 @ 9:02 AM

  380. Further to 375.

    What time did you get out of bed on Wednesday 19th November? It wasn’t the average time, so there must be a physical reason why you got up at that different time.

    MUST BE.


    (no, there’s no physical reason, just that getting out of bed varies randomly because you are not an automaton)

    Comment by Mark — 22 Nov 2008 @ 9:04 AM

  381. Rod B., There are many, many causes for variation–changes in insolation, changes in frequency of large volcanic eruptions, and on and on. There are so many different causes, that it can be quite difficult to disentangle their influence. One thing these causes have in common is that they typically manifest on short timescales (decadal at most). Many of them are also rather small in magnitude. CO2 stands out from these becuase it acts on very long timescales–nothing else does, so that is why the influence of CO2 stands out and why it is well established by the evidence.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Nov 2008 @ 9:19 AM

  382. William Astley (166), in Kirby’s review of GCR research he thoughtfully omits the papers cited by the IPCC that discredit the GCR hypothesis. Why do you think he does that?

    From the IPCC AR4, Chapter 2, ( (links provided at upper right of this page)

    “…In particular, the cosmic ray time series does not correspond to global total cloud cover after 1991 or to global low-level cloud cover after 1994 (Kristjánsson and Kristiansen, 2000; Sun and Bradley, 2002) without unproven de-trending (Usoskin et al., 2004). Furthermore, the correlation is significant with low-level cloud cover based only on infrared (not visible) detection. Nor do multi-decadal (1952 to 1997) time series of cloud cover from ship synoptic reports exhibit a relationship to cosmic ray flux. However, there appears to be a small but statistically significant positive correlation between cloud over the UK and galactic cosmic ray flux during 1951 to 2000 (Harrison and Stephenson, 2006)…”

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 22 Nov 2008 @ 11:06 AM

  383. Ray (377), in my thinking there is a serious question if the greenhouse effect of CO2 maintains its marginal differential or tapers off. Though coming to a stop at 280ppm is way too big a stretch.

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Nov 2008 @ 12:54 PM

  384. Mark (379, 380), why do you often bring in non sequiturs to turn a, well, molehill into a mountain discussion?

    You have just squashed Mt. Pinatubo, El Niño, other oceanic oscillations, most of aerosols, and countless other effects that AGW proponents have long used to further explain their position. I trust you can answer to them. For instance, I assume you reject Jim Eager’s explanation of the 1946 to 1951 and 1951 to the 70s periods. (BTW, I said Jim was wrong about snorberts 1940 to 1970 period, not about his own 46-51 and 51-70s period.)

    As I said earlier (though maybe ahead of your post), nobody said anything about statistical significance.

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Nov 2008 @ 1:20 PM

  385. > nobody said anything about statistical significance …

    Context, Rod! It’s a science forum. Everyone here knows that if you can’t show there’s a trend with statistics, there isn’t one for purposes of discussion.

    Look to the numbers behind the pictures. If the numbers don’t work, there’s nothing happening — all you have is pictures showing nothing happening, and people who want to profess beliefs.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Nov 2008 @ 4:23 PM

  386. Do we get continuous Mt Pinatubo, RodB?

    Are volcanoes climatic????

    Woo, are we in for “interesting times”…

    Comment by Mark — 22 Nov 2008 @ 4:23 PM

  387. Rod wrote:

    > in my thinking there is a serious question if the greenhouse effect
    > of CO2 maintains its marginal differential or tapers off

    Rod, look it up. It’s an interesting hypothesis — do you know which decade it’s from and how it was investigated and the results? (The secondhand opinions you find on blogs are from people who didn’t bother looking it up, they just liked the question and didn’t want to know.)

    If you don’t know, Dr. Weart’s website awaits.

    Science — it’s more than you think.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Nov 2008 @ 6:01 PM

  388. More to 367, Rod, it seems quite clear that the drop in the mean temperature anomaly from 1945 to 1951 was significant because it dropped and then stayed well below the 1945 high for almost 30 years before recovering:
    This hardly means that I do not attribute the sustained 30 year lower anomaly to aerosols, just that they only produced an actual sustained negative slope in the trend line, or “cooling,” from 1945 to 1951.

    But perhaps it’s a problem of definition and I’m being too narrow. On one hand it can be said that there needs to be a sustained negative slope in the trend for there to be “cooling,” just as there needs to be a sustained positive slope for there to be “warming.” But I can see that it is also possible to say that during that 30 year period of erratic year to year change with no significant sustained trend that aerosol induced “cooling” masked or negated GHG induced “warming,” making it cooler than it otherwise might have been. But I can hardly imagine a skeptic or denier using “cooling” in that sense, though, because they would then be admitting to the underlying warming of GHGs.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 22 Nov 2008 @ 6:18 PM

  389. Kevin 378:
    The IPCC AR4 discusses the three main surface analyses and the two main satellite-derived tropospheric analyses, i.e. from Mears and Wentz at Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and Spencer and Christy at the University of Alabama (UAH). NCDC is often left out of the various discussions, leaving the remaining ones as the “big four” datasets.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 22 Nov 2008 @ 6:52 PM

  390. Oh! Hank! All someone said is that the temperature at three Alaskan sites drifted downward over a 10-30 year (or some such) period. I know that just drives you guys crazy and you will go to no ends to make it go away. But as I said once before, one aspect of science is looking at something red and saying, “That thing is red”. With that statement nothing, nada, zip is said about the thing’s religion, sex, gender, attitude, composition, size, longevity, etc., and, well, about its statistical significance for heaven’s sake! You might ask why is it red; but that’s about it. It’s entirely no big deal and you guys really ought to get over it. Or just keep feeding us maniacal skeptics softballs.

    Mark, if you assert that Mt Pinatubo (or some such) is never used as an explanation for some climatic conditions, you ought to wake up more often.

    Comment by Rod B — 22 Nov 2008 @ 7:30 PM

  391. Rod B. OK, so you think the greenhouse effect tapers off above 280 ppmv. Why? There must be a mechanism whereby it does so. None is known at present, particularly given the well mixed nature of CO2 concentrations. What is more, the paleoclimate (e.g. PETM) shows that the greenhouse effect can heat things up a whole lot more that it has to date. I cannot see what you would base such a supposition on other than wishful thinking. Enlighten me.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Nov 2008 @ 9:23 PM

  392. No, Rod, that’s not all someone said. Note ‘Pacific Ocean’ and aerosols in the same posting. Three cities out of the many available isn’t a good basis for making an argument about climate — use what’s available, not just what fits the argument.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Nov 2008 @ 9:25 PM

  393. RodB, three alaskan sites out of how many?

    Ever heard of “microclimate”.

    And do you have any reasons

    a) why Hank would deny they went down (he hasn’t so far)
    b) why they are significant (you haven’t so far)

    because without a good answer to a, you’re persecuting Hank, making up bad things he’s doing to paint yourself as the “good guy” and Hank as the baddie (so he can be dismissed summarily, all hail RodB). And without a good answer to b, it doesn’t matter if it is accepted or denied as a fact. It doesn’t change AGW facts and doesn’t disprove AGW unless it is a significant event.

    An example: if you asked for sites that dropped over a 5 year period, would you get about 10? If over a 10 year period, 3? And 30 years, 1? What about over 50 years? None?

    Now if you want to talk about what is making them, if you take *any* five year period, would you see 10 showing a trend downwards? If so, then this is just self-selection bias. You’re looking for a down trend and if you hadn’t found any, you would look for something else (flat trend or no significant change up).

    Have you done that, RodB? That’s what a skeptic would do, especially if they ALWAYS bleat on about how they want the raw data. Since you seem to have a thing for how fiddling figures go (or could go) on, how do you know that these three stations are looked at by the same person, who is in the pay of an oil company? Or all three next to Exxon CEO’s summer house?


    Comment by Mark — 23 Nov 2008 @ 5:54 AM

  394. Rod B, also Mt Pinatubo did not change the climate. It changed weather over a few years.

    Unless we get that level of eruption regularly enough to even out and add up to a climatalogically significant change, THEN you can say your hatstand comment in #390. Until then you may as well say that the sun coming up each morning has an effect on the global climate.

    Comment by Mark — 23 Nov 2008 @ 5:56 AM

  395. Thanks for the clarification, Deep Climate (#389.) That does indeed help, and I appreciate it.

    So SR05 is the “Chrysler” of instrumental records, I suppose. . .

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Nov 2008 @ 8:07 AM

  396. Mark, stop the personality stuff please. Focus on the science.
    If you get rhetorical about people you just waste time. Even bad questions are teachable, because the assumptions can be pointed out. Lack of clarity says someone’s having a bad day or night, but like bad papers can lead to interesting results.

    The stuff starting with

    > without a good answer to a, you’re persecuting …

    is language used in victim trolling, and those connotations are unavoidable. It’s always a mistake going there. Troll FAQ.

    Focus on the science. Trust the Contributors here, they control the filter on what gets posted. If we want to help out, as ordinary readers, we cope and be patient and helpful (or pretend to, while we’re here!).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Nov 2008 @ 10:42 AM

  397. > Pinatubo — it’s important in climatology:

    That paper was cited by 162 other papers so far; click the link.
    Read. That’s the measure of good science — later citations. Just like the measure of evolutionary fitness is having more grandchildren. It’s an outcome, not a pure quality per se.

    Point being, there’s no simple line — weather? climate?
    How many data points can be _collected_ to test for a change, against the naturally varying background? With Pinatubo, plenty, quickly.

    A sufficiently big volcanic injection of sulfate shows up as a change in climate.

    Why? It’s _bigger_ than the background noise/annual variation.

    It’s not hidden as are smaller forcings over that short time span. It sticks out, it’s detectable around the world, it’s climate change.

    It’s a brief change, because the sulfates wash out.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Nov 2008 @ 10:54 AM

  398. October one of the coldest years in of the last 115 after “corrected”? Or so say one Swedish newspaper, where did he get that number from?!? Any ideas?

    Comment by Magnus Westerstrand — 23 Nov 2008 @ 1:45 PM

  399. Magnus, (#398)

    It beats me. I read a similar claim by a Canadian poster (although the specific numbers were different.) I couldn’t see anything supporting it.

    Here is the monthly report for October from the US National Climate Data Center. (Note that they use the SR05 analysis, processed differently (and independently) from GISS.)

    To summarize, they have this as the *warmest October on record* for global land temperatures; it is 6th globally for sea temps and 2nd for combined land and sea. HadCRUT also had October as very warm; here’s that info, courtesy of Ben Lankamp (#321 above): “Last month gets a #6 position in the top 10 of warmest October months, according to HadCRU. GISS puts October 2008 at #5.”

    Of course, variability being what it is, some places have still been cooler than usual; I think most of the UK was, for instance. I didn’t check on Sweden, which conceivably might have been the basis for your columnist’s claim. But if he was talking about global temps, he was just wrong.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Nov 2008 @ 4:00 PM

  400. Eli Rabbet I enjoy reading your blog and recommended readings, big fan.

    Comment by jcbmack — 23 Nov 2008 @ 4:25 PM

  401. Magnus, sorry, not enough clues. I tried a few online translation sites and all failed to make English out of that piece. But I can read “opinion” and “politically correct” well enough to guess it’s not a fact-heavy article. I wonder what’s special about 115 years?

    You can find a lot of possibilities with Google giving it just the words you asked about, for example “Coldest were Arkansas and Mississippi, who saw their 19th coldest October in the last 115 years.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Nov 2008 @ 4:55 PM

  402. Magnus (398),

    I can’t read in the language of the article but you can go to the GISS data and go all the way back to 2002 to find a “colder” October.

    The “year” of 2008 is still on pace to be a top 10 year. I’m not sure which you (or they) meant since october is not a year like you said, but either way, God knows where they pulled that number from.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 23 Nov 2008 @ 9:09 PM

  403. ALL of September was still t-shirt wearing weather in the UK (when it wasn’t raining). October had two days where there were cold wintry weather and November is looking to do about the same (we’ve just had “artic conditions” apparently. Lasted one day, two further north).

    Comment by Mark — 24 Nov 2008 @ 5:14 AM

  404. Hank, #396. Hey, you posted that we shouldn’t use denialist because they’ll say we’re persecuting them.

    So I used the same tactic.

    Either they have to give up that or me.

    Comment by Mark — 24 Nov 2008 @ 5:16 AM

  405. PS Hank, look later on after that quote.

    That’s a pretty good explanation of why patterns aren’t enough when statistically insignificant.

    If you’re going to tell me off when I’ve “done wrong”, then laud when I’ve “done right”.

    Comment by Mark — 24 Nov 2008 @ 5:18 AM

  406. Wayne,

    What they actually detected on Jupiter were rising “hot spots,” which the deniers interpreted as “global warming on Jupiter.”

    Jupiter’s semimajor axis is about 5.2 AUs, so Earth receives 27 times as much illumination as the giant planet. But temperature follows the fourth root of insolation, so this would make Earth only 2.3 times hotter if Earth and Jupiter had the same bolometric Bond albedo (and they very nearly do, 0.31 for Earth and 0.34 for Jupiter).

    The situation is even worse for global warming on Pluto. Pluto has warmed from about 37 K to 39 K in recent years, a 2 K increase. Pluto is at 39 AUs, so this 2 K increase would correspond to about a 12 K increase at Earth. We would have noticed.

    Now the deniers just need to explain how Uranus and possibly Venus are cooling due to an alleged increase in solar luminosity (which has not been detected by the satelites equipped to measure it). The fact is that temperatures of planets can rise and fall for many reasons, most of them local, so the “Mars is warming too; it must be the sun!” line doesn’t hold up.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Nov 2008 @ 8:12 AM

  407. Re #406–actually, further to it–one of the delicious ironies is that the (partial) surface warming of Jupiter Barton describes was predicted ca. 2 years in advance by, you guessed it, a computer model of Jovian atmospheric circulation.

    (Captcha directs us (ungrammatically) to another portion of the solar system: “you Mercurys.”)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 24 Nov 2008 @ 8:57 AM

  408. Mark,
    > Either they have to give up that or me.

    > If you’re going to tell me off when I’ve “done wrong”,
    > then laud when I’ve “done right”.

    Life is not fair and much gets ignored. The Contributors are the ones who can tell all of us readers if we ask a good question or answer something in an unusual way or with a good new cite. Hope for that.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Nov 2008 @ 11:27 AM

  409. Thanks for the tips, I did check the GISS and that was why I was so surprised by his latest of 3 articles that try to misinform about the global warming. I translated the part I asked about:

    “For this reason it happens that researchers masks facts and manipulate data. The latest was the new false alarm from GISS, the month of October was the warmest ever. It proved to be mixed up data between months.

    Serious researchers had checked an extra time, when they got strange results. Instead they chose, in the doomsday prophet James Hansen’s spirit, to worry the public by pressing the emergency button directly. Since people did not recognize the reality also this attempt was revealed. October was one of the coldest of 115 years!”

    Comment by Magnus Westerstrand — 24 Nov 2008 @ 1:33 PM

  410. #406 Barton, Yes explaining things this way is extremely devastating for those who take at least this contrarian stance. All the while its very much easier to use AU numbers instead of Kilometers. Makes it easier not to make mistakes.
    With AU’s instead of Internet sources, I come up with your same factor
    but from a different way, The square root of the ratio of AU distances Jupiter/Earth, SQRT of 5.2 gives a factor of 2.28 gives the same result.
    Mars looks intriguing because its lower albedo compensates for its greater distance somewhat, making a theoretical “solar” temperature boost on Mars of 1 K about the same on Earth. But there is a bit of simplicity arrogance in using simple counter arguments, all the planets have their own climate systems, which in essence mean that blanket generalities are a bit dangerous to make in the first place. But when a contrarian will use another planet to prove that we don’t know what is happening on Earth, he may as well be very capable as Kevin’s model in 407.

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 25 Nov 2008 @ 12:43 AM

  411. Re: #410, Just to clarify, I don’t think the original work, by Dr. Philip Marcus of UC-Berkeley, had any particular agenda. (And his original model-based conjecture went a bit further back than I indicated, to 2004.) Here’s an exerpt from Science Daily:


    “According to Philip S. Marcus, a professor of fluid dynamics at UC Berkeley, analysis of the Hubble and Keck images may support his 2004 conjecture that Jupiter is in the midst of global climate change that will alter temperatures by as much as 10 degrees Celsius, getting warmer near the equator and cooler near the south pole. He predicted that large changes would start in the southern hemisphere around 2006, causing the jet streams to become unstable and spawn new vortices.

    “”The appearance of the planet’s cloud system from just north of the equator down to 34 degrees south latitude keeps surprising us with changes and, in particular, with new cloud features that haven’t been previously observed,” Marcus said. “Whether or not Jupiter’s climate has changed due to a predicted warming, the cloud activity over the last two and a half years shows dramatically that something unusual has happened.”

    “”A major goal in taking the Hubble images is to look for changes in the zonal wind profile since the Cassini encounter in 2000,” added team member Xylar Asay-Davis. “If we do find major changes, these could provide important supporting evidence for climate change on Jupiter.””

    The equatorial surface warming is clearly stated to be a result of changes in atmospheric circulation–a fact ignored by Monckton et. al. in attempting to impute it to solar forcing–and is thus in line with Ray’s point about the the Jovian energy budget’s relatively small solar component.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Nov 2008 @ 10:03 AM

  412. More on Marcus:

    He also believes this change to be cyclical with a period of around 70 years. Here is a link to the abstract of the 2004 paper in Nature:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Nov 2008 @ 10:32 AM

  413. Kevin, If so, Monckton’s logic is critically flawed, a 10 K solar forcing increase on Jupiter is equal to a 22 K solar forcing on Earth. This simple ratio calculation renders such statements as ignorance floated as reality. Most news reports about this are worse than that. They state a warming on other planets, devoid of details, repeating errors without any retractions continuously, as if repetition is magical, perhaps it is, many people are sure Global Warming is Solar cycle forcing, the incantations of false druids weigh deeply in many contrarian minds.

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 25 Nov 2008 @ 11:04 AM

  414. #413:

    Yes, Wayne–As an example, in searching the original paper I found a denialist report on the matter. (

    The headline is “No kidding! Climate Change Spreads to Jupiter, Mars,” and begins with the obligatory reference to Al Gore; the apparent conclusion is as you describe it: Terrestrial warming *must* be due to this apparent solar forcing.

    Yet the quotes from the UC press release are accurate, and include the statement, quoted in my post above, which specifies that the Jovian equatorial warming is accompanied by polar *cooling.* It’s hard for me to imagine that this incompatibility was not understood–but then again, if the misrepresentation was intentional, it would have been both easy and desirable (from the propagandist’s point of view) to edit the quotes more tightly. Then again, the account doesn’t include the fact that the basis of Marcus’s 2004 paper was a computer model of fluid dynamics.

    Lack of understanding? Deliberate misapplication of research in order to mislead? I can’t tell for sure. What is very clear is that the factual basis for the idea that Jovian climate reflects solar forcing is worse than non-existent: Marcus’s research claims to account for the changes (with some credibility, in that his predictions appear to accord well with observations so far) *entirely with respect to the fluid dynamics of the Jovian atmosphere.* No solar forcing required!

    So his paper, cited to support the “contrarian” argument, actually undermines it. And it doesn’t take any great sophistication to figure this out; you just have to pay attention to what Prof. Marcus actually said.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Nov 2008 @ 12:11 PM

  415. Perhaps this helps clears up the “one of the coldest in 115 years” (or 114, or whatever)mystery:

    “October wasn’t the warmest October ever, it was only the 70th warmest in the past 114 years – in the bottom half of all Octobers, not at the top of the list.”
    – Lorne Gunter, National Post (Canada), Nov. 17, 2008

    There is a correction at the bottom:
    “Please Note: While this column states that this past October was the 70th warmest on record, it was only 70th warmest in the United States. Globally, October 2008 very likely ranks among the top 10.”

    GISS has it at fifth warmest, while NCDC has it in second place.

    Lots of other howlers in there too …

    Comment by Dave Clarke — 25 Nov 2008 @ 3:04 PM

  416. There seams to be no end to it, today we got to know that the ”one of the coldest October of the last 115” came from.

    Apparently a article in the Telegraph 20/11 2008 however I haven’t found it yet. The Swedish article say that it comes from among others US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration…. where I can find no support for the claim… any one?

    Comment by Magnus Westerstrand — 26 Nov 2008 @ 3:14 AM

  417. Ray (391), the mathematics of forcing from concentration ratios is less than rigorous. For CO2 it is currently stated as (5.35)ln of concentration ratio. The 5.35 factor has been changed from time to time to better fit observations. The log relation is widely assumed to not apply through the whole range of concentration ratios. I say assumed because it is a deduction, not a physics certainty. Other gases have different mathematics and factors based on best guessed observations. Etc. So the mathematics are really a good scientific assumption based on current actual concentrations and observations, not a clearly verifiable physics certainty especially as it might be projected to much higher (or lower for that matter) concentrations.

    I don’t claim it is not valid; I’m not knowledgeable enough to do that. What I do say is simply that the mathematics is far from an unassailable certainty as you implied in 377, and therefore is reasonably questionable. (Though I do not question that forcing continues to some degree as the concentrations increase, at least to something much higher than 280.)

    Comment by Rod B — 26 Nov 2008 @ 9:12 AM

  418. Ok, here…

    Comment by Magnus Westerstrand — 26 Nov 2008 @ 9:59 AM

  419. Rod, actually there are good reasons to assume a logarithmic dependence–in part because a lot of the contribution as we move higher is in the wings of the absorption band. There is also the fact that we are forcing the effective emission altitude up to higher (and colder) levels–that, too, ought to look roughly logarithmic. I agree that it is an empirical fit, but it is physically motivated. It is also quite good, and if it were to change dramatically around 280 ppmv, there would have to be some mechanism. Something would have to underlie the change. We have zero evidence of this. Indeed, we have evidence to the contrary. The mechanism still appears to be going strong.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Nov 2008 @ 10:28 AM

  420. Re: 415, 416, 418 etc.

    In the opinion piece in the Telegraph, referred to above in 266 and 418, Christopher Booker wrote:
    “In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration … ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.” This appears to be correct, although of course the figures are preliminary and could be revised later.

    Most likely, confusion between global and (presumably continental) U.S. temperature has resulted in propagation of the error. This is not the first time we have seen this confusion.

    The same thing happened last year with the slight adjustments to U.S. temperatures last year resulting in 1934 slightly ahead of 1998, although still in a statistical tie.

    Robert Sopuck of the Canadian Frontier Centre for Public Policy wrote:

    “We are all familiar with the notion of climate change, and we have been told repeatedly that the science is settled… The earlier NASA calculations concluded that 1998 was the hottest year on record, but McIntyre’s corrected calculations show that 1934 was the hottest. It must be noted that NASA accepted McIntyre’s numbers and issued a correction, although with no fanfare.”

    Interestingly, Sopuck was later appointed by the Stephen Harper-led Conservative government to a blue-ribbon advisory panel, the National Roundtable on Energy and Environment (NRTEE).

    Comment by Deep Climate — 26 Nov 2008 @ 11:51 AM

  421. Ray, “good reasons”, “physically based”, “good fit”, “appears to be”, I have no problem with. It is just not “golden”, without question or (some) doubt and uncertainty, and no rationale to discard opposing thoughts out of hand. I agree there is no reason to suspect an abrupt change around 280ppm. But as one gets to 1000ppm (or somewhere) who knows for sure? There is reasonable expectations that the mathematical relationship might change, if not the log function itself at least the power factor of the concentration ratio.

    Comment by Rod B — 26 Nov 2008 @ 12:07 PM

  422. re 421. There’s plenty of reason to dismiss STUPID alternatives out of hand.

    Someone comes up with a GOOD one and it will be considered.

    I mean, just because we don’t know *golden* reasons why people catch aids doesn’t mean we should take on board the idea that this is a curse from beelzebub on the persistently black. Why? ‘cos that’s a stupid reason.

    Comment by Mark — 26 Nov 2008 @ 1:05 PM

  423. Rod, we’re a whole helluva long way from 1000 ppmv, and we’re a helluva long way from having to think long and hard about big changes. Paleoclimate indicates that 3 C per doubling will likely get us through a couple of doublings, and that would be sufficient to cook our collective goose. Remember, at some point, feedbacks increase ghg release from natural sources, and then we’re just along for the ride, however short it might be.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Nov 2008 @ 1:25 PM

  424. Rod B — The various approximations for the CO2 effect are in IPCC AR4. The one you cite is the simplest; I seen an implicit claim that it is good through 1500+ ppm.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 26 Nov 2008 @ 3:38 PM

  425. Ray, all of that (423) may also be true; doesn’t change my basic assertion. David (424), I do not disagree that some are 100% confident in their differential mathematical projections; doesn’t mean prima facie that they are accurate. Mark, some person’s good science is another’s stupid alternatives. Because we don’t know golden causes of AIDS says we don’t know the golden causes of AIDS. Your non sequitur is, well, a non sequitur.

    Comment by Rod B — 26 Nov 2008 @ 4:52 PM

  426. Rod B writes:

    But as one gets to 1000ppm (or somewhere) who knows for sure? There is reasonable expectations that the mathematical relationship might change, if not the log function itself at least the power factor of the concentration ratio.

    In fact it does change. The Myhre et al. equation only holds over the range 1-1,440 ppm, as I recall. Outside that you need either a radiative-convective model of the atmosphere you’re interested in, or some kind of gray approximation.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 26 Nov 2008 @ 5:33 PM

  427. This would be a good candidate, if Gavin can do a thread on uncertainties and keep it focused.
    One fairly recent paper:

    Atmos. Chem. Phys., 7, 81–95, 2007

    Reevaluation of Mineral aerosol radiative forcings suggests a better agreement with satellite and AERONET data

    Hmmm, I see one of the authors has since moved to “CDC IXIS CAPITAL MARKETS, Paris, France” — how’re they looking?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Nov 2008 @ 8:56 PM

  428. Rod, Of course it doesn’t change your assertion–you assertion is utterly baseless. There is not even a suggestion of significant departure from current forcing almost 3 doublings! One cannot reason a man out of an opinion which he did not arrive at by reason. The thing is, there’s no cost for you to hold onto doubt whether it is rational or not. On the other hand, for a scientist, the cost is inability to understand the world around him. At some point you take the best model you can come up with and see how far it takes you. You can modify the model when it fails. We’re still a long way from that.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Nov 2008 @ 10:29 PM

  429. Re #421:Rod B,
    in Ray Pierrehumberts’ climate book
    in section 4.5 you can find calculations also for higher that 1000ppm CO2.

    Comment by Uli — 27 Nov 2008 @ 3:04 AM

  430. Rod 245. No, you’re wrong:

    “Mark, some person’s good science is another’s stupid alternatives.”

    Who was talking about good science? We’re talking about crackpot theories cooked up out of ignorance and need. You would be answering my comment if you tried

    “Mark, some person’s stupid alternative is another’s good science”.

    However, this fits more exactly with you and even better with the denialists and the willfully ignorant (the “It’s the SUUUUNNNNN!” brigade). They think the AGW models are stupid alternatives, not good science.

    However, no matter how you try to slice it, the theories of “It’s the SUUUUNNN!” and “It’s all due to GCR” are not good science, even if you believe in them. They aren’t science in exactly the same way as creationism isn’t science, even though many scientists believe it to be true.

    So there’s no way I could be seeing someone else’s good science as a stupid alternative because their “science” is not science.

    Your trick of not answering a point made but rewording it and answering that changed question as if it was the one asked is a common trick to lie to the public. Con men and politicians do it a lot. You just happen to be very bad at it (a politician or con man wouldn’t try it amongst people intelligent enough to spot it).

    If you’re going to give a comment on something I said, make the comment FIT what I said.

    Comment by Mark — 27 Nov 2008 @ 4:24 AM

  431. PS RodB Look up “Non sequitor”.

    If I’d gone “And thursday is meat loaf night” THAT would be a non-sequitor. There ARE people who think that AIDS is a curse. And they won’t listen to anyone who proves it different. This is congruent with the “it’s the SUUUNNN!” brigade and therefore is not a non-sequitor.

    That’s another technique used to hijack an argument: make a latin statement that means “ignore them, their argument is silly” but in a way where it doesn’t work. E.g. Ad Hominem attacks. Use it to tell everyone not to listen to the other person calling you stupid “because it’s just an ad hom” when this isn’t an ad hom when you are saying “Trust me, I know what I’m talking about” and someone points out where you’ve been really, stupendously incorrect in the past and saying that someone as dumb as that can’t be trusted to know without giving proof first. That’s not an ad-hominem because the entire reasoning is how you are knowledgeable.

    Comment by Mark — 27 Nov 2008 @ 4:31 AM

  432. Mark, a quicky response: my assertion that the mathematical relationship of forcing as a function of concentration might be different (non-linear) over different concentration ratios has no connection or relation what-so-ever with someone thinking AIDS “is a curse from beelzebub on the persistently black”. That makes it a non sequitor. Look it up.

    Comment by Rod B — 27 Nov 2008 @ 9:54 AM

  433. A reflection –

    The USG has committed more than a trillion dollars in the last month or so (depending on how you count it) to address an economic crisis where –

    – A primary focus is to address a psychological issue of trust in the minds of those who run large commercial lending institutions. No physics here, and precious few models to use.
    – much of the data used to track the macroeconomic environment is months old, is frequently revised, and in some cases, is constructed to make things look better than they are ( current unemployment figures, for instance vs. employment/population ratio).

    In comparison, the mountain vs molehill argument on temperature data quality and methods above seems more like – what molehill?

    Get real – if perfect data is required to make a decision, then how you get out of bed in the AM?

    I sympathize with the RealClimate folks. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Vince — 27 Nov 2008 @ 10:38 AM

  434. I don’t quite understand those who have fun disparaging mistakes which are corrected swiftly,
    especially those making a name to themselves because they think AGW is a hoax spawned by a few cash starved climatologists. Or an esteemed book writer who thought that Environmentalists are Terrorists! The very essence of a true environmentalist is respect for the environment and all those who dwell within, especially humans. For those who fancy climate science as a collective fantasy, go outside a little, or look:

    November will be quite warm…. Equally warm for the whole atmosphere again in the High Arctic, even after a significant LaNina… Imagine then a long night sky, with 5.2 mag stars in sight,
    -16 C temperature end of November, on the ground 75N Latitude, in the middle of the archipelago…

    To the McIntyre’s of this world, well done! you found a mistake… But do you have a clue about how warm this atmosphere is???? Any idea??? Its so much warmer in the Arctic, that the 50-71 normals in some locations have increase to nearly 1 degree for the period of 71-2000. Not even including the recent warming. Talk with perspective, change your contrarian smugness to
    climate knowledge, that would be refreshing.

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 27 Nov 2008 @ 11:02 AM

  435. Excellent post Vince (433), but it’s more like 8 trillion.

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 27 Nov 2008 @ 1:31 PM

  436. Ray, I’m simply asserting that there is a reasonable question or uncertainty with the marginal projections of the forcing-concentration mathematical relationship. The operative words are question and marginal, and there are of course degrees of questionability and marginality. On one hand you imply it is unassailable – “There is not even a suggestion of significant departure from current forcing almost 3 doublings.” But then two sentences later you say, “…you take the best model you can come up with and see how far it takes you…” which is contradictory. I agree the latter is a valid way to proceed, but to rely without a hint of a question about the forcing function on a model which uses the very same function as the input leaves a little to be desired in terms of perfection. Though I understand science has to proceed with the best it has.

    I think there is a scientific basis for this specific area of questioning. There is less than a solid understanding on the degree that the band spreading is effected. There is less than complete understanding on even the detailed process of molecular absorption and energy transfer. If nothing else, the latter is in part a quantum mechanical process which is inherently a bit uncertain, at least theoretically. There is a great dependency on the somewhat illusive factor (5.35); for instance the oft rationalization that it is less than linear is entirely dependent on the factor applied to a linear relationship, the “a” in F = a(C/C_o); if “a” is 1.4 or more the log forcing is greater than linear forcing up to three doublings.

    At minimum it is not just junk science based on personal need (??) that Mark contends – though Mark seems obsessed mostly with convincing me and others that I am not a skeptic! Or at least a good one. ;-) To repeat, I am not refuting the scientific function; nor do I disagree that one needs to go with what one knows. I am disagreeing that it then follows that we should eliminate all doubt and uncertainty and never have any need to question it ever again (and maybe beat hell out of anyone that does…)

    Comment by Rod B — 27 Nov 2008 @ 1:41 PM

  437. Nope, RodB, that isn’t what Ray says.

    He’s saying that a WAG isn’t countering ANY of the uncertainties. And that’s a lot of what’s coming out at the moment. Wild. Assed. Guessing.

    Comment by Mark — 27 Nov 2008 @ 2:27 PM

  438. re 432: So what do you think the number is and how do think you get it?




    Comment by Mark — 27 Nov 2008 @ 2:29 PM

  439. Re: #436 (RodB)

    Ray, I’m simply asserting that there is a reasonable question or uncertainty with the marginal projections of the forcing-concentration mathematical relationship. The operative words are question and marginal,

    I think actually the operative word is “reasonable.” What is the reason you suspect the forcing-concentration relationship changes above 280ppm (or 380ppm, or whatever)?

    Comment by tamino — 27 Nov 2008 @ 3:41 PM

  440. Ps to 436: I think it should read 1.4 or less, not “more”

    No, tamino, “reasonable” modifies “question” and “marginal”, and I’m saying the function might be different. One basis is the empirical nature of the power of the concentration ratio factor. The precise number has little basis in inherent physics, other than observation at the current level (+ or -); there is a reasonable conjecture that it could be something less than 5.35 (I’m out of pocket at the moment and going on my memory of 5.35…). In fact the basic theory of absorption could easily suggest a factor of 1.00, though that of course is a conjecture. The other aspects of molecular absorption and energy transfer that I mentioned above also offer a reasonable level of uncertainty (questioning), though this is not a proof of refutation.

    Mark, I have minimal clues as to what the precise function should be/is at any particular concentration ratio. 5.35 might still prove to be right on. At the worst that makes it a SWAG, and in no way a WAG — but whatever turns you on…

    Comment by Rod B — 27 Nov 2008 @ 6:40 PM

  441. Rod, Merely saying “Well, it could be wrong,” is not science. You then have to go on and ask, “OK, how could it be improved.” If you don’t have an answer, then what you are doing is not science but rather rationalizing your decision to reject the science. A physically motivated, empirically tested equation, that is supported by reams of evidence is about as good as it gets most of the time in science. Lev Landau was famous for this type of approach–let the physics tell you the form of the equation, while data tells you the constants.
    What is more, such approximations usually do not fail catastrophically without giving some indication well in advance. Don’t like the equation? Fine. Find something better. Otherwise step aside and let the scientists do science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Nov 2008 @ 10:53 PM

  442. Re 438: The number isn’t mine it’s Bloomberg’s. It includes ~ $5.5 trillion worth of guarantees and other finance backing initiatives by the Federal Reserve. Google “U.S. Pledges Top $7.7 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit” and “Fed Risks ‘Spitting in the Wind’ With New Aid Pledges (Update3)”.

    I’d be glad if it was BS, but this is not the place to discuss it.

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 27 Nov 2008 @ 11:20 PM

  443. re: 440. Seriously Wild Ass Guess?

    It seems to be all you think will work.

    Now, why do you think it is 1.4 or less? What form do you think the equation takes and why? Does it fit the data available? Stop waving your hands and get dirty with the details.

    Comment by Mark — 28 Nov 2008 @ 6:54 AM

  444. Rod, it seems to me that you are relying on vagueness to support your position. It seems to me that your criticism could mean one of three things–none of which are supported by any evidence:
    1)You could be arguing that the proportionality constant is simply too high. This is contra-indicated by the evidence. You won’t get a model that matches current and past data with such a constant.
    2)You could be arguing that the for some reason the proportionality constant changes somewhere between 280 and 380 ppmv. If so, there would have to be some mechanism for that change. The character of the absorption process would have to change in this range. There is zero evidence for this and indeed plenty of laboratory evidence against it.
    3)You could be arguing against logarithmic dependence itself. While this form is not “derived” from first principles as such, it is physically motivated by the processes whereby absorption by CO2 increases with concentration. Given these processes, it is hard to come up with anything other than a log dependence or something very similar. Certainly the log dependence is the simplest model, and there really isn’t a strong competitor.

    For the life of me, I can’t think of any other basis for your argument, and to call these bases “weak” is to be charitable.

    Please state your position clearly.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Nov 2008 @ 8:07 AM

  445. Ray, then you are saying nobody can question any science proposition until after they have completely assessed and answered their own question. By definition this means, in effect, no one can ever question any science even if based on a reasonable scientific uncertainty and conjecture. This virtually eliminates all modification of any scientific approach other than undirected random observations and pursuits. It also says that until someone can prove a negative (without even asking the question, BTW) they can not assert a positive. Nice job if you can get it.

    Comment by Rod B — 28 Nov 2008 @ 9:21 AM

  446. Ray Ladbury,

    Solar heat energy passes thorough the atmosphere into the oceans. Only the oceans have the capacity to absorb and hold excess radiation. A few factoids will demonstrate.

    Most of all of the energy in wavelengths above the near ultraviolet reaches the surface. It is true that the upper atmosphere absorbs the energy from the extremely short wavelength radiation, but it also is true that less than 10% of solar energy is in wavelengths shorter than 0.4 microns. Shorter wavelengths of visible light and infrared penetrate deep into the water.

    The mass of ocean water is far greater than the mass of air. Without looking up geological data, I feel safe in saying that the mass of water exceeds the mass of air by many orders of magnitude. The oceans are well mixed near their tops. Effective mixing extends downward over 100 meters. Most cooling of the oceans is through evaporation, not radiation, so a lot of heat accumulates below the surface. Solar radiation penetrates only to approximately 3 to 5 feet into solid ground wherefrom it radiates effectively after dark. That one meter of dirt weighs about 3 times as much as one meter of ocean water, but dirt has a heat capacity of approximately one-fourth the heat capacity of water. Add to that the fact that oceans cover over twice as much surface as continents, and you see that most solar heat sequestering must be in the oceans. Heating and cooling of the atmosphere must be mostly the result of release and absorption of heat by the oceans.


    Art D’Aleo performed the analysis of correlation between solar activity and temperature. He developed a simple algorithm that includes solar activity and the PDO and ENSO indices. You can read about it on his website.

    Researchers at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, provided the documentation of the onsets of glacier retreats and other indicators of climate warming versus carbon dioxide concentrations and fossil fuel use. You can find the paper on their web site.

    David B Benson,

    I tried to gain access to the web page that summarizes anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions for the past 300 or so years but the address took me to a page not found note. I was interested in seeing the data if you don’t mind reposting the address.

    Comment by snorbert zangox — 28 Nov 2008 @ 9:35 AM

  447. Rod, your position is not helped by distorting my own. What I am saying is the criticism has to be informed. You have to have some physics-based reason why the theory is wrong and of how to improve it. That’s how science works. How can one assess which model is better if you only have one model and someone with a vague suspicion that it might be wrong?
    What you are doing now is anti-science–refusing to be pinned down to any specific idea because you know you cannot defend a definite position on physical grounds. I do not see how you can reasonably defend a refusal to state your position and argument precisely.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Nov 2008 @ 9:41 AM

  448. “There must be a pony here somwhere” argumentation always increases on the holidays — recreational typists go looking for fun on the Intartubes, dumping their favorite stuff into science sites and insisting the scientists must be able to find something good if they only looked into it hard enough.

    Citation to OISM by “Snorbert” (formerly Norbert at marklynas and some old religion boards, I’d bet) sounds like the opening bell for another round of seasonal silliness.

    You can look this stuff up, it’d be pointless to retype the many refutations. Need help? Try the Search box at the top of the page, or Google Scholar.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Nov 2008 @ 11:26 AM

  449. Re: #446 (snorbert)

    The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine is the source of the fraudulent petition attempting to show that there’s no concensus among scientists about global warming. Not just mistaken; fraudulent — it’s been dealt with here many times. It appears that you don’t believe global warming, but when it comes to contradictory claims you have zero skepticism to apply.

    As for D’Aleo, I think you’re referring to Joe, not Art; I already read about it. His analysis is as bogus as it’s possible to be in one lifetime. I dealt with him here. If you have even a tiny bit of desire to know the truth, go read that post. Thoroughly. Then come back here and tell us all what you think.

    Comment by tamino — 28 Nov 2008 @ 12:33 PM

  450. That snorbert seriously cites the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine says all that we need to know.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 28 Nov 2008 @ 12:35 PM

  451. Snorbert, Oh, dear, where to begin. First, the oceans do not “hold” radiation. Second, while the oceans do have huge heat capacity, their temperature doesn’t change all that much. Third, the oceans readily exchange energy with the atmosphere. Fourth, once energy is absorbed into the system, it eventually has to find its way out. The only way that can happen is via longwave radiation–and that’s how greenhouse gasses affect temperature. Now how about you go read about the science and come back after if you have questions?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Nov 2008 @ 2:00 PM

  452. snorbert zangox (446) — Use

    and then click on ‘Graphics’.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 28 Nov 2008 @ 3:22 PM

  453. RodB #445. Well you’re asking the position of AGW to be completely assessed and answered before you state YOUR answer as to what else it is.

    Why is it not appropriate to ask the “new idea” to prove itself first to the same standard as you demand of AGW?

    Stop the hand-waving and give us what you believe in the same detail as you demand of AGW (or at the minimum the same level as AGW is currently known).

    PS I say you’re a denialist. I don’t have proof and only some vague reasons. I will not tell you what the reasons are until you PROVE 100% that you aren’t a denialist. If you don’t like this position, please see it as an analogue of what you’re doing to Ray et al.

    Comment by Mark — 29 Nov 2008 @ 6:29 AM

  454. Mark, strictly math. Take F_1 = 5.35ln(C/C_0) and equate to F_2 = a(C/C0) to find the “a” that makes linear equal log forcing function for different level of Concentration ratios – eight for three doublings.

    Comment by Rod B — 29 Nov 2008 @ 10:08 AM

  455. Ray (444, et al), et al: You and Mark, no matter how you word it, are still saying, in effect, that no one can ever question any science unless they have a totally complete analysis complete with models, lab experiments and proof responses to any and all contrary objections. That just is not true or valid.

    To your #1, I agree the questioning must be learned; that’s what I called “reasonable”.

    If the 5.35 is unassailable and golden, why wasn’t the factor before it also unquestionably golden. Why did they continue to pursue it? Other than because their models didn’t come out right with their original factor(s) so with a bit of trial and error (admittedly based on reasonable scientific judgment) they played with it until the models seemed to work. Decent science but not unassailable. Furthermore the models match only up to around 400ppm – there is no way models can be compared to an actual projected 1000ppm for example.

    Other greenhouse gases are assumed by IPCC, et al to have linear, not log, relationships. What the hell is that about, given that the log function is written in stone?

    Absorption graphs show that very little of the CO2 band gets through the atmosphere. Skeptics ask then how can CO2 manage to absorb more than 100% of the radiation. The answer given is that the absorption band expands. While this does seem to be the case, it does run counter to intuitive science (“CO2 absorbs at 15 microns until that doesn’t work any more, then it absorbs at other frequencies”). There is a clear shortage of rigor and precision behind the band spreading. While this does not refute the theory, which I agree would require the solid evidence you’re suggesting, it does raise what I call reasonable scientific questioning. Since the theory is asking the world to upset the fruit basket (some sanguine prognostications aside) the stronger burden of proof lies with the asserters, not the questioners (again as long as the questioning is reasonable – neither a WAG nor a clear refutation.)

    Even so, given the potential for harm, I accept that the proof doesn’t necessarily have to be 100% unquestionable — this along the Rumsfeld line of “By the time you find the smoking gun, you’re dead.” But within reason it ought to come as close as feasible, and continued questioning is both appropriate and, in fact, desirable. The fact that “there really isn’t a strong competitor [so far…]”, as you state, is not sufficient to make it unassailable.

    Comment by Rod B — 29 Nov 2008 @ 11:52 AM

  456. Snorbert (446), a couple of corrections to keep all on the straight and narrow:

    Oceans, land and atmosphere all absorb (and emit) radiation.

    Most of the above near ultraviolet does not reach the surface.

    I’m not sure I understand your point of ocean vs. terra firma absorption and radiative cooling and the relative cooling from evaporation (which is only from water). There is a curious assessment in the “FAQ” thread that shows terra firma has a zero net effect from forcing though I haven’t absorbed all of that yet.

    Comment by Rod B — 29 Nov 2008 @ 1:06 PM

  457. Mark, why is it my onus to prove I am not a “denialist?” You’re the accuser here. Have a ball!

    None-the-less, I have complete belief the holocaust occurred.

    Comment by Rod B — 29 Nov 2008 @ 1:12 PM

  458. Mark, you’re using “reasonable” to mean “arguable.”

    A question can be “arguable” — lawyer word — almost forever.

    Tamino asked if you have any reasons — reasoning required — that to say you have a “reasonable” argument.

    Science journals will publish your paper if peer review finds it has any reasonable basis.

    It need not be right, it need not be convincing — it needs to be _interesting_ to other researchers in the field, possibly productive of further work.

    To be interesting, make a reasonable argument. That’s publishable.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2008 @ 1:18 PM

  459. Re #455
    “Other greenhouse gases are assumed by IPCC, et al to have linear, not log, relationships. What the hell is that about, given that the log function is written in stone?”

    They’re not assumed they’re measured, weak absorption lines absorb linearly the strongest square root and intermediate such as CO2 log.

    “Absorption graphs show that very little of the CO2 band gets through the atmosphere.

    Care to substantiate this?

    “Skeptics ask then how can CO2 manage to absorb more than 100% of the radiation. The answer given is that the absorption band expands. While this does seem to be the case, it does run counter to intuitive science (“CO2 absorbs at 15 microns until that doesn’t work any more, then it absorbs at other frequencies”). There is a clear shortage of rigor and precision behind the band spreading “

    There’s no lack of rigor, it’s a combination of Doppler broadening and pressure broadening, I suggest you read up some spectroscopy since your knowledge on the subject is sadly lacking!

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 29 Nov 2008 @ 3:15 PM

  460. RodB #456 “Mark, why is it my onus to prove I am not a “denialist?” You’re the accuser here. Have a ball!”

    And you are the accuser who says that the logarithmic response is lower. Yet you refuse to say why it is and demand that your idea doesn’t have to be proven.

    In the same way, although you say you are not, I say you are. I refuse to say wy that is and I demand that you accept it doesn’t have to be proven either: you must prove your non-denial credentials.

    But I see how this goes. Anyone who doesn’t believe you aren’t a denialist even if it is based on a reasonable scientific uncertainty and approach. This virtually eliminates all avenues of query about your approach other than undirected random observations and persuits. It also says that until someone can prove a negative (without even asking the question “Are you a denialist”, BTW) they cannot assert a positive “you are a denialist”. Nice job if you can get it

    Comment by Mark — 29 Nov 2008 @ 4:12 PM

  461. Hank, ‘458. I can only think you meant RodB, not Mark.

    Comment by Mark — 29 Nov 2008 @ 4:19 PM

  462. Additional to #459: The optical depth of a thicker CO2 atmosphere at 15 microns is higher in altitude. Because of the adiabatic lapse rate (or moist version as per personal taste), this higher level at which one optical depth at 15 microns happens means that the external (released) radiation is done at a lower temperature. As the radiation released follows stephan’s law, the flux varies to the fourth power. Ergo, the 15 micron radiation band radiates at a lower flux (fourth power) when more CO2 is added even though the entire atmosphere is completely saturated.

    Add to the fact that there is no sharp cutoff in rovibrational states so the wings of the absorbption band get wider as you increase concentration and you have plenty of reason why more than 100% absorbtion can be seen in effect.

    If you do not trust climate scientists with this “because they would say that, wouldn’t they” talk to any stellar physicist.

    Hell talk to the amateurs who watch the sun and work out what it’s doing. The reason why you have limb darkening is because the height at which you see 100% absorbtion is higher in the stellar atmosphere when you take a slant line through the stellar atmosphere to see the sun’s body at the limb than it does at the centre. The reason why sunspots are dark is because they are optically thicker and so the absorbtion of visible light happens higher up in the atmosphere than for the rest of the sun. Not because they are cooler. If that were the reason then the temperature difference would cause two effects:

    1) the sunspot would warm up as energy flow equalised the temperature gradient
    2) the faculae would change around a spot and you would not see much brighter areas around the spot (which leads to the strange result that overall, the sun is brighter with these dark “colder” sunspots prevalent than without any of them).

    And stellar evolution science doesn’t require climate change funding to continue. It was also a very old subject and well understood long before AGW “became fashionable”. So anything they tell you should be safe.

    Comment by Mark — 29 Nov 2008 @ 4:31 PM

  463. Yep, 458 was to Rod, mistakenly addressed to Mark.

    I think Rod’s improving on the explanation of why this is hard to underrstand, but this subject did take us through the long two threads on how radiation physics works earlier, delving into how band splitting happens, modes of vibration, and all that.

    I thought it had been made clear enough in the two prior threads; those might be worth revisiting rather than repeating. It’s, as Dr. Weart warns us in his website, by far the hardest area to understand.

    Aside — thanks to whoever’s doing the work of checking the comments, editing when necessary, and releasing them, giving us some of your days off to keep the threads going.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2008 @ 5:31 PM

  464. Mark, is this your own logic about sunspot thickness, or are you relying on something published?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2008 @ 5:40 PM

  465. A resource of gas forcing approximations:

    Comment by David B. Benson — 29 Nov 2008 @ 5:43 PM

  466. Rod, It is clear that there is some profit in this for you in thinking this through more systematically. Let’s look at it as a physicist would:
    We want to know how the forcing changes as we change the concentration of CO2. We know the forcing has to increase with increasing concentration. At the same time, we know that it has to increase more slowly than linearly with CO2, since we know that CO2 absorbs IR photons, and so each new CO2 molecule is just a tiny bit less likely to absorb a photon in a given time period. One possibility would be a power law with exponent less than 1. However, that has the wrong behavior as we extrapolate to smaller concentrations. It is also not really consistent with what we would expect from the processes that increase the forcing with increasing CO2–e.g. line broadening, etc. The best choice is a logarithmic dependence. Physics pretty much dictates that, and the best data available determine the coefficient.
    Now it is possible better data will come along, and the coefficient might change, but it’s not going to go from 5.35 to 2, and it sure as hell ain’t gonna go to zero. It will change by a few percent at most. Otherwise we couldn’t explain the previous data. If that’s the most serious doubt you have, then it’s time to come over to the dark side.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Nov 2008 @ 6:11 PM

  467. Rod, if you cannot work through the math how can you make such assumptions? The log is just fine, in physics, chemistry and the knowledge we have empirically regarding CO2 and the holding in of LW IFR.

    Comment by jcbmack — 29 Nov 2008 @ 8:05 PM

  468. Once again Ray is right on the money and Mark has given some excellent data and explanation.

    Comment by jcbmack — 29 Nov 2008 @ 8:08 PM

  469. Hank 464 I’m relying on what Prof Willmore told me in my Stellar Physics course at Birmingham University (UK).

    I know that sounds a little strange…

    Comment by Mark — 30 Nov 2008 @ 5:56 AM

  470. Rod B writes:

    Absorption graphs show that very little of the CO2 band gets through the atmosphere. Skeptics ask then how can CO2 manage to absorb more than 100% of the radiation. The answer given is that the absorption band expands. While this does seem to be the case, it does run counter to intuitive science (“CO2 absorbs at 15 microns until that doesn’t work any more, then it absorbs at other frequencies”). There is a clear shortage of rigor and precision behind the band spreading. While this does not refute the theory, which I agree would require the solid evidence you’re suggesting, it does raise what I call reasonable scientific questioning.

    The saturation argument has been known to be wrong since the 1940s. The effect of CO2 on warming is incredibly well determined. The uncertainty lies in the feedbacks, not the spectral qualities of CO2.

    Check here (remove the hyphen before cut and pasting into your browser’s address window):

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 30 Nov 2008 @ 6:01 AM

  471. Rod B #455:

    Other greenhouse gases are assumed by IPCC, et al to have linear, not log, relationships. What the hell is that about, given that the log function is written in stone?

    For low concentrations it is linear (i.e., no, it is not written in stone; stop making things up).

    Skeptics ask then how can CO2 manage to absorb more than 100% of the radiation.
    The answer given is that the absorption band expands. While this does seem to be the case, it does run counter to intuitive science (“CO2 absorbs at 15 microns until that doesn’t work any more, then it absorbs at other frequencies”). There is a clear shortage of rigor and precision behind the band spreading.

    The shortage of rigor in only in the talking-about, not the actual understanding. Get mathematically literate and the problem will disappear.

    Or play with the model to figure it out for yourself. It works.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 30 Nov 2008 @ 6:23 AM

  472. Hank, reasonable versus arguable has a minor difference bordering on insignificant, though “arguable” has a bit lower bar, I suppose. But even in the lawyer’s realm a point has to have probative value to get into the court proceedings. Your threshold of being publishable is not materially different from Ray’s scientific analysis; I don’t believe that threshold is required to raise valid scientific questions.

    Phil, look at any of the ubiquitous spectrographs of the radiation leaving the atmosphere. You’ll find a small percentage of the 15 micron that the earth surface emits making it into space.

    Mark, whether log forcing is more or less that linear forcing, for doubling say, is completely dependent on the mathematical constants. The arithmetic is not excessively tough. Secondly, as I said, if you want to label me a “denialist”, have a ball!

    There seems to be some good meat in David’s link (465), Ray’s 466 and Mark’s 462 (Whoopee! ;-) ) supplemented by Hank and others. But I’m away from base, have to concentrate on a brood of kids and grandkids, and will have to dig into them in a few days.

    Comment by Rod B — 30 Nov 2008 @ 8:57 AM

  473. Mark, not sure what you were trying to say with your sunspot observation…Not because they are cooler. If that were the reason… from reading, they are actually in the centre cooler and at the rim hotter than the area outside…. several thousand degrees from recollection. Would there be energy flow if a strong enough magnetic field would prevent this? Got a really hard time placing you as someone who does or does not genuinely believe in global warming. Sort of like we drive here in Italy… in the middle over the white line leaving options open which lane to take, whilst blocking everyone behind and irritating.

    This recaptcha is vexing:
    missing Bernier

    Comment by Sekerob — 30 Nov 2008 @ 10:45 AM

  474. Mark, models of sunspots have changed a lot; did your teacher go into recent observational details suggesting behavior of flux tubes? If not, try following the references, even from a year or two ago, forward. New instruments, far better imagery, lots of new work every time I look.

    I regularly urge people to cite sources and check, echoing what my college teachers emphasized — facts taught are already obsolete; ask the reference librarian; tools and facts are new every time you look.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Nov 2008 @ 11:24 AM

  475. Rod, you’ve added a new word — “valid” — to “reasonable” and “arguable” — but it makes no difference in the deliverable.

    To make your question useful, you need some basis, some reason, to attract the attention of a scientist or mathematician who can help you make it an _answerable_ question.

    It’s really not that hard to do, as Tamino patiently points out.

    “How to ask questions the smart way” methods _work_. Any mere reader can make a question interesting. It takes that much effort though.

    Just saying “there HAS to be a pony!” isn’t.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Nov 2008 @ 12:33 PM

  476. Re #472
    Rod B Says:

    Phil, look at any of the ubiquitous spectrographs of the radiation leaving the atmosphere. You’ll find a small percentage of the 15 micron that the earth surface emits making it into space.

    I do, unlike you I know what I’m looking at! Broadening of the spectra is what you are missing, even if 90% of the CO2 band is adsorbed at one concentration doubling concentration brings more IR into play at the edges of the band. The bands aren’t continuous as you seem to think, they’re a close assembly of individual lines.

    Try here:

    Mark, whether log forcing is more or less that linear forcing, for doubling say, is completely dependent on the mathematical constants. The arithmetic is not excessively tough.

    Time to move up to calculus! d(ln(x))/dx=1/x, i.e. decreasing function of x. So you start at a low concentration where the response is linear and transition to a log as the gradient decreases!

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 30 Nov 2008 @ 1:49 PM

  477. Thanks Phil. Well put.

    Comment by Mark — 1 Dec 2008 @ 4:10 AM

  478. 474 Hank, you like links. Got any?

    Comment by Mark — 1 Dec 2008 @ 4:11 AM

  479. Skerob, please reread. The sunspot isn’t colder overall. The sunspot isn’t colder but denser so the optical depth of 1 is higher up the atmosphere. The hotter edges are breaking energies released by the magnetic flux.

    However, forget that, read the rest. Optical depth 1 rising through an atmosphere can reduce the outgoing flux in the same way as absorbtion getting higher (even if it is at precisely 100% at ground level before the increase). Therefore saying “how can you absorb more than 100%” is a ridiculous question and the one that is happening is “how does increasing concentration change outgoing flux beyond 100%” to which the answer is “by reducing the outgoing flux further”).

    Comment by Mark — 1 Dec 2008 @ 4:21 AM

  480. Tamino,

    You are correct. Art D’Aleo is a man with whom I used to play golf occasionally. I meant Joe D’Aleo.

    Hank Roberts, Tamino, Jim Eager,

    Arguments ad hominem are not persuasive. I am sorry that your strong belief system will not allow you to seriously consider the opinions of other qualified scientists.

    Ray Ladbury,

    The oceans hold energy in the same sense that the atmosphere does. The oceans would not hold the heat long (in the geologic sense) if the sun were to cease, but they can accumulate heat if the rate of insolation increases. They contribute thermal mass to the system and dampen the temperature swings that would occur if only the thin layer of soil and the thin layer of air were the only thermal mass available.

    I do not agree that the only way that heat leaves the ocean system is via long-wave radiation. I think that simple cooling pond calculations demonstrate convincingly that the major, nearly only, means of heat escape from bodies of water is via evaporation of water. That heat transfers to the atmosphere when the water condenses. In fact, warm waters impress vertical flows, thermals, which carry the evaporated water to higher elevations. The cooling by dilution with colder air causes condensation of the water vapor. The energy released by the condensation is available to radiate in all directions and warm the air around it or radiate the heat into outer space. In the case of thunderstorms, wherein the vapor reaches heights up to 10,000 meters, the radiation occurs above 90 percent of the atmosphere and half of it has a relatively clear path out of the earth system.

    Because the mass of the oceans are at least a billion times the mass of the atmosphere, the ocean temperature does not have to change much in order for the ocean to accumulate a lot of heat relative to the heat capacity of the atmosphere. 1997 and 1998 were an example, the oceans, by dumping heat warmed the climate significantly.

    David B. Benson,

    Thanks, the latest link works for me.

    Rod B

    I would agree that terra firma has a near zero effect. The involved depth, its relative lack of heat capacity, and its relatively quick release of excess heat by radiation limit its effectiveness in heat accumulation. I mean accumulation in the engineering sense that accumulation can be either positive or negative. As I said earlier, the oceans provide a damper in the system, which limits the rapidity of the system response to stimulation. Much like the shock absorbers on your car dampen the continued bouncing that would occur if you had only springs.

    I agree, and I said that most of the high-energy (short wavelength) solar radiation does not reach the surface. However, that radiation represents less than 10% of the solar radiation that reaches Earth.

    I do not deny that the oceans radiate heat. I merely maintain that the lion’s share of ocean cooling is by evaporation of water. I also recognize that the terra firma looses some heat by evaporation of water, but believe that to be minor.

    Phil. Felton.

    The carbon dioxide absorption band at 15 microns absorbs heat from an emitter that has a temperature of near zero degrees C. In addition, I think that the energy per photon at 15 microns is about one third of the energy of 10-micron photons. Could that contribute much to heat accumulation in the atmosphere?

    Comment by snorbert zangox — 1 Dec 2008 @ 4:55 PM

  481. snorbert writes:

    I think that simple cooling pond calculations demonstrate convincingly that the major, nearly only, means of heat escape from bodies of water is via evaporation of water.

    The ocean has an infrared emissivity of about 0.95. That means that at a temperature of 288 K, it radiates about 371 watts per square meter. Conduction and convection (“sensible heat”) amount to about 24 W/m^2, evaporation to 78 W/m^2 (these are all Earth averages). So radiation does outweigh convection.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 2 Dec 2008 @ 6:55 AM

  482. Let’s quantify the land/water difference. Assume, as a first approximation, that all the evaporation in the world takes place in the oceans. The global average (Kiehl and Trenberth 1997; can anyone point me to a more recent energy budget study?) is 78 W/m^2. Oceans cover 70.8% of the Earth, land 29.2%. Thus the evaporation rate over the oceans would be 110 W/m^2, and with convection/conduction it would be 134. 324 > 134, so the majority of ocean cooling is still through radiation and not convection.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 2 Dec 2008 @ 6:58 AM

  483. Mark —

    I’m pretty sure sunspots are, in fact, cooler, at least in the center. You’ve got a strong magnetic field, and the solar material is heavily ionized, so it would align along magnetic field lines, and molecular motion on average would decrease. That’s how magnetic refrigerators work.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 2 Dec 2008 @ 7:46 AM

  484. Snorbert, you seem to have a remarkable ability to look at half the problem. Barton has shown that radiation is dominant for cooling. Second, while it is true that the mass of the oceans dwarfs that of the atmosphere, most of the oceans–anything below ~100 meters–aren’t participating. Cooling ponds differ, because they are significantly warmer than normal temperatures.
    As to your thunderstorm argument–that is one of the reasons why CO2 is so important. It mixes well up into the stratosphere, and incremental increases in CO2 are quite effective at stopping radiation from below and forcing the effective radiating level higher in the atmosphere. Don’t just assume. Learn the physics.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Dec 2008 @ 9:42 AM

  485. > sunspots
    Sure, Mark, but you haven’t said _when_ you took that astronomy class, which is the point of asking for your source; if it was 2006, what you were taught will likely match what turns up; if you were in college in say 1966, not so.

    You know how to do the homework searches; a few glances:
    and an image search with the same will get you several pictures like this one:

    Looking for mention of thickness:
    Not much there, but again, you took the class, you know when you got your information, you know how to check whether it’s been added to. The people who read your statements deserve, in a science thread, the information so they can check for themselves now and later on.

    That’s the point about citing sources.

    Nothing personal. Robert Grumbine makes the same point on his blog.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2008 @ 11:28 AM

  486. Snorbert, it’s the style (“there must be a pony …”) and the citation to OISM pointed out. Don’t confuse these with your personal characteristics, which I trust will improve with time and research. Posting stuff here that needs help is a plea for help. QED.

    The Web frequently reprints this, originally I think from Skeptico:

    Ad hom: “you are an idiot, therefore your argument is faulty”Not ad hom: “your argument is faulty because x, y, z, and by the way you are an idiot”.

    The first is a true ad hominem attack because the conclusion does not follow logically from the premise. Somebody’s intelligence or lack thereof has nothing to do with the validity or truth of his argument.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2008 @ 11:40 AM

  487. Barton Paul Levenson,

    It has been a while since I performed radiant heat loss calculations and I was never an expert. I can reproduce your estimate of 371 W/m^2 by using the Stefan-Boltzmann constant (for which I have a value of 5.67E-08 W/m^2 K^4) an ocean temperature of 288 K and a black body receiver at 0 K.

    However, I think that we have to assume that the receiving body is the atmosphere, not outer space. If the atmosphere is 50 K cooler than the ocean surface, the radiant loss would be about 0.35 W/m^2, which is small relative to your estimated evaporative heat loss rates.

    Please comment.

    Ray Ladbury,

    I believe that in 446 I estimated that the top 100 meters of the oceans are well mixed. That does not mean that heat does not sequester in deeper water as the conveyors dive into the Polar oceans. However, for the sake of argument, let’s say you are correct. Thus, the mass of the oceans exceeds the mass of the atmosphere by a factor of merely 29 million.

    Comment by snorbert zangox — 2 Dec 2008 @ 12:06 PM

  488. Hank Roberts,

    I never thought that the ad hominem attack was against me (though your present comments approach). The ad hominem attacks were refusal to consider the content of the OISM paper because of its source … [edit]

    [Response: The OISM paper is rubbish regardless of it’s source – look it up. The refusal to consider it seriously is because of that, not some prior prejudice against Oregon, Institutes, Science or Medicine. – gavin]

    Comment by snorbert zangox — 2 Dec 2008 @ 12:15 PM

  489. Snorbert, Interesting thing about thermal mechanisms, they tend to work most rapidly at the beginning of the thermalization process. So, ‘splain me how you get 20 years of steady warming that even seem to get faster in the middle.
    And of course, if you can crack that nut, I’ll ask you how your mechanism explains stratospheric cooling. I’m realling looking forward to your answer to that one.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Dec 2008 @ 1:15 PM

  490. Ah, I think I get the problem.

    Yes the sunpsot centre is cooler. However, this doesn’t mean an awful lot when you’re talking about a gas.

    Limb darkening. The edge of the sun is cooler.

    Now, is that, the sun there is cooler or is it because the depth to which we can see higher (where the gas is cooler)?


    Is it that the gas that makes up the sun at the edge of what we see cooler?


    However, that still leaves us wandering off topic. The reason why this started was to demonstrate that even when you’re at 100% abdorbtion, adding more absorbing material can still make it retain more (just as if it were more than 100% absorbtion). The reason for this is the optical depth going higher in a gas that has a temperature gradient.

    If neither the earths atmosphere or the sun’s had a temperature gradient, sunspots would be brighter on the sun (they are cooler, just not enough to make them as dark as they seem), there would be no limb darkening on the sun (100% correct) and the retention of heat by the thickening earth atmosphere would not increase if you just added more (unphysical) straight-side-band absorbing material. NOTE: the broadening of the lines would still engender some increased energy retention, but for illustration, lets assume it is a band that has infinite gradient into the absorbtion area).

    Has that made things a little clearer?

    PS Hank, 1992. When were you?

    Comment by Mark — 2 Dec 2008 @ 1:46 PM

  491. Barton Paul Levenson,

    Oops. I have been thinking about my last post and have realized that I have made a serious error. (I warned you that I am no expert) I raised the temperature difference to the 4th power when calculating the net radiant heat flux; I should have calculated the difference between the 4th powers of the temperatures of the two black bodies (ocean and atmosphere).

    If the temperature of the atmosphere is 2 -3 K degrees cooler than the water temperature, the radiant heat loss approaches 10% of the total loss of 134 W/m^2 that you cited. Now we have to calculate the average, over the surface of the earth, of the differences between the 4th powers of the ocean and air temperatures. I don’t think that I can do that.

    I will point out that in the tropics the air can be warmer than the water and that near the poles the water can be significantly colder than the air. I still believe based on my practical experience, that radiant transfer is a small part of the total heat flux from ocean to air.

    Comment by snorbert zangox — 2 Dec 2008 @ 2:16 PM

  492. Mark — decades earlier for me. That’s why I’m so fond of reference librarians.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2008 @ 2:51 PM

  493. Re snorbert @487: “That does not mean that heat does not sequester in deeper water as the conveyors dive into the Polar oceans.”

    Except that they dive because they have already given up much of their heat through evaporation and have thus become more saline and denser, and because they have mixed with even colder arctic surface waters. That’s why it’s called thermohaline circulation.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 2 Dec 2008 @ 9:18 PM

  494. #492 well, did that clear what I meant up?


    Comment by Mark — 3 Dec 2008 @ 3:44 AM

  495. snorbert writes:

    However, I think that we have to assume that the receiving body is the atmosphere, not outer space. If the atmosphere is 50 K cooler than the ocean surface, the radiant loss would be about 0.35 W/m^2, which is small relative to your estimated evaporative heat loss rates.

    Please comment.

    We’re talking cooling, not net cooling. Net, the temperature of the ocean stays roughly even over time. You can’t single out net radiation unless you’re willing to talk about net heating/cooling in general.

    The oceans get (heating):

    168 W/m^2 from sunlight
    324 W/m^2 from atmospheric IR

    They lose (cooling):

    24 W/m^2 from conduction/convection
    78 W/m^2 from evaporation
    371 W/m^2 from radiation

    Thus radiation contributes most of the cooling.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 3 Dec 2008 @ 6:57 AM

  496. Jim Eager,

    Yes, but a 4% NaCl solution at 10 degrees C is denser than a 2% NaCl solution at 0 degrees C. Thus, a warm, concentrated solution can displace a colder but more dilute solution. Warmer surface water can force colder, less concentrated water up from the depths. The result would be heat sequestration.

    Comment by snorbert zangox — 3 Dec 2008 @ 9:23 AM

  497. Agreed, snorbert (496).

    Comment by Jim Eager — 3 Dec 2008 @ 10:17 AM

  498. Actual numbers for thermohaline circulation:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Dec 2008 @ 10:21 AM

  499. Snorbert, I’m still waiting to hear how your model explains simultaneous warming of the troposphere and cooling of the stratosphere. Why does it warm night-time temperatures more than daytime temperatures? Lots more questions where those came from.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Dec 2008 @ 11:21 AM

  500. Mark, I looked and did not anything recent about sunspots being “thicker” (nor about such thickness explaining cooler temperature). I did find the idea from the late 1970s-early 1980s. Searched briefly:

    Your teacher’s sources may have been superseded since then. Just saying, it’s good to cite statements for later readers so they can check for themselves (and to check what we believe is true before merely stating it without support — in science discussions).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Dec 2008 @ 1:24 PM

  501. >Why does it warm night-time temperatures more than daytime temperatures?

    Ray, I have stopped using this argument since I read this in the AR4:

    “The global average DTR has stopped decreasing. A
    decrease in DTR of approximately 0.1°C per decade was
    reported in the TAR for the period 1950 to 1993. Updated
    observations reveal that DTR [Diurnal Temperature Range]
    has not changed from 1979 to 2004 as both day- and night time temperature have risen
    at about the same rate. The trends are highly variable from
    one region to another. {3.2}”

    AR4 Technical Summary: TS.3.1.1 Global Average Temperatures

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 3 Dec 2008 @ 1:32 PM

  502. This is now becoming dated, but anyhow….

    Martin (471), “rigorous” was a poor term for my argument as some of the assumed mathematics are quite detailed. But, if one can get out of the doctrinaire belief syndrome, the fact that molecular absorption, emission and energy transfer is arguably one of the least understood physical process in climatology (I don’t mean at the basic level but at the detailed atomic level) does not mesh well with “precision”. I’m glad you see the obvious that (5.35)ln(C/C_o) is not set in stone as many others have effectively claimed.

    This is over-simplified, I admit, but you’re suggesting I use the output to prove the input function of the model.

    Hank (475), well, all a matter of degree, and I don’t disagree in any substance what you say here. But my point/suggestion/question is that there MIGHT be a pony in there (or might not), not IS; versus the dogmatic assertions that there is NO pony, NADA, ZERO, NEVER HAS BEEN, NEVER WILL BE, ABSOLUTLY IMPOSSIBLE, UNASSAILABLY PROVEN — all for the sacrosanct (5.35)ln(C/C_o). I can’t argue for IS for the reasons you and Ray cite.

    Phil, when did calculus first refute algebra?? What does the rate of forcing change with concentration have to do with anything? Depending on the constants, the forcing log function is larger (and so is its differential, BTW!) than a linear function up to a certain concentration. THEN the log function is less.

    Comment by Rod B — 3 Dec 2008 @ 1:56 PM

  503. 501: So if you admit that it has stopped, what caused it in the first place if not CO2? After all, an action that didn’t happen cannot stop. So you are saying it happened before.

    So what did it?

    Comment by Mark — 3 Dec 2008 @ 2:05 PM

  504. Hank, “thicker”? No, more dense. There were models and some evidence from satellite 3D stereographs showing the sunspot was higher than the surrounding gas. STEREO A/B may have something newer either showing it as a miscalculation or definitively true but I couldn’t find anything.

    And how would I know a link to something I don’t know exists? The only way I could follow your request is if I knew I was lying.

    So that’s a non-starter.

    Comment by Mark — 3 Dec 2008 @ 2:08 PM

  505. Snorbert how does the icy water near the pole get to 10C?

    Comment by Mark — 3 Dec 2008 @ 2:09 PM

  506. Sheesh Mark (503), why troll so hard to start a fight? To answer your question: “I dunno, you tell me.” I respect Ray’s comments however and I would like to know more about the topic. In general I like to stick to the statements made in the AR4. Besides 25 years is getting close to “climate”.

    BTW, “501” is the name of my pants. You can call me “arch”.

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 3 Dec 2008 @ 2:17 PM

  507. Rod asks: “What does the rate of forcing change with concentration have to do with anything?”

    Well, Rod, what we’re talking about is climate CHANGE, so it is precisely the change in forcing that we are interested in.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Dec 2008 @ 2:22 PM

  508. Arch, I stand corrected. I’d read this, but it slipped my mind. Thanks. Any interpretation why?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Dec 2008 @ 2:31 PM

  509. > how would I know a link to something
    > I don’t know exists?

    Teh Google Scholar. Useful for checking whether what we believe can be cited to a current scientific source

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Dec 2008 @ 3:00 PM

  510. Mark, I didn’t think that vibration relaxation (emission) was the same process that generates blackbody emission ala Stefan’s law, though there seems to be some confusion here, not the least in my mind. I don’t think vibration emission is the same as stellar blackbody emission; is there some combo radiation taking place on stellar surfaces?

    Ray, I don’t materially disagree with your 466 post (other than that pesky “log increases slower than linear”, which does depend on the constants and ratios…); it’s pretty much what I’ve been questioning. But, I’m not sure of your justification for “only a few percentage points change”; what is a few? two? 25? Why not 5.35 to 2.0? (at least at higher concentrations…)?

    Comment by Rod B — 3 Dec 2008 @ 4:00 PM

  511. Ray (707), “the change in forcing” is not the same thing as the rate of the change in forcing.. (moving from the ridiculous to the sublime) ;-)

    Comment by Rod B — 3 Dec 2008 @ 4:10 PM

  512. Rod, we know that logarithmic forcing works over a broad range of concentrations. As you move outside of that range, you would expect to see gradual changes. If we were to characterize it, we might expect things to follow logx(1+ax+bx^2…). (Really, this is just a sort of Taylor series expansion) The thing is for the log forcing to have worked at all, a and b have to be small.

    And the change in forcing is proportional to the rate of change. Also, as to blackbody emission–any mode that is thermally excited contributes to it. So, if the vibrational mode is excited, it’s part of the blackbody spectrum. Again, I strongly recommend the treatment in Landau and Lifshitz, Statistical Mechanics.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Dec 2008 @ 9:05 PM

  513. Ray, but vibration modes are not (classically) thermally excited. [It’s deja vu all over again ;-) ] On the other hand radiation is radiation: if its emission cooled the emitting surface ala blackbody, or if it did not cool the emitting material ala vibration relaxation, I don’t suppose the radiation field much cares… I’m thinking aloud here; make any sense?

    Comment by Rod B — 3 Dec 2008 @ 10:29 PM

  514. I have yet to see Ray make any serious error, people should listen to him.

    Comment by jcbmack — 3 Dec 2008 @ 10:38 PM

  515. Re #502
    “Phil, when did calculus first refute algebra??”

    When the algebra is being misused!

    “What does the rate of forcing change with concentration have to do with anything?”

    Actually it’s the topic of this thread!

    At very low concentration the forcing changes linearly wrt concentration i.e. constant slope, after a certain threshold the slope starts to decrease following a ln curve, i.e. the forcing is less than it would have been if the forcing had continued the linear response.

    “Depending on the constants, the forcing log function is larger (and so is its differential, BTW!) than a linear function up to a certain concentration. THEN the log function is less.”

    It can’t happen that way!

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 3 Dec 2008 @ 11:41 PM

  516. RodB: No, you aren’t making much sense.

    The kinetic energy of any molecule in an ideal gas is a spectrum of velocities (and velocity=enedgy). The IR band is of a similar value of absorbtion energy as the top end of the kinetic energy within that gas. Since the atmosphere at STP is VERY concentrated, the number of collisions per unit time is VERY high. So the chance of a collision that is of the right energy to excite the vibrational state is pretty high too.

    Classical mechanics.

    Comment by Mark — 4 Dec 2008 @ 3:50 AM

  517. Ray #512. I think you meant “we need x to be small”.

    A pendulum under simple harmonic oscillation has the potential energy of the raised weight linearly dependent on angle. It is true only for small enough angles because the expansion of a Sin (X) is approximately X when X is very small.

    A pendulum that rises higher no longer obeys the simple harmonic motion.

    Comment by Mark — 4 Dec 2008 @ 3:52 AM

  518. RodB 510: It is. Ask a stellar physicist. ANY absorbtion spectra is part of the emission spectra. It doesn’t care whether it’s because aliens put a plastic wrapper around the star or a vibrational state.

    Maybe your “problem” is that you think there is such a thing as a black body.

    There isn’t.

    The sun is a fraction of a % different from a blackbody radiation curve.

    But you can tell whether the star is a helium rich or helium poor star by taking the peak emission and relating it to sigma T^4 to get the temperature of the star and checking it against the specral type.

    If they were blackbodies they would tell you nothing since there would be no difference.

    Comment by Mark — 4 Dec 2008 @ 3:56 AM

  519. Arch #506: I’ll tell you what did: CO2 greenhouse gas forcing caused it. Now, if you don’t want to be told that or don’t believe it, why the clucking bell did you ask me to answer?

    YOU’RE the one who thinks it could be something else.

    So, what is it?

    Comment by Mark — 4 Dec 2008 @ 3:58 AM

  520. RodB 502. So if there only MIGHT be a pony in there, there is no pony. It’s a good working assumption. Or do you take your burgers to the local university to have its composition tested to check for pony meat because there MIGHT be a pony in it?

    Comment by Mark — 4 Dec 2008 @ 3:59 AM

  521. Rod, think about it. If you heat a gas, how are you going to keep the vibrational modes from being thermally excited? Try as you might, you cannot repeal equipartition. Start with a gas in thermal equilibrium. You have a Maxwell-Boltzmann distibution in energy–and that has to include ALL energies of the gas molecules. You are in equilibrium, so energy emitted via radiation has to be equal to energy absorbed via the same state transition. Now lets say we add some energy via radiation to a vibrational state of the gas. We’ve disturbed thermal equilibrium and equipartition. Yes, you’ll have more radiative decays, but you’ll also have more collisional relaxations until equipartition is again restored. What about if we heat the gas? Well, now we’ve changed the velocity distribution of molecules, so that more molecules have enough energy to excite the vibrational mode via collisions. The result: more radiative decays and more photons until again we have equipartition and equilibrium.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Dec 2008 @ 8:24 AM

  522. Mark, actually the point I was making is that a and b must be small, since deviations from log forcing are not evident over the range of observations we have. However, your point is well taken that if x becomes too large, this approximation will also fail.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Dec 2008 @ 8:36 AM

  523. Ray (508), I have no idea. I was hoping you knew something that I didn’t that would call that finding into question. I’m sorry if my original post sounded more hostile than intended.

    I agree with jcbmack (514). ;-)

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 4 Dec 2008 @ 9:07 AM

  524. Re 519: Mark, I didn’t see any indication in his posts that Arch *does* think that the forcing was not C02. As he wrote to you, “I like to stick to the statements made in the AR4.” And as we know, the AR4 did have some reasonably strong statements on CO2 attribution! And in fact, Arch’s post to Ray was pointing to an update found in AR4. Looking up some older posts, I find that Arch refers to AR4 quite a bit, and clearly knows it pretty well.

    I enjoy your posts, but I think here you are inferring an agenda that Arch doesn’t actually have.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Dec 2008 @ 9:10 AM

  525. Mark (519) I’m sorry if I confused you. My intended point was that there are lots of good arguments to use but that one is not very strong if you argue from the perspective of the AR4.

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 4 Dec 2008 @ 9:14 AM

  526. Thanks Kevin (524). I am not a scientist but I did take the time to read much of the report. Some of it I understand, some of it I can even recall.

    I don’t always word things as clearly as I think I have however.

    Most of the time I just lurk and learn here. I’ll go back now.

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 4 Dec 2008 @ 9:45 AM

  527. Oh! Woe! Phil, it is a strong doctrine indeed that says 2 + 2 can not equal four. Tell you what: 1) graph Y = (6)ln(X) and Y = X – 1 (the negative 1 to normalize the graphs, which start at X=1). 2) Open eyes. 3) see which Y is larger… up to some value of X. It still ain’t that hard. Are you maybe trying to refute something I didn’t say?? I’m evidently missing it.

    Mark, I’m totally missing your point. I didn’t and don’t disagree with what you say in #516. I understand vibration modes can be excited via molecular collision (decreasing the average kinetic energy and classic temperature of the gas) as can vibration modes relax via collision. But we’re talking about radiative excitation and relaxation. :-?

    Mark, you ought to know, but I think the spectral stellar lines relate to (mostly) electron energy levels (similar to vibration discrete energy levels) and are in addition to, not the same as, blackbody type radiation spectra. It would seem that the peak blackbody radiation would only by sheer coincidence indicate the elemental composition. Blackbody type radiation is dependent only on temperature and is completely independent of composition.

    Comment by Rod B — 4 Dec 2008 @ 11:31 AM

  528. Re #521

    Ray almost but not quite, or maybe you made it so brief that a key point was missed?

    Any state, say the first vibrationally excited state, will achieve equilibrium as you say, but that does not mean radiative excitation=radiative emission.

    dni/dt= (rad in) + (collisions in)- (rad out)-(collisions out)=0

    In the lower atmosphere collisions are taking place ~100,000 times/radiative lifetime for CO2 so to a first approximation we can neglect that sink term. That means that the temperature of the system will increase until the source terms balance the sink term. So if you increase absorbance by increasing CO2 the temperature goes up to achieve LTE. Higher in the atmosphere when collisions become less frequent the losses by emission become significant.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 4 Dec 2008 @ 11:46 AM

  529. Ray, I agree with your thoughts in #521, but maybe disagree with a couple of nuances. 1) I think the precise Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution is of the kinetic (translation) energies only and does not include electronic, rotation, vibration, etc. internal energies. 2) equipartition and excitation/relaxation are two different processes, though highly related. But I don’t see any fundemental disagreement here. Am I overlooking something?

    Comment by Rod B — 4 Dec 2008 @ 11:51 AM

  530. Rod, think about it. You are talking about blackbody radiation as if it were some separate physical phenomenon and not the product of a photon gas coming into equilibrium with surrounding matter. No matter how much you torture a molecle or atom, it will not radiate except as a transition between its energy levels (yes, you can distort the bands, but they are STILL the bands).

    So ask yourself:
    1)How does the photon gas come into equilibrium with itself? (Remember photons do not interact with each other.)
    2)How do the photon gas and surrounding material come into equilibrium with each other?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Dec 2008 @ 11:54 AM

  531. Phil, Once you are in true equilibrium, (no excess or deficit of photons, boltzmann distribution, etc.), you’ll emit as many photons as you absorb. Yes, collisional relaxation is more likely, but (at equilibrium) so is collisional excitation. In the atmosphere you have a net flux of IR photons from the warmer surface to the cooler atmosphere, so there’s a heating of the atmosphere. The higher collisional relaxation rate is how the energy gets from the radiation field into the kinetic energy of the molecules.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Dec 2008 @ 12:36 PM

  532. Rod, No, the M-B distribution refers to the total energy of the molecule for all modes that are thermally active at the temperature (and for the # of molecules in the gas) concerned. You cannot build a wall between different modes. Suppose we start with a gas where all the energy is in kinetic energy of the center of mass–no vibration, electronic excitation, etc. Over time, you will have collisions which excite vibrational and even electronic excitations (as long as there are molecules with sufficient kinetic energy.) The number of such excitations depends on the number of molecules with sufficient kinetic energy to bring about such excitations–so they too, will follow an M-B distribution. Now suppose the gas is isolated–no energy in or out. You start out with all energy being kinetic–and following an M-B distribution. Later, you’ve got the same total energy, but a different kinetic energy distribution. See, for things to make sense, you have to deal with total energy.

    Equipartition is a characteristic of equilibrium–excitation/relaxation processes are how you bring equipartition about.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Dec 2008 @ 12:46 PM

  533. RodB 527.

    How can that be when there are spectral lines from the sun (for example) in a region where there are no electron shells to cause them to happen?

    Because they are constrained rovibrational states.

    Comment by Mark — 4 Dec 2008 @ 1:58 PM

  534. Arch 525. So we have:

    Clear signal that CO2 caused most of the warming until 2003 ish.

    An unclear signal that the warming trend has reduced.

    How does that undo all the heating pre 2003?

    It can’t.

    So, CO2 was the best responsible candidate for the heating.

    Now, for the recent trend, it isn’t signifiant yet, so we don’t know if there’s anything to query. So the original assumption stands: CO2 wot done it.


    Comment by Mark — 4 Dec 2008 @ 2:01 PM

  535. Barton Paul Levenson,

    Your estimates leave 19 W/m^2 to be accumulated by the ocean. The sum of your heat inputs is 492 W/m^2, and the sum of your heat outputs is just 473 W/m^2. I think that the error is in your calculation of the rate of heat lost from the ocean surface to outer space. Your estimate is 371 W/m^2, I think that it should be 390 W/m^2.

    Although I do think that during times of high sun spot activity, the oceans sequester heat, I do not believe that the rate is as high as your numbers imply. At your rate of 19 W/m^2 the 100 meter column of water would have to rise at a rate of 2.6 degrees C per year. I do not believe that is happening. I think that the thermal imbalance is much smaller, perhaps a few tenths of a W/m^2 and that it explains the rate of ocean temperature rise observed.

    If we net out the atmosphere/ocean exchange, i.e., the ocean loses 390 W/m^2 and gains 324 W/m^2 for a net change of 66 W/m^2 and then the sum of the three outputs (C&C, Rad. and Evap.) will be 168 W/m^2, and will be equal to the solar input. Evaporation losses, 78 W/m^2 would be 46% of the total insolation rate, 168 W/m^2.

    However, I think that your estimate of the return radiation from the atmosphere to the ocean is too low. The atmosphere would have to be about 15 degrees cooler than the ocean to attain that low a rate of energy return. I don’t believe that the worldwide atmosphere/ocean temperature difference is that high.

    Comment by snorbert zangox — 4 Dec 2008 @ 4:08 PM

  536. Ray, I can simply accelerate a bipolar or ionized molecule translationally and generate a radiation field without changing any of the internal quantized energy levels. Can I not? How does an iron rod radiate?

    Comment by Rod B — 4 Dec 2008 @ 5:08 PM

  537. Ray, I guess you ought to know, but I’ve never seen a Maxwell distribution discussed or derived with anything other than velocity/kinetic energy, other than an insignificant inclusion of potential energy, talking of 3 dimensions of velocity space and 3 dimensions of “space” space. I am aware of M-B being used to derive specific heat constants which does include internal energy modes. I agree you have to deal with and account for all energy and energy transfers; but I don’t see how that is in conflict with the above. In any case, I can’t see anything of importance than I disagree with — or have disagreed with. What am I missing? Where is our disagreement?

    Comment by Rod B — 4 Dec 2008 @ 5:45 PM

  538. Mark, sure. I said mostly electron energy level shell changes, but rovibrational states change similarly and (can) appear in spectroanalysis. It is just not the same as blackbody type radiation/emission.

    Comment by Rod B — 4 Dec 2008 @ 5:53 PM

  539. Rod, Of course an accelerated charged particle will emit electromagnetic energy. So now, I ask where the energy comes from to accelerate the particle? Where did the energy come from to ionize the molecule? If not from the gas itself, then you are adding energy to the gas, and it is not in equilibrium. If it is from the gas, then either the gas is very hot, or you have very few molecules with enough energy to ionize a molecule in a collision. Acceleration of charged particles is important in stars and other plasmas. Yet, we see blackbody curves even at cryogenic temperatures (the Universe being an example). Energy has to come from somewhere.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Dec 2008 @ 7:03 PM

  540. Dear Ray and Jim,
    I did some reading related to Jim’s topic from
    Why don’t op-eds get fact checked? On Realclimate
    I posted it here, since it there is already a discussion about this.
    For the microscopic interpretation of the radiation transfer equation I found in Sir John T. Houghton’s book: „The Physics of Atmospheres“, the following central equation on page 74:
    ….after some expression he writes the following:
    Beginning of quote: “Substituting in (5.31) for n1 and n2 from (5.28) and (5.30) results in a expression for the Source function Js:
    In the limit where local thermodynamic equilibrium applies collisonal activation and deactivation dominates so a21/A21 converges vs. infinity and Js, the source function converges vs Bv, the Planck function. The quantity in brackets ((c*b12*A21)⁄(4*π*a21*B12)) must therefore be the Planckfunction Bv.” End of quote.
    Note that I describe the parameter in the above equation with slightly different symbols compared to John Houghton:
    Iv describes the average intensity integrated over solid angle and frequency interval.
    The concentration of the absorber is described with c.
    Capital A21 is the einstein coefficient for spontaneous emission. With a21 he describes the einstein coefficient for deactivation by collision. Capital B12 is the einstein coefficient for absorption. With b21 he describes the einstein coefficient for activation by collision. With n1 and n2 he describes ground state and excited state. With Js he denotes the source function.
    For the limit of Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium (LTE), collisions dominate.
    John T. Houghton argues: the source function converges versus the planck function, denoted by Bv, if the quotient a21/A21 converges towards infinity.
    Houghton identifies ((c*b12*A21)⁄(4*π*a21*B12)) with the planck function.
    My math says however, if a21/A21 converges towards infinity the quantity in brackets ((c*b12*A21)⁄(4*π*a21*B12)) converges towards zero and the source function also converges to zero. This is exactly Jim’s argument. However, John T. Houghton’s argument points to Ray’s position.
    Can you guys point out to me what I miss?
    Best regards

    Comment by Guenter Hess — 5 Dec 2008 @ 2:20 AM

  541. RodB 536, you are SO in denial.

    How do you get the KE of an ideal gas of a diatomic molecule?

    Atom: 5/3 X
    Diatom: 7/3 X

    Why the extra +2 in the numerator?

    Because there are two more degrees of freedom for a diatom: spin and vibration.

    Now if the heat capacity goes up, that must mean heat (energy) is being taken up by those two extra degrees of freedom.

    So these modes must be as important to the KE content of an ideal gas at a given temperature as any of the three degrees of movement in three dimensional space.

    Insignificant? Only if the movement of the gas through space is insignificant…

    Comment by Mark — 5 Dec 2008 @ 4:00 AM

  542. Rod 535: “How does an iron rod radiate?”

    Black body basic. Plus, given there’s always a magnetic field, radio wave frequency radiation. If it is hot enough, it will produce radiation that excludes somewhat the radiation in the absorbtion spectra of neutral iron.

    However I need to know a question: What atmosphere is made of iron (which is metallic as opposed to neutral and a solid as opposed to a gas)?

    Comment by Mark — 5 Dec 2008 @ 4:03 AM

  543. Re #531
    Ray Ladbury Says:
    4 December 2008 at 12:36 PM
    “Phil, Once you are in true equilibrium, (no excess or deficit of photons, boltzmann distribution, etc.), you’ll emit as many photons as you absorb. Yes, collisional relaxation is more likely, but (at equilibrium) so is collisional excitation. In the atmosphere you have a net flux of IR photons from the warmer surface to the cooler atmosphere, so there’s a heating of the atmosphere. The higher collisional relaxation rate is how the energy gets from the radiation field into the kinetic energy of the molecules.”

    Fine except for the “you’ll emit as many photons as you absorb”, that can’t happen (if it did there’d be no change in temperature). Look up fluorescence quenching for example, try OH a case where I’ve done the measurements and published, as the pressure is increased the fluorescence goes down due to collisional quenching.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 5 Dec 2008 @ 9:20 AM

  544. Guenter,

    Fortunately, Google books allows people to view this online, so that we can see the equations clearly. Houghton makes a physical argument, the mathematics of which are given previously in the discussion of local thermodynamic equilibrium. As phi approaches infinity, the distributions of energies is the Boltzmann distribution, which gives rise to the blackbody radiation Planck function. Mathematically, as phi is infinity, the first term is (I/(1+infinity)=0. Therefore the second term must be the Planck function B. The second therm is phi/(1+phi) times the bracketed function in question. phi/(1+phi) = 1 as phi approaches infinity, so the bracketed term must be B.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 5 Dec 2008 @ 9:27 AM

  545. Mark, so when some of the added energy goes into vibration/rotation modes you have to add more energy to the molecule to get the same increase in KE that you got if no energy went into the internal modes. What I implied. I am in denial about what, exactly??

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Dec 2008 @ 9:32 AM

  546. Mark, I checked google and Wiki and couldn’t find an atmosphere with pure iron in its composition. Golly! And your point is…??

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Dec 2008 @ 9:38 AM

  547. Guenter, can you clarify what you mean by “converges”. Do you mean “goes to zero”? I think you also have to consider what is happening with b21 and B21, and I think you can use the LTE to derive relations between the factors.

    I found this–a little qualitative, but it points in right direction:

    The course looked to be pretty good itself:

    This one was interesting, if not totally germane to your question:

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Dec 2008 @ 9:52 AM

  548. t_p_hamilton #544
    I understand that, but by close inspection, calculating myself, I realized that the bracketed function contains an additional 1/phi which should go to zero right?

    Comment by Guenter Hess — 5 Dec 2008 @ 10:16 AM

  549. Ray,
    Yes with converges I meant goes to zero. Of course one should consider what is happening with b21 and B21.
    But then pulling a21/A21 in the nominator out of the bracket is highly questionable mathematically speaking, wouldn’t you agree?

    Comment by Guenter Hess — 5 Dec 2008 @ 10:25 AM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2008 @ 10:48 AM

  551. Phil, in equilibrium, you won’t have a temperature change, right? And technically, you are right, since photons are bosons, and so, not conserved. However, on average, in equilibrium, energy out=energy in, and neither temperature, nor any other intensive variables change. Note, I am not talking LTE, here, but true equilibrium

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Dec 2008 @ 11:12 AM

  552. Gunter:”I understand that, but by close inspection, calculating myself, I realized that the bracketed function contains an additional 1/phi which should go to zero right?”

    The excitation is also dominated by collisions (statement at bottom of pg 74), so b/B is also large, and compensates for A/a.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 5 Dec 2008 @ 12:10 PM

  553. RodB 545, YOU are the one who brought up iron in a discussion about how radiation is retained by an atmosphere.

    Not me.

    So you’re now saying that that was a stupid question you asked Ray. Is that right? Or is your point 545 stupid instead. One or ‘tother is dumb.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Dec 2008 @ 1:09 PM

  554. t_p_hamilton #552,
    you wrote:
    “The excitation is also dominated by collisions (statement at bottom of pg 74), so b/B is also large, and compensates for A/a.”

    Yes, but since phi or a/A cancels with 1/phi or A/a, shouldn’t he have pulled out b/B. Extraction of phi like that seems arbitray, one can do that from any function or constant. Therefore claiming afterwards:
    “The quantity in brackets ((c*b12*A21)⁄(4*π*a21*B12)) must therefore be the Planckfunction Bv” looks also arbitrary.

    Comment by Guenter Hess — 5 Dec 2008 @ 1:13 PM

  555. Hank, well! I’ll be! Though I think “neutron star atmosphere” is a bit of an oxymoron. ;-)

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Dec 2008 @ 1:55 PM

  556. Mark, I brought up iron in the context of accelerating charges causing radiation. The relation to atmosphere was only to imply that the former is strangely often ignored or forgotten when talking of the latter. My question was just a rhetorical construct to make the point, as everyone else seems to understand.

    What was stupid about my 545? The part where I agreed with you? Or what??

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Dec 2008 @ 2:08 PM

  557. 554:

    This seems to be basically

    (a * b) / (A * B)

    Now, as a/A goes to 0, the result will go to zero UNLESS B/b goes to zero too.

    This is how photons get to light speed and have inertial mass according to Einstein’s Theory Of Special Relativity:

    m(v) = Ym(0)

    Where Y=(1-(v*v)/(c*c) and m(x) is the mass of the particle at velocity X.

    So, as v tends to c, m(v) tends to 1/0 = infinity because Y tends to 1/0. BUT what if there is zero rest mass? m(v) then tends to 0/0.

    So if m tends to zero quicker than Y tends to 1/0 then mass will increase for this morphing particle.

    Likewise, if b/B tends to zero quicker than A/a tends to zero, the result can go UP.

    Fairly simple A level (even O level) Physics.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Dec 2008 @ 2:20 PM

  558. Guenter:” 554.

    “The excitation is also dominated by collisions (statement at bottom of pg 74), so b/B is also large, and compensates for A/a.”

    Yes, but since phi or a/A cancels with 1/phi or A/a, shouldn’t he have pulled out b/B. Extraction of phi like that seems arbitray, one can do that from any function or constant.”

    Not if the denominator is 1+phi, with phi large. Pulling out b/B would be pulling out 1/large number, not a large number, and would not cancel with the denominator.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 5 Dec 2008 @ 2:36 PM

  559. t_p_hamilton #558,
    “Not if the denominator is 1+phi, with phi large. Pulling out b/B would be pulling out 1/large number, not a large number, and would not cancel with the denominator.”

    The small b is the excitation by collision, meaning b/B is large. If b dominates.

    Comment by Guenter Hess — 5 Dec 2008 @ 2:48 PM

  560. Mark #557,
    You wrote:
    “Likewise, if b/B tends to zero quicker than A/a tends to zero, the result can go UP”

    I know that.
    But look at the function: It says (b*A*a)/(a*B*A). The result is b/B.
    So if b/B tends to zero quicker, the whole term is zero isn’t it?
    John Houghton says its (infinity*b*A)/(a*B). The only justification might be if b/B goes also towards infinity, since A/a goes towards zero. But calling the remaining bracket the Planckfunction I think is arbitrary, if there is no other justification.

    Comment by Guenter Hess — 5 Dec 2008 @ 3:08 PM

  561. Rod, yes, iron atmospheres around neutron stars are rather thin:

    “… Since a characteristic thickness of the NS atmosphere,
    ∼ 0.01 − 1 cm, is much smaller than the NS radius, and
    characteristic densities are rather high, we consider the
    plane-parallel atmospheres in local thermodynamic equi-
    librium. Following a standard approach (e. g., Mihalas
    1978), we proceed from the radiative transfer equation ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2008 @ 3:49 PM

  562. RodB. Iron is a metal. Free elecrtrons don’t flow unless you throw the iron through a magnetic field.

    So it still has nothing to do with what you presume to be forgotten.

    It is also strange that the gargantuanly vast proportion of the troposphere is not ionised, so why would there be free electrons? All the electrons are in atoms and they aren’t free to move about.

    Add to that the fact that most binding energies for electrons in our gaseous atmosphere are several eV and take them mostly out of the visible range, never mind infra-red and I fail to see why forgetting about free electrons (which don’t do absorbtion: the photon field is still impinging on the electron as it is being excited and “absorbs” energy hence causing a sympathetic reradiation in the same plane as the original photon) is an issue for you in our atmosphere.

    You say you have been clear but please explain to me the information you think you are imparting because I don’t get it.

    Comment by Mark — 5 Dec 2008 @ 3:50 PM

  563. PS Rod in 556, where in 545 did you agree with me? All you did was repeat what I said to you. That isn’t agreeing.


    Comment by Mark — 5 Dec 2008 @ 3:52 PM

  564. Mark says, “…All you did was repeat what I said to you. That isn’t agreeing.”

    It’s not??!!? :-?

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Dec 2008 @ 4:44 PM

  565. Geunter,

    Jim here.

    I’ll look at yours in a minute, and see if I have anything I could add.

    Eli, if you’re out there. Thank you for your reference on the other page.

    I think I looked at that one a little while back.

    If I recall, it was very good work.

    1. If memory serves, the intensities were weak, on the order of what I described earlier, certainly not on the scale of W/m^2.

    2. I do not think they extended the path length looking for maximum signal.

    3. I believe the authors have successive papers in which they use the same technique against clouds – a much longer path length, but still with weak signals not much changed in order of magnitude.

    4. It is true that the author’s claim this refutes my point, I’m not so sure. Yes, they did find a result very close to the computed result. However, I would need to know more about the computed result.

    My suspicion is that result uses tables for the A and E matrices of the gases of interest. Those tables are derived from a mix of empirical observation and computation, possibly guaranteeing a match even if the theory is incorrect. At this time, I do not accept the use of the matrices describing the continuum, as gases aren’t active in much of the range.

    Best I can tell, this technique is a modified version of gray body calculations used to monitor chemical combustion. The continuum matters in that case – many states are accessible in combustion.

    I bring this up, because there are an infinite number of ways to replicate spectra computationally, but unless the correct ones are chosen, extrapolating to other circumstances can quickly fail. Replicating the spectra observed successfully does not necessarily imply that introducing a change will correctly predict the changed spectra.

    5. I strongly suspect that given long enough path lengths with the technique in the paper mentioned will lead to convergence at the same intensity as achieved with a hot source.

    That is to say, when absorption occurs (from a hot source) it proceeds until the emission level of the material is reached (very non-Beer’s Law close to the emission level for obvious reasons). When emission occurs (cold source) the reverse occurs, again until you reach the emission maximum. These values should coincide, and are, I suspect, much less than the W/m^2 intensity range for most gases in the atmosphere. The planet does emit in the W/m^2 range.

    You can see how I might think that the low intensity observed supports my thesis rather than the one proposed by the authors.

    I know this has been hollered about many times before on these pages, but currently, I remain of the opinion that pretty much all of the absorption CO2 can do, it has done. I’ve seen the work arounds, but at the moment, I don’t accept them.

    In any event, here’s another long one. I’m on a different thread now, but if you care to vote me off the island, I will leave peacefully. JCBMack appears to be a good contact, and it sounds like he’s willing to extend this for the years it may take to either bring me around or bring him around.

    Geunter, I’ll take a look at yours. Be aware that I may find myself out of field very quickly. Most folks here think I’m already in way over my head – I’ve gotten pretty used to that in conversation round about.


    Comment by Jim — 5 Dec 2008 @ 6:17 PM

  566. I see I have to go to Google books to find more info, Thanks Ray. I wasn’t aware that was available. I believe I worked through the equations in Goody and Yung a while back, but will have to revisit that. If it takes me too long to get back to this, I’ll just write to JCBMack. Let me see if I can come up with a response today, however. Sure, my gut says “agree, with it, you like the conclusion”, but that wouldn’t be proper, and is often incorrect.

    Cheers, Jim

    Comment by Jim — 5 Dec 2008 @ 6:31 PM

  567. Guenter:”“Not if the denominator is 1+phi, with phi large. Pulling out b/B would be pulling out 1/large number, not a large number, and would not cancel with the denominator.”

    The small b is the excitation by collision, meaning b/B is large. If b dominates.”

    And would not cancel with the denominator, hence useless for approximation. Using the old trick of multiplying and dividing by the same number (phi), and factoring it out, compensating by 1/phi in the second term IS useful.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 5 Dec 2008 @ 7:42 PM

  568. Okay, Geunter, on the surface, it looks like your conclusion is pretty good (1/phi)*phi always equals 1. The way the terms are defined, phi could certainly be used within the brackets, and cancelled. I would prefer to get my hands on a complete copy of the book, since it looks like the LTE arguments are developed in previous chapters.

    Having said that, it is not that hard to work with coefficients of spontaneous emission and stimulated emission, and discover that if you set the rates of absorption and emission equal to each other, then the rate of spontaneous emission exceeds the rate of stimulated emission by about a factor of 10 (at an energy of 700 cm-1, near 15 microns). This situation holds within an enclosure, and within an enclosure, the Planck function is generated.

    Temperature is proportional to average kinetic energy. In an open system, when two items are at the same temperature, they need not have the same radiation field. This is easily verified by taking the spectra of items, or if you prefer, you can look up the optical properties of IR mirrors. Generally, it is good practice to choose a mirror that has a low emission in the range of interest. The same holds true for selection of windows and fibers.

    There is a thermodynamic law of energy conservation, there is no thermodynamic law of radiation conservation. Absorption and emission from substances is characteristic of the substance both in frequency and intensity, and can be used as an IR fingerprint given an appropriate library of spectra. Any gas that is IR active could be given enough path length for “complete” absorption – down to the point where the signal stops changing – refer to my previous post. This does not imply that the gas will then emit on the same scale as it absorbs – in fact quite the opposite, a net absorption is observed precisely because the absorption process dominates the emission process.

    Interestingly, looking at the Houghton reference you see the statement “..we have neglected stimulated emission…as spontaneous emission dominates”. This would be true within a cavity, as I’ve mentioned above.

    However, this system is open, allowing exchange of both energy and matter. In a similar situation, Atkins contends (Physical Chemistry, 6th edition, p. 461) “Spontaneous emission can be largely ignored at the relatively low frequencies of rotational and vibrational transitions, and the intensities of these transitions can be discussed in terms of stimulated emission and absorption.” Atkins leaves spontaneous emission out of his equation for net rate of absorption in the IR range.

    Spectroscopists tend to ignore spontaneous emission until you get into the visible range, when fluorescence measurements become practical. In fact, if you follow the development of fluorescence in Atkins, you will see that following the vertical transition, the excited state falls to the ground state by radiationless decay (I’m speaking of the vibrational ground state of the excited electronic state.) The energy difference between the vibrational states of the excited state is on the order of IR radiation, but is not mediated by a photon. Spontaneous IR emission in this range is generally ignored. However, for development of the LTE radiative transfer theory, the spontaneous emission must be large, as Houghton claims. If the spontaneous emission is negligible, then the theory does not provide significant impact. Stimulated emission is of course always in the same direction as the stimulating photon – which is critical for LASER function. If the earth provides the radiation, then only spontaneous emission can return to earth, and spontaneous emission is simply negligible at atmospheric pressures – in which collisional relaxation dominates so markedly, as is evidenced by measurements such as the one Eli provided. The scale of the Y-axis is there, and it isn’t even close to the scale needed for representation of planetary emission.

    That should do it for now. Yes, I avoided the original question – providing a good answer for that may well require acquiring the book, and spending more time with a pencil and paper. I apologize for not having it on the tip of my tongue. However, I can point out that all of this hinges on whether or not you accept the claim of a Planck source function from the atmosphere. I think it is clear from published spectra that Planck intensities are not even remotely achieved from the atmosphere, but are approximated from the surface. This fits the current models I have floating in my brain. A measurement that shows Planck level intensities coming from the atmosphere blows my theory out of the water.

    Goody claims that most of the radiation observed comes from the atmosphere (and hence would be in the W/m^2 range), but most of the radiation observed from space is precisely in those bands in which atmospheric gases are inactive, so this appears incorrect. Furthermore, in those regions observed, the surface of the planet can be imaged in the IR. Were that radiation continually absorbed and isotropically emitted on its way out, information pertaining to the surface would be completely scrambled.


    Comment by Jim — 5 Dec 2008 @ 8:06 PM

  569. Jim, I see you are using Atkins, my favorite author, and not only that, but correctly, I am busy, but I could not resist reading your latest posts and posting a quick response. You are quoting and interpreting the textbook correctly, which is rare I might add, even by scientists outside P chem. We have much to discuss, but you are on the right track, though I do want to add that CO2 can absorb an enormous amount of radiation before emitting and the heat content is not emitted immediately either. I will get back to you after grading papers and so forth, your comments are interesting and I want to get into details soon.

    Comment by jcbmack — 5 Dec 2008 @ 9:11 PM

  570. Yes this may take some time Jim, but I have been bored anyways…

    Comment by jcbmack — 5 Dec 2008 @ 9:18 PM

  571. Since I haven’t been voted off the island yet (probably because no one has yet read anything I’ve written), I may as well fire off another one. (I’m getting in as much as I can while I have time, and before someone puts a stop to it.)

    If you’ve gotten this far, you certainly noticed that I rather bluntly stated I’d leave out the continuum matrices for computation of a gas phase spectrum near STP.

    If you looked at the literature emission spectra, you certainly noticed that there is in fact a continuum component. Obviously I’m out of line with the data.

    In my feverish brain, it occurs that the atmosphere is heterogeneous. If you look for particle size distribution, you can find a report that (if memory serves) states that particulates in the atmosphere are coarser near the top of the atmosphere, finer in the middle, and coarser again near the ground. I do not recall if the report discussed particle concentration or (more importantly) surface area.

    It is not unlikely that these solid particles dispersed throughout the atmosphere emit with a coefficient near to unity. If so, this could complicate the radiation problem, as radiative energy transfer between particles is active, and will roughly follow the LTE model that has been proposed for gases, if I am correct in the hypothesis that a fair fraction of these particles have emission coefficients near unity.

    However, it appears based on emission data gathered in the atmosphere that the effect of these particles is weak, since the continuum background is measured on a scale of microwatts/cm^2.

    That may be my last two cents for a little while.


    Comment by Jim — 5 Dec 2008 @ 10:12 PM

  572. Jim,

    The Houghton book is easily seen via and browsing forward. What Guenter is asking about is a section that does the LTE approximation. Houghton then goes on to discuss when this approximation breaks down. It is in fact dealing with the issues you bring up.

    About neglecting spontaneous emission, the reason physical chemists do this (texts are mainly looking at individual molecules in the gas phase) is that the ratio of the Einstein coefficeints for spontaneous and stimulated emission depends on frequency cubed, and hence is rapidly less important at low frequency.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 5 Dec 2008 @ 10:21 PM

  573. Re #551
    Ray Ladbury Says:
    5 December 2008 at 11:12 AM
    Phil, in equilibrium, you won’t have a temperature change, right? And technically, you are right, since photons are bosons, and so, not conserved. However, on average, in equilibrium, energy out=energy in, and neither temperature, nor any other intensive variables change. Note, I am not talking LTE, here, but true equilibrium

    Sure but I see nothing in that which requires photons in=photons out.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 5 Dec 2008 @ 10:22 PM

  574. Jim,

    A = U-TS or G = H-TS Inn GTE (global thermodynamic equilibrium intensive parameters like temperature (average kinetic energy, or averaging of molecular collisions and kinetic motion) controlling heat exchange, are homogenous throughout the whole system, whereas LTE (local thermodynamic equilibrium) dictates that the changes are so slow and gradual though they are changing and varying in space and time, they may be considered to be (the intensive parameters) LTE at a given point. Keep in mind that temperature is proportional to its internal energy of an equilibrated area. Also, local equilibrium applies to massive particles, in a radiating gas the photons being emitted and absorbed by the gas do not have to be in equilibrium with each other or the massive particles of the gas for LTE to be so.(source one of your confusion about photons)

    LTE can exist in a glass of water with an ice cube melting where at any point int he glass a temperature can be read, however, it is colder near the ice cube than farther away from it, so if the energies near a given point are observed they will be distributed according to Maxwell- Boltzman distribution for a certain temperature, and the same goes for another given point. Without exchanges between the system and the outside, LTE will not be a stable state.

    Now, 1/2 RHO V squared gives the air density at any given altitude and the temperature changes will be affected as we go up,by about 2 degrees C (forget the increments of height increase, anyone?) and the density changes along with temperature changes will pose affects on the ghg’s kinetic energy, and heat transfer and overall net effect, until of course the altitude is too high for such effects,, so heat, again is a function of temperature, that average kinetic energy.

    Also keep in mind that closed systems are really ideal oversimplifications so individual aspects of the universe may be studied, as the solar system, the earth, a state, a city, a town, this house, and a glass of water are all open systems, but we must start somewhere and we cannot take on the universe as a whole. The human body is an open system and it goes through exchanges with the surroundings and each performs work on the other, but there is an approximated maintained thermal equilibrium in the human body, and if it were not so, we would all die from hypothermia or hyperthermia. Yet if the body were in equilibrium (all the cells that is) we would all be dead, and non equilibrium models do a great job explaining ATP ases, phosphorylation, and dephosphorylation signal transduction, ion exchange and the affects of concentration gradients.

    I should also not that there are non-LTE effects on adn from CO2 as well, (for another post) CO2 has a complex absorption spectrum with isolated peaks of around s.6- 4 microns and a complete block out of infared above 13 microns. Water vapor is more complex with many broad peaks of infared between o.8 and 10 microns. So CO2 is an excellent absorber of IFR. Running out of time for now, keep in mind NLTE does not mean that there is no globale thermodynamic equilibrium.

    Comment by jcbmack — 6 Dec 2008 @ 4:56 AM

  575. Jim also read: Non-LTE Radiative Transfer in the Atmosphere By Manuel

    López-Puertas, F. W. Taylor on Google Books. p. 14 is especially helpful and I will be doing work out of my analytical chemistry textbook as well, my other references will be posted as well next time. (wife is being patient with me and papers are graded) Even in the same molecule one energy state within a molecule to be in LTE and another in the same molecule not to be. V2 and V3 (modes of vibration) within CO2 are in LTE at low altitudes, but at 40 km, V3 is not and at 100 km neither is. Much if this book is available for your reading so enjoy!
    On earth, lower pressures more non LTE conditions (a function of altitude)

    Comment by jcbmack — 6 Dec 2008 @ 5:38 AM

  576. Phil’s right, Ray. Though this may be irrelevant. Energy in = energy out. However I don’t see what that has to do with your comment in 521.

    Comment by Mark — 6 Dec 2008 @ 5:48 AM

  577. Further to 572, strange isn’t it how the “skeptic” keeps saying that “the uncertainties are being forgotten” when if they actually read up about it, they’d find the admission of the uncertainties and inaccuracies.

    I wonder whether it’s so they seem to be learned in the field.

    Comment by Mark — 6 Dec 2008 @ 5:51 AM

  578. Jim, #571. Could you explain what would make the higher particulates bigger than the lower particulates? Force required for uplift goes up with radius cubed. Force available by uplift goes up with radius squared.

    Comment by Mark — 6 Dec 2008 @ 5:53 AM

  579. re 564. No. If you’d said “OK, so …” rather than “so…” because the latter without the affirmation of acceptance can mean critical disbelief.

    Comment by Mark — 6 Dec 2008 @ 5:56 AM

  580. Re 561:

    You state in 554:

    Then you state in 561:

    “It says (b*A*a)/(a*B*A).”

    Where did you pull the extra a from? And why wouldn’t it cancel out the a in the numerator along with the two A’s above and below the division mark, where you’ve added a new A below the line?

    take the numbers off because they are redundant from your statement in 554 you have

    (c/4pi) which we aren’t going to vary because you haven’t talked about them, so that’s a constant.

    then in the numerator:


    and in the denominator


    and you want to change A/a until it goes to zero and ask why it doesn’t.

    Because if B/b goes to zero, we have 0/0 which is undefined.

    Your 561 reduces to


    Which doesn’t change if you change A/a because it no longer exists.

    Comment by Mark — 6 Dec 2008 @ 6:04 AM

  581. Mark,

    1. Neutron stars do have atmospheres. They’re very shallow and don’t contribute much to the star’s radiation, though.

    2. Photons have no mass.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Dec 2008 @ 6:53 AM

  582. t_p_Hamilton #567,
    Thanks for your responses and your patience.
    You wrote:
    “And would not cancel with the denominator, hence useless for approximation. Using the old trick of multiplying and dividing by the same number (phi), and factoring it out, compensating by 1/phi in the second term IS useful.”

    I agree this old trick of factoring something out is useful. I only think the factor 1/phi need to be also consolidated to zero as phi approaches infinity.
    Let me therefore explain my difficulties from another angle.
    Where I am struggling is just this:
    The function Houghton shows is of the type: (b*A*a)/(a*B*A)).
    The result is b/B. It is certainly also correct to factor out phi = a/A from the brackets and get (b/B*phi/phi). In turn also ((b/B*1/phi)*phi) or ((b*A/B*a)*phi). No problems so far.
    However, doing the move towards infinity now for phi leaves behind a factor in the brackets (b/B*1/phi) or (b/B*A/a) that goes to zero. Note, A/a is 1/phi.
    So I concluded the brackets must go to zero, if phi goes to infinity.
    However, Houghton concludes that the bracket (b/B*A/a) times another function (c/4π), is the Planck function.
    Of course in the LTE approximation, the result for the source function should be the Planck function. I wanted to know what argument I missed, maybe an integration or something that he didn’t mention.
    I just wanted to know how this gap in the calculation is filled.
    I didn’t find anything in the links Ray provided, kindly.
    Best regards

    Comment by Guenter Hess — 6 Dec 2008 @ 7:01 AM

  583. Mark #580,
    Sorry for the confusion.
    The equation is from John T. Houghton, The Physics of the Atmosphere 3rd edition.
    My first post with the full equation is #540:
    t_p_hamilton and I were skiping indices and trade shorter versions as the discussion progressed.
    Best regards

    Comment by Guenter Hess — 6 Dec 2008 @ 7:15 AM

  584. Jim writes:

    I remain of the opinion that pretty much all of the absorption CO2 can do, it has done.

    Then why is Venus so hot?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Dec 2008 @ 7:15 AM

  585. Mark,

    It’s been a litte while since I read it. I don’t recall if an explanation was given, but supposed it may be due to uplift of particles for the lower altitude, and falling particles for the very high altitude.

    I didn’t spend much time with this, just read the one report. At the time I was trying to get an idea of just how accurate the representation is that only radiative energy crosses the line. ie. The need for radiative balance.

    I really did start at the beginning, and I’m questioning every assumption I see (but not the ones I don’t see yet).

    I concluded that radiation is not the only means by which energy (and mass) crosses the boundary, but it is clearly the most important, and it is likely a fair approximation to neglect other transfer mechanisms.

    After all, a simple radiative calculation does come pretty close. Including mass transfer effects across the border might not even come into play by any current available measurements, although I can’t really back that up just yet. I’ve left this particular line behind in light of my more recent obsessions.

    Now I have a bunch of stuff from JCBMack to work through. That will take time, and might help me with my current problem – I’m working on something that might end up revising some of the Kirchoff’s Law assumptions, but I’m really not ready to share that yet, (as I’m probably full of it) and verification probably requires a fairly simple experiment, but still with equipment not available to me. I’m probably going to write that one and just leave it on my computer, bugging me until I do something else and forget it.


    Comment by Jim — 6 Dec 2008 @ 9:52 AM

  586. Barton,

    I’m also looking at Venus peripherally.

    One of the reasons why it so hot may well be because the temperature of Venus sits just above the primary stretching fundamental of CO2, which is a massive absorber. Note that the temperature of earth sits just above the bending mode of CO2, another massive absorber.

    To complete the picture, I need to look for the modes of H2SO4, and see if they relate in position to the stretching mode in the same way that H2O relates in position to the bending mode.

    In short, although both planets are heated by having CO2 in their atmospheres, their peak temperatures are pumping different bands. Both settle at a temperature higher than the respective band in play. To use much of the stretching mode on Earth, you’d have to bump up the temperature significantly to bridge the gap.

    Given the spectra from space, a shift to higher temp on earth will move a greater fraction of its spectrum into the IR window, resisting the T increase. A shift to lower T shifts the peak closer to the active IR range and a larger fraction of radiation is absorbed.

    This means the T is radiatively balanced by positions of active and inactive spectral ranges. This is rather what I would expect in a system that has been around for a long time – that it has found a well somewhere on the surface, I just don’t have a feeling for how steep or high the sides are yet.


    Comment by Jim — 6 Dec 2008 @ 10:02 AM

  587. Barton,
    One more quick note, maybe you’ll do this before I get to it – since I’ve been intending to for a little while.

    Set up an Excel spreadsheet for BB calculations, and calculate for 255 K.

    Remove from that all of the lines for water and CO2 – assume full absorption, and a collisional line width of about 0.04 cm-1 for CO2, you can calculate a width for water too, I haven’t done that yet.

    Add that energy back in and recalculate the T and a new Planck function. Iterate this process until the T stabilizes. I’m guessing it’s going to end pretty much pegged where it is now.

    Do the same for Venus using H2SO4 – you can see why I haven’t done this yet, it’s going to take up a lot of lines on the spreadsheet.

    Don’t worry about intensities, just locate positions – I’m hoping I can find positions for all these bands – and use a natural linewidth and the Planck function at T to figure your absorption.

    My guess (one of you all will holler if I’m way off) is that both planets will stabilize to their respective temperatures – obviously you’re always normalizing relative to sunlight and position from the sun.


    Comment by Jim — 6 Dec 2008 @ 10:19 AM

  588. Barton,

    Sorry, I said natural line width. Compute the collisional linewidth and use that. It should be the relevant value.


    Comment by Jim — 6 Dec 2008 @ 10:32 AM

  589. Jim,

    great read on the subject of spectral analysis:

    This is superb!!!:

    A supplemental point:

    More Hughton:


    main page:

    Comment by jcbmack — 6 Dec 2008 @ 1:41 PM

  590. Jim,
    following is excerpts, data, and illustrations from my “Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry, Skoog, West, Holler, and Crouch. (chapter 24 pp. 710-741)

    Interesting types of interactions in spectroscopy involve transitions between different energy levels of chemical species. Other forms of interactions like: reflection, refraction, elastic scattering, interference, and diffraction most often are related to the bulk properties of materials rather than to energy levels of specific molecules and atoms. Here energy level transitions get a more thorough treatment: The electromagnetic spectrum covers an enormous range of energies, or frequencies, and of course resultant wave lengths. The frequencies may vary from greater than 10^19 Hz (gamma rays) to 10^3 Hz (radio waves) An X ray photon (v= 3 times 10^18 Hz,) Lambda = 10^-10m) is approximately 10,000 times as energetic as a photon emitted by an ordinary light bulb (nu= 3 times 10^14 Hz, lambda = 10^-6m) and 10^15 times as energetic as radio-frequency photon (you get the idea, not all photon emissions are created equal energetically)

    Here are some examples of spectroscopic methods in brief (at first) and the effects that may occur in quantum change: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) change of spin,

    microwave: change of orientation, infared: change of configuration, visible and Ultraviolet, and X ray (UV) change in electron distribution (important)and gamma ray (y-ray) change in nuclear configuration.

    Spectroscopists use the interatcions of radiation and matter to obtain information about a sample. The sensitivity and coupling of a wide variety of two and even three different sets of equipment gives us quite accurate data supporting empirical observations, and artifacts are carefully accounted for.When I have more time, I will walk you through the various types and coupling methods as you made some error regarding sensitivity what has actually been empirically measured. Till then, Jim, happy reading.

    Comment by jcbmack — 6 Dec 2008 @ 2:01 PM

  591. Oh, and not forget Beer’s law and exceptions to, and super critical fluid analysis of and in CO2.

    Comment by jcbmack — 6 Dec 2008 @ 2:04 PM

  592. Phil, WRT photons, It is true, photons are not conserved. However, if you have a different spectrum of photons from a blackbody, then it is not in equilibrium with the matter, so, waving our hands a lot and mumbling about the law of large numbers… I agree in principle with what you say. However, I’m trying not to complicate things too much.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Dec 2008 @ 2:10 PM

  593. Actually, there are corrections for Kirchoff’s assumptions under certain conditions, but we will discuss that at a later date, Jim. So many laws: Thermodynamics, (four)Henry’s, Fick’s, Boyle’s, Charles and so forth and each has some relevance to aspects of this discussion, some directly, some indirectly and non-linear, and let us not forget my personal favorite, quantum mechanical tunneling, but one step at a time… as I said this conversation will take quite a while, and yes U will post some of my own calculations, but I do have time constraints and I must use some prudence as I am also working on a paper which will be submitted for review somewhere down the line.

    Comment by jcbmack — 6 Dec 2008 @ 3:17 PM

  594. jcbmack Says:
    6 December 2008 at 1:41 PM

    This is superb!!!:


    That link at warwickhughes opens up a copy of this:

    Greenhouse molecules, their spectra and function in the atmosphere
    by Jack Barrett

    That paper has been cited only once, in
    Climate stability: an inconvenient proof
    Author(s): D. Bellamy | J. Barrett
    doi: 10.1680/cien.2007.160.2.66

    That’s published in Civil Engineering; Bellamy and Barrett there write
    “… the widely prophesied doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide … will enhance the so-called ‘greenhouse effect’ but will amount to less than 1°C of global warming.” Check for citations thereof.

    Recommendation: cite the original, rather than pointing to some blog copy of a single paper out of context, to make it easier for people to look for subsequent citations, corrections, and discussion if any.

    The simple diagrams and explanation in the first paper may seem “Superb” — they’re not original research. I’d recommend looking further for sources to recommend on the basics.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Dec 2008 @ 3:39 PM

  595. In physical chemistry we begin with many assumptions.We also trust that an observed phenomena is due to the laws we learned and those five postulates of quantum mechanics. We can actually detect and understand very small peaks, narrow bands and the equipment is very sensitive to minor fluxuations and the signal to noise analysis is quite sophisticated: Look at this way, analytical instruments, stereos, cd players, and all sorts of electronic devices rely upon a standard of signal to noise ratio (S/N) or the ratio of the average value of output signal to its standard deviation. The spectrophotemeter, the MS equipment and so forth have been carefully calibrated and S/N ratio greatly enhanced: for more computerized instruments, methods like, analog filtering, lock- in apmplification, boxcar averaging, smoothing and fourier transformation among other methods are employed.

    We also have photon detectors and Thermal Detectors in absorption spectroscopy… photon: phototubes, photomultiplier tubes, silicon tubes photoconductive tubes. thermal detectors: thermocouples, bolometers, pneumatic cells, pyroelectric cells and quite a few other subtypes. The ones just mentioned are transducers, one responds to photons, the other to heat.

    IR may be detected by measuring the temperature rise of a blackened material located in a path of the beam or by measuring the increase in electrical conductivity of a photoconducting material where it absorbs IR radiation.

    Chemists really explain mesophases in LCD screens and phase changes and transition phases as well as transition states and dipole moments in greenhouse gases. It is in the chemical physics, physical chemistry or chemical thermodynamics we begin to see these phenomenon unfold. as always non LTE is well studied and established:


    Good read: Global Climate and Ecosystem Change By Gordon James MacDonald, Luigi Sertorio, North Atlantic.

    Potential alternative fuel sources (off topic I know)

    Comment by jcbmack — 6 Dec 2008 @ 3:59 PM

  596. Hank the reference is superb and the other references I posted with it supplement well and I did read what I cited, think it through Hank.

    Comment by jcbmack — 6 Dec 2008 @ 4:04 PM

  597. jc, you are pointing to a copy on a blog, not giving a cite. If you simply follow standard practice, you’ll make it easier for people to check rather than asking readers to consider you authoritative per se.

    Barrett writes, for example

    “… It would be expected that more CO2 would have a greater effect
    on atmospheric warming at higher altitudes, but this seems not to be occurring in spite of the predictions of most GCMs…..”

    Make sense to you? Where do you think he gets that?
    Did you look at his references?

    Good citation helps people to check this stuff on their own, and it’s excellent practice to get into if you hope to publish yourself.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Dec 2008 @ 4:49 PM

  598. Jim says, “One of the reasons why it so hot may well be because the temperature of Venus sits just above the primary stretching fundamental of CO2, which is a massive absorber. Note that the temperature of earth sits just above the bending mode of CO2, another massive absorber.”

    OK, Jim, aren’t you just saying Venus is hot because it’s hot? Keep in mind, that molecular thermal energies are a distribution, not a delta function. Also, Venus is 108 million km from the Sun, so it only gets about 1.9 x as much sunlight as Earth–so the radiative temperature based on sunlight should only be less than 300 K. Now add in the fact that Venus has much higher albedo than Earth. In effect, you are relying on the greenhouse effect to explain the planet’s temperature. It appears that you feel that the greenhouse effect is saturated for Earth, but this was disproved in the ’40s.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Dec 2008 @ 5:12 PM

  599. jcbmack Ref 6 Dec 4:04 pm

    Hank’s point is well taken. 6 Dec. 3:39 pm

    Your reference appears to be a reasonable summary of the IR absorption properties of green house gases but hardly three exclamation points worth of superb.

    The concluding paragraph of your reference seems a bit agenda driven with much emphasis on GCM uncertaintiy unrelated to much of anything in the main body of the article. Do you suppose they had to add this paragraph to get the article in E & E?

    You are a prolific poster. Your patience in engaging Jim is remarkable. Your posts would contribute more with a little proofing and paragraphing. If a single sentence takes more than three lines, you might want to revise it. Sentences should have a subject, verb, object, typically in that order. Confine each post to a single topic–preferably on topic.


    Comment by Paul Middents — 6 Dec 2008 @ 6:06 PM

  600. Do not waste so much energy Paul and Hank. My sentences are just fine, and the reference I gave is in regards to the subject matter Jim, myself and others are discussing. I will not confine a post to just one topic, this is a waste of time in such a subject matter that involves so many different perspectives and requires explanations that perhaps Jim or others miss.

    The reference is superb because it leads to several questions, some regarding the limitations of the research itself, several mentioned within, myself, being a chemist, I must find literature and journals which provide a foundation for further inquiry… taylor series gets thrown around here, but some of the posters here do not even know how to use cramer’s rule using matrices which is very valuable in both physics and chemistry.

    There are more thorough and peer reviewed journal citations and textbooks and other publications which I also included for further analysis; as someone who teaches this professionally I stand behind the brief reference as superb!!! because it makes one ask several questions and find more data regarding this area of research. The other references are citations and when read in conjunction with the ‘blog’ addition it all becomes quite clear, and no, we must not a=only speak about high end predictions or modeling, at any rate, enough about that, Jim, myself and others are discussing many concepts, equations and real world conditions in atmospheric chemistry and physics.

    Comment by jcbmack — 6 Dec 2008 @ 7:13 PM

  601. Jim,
    in time the rules, laws, math, citations and so forth will become clearer and will not seem so disjointed. As much as is measured and observed, there is also so much yet to discover, but the tools and most of the technology already exists and all the major discoveries have already been made in physics and chemistry, and they do add up to a cohesive and detailed story, but to post it, takes time.

    Comment by jcbmack — 6 Dec 2008 @ 8:18 PM

  602. To be more democratic and balanced here are the more complete contrarian arguments to the IPCC report, actually Jim is basing some considerable weight on his thoughts on Kirchoff’s law based upon these arguments and accusations of the IPCC and supposed violations of Kirchoff’s law, so to include such reports with a flood of empirical data and spectroscopic analysis is imperative to unwinding the argument through direct analysis of what we have measured, what assumptions are based upon inviolable laws and what, may not settled yet in the science. The IPCC report is impressive and I have read it many times and I intend to look at the parts that relate to this line of argument, but first I am establishing rapport and looking at the contrarian arguments like anything else in science, objectively and with great care and patience. Some assumptions are not upheld by solid evidence while others are merely technicalities and are foolish to debate over, but not knowing where Jim would like to take this exactly, well, the arguments must be known and understood, the actual measurements, experiments, numbers crunched, graphs, data etc… I assure you I am not working in one direction, taking any report (including the IPCC report, or Hansen) or blog at face value. Now obviously I cannot perform every experiment or actually work in every industry and have access to all proprietary data or certain coefficients (I play with graphs and various multipliers, parameters, and scenarios) so we must all have faith in science, we must trust some people’s work, but when speaking to a person like Jim who is sharp, but may be missing some key elements, how better to answer an inquisitive mind, by throwing down reports where the attributions are difficult to understand by most people, data that they may be predisposed to believe is biased alone, or to talk it through? Of course I have cited legitimate peer reviewed lit and reputable textbooks, but this is a place to discuss and yes, debate while bringing up those materials that are controversial, down right wrong, so so and extremely accurate, but what is the standard to judge accuracy, when so many different people from various backgrounds and perspectives come here and write out political views, encyclopedia articles, their own field work, where sometimes the ‘alarmist,” is more dangerous than the denialist or skeptic when it comes to an informed discussion.

    Incidentally they do make some correct assertions regarding LTE versus GTE, and if it were left there, one might get a partially informed, scientifically correct explanation and come to the wrong conclusion.

    The Oceans and Climate
    By Grant R. Bigg Good treatment of this subject on GOOGLE books search. (yes I read

    what I cite and post)

    There is of course an overlap between several of the textbooks and the journals I cite, but with the confusion I still see here and the elementary questions asked, people are just not reading or if they are, they are not understanding.

    Some of my students are denialists, but they create very sophisticated arguments, better than I see in the denial camps and more sophisticated and believable than many ‘alarmists.’

    Comment by jcbmack — 6 Dec 2008 @ 10:20 PM

  603. My last recommendation for a long time regarding this subject; Hypersonic Aerothermodynamics By John J. Bertin

    Comment by jcbmack — 7 Dec 2008 @ 2:19 AM

  604. Jcbmack, for Christ’s sake. Get a blog.

    Comment by Richard C — 7 Dec 2008 @ 9:34 AM

  605. BPL 581: Photons have no REST MASS.

    They do have a relativistic mass.

    Come on! That’s REALLY basic A level physics (cf High School, 18 yo).

    And going at light speed, relativistic mass goes to 0/0 which is undefined (see also Sin(x)/x when x->0) so can only be calculated to a value if you have how the zero’s are being approached by the numerator and denominator.

    And the result is that if the energy of the photon is E, it’s relativistic mass is


    Which lead to the equation:


    You may have heard of this one…

    Comment by Mark — 7 Dec 2008 @ 9:34 AM

  606. Guenter, 582.

    OK, so where’s the beef?

    If a/A is going to zero is the problem, then the last denominator tends to 1 and we have what I put in earlier: the number it goes to overall depends on how B/b goes to zero and your problem with the value as pertains to a/A being zero is moot since you only have a problem by ignoring B/b.

    If a/A is going to infinity, then the 1+infinity is effectively infinity and you should cancel out the A and a terms and you have terms relating to b and B. Which was pointed out in 579(?) by me.

    Overall, I’m afraid I don’t see where the beef is. The only possibility is that you’re forgetting there are more terms than a/A in the equation and they aren’t constants so have a say in where the overall number is going as you change a and A.

    Comment by Mark — 7 Dec 2008 @ 9:39 AM

  607. Mark #606,
    Let me rephrase my original post and state the equation from J. T. Houghton again.
    Would you agree: if a21/A21 goes to infinity then A21/a21 goes to zero?
    So the remaining value of the brackets ((c*b12*A21)⁄(4*π*a21*B12))
    goes to zero, if one does not provide an additional argument why the brackets remain at a finite value? I am just missing this argument in J. T. Houghton’s book and was asking if anyone can provide it.
    Best regards

    Comment by Guenter Hess — 7 Dec 2008 @ 10:53 AM

  608. Mark is right Barton, high school physics.

    Comment by jcbmack — 7 Dec 2008 @ 1:37 PM

  609. 607. Only if you don’t change b/B. In which case you can get nonzero again.

    Or c could change to infinity too, giving infinity divided by infinity which is undefined again.

    So for there to be a problem, you have to show that in such a case, b/B or C don’t likewise change to infinity/zero.

    Comment by Mark — 7 Dec 2008 @ 2:26 PM

  610. Mark #607,

    Thanks again for your patience.
    You wrote:
    “Only if you don’t change b/B. In which case you can get nonzero again.Or c could change to infinity too, giving infinity divided by infinity which is undefined again. So for there to be a problem, you have to show that in such a case, b/B or C don’t likewise change to infinity/zero.”
    Wouldn’t you think the author of the equation should have specified that more clearly? Or should the reader speculate?
    I called that initially mathematically questionable or ill defined, is it not?.
    I was just looking in this forum, if somebody can kindly fill that gap the author left me with. The equation is the central equation to understand LTE and non-LTE situation and I like to get that clarified.
    With c Houghton describes the concentration of the absorber.
    Capital B12 is the Einstein coefficient for absorption. With b21 he describes the Einstein coefficient for activation by collision.
    Best regards

    Comment by Guenter Hess — 7 Dec 2008 @ 4:30 PM

  611. Richard, I do not have the time or patience to focus on my own blog with the detail it would need.

    Comment by jcbmack — 7 Dec 2008 @ 6:09 PM

  612. Mark,

    Photons have momentum. They do not have mass. You can invert the Einstein mass-energy relationship and use it to say “this is the mass of a photon,” but you’ll still be wrong.

    And photons can only travel at the speed of light.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 Dec 2008 @ 8:32 AM

  613. Mark is wrong, jcbmack, college physics. Photons do not have mass. Deal with it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 8 Dec 2008 @ 8:33 AM

  614. High school and college physics are both approximations, and nobody publishing in physics journals is claiming everything important is known. Find that claim on blogs.

    Make the effort and you’ll find information like this:

    “… If the rest mass of the photon were non-zero, the theory of quantum electrodynamics would be “in trouble” primarily through loss of gauge invariance, which would make it non-renormalisable; also, charge conservation would no longer be absolutely guaranteed, as it is if photons have zero rest mass. But regardless of what any theory might predict, it is still necessary to check this prediction by doing an experiment.

    It is almost certainly impossible to do any experiment that would establish the photon rest mass to be exactly zero. The best we can hope to do is place limits on it. A non-zero rest mass would introduce a small damping factor in the inverse square Coulomb law of electrostatic forces. That means the electrostatic force would be weaker over very large distances.

    Likewise, the behavior of static magnetic fields would be modified. An upper limit to the photon mass can be inferred through satellite measurements of planetary magnetic fields. The Charge Composition Explorer spacecraft was used to derive an upper limit … slightly improved in 1998 by Roderic Lakes in a laboratory experiment …. Studies of galactic magnetic fields suggest a much better limit …, but there is some doubt about the validity of this method….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Dec 2008 @ 10:27 AM

  615. Guenter, my recommendation would be to keep focused on the physics. Nothing is really going to either infinity or zero. Rather a21 is simply much, much greater than A21, which enables you to equate [a21/A21]/[1+(a21/A21]=1. At the same time, I think A21/a21 will get very small, but is still finite, not zero. Houghton is just being a little fast and loose with terminology.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Dec 2008 @ 11:21 AM

  616. BPL, 612, so you must know what, essentially, mass IS, then, to know that there’s a mass that

    a) imparts momentum
    b) is affected by gravity

    but isn’t mass.

    No, really, please tell.

    Why is relativistic mass of a photon not relativistic mass of ANY OTHER PARTICLE?

    And while you’re at it, think about massive neutrinos that travel at the speed of light (part of the standard model).

    It’s High School that tells you that photons are massless.

    It’s a lie to children.

    Called teaching.

    Comment by Mark — 8 Dec 2008 @ 1:51 PM

  617. Barton, you are mistaken. That is like saying electrins do not have mass… some courses in colege emphasize that they do not, but actually they have a very negligible mass.

    E=hf where h is planks constant and f is frequency of light. Photons move at the speed of light and have and carry a certain amount of energy is equivalent to a certain amount of energy. E=MC^2 and the amount of mass is E/c^2. p= EV/C^2 since the photoelectric effect tells us nothing about about the momentum of a photon. here is the issue, a photon is never at rest and we can use equations that assume zero resting mass of a photon.

    Photons have an angular momentum independent of the frequency (v) and behave as a wave with no mass. Yet a photon is also thought of and behaves as a particle with an angular momentum with eigen values of +/- h/2pi. (boson) Even if one prefers the wave understanding, a photon still contains energy is affected by gravity and in this way has attributes of a particle which contains mass.
    Do not forget about the relationship between frequency and wavelength: V=C/Lambda, but what is interesting as well is that the energy of a photon is momentum times c. C must equal one as nothing travels faster than the speed of light and you cannot have more than 100% energy.Photons can be destroyed, but cannot be slowed or stopped, though due to the effects of quantum mechanical tunneling, light does come through slighlty slower than C outside of a vacuum. As long as 100% of the (theoretically) mass is utilized as energy then we can confidently say a photon has no mass.

    Check out the Proca equation, the Evans- Vigier field equations and some other field equations dealing with photons as having mass.
    In your journey you will encounter Dirac’s theory, matrices (cramer’s law) and a bunch of head twisting facts about both electrons and photons.

    I am low on time, I will post up a few references to get you started.

    Comment by jcbmack — 8 Dec 2008 @ 3:17 PM

  618. 617: neutrinos, I think you meant.

    Of course, there are *electron* neutrinos (and tau and a couple of others I can’t remember off the top of my head).

    But anyway, what is momentum:

    Mass times Velocity.

    What’s the photon doing with momentum then, if it doesn’t have mass?

    Comment by Mark — 8 Dec 2008 @ 4:04 PM

  619. “But anyway, what is momentum:

    Mass times Velocity.

    What’s the photon doing with momentum then, if it doesn’t have mass?”

    This is analogous to asking what the wave is doing, if there is no medium.

    Things are rather different in magnetic fields, of which electromagnetic radiation (photons) is an example. DeBroglies hypothesis gives wavelength = Planck’s constant / momentum. One can solve this equation for momentum = Planck’s constant / wavelength for light, without assuming a mass.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 8 Dec 2008 @ 5:04 PM

  620. Mark, it’s a FAQ. Just not a climate FAQ.
    See “the web version of the Usenet Physics FAQ” –>

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Dec 2008 @ 5:56 PM

  621. Hamilton you are correct on the DeBroglies hyothesis. Mark I meant photons though there applications to neutrinos as well. What I am basically saying is there is just a mass energy equivalence. Depending upon the math used and the understanding of the photon wave/particle duality, the interpretation will vary with the experiment or the approximation made. We do not need to assume mass to get correct results, but some phsyicists do assume mass and also get correct results. Mass is converted completely to energy therefore there is in a real sense no mass and recall the speed of light is a constant. I was being a little sarcastic, to me this whole argument is something out of high school. Even high school regents books do a superficial, but reasonable job in explaining the photon.

    Now, to a particle physicist (not all, but many I speak to and reference) they may prefer to consider resting mass of a photon to exist, as well as some theoretical phsyicists. Read: they also make references to descriptions made in Nature.

    Except from
    Ask an Astrophysicist:

    The Question
    (Submitted November 02, 1996)

    This questions has been bugging me and my chemistry class. Does light have mass? Most people would think not but here’s why I argue against it. Even though light does not effect anything it its path like a solid object, it is affected by gravity. Anything that has mass is affected by gravity. Why do I say that light has mass? Well, If a black holes gravity field is so strong that light cannot escape itself, light must have mass? Am I right? Everyone argues against it.

    Enter Albert Einstein. In 1915 he proposed the theory of general relativity. General relativity explained, in a consistent way, how gravity affects light. We now knew that while photons have no mass, they do possess momentum (so your statement about light not affecting matter is incorrect). We also knew that photons are affected by gravitational fields not because photons have mass, but because gravitational fields (in particular, strong gravitational fields) change the shape of space-time. The photons are responding to the curvature in space-time, not directly to the gravitational field. Space-time is the four-dimensional “space” we live in — there are 3 spatial dimensions (think of X,Y, and Z) and one time dimension.

    Now, being scientists, we do not just accept theories like general relativity or conclusions like photons have no mass. We constantly test them, trying to definitively prove or disprove. So far, general relativity has withstood every test. And try as we might, we can measure no mass for the photon. We can just put upper limits on what mass it can have. These upper limits are determined by the sensitivity of the experiment we are using to try to “weigh the photon”. The last number I saw was that a photon, if it has any mass at all, must be less than 4 x 10-48 grams. For comparison, the electron has a mass of 9 x 10-28 grams.

    As was the case with Jim there comes a point where words really do not suffice, it just becomes long equations, lots of different types of math and approximations.

    Comment by jcbmack — 8 Dec 2008 @ 6:01 PM

  622. Mark I see what you meant, I was referring to electrons and neutrinos, but did not have time to type out the thought, when one argues about a photon, a good textbook does a good treatment of electrons first.

    Comment by jcbmack — 8 Dec 2008 @ 6:03 PM

  623. describes relativistic mass, but it is not necessarily mass itself, it is the energy change that is equivalent to mass, Barton and Mark have one side of the same coin argument going on here.I swear I took to many courses in the colleges I attended, I would never do it again, it was tiring.

    Comment by jcbmack — 8 Dec 2008 @ 6:07 PM

  624. One further note: when the term mass is used, people usually mean rest mass. The photon is never at rest.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 8 Dec 2008 @ 6:07 PM

  625. Certanly light moves due to some force so thinking of photons has having mass like qualities cannot hurt.

    Comment by jcbmack — 8 Dec 2008 @ 6:39 PM

  626. jcbmack, OK, this is off topic, but: actually, from the point of view of the photon as the gauge boson for electromagnetism, masslessness is critical to the theory. When symmetry was broken between the weak nuclear force and electromagnetism, the W and Z bosons gained mass, while the photon did not, and this explains the drastically different natures of the two forces. So, while it may be convenient in some cases to think of the mass equivalent of photon energy, it’s never truly correct.

    ReCAPTCHA waxes poetic about symmetry breaking: hiding music

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Dec 2008 @ 8:51 PM

  627. Ray,
    in that case you are right and in general that is a correct statement, but that is not an unanimous assertion in the physics community or in all subdivisions. Also if you read my prior posts, I generally come to that conclusion, but in certain cases in infinitesimal moments photons can be thought as having a mass. The photon is not at rest so we cannot speak in literal terms of a resting mass. More on this and related topics soon, and as always I enjoy your posts as you are the only blogger here I believe is in physics for real. Us chemists can tell.

    Comment by jcbmack — 8 Dec 2008 @ 10:25 PM

  628. Ray, also keep in mind I was being a little sarcastic with Barton and Mark’s debate.

    Comment by jcbmack — 8 Dec 2008 @ 10:27 PM

  629. #619 However, Alexandre Proca under de Broglie’s guidance wrote a modification of Maxwell’s equations which provides for non zero mass (though very small) of a photon while preserving the invariance of electrodynamics under the transformations of special relativity. The Lagrangian density Proca wrote is: L = −F αβ F^ αβ /4 − m 2 c 4 A α A α /2(hc) 2 ,(3)
    with F αβ = ∂α A β − ∂ β Aa.

    Now, personally it does not matter at all if a photon has mass or not, in regards to out discussion here, and when I teach a general chemistry or physics students, I tend to say they have no mass and call it a day, or if they persist, I show them and tell them how complicated it really is, and they stop asking questions.

    Basically for all intensive purposes, either Mark or Barton may be considered correct, however, the arguments get real nasty if we are to really proceed with it, but I suspect that is NOT the general consensus whether or not the people have a background in this subject matter or not, because who do know most textbooks even college will tend to dismiss the issue in a simple manner, but the ongoing research takes us to all kinds of hypotheses and theories. It is difficult to talk of this in words at all, without all the expansions, corrections (math does not work without several transformations, I am no mathematician and do not want to be, but the adaptations required in the physics and chemistry is enormous, x and y coordinates do not even get to the answer in orbitals as an off topic, but relevant example, they must be converted, as well as when we deal in polar or non polar coordinates or with eigen functions or values with photons)

    I have seen Mark make several good contributions to these threads, what I wonder is will there be solid points on either side of this discussion, there are many variations and takes in the fields on this topic, but it does not build green communities or a bridge for that matter, we need more engineers in these threads and more engineers assisting in correcting GHG emissions.

    Comment by jcbmack — 9 Dec 2008 @ 12:50 AM

  630. Then again I have seen some mathematicians hair go white when they say the Physical Chemistry mathematics summed up in but an instant.

    Comment by jcbmack — 9 Dec 2008 @ 2:01 AM

  631. Ray, you and BPL seem to be forgetting I am not saying the photon as a non-zero rest mass.

    But when it is there and traveling at C, it does have mass.

    The problem with “think of the mass equivalent of energy” is that we don’t know what MASS is.

    My professor had this meme firmly set in his head but it was my first week at university and I should have said “So what is MASS, then?” but I was too green and thought that a professor would know.

    But he didn’t. Nobody does.

    Hank, 620. See about “lies to children”. It’s a FAQ. Not a deep delve into the deeper reality. If you stop a photon, it disappears. However, if you stop a positrino with your hand, it disappears.

    What is mass. The FAQ doen’t say except the nearly tautological “photon’s don’t have it”. They don’t at rest.

    And how about the other way? If you push a mass it moves. Force = mass x acceleration. Mass. But if you get fast enough, you need more force to make it go faster. Force hasn’t gone down, but acceleration has. So mass has gone up.

    But that’s EXACTLY THE SAME PROCESS as gave a photon its mass.

    Worse, if you go close enough to a particle, it is figured that you will find the masses different in the same way that the electron charge is shielded somewhat.

    How about the elecron itself. gravity is caused by mass and depends on the density of the mass. But an elecron has no physical extend (to the best of measurement, provably). so if it has ANY mass, it has to be infinite density.


    Again, mass as being something special is unsupported.

    The only difference between the bosonic photon and the baryonic matter is that the photon has zero rest mass. Stopping it kills it. But, it can re-create itself and continue its journey. That’s how you get refraction and a lower than speed-of-light photon in a medium: it stops for a rest at an atom, adding to the time it takes to move from A to B, traveling at the speed of light between these stops but overall taking more time to cross the distance.

    But these oddities are not addressed in the FAQ, are they.

    Because they are pretty deep but don’t illuminate anything that has much of a difference.

    t_p_hamilton: the photon creates it’s own medium (magnetic field change causes an orthogonal electric field change, the changing electric field causes an orthogonal magnetic field which retards the earlier magnetic field and creates an orthoginal electric field which retards…).

    A longitudinal wave its own medium.

    I’m afraid your analogy is incorrect.

    Please, explain the question. Why is it mass when matter is imparting momentum but not when a photon is. What IS mass. You missed that in trying to craft a pointless analogy that doesn’t work.

    And those equations are not reality. They are the mathematical analogue of the effects of reality. Much like “gravity is the newtonian force between massive bodies” gives you the ability to slingshot probes billions of miles to orbit and pass bodies within 10 miles yet it isn’t what gravity IS.

    Reality is what it is. Our theories are the best explanation of what we see it doing. They aren’t the reality. Which is why they can change (as opposed to more fundamental christian who believes the bible IS reality and therefore cannot accept any option that there’s something wrong with any event that doesn’t fit with it). A christian who believes that the Bible is an explanation written down of reality knows that people explain things poorly sometimes and miss stuff out. And can therefore accept a real world that shows evidence of actions that do not conform to the explanation.

    Don’t treat maths as TRUTH as per fundie.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Dec 2008 @ 3:49 AM

  632. Yet further off topic: I did find this result

    The story concerns the rest mass of the proton, which is substantially greater than that of the quarks and gluons that make it up. Theorists have long contended that the difference is in the kinetic energies of the constituents–and it turns out that works well as an explanation. Not pertinent to photons per se, but it does show energy/mass equivalence.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Dec 2008 @ 6:13 AM

  633. The FAQ gives the cites to the experimental work. Beyond that it’s “arguable” if you enjoy the digression. Smaller than a molehill.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Dec 2008 @ 11:05 AM

  634. Mark, mass is a result of symmetry breaking of the electroweak force. It’s connection to gravity and inertia, the equivalence between gravitational and inertial mass and so on–those are the really deep mysteries. (BTW gravitation does not depend at all on density–only mass and position.) In particle physics, when we speak of the mass of a particle, we are referring to its rest mass, as that is the relevant quantity for understanding its behavior, and the only unambiguous definition of a particle’s mass. Also massless vs. massive gauge bosons give rise to dramatically different characters for the force they mediate. It is my fervent hope that we will understand mass much better once the LHC fires up in earnest.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Dec 2008 @ 11:39 AM

  635. Mark said:”t_p_hamilton: the photon creates it’s own medium (magnetic field change causes an orthogonal electric field change, the changing electric field causes an orthogonal magnetic field which retards the earlier magnetic field and creates an orthoginal electric field which retards…).”

    Quantum field theory says there is a zero point field with ZERO photons. The medium is space itself. If you place an atom in an excited state in a cavity is constructed such that there is no zero point field corresponding to the frequency of spontaneous emission, then a photon will not emit.

    “Please, explain the question. Why is it mass when matter is imparting momentum but not when a photon is. What IS mass. You missed that in trying to craft a pointless analogy that doesn’t work.”

    Indeed, what IS mass. If you wish to use relativistic mass, which in the case of the photon is all that it has, it is fine to do so for photons as you have been arguing.

    Here is the problem with such an approach:

    Particles that have a rest mass cannot go at the speed of light because the kinematic mass becomes infinite, via a relation of how the rest mass gets multiplied by a factor that becomes infinite. Massless particles (i.e. zero rest mass) such as photons do not have this limitation. That is why the distinction is made.

    This is why speaking of the momentum of a photon as just mv= mc has problems – it invites people to think of photons as if they were a “regular” particle with a rest mass, since that is what the m in p = mv is.

    Neutrinos have rest mass, hence they do not travel at the speed of light.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 9 Dec 2008 @ 12:47 PM

  636. Ray, 634. But the gravitational strength does depend on density:


    But the Mass of the object depends on the density:


    So if the entire mass of the larger body is within your radius,



    So if you get closer to an electron, the gravitational force is higher.


    Now you could have seen that yourself except you were concentrating on how I was wrong.

    Did I tell JCB that he was wrong and that electrons DID have mass? About 511KeV IIRC. No. I figured he could be right if he misspoke and meant electron nutrinos.

    You know, it’s funny that just recently I was lightly lambasted for being agressive in my querying. Yet when it comes down to it, the ones that complained about me are just as bad.

    Funny odd, not funny ha ha.

    But then again, one thing that annoyed me about “Volcanoes do more in one year than humanity has done in its lifetime” was I couldn’t understand how such absolute nonsense could be spouted. Someone looked at the figures and thought it right. Or at least not trivially provably wrong.

    Then I figured it out: someone was talking about the great extinction when supervolcanoes DID gush out trillions of tons of CO2 and other nasties over a short period of time.

    And now I could see where it came from.

    And so I could counter it: When did the volcanoes do all this?

    They either answer wrong (Mt St Helens) and you can counter that with real figures. Or they own up they don’t know and you mention the great extinction and ask them if they think we would survive that? And no, we wouldn’t, so it’s hardly safe to say we’re a little better than that event.

    But back to Ray’s points.

    They don’t answer what mass is and why the relativistic mass gained by a boson is different from the relativistic mass gained by a photon is different.

    He says that they undergo different forces, but then again, so do quarks. And WIMPs. Yet they have mass. Gluons? Nutrinos? Maybe. Neutrons don’t undergo electric forces. Does that make them not matter?

    So saying that photons don’t have mass when moving because they aren’t bosons is, as I put earlier with a similar reply, tautological.

    I do think that the LHC wiull show us something, even if it’s just “that’s not the answer”. However, if it finds the Higgs boson, that only tells us where inertial mass comes from. It doesn’t help find out why gravitational mass is there.

    And as far as I know (which has been proven lacking before), there’s still no idea whether Higgs particles interact with photons or whether they are only sharing the interaction. Heck, we don’t even know the nutrinos have no mass.

    So unless you know better, photons have mass. There’s no difference between them and, just like axial spin around a diatom has no energy in that axis (because you can’t see it spin since it is symmetric around the axis), if you can’t tell the difference, there is none.

    Heck, general and special relativity RELY and ABUSE that notion to get their way:

    Special: Light speed is constant for any observer
    General: You can’t tell the difference between gravitational acceleration and lateral acceleration

    Pretty darn fundamental. If you can’t tell the difference, there is none.

    And to get waaay back into topic, that non-zero mass of a massless at rest photon comes about because although relativistic mass is gamma times rest mass, when gamma becomes infinity, you don’t necessarily have zero any more.

    (the oracle says: of homer. It does seem a little like that…) ;-)

    Comment by Mark — 9 Dec 2008 @ 1:43 PM

  637. 635: t_p, that’s a consequence of uncertainty, not quantum. Quantum is why you can get energy out of it: place two planes side by side close enough and you can’t fit all the energetic waves in there and the lack of some of them means there’s a mismatch between the energy between the plates and the energy density outside the plates.

    That has NOTHING TO DO with photons and how they work, though.

    Nutrinos have to have mass for the standard model. But they have to go at the speed of light.


    And, since you never get a photon not moving at the speed of light, making the point is pointless.


    There is no distinction beteen the MASS of a photon and a mass of a particle. Except by the speed they are going.

    Note: in many, many cases, real life ™ doesn’t do infinities. The infinities are part of the mathematics used to describe the model of what real life ™ does.

    Did you READ what I put in #631? It doesn’t seem like it.

    So the maths says c is impossible because 1/(c^2-v^2) becomes infinity.

    Now what really goggles me is that this whole stuff started because of Guenther’s comments about infinities and zero’s. Which was eventually closed one would hope with Ray’s comment #615.

    Which is exactly as applicable here.

    You can think. Do so.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Dec 2008 @ 1:53 PM

  638. Coda on 635: neutrinos *according to the standard model* have mass. But if they have mass then the proton decays into a neutron which has not yet been seen.

    They don’t necessarily have rest mass. The standard model assumes they must.

    Then again, they don’t seem to be traveling sublight either. What, then, if you know they don’t travel at the speed of light, is the speed of a nutrino?

    Please stop making the model==reality mistake.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Dec 2008 @ 2:18 PM

  639. Mark, Gavin has been more than tolerant of this little digression. Just a couple of things. First, photons are bosons–massless ones, which therefore means that the force they mediate has a 1/r^2 dependence. And in fact, it does, to arbitrary accuracy. Second, the standard model does not “assume” neutrinos have rest mass. Rather, the observation of neutrino oscillations shows that at least one flavor of neutrino must have mass. (Note, my first particle physics experiment was a neutrino oscillation experiment.) Third, no gravity does not depend on density, but rather on mass and distance. It doesn’t matter whether the matter exerting the gravitational field is soap bubbles or degenerate nuclear material. Finally, the kinematics of particles traveling null paths (speed of light), is different from that of massive particles–gamma don’t enter into it. A null particle must always travel at light speed. A timelike particle must always travel slower, and a spacelike particle must have imaginary rest mass.
    If you would like a good reference to improve your understanding of particles and fields or of the standard model of particle physics, I would be happy to look through my library and see what I can recommend.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Dec 2008 @ 3:03 PM

  640. “Please stop” is a good idea. Wait for the experimentalists to narrow the range of uncertainty.
    That’s the nice thing about being able to experiment.

    If we had a spare planet we could wait for the climatologists to do the same. But alas, it’s different for climate science.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Dec 2008 @ 3:16 PM

  641. Mark,
    actually natural events like volcanoe eruptions and create eruptions and explosions (meteorites) in the teraton region and even higher. If we were to have a large volcanic eruption which is quite possible, then we couldbe sent back into an ice age and if it occurred by a society, many people could be killed, injured and displaced. Nothing we can do in the artificial realm can match the awesome forces of nature, to be sure, we have amazing adaptive capacity, however, when nature wants to have her way, she has her way.
    Mark, I also tend to agree with you to some extent, but there are absolute and even natural, inherent mathematical truths, without getting into a descartes, Hume and Kantian argument, it should seem somewhat apparent that some math is exact, not approximate or subject to precision and precision error. Now, in quantum states, statiistical mechanics and so forth, we must rely upon a combination of laws, theories, hyptoheses, experiments and those in between statements known as postulates. Now with the postulates of quantum mechanics we must make assumptions and along the way, corrections, but without them we would have no way to access physical chemistry or many aspects of quantum physics whatsoever, yet they have stood up to the test of time. Also, themrodynamics is truth, not a vague or theoretical theory or amendable law. No matter what specialty in physics, math or chemistry we all know that there is no possible way to violate thermodynamics, Stephen Hawking tried and failed and had to scrap his old theory of black holes where he believed that matter and energy disappeared in them, which would violate the first law. (we are not even sure the event horizon exists as of yet)Now regarding electrons and misspeaking (no I am not just trying to prove you wrong, we are talking this out as we should as scientists) it relates back to you earlier statement about lies to children and undergraduate students. We often tell early students to consider electrons themselves to have no mass or that it is so negligible that it is unimportant at this time. Only Pchem and the implications of quantum mechanics can really explain what an electron is, how the probability of its position and momentum are calculated and understood, other than that we “lie,” to out gen chem and even organic chem students in many way. Sigma positive and sigma negative charges for example do not actually mean there are positive or negative charges, no these charges do not exist in nature, it merely means that two like charges (or forces) repel and two different attract.

    Now, the models, no argument there, models can be quite effective, but do not belong in absolute truths, like in a Platonic forms sense, nor do they tell absolute truth, but the laws of physics do and without chemistry physics would be quite void and theoretical (the chemists take truths from their approximations and make lasers work in CD players and photodynamic chemotherapies etc… these are absolute facts by their very nature.)The GCM’s are another example, no one knows all the states of the atmosphere oceans and surface, that is too vast, but the GCM’S do a good job at approximations and inl light of much emprical data, or truths provide insights and a good idea of how the burning of fossil fuels are contributing to warming and of course at times dimming and cooling.

    Back to photons, both arguments have validity as I stated before, as depending upon ones own mental schema or representation of the facts, laws, theories and approximations, specialized field(s) and the professors they actually had, (my early gen chem professor was a physical chemist and influenced me and constantly taught physics and cosmological principles while teaching gen chem, and (his thermal expansion was the worst I have yet to hear, after class in his office) the lasting ways of looking at the concepts. No two scientists see exactly the same way a law or theory precisely, just no two people in the world perceive color exactly the same (even twins) either.
    Regarding neutrinos, as already stated I see what you meant there, and I have no argument about neutrinos, only that I misspoke, since you already agree we must lie to undergraduates. A real conversation here, if one develops would involve very few words after all and lots of mathematical expansions, which I have no trouble doing. After pchem graduate level physics courses of which I took a few, were not a problem, neither was nuclear chemistry nuclear physics or the understanding a graduate textbook in astrophysics, though that is the field you work in, it is just one slice of a much larger pie.

    Having said all of that, I like your argument in favor of photon mass relativistically, since this is a general consensus among many physicists and chemists anyways. I like Ray’s argument as well from his perspective in radiation physics, and it also concurs with many in related fields. One of my physics professors years ago argued elegantly that we could never really know if a photon has masss or not, another argued vehemently with all kinds of equations and postulates that is certainly does NOT have mass, still another led me to a book, which I long ago lost (when I recall the title I will recommend it) which argued that in an infinitesimal point in space time, a photon literally has a mass literally, and other than that it does not.

    Comment by jcbmack — 9 Dec 2008 @ 3:57 PM

  642. Now in a sense as an object approaches the speed of light it reaches infinite mass, and at the speed of light all mass is convrted into energy and has no mass, but mass equivalence. Elementary I know, but sometimes people cannot see the forest for the trees.

    Comment by jcbmack — 9 Dec 2008 @ 4:01 PM

  643. 1/838 of an AMU is not easy for an early chem student to understand. Mass at that point requires a different perceptual understanding, yet literally it does have a slight physical mass, whereas photons are far more difficult to narrow down with any measurement tool we have at our disposal so at that point it becomes even difficult for those who are experts to agree on such an issue and concept.

    Comment by jcbmack — 9 Dec 2008 @ 4:19 PM

  644. Yes agreed, Ray, Gavin has been very tolerant, if you guys want to consider having this conversation elsewhere on a more technical level, let me know. One word of caution, both Ray and Mark have made valid points, if one comes from the perspective of Penrose, Ray is right regarding photons and mathematical truths, and if one follows some of the more theoretical physicists than Mark is right. I agree with Hank and Ray on this one, this is not the place to post 2 pages of data three of math and long winded arguments outside the sope of global warming, but I am game for a real discussion elsewhere, still senior AP high school meets sophomore college.

    Comment by jcbmack — 9 Dec 2008 @ 4:24 PM

  645. “So the maths says c is impossible because 1/(c^2-v^2) becomes infinity.”

    Sometimes the infinity is useful, for example, it explains why particle accelerators have this speed limit c. In other cases, there is a clear breakdown because we have gone into a realm in which no experiments have been done, and the theory which says infinity may not apply. Your gravity example for point particles but using theories derived from nonquantum systems being one example.

    “Then again, they don’t seem to be traveling sublight either. What, then, if you know they don’t travel at the speed of light, is the speed of a nutrino?”

    Pretty close to the speed of light? :)

    “Please stop making the model==reality mistake.”

    Models are useful, and improved models are more useful. I believe that the latter is closer to reality than the former. If you do not believe that, then it seems pointless to learn science (voluntarily) at all.

    Sometimes simplified models have useful insights to give, even though they are not reality for sure.

    I am pretty flexible, but if I had to bet on whether a particle with rest mass can’t go at c, or whether the neutrino particle has mass or not (or travels at c or not), I would pick the latter as being more uncertain. Maybe there is another explanation of neutrino flavor oscillation that does not require mass.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 9 Dec 2008 @ 4:46 PM

  646. T P Hamilton, a pretty good reference on neutrino oscillations, including solar neutrinos. There is no way to get neutrino oscillations without at least one flavory having nonzero mass. Bruno Pontecorvo is the guy who worked out the theory back in the 50s–long before it was observed.
    You will remember that the deficit of neutrinos initially caused many to question how stable solar output was–thus returning the subject to a more climate related subject…

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Dec 2008 @ 5:23 PM

  647. Ray, if you want to stop, you should have just said “stop”.

    Continuing on yourself is quite rude: either they answer and look like meanies or they let you have the last word even if there are elements they wish to either discuss, disagree or counter.

    So I’ll do better than that: tell you off for telling someone else to do something you don’t do yourself: stop the offtopic thread.

    I did pull it back in with why the thread went OT: 0/0 and Guenter.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Dec 2008 @ 6:24 PM

  648. Dear All,

    Is the follwoing generally true? I believe it is, and if so may help in understanding.

    An inevitable property of massless particles is their lack of rest. Hence rest mass is neither an option nor meaningful. Sorry if that is a bit cute.

    Mass is in that sence the ability to be at rest. (A Quantum Mechanic might argue whether anything can ever be at rest, I am sure.)

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 9 Dec 2008 @ 7:10 PM

  649. Mark, Mea culpa, however, I’m afraid it doesn’t take much to get me going on particle physics. I did my PhD in the subject, and since I don’t work in it, I don’t have much call to deal with the concepts. I am serious, though, if you want to learn more about the standard model, I’d be happy to recommend books. It really is a beautiful theory.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Dec 2008 @ 7:39 PM

  650. Mark 636. The interpretation of “r” is not the same in the two formulae you give for gravity and mass-density. The substitution of r^3 over r^2 doesn’t yield r, since the r’s are not referencing the same quantity.

    Comment by Brian Brademeyer — 9 Dec 2008 @ 10:33 PM

  651. Mark and Ray, mass and energy commute. If we were able to slow a photon down enough we would get mass, but we cannot. We have done some interesting research where we may assume a mass on this side of the fence, but we cannot be completely sure. Ray, out of interest, what subject matter did you do your PHD in regarding particle physics specifically? I would like to know about your insights and perhaps take a read. I find particle physics interesting, though I did no PHD work in it, I can certainly understand it. Mark what do you specifically work in and what was your thesis and/or dissertation in? You both present reasonable arguments, but in the end we need more data through a method to slow a photon. Now light through a medium is related to snell’s law, but it is still quantum mechanical tunneling effects the slows the emission of light slightly outside a vacuum, but at any rate, we can continue this discussion as far as you would like, but us chemists make that blue laser that gives us those discs:) I think it is more practical to use what we know into applications.
    And this debate does not end up in better applications. There are arguments on both sides that are valid and from reputable sources, but this conversation takes me out of boredom, so if you want to get more technical and mathematical, I am ready to participate, as this is an interesting area that involves some of my own professional experience.

    My library is also quite extensive if either one of you need recommendations, this has been alot of fun, even if absolutely fruitless. After a while in science letters after a name are just letters after a name, it does not know your name and I have met some people with the most letters get a simple concept like hammond’s postulate wrong and make a drug that killed a bunch of people, no company names, read between the lines. The same goes for climate change, what can we do, how, why, how do we know? Photons get absorbed, emitted, destroyed, blah, blah, blah, but we know much about their effects and in some ways how to harness them, where do we go from here? I often think about these things, I have a handful of engineering classes under my belt, the rest comes from, talking to engineers, and reading their publications: what can we do, what can’t we do, this matters. Competition can breed excellence, but as I said to Mark in one of my first posts, we need more data. Without general relativity and Einstein’s equations, we would not have GPS and other applications, it was far more “special,” than special relativity as: Hendrik Lorentz, Henri Poincare’ had developed transformations before him, Joseph Larmor had done some work, Hermann Mikowski came up with idea to combine space and time and so forth. Point is even Einstein did not have a full handle on the implications of his theories and even as he developed them, others assisted prior to and in conjunction with him, we too must work together and create avenues for change based upon the realities and what we can actually know. None of you mentioned the uncertainty principle, we cannot know exactly the nature of a photon anymore than we can know the exact location and velocity of an electron… For a conversation like this Google is virtually useless, Britannica or wikipedia are minor players, the works of the greats themselves, the unabridged textbooks, the graduate work and real class notes and professor handouts are where it is at now. My physics teachers added a lot to the textbooks, they always thought they were too vague and incomplete and so it is with my students, Atkins is a great author, but my professor was greatly disappointed with his treatment of refrigerators and machines, and so forth. Einstein had severe problems with quantum physics which is actually connected in modern quantum physics to Einstein’s theories, and no, Mark nothing legitimately refutes General Relativity, though we may get a handle of quantum gravity and so forth one day. Even in chemistry we rely upon Einstein equations in numerous applications and we also understand that a photon acts like a wave and a particle under different observing or experimental conditions, that is really it Ray, duality is well, duality, and we can work with that and use that blue laser or utilize CO2 lasers, do biophotonic analysis of sick people and so forth.

    I remember a textbook question in undergrad Pchem where, we used Atkins and the question was this succinct: show how l and M commute. So, here is a simple one, show how mass and energy of photons commute, that is all we can really know.

    Comment by jcbmack — 9 Dec 2008 @ 11:07 PM

  652. After a double bachelors or serious masters work anyone should be able to pick up any book they want and learn it, scientists know something because they want to, my first biology professor had a PHD in the study of bacteria in yellowstone, but she was an expert on her own in H5N1 avian flu simply because she wanted to know. I truly love this blog site, but let us not forget that anything can be understood to the limits of the laws and the tools used when we really want to. And if that is not true then we would doubt the GCM’S a lot more then we do, since the laws of physics are known, but the predictive quality we have is still wanting. Mark, you do not contradict yourself, but you come close, most of science and math are made up techniques and many symbols are arbitrary representations or for those non scientists, metaphors of reality, based upon our own constructs and math is not like Plato’s chairdom literally in forms, but some math is inherently true, regardless of the symbol denoted. The models are very sophisticated at this point and I have spent considerable time looking at everything that is available and yes they all have flaws, they all have self contained limits dependent upon the methods used, assumptions made based upon the laws and current theories and modeling practices, and these models, you strongly defend, and I tend to agree as their importance potential in the future and that the science itself is relatively new in modern terms, much room for improvement may breed future excellence from skilled teams that currently exist, and Gavin’s, Mike’s, Rasmus’s, David’s and all others work from here and elsewhere are critical, informative and progressive, but no model will ever make 100% predictions or perfect accurate modeling of all global and atmospheric events, here I agree with you that models are supplementary and representations of truth and a lot of math has been created to get to closer approximations of truth. Having said this, well, keep in mind how strongly you defend uncertain models, and believe me many aspects of them are uncertain and even wrong, but we do not give them up or throw out the baby with the bath water, do we? Physics, pure physics just like pure math can make one mad, I know, this is why I mention the marriage of physics and chemistry, because it keeps one grounded and takes calc I, II,III, Iv, linear algebra, statistics, and all the laws of physics, thermodynamics, and quantum postulates together in a very unique and elegant blend. Many physicists believe that relativity is solid, but the quantum world needs a lot of refining, we shall see, but we see it as just fine, related, statistical mechanics shows this a lot and the quanta of light is agreeable and we kill cancer based upon this and we understand vision processing as well relating to this knowledge.

    Comment by jcbmack — 9 Dec 2008 @ 11:24 PM

  653. In a very real way the basic physics and chemistry is done, it is now what we do with it.

    Comment by jcbmack — 10 Dec 2008 @ 1:19 AM

  654. And here I will correct myself on one point I really should be more accurate: momentum and position:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 10 Dec 2008 @ 1:24 AM

  655. Actually this one site is not bad and covers what Ray and Mark covered with aspects of Hamilton and answers Alexanders questions, it is basic, but it covers these topics thoroughly enough and has plenty of links which answer questions and considers the standard model and invariant mass as well. Plenty of particle physics fundamentals and gauge boson material covered etc… Then maybe we can go elsewhere and have a real discussion through the physics, chemistry and math in detail, this is not difficult. Again this website is a good primer for those who do not know, those who need review and for those who can add their expertise.

    Comment by jcbmack — 10 Dec 2008 @ 3:28 AM

  656. Brian 650. Think again about where that is correct: when the diffuse body expands or shrinks to fit within the entire sphere contained by your distance from a single point.

    A point like an electron.

    Which may be a possibility cloud rather than a classically extended object, but in any case, do you know what the density of an electron is? No? Then it’s no lower than the mass of an electron divided by the volume you still haven’t found it within yet.

    Or, how about a black hole? Gravitational force becomes infinity because density becomes infinity.


    Comment by Mark — 10 Dec 2008 @ 4:00 AM

  657. Ray, 649, I think my lack is in the mathematics to tease out the meaning from the equation, not the meaning. I was always pretty hot at that and I have kept up on it.

    Similarly, if anyone knows how to tease the mathematics, maybe someone can help me answer a query (Waaaaay OT): Since photons are effected by mass, they must exchange gravitons in the quantum explanation of gravity.

    So do photons self-gravitate.

    If you have two photons side by side, exactly parallel and nothing else in the universe, will they pull each other in?

    My level of maths gets tied up on the lorentz contraction of time: if there’s no time time to swap gravitons from the photon’s POV, how can it happen? But I’m not sure I’m applying the right mathematics.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Dec 2008 @ 4:05 AM

  658. Mark, Empirically, of course, any deviation of the photons from a straight line would be 1)too small to measure and 2)would probably not be measurable anyway. After all, that would you use to determine a straight line path if not a ray of light? Over all, I think it is most useful to think in terms of general relativity–the particle curves because spacetime is curved. Quantum gravity tells us that the reason spacetime is curved is because of gravitons. However, we’re still not sure what quantum gravity will look like. The same is true when you start looking at the point-like nature of the electron–we’re not really sure if it’s point-like. String theory solves the problems by giving the electron extent in the hidden dimensions of spacetime. Renormalization theory avoids the problems by replacing the divergent terms with the what we know to be the correct value (physics in the limit of small infinity, a friend of mine called it)–and gets results that agree with experiment to more than 30 decimal places. As with climate there are things that we don’t quite understand in physics. So the physics marches on around them and they become islands of ignorance and over time the seas of knowledge rise and the islands get smaller. The contrarians would have us stop whenever we reach a point where we get stuck, but that’s not how science–and indeed human curiosity–works. By learning and explaining as much as we can when we can, we isolate what we don’t know and over time erode it away.

    BTW, keep pushing on the math. It’s only in the math that a lot of this stuff can be expressed unambiguously. Trying to express it in words is like trying to do surgery with a hammer.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Dec 2008 @ 9:13 AM

  659. jcbmack, My dissertation was written on production of charmed baryons by 800 GeV neutrons. It is now sinking into the obscurity it so richly deserves.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Dec 2008 @ 9:16 AM

  660. Dear Mark,

    You wrote:

    “Special: Light speed is constant for any observer
    General: You can’t tell the difference between gravitational acceleration and lateral acceleration”

    I think you will find that only:

    Special: Light speed is constant for all inertial (non-accelerating) observers.

    Special Relativity also deals with accelerating observers but only in a flat space-time. For instance in an linearly accelerating frame there is always an event horizon created at a surface positioned at (-c^2/a [if I remember correctly]).

    General: You can tell the difference between gravity and acceleration owing to the presence of tidal forces. There is a real difference between flat and curved space-times.


    I think a lot of confusion can be generated by Special Relativity owing to a tendency to try to use 3-velocities in equations when only the 4-velocities will do.

    If you want to know the 4-momentum you simply multiple the 4-velocity by the mass (a scalar). In order to calculate momentum using 3-velocities you multiply the velocity by the “relativistic mass” which may be convenient but not necessary. There is an amount of history tied up in this. Equations of the form m=aE/c^2 (a being a constant) arrived before Special Relativity. (It was reported that Heaviside used m=E/c^2). The use of an “effective” mass was very convenient as it allowed Newtonian mechanics to be extended to areas were it does not strictly belong (Development of particle accelerators).

    Relativistic mass can be transformed away to leave (rest) mass by a change of co-ordinate systems. A relativistic particle does not gain mass in any absolute way it is just the same old particle looked at differently.

    The term mass might be better constrained to just “rest” mass or invariant mass, the mass that stays the same. Only using the term mass without any flavour might make things a lot easier.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 10 Dec 2008 @ 9:33 AM

  661. > please stop.

    With all due respect; I know it is hard (we all do it sometimes), but those of us that are here for climate are trying to be as patient as Gavin, and some of us are not.

    Perhaps taking it over to Tamino’s Open Thread, or get a hotel room?

    Mountains and molehills indeed. ;)

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 10 Dec 2008 @ 11:27 AM

  662. 661 and “please stop”.

    Uh, this is Climate SCIENCE.

    Although the detail of the conversation has been about non-climate science, there has been a lot of talk about how you DO science. What models mean, what formula mean and what you can and can’t get away with them. It’s included discussion about how to argue science, how to ask about science and how science can be discussed.

    Now if you want to yibber on about how this isn’t pertinent, can I ask that Fred stop yacking on about how he doesn’t know what the science means. That RodB stops asking “well, can you prove it isn’t something else? What else? I dunno, you’re the climatologists, you think it out”, and all the nutters coming on here with their “it’s a natural variation” or “It’s cooling” or “In the 70’s you said we would be freezing” and “It’s cold outside!! Where’s my warming!!!!” and all the other tripe that, like the bubble of air under the vinyl wallpaper will NOT stay down.

    Can I ask for that AND get it?

    The patience Gavin has shown to me and the respondents is the same as he shows to even the dumbest poster with the tired old excuses.

    Gavin doesn’t care if it winds me up.

    Why should he care if something winds you up?

    Comment by Mark — 10 Dec 2008 @ 1:17 PM

  663. Mark, “Mea Culpa” will suffice. Most people come here to learn about climate. What they’re saying is we’ve been boring them to tears. Not everyone is interested in particle physics, and there are places those that are (like you and me) can go to discuss it.

    So, Arch, beg pardon. However, I’m sure it (digression) will happen again.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Dec 2008 @ 1:44 PM

  664. -sigh- (but no yibbering)

    Comment by Arch Stanton — 10 Dec 2008 @ 2:19 PM

  665. LOL, Ray, I enjoy old papers…I have a collection of Britannica so old, the articles are actually written by Bohr, Eisntein and so forth. I like seeing Mark wound up, it gets interesting actually and this is an older thread where we are not disturbing others, at any rate, Ray I am interested in what titles you have in your library, perhaps I missed one or two good ones:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 10 Dec 2008 @ 2:22 PM

  666. Absolutely, let me know if you guys wan tot continue elsehwere.

    Comment by jcbmack — 10 Dec 2008 @ 2:31 PM

  667. Light has been slown down and stopped:

    Still cannot tell us whether we can find mass, utilizing two lasers.

    Comment by jcbmack — 10 Dec 2008 @ 2:47 PM

  668. The first method:

    “in effect, was imprint the information carried by photons into spin patterns in clouds of atomic gases … and then reconstitute the pulses as desired”

    The other methods vary the medium–the photons are moving at the speed of light in that medium.

    A similar method — photons still moving at the speed of light _in_the_medium_:

    “Bose-Einstein condensates have optical densities such that the speed of light passing through the mass is extremely low – walking speed as opposed to its usual 186,000 miles per second.”

    and he cites a classic everyone should know:

    The solar sail experiments so far haven’t deployed properly, so we’re still waiting to see this work:

    Just saying, whatever the mass is, it’s less than a molehill per photon.

    ReCaptcha: “glasses duplex”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Dec 2008 @ 3:19 PM

  669. Throwing slabs of raw meat, I mean math, into the physics den:

    A Tutorial on the Basic Physics of Climate Change

    The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review, since that is not normal procedure for American Physical Society newsletters. The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007: “Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate.”

    By David Hafemeister & Peter Schwartz

    Abstract: In this paper, we have used several basic atmospheric–physics models to show that additional carbon dioxide will warm the surface of Earth. We also show that observed solar variations cannot account for observed global temperature increase….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Dec 2008 @ 4:01 PM

  670. Ray, 663. I stopped the conversation when you and Hank asked. Moved off into different areas. Then Arch comes along and says “I’m bored, can you do this somewhere else”.

    I figured that the rant I had had two purposes:

    1) An sidewise thank you to the patience of the owners of the site
    2) A swipe at the continued retreading over old ground that some even long-term respondents in this site mange to think worthy of repeating

    So I got to thank the nice people and slate the bad.

    Job well done, I thought.

    Mea culpa doesn’t apply. I’d stopped (though others wanted carried on) and people who don’t want to read it can, as I do with some people’s words, just, y’know, skip over.

    Saying “stop” fourteen times (exaggerated for effect)only adds thirteen messages that are redundant. A little ironic given the reason for saying “stop” is to remove redundant content from further posting.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Dec 2008 @ 4:08 PM

  671. Hank, yes you are right in this regard, a mass would be infinetesminal. Mark, enjoyed your posts, Ray let me know on those books and if you want to continue the conversation elsewhere.

    Comment by jcbmack — 10 Dec 2008 @ 5:46 PM

  672. Seriously, physics guys, have a go at the APS page:

    It’s not been peer reviewed (it’s a newsletter); it’s chock full’o’equations. It deserves a good going through by those of you who can really follow what they’re presenting and give the rest of us a review of it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Dec 2008 @ 5:59 PM

  673. but, hey, world renowned climatologist Rush Limbaugh says global wamring is impossible, so we should all just relax (wink)

    Comment by jcbmack — 10 Dec 2008 @ 6:06 PM

  674. What? That’s _old_. I thought he went extinct?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Dec 2008 @ 6:58 PM

  675. Hank, the piece by Hafemeister is sure a big improvement over that by the good Viscount. It’s pretty straightforward radiative physics, but it reads as if it’s a bit rushed–kind of like one of my old Mechanics prof’s lectures. It’s basically saying what I and others have said before: if you accept that CO2 is a greenhouse gas up to 280 ppmv, how do you get it to stop being a greenhouse gas above 280 ppmv. And if you reject CO2 as a ghg, how do you explain Earth being so far above its blackbody temperature. Still, it’s a little hard to cram a semester of planetary atmospheres into a 2 page essay.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Dec 2008 @ 8:31 PM

  676. “but, hey, world renowned climatologist Rush Limbaugh says global wamring is impossible. . .”

    So is Rush, yet he still exists. . .

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 Dec 2008 @ 9:47 PM

  677. LOL Kevin. Hank, basically, that is the issue with many of these conversations, as Ray discussed briefly, if we throw up a few pages, there are a lot of questions asked that cannot possibly be covered and if we just throw up all the math and symbols, then few people get it. There are some interesting answers of how CO2 might stop or slow down as a green house gas above 280 ppm, however, that are even more compelling than this particular paper you referenced, but there are also far more thorough papers out there that tear apart any argument that CO2 stops or slows down as a ghg after that value, so it is still good to go to the textbooks for raw calculations and then more thorough papers from there.

    Comment by jcbmack — 10 Dec 2008 @ 10:24 PM

  678. > There

    Where? Are you saying you see this in the AIP doc I cited above?

    > are some interesting answers of
    > how CO2 might stop or slow down
    > as a green house gas
    > above 280 ppm

    Well, that’s the exact claim I’d like to see someone back up.
    Do you have some notion how that could happen from your own work?
    Can someone point to a published paper arguing this point?

    It’s not a trivial claim. It would change everything if it were
    to be true. We could all relax and go on to worrying about ocean acidification instead of global warming.

    But I keep seeing armwaving and nobody points to a published paper.

    Where does this story come from?

    ReCaptcha: “Turns attractive”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:22 AM

  679. Hank, I didn’t see anything that suggested CO2 would depart from assumed behavior. It is mainly saying CO2 can account for observed warming with a known mechanism, while solar variability cannot, despite suggestive correlations with sunspot number. We already know that there are also suggestive correlations with number of Republicans in Congress–which, given the La Nina and the election results, probably still hold.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Dec 2008 @ 1:03 PM

  680. Hank, I was not suggesting a departure from CO2 as a greenhouse gas above 280 ppmv or that the paper does, what I said and was referring to actually: is that there are some papers by climatologists that state it slows down or that negative feedbacks come into play with more potency than emphasized, but that the calculations from the textbooks alongside more thorough papers overwhelmingly evidence CO2 as a ghg, but then again a volcano could reverse the warming for awhile, that is well well documented and easily found in peer review. I am not a denialist or skeptic, I just follow data and calculations.

    Comment by jcbmack — 11 Dec 2008 @ 3:08 PM

  681. You see, if one who is an absolute lay person or first two year science major, takes a good general chemistry book (like Linus Pauling’s General Chemistry)and a decent one year Physics or applied physics texbook and read a few submissions from the moderators here at RC, they will have such a profound understanding beyond the average citizen or even most other climate bloggers. The reactions you asked about on the sites you posted Hank are utilizing first semester general chemistry and basic physics. The physics was covered in the first year of chemistry, so by the time an undergraduate student has one year of physics and organic chmeistry these principles are elementary and the reactions have been looked at and wriiten out hundreds if not thousands of times. A decent global climate systems book would also correlate well the rising CO2 warming based upon chemical reactions and basic phyics as well often in the same chapter. Some gen chem books give excellent real world reactions of several GHG’s after explaining their radiation trapping properties, hence why I stated, start with the quality, reputable textbooks, do problems from each chapter and read the related concepts then these sites become very comprehensible.

    Then if one takes upper division undergraduate courses towards a bachelors in the right school (does not need to be ivy league or expensive, this is a myth) with the right teachers, the porfessors use textbooks from Oxford used in graduate school and teach the undergraduate like graduate anyways, but the students pick these teachers because they are among the best. After that, masters work is a breeze, after the cast of characters who teach you, all these reactions are very very simple.

    In my own work, Hank there have been times where I Believed global warming to perhaps be an over emphasized issue, and in some cases it is, especially when the media gets involved, either it is a catstrophic end we will meet in just a few years or it is nothing to worry about at all, rather we need to take things in proper context. AGW is real, is serious and we need to promote change, but the global reality does not allow to to occur smoothly at all, but we DO still have time even with the long life of CO2 in the atmosphere and the lag phase, etc…

    That is why it is dangerous to consider one on a side, though those who work in the study of and know that there is warming also need funding and by default have political enemies, this is the nature of being human… the science must continue to unfold. I personally walked away from research for a long time because I was disgusted and burnt out from the politics and constant funding issues and interns-assistants boching up experiments, oh and Hank just a reminder it is VERY competitive and cut throat in both industr and academic research. Mount Sinai and Stonybrook do not like new undergrad reserachers who know more and can do more than the “seasoned post doctoral trained heads of the given research.” The little chat with Mark, ray and myself was nothing, sometimes people will sabotage your work to stop you from getting results and try and hide key manuals for a given procedure and so forth… I like teaching, but I am working on a project again, we will see how time and funding go.

    Comment by jcbmack — 11 Dec 2008 @ 3:32 PM

  682. Thanks, Ray, that helps.

    > there are some papers by climatologists that state it
    > slows down or that negative feedbacks come

    JC, cites to those papers you know about would be welcome. I haven’t found any such.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Dec 2008 @ 4:00 PM

  683. Hank, you seem to have a knack for finding references, but I will help you get your start: on there are those who interpret satellite data to no indicate global warming increases due to GHG. On scholar there a few references to research that indicates GHG may have an upper limit and the natural system offsets most of not all affects, and things like El Nino and La Nina will act has valves in a sense. What this really means in reference to most of the data, especially from peer review and even respected non peer review research is that there is a global warming trend due to AGW, but it is slow and gradual process, not the sudden fast process some people assume. I also think Hansen’s coefficients, tipping point predictions are drastic, but this does nothing to say that AGW is not a serious issue, it is and that is what I tell all my students and why I come here to RC, but it is never as cut and dry as people assume. The research on natural cooling events is all over the internet and in thousands of books literally, so if we get hit the right volcanic eruption or some other natural disaster, AGW will be less serious of an issue ephemerally or in a more serious event, not a concern at all, that is a fact. We have to reduce fossil fuel emissions but we also face the threats of HIV, malaria, obesity and wars.

    Comment by jcbmack — 11 Dec 2008 @ 8:48 PM

  684. No, JC, I’m asking YOU for YOUR references.

    You claim the papers exist. Where, please?

    Don’t ask me to find references to support your statements. I don’t do “pony here somewhere” searches.

    I do homework help, but only with a letter from teacher explaining the need. Then, gladly.

    If you’ve forgotten but you’re sure you remember they exist, try the reference librarian at the college.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Dec 2008 @ 9:00 PM

  685. And, seriously, I’m not trying to hassle you. Your statement was specific — I thought you’d seen a paper about a change at 270ppm, so I asked for your source.

    If you’re stating your own conclusion, you’re entitled to your own opinion. No worries, either way. It’s useful to the reader to know the basis for the claim.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Dec 2008 @ 9:18 PM

  686. Jcbmack, can you cite specifics? I know of no research by NASA, NOAA or any other US government agency (or anyone else, for that matter) that indicates any change in forcing due to ghg. I do know of recent research that indicates increased outgassing from peat bogs in the permafrost (or former permafrost) of Siberia–a possible indication of one of Hansen’s tipping points.

    The only experiment that would definitively answer the energy balance question was scuttled by the current administration–aparently nonenquiring minds do not want to know. Until we have a specific cite, we can’t comment on whatever you are referring to.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Dec 2008 @ 9:35 PM

  687. Hank,
    I know you are not trying to hassle me, here is the point, you are inquisitive, but you need more of background, only then can you interpret for yourself, it is like when Jim picks up a Pchem book, but does know physics or chemistry, if anything I am trying to help you obtain the education you seem to want. There exists some good literature, mostly poor, I am not of the opinion that AGW is not serious or that above 280 ppm that CO2 is not a GHG, but there is some data showing that it is not as serious as others state. The rest YOU must calculate it is not hard to do.

    Comment by jcbmack — 11 Dec 2008 @ 10:10 PM

  688. jcbmack wrote: “on there are those who interpret satellite data to no indicate global warming increases due to GHG.”

    “”? Really? That’s a specific as you can be? You might as well have said instead “on the internets tubes.”

    I can be more specific, easily. How about the Earth section on You can get there by clicking on the picture of the round thing labeled “Earth” on the right side of the home page.

    There you can find only stories supporting the role of GHGs, such as the one about water vapor:

    “’This new data set shows that as surface temperature increases, so does atmospheric humidity,’ Dessler said. ‘Dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere makes the atmosphere more humid. And since water vapor is itself a greenhouse gas, the increase in humidity amplifies the warming from carbon dioxide.'”

    “Specifically, the team found that if Earth warms 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the associated increase in water vapor will trap an extra 2 Watts of energy per square meter (about 11 square feet).”

    Comment by Tom Dayton — 11 Dec 2008 @ 11:37 PM

  689. Ray,
    I will get you some citations later in the week, I do not want to be taken out of context, I have not jumped ship on the AGW issue, I also would like to see bloggers acquire basic chemistry, physics and math skills so they can interpret the charts, calculations, and reactions themselves, but I will get those citations up based upon satellite data, observations, and climate mechanisms, but yes these books, journals and research projects do exist in virtually every scientific agency and organization to some degree.

    Comment by jcbmack — 11 Dec 2008 @ 11:41 PM

  690. LOL, this is is going to get interesting and fun I see… First read every word in this article and pay close attention to the flat increases in the 1970’s despite higher CO2 levels, also look at the uncertainties of the duration of CO2 sinks, rising aerosols even currently and cooling affects of black carbon while CO2 goes up and other GHG forcings create mixed results in global mean temperature readings as CO2 gets higher, cloud formations change and dimming processes are considered briefly and other climate processes and uncertainties are alluded to:

    Now again read every word and look at all charts which show several scenarios, uncertainties and make: assumptions about reductions of CO2, aerosols and GHG in general (different take and presentation than the first reference, but look at the assumptions made and uncertainties not known to make such assumptions along with pre suppositions, a good set of possibilities, but may still be over confident in some assumptions)

    Now read this which though is not from NOAA, I found directly through the NOAA site, and they support the posting of this opposing account of many climate scientists, whether they agree as an agency remains to be seen, but this is not from wikipedia or a blog etc:

    Beyond this any climatologist knows that any serious natural offset by nature could provide a positive or negative feedback to CO2 and/or other GHG and forcings could greatly change short term conditions or even become the progenitors of a different climate trend. I do not doubt the Earth is warming overall for the last 30 years and that we must reduce all fossil fuel emissions, and that ill health effects of such gases and the chemistry and physics of GHG points in the direction of severe warming (net effect) a few decades from now,however, we must never allow ideologies replace the science and inquiring about what we do not know and to find more accurate and when we cam, precise answers, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

    But many claim that even lowering emissions now, we will see warming into 2100:

    I cannot find the specific satellite data now I was referring to, but I will soon.

    Again, we must follow science and discuss openly uncertainties and even entertain others claims to get through the myths, lies, inaccuracies, opposing data sets and show with the weight of evidence based and repeated data why we are very confident these trends are real, not just pat each other on the back and say “we are right,” and live in gloom, “we are doomed!”

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Dec 2008 @ 12:16 AM

  691. Tom, you need to read my other posts, I think you are taking me out of context.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Dec 2008 @ 12:18 AM

  692. Interesting side note:

    Reconstructed 60 Million Year Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentration Data
    Entry ID: NOAA_NCDC_PALEO_2003-069

    [ View Full Record ] [ Get Data ] [ Update this Record ]
    Knowledge of the evolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations throughout the Earth’s history is important for a reconstruction of the links
    between climate and radiative forcing of the Earth’s surface temperatures.
    Although atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in the early Cenozoic era
    (about 60Myr ago) are widely believed to have been higher than at present,
    there is disagreement regarding the exact carbon dioxide levels, the timing of
    the decline and the mechanisms that are most important for the control of CO2 concentrations over geological timescales. Here we use the boron-isotope ratios of ancient planktonic foraminifer shells to estimate the pH of surface-layer sea water throughout the past 60 million years, which can be used to reconstruct atmospheric CO2 concentrations. We estimate CO2 concentrations of more than 2,000 p.p.m. for the late Palaeocene and earliest Eocene periods (from about 60 to 52 Myr ago), and find an erratic decline between 55 and 40 Myr ago that may have been caused by reduced CO2 outgassing from ocean ridges, volcanoes and metamorphic belts and increased carbon burial. Since the early Miocene (about 24Myr ago), atmospheric CO2 concentrations appear to have remained below 500 p.p.m. and were more stable than before, although transient intervals of CO2 reduction may have occurred during periods of rapid cooling approximately 15 and 3 Myr ago.


    Abstract. The radiative balance of the Earth is influenced
    strongly by radiative cooling associated with emission of
    radiation by water vapor at far-infrared (far-IR) wavelengths
    greater than 15 μm and extending out beyond 60 μm. The
    distribution of water vapor and cirrus clouds and associated
    far-IR radiative forcings and feedbacks are well-recognized as
    major uncertainties in understanding and predicting future
    climate. Despite this fundamental importance, far-IR emission
    (spectra or band-integrated) has rarely been directly
    measured from space, airborne, or ground-based platforms.
    Current and planned operational and research satellites
    typically observe the mid-infrared only to about 15.4 μm. The
    Far-Infrared Spectroscopy of the Troposphere (FIRST)
    project is an investment by NASA through the Instrument
    Incubator Program (IIP) to develop a space-based capability
    to measure the infrared spectrum to 100 μm.


    Direct aerosol forcing is considered as the radiative
    flux including the effects scattering, absorption, and
    emission by aerosols, minus the flux without aerosols. The
    magnitude of direct aerosol forcing – and especially its
    anthropogenic component – is uncertain (IPCC, 2001).
    Like trace gases, aerosols affect the planetary radiation
    balance at TOA. Absorption of SW by aerosols a yields a
    larger forcing at the surface; this can also potentially spin
    down the hydrological cycle (i.e., Liepert et al., 2004) and
    have impacts quite different from those of increased CO2.
    A climate model simulates the response to a given forcing.
    In part because we do not know the correct aerosol forcing
    (natural and anthropogenic) of recent decades, it has not
    been possible to rigorously validate any model simulation
    of global mean tropospheric temperature spanning the same

    General Discussion:

    Now I read every word and looked at every chart in these citations, I am not saying they disprove warming by anthropogenic means, but look at what they highlight as unknown, uncertain, attempted to find, changes in natural systems and forcing perturbations and uncertainties about future CO2 forcings based, not only on aerosols, (black carbon being one cooling agent)but also on CO2 sinks in the past, present changes and future variables.

    There are thousands of articles indicating warming of high caliber, however, there are candid admissions in many of them and as you will see some literature that clearly indicates changes in GHG forcings over time even as levels go up beyond the knowns (e.g; lags, energy distributions, sinks, weather systems, negative feedbacks) (and there are also uncertainties in the aforementioned e.g.)and in what we already discussed in the model uncertainties.

    Again, not a skeptic or denialist, but I do look carefully at what is said, looked at, known, unknown and well attributed.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Dec 2008 @ 1:27 AM

  693. Finally, and I will shut up so others may comment extensively: we have so much we need to know about paleoclimate itself and concerns about our own activities which have never existed before on this planet so we do not know exactly what to expect despite tremendous and well carried research from many organizations of impeccable reputations.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Dec 2008 @ 1:30 AM

  694. jcbmack : The link provided by the NOAA to the the Senate Minority Report is in no way an endorsement. As a government institution they are more-or-less obliged to provide it. The Report is, in fact, nonsense.

    For an ongoing discussion of the latest version of it see

    Comment by Cugel — 12 Dec 2008 @ 8:10 AM

  695. jcbmack,
    OK, maybe I’m being dense here, but I do not see any sort of dissent from the consensus position. If anything, I see strong support of it–even in the Senate minority report, since I can’t think of anything Inhofe has ever been right about.
    Yes, there are uncertainties in our understanding of climate. No, they will not save our tuckuses from our own stupidity by offsetting our changing greenhouse forcing.
    It seems that you acknowledge climate change as a credible threat. Once a credible threat is identified, it is simply irresponsible to look upon uncertainty as doing anything but exacerbating the threat. So let’s look at some of the potential threats posed by climate change, their credibility and the uncertainties associated with them:

    Sea-level rise–credible–magnitude somewhat uncertain

    Ocean acidification–credible–some uncertainty over when effects become dangerous

    Increased severe storm activity–credible–significant uncertainty remains over how severe things could get

    Feedbacks–credible–most known feedbacks contribute positively and will exacerbate climate change; some uncertainty when they kick in

    Spread of tropical diseases and pests–credible–significant uncertainty

    More severe heatwaves–credible–significant uncertainty

    decreased agricultural yield–credible–significant uncertainty

    and so on. Wherever you see significant uncertainty, from a risk perspective, that means things could be worse than we thought. It means you cannot bound risk. It means that immediate action is required to better understand the threat AND in parallel to mitigate its potential consequences. While I know you don’t deny the reality of climate change, I think it is important to avoid the impression that uncertainty gives us any cause to be sanguine.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Dec 2008 @ 9:03 AM

  696. jcbmack,

    In comment #677 you made a clear and unambiguous claim: “There are some interesting answers of how CO2 might stop or slow down as a green house gas above 280 ppm”. That is not a claim that CO2 levels may change under various scenarios, or that other climate forcings may offset or exacerbate the effects of CO2. That is a claim that above 280 ppm CO2 does not behave as climate scientists, physicists, and chemists have determined it to behave. That’s a pretty bold claim.

    You were asked very politely to provide cites to support your claim and all you have done is waffle. The cites you provided don’t support your claim in any I’m able to see. And, yes, I’ve read every word as you instructed. And using a patronizing tone with Hank, Ray, and others doesn’t impress me, either. They have complete credibility with me and, I believe, many other RC readersbased on their track record.

    So all you’ve accomplished with your claim and subsequent comments is to diminish you own credibility. To paraphrase the old saying about reputations, credibility can take years to build and only moments to destroy. My suggestion is to quit waffling and admit your claim was unfounded and wrong.

    Comment by Phillip Shaw — 12 Dec 2008 @ 10:10 AM

  697. Giving sources is the difficult, routine, habit basic to writing for publication in journals. Most academics know they should and know how. Those who haven’t published, often, are hung up about doing it.

    Remember — it’s us ordinary readers who need to do this. People who want cites from the scientists blogging here about their fields can look for them in their published work! They _have_ the established credibility — their sources _are_ published with their work. Or if not, they’re going outside their fields, and need to make the effort.

    It’s not the scientists blogging about their own fields who need this kind of nitpickery in blog posts. It’s the rest of us amateurs.

    It’s not easy — and it’s rarely even encouraged. Robert Grumbine does a great blog encouraging posts with cites.

    Doing this is hard. It takes time to build your own list of what you read that was memorable. Once you do, you can post about it credibly. Start early, do it regularly.

    Careful readers who try to rise to the level any published scientist attains as a matter of course find it’s a high bar. It’s worth it.

    For others just starting to read in science, there’s a routine (dull boring routine) you can develop that helps. The key is to develop your reference list over time, every day. Might as well start now, and figure in a year you’ll be up to speed for this kind of thing.

    Noting sources (whenever reading, all the time). Carry notepad and pen.

    Checking them (not just remembering something and paraphrasing)

    Citing (whenever writing)– to the journal editor’s standard, so anyone reading can find them.

    Think of the help you get when you read.

    Think of the most helpful sources — who give accurate quotes, that don’t skew meaning by elision, quote with context, cite accurately and to both primary publications and, if those are paywalled, to copies freely available.

    Think of the help you get from a reference librarian. Emulate that.

    This is not easy even when writing for journal publication. Those who have published _have_ made it very easy for the readers — we can look up their publications, read their websites where they often make copies freely available of work the journals have paywalled.

    This is why the real scientists blogging about their own areas don’t need to cite every little statement here. They have credibility in their publications.

    Why bother?

    Look up “Fast Company” magazine, July-August 2008, the article on Vinod Khosla. He’s working on an article he hopes will be accepted by a peer-reviewed journal.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Dec 2008 @ 1:49 PM

  698. LOL, Ray, Hank, and Cugel, I understand the importance of citations, what I am saying is if you read each published paper not only do you find questions about magnitude in the past, present and future predictions, but you see uncertainties in natural system responses to man made forcings and other natural vraibilities as well, it is clearly stated. You have to READ them in their entitirety, but even the abstraccts reveal much. As CO2 goes up and interacts as a forcing to water vapor, some water vapor also acts as a cooling agent, as the CO2 goes up so too do aerosols, even presently if at a lower rate than the seventies, as CH4 goes up we several unknowns we are still trying to work out as well. I see several examples from my citations that not only allude to uncertainties about future consequences of CO2 as a foricng agent that will bring about catastrophic global warming, but I also see mentions and data showing that the system may smooth out most of the perturbations, (though this could bring about and has already brought about, droughts, more rain in less rainy demographics, changed even some microclimates, the overall trend may actually go back to a net cooling phase and CO2 may not end up being a long term radiative trapping agent for long periods of time as has clearly already happened in part from sinks, which coudl once again reverse much of the GHG’s for a considerable amount of time, since we already know it has recently)through chaotic weather repsonses and the long term climate may actually reduce in warming trend or even go flat once again has it already has.

    The natural physical chemical properties of CO2 is to abosorb IFR and for it to re emit it back to a great degree, but as all of the papers I Cited do state, the system does respond in ways that reduce this, espcecially as CO2 goes up (as many of these papers show) there are strong potentialities and historical record and strong correlations made attributed to reduced warming trends, even if temporary that are related to CO2 and natural responses and to co emuissions of other GHG’s and aerosols right along with it, Now predictions have made by all the literature and AGW is attributed and strongly evidenced ot be real, but not any less than real than less and zero net warming over decades in both modern and paleoclimate proxy data. We simply do not know many things as all the peer reviewed data reveals, as Gavin and others stated in their interview etc…

    Hank, here you are out of your depth plain and simple. Cugel, never spoke with you so I suspend all judgements, and Ray, clearly you are someone who has knowledge and experince, but I know based upon your responses that you did not read these papers carefully (whether you were tired, working, out of time etc…) because if you did, and as an honest and objective scientist you would see everything I mentioned in these articles. There are others even more direct, but let us see if we can talk our way through these first (there are many articles published in Nature, and I still need to find that 1997 report I believe on contradictory satellite data.)

    I believe based upon the data that the net effect of warming based upon the trends is real and we rose by about 0.6 C since 1850, (some say as high as 1.1 C in the field, others claim as low 0.3 or so in the field) and what supports this in general is the satellite data, models in hindsight, empirical observations, but we really still have a lot of controversy as to the magnitude as Ray pointed out, based upon what localized data sets are emphasized, what coeeficients are used, what multiplier, how are the major flaws in the models going to be dealt with, how are the agreements along the central theorom holding up after major randomization ensembles and studies.

    I am not joking when I say I have read thousands of peer reviewed papers in climate science in their entirety, and have read 3 dozen books and I own all the science books and math books to make and check most calculations, but some major gray areas are not answered, and then this us and them memtality, it has done nothing to solve the issues at hand or to narrow the margins of error still so critical.

    I realize that modern climatology is in its infancy and it provides work for thousands of people and that with the state of physics as it is the and need for solid physicists in the field anyways it makes good economic sense, common sense and scientific sense, but there is much work to still be done.

    Hank, I could cite all day for you, but what you really need is two years of physics, chemistry and mathematics to understand the citations, and Hank I know you have a good background so let us have a discussion not a cherry picking event, I do not care if we disagree,but read the papers and look at how magnitude differences and natural system response (besides internal variability) may copunteract and has counteracted the net forcings of CO2 as it became higher, it is all in the citations.

    Admittedly I do not make a living in climate science, but betwwen three universities, my tutoring business and my coursework I understand it and I want a serious discussion, at the other side lies more warming trends of net impact and dourghts, there is the long term answer, but we also blog for the skeptic and denialist who, even where a minority of them have the proper education have not received a thorough answer.

    I am not just saying the well known adage from epdemiology:
    “correlation does not equal causation,” though the argument if thought completely through could be made quite well, (though I have met no contrarian do so successfully as of yet, it seems though who know can do this best)I am saying look at actual real world occurrence over and over again when CO2 gets higher and higher after lag periods we still get some interesting results, and these lag periods are not exactly quantified either.

    What I am proposing is an honest appraisal and circumscription, the case against and for AGW as a major catastrophic agent in the reasonable future (50-100 years tops)and its actual affects now.

    The coral reefs are dying CO2 is changing ph, yes I know, but other life forms are thriving, (not just poison ivy)those pink flamingos are still eating plankton out of waters posionous to most living orgamisms and new life forms have popped up (many antibacterial microorganisms) in extremely filthy and polluted waters which offset the affects of anitbiotic resistant bacteria.

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Dec 2008 @ 3:48 PM

  699. More direct references not from NASA or NOAA: (yes sponsored by industry)

    But this counters these claims:

    But here is a legitimate paper from physical scientists:

    Legitimate Book not sponsored by coal and energy industry or NASA: many sink doubts depsite strong belief based upon evidence:

    The Terrestrial Biosphere and Global Change By Brian Harrison Walker, Will Steffen, Josep Canadell, John Ingram

    CO2/H2O and orbitally driven climate variability over central Asia through the Holocene

    References and further reading may be available for this article. To view references and further reading you must purchase this article.

    Andrew B.G. Bush,

    Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, 126 Earth Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E3
    CO2/H2O and orbitally driven climate variability over central Asia through the Holocene

    References and further reading may be available for this article. To view references and further reading you must purchase this article.

    Andrew B.G. Bush,

    Available online 19 January 2005.

    Small variations in Earth’s orbit have a direct impact on global climate with the greatest changes occurring over large land masses such as Asia. Orbitally driven climate signals are therefore likely to be identifiable in climate proxy records derived from sediment sections in the continental interior. Proxy records derived from temperature-dependent variables are also likely to display a signal due to temporal variability of atmospheric CO2 and related climatic parameters such as water vapour content. To determine the magnitude of climate anomalies associated with shortwave and longwave radiative forcing over Asia, a suite of numerical atmospheric simulations is performed that spans most of the Holocene (from 10,000 to 2500 years BP) at 500-year intervals.

    Over central Asia, the amplitude of the summer–winter seasonal cycle is greater than today in all simulations but exhibits two distinct maxima at 9000 and 6000 BP. Simulated precipitation and snow accumulation over central Asia are markedly higher during the early mid Holocene and are oscillatory, exhibiting peaks at 8000–7500 and 4500 BP (the Atlantic and Subboreal times, respectively). CO2/H2O forcing and orbital forcing combine to drive temperature oscillations over central Asia which, in turn, regulate relative humidity and changes in surface hydrology. Correlation between simulated results and proxy records from across Asia suggest that CO2/H2O and orbital forcing are dominant factors driving fluctuations of large-scale, central Asian climate through the Holocene.

    I am looking for a discussion, you asked for references, so first I gave the peer reviewed (excpet perhaps the senate one:)) and now I give you papers outside the mainsteam, since you did not read them, maybe you will read the more suspect ones and atleast a dialogue can begin.

    Another great book to read: Frontiers of Climate Modeling By Jeffrey T. Kiehl, Veerabhadran Ramanathan

    Comment by jcbmack — 12 Dec 2008 @ 4:09 PM

  700. Good luck. Bye.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Dec 2008 @ 4:10 PM

  701. Dear jcbmack,

    I suggest you lay off your climate reading until you learn more about judgment and decision making, and then start reading (and thinking) about how decision making should be done for climate science and the separate topic of climate policy.

    Start by reading Stephen Schneider’s short essay on Climate Policy, especially the section Decision Making Under Uncertainty. That will give you some applied context for the next reading:

    Read a textbook on judgment and decision making, including dutifully working through any homework exercises. There are several books already published, but I ran across a blurb for one due to be published in January 2009. I know nothing about it or its author (my decision theory education and research were long ago and far away), but I assume it will be more up to date than older books: Judgment and Decision Making by David Hardman.

    Then go back and read Schneider’s essay again, armed with your broader and more detailed knowledge of decision making under uncertainty.

    Until you do all that, there’s no point in the rest of us people trying to converse with you, because you will just continue to be flabbergasted at how stupid we all are.

    Comment by Tom Dayton — 12 Dec 2008 @ 5:27 PM

  702. Re: #699 (jcbmack)

    You should have taken the advice of Phillip Shaw (#696) to simply “quit waffling and admit your claim was unfounded and wrong.” Your latest comment destroys all credibility; you sound like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, but who still protests “I didn’t do it!”

    As for your statement to Hank Roberts that “here you are out of your depth plain and simple,” you’ve got that wrong too. That description applies to you, not Hank.

    Comment by tamino — 12 Dec 2008 @ 6:05 PM

  703. Jcbmack, First, you don’t help your case citing things like the OISM. Second, let us start with what we do know:
    1)CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
    2)CO2 sensitivity is likely somewhere in the range of 2 to 4.5 degrees per doubling (otherwise GCMs simply fail to reproduce anything like our world
    3)The planet has experienced significant and rapid warming over the last ~200 years, and especially in the last 20.
    4)We know of no negative feedback that magically kicks in at current temperatures to save our tuckus.
    5)GCMs do a very good job reproducing a variety of trends and the effects of perturbations.

    That is all you really need to know to see that climate change poses a significant threat. If you haven’t comprehended that in your voluminous reading, you need to go back and review. I would note that there is not one professional society of scientists that dissents from this basic position.
    Uncertainty in the face of a threat is not your friend.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Dec 2008 @ 6:53 PM

  704. Oh, I’d say I’m out of my depth in these waters, Tamino, no question.
    I’ve been standing on y’all’s shoulders, if not getting in your hair. It’s the only way I could be here, and I’m grateful.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Dec 2008 @ 7:45 PM

  705. Ray #703,
    I think you misunderstand jcbmack. I don’t think he wanted to question your points 1 – 5. Actually, I read in his comments that he agrees.
    However, he is a well educated scientist like yourself, who has been taught to consider all positions and arguments. I read in his words that he misses only that.
    Moreover, he is a scientist who has been taught to question his own arguments and assumptions once in a while.
    And this is also the method and behavior, he hopefully teaches his students.
    This is the classical science education that shows in his words, even though he did use a lot of words. At least that is what I read.
    But of course this is only my opinion.
    Best regards

    Comment by Guenter Hess — 13 Dec 2008 @ 3:09 AM

  706. Guenter, You know, my office mate in grad school also felt that you should consider all viewpoints. That’s why he studied astrology. It may also be why he took 13 years to get his PhD, despite being a damn good, smart physicist.
    The thing is that the 5 points I made are uncontroversial among scientists, and they are sufficient to establish the reality of anthropogenic causation and that it constitutes a threat. So unless jcbmack knows of some mechanism whereby greenhouse gases stop acting like greenhouse gasses at 288 Kelvin, or unless he knows of some negative feedback that counters the added energy from increased CO2, such speculations are more wishful thinking than science. Add to this, the fact that none of the credible pieces he posted give any credence to his contentions! And I can only assume linking to Inhofe’s blog and the OISM was meant as a joke or a goad.

    Look, without a credible mechanism “it might be…” is not science. It’s wishful thinking. If he is concerned about the influence of “greenies” arising from mitigation of climate change, the proper course of action is to accept good science and get involved with responsible solutions that dilute the more irresponsible “greenie” elements. To fail to do this is not just unscientific, it’s admitting that “capitalism” is bankrupt when it comes to dealing with the crisis.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Dec 2008 @ 8:33 AM

  707. Probelem with “it might be” is that you can answer completely accurately “well, it might be what it seems to be”.

    Maybe the global warming is from antropogenically sourced CO2. Maybe it’s that.

    Comment by Mark — 13 Dec 2008 @ 10:59 AM

  708. jcbmack’s last post (#699) has me wondering if he is really a denialist, a more subtle troll, so to speak.

    He wrote “I am looking for a discussion, you asked for references, so first I gave the peer reviewed (excpet perhaps the senate one:)) and now I give you papers outside the mainsteam, since you did not read them, maybe you will read the more suspect ones and atleast a dialogue can begin.”

    But it doesn’t advance the discussion of climate change to rehash long settled points. jcbmack is simply creating the illusion that there is debate on the action of GHG in general and CO2 specifically. And trying to cast doubts about the credibility of Hank, Ray and other posters who have contributed so much time and energy to RC. This strikes me as more than coincidence.

    jcbmack has made a number of claims about his credentials. Does anybody know who he really is and what his backgound is?

    Regards – Phillip

    Comment by Phillip Shaw — 13 Dec 2008 @ 11:34 AM

  709. Dear Ray,

    You wrote:

    “2)CO2 sensitivity is likely somewhere in the range of 2 to 4.5 degrees per doubling (otherwise GCMs simply fail to reproduce anything like our world”

    Do they? (Any examples)

    Also, I am not sure that all of the GCM model outputs would pass a “Is it like our world?” test. In say, a Goldilocks’ test. Some are too hot, some too cold, and some just right.

    This does not necessarily detract from their ability to make predictions and it might be a tall order if they had to get the climate right before they were credible tools

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 13 Dec 2008 @ 12:09 PM

  710. Tamino, you are mistaken, you make far too many mistakes on your blog and are need of a more through background, Ray, I am not denying anthropogenic forcings at all or your five statements,Tom I never stated or implied that everyone is stupid here, however, in the midst of all these claims and reading the papers, many bloggers here do not understand what the primary research really states and seem to have some issues interpreting the graphs and charts, this is my issue, the educational system in this country and people’s limited understanding of global climate systems and AGW.

    Mark and Ray have solid backgrounds and I was inviting discussion, for educational purposes (and I wanted to see of a group think response would occur)that is all. We all must question what we believe and how well we have looked at the data from time to time, but if someone claims to be a physicist or chemist (published or not) they should have a handle on basic physics and chemistry, which unfortunately many who make this claim do not based upon what they say, how they say it and what they do not understand: CO2 is a GHG, but the natural system does often halt its affects, reduce its affects, the chemical reactions in the atmosphere and mixings do alter what does occur, co emissions of cooling agents do make matters more complicated, the paleoclimate record also does reveal strong evidence that CO2 can quite high and be a potent positive feedback to water vapor and life can still thrive, the tipping point may exist, but I have yet to see any strong evidence we are anywhere near such a tipping point yet. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and as it increases it traps more LW INR, but as the papers do clearly state, there have been many years of no warming, resulting in a reduction of the warming trends; some of these reasons are: sinks, aerosols, mixing changes, cloud formations, there are longer term affects of Milankovitch cycles, (not a year or two, but decade and longer) ocean emissions of heat, (high heat capacity) (the atmosphere ocean system)wind changes, weather responses, etc…

    Actually, Tamino and Hank the purposes of my slightly too long winded responses was to create an opportunity for us regular bloggers at RC who know AGW is a real phenomenon, but to discuss it amongst ourselves on a more technical level and detail oriented discussion and then explain more thoroughly to the denialist and skeptic what we know, why, how, to what extent and so forth. Now, I stand behind my statements, however, since the first batch of papers do hint at and make statements in regards to higher CO2’s heating affects further negated and at times and certain levels losing the increased warming affects, though it is transiently, but if you had carefully considered what I was saying it does not nothing to disprove AGW, or that CO2 forcing does end up with a net global mean temperature deviation which IS significant. This is why I do not blog at many global climate sites, I come here where professionals created it and sometimes on Watts to dispel misconceptions. It is a shame that most bloggers here cling to ideas and ideals and do not want to talk it out. I teach this stuff, and I have professional colleagues in several fields, one being climate science and even they admit to some very strong doubts, criticisms of research and variables… Science is not just about citing the greatest sounding or looking peer reviewed papers (some of them are not credible) nor do we reject all papers from the non peer reviewed arena either, people need to be able to understand the papers, the methods, the experimental protocols, the scope, the comparison of variables, the implications and what to infer.
    Tamino take more math and science courses, you have a true desire to know truth and save the planet, but without the background it is akin to Jim with a P chem textbook. Arguing and name calling will not solve anything at all. Debates are fun and can at times lead to new knowledge and insights, (Mark and Ray were a blast to read and perhaps educated some followers of the discussion)but so can critical thinking skills provided one has the background to interpret.
    I have no trouble understanding the research, but no one engages in circumscription any more and applying the case against and the case for to solidify for others the realities, this is a shame.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 1:03 PM

  711. Group think, a scary phenomenon. Science is a grand and inquisitive process that reveals many truths, many representations, partial understandings and models, but it is still a pursuit of humans that models truth with both facts and the best available evidence. Like us, is is imperfect (beyond the basic tenants and principles)because it is an extensions of us, in this sense Mark is right about not confusing what we theorize and model with what actually is… do not confuse what we know with what we do not or what is with what ought to be. At any rate I am done on this topic I brought up, the experiment yielded me the results rather quickly, quicker than I expected.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 1:13 PM

  712. The low end is better constrained than the upper end.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Dec 2008 @ 1:16 PM

  713. Alexander Harvey, GCMs are an expression our our ideas of how climate works. They are imperfect to be sure. However, there are more than 20 GCMs. Not one assumes a sensitivity less than 2 degrees per doubling. Now if these were just the product of monkeys typing on a keyboard choosing random sensitivities, we could use binomial statistics to preclude with 90% confidence that more than 10% of possible models would have such a sensitivity. But GCMs are not the product of monkeys at keyboards. A GCM with a low sensitivity would be a very interesting model scientifically even independent of the tremendous implications for society. So we can be sure that if no such model exists, it certainly isn’t for lack of trying.
    When I say GCMs with low sensitivities fail, I mean they don’t come close to reproducing Earthlike behavior–and you have to make lots of unrealistic assumptions about the rest of the model. The only way sensitivity is drastically different from 3 degrees per doubling is if our understanding of climate is drastically wrong. There’s no evidence of that.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Dec 2008 @ 1:27 PM

  714. Phillip, Phillip, I am actually very much inclined to believe the IPCC report, the assumptions made need improvement, but all those convective influences and radiative transfers cannot be all calculated, their numbers seem accurate, the GCM’s have made drastic improvements, and we know that even in cases of non adiabatic processes and areas where we do not know if their is LTE or not, the outcome has a net affect that agrees with such assumptions. AGW is a real phenomenon, not a philosophical one or highly theoretical either. Regarding my credentials, they are real, no one here knows me in the real world if that is what you mean, however, other than minor typos or limiting time constraints I have no posts here at RC that can be accused of being wrong based upon data, math, climate systems and so forth, there is certainly room for criticisms and opposing interpretations, but no expert here or blogger can show me that my knowledge is lacking, or my understanding beneath a well known published scientist in the areas I discuss (physics, chemistry, biology, the atmosphere, climate systems.) The distortion that occurs on the internet is astounding. I have already demonstrated in my “prolific,” posting that I am aware of the reality and potential dangers of AGW and that I have a complex understanding of mathematics and how we do know, this is where I am the threat to those that do not know, but want to discuss issues beyond their grasp. A real scientist or mathematician is not threatened by me, they know what they know, the moderators here are excellent and I have read all I could find, that they have written, (publications, books, inline responses, RC wiki and years of blogs here, before I offered a single comment) and most of my posts are rebuttals from data and understanding of it against skeptics and denialists. Do not allow lack of knowledge to hinder your progress.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 2:23 PM

  715. Ray,

    as always I enjoy your posts and insights, the more knowledge you impart as you type on the keyboard, the better.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 2:47 PM

  716. Good references Hank, but these high end possibilities are not very well supported yet. I tend to agree that the warming at double CO2 could be higher, but it could be lower as well. There will be more warming,this I do not dispute, but how much in what time frame and when will CO2 double, lots of contention.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 2:54 PM

  717. Best general reference to GCM’s on the internet hands down for those who have gaps on the history and need enormous amounts of references.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 3:06 PM

  718. By now there were a dozen teams around the world using computers to integrate every advance in observation or theory. As the 21st century arrived, the growing agreement among the rival teams, and the consistency of their models’ results with many different kinds of observations, became overwhelmingly convincing. Scarcely any reputable expert now doubted that CO2 and other greenhouse gases were at least partly responsible for the unprecedented warming all around the world since the 1980s. A final nail in the skeptics’ coffin came in 2005, when a team compared computer calculations with long-term measurements of temperatures in the world’s ocean basins (it was not in the air but the massive oceans, after all, that most of any heat added soon wound up). In each separate ocean basin, they showed a close match between observations of rising temperatures at particular depths, and calculations of where the greenhouse effect should appear. This was telling evidence that the computer models were on the right track. Nothing but greenhouse gases could produce the observed ocean warming — and other changes that were now showing up in many parts of the world, as predicted.

    Eventually geochemists and their allies managed to get numbers for the “climate sensitivity” in ancient eras, that is, the response of temperature to a rise in the CO2 level. Over hundreds of millions of years, a doubled level of the gas had always gone along with a temperature rise of three degrees, give or take a couple of degrees. That agreed almost exactly with the numbers coming from many computer studies.

    It was good to see that the models had not missed something huge. There seemed scant possibility of a runaway greenhouse catastrophe. It was less reassuring to notice what the climate had looked like in certain ancient times when CO2 had stood at a high level — a level that humanity would eventually reach if we went on burning all available oil and coal. The Earth had been virtually a different planet, with tropical forests near the poles and sea levels a hundred meters higher. Worse, as one group pointed out, unchecked emissions seemed bound to bring not only “a warming unprecedented in the past million years,” but changes “much faster than previously experienced by natural ecosystems…

    Still more sobering, people were just now coming to grips with the implications of a fact that scientists had known for decades — the climate system has built-in time lags. Even if human emissions of CO2 magically dropped to zero, the gas already in the air would linger for many centuries, trapping heat. Global temperatures would continue to creep upward until the ocean depths reached equilibrium with the heated air, until biological systems finished adapting to the new conditions, and until Arctic icecaps melted back to their own equilibrium. Whatever we did now, humanity was already committed to centuries of changing weather and rising seas.(62) Yet emissions of greenhouse gases, far from halting, were soaring at an accelerating rate.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 3:20 PM

  719. Here are examples of discourse and talking it out:

    Henry Charnock, Keith P. Shine, Physics Today, Dec 1993, p. 66

    I am not denying AGW. Read, learn and conduct the experiments you can.

    [Response: Bad example. Charnock and Shine were spot on, and the comments by Lindzen and the original piece they were responding to were clearly bogus. Granted, this may have been a conversation in a little more good faith than the same points made today, but it doesn’t come close to genuine scientific debate. The daly link to Hug and Barrett even less so. – gavin]

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 3:22 PM

  720. jcbmack, There are really only two arguments that denialists can make that are self-consistent:
    1)The warming isn’t happening. This is problematic, because then you have to explain why a greenhouse gas stops acting like a greenhouse gas, or why it isn’t a greenhouse gas after all. The latter argument runs simply denies known physics. The former simply has to throw up its hand and say climate science is all wrong and we don’t understand anything about climate. Good luck with either argument.
    2)The second line of arguments involves some magical feedback (e.g. Lindzen’s Iris) that feeds back negatively on added forcing (and it has to be ANY forcing, not just CO2). This is negated by paleoclimate and by the effects of impulse perturbations like volcanic eruptions.

    It seems you are saying your references hint at possibility 2, but for the life of me, I can’t find anything in them that supports that position. So in the interest of moving the discussion along and possibly restoring your credibility, why don’t you cut and paste a few supporting statements along with page and work they come from. We’ve all got day jobs, and I see little value in poring through these references with a fine toothed comb for statements that might have given you the impression you have.
    My read on the science is that it is quite cogent and unequivocal: continued use of fossil fuels will alter the climate in ways we cannot anticipate with high certainty. Given the dependence of human civilization, I consider that a threat. It does not matter to me if some lefty-greenie loonie uses this threat to try and advance their agenda. The way to counter that is by those who disagree with said agenda to propose better solutions and marginalize the loonies (left or right). To do that however, they must first come to grips with the best science available. If the loonies on either side prevail, it is because pragmatists allowed them to do so.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Dec 2008 @ 3:47 PM

  721. Dear Ray,

    Please name the GCMs with low sensitivities that you say fail.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 13 Dec 2008 @ 4:23 PM

  722. Alexander Harvey (709) — My recollection is that an older GCM with a climate sensitivity of but 1.9 K failed to cool LIA enough; another with a sentivity of 4.7 K cooled LIA too much.

    Sorry, I don’t recall where I saw that.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Dec 2008 @ 4:24 PM

  723. Yes Gavin, this is true.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 4:35 PM

  724. Phillip Shaw (708) asks jcbmack has made a number of claims about his credentials. Does anybody know who he really is and what his backgound is?.

    Yes. I’m pretty sure I know who he is, and his credentials are pretty much as he describes them.

    Comment by Jonathan — 13 Dec 2008 @ 4:41 PM

  725. Dear Ray,

    Many Thanks, but not much to go on in order to track it down. Given the scheme of things and the paucity of instrumental data for the LIA, it does not strike me with the significance that it must you.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 13 Dec 2008 @ 4:43 PM

  726. Ray, the laws of physics do not dictate that there are no strong negative feedbacks or that natural systems do not reduce warming as CO2 increases. As far as day jobs and time, I can understand that, but the only one to have any insights has been the recent response to my post, by Gavin. The point I am making is that in all of this there has been little scientific discussion either.At any rate I made my points, I am ready to move on. The future consequences are still hotly debated, but they will not be good consequences over the next 30-50 years that is for sure.

    The primary data I posted and the history of GCM’s do show wide variations on current global responses and future predictions that vaguely indicate a far higher forcing and runaway climate are just not supported at this time by numerous and well adjusted data at this time. I am all for reducing emissions and alternative energy sources, but going to increased dependence on nuclear is a clear mistake as is perpetuating opinions that doubling of CO2 is going to destroy the planet, it will be detrimental overall, but people get ahead of the research.

    As CO2 goes up there is increased IFR trapping, but as it continues to do so, weather and climate changes affect this process and in the future will likely do so again… physics without real system adaptations is not complete. Again some laws of physics are so basic to weather and climate understanding, this cannot be disputed by an open system undergoes changes that a closed one does not. Eventually GHG will become issues of catastrophic proportions, but it could take 200 years or more, we do not know any definitive time line, no one does.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 4:46 PM

  727. Gavin, so actually it was a good example which illustrates a point. People are like sheep easily mislead, as I said I am not denying global warming, yet, Lindzen does deny it, the seriousness of CO2 increase and so forth… the discussion is one example of where people may read it and not understand either point (the dramatic one or the scientific one.) Certainly no argument that AGW is mainly forced by CO2 in many respects.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 4:50 PM

  728. David, I tried a variety of searches; see anything here that might be what you recall, perhaps recognizing a journal you read? This was the most productive search I came up with. Note it’s “recent” 2003.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Dec 2008 @ 5:02 PM

  729. And really, I see the same issues here and in the real world as well: people either cite good literature, but do not really read it or they lack understanding or they look at false science (like the aforementioned or like the made up science of “Loose Change”) I first referenced some of the very best references available on the internet and no one actually could understand them or did not go through them with a fine toothed comb, even one or two, yet we all claim our standing on the peer reviewed literature. Science education is what concerns me, I hope Obama makes those drastically needed changes.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 5:34 PM

  730. jcbmack, I cannot judge if your intentions are what you say they are, but when it comes to the minor typos you mention I’d like to point out that I find it rather peculiar for someone who is a scientist and who has read thousands of scientific papers to be consistently misspelling the word ‘effect’.

    I hope it’s not your intention to slow down people like Ray Ladbury or Hank Roberts who spend large amounts of their valuable time to convince people of the basics of AGW. I pray every day that skeptic/contrarian/denier claims are right but every time I come back to what Ray Ladbury says:

    1)CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
    2)CO2 sensitivity is likely somewhere in the range of 2 to 4.5 degrees per doubling (otherwise GCMs simply fail to reproduce anything like our world
    3)The planet has experienced significant and rapid warming over the last ~200 years, and especially in the last 20.
    4)We know of no negative feedback that magically kicks in at current temperatures to save our tuckus.

    In my opinion the debate should now be about the possible consequences of AGW and mitigation/adaptation strategies, not about the things jcbmack comes forward with as they would imply the jury is still out on what is causing the warming, if it is warming at all. That is unfortunately the number 1 belief of almost everybody I talk to who is not researching the subject of climate change. I’m always amazed at the lamenting of skeptics/contrarians/deniers that the MSM only presents the hoax, whereas I only see the doubt-campaign being extremely succesful.

    Anyway, I’m sorry. I’m just a non-scientific nobody spouting commonplaces. Lynn Vincentnathan put it best in one of her comments:

    “Precisely. We need a holistic approach to both the problems and solutions. The measures that cause GW, also cause many other harms. The measures that help mitigate GW also mitigate many other environmental (pollution, finite resource depletion etc), as well as non-environmental harms. So it’s like choosing between a lose-lose-lose-lose-lose situation or a win-win-win-win-win situation.

    I consider GW to be a sort of umbrella issue. Solve it, and you solve many many other problems.”

    AGW is not the problem, AGW is the effect. And the thing that’s causing this effect is responsible for a whole array of global issues. To solve that the whole Western civilized world needs to be deconditioned from the brainwashed state it’s currently in. I don’t know if there’s any science than can tell us how to do that.

    To make a long story short: It’s ‘effect’ and not ‘affect’.

    Comment by Neven — 13 Dec 2008 @ 6:04 PM

  731. Alexander Harvey (725) — I’m not Ray. In any case I emphasize IPCC AR4 but more can be learned here:

    Further, Annan & Hargreaves have well-pinned Charney sensitivity; there is a link on Annan’s blog. However, also note

    Hank Roberts (728) — Not it, but interesting. Possibly something I read in,M1

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Dec 2008 @ 6:23 PM

  732. Dear David,

    My apologies,

    Please excuse my tired eyes and my over eager expectations. I will try and read your links tomorrow. So I still look forward in hope of finding out which GCMs fail from Ray.

    Thanks for responding.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 13 Dec 2008 @ 7:02 PM

  733. Neven, I in no way am trying to impede the progress of legitimate science or the ongoing understanding of global climate change and specifically 30 year global warming trends. (and even prior to that) Regarding Ray, he does have legitimate knowledge and as far as Hank goes, I enjoy our conversations and he has some good citations though he, himself is not a scientist. Regarding effect and affect, well, I do tend to use them interchangeably in my posts even though that is not precisely correct and I certainly do not do that in more formal proceedings, but now that you mention it there are quite a few scientists of fame in history and ones I know personally who are dyslexic, have dysgraphia, write in blogs and misuse words ad infinitum, however, it is important to represent oneself as best as possible and shed the best light on legitimate content as possible, this is true. I tend to type very fast on my lap top and have busy days despite my tremendous amount of postings, especially as of late. I have also known students who received straight A’s in all Biology courses, chemistry and mathematics courses, but received consistent C’s C pluses etc… in all their english courses and I am not referring to just immigrants and hood types who major and do well in science, although they count as a considerable portion of the demographic in many science classrooms in most colleges.

    Grammar can be argued almost forever as I have learned from my honors English courses and Philosophy courses, but you make an important point that the basic rules of grammar need apply and first and even second impressions are of importance especially when we communicate through the internet medium and cannot hear the phonetics or see the textbooks one is working from etc…

    Really I do not care that I make minor errors in a blog, however, though I do not intentionally place the errors there, I do not do any spot editing for a blog post, but I do pay close attention to content and references.

    Regarding the science, it takes one who is scientifically trained to judge the science and I am one who can among some others at this particular site.

    You are right: CO2 is a green house gas and we do face future problems as a result of GHG forcing and other man made pollutants-consequences thereof. I am not denying it. I am teasing out those who are not qualified to make the statements they make and who mis read the data, not to disprove or counter act the data or rebel against your trusted moderators, who I, do have utmost respect for.

    I even posted the made up science to see how those who did not read the peer reviewed data would react, but in this case for the most part, Gavin already responded. I admit I sometimes come across a little confusing, this is unfortunately necessary as some here who post jump on a bandwagon rather than get the necessary educations and skills. Look at how Jim and I went back and forth, I never gave credibility to his denialist explanation of and misunderstanding of open systems, why would I now resort to the exact same argument? Open systems are complex, but many rules hold up as do the laws. Look at m y posts in Watts where I debate the denialists on the NOAA mix up. I do not have the time to pretend to be a person who knows global warming is, I do have time to tease out those who “believe,” it is not because of rigorous study and research-scholarship, but because it is a fad to be green, a dangerous philosophy indeed.

    Science is not easy in the beginning and even when one becomes more than proficient in several areas, one change, one variable can change perception even if it does not change the trend, many people jump to conclusions, and in some specific cases a new finding changes a lot about hypothesis or modifies a surviving validated theory. I like Mark’s posts and Ray’s because they do read and learn and have educations and training, it does not matter if others do not, what I do not like is when someone claims to know something they do not have the foggiest ideas about.

    We are all guilty of misspeaking at times, however, my claims are not insincere, or misinformed, rather I should have articulated them more completely and not expected most people to read carefully the citations or understand the intentions of posting: Henry Charnock, Keith P. Shine, Physics Today, Dec 1993, p. 66, for example.

    No, not a troll or denialist, but the misinformed people here make it no wonder we have so much confusion. I respect Ray’s background and most of his posts are impeccable, but he too got into a conversation he could not complete as did Barton with Mark and Mark digressed with Ray. There too my comments on those topics of photons demonstrated impeccable knowledge, references and insights on my part as did Mark and Ray. My posts show how AGW is serious and real.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 7:15 PM

  734. Oh on a final note unless anyone wants to continue this discussion negative feedbacks are no more magic or less real or less potent in nature (if it even turns out in total forcing exerted) than positive. This is my major issue here, only the authors and moderators talk out negative and positive feedbacks, Hank or Ray or any one else for that matter does not. Again apart from Gavin’s comment and my clarification there can be no issue with what I say or mean, oh yeah bad preposition placement and I like saying effect in place of affect, but then again some science journals in peer review make that error:)

    I am also asking what can we do, what can we engineer in other threads, so far I have gotten nada.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 7:20 PM

  735. Alexander Harvey (732) — A briefer history of the development of GCMs is in the appropriate chapter/section of “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:

    Also, I just remembered that there is a thread here on RealClimate which discusses the Annan & Hargreaves paper.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Dec 2008 @ 7:56 PM

  736. Dear David,

    I have read what I can, I am afraid that I do have the subscription necessary for one of your links.

    The truth is I have become quite relaxed about the uncertainty in the climate sensitivity. I fear I better quickly explain this before I solicit unjust opprobrium.

    In terms of policy or outcomes in the predictable future, I doubt that it matters much. It is a long term outcome that could take centuries to be decided. In the transient phase (quickly rising, or stabilising, or failing) CO2 levels of the short term (50 years), I doubt that it makes any material difference.

    I believe that the models (GCMs) all track the transients with good agreement.

    CS is an unfortunate concept, it is almost unknowable yet centre stage. It is a bit like failing to enquire whether being hit by a train will kill you but asking how far it will drag you afterwards.

    Again I apologise for my earlier lapse and thanks, I am relaxed about CS but I am much agitated that there is a GCM that does not live up to my expectations.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 13 Dec 2008 @ 7:57 PM

  737. The magazine Infinite Energy volume 14 issue 82 is interesting as is this months American Scientist deals with energy alternatives, photons and gluon discussions related to the cyclothymic topics in this thread and in Contrarians. p. 29 in Energy on “Obtaining Superluminal Velocity in an Instellar rocket,” may be of interest to Mark and “The Alternative to Nuclear Energy,” on p. 9 may be if interest to Ray…American Scientists’ coverage of photons absorbed, emitted, destroyed and turned into electrons is also interesting. Algae as an alternative energy source is interesting, but not practical or favorable energetically, but the theory is nice, I guess. Still, these two publications are pretty good.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 9:30 PM

  738. By the way Maxwell used basic mathematics that was right and Einstein believed that truth could be found through reason and by using simplistic, but realistic thinking we can discover reality.I am surprised I have the patience, but people need to learn, but they fight the learning process.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 9:47 PM

  739. You tube, wikipedia and uninformed debate will not do anything.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 10:08 PM

  740. Re #718 jcbmack

    Unfortunately your posts are way too verbose for the limited amount of content. You would do better to type less material more slowly, that way the posts would be more understandable. Also re #718, it’s customary to include quotation marks around material you have lifted from other sources in order to differentiate between your opinions and those of others [edit] You should set a better example, even if it is on a blog.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 13 Dec 2008 @ 10:44 PM

  741. Sums up my thoughts:

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 10:51 PM

  742. And since we arguing matters of no consequence to science, affect is a verb, is it not? AGW affect can be the active effects (noun) on the global climate system. Sometimes effect and affect can switch noun and verb designation, but this does not apply here. These words are not homophones, but they are similar enough in pronunciation so they may cause confusion. In the sense of phenomena like greenhouse effect, that is the right usage, but what does that have to do with understanding physics, chemistry, math and engineering? Nor does any argument refute my statements, stop my understanding that global warming due to man made activities is real or that there are serious doubts as to any real knowledge of when the doubling of CO2 will occur or if there is a tipping point, if so when and why, and that we need to use real solutions that actually exist given that engineers get the go ahead and money to implement them with the mathematicians and scientists. I will, however, watch my usage of affect and effect, since this may take away from my posts to those who lack understanding of the science.

    Comment by jcbmack — 13 Dec 2008 @ 11:27 PM

  743. Jcbmack, What you have made so far are assertions, not backed up by any solid scholarship that I could discern. You claim there are negative feedbacks that counter warming. Well, what are they? The Iris effect is pretty well discredited. There is no evidence of large-scale changes in cloudcover. Indeed, the fact that things have gotten considerably warmer in the paleoclimate suggests that such feedbacks are not significant.

    And entirely missing from any of your posts are considerations of natural sources of CO2 and CH4–from peat bogs, permafrost, the oceans. The normal course of a post glacial involves a short pulse of warming followed by release of these sources, and then warming really kicks in and lasts for thousands of years. Once that process starts, any efforts on our part will be pointless.

    And no one has claimed this threatens the planet. I’m confident that the planet and indeed life will persist. Human civilization is another matter entirely, and I am fond of human civilization.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Dec 2008 @ 11:43 PM

  744. Ray, you are taking me out of context and then accuse me of making claims or ‘assertions,’ that are not substantiated, but actually papers from RC substantiate what I have said, the peer reviewed literature does,much of the proxy data from paleoclimate research supports this, as do the textbooks I have already referenced. I am not saying that negative feedbacks always negate positive or creates a zero net warming situation or causes a global cooling trend over a warming whether always or currently. You have misstated the same research you claim to uphold and understand, which I think you do so I question your motivations on this last post of yours. The Earth has undergone a net warming of around 0.6 degrees or perhaps a little more over the last 100 or so years, but negative feedbacks do slow down warming effects from GHG forcings, and this is quite clear from the moderators work here and the IPCC report and the textbooks. Warming is real, yes, but you discredit a big chunk of climate science with your statements.

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Dec 2008 @ 3:03 AM

  745. jcbmack, I am sorry if I have taken your statements out of context. What it appears to me (and evidently others) that you are saying is that the “consensus” is overstated. That is where I take issue. Perhaps you could facilitate the discussion by stating succinctly what point you are trying to make. I don’t see a lot of rhyme or reason to the cites you are giving (e.g. Inhofe and Oreskes don’t exactly reinforce each other–unless we look at the absurdity of the former versus the lucidity of the later).
    Unless you can state your points clearly, we will continue to have musunderstandings. Could you work on a succinct statement of your main points?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Dec 2008 @ 9:30 AM

  746. Communication, especially in scientific matters, should be clear and concise.

    Comment by Richard C — 14 Dec 2008 @ 10:19 AM

  747. 710 jcbmack says, “Tamino, you are mistaken, you make far too many mistakes on your blog and are need of a more through background,”

    Spelling errors embedded in insults sheds light.

    jcbmack says, “but I have yet to see any strong evidence we are anywhere near such a tipping point yet.”

    Ah, that wonderful qualifier, ‘strong’. The clathrate and permafrost meltdown seems like strong evidence to me. The arctic sea ice retreat is more strong evidence.

    698 jcbmack says, “The coral reefs are dying CO2 is changing ph, yes I know, but other life forms are thriving, ”

    Killing off coral reefs is no big deal since jellyfish might survive?

    You mentioned writing skills. Sixth graders often attempt to fill up the required 1000 word essay with regurgitation. The best writing is laconic.

    Comment by RichardC — 14 Dec 2008 @ 11:20 AM

  748. RichardC, take it from an English teacher that “laconic” is not the word you are looking for — you would hardly wish for jcbmack to be rude or mysterious. For him to be concise would be nice, of course, but it’s a waste of time to worry about his comma splices and typos. I am aware of the irony of my own nitpicking here, but I hope it will illustrate the need to return to what has been a good and substantive debate.

    Comment by wmanny — 14 Dec 2008 @ 12:25 PM

  749. Dear Ray,

    I fear that we have different ideas about how GCMs work.

    You say that none of them assumes a CS of less than 2C, yet go on to say those that have low sensitivities simply fail to reproduce Earthlike behavior.

    To begin I was not aware that any of the GCMs assume any value at all for CS, rather that it is an output not an input. Also I believe that they are all much more WYSIWYG than some might have us believe. There is no dial that can be turned to modify the models CS. Given the restraints of computation they include all the best science that they can manage and are run. They are not fiddled with to match Earth’s climate in any artificial way, (flux correction may be an exception). They are in that aspect intellectual very honest. The results are the results, and suspect the author’s would agree that certain Earth-like qualities are inherently difficult to reproduce.

    That, for instance, the global mean temperature is difficult to reproduce, does not of itself invalidate comparison runs by the models. For instance a “1%/annum CO2” run’s anomalies against its control run are not necessarily to be dismissed, if both runs are out by a degree or two or more from instrumental global mean temperatures. I feel there is a justification for this, a simply appeal to linearity would do. Even though being globally 2C too hot or too cold would be noticeably unearthly.

    Also that GCMs with unearthly mean temperatures are not fiddled with but are let to stand, shows to me a great deal of intellectual integrity that some suspect their authors of lacking. If they are not going to fudge global mean temperatures I doubt that would fudge anything else.

    Finally, I was not aware that any of the GCMs produce unearthly output, hence my interest to hear of some. I hope you both can and will name them.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 14 Dec 2008 @ 12:28 PM

  750. A previous post I made may fail moderation due to a conflict between my comment and html. Whether it fails or not, what it should have said is that, “RichardC” and “Richard C” are different people.
    Richard C

    Comment by Richard Chandler — 14 Dec 2008 @ 12:29 PM

  751. Alexander Harvey, Sorry to have given the wrong impression. No, I don’t believe climate sensitivity is an input. However, you can force the sensitivity to unphysical values by forcing other drivers, etc. When you do, the model becomes un-Earthlike.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Dec 2008 @ 2:34 PM

  752. > sensitivity

    Google search: climate model input various numbers for sensitivity
    Found among much else:

    Estimating Climate Sensitivity: Report of a Workshop (2003)
    Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC)

    “… workshop participants agreed that they had to work with, at the very least, two different definitions of climate sensitivities ….
    When a speaker refers specifically to one of these definitions, it is noted as Seq or Str…..”

    “… When examining a large number of scenarios, modeling with a full climate model is too costly and time-consuming. Instead they rely on reduced-form climate models in which climate sensitivity is an input assumption ….”


    > unearthly output

    (Just one example I recollected, from the right hand sidebar links)

    Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
    May 1, 2005

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Dec 2008 @ 2:51 PM

  753. Thanks, Hank. I think that’s consistent with what I meant to say and with Alexander’s correction of my failure to say it clearly.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Dec 2008 @ 3:33 PM

  754. wmanny – My dictionary defines laconic as “terse” or “concise”. I think this is the word RichardC was looking for.

    Comment by Bob North — 14 Dec 2008 @ 3:40 PM

  755. This comment, along with others on this thread, is completely off topic, nevertheless I beg the moderators indulgence once more.
    Wmanny, I feel I should come to my fellow RichardC’s defence. Being an English teacher you know that words in English frequently have shades of meaning. Personally, if I am uncertain of the meaning of a word I often use the “define” function in Google. Having done so in this case, I find the definition of the word “laconic” to be very similar to my plea that communications should be clear and concise.
    As a frequent visitor to this site, I have noticed that some contributors are less reticent than others. For one, (and I’m not talking about you), who claims to be some sort of scientific polymath with significant responsibility for educating our next generation, it should be common courtesy and second nature to construct his arguments in clear, unambiguous language. None of us are that important that our thoughts and comments should be offered to the rest of the world without at least some form of rudimentary, self-imposed quality control.

    I get the feeling I’ve just set myself up here.

    Comment by Richard Chandler — 14 Dec 2008 @ 3:46 PM

  756. #740 Phil. I rather follow long Wave radiation down welling, but North Pole Station is about to hit the sea:

    Even in darkness +250 W/m2…..

    Comment by wayne davidson — 14 Dec 2008 @ 4:05 PM

  757. Bob and Richards C, the point of my nitpicking was to encourage us to pay attention to what jcbmack had to say rather than to dismiss it on grammatical technicalities. That “laconic” is not the ideal synonym in the pack does not mean I misunderstood what RichardC meant, just as jcbmack’s somewhat discourteous style does not dissuade me from considering his arguments or references. Ray, too, can be somewhat overweening in his presentation from time to time, but that does not mean his ideas are no good. As one lay reader, I have grown to find it a reasonable trade-off to endure RC’s main players’ occasional pomposity in exchange for the opportunity to grapple with the conflict of their ideas.

    Comment by wmanny — 14 Dec 2008 @ 6:44 PM

  758. Ray Ladbury, Hank Roberts, Tom Dayton, Richard Chandler, Phil Felton, other posters, and all the moderators here at RC thank you for all your comments, objections, questions, criticisms, patience and even lack thereof. Here I type slowly and as succinctly as possible post my points, responses, arguments and what the data seems to indicate as I see it as a scientist and educator, and as a person in response to minor trivialities.

    (1.) CO2 is a green house gas which needs to be reduced by more stringent emission standards and is an important gas of continued studying as all the green house gases are, with varying properties that further lead to forcing and feedback mechanisms which changes climate and has led to an overall net effect of global warming.

    (2.) Water vapor is the most potent green house gas and CO2 exerts a positive change in atmospheric gas content absorption of infrared radiation which leads to trapping in more heat ultimately irrespective of semantics. Water itself, however, in each of its phases behaves as a reflector, absorber, (with high heat capacity) and thermal equilibrator of heat energy from sun light (made of photons) and infrared radiation. Water behaves as a cooling agent, not just a warming agent, or radiation absorber-emitter, (which can raise temperature) but also assists in keeping both local and global temperatures closer to the natural set point that took billions of years to evolve and of course which did vary greatly during Milankovitch cycles, (which influence ice ages, more ice, less heat content absorption by the Earth’s surface) changing trends in bacteria growth and diversity and total amount of such populations, (CH4 and NH4 production, Methane being a major greenhouse gas and ammonia a more minor, but still contributory one) along with plant life and other organisms. (biological diversity and biological mass in conjunction with Earth wobble and tilt and shape of its orbit and changing trends in the carbon cycle among several others)

    3.) Many low altitude clouds form which trap in radiation, as do high altitude clouds which reflect out radiation creating what is referred to as a heat budget or radiation balance. The formations are complex and dynamic and are not accurately modeled or well understood by any Global Circulation Models irrespective of any combination, 300 wiggles, 25 boxes or any summation of boxes of varying sizes. Proxy data provides some very good approximations, but do nothing in helping us predict future climate trends, consequences of warming or to what extent the warming will be with any significant level of confidence. The Global Climate Models do not make accurate predictions and in fact they are better used in hindsight in light of historical climate as opposed to paleo climate proxy inferences, though I support proxy data for a more full idea of, and potential for understanding very long term trends on the number of thousands of years, and not just 100-200 years, though really only the last 150 years carry very highly significant data we may currently apply to understanding the potential ramifications of anthropogenic global warming.

    (4.) The range of climate sensitivity that Ray Ladbury cites are possible. They are not necessarily likely, or more aptly put, more probable than a lower value range or higher one. The weight of evidence is not so clear on this issue as the literature is divided on this and some textbooks are far more liberal on this, while others are more conservative. Depending upon what scenario one assumes based upon past and current trends, various multipliers may be used and different global warming effects may be considered and inputed into computer models and thus graphed. No one really knows or can evidence, make more plausible, or prove what the global climate sensitivity actually is now or will be, since the paleo climate record and the historical one reveals many variables, contradictory results to what the GCM;s predict and to what many climatologists claimed in the 1970’s. 1980’s 1990’s to the here and now.

    (5.) We do not have a good idea of when the future levels of CO2 will actually be double that of the 280 ppm value of the pre industrial age and of course there were periods in global history when it it was far higher than today, not just 65 million years ago or so, though this is a good example, more applicable considerations must be discussed and further research, experiments and calculations must be made to know more relevant information in this regard.

    (6.) Most climatologists disagree with Hanson’s assertions including those moderators (by and large if not unanimous) here at RC, and even those who concur with his line of thought and interpretations urge caution in such views. Alarmists are no better for the science of climatology than denialists or skeptics. We must use the science, math and engineering as tools not doom sayer warnings. We should not be complacent, but we should not rush to get every available alternative energy source up and running (or at least try to, $) since some of them are actually big polluters and harmful to wildlife, and end up as emitters of green house gases directly and the carbon footprint of producing them and implementing them into infrastructure would be enormous to say the least.

    (7.) Since the heat waves of the 1980’s and 1990’s we have reduced overall emissions in this country as has much of Europe. We have also reduced sulfate emissions as well and have seen appropriate consequences of both cooling and warming, but overall the warming trend has slowed down and air pollution is lower globally, although China and other developing countries are burning coal and lots of gas as they exponentially advance their technologies due to some Westernization and resulting industrialization.

    (8.) The electric car was developed quite well in the 1970’s, but by the 1990’s it was being manufactured and partially marketed. (though not properly) The EV were zero emission vehicles, electric stations were easily placed at a fair price and people were even having electric battery chargers for these cars installed in their homes through their power outlet. The batteries and motors were quickly made more efficient, powerful and durable. After an ephemeral time period of batteries only getting 60-110 miles per charge for small vehicles, larger EV were produced and batteries were giving 300 plus miles per one charge. They are superior to the hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles and certainly more environmentally friendly than hybrid vehicles. Some of the EV vehicles were hitting 140 m.p.h. and even higher while some were accelerating from 0-60 m.p.h. in 3.5-5 seconds, and most were very affordable with similar charging costs to what the fuel costs were in the 1990’s. The car companies were afraid of a 6-9 month profit loss and the energy companies were afraid of losing billions in a 5-8 year time span. All because of Henry Ford and cheap oil the once more popular electric car was abandoned in the late 1800’s to the very early 1900’s. Our discussion on energy policies may have some complexities and difficulties economically and politically for car companies and the energy industry, but in the mid to long term it is very profitable due to great marketability and efficiency. We could have made major changes in the 1990’s where money would fuel the domestic economy, create new jobs, hire employees from the old industries, and lower greenhouse gas emissions by such a magnitude we would not now be having such a conversation that global warming is such a high priority in 2008. It is true that vehicles are not the main greenhouse gas emitters, it is the factories, but this paradigm shift would have led to some important changes in industrial manufacturing and maybe those windmills would have been placed a little sooner. (speculative on the last part, but it stands to reason.) Even if not, our emissions would be down by approximately 12-22% now.

    (9.) Hybrid cars get better mileage, but at 19 pounds or so of CO2 produced per gallon of gasoline oxidized, you can easily do the math. (this is general chemistry easily found how we know this) Politics does fight against reform and the science this is 100% certain.

    (10.) Now back again to negative feedbacks: water vapor changes cannot just be assumed to have only a warming effect alone and in fact empirical evidence shows that the GCM’s over state the warming effects of water vapor and neglect the cooling effects. If the positive feedbacks existed exclusively or almost as such, then the globe would have warmed by 3-7 degrees in a short period of time and we would indeed be in real trouble. Positive feedbacks do end up creating net warming, at least we know they have over the last 110 years or so for sure based upon the global mean temperature readings averaged over a period of several decades and looking at the properties of green house gases in the lab and seeing what has actually changed as the warming trend on the incline, especially when concavity up. Additionally spectroscopic data and real world empirical observations strongly support an overall warming trend especially between the beginning of the twentieth century and today. Keep in mind, however, that along that way global warming stopped dead in its tracks 2-3 times, (one of these was actually a cooling trend) global dimming led to a cooling effect. Some of the reasons were CO2 sinks, aerosols, (which began with a localized cooling and as weather patterns changed, winds carried aerosols, and sulfates were being co-emitted in most global regions in high amounts) changing cloud formations that most climatologists did not accurately portray or predict at first, and phenomena like hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, El Nino, and La Nina specifically, but the planet has other natural responses, internal variability, and equilibration processes in the face of external forcing.

    (11.) CO2 does absorb high amounts of radiation at may bands contrary to what some dubious literature google searches turn up, however, there are limits sometimes not considered in papers and definitely the computer models in the light of the open system and dramatic changes in perturbations and so forth.

    In summary, AGW is real, in some ways detrimental, other ways beneficial, in the long run it is not a good thing globally to be certain, but we just cannot know or even strongly evidence that a tipping point will be reached at a given time period or that any catastrophe will occur in the next 50, 100, or 150 years that we cannot both prepare for and adapt to. Getting back to CO2 at 280 ppm in the atmosphere is never going to happen, it is not possible to have industry and do this, so wash that out of your minds. We cannot even stop form getting to 400-450 ppm, but we can stop CO2 level from doubling; scientifically and from an engineering perspective it is actually easy and practical, it is the industry forces and politics that prevents this just like it did in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s.

    Negative feedbacks have always existed and do now. Paleo-climate data does show that many negative feedbacks existed which were emerging properties just like positive ones were and are, irrespective of whether the changes are naturally derived or artificial or more accurately for modern times, a synergy of the two types of climate influencers. If I were claiming that positive and negative feedbacks were exactly equal, then I could not claim that global warming was a real phenomenon or cause for concern, clearly I am concerned about it. All the greenhouse gases have specific properties that are heightened in their effects as they increase in amounts in the atmosphere and mix. Still, at periods after a lag phase and when CO2 level greatly increased cooling periods did occur and periods where no net warming happened for decades in the twentieth century, though overall since 1850-1900 warming has occurred and that value ranges between 0.4 degrees and about 0.8 degrees, though some estimates claim lower and higher values, both are not supported by empirical data and if they were warming would either not be a concern or more of a detriment right now.

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Dec 2008 @ 8:10 PM

  759. la·con·ic audio (l-knk) KEY



    Using or marked by the use of few words; terse or concise. See Synonyms at silent.

    I am not an english teacher, but I did take 4 honors english papers and I made my living writing english papers before I received my degrees in addition to tutoring in science and math. I do, however, write disjointed and I certainly am not a professional typist, I am two fingered bandit.
    Oh and by the way ephemeral means temporary. Thorough last time I checked was spelled that way, it is easy to miss the o, a typo and through gets written out incorrectly by mistake.

    I do believe in proper education, but my disconnected posts which the moderators allowed gave me an opportunity to get people’s attention: Gavin;s Ray’s some skeptics, denialists and people I have never seen, or rarely seen here at RC. I anticipated debate, criticisms and even attacks, but here we have an opportunity to speak in scientific terms (as well as some of the political and economic issues along the way) and stop relying on certain premises in place of actual legitimate research and what we really evidence and in some cases know, do not know and can infer and not infer.

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Dec 2008 @ 8:23 PM

  760. English “classes,” would not want that one word misplacement to obscure everything I said.

    Comment by jcbmack — 14 Dec 2008 @ 8:24 PM

  761. Oh, well, since nobody else wants to dig: “laconic” implies brevity to the point of seeming rude, indifferent, or mysterious

    [note to the moderators: if you are so moved, let me know what was out of bounds in my previous post — would have been 757. — not sure what the offense was, but it’s your blog, which I do enjoy reading.]

    Comment by wmanny — 14 Dec 2008 @ 11:57 PM

  762. I am actually curious about that myself since wmanny did email it to me, and it was not a response with inappropriate language, denialist rhetoric, and so forth. It was a simple request to listen to what I was saying despite typos and grammatical errors on my part. I too love this site and see AGW as a real issue with potential of great detriment and I expected backlash from bloggers, but I know that moderators are well aware of the uncertainties and global warming halts and reductions as is evidenced by their own work and interviews on top of my posts being accepted. The only posts thus far of mine not allowed were a handful of very inappropriate ones and that is completely understandable. Again one last time for my fellow bloggers; I am not an “alarmist,” “denialist,” or “skeptic.”

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Dec 2008 @ 11:26 AM

  763. 757 was showing in the thread by the time I read 761 late yesterday, I looked back at the time.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Dec 2008 @ 12:59 PM

  764. Thank you for pointing that out Hank my miss:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Dec 2008 @ 1:58 PM

  765. References: key words: Global warming, History of the Automobile, Climate, cloud physics.

    Encylopedia Britannica: 1945 Automobile under A. Henry Ford under H.

    Literally every paper that can be found by Gavin on RC and google period.

    That book I always recommend: Global Climate Systems which has partial availability on Google Scholar

    NYLP public library or their e book feature, and is reasonably priced online. (history channel) key word automobile and internal combustion engine.

    The documentary narrated by Martin Sheen: “Who Killed the Electric Car?” (2006)

    any textbook that introduces atmospheric physics, does not matter here what author or title.

    The IPCC report (2007) the sections focusing on future predictions and some likely trends from history and paleo climate. Though the physics and chemisty are well outlined as well.

    Scientific Anmerican 3.0 the interview with Hansen and Gavin among other experts in plain english for scientists and scientifically literate non climate modelers or climatologists who do not work in the specific areas of paleoclimate and modleing and those people who are in college and need a basic breakdown of what we know do not know and what is likely and why.

    All the peer reviewed literature that I orignally posted which support AGW, but also cast light on unknowns and periods where CO2 is not warming at all and water vapor cools at points in time under discussed circumstances and phase changes of water are clearly explained in Atkins textbook in further detail.

    I have other references,but those are for my research project and the paper I am slowly working on for future review, I will keep you guys posted.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Dec 2008 @ 4:09 PM

  766. Alexander Harvey (736) — Older GCMs did not work properly. See Weart’s history. By 1988 or so aok.

    Climate sensitivity is an emergent, measured property of climate models. Plug in the physics and some necessary approximation and see what you get.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Dec 2008 @ 4:46 PM

  767. Climatye sensitivity is an emerging property of the system and the models perform approximations that cannot be exact and the range is still quite wide, what saves them besides box dynamics is new data inputs (from past observations)coupled with more sophistciated computers to process them.The issue is we cannot model all the climate in the real world and in real time for all variables, we need the GCM’s to perform the necessary computations utilizing the physics, math and potential (and present-past) perturbations for various scenarios. conversely if we only had GCM’s or only satellites or only weathre stations we would really have no climate science in the first place. They are all important, but the margin for error does complicate matters and the noise must be teased from the signal, though in spectroscopy we have done a good job and have convincing data as already posted and cited for numerous times showing a warming trend partially due to CO2 and other greenhouse gases since 1850-1900.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Dec 2008 @ 5:50 PM

  768. From one of the good guys; this may be particularly of interest for those with math skills:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Dec 2008 @ 7:57 PM

  769. jcbmack, the day job is demanding a lot of time right now. I will just say that I think your position on sensitivity is not supported by the data. You really can’t get a climate sensitivity less than about 2 degrees per doubling to produce an Earthlike climate, and the probability on the high side (more than 5, say) is always greater than that on the low end (1.5, say). 3 degrees per doubling is favored by most sets of evidence, and there are so many different strands of evidence that reject low sensitivity, that it’s not a real possibility.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Dec 2008 @ 9:40 PM

  770. Do the day job Ray, but you are in error here and several other points. It is possible that the sensitivity may end up on the high end or even higher than your high end quote based upon a RC release and some NASA data from a while back, but it is very possible for it to be on the low end as well. We also cannot know when the doubling might occur anyways, it is in flux as is the actual sensitivity. The data supports strongly that emissions throughout the country have lowered overall and that this may mean a different sensitivity. No one knows the exact sensitivity and the range may be as you say as there is data to support it,but that remains the subject of more research and paleo climate research by people like Hansen, Gavin and many others. Low sensitivity is possible.

    We are still in need of lowering emissions more and we need to bring back the electric car of course and lower factory emissions because we should not play with nature either, agreed there and air pollution and water ph changes are a here and now reality, but to show I am wrong about sensitivity in a well evidenced and as objective (as possible) manner you will need to wait until your job is less stressful, you review many data sets and cite them with your explanation why this is the only way, or very probable way it will end up, even modelers and mathematicians have doubts and great concerns.

    Also want to add with no sarcasm whatsoever, I respect you Ray, it is you, Mark and Eli that contribute to the scientific debate so well, and I get a lot of joy in these meeting of the minds and going over the science and mathematics of this behemoth of a subject matter.

    Comment by jcbmack — 15 Dec 2008 @ 11:59 PM

  771. #740 Phil. I rather follow long Wave radiation down welling, but North Pole Station is about to hit the sea:

    Yes that was interesting, unfortunately that buoy ‘took the plunge’ somewhere in the Fran Strait between Greenland and Svalbard last month! Hopefully they’ll set up another during the spring, three of the 9 buoys sank this year.

    Comment by Phil. Felton — 16 Dec 2008 @ 10:04 AM

  772. I don’t follow. How can a change in emissions rate affect sensitivity? Isn’t sensitivity, delta temperature per delta concentration of GHG?

    Comment by Richard C — 16 Dec 2008 @ 12:32 PM

  773. This from a few years ago is still good discussion on sensitivity numbers (click the link to EcoEquity in the sidebar for more by these authors)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Dec 2008 @ 2:18 PM

  774. I phrased that badly, which is ironic given some of my recent posts.
    Isn’t the differential; delta T/delta GHG, a constant not a variable?

    Comment by Richard C — 16 Dec 2008 @ 2:50 PM

  775. jcbmack, Two of the better works I know of are by Annan and Hargreaves:
    “On the generation and interpretation of probabilistic estimates of climate sensitivity”


    “Using multiple observationally-based constraints to estimate climate sensitivity”

    I know of no recent work, nor of any evidence that favors a sensitivity below 2 degrees per doubling. Do you have any cites?
    I mean other than the recent efforts by Schwartz and Spencer. I think we can agree those have been so thoroughly shot full of holes they could be considered perforated. Lindzen’s outrageously low estimates are just that–outrageous. He’s never produced any evidence or calculations to back them up. Moreover, all of the studies I have seen have much more probability on the high side than the low. Less than 2 degrees is not considered credible by anyone still publishing.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Dec 2008 @ 2:59 PM

  776. Ray we agree on Schwartz and Spencer and Lindzen, I will get back to you after I re read your citations and do some further searching before I comment.

    Comment by jcbmack — 16 Dec 2008 @ 3:35 PM

  777. I am going to break my own general rules again becuase this covers both work from over a deacade ago and some work from this year. The general range is about 2.0 to 4.5, but several working experts do have data to support a 1.5-1,6 lower temperature (which is still not good) and a range of 0.9 and 2.9 with 99% confidence, and data to support a clustering around a 3.0 degree average of mosre conservative 2.0, however much recent work (past 2-5 years) has shown varying estimates based upon sound data.

    The problem is when I google climate sensitivity or use phrases like “peer reviewed literature on climate senstivity,” I get mostly non peer reviewed literature and unsubstantiated papers that think CO2 is safe and lowering it is dangerous. I will post citations from the authors at NASA and RC in the future, for this is the only safe way to discuss this without all the garbage on the internet.

    Comment by jcbmack — 16 Dec 2008 @ 4:17 PM

  778. Ray, I will be busy with work myself the rest of the week, but following your references and carefully reading them and doing some analysis of the math and a few quick calculations myself (I will be more thorough next week, right now out of time as well)I see that the recent publications peer reviewed and not, share great uncertainties in how to caluclate the probabilities of climate senstivity being at a certain range of values or being more a particular value. (low or high threshhold) (home page) (interesting discussion)

    The rest of the papers and discussion are all on James’s site. James himself summarizes a lower point as opposed to a higher point.

    Comment by jcbmack — 16 Dec 2008 @ 4:40 PM

  779. JCB, use google scholar for your searches–it limits searches to scholarly sources (needless to say, this is not equal to infallible ones, but should ease a lot of your frustration.) I’m even finding things in my (rather obscure) research area of pitch-class set theory.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 16 Dec 2008 @ 5:37 PM

  780. Jacob, I’m surprised you give credence to Shaviv’s estimate. It’s been dealt with lightly here in RC and in the pieces referred to here:

    The other thing to consider: The lines of evidence that provide constraints on how low a sensitivity is reasonable are the same ones that restrict you on the high end. If you preserve the possibility that sensitivity is less than 2, you also preserve about an equal probability of 6 degrees per doubling. The consequences of such a high sensitivity are so serious that even if there is a small probability of such a sensitivity, it will dominate the risk. Annan, among others doesn’t believe this and has shown that even with thick-tailed priors (as opposed to uniform density Priors), you pretty quickly converge to 3 degrees per doubling. The problem is, of course, that you are still dominated by the Prior, and the results depend a lot on the location parameter of the Prior. It’s probably a mistake to say there’s “evidence” for low sensitivity. Rather, sensitivity of 2-2.6 can’t be ruled out with high confidence.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Dec 2008 @ 7:35 PM

  781. Ray that seems a reasonable assertion, but we really cannot rule out a lower or higher sensitivity.I actually agree that around 3 degrees C is about right, but it could “run away,” or slow down. At any rate I also need to pay bills, I look forward to continuing this conversation when I am better rested and have spent some time with the family, vacations is coming up, I will get back to you in a more detailed manner.

    Comment by jcbmack — 17 Dec 2008 @ 3:19 PM

  782. > we really cannot rule out…
    > it could “run away,”


    “… What has occurred on Venus is an example of what has been called the ‘runaway’ greenhouse effect. … There is no possibility of such runaway greenhouse conditions occurring on the Earth.
    … let us return to Earth!”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Dec 2008 @ 6:14 PM

  783. Who knew the use of “laconic” could result in such a plethora of verbiage?

    The “seemingly rude or mysterious” was both a jab at jcbmack and a flip reference to my own post – made clear by the error of linking “spelling errors” (plural) to “seems”. It was all intended to emulate Japanese with a hint of hypocrisy. I like to play with words. My first book will be called “Quantum Magic 1004 2008”.

    Comment by RichardC — 17 Dec 2008 @ 7:24 PM

  784. Mark writes:

    But when it is there and traveling at C, it does have mass.

    No, it does not. If it had mass, it couldn’t travel at c.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Dec 2008 @ 2:03 PM

  785. jcbmack writes:

    as an object approaches the speed of light it reaches infinite mass

    That was an old way to explain it that has unfortunately persisted into popular science writing. It’s probably impossible to eliminate it at this point, but I’m going to keep trying.

    Modern physicists say that it’s momentum that increases relativistically, while mass is invariant. This is because, under the old description, mass is different in different directions — you can even find old textbooks talking about “transverse mass” and “radial mass.” The change was made because mass is a scalar quantity and momentum is a vector. Keeping mass invariant and talking about relativistic momentum keeps things mathematically manageable and is a little more intuitive.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Dec 2008 @ 2:10 PM

  786. jcbmack writes:

    I respect Ray’s background and most of his posts are impeccable, but he too got into a conversation he could not complete as did Barton with Mark and Mark digressed with Ray.

    I was gone from 12/09 to 12/16 because I was in the hospital having part of my digestive system removed. Now I’m back, spitting and snarling in all directions.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Dec 2008 @ 2:31 PM

  787. jcbmack writes:

    No one knows the exact sensitivity and the range may be as you say as there is data to support it,but that remains the subject of more research and paleo climate research by people like Hansen, Gavin and many others. Low sensitivity is possible.

    Low sensitivity is possible. It’s just so unlikely in the presence of the masses of the evidence to the contrary that no one should spend any time bothering about it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Dec 2008 @ 2:38 PM

  788. Bonne santé, BPL, et bienvenue encore!

    (Just sounds better in French.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Dec 2008 @ 2:47 PM

  789. BPL’

    Sorry to hear you were in the hospital. Glad you’re back and writing, if only with a semi-colon. :-)


    Comment by Phillip Shaw — 18 Dec 2008 @ 3:12 PM

  790. Barton welcome back, glad you are getting healthy and suffered no complications that have hindered you.My time is limited, but I will get back to you.

    Comment by jcbmack — 18 Dec 2008 @ 3:20 PM

  791. Ray, after a much needed nap and a re reading of this paper:;318/5850/629?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=global+climate+sensitivity&searchid=1&F

    I have no argument against a 2 degree minimum or around 4.5 max with “finite probability,” of the temperature increase being greater than 4.5 after a doubling of CO2 above pre industrial levels in the atmosphere. I suspect it will be around 3.5 or a little less, but we shall see. You have been a good sport showing why it really cannot be lower than 2 degrees c. Thank you for your indulgence.

    Comment by jcbmack — 18 Dec 2008 @ 9:47 PM

  792. Barton #784, that is true.

    Comment by jcbmack — 18 Dec 2008 @ 11:22 PM

  793. Jacob (jcbmack), your last few comments have been much better insofar as having fewer words and more periods. More comprehensible, more enjoyable to read. More likely to be read.

    You might want to think about attending grad school, to gain some skills and knowledge that you (and anyone!) are unlikely to get from book learnin’.

    Comment by Tom Dayton — 18 Dec 2008 @ 11:54 PM

  794. I graduated from grad school and I teach, tutor and work as a college faculty member Tom… I have a background in physics and high level math with degrees in biology and chemistry. I get eccentric at times and like to hear other experts talk it out like Ray Ladbury and the moderators. Perhaps you should attend grad school?

    Comment by jcbmack — 19 Dec 2008 @ 12:36 AM

  795. Then again I would not like to assume, perhaps you did go to graduate school Tom, but time will tell. The real point that I make with these posts is to give denialists to get in the discussion which they did.And skeptics emailed me and through the correspondence we had a lateral conversation which also gave me an opportunity to show them how AGW is a real issue, poses future global events that need to be avoided and it also showcased lots of solid data through my conversation with Ray Ladbury. The issues of typographical errors and period placement issues comes from being in a rush 75% of the time. At any rate, I do see most of my posts are read as evidenced by some form of response and several emails.

    Comment by jcbmack — 19 Dec 2008 @ 12:43 AM

  796. BPL, is that right? But if you have a mass traversing fast in direction X, and you give it a push in the Y direction at right angles, it doesn’t have the result of a velocity change commensurate with the rest mass and force applied but one that is commensurate with the relativistic mass.

    IIRC it is how you can get the transverse lorentz contraction equation (with the square root in it) from that assumption, though it wasn’t the way he gained the result.

    Rest mass is invariant. At sufficient distance from the centre of the particle (one theory is that there is a cloud of virtual particles that constitute part of the mass of any object and one theory is that the Higgs Boson needs to be interacted with, which needs space to exist within, so you get fewer Higgs bosons “making” the mass if you get too close to the centre).

    Since relativistic mass has velocity in it, it becomes a vector. Mass doesn’t have to become a vector to overcome the issue you state.

    Comment by Mark — 19 Dec 2008 @ 4:11 AM

  797. #784. No, if it had REST MASS it couldn’t travel at c.

    Comment by Mark — 19 Dec 2008 @ 4:12 AM

  798. 781. It “could” go massively up or down, true.

    Then again, we “could” make contact with an alien civilisation who will give us jump gate technology.

    Getting a sensitivity *this time* of less than 2C per doubling would mean that something unprecedented in the entire 4 billion history of the earth would have to happen.

    And everybody who says “It could be lower” don’t have a piggin clue about what it might be.

    Why would it be unprecedented? Because the mechanics and feedbacks that come in this time, if it were to result in less than a 2C per doubling sensitivity would have to be something that is unique to this period in earth’s history. Any available records show greater than 2C sensitivity. Before there were records, the ability of the earth to reconfigure itself was limited to a purely mechanical change. Biology has the option of optimising the environment to its own benefit (leaf litter decomposes and turns thin soil into more substantial soil that allows better growth of plants, as long as wind or rain don’t get to wash it all away before it can be fixed in place by the new growth.). Geology doensn’t.

    Comment by Mark — 19 Dec 2008 @ 4:23 AM

  799. Thanks, guys.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 19 Dec 2008 @ 6:59 AM

  800. Jacob, I think you now see the point I was trying to make–that the same evidence that largely precludes a sensitivity below 2 degrees per doubling is even more critical for reducing probabilities of sensitivity more than 4.5 degrees per doubling. Thus, from a perspective of risk management, arguing that a low sensitivity can’t be precluded makes things much worse, because the risk winds up being dominated by the additional high-sensitivity probability such an argument entails.
    It’s much the same situation we have with the bete noir of the denialists–the hockey stick. If you argue that current warming is not exceptional, you are in essence suggesting that sensitivity is much higher than we now think.
    And of course, denialists love to argue that the models all suck. However, the models are essential to bounding risk, so if the models go, so do the bounds, and this opens us up to arguments that we must curtail emissions drastically to avoid the risk of catastrophic climate change.

    Moral: Ignorance is never your friend.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Dec 2008 @ 7:59 AM

  801. welcome back, Barton. Hope you are well on the mend.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Dec 2008 @ 8:04 AM

  802. Mark, remember F=dp/dt.

    Perspectives on mass have changed since the introduction of spontaneous symmetry breaking. Arguments of changing mass might be appealing intuitively, but they aren’t reflective of current thinking on mass, inertia, etc.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Dec 2008 @ 8:08 AM

  803. JCB wrote: “At any rate, I do see most of my posts are read as evidenced by some form of response and several emails.”

    Oh, yes–keep on posting! Though I will admit the additional periods Tom mentions are helpful, so keep them coming, too! Ironically, learning to use them more frequently was part of the “take away” from my doctoral experience.

    My private theory on this–no longer private, I guess–is that American prose was permanently affected by Ernest Hemingway’s famously laconic style. Some of us, by contrast, more influenced by the British literary tradition, do love our semi-colons, dashes, and all manner of subsidiary clauses–which, however, can become confusing, particularly when one is less than scrupulous about the attribution of pronouns. (If you just read that last sentence twice, you see what I meant.)

    The existence of William Faulkner is a somewhat troubling datum for this whole theory, however.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 Dec 2008 @ 8:51 AM

  804. Ray, 602. I didn’t. But that makes as much difference as saying

    Remember: F=mdv/dt

    You’ve managed to dump mass into momentum and that, if anything, bolsters my argument.

    Photons have momentum. And your little factette says that massive particles do too. And photons only have momentum whilst moving.

    Now, how is that different (other than ontological dumping) from Photons have Mass only whist moving?

    Comment by Mark — 19 Dec 2008 @ 1:48 PM

  805. #800, I never actually disagreed, but the skeptics were comeing in droves and I wanted to see someone of your qualifications explain why these arguments are (the ones I posed) are not very helpful. I commented several weeks ago about the climate sensitvity on Watts. I want to thank you for taking the time and being a good sport. Not everyone can use evidence the way you do and for that I am greatful. Ignorance is never one’s friend, this is to be sure Ray. Thank you for your help making matters more clear, as I tend to talk things out so extensively that the point may be lost, though it did expose more sceptics this time in conjunction with your succinct statements.

    Kevin #803, much agreed. I grew up reading Britannica from the 1800’s and early 1900’s and the articles from the time period have tha habit of using many commas, semi colons and the word however is forever etched in my psche. When I took the GRE, the CBEST, and when I wrote my senior project,and my masters thesis I had to die to old habits. Some of my early undergrauate papers were anything, but laconic (a word by the way frequently encountered in teaching certification tests) and even in this post one can see my return to some degree to an older British style, if ever so slightly. I also loved the works of Agatha Chrsitie and Sir Arthur Conans Doyle and have forever been influenced by their asethetic writing styles. I read Hemingway, but was not influenced, only moved by his stories, rather than sentence delivery.

    I tend to type airplane, but have seen aeroplane hundreds of thousands of times; I love the semicolon! DP Davies also writes the British way, though I am American, the litertaure and science-encyclopedias of my youth were from the old school, in some cases where steam engines were fairly new; my early journies into science as a young boy. At any rate not that I am all for sentence form consensus, lord knows I had many a paper that eraned an A, but the professor wanted shorter sentences and less semicolons and, howevers. My thesis of course was rid of most of these excesses and I conformed as I do when I write reviews of my students work, work on my paper now, and have gone back to take one course to further enrivh my background. I will type more pleasing to the RC community to some extent, though I hate one sentence answers and group think influences.

    Comment by jcbmack — 19 Dec 2008 @ 4:25 PM

  806. Re: Jacob’s 794 in response to my 793:

    Jacob, I intended no disrespect regarding the grad education. The J.E.M. Tutoring site doesn’t mention a grad degree.

    I was not trying to be snide. Your comments here on Real Climate often seem to be informed by massive amounts of solo reading and thinking, but not by the mental context that comes only from having practiced the craft of empirical research science while under the in-person supervision and mentorship of a productive scientist. Take, for example, the fact that published peer-reviewed scientific articles mention continuing uncertainty. That should be interpreted in the context of every scientific investigation in every field being permanently ongoing to flesh out details, no matter how many other details already have been settled.

    You seem very enthusiastic about science, so I thought you might be well suited to a full-fledged graduate degree in an empirical science. (Hey, maybe even climatology!)

    This point actually does fall in line with the “Mountains and Molehills” topic of this entire thread. Scientists have a certain context of thought, language, and work practice. Engineers do, too, but a different one than scientists do. Likewise business people. Likewise journalists. Someone with lots of experience in any one of those areas rarely does well initially in any of those other areas. Notice how many scientists and engineers fail at running the companies they started to profit from their discoveries and inventions. Working in a different area requires not just different explicit knowledge, but also different assumptions and different skills, all of which must be acquired through long experience.

    Peer-reviewed scientific articles are written for readers who share the writers’ context. Anyone else likely will misinterpret. One response is to trust the judgment of the people who have the experience. Another response is to go get at least some more of the needed experience yourself.

    Comment by Tom Dayton — 19 Dec 2008 @ 6:17 PM

  807. Mark, We probably shouldn’t get back into the relativistic kinematics thing, but you need to go back and look at the equations of motion and expressions for energy and momentum. In general, E^2=p^2c^2 +M0c^4. The energy of the photon is pc, while that of a massive particle at rest is M0c^2. The correct definition of force is F=dp/dt–true in classical physics as well, as there are some problems where mass changes (e.g a chain uncoiling and being dragged by a truck). The photon has energy and momentum–not mass.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Dec 2008 @ 8:58 PM

  808. Tom, I am not offended at all. I also need to update the J.E.M. tutoring page as well, but things have been busy. I brought up the margins for error because this is a common area of contention from many people who do not share the context with the author, that you spoke about. As far as working in climatology itself, as interesting as I find it, I doubt that I would work directly in the field, though it is interesting. I would like to take more courses in the future, however, relating to climate and weather, and when I am able this will happen. I trust the judgement of the consensus in climatology both because I have investigated and taken courses that are relevant to being able to interpret. I am not really disagreeing with the research or contending that the doubt somehow discredits or makes less well correlated or less relevant the conclusions. I was playing devil’s advocate and utilizing circumscription. It had the desired effect. If one looks at my early posts here or in Watts I get technical and describe models, physics and chemistry etc… I do not doubt the moderators work and have looked at the doubts in climate sensitivity, and see that the range proposed is highly probable and well supported by the trends. We are all life long learners Tom, and no one knows all, but I am confident my current background enables to me to understand the peer review papers and draw sound conclusions. I like when Ray explains things, he is older than I and has, himself a tremendous background. Here and there on RC I have made some errors and misspoke and I have admitted where I have and I am more focused on shortened sentences and less typographical errors:) No offense nor a grudge held, I enjoy your posts.

    Comment by jcbmack — 20 Dec 2008 @ 1:52 AM

  809. Thanks, Ray.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 20 Dec 2008 @ 6:46 AM

  810. Mark, continuing his crusade to correct all the physicists, writes:

    Photons have momentum. And your little factette says that massive particles do too. And photons only have momentum whilst moving.

    Now, how is that different (other than ontological dumping) from Photons have Mass only whist moving?

    Because a particle can have momentum and not have mass. p = h / L where p is momentum, h Planck’s constant, and L (because I don’t know if RealClimate will display a lambda) is wavelength.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 20 Dec 2008 @ 6:50 AM

  811. Ray (807):

    Small nit: should be M0^2.

    Comment by Brian Brademeyer — 20 Dec 2008 @ 3:25 PM

  812. Mark it is not likely, but it is possible for the sensitivity to be lower. It certainly is well supported mathematically and empirically that the temperature increase from doubling CO2 will be between 2 and 4.6 degrees, and the clustering is around 3 degrees.As far as negating billions of years of climate, that is really an unknown and cannot be proven, or even strongly evidenced without serious doubts. I will say that the estimates currently published are well supported and accurate.
    Keep in mind I let your serious error on thermodynamics go.Global warming actually supports the 4 laws and equilibration, but at any rate, yes the doubling of CO2 will lead to dramatic enough warming to cause problems. Still some areas will benefit from warming and this is also well known and documented.

    I certainly did play devil’s advocate, I actually did not greatly disagree with Ray or the RC, but sometimes you can show a person the error in their judgment by spelling it out for them.I will also equally state that I am not an alarmist that fears a run away climate, and yes Hank there are reputable climatologists who support such an outcome. Although, there are tipping points in ecology and carrying capacities, as well outlined in Scientific American 3.0, the climate will not just runaway if there is a 4.7 degree increase instead of a 4.6. I am concerned about future climate, this is clear. Also look at evolution Mark, you made several errors on that one as well, but I do enjoy your photons have mass argument. Keep up the good work!I enjoy your aggressive stance and you have a lot of knowledge it cannot be expected for anyone to get everything right even a genius like myself:)

    Comment by jcbmack — 27 Dec 2008 @ 11:39 PM

  813. Mass and energy commute. Photons do not have a literal mass, in a literal sense, but they “behave,” in a manner consistent with mass.

    [Response: Math joke from my youth: What’s purple and commutes? – an Abelian grape. – gavin]

    Comment by jcbmack — 28 Dec 2008 @ 2:26 PM

  814. LOL Gavin… good one. Abelian group. Some concepts or mathematics work out for a given observation or set of phenomena,but do not translate in others. Hence all the perceptual controversy.

    Comment by jcbmack — 28 Dec 2008 @ 3:21 PM

  815. Paradoxes are easily resolvable in real world applications, it is the philosophy which develops that makes man awfully confused.

    Comment by jcbmack — 28 Dec 2008 @ 3:52 PM

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