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  1. Marohasy posted this little gem at Curry’s:
    “In support of alternative perspectives, and Claes Johnson, I have posted a technical note explaining why we should be sceptical of the Stefan-Boltzmann equation.”

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 2 Feb 2011 @ 1:55 AM

  2. Wow. Apparently Curry has decided that she is entitled to her own facts now.

    Comment by Andrew Hobbs — 2 Feb 2011 @ 5:25 AM

  3. Andrew Hobbs,

    In defense of Judith Curry, she has been very vocal against the whole “slaying the dragon” nonsense which is just a regurgitation of how the greenhouse effect isn’t real, back-radiation is unphysical, etc. Aside from letting them post on her webpage, she is not associated with Jennifer Marohasy or these wild claims about the Stefan-Boltzmann law being untrue.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 2 Feb 2011 @ 4:11 PM

  4. I’m a bit puzzled by the title of this thread, as I believe that -in physics- any non-zero value of the tendency term must arise from some kind of forcing. Could you elaborate? Do you mean internal variability, i.e. variability of a system that is not due to forcing external to the system in question?

    [Response: This is just a play on words denoting an open thread in which you can discuss any aspect of the science you like. Unforced variations or internal variability are usually just called weather. – gavin]

    Comment by Arne Melsom — 2 Feb 2011 @ 4:56 PM

  5. great, an open thread ! I will be able to ask a layman question at last.

    So, I was wondering if it was possible / already done to quantify roughly high latitude heat transfer to the sea with the polar ice cover loss. I explain : since frozen and liquid water are in equilibrium, by measuring the ice loss between two dates you can measure \DeltaQ involved in a global manner – you do not look at particularities, just the global net variation.
    This is only an estimate, since you rule out many phenomena (among many things, you consider the high latitudes to be a closed system without any heat transfer in lower latitudes, and you have to get a good measure of sea ice mass loss), but I wondered if anyone tried to do something like that, and how it can improved/ how wrong it is.

    Looking forward for a serious answer for this silly question :)

    [Response: You can certainly calculate a deltaQ for the ice loss, but it is really small compared to the heat input into the oceans or the variations in heat loss to space. Thus it is not a good constraint on overall heat content changes. Levitus et al (2001) did some basic calculations of this. – gavin]

    Comment by bratisla — 2 Feb 2011 @ 5:07 PM

  6. The ‘technical note” can be found here:

    It’s not written by her, but by an occasional contributor who goes by the handle “cementfriend.”

    Some may wish to read it, either

    a) to know what some bonehead is mangling out there in the blogosphere, or
    b) for the pure entertainment value.

    I’m not competent to do a thoroughgoing critique, but I came out with my eyebrows challenging my receding hairline.

    Perhaps my favorite tidbit was “To me as an engineer the term albedo is gobbledegook and shows to a large extent the users do not understand heat transfer.”

    Some may prefer “However, the concept of back radiation would be in conflict with the second law of thermodynamics.”

    But I think you’ll find plenty to choose from, should you be so inclined.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 Feb 2011 @ 5:13 PM

  7. Sorry, make that ‘cementafriend,’ not ‘cementfriend.’

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 Feb 2011 @ 5:14 PM

  8. Chris Colose says, “In defense of Judith Curry,…”


    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Feb 2011 @ 6:54 PM

  9. #3 Chris Colose
    Oops! A slip of the fingers. I meant ‘apparently Marohasy has decided that she is entitled to her own facts now.’
    Sorry about that. (It was past midnight when I posted the comment.)

    Comment by Andrew Hobbs — 2 Feb 2011 @ 7:18 PM

  10. So, is a “Venus syndrome” runaway possible on Earth due to fossil fuel use or is it not? Opinion seems divided among credible sources.

    Comment by Adam R. — 2 Feb 2011 @ 7:45 PM

  11. #6 Kevin McKinney: thanks for posting those quotes.
    I’d like to re-word them, to express my opinion:
    “To me, as an engineer who actually studied & got a passing grade in a subject about heat transfer, the term albedo expresses a key factor in absorption of radiative energy from the sun. Also, the concept of back radiation is in complete compliance with the second law of thermodynamics, and those who claim it isn’t have a fundamental lack of understanding of what that law is really saying, not to mention a strange perception of just how radiative heat transfer works”.

    Comment by Bern — 2 Feb 2011 @ 7:51 PM

  12. “… climate instability was not confined to the last glaciation, but appears also to have been marked during the last interglacial (as explored more fully in a companion paper) and during the previous Saale–Holstein glacial cycle. This is in contrast with the extreme stability of the Holocene, suggesting that recent climate stability may be the exception rather than the rule….”
    Validity of the temperature reconstruction from water isotopes in ice cores – Jouzel & Dansgaard et al. (1997)

    Hat tip to Papers of Willi Dansgaard at

    [Response: Careful, these are old papers. The claim made in that early work that the last interglacial was ‘unstable’ was based on the GRIP ice core. The Europeans were a bit too quick to publish these results! When the GISP2 ice core was completed a few months later, it became clear that both cores had disturbed stratigraphy prior to about 100,000 years ago. So the conclusion about the last interglacial was wrong. There is no evidence that the last interglacial, or any interglacial was any more ‘unstable’ than the current one (the Holocene). I do think, however, that the ‘stability’ of the Holocene is itself overblown. That’s another story though.-eric]

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Feb 2011 @ 8:48 PM

  13. The Stefan-Boltzmann comes directly out of statistical mechanics. I apply statistical entropy principles in analyzing oil depletion in the online book “The Oil ConunDrum”. Have a section on CO2 contributions from fossil fuel. This will give the CC skeptics conniptions.

    Comment by WebHubTel — 2 Feb 2011 @ 9:37 PM

  14. Thank you eric!

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Feb 2011 @ 9:47 PM

  15. “To me as an engineer the term albedo is gobbledegook and shows to a large extent the users do not understand heat transfer.”

    Yikes! To me as an engineer, such statements by others claiming to be engineers are just plain embarrassing. A lot of people claim to be engineers, but I really doubt that this one made the grade.

    Comment by Ron Taylor — 2 Feb 2011 @ 9:52 PM

  16. Fred Pearce at New Scientist embarrasses again:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Feb 2011 @ 10:13 PM

  17. Check out the Climate Dogs.

    Comment by Craig Allen — 2 Feb 2011 @ 10:26 PM

  18. Adam, we discussed this in the friday round-up thread.

    The runaway greenhouse can be triggered in certain astrophysical circumstances where you have a planet with some reservoir of potential greenhouse gas, whether it be a CO2 glacier or an ocean of water. But you need the right stellar or orbital parameters, so CO2 increase alone won’t get us to Venus. I would also point out that there’s other theories for Venus’ evolution aside from a runaway greenhouse, since there’s different ways to get the very deuterium ratio in the water vapor traces on Venus, but I think that it is the best theory out there.

    With no greenhouse gases, a planet will increase its emission with temperature as T^4 and this strongly stabilizes the Earth’s climate to change. With a water vapor feedback though, the emission is a bit more linear (you might be able to parametrize it as T^3.9 over some domain for example). If the planet gets warm enough and the optical depth of water vapor is sufficiently deep, the outgoing radiation asymptotes to a horizontal line and becomes decoupled from the surface temperature. What happens is that there’s a mathematical contradiction between the amount of absorbing matter required for sustaining radiative equilibrium and the amount of absorbing matter that preserves the gas-liquid equilibrium.

    It is possible for the absorbed solar radiation to exceed this limiting outgoing radiation, in which case the oceans are not stable in liquid form (or condensed CO2 glaciers at the surface must evaporate or sublimate into the atmosphere). The problem with modern Earth is that it’s not close enough to the sun (or the sun luminous enough) to get the absorbed radiation that high. Thus the inner limit of habitability for a planet is set by this threshold of vapor liquid water loss, but for our sun it’s clearly less than the mean Earth-sun distance.

    This also depends on the star the planet is near. It’s often assumed the albedo of a planet is solely a characteristic of the planet itself, but it depends very much on the sun’s radiation it receives, and so for different solar types the distance to kick in the water vapor runaway changes, even for the same impinging radiation at the TOA. For Earth, you need over 300 W/m2 of absorbed radiation to kick in a runaway for sure, and we’re safely under that limit.

    What is much more likely though is that climate sensitivity is high enough to cause very disruptive socio-economic changes as we continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere.

    [Response: I completely agree with Chris here, but will add the caveat that clouds effects interfere with the relatively simple physics of the clear sky case, and make it harder to absolutely rule out a runaway with straightforward basic physics calculations. One can concoct a kind of cloud that would make a runaway possible in Earth’s orbit, but there are very good arguments (as I said in the Roundup thread) that such clouds are implausible, and that cloud feedbacks make it harder, rather than easier, to trigger a true runaway greenhouse. Further, I think that the fact that the massive PETM carbon release did not trigger a runaway is essentially conclusive evidence that cloud feedbacks are not of a type that could trigger a runaway — though the PETM certainly does suggest that some feedback (perhaps clouds) is operating to lead to high climate sensitivity. My flat-out judgment is that I think nobody need lose sleep over the chance of AGW triggering a “Venus syndrome.” –raypierre]

    Comment by Chris Colose — 2 Feb 2011 @ 10:57 PM

  19. “Of the 54 new planet candidates found in the habitable zone, five are near Earth-sized. The remaining 49 habitable zone candidates range from super-Earth size — up to twice the size of Earth — to larger than Jupiter.”

    E.T. should have been here by now. E.T. must have exterminated himself by GW. The odds of our survival are very poor indeed.

    [Response: Don’t give up hope too soon. We don’t even know if
    any of those hab-zone planets have atmospheres, let alone whether there’s CO2 and water vapor in them. The gas/ice giants almost certainly have atmospheres, because gas is the only way to make something so big, but the Earths and Super-Earths could be airless rockballs or iceballs for all we know. –raypierre]

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 2 Feb 2011 @ 11:03 PM

  20. Chris Colose @16 — Most clear, I think its finally sinking in.

    Thank you.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 2 Feb 2011 @ 11:21 PM

  21. raypierre @16 — Thanks for the reply.

    Instead I’ll lose sleep over droughts interspersed with extreme precipitation events.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 Feb 2011 @ 12:05 AM

  22. Hank at #16 … god, that’s horrible.

    I thought I might read it and come up with a few nuggets to protest against, but the whole is worse than the parts, and can only be appreciated in toto

    Comment by dhogaza — 3 Feb 2011 @ 12:43 AM

  23. #21 Drought is relative, it has a number of definitions in Australia and to qualify for drought relief depends on where you live and what you are growing, After a very long drought..{rainfall below a set,average over months not just NO rain} in Victoria that ended in 2010 The wheat farmers were expecting a massive crop only to lose the lot due to flooding from an extreme precipitation event, I think that its called global warming but our politicians say that its crap,

    Comment by john byatt — 3 Feb 2011 @ 1:56 AM

  24. 16 & 22 on New Scientist absolute nonsense: Jerry Ravetz an …………….. etcetera etcetera

    “His book, A “No-Nonsense Guide to Science”,has been published by New Internationalist magazine.”

    NO wonder the world doesn’t know what science is all about! In the old days, it would have been phrased: “You don’t bargain with god.”

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 3 Feb 2011 @ 2:35 AM

  25. #16 Looks like Lou Grinzo is right, ‘climate Pearl Harbor’ is the only thing that MIGHT convince some of those souls of the accuracy of the science in question.

    Comment by jyyh — 3 Feb 2011 @ 3:07 AM

  26. @gavin : many thanks for your answer. I’ll dig that – as soon as I get rid of daily work :)

    Comment by bratisla — 3 Feb 2011 @ 4:12 AM

  27. #16 “Third, most agreed that there was no scientific basis for the world adopting a target to prevent global warming going above 2 °C. It was “arbitrary”, they said, and cooked up by climate scientists with a political agenda”, is truly funny. Almost so funny I could give up commenting on climate change and the politics that should, could, might, and must happen because of it. Timeframes aren’t very interesting to me within the science, too much to calculate, if you will, though I think I’m physically safe for the rest of my life @ +25m unless there’s a famine. Please delete the prev post.

    Comment by jyyh — 3 Feb 2011 @ 4:36 AM

  28. re: Pearce from Lisbon (Hank #16, dhogaza #22)

    “whether ocean oscillations (…) could explain the global warming of the past 40 years”

    Anyone know that this nugget refers to? The McLean, de Freitas and Carter debacle, or something vaguely real?

    Comment by CM — 3 Feb 2011 @ 6:01 AM

  29. Re the NewScientist article linked @ #16.

    This piece contains a few little gems.
    “Leaving out the cranks…” It would have been nice to see who they were.
    “Few at the meeting doubted that climate change was a real issue that the world had to address, but they said the science had been corrupted.” Herein lies the sole sceptical concession in this piece, the use of the word “but”. As a result, can this mean anything less than ‘The world has to take action on climate change’?

    That the meeting was reported without talk of any statement agreed between the climate scientists & sceptics present perhaps demonstrates the event was just nonsense. (Instead we hear the three main ‘totemic’ issues.(i) The “scandalous” adoption of the hockey stick. (ii) What about those ocean oscillations? (iii) And defining 2oC as the safe limit for AGW is both arbitrary and “political”.)

    Amid all the time “taken up bitching”, the only question this meeting raises of any merit is surely “What is this piece of so-called journalism doing on the NewScientist website?”

    Comment by MARodger — 3 Feb 2011 @ 6:51 AM

  30. Re the NewScientist article linked @ #16

    The piece contains some little gems. “Leaving out the cranks…” It would have been nice to see who they were.
    “Few at the meeting doubted that climate change was a real issue that the world had to address, but they said the science had been corrupted.” Herein lies the sole sceptical concession in this piece, the use of the word “but”. As a result, can this mean anything less than ‘The world has to take action on climate change’?

    That the meeting was reported without talk of any statement agreed between the climate scientists & sceptics present perhaps demonstrates the event was just nonsense. (Instead we hear the three main ‘totemic’ issues.(i) The “scandalous” adoption of the hockey stick. (ii) What about those ocean oscillations? (iii) And defining 2oC as the safe limit for AGW is both arbitrary and “political”.)

    Amid all the time “taken up bitching”, the only question this meeting raises of any merit is surely “What is this piece of so-called journalism doing on the NewScientist website?”

    Comment by MARodger — 3 Feb 2011 @ 6:57 AM

  31. Re the NewScientist article linked @ #16
    The piece contains some little gems. “Leaving out the cranks…” It would have been nice to see who they were.
    “Few at the meeting doubted that climate change was a real issue that the world had to address, but they said the science had been corrupted.” Herein lies the sole sceptical concession in this piece, the use of the word “but”. As a result, can this mean anything less than ‘The world has to take action on climate change’?
    That the meeting was reported without talk of any statement agreed between the climate scientists & sceptics present perhaps demonstrates the event was just nonsense. (Instead we hear the three main ‘totemic’ issues.(i) The “scandalous” adoption of the hockey stick. (ii) What about those ocean oscillations? (iii) And defining 2oC as the safe limit for AGW is both arbitrary and “political”.)

    Amid all the time “taken up bitching”, the only question this meeting raises of any merit is surely “What is this piece of so-called journalism doing on the NewScientist website?”

    Comment by MARodger — 3 Feb 2011 @ 6:58 AM

  32. Can anyone link a list of studies that support the “hockey stick” and/or climate warming? I am a layman involved in fighting off the forces of darkness within my own small area and demand that my demented opponents provide me scientific evidence that anthropomorphic climate warming is not true which, of course they cannot provide. My specious argument on my behalf is that climate warming is “settled science” and that they are the ones making extraordinary claims. However, they occasionally demand peer-reviewed proof of my arguments and I don’t have a handy list stored anywhere. Not asking anyone to do the work, just requesting a bibliography if it already exists.

    Comment by Oldfart — 3 Feb 2011 @ 7:24 AM

  33. Hi Oldfart,
    Lots of places to start with, but I do like Sceptical Science
    (, especially for ‘beginners’.

    Comment by toxymoron — 3 Feb 2011 @ 7:59 AM

  34. Oldfart,
    I think the key word you want is “attribution”. For instance, if you type attribution into the RC search box, you get these results”

    Also, check out Tamino’s Open Mind blog for excellent statistical analysis and for digests of the technical arguments. There are lots more resources out there. If you have specific questions, let us know, and I’ll try to vector you to the right studies.

    The thing is that there is a whole mountain range of evidence, temperature trends, energy balance, stratospheric cooling… It isn’t merely rising temperature.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Feb 2011 @ 8:09 AM

  35. #30 (re: “can anyone link a list of studies that support…”)

    Uh… There’s the IPCC report with more references than you can shake a stick at.
    IPCC 4th Assessment Report:
    Friendly interface to the references:

    But that may be a bit more than you bargained for. An update that provides a far shorter, and more reader-friendly overview:

    You can usually rely on for bite-sized rebuttals by favorite denier meme, with references to the peer-reviewed literature. E.g.

    For further rebuttal resources:

    Then come back here for more depth, and for the real debates and uncertainties.
    By topic:

    Hope this helps.

    Comment by CM — 3 Feb 2011 @ 8:13 AM

  36. Oldfart: should provide all the answers you need as well as a means of debunking the most common denier arguments.

    Comment by turboblocke — 3 Feb 2011 @ 8:30 AM

  37. Chris & raypierre:

    Thanks for the very useful replies. I will preserve them for the next time someone asks me. It seems the “If it could happen, it probably would have already” answer will do for a quick response. And yes, there is plenty to worry about without boiling oceans in the prospect!

    Thanks again for your efforts in this excellent blog.

    [Response: Thanks. But a small technical point (of more relevance to those who care about thermodynamics than to those trying to survive in a 100C ocean) — in a runaway greenhoue the oceans do not boil. Boiling happens when the saturation vapor pressure exceeds the local pressure (which is the air pressure, near the surface) in a runaway greenhouse, the added water vapor increase the air pressure enough that you never actually get boiling, which involves forming bubbles in the interior of the fluid. You’re arlready familiar, I’m sure, with the concept that boiling temperature is lower at high altitudes. This is the same thing in reverse, except that you have increased air pressure at sea level instead, by increasing the mass of the atmosphere. You just get evaporation of the ocean sufficient to maintain the atmospheric humidity. –raypierre]

    Comment by Adam R. — 3 Feb 2011 @ 8:41 AM

  38. oldfart. If navigating around a site like Skeptical Science seems a bit daunting, go first to the guide. Might be worth printing off a copy and keeping it handy once you’re on top of it.

    Comment by adelady — 3 Feb 2011 @ 8:53 AM

  39. A subject that perhaps deserves more attention than often awarded is the extent to which future climate change is dependent on the availability of easily extractable fossil fuel reserves. Coal is often estimated at about 900 Gtons, and oil plus gas at probably a smaller figure. The consequences in terms of warming will involve the uncertainties surrounding these estimates, as well as those surrounding climate sensitivity and the probability of tipping points. Nevertheless, each of these elements could be parameterized to create a set of Bayesian priors that might permit a probability range to be estimated. Has this been done? Perhaps the IPCC SRES analyses did some of it, but I haven’t looked into that. Are there other relevant data?

    Comment by Fred Moolten — 3 Feb 2011 @ 10:57 AM

  40. Don’t give up hope too soon. We don’t even know if
    any of those hab-zone planets have atmospheres, let alone whether there’s CO2 and water vapor in them.

    And will they have metallic cores and magnetic fields, or will their local solar winds gradually erode said atmospheres? And then there’s the matter of gravity, which I find to be a matter of taste.

    Nope, terra firma is the only place for me, so far.

    [Response: As a way of preserving atmospheres, I think magnetic fields are way over-rated. But they’re great if, like me, you prefer your Suunto compass when hiking around Kolmen Valtakunnal Rajapykki, over some fancy battery operated GPS. –raypierre]

    Comment by JM — 3 Feb 2011 @ 11:18 AM

  41. “E.T. should have been here by now. E.T. must have exterminated himself by GW. The odds of our survival are very poor indeed.”

    It isn’t just the vastness of space that is a barrier to finding E.T., but the vastness of time. Humans are hardly a blip in planetary history; we’d barely make it into the fossil record. Entire intergalactic civilizations could have risen and fallen before mammals even became ascendant on this planet.

    So, although I have to agree with you that our odds are not looking very good, I don’t think it’s quite a given that we will exterminate ourselves. Close, but not quite. Civilizations rise and fall, though, and ours is not immune just because it’s technological. The planet has the last say in that, I’m afraid.

    Comment by Maya — 3 Feb 2011 @ 11:31 AM

  42. OT: apologizes in advance.

    I need to animate molecules (multi-atomic, not simple spheres) bouncing around in a cylinder and diffusing through a filter.

    Ideally the modeled molecules would have real-world interactions, but the animation doesn’t strictly require it. It does require random linear motion and random rotation. The end result needs to play back on a laptop, but I have no preference between flash, gifs, quicktime, wmv, etc.

    If anyone has any suggestions or questions, either post here or email them to me. dmil.rc1 is the name. is the domain.

    Comment by David Miller — 3 Feb 2011 @ 11:35 AM

  43. Fred, this isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, but it may help you in your search:

    Comment by Maya — 3 Feb 2011 @ 11:36 AM

  44. I wonder if anyone can explain this apparent conundrum.

    It seems that climate scientists believe that in the next billion years or so the Earth will become so hot it will lose its oceans

    “Once the solar luminosity is 10% higher than its current value, the average global surface temperature reaches 320 K (47 °C). The atmosphere will become a humid greenhouse leading to a runaway evaporation of the oceans.[49] At this point, models of the Earth’s future environment demonstrate that the stratosphere would contain increasing levels of water. These water molecules will be broken down through photodissociation by solar ultraviolet radiation, allowing hydrogen to escape the atmosphere. The net result would be a loss of the world’s sea water in about 1.1 billion years from the present”

    However. the Earths temperature is said to be related to the 4th root of the suns luminosity. Therefore, the the fourth root of 1.10 is 1.02411369. Applying that to the Earths current temperature of 288K gives 295K.

    That is not hugely hot and also seeing as the forecast is for CO2 to fall over the long term, perhaps to much lower than 50 ppm, which would be an effect of minus three doublings of CO2 ie 9K leaving an actual remperature of 286K, which is actually rather cool.

    So which bit of the science is correct?


    [Response: The answer is that the fourth power law only applies when the greenhouse gas content of the atmosphere is held constant. The water vapor feedback adds more greenhouse gas to the atmosphere as the climate gets warmer, and leads to more temperature increase. You are thinking well — a 10% increase in luminosity would be not such a big deal if Stefan Boltzmann were the only game in town. The water vapor feedback leads to greater climate sensitivity when you get to very warm climates. All explained with lucidity in Chapter 4 of my book, Principles of Planetary Climate. –raypierre]

    Comment by Alan Millar — 3 Feb 2011 @ 11:39 AM

  45. Oldfart,
    Here is a link which lists some articles about the global warming debate.

    Comment by Dan H. — 3 Feb 2011 @ 11:41 AM

  46. Any comment on this (source: ):
    [edit – the link is fine]

    I’m thinking that journal may not be “prestigious” much longer…

    [Response: It’s not new work at all – and it ignores updates to the dataseries. The Gray et al (2010, Rev. Geophys.) paper is far better. – gavin]

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnatnathan — 3 Feb 2011 @ 12:06 PM

  47. Alan Millar,

    You’re ignoring the whole feedback loop which makes the runaway worth talking about!! Water vapor.

    The “effective” equilibrium temperature of Earth that balances the absorbed shortwave radiation is 255 K. In general it is the quantity [S(1-a)/σ4]^0.25 where S is the incoming solar radiation at the TOA and ‘a’ is the albedo. “4” is a re-distribution factor that accounts for the spherical geometry of the planet (sometimes it’s better to use something else here; on airless bodies with very large diurnal temperature gradients, averaging over an isothermal sphere is not very meaningful).

    If this whole quantity exceeds about 270-280 K on a planet with an ocean, the planet cannot be habitable anymore. Therefore it is a necessary condition that the effective temperature be below about 275 K (though by no means sufficient, this criteria is met on Venus for example).

    Comment by Chris Colose — 3 Feb 2011 @ 1:21 PM

  48. > Dan H.

    Riiiight. On one side, science; on the other, Heartland/SEPP, presented equally side by side, as though they were comparable ‘pro’ and ‘con’ sources.

    Feh. It’s a source for political material ‘pro’ and ‘con’ for believers who don’t know how to find or understand the science, on many issues.

    Look at any issue where you know the science, and see what they’re doing with it. Subtle. Not good.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Feb 2011 @ 1:27 PM

  49. >

    Oy, look at kind of the sources they rely on:
    Source: Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide,” Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Fall 2007

    They’ve been building quite a reputation as a reliable source.
    I can’t see how.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Feb 2011 @ 2:07 PM

  50. What is your baseline for n++? The main page says only 19 comments at this time.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 3 Feb 2011 @ 2:32 PM

  51. I’ve been reading Lindzen’s recent digression and I think I can see its flaws. However, there are some things that have me puzzled:

    1. He says: “there have been previous periods that appear to have been warmer than the present despite CO2 levels being lower than they are now”. I know about the contrary: previous periods cooler with more CO2 (the faint young Sun paradox), but not the other way around. Do you know what period he may be referring to?

    2. In the tropics, in case of disagreement between temperature measurement at the surface and at the upper troposphere, he suggests that observations in the upper troposphere are more reliable:

    It is well known that above about 2 km altitude, the tropical temperatures are pretty homogeneous in the horizontal so that sampling is not a problem. Below two km (roughly the height of what is referred to as the trade wind inversion), there is much more horizontal variability, and, therefore, there is a profound sampling problem. Under the circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that the problem resides in the surface data, and that the actual trend at the surface is about 60% too large“.

    That seems just the contrary of what peer review papers found. I don’t know much about this, but Lindzen’s suggestion seems really difficult to believe, since observations diverge so much in Santer et al 2008‘s figure 6.

    3. He says that “Lindzen and Choi (2009) contained a number of errors; however, as shown in a paper currently under review, these errors were not relevant to the main conclusion”. If I recall correctly, the main conclusion of the critics was that AMIP models aren’t suitable to estimate the climate sensibility of the fully coupled climate system, and that CMIP models were much closer to what models predict. So I cannot imagine what the main conclusion is that Lindzen considers still remains.

    As a last remark, there are some parts of conspiracy theory, accusations and even insults that I find simply shameful for Lindzen: “Such hysteria simply represents the scientific illiteracy of much of the public, the susceptibility of the public to the substitution of repetition for truth, and the exploitation of these weaknesses by politicians, environmental promoters […] That the data should always need correcting to agree with models is totally implausible and indicative of a certain corruption within the climate science community”.

    *I’ve also posted this on Grumbine’s blog.

    Comment by Jesús R. — 3 Feb 2011 @ 2:36 PM

  52. Oldfart, (& subsequent links)

    I think you need to decide whether the people you debate with over Climate Change are true sceptics/skeptics* or basically ‘deniers’ of any fact that threatens their preconceptions / political affiliation.

    I joke not !! – many of the ‘extremist’ deniers who I internet debate with, regard the links I give to Skeptical Science, ( and many other similar ones), as AGW ‘propaganda’ on my part – and just will not read them.

    *UK/US spellings -which I was picked up on by an AGW denier – see what they descend to!

    Comment by Clippo (UK) — 3 Feb 2011 @ 2:42 PM

  53. Gavin, Fred Pearce says in New Scientist that you didn’t attend Lisbon because the science is settled and there’s nothing to talk about. Given your oft-cited-by-me Unsettled Science post, I’m finding it hard to believe. ??

    [Response: This is made up. I have never said anything of the sort and I don’t know where Pearce would have got this from. He did not interview me. I have complained to New Scientist, but as yet I have heard nothing back. – gavin]

    Comment by J Bowers — 3 Feb 2011 @ 2:54 PM

  54. Re Gavin.

    Thanks, thought as much. I’d already queried Fred about it and what his source is over at NS. If I were you I’d demand an apology in the form of they print your Unsettled Science piece in the next issue ;) It’s honestly my most used (and successful) rebuttal to the settled science meme.

    Comment by J Bowers — 3 Feb 2011 @ 3:11 PM

  55. Oops! That comment of mine above is for the previous topic: West Antarctica.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 3 Feb 2011 @ 3:12 PM

  56. Re: ProCon
    It is impossible to recommend any site which says Tim Ball = the National Academy of Sciences (or even the kid next door) for degree of authority.
    It is impossible to recommend a site commenting on science which has nobody with a science background on its staff or board of directors.

    Comment by w kensit — 3 Feb 2011 @ 3:40 PM

  57. It appears that “new” scientists are the kind that just make things up. I guess I like “old” scientists better.

    On another note… did anyone read the article in Nature that is behind this story? I was really disappointed that some of the mainstream articles took it as really being definitive, because it’s only five years of data and was done with radar remote sensing to extract velocities. There is nothing wrong with the method, but I just didn’t feel like it was a very robust study since it’s based on one small area and such a short temporal scale. Any thoughts?

    Comment by Shirley J. Pulawski — 3 Feb 2011 @ 3:57 PM

  58. It’s a dark day for us wind power advocates:

    they are not saying that the wind turbines specifically failed, but the meteorological services are showing very low winds in the areas of Texas that have the wind farms. It may yet turn out not to have been the wind farms that failed, but you’d think they would be more willing to tell how 7,000MW all failed at once.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 3 Feb 2011 @ 4:08 PM

  59. In trying to figure out how to respond to someone who claims that global warming isn’t true because “I can manipulate NASA’s data to show anything I want” (sigh) I ended up at and I notice that both of the links are broken. I’ve searched the University of Virginia site for the data, but I can’t find it. If someone could fix the links or post replacement ones, it would be much appreciated.

    Comment by Maya — 3 Feb 2011 @ 4:26 PM

  60. Edward Greisch wrote: “E.T. should have been here by now. E.T. must have exterminated himself by GW.”

    For all we know, the existence of large, readily accessible quantities of what we call “fossil fuels” may be a rare fluke of the Earth’s particular geological and biological history.

    After all, it’s not too hard to imagine an “alt-Earth” on which fossil fuels were buried so deep, or were otherwise so inaccessible, that they were not even discovered until other more benign sources of energy (e.g. solar and wind) had already been developed as the foundation of a technological civilization. In which case global warming from CO2 emissions would never have become a problem.

    Speculations as to why we have not yet contacted, or been contacted by, a technologically advanced ET civilization seem to rest on a lot of highly questionable assumptions, IMHO.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 3 Feb 2011 @ 4:41 PM

  61. #46, Lynn Vincentnatnathan on Rao and cosmic rays:

    William Connolley has the extended version of what Gavin said.

    Comment by Jesús R. — 3 Feb 2011 @ 5:05 PM

  62. SM, it appears (there are links in the WUWT piece to other papers) that two coal plants failed and precipitated the crisis, not wind plants.

    Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 3 Feb 2011 @ 5:45 PM

  63. Septic Matthew @58 — That article clearly implicate thermal coal generating stations.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 Feb 2011 @ 5:47 PM

  64. It’s a dark day for us wind power advocates:

    SM – Don’t know about that.

    It says power plants shut down because of cold weather, naming a company that owns TXU and Oncor, which used to be a coal-based companies. I think they still are. Also, LCRA – coal and natural gas plants.

    Comment by JCH — 3 Feb 2011 @ 5:51 PM

  65. SM, if you _read_ what you link to, it would be harder to lie.

    That’s why people ask you to cite sources for your claims.

    Not just make up claims and link to pages hoping people won’t read them.

    Above, you make it sound like wind power fails (and like you’re a fan of it). You offer a link to a source page where you can read:

    “The company’s three new coal-fired plants were down ….”

    You keep posting stuff that doesn’t check out when looked into.

    Do you even know you’re doing this?

    Or are you reposting stuff you find at some thirdhand disinformation site without checking it for yourself?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Feb 2011 @ 6:06 PM

  66. BBC reports \Amazon drought ‘severe’ in 2010, raising warming fears\. Apparently more severe than in 2005, which takes some doing.

    The paper is Simon L. Lewis et al., “The 2010 Amazon Drought,” Science 331, no. 6017 (February 4, 2011): 554, doi:10.1126/science.1200807. Abstract:

    In 2010, dry-season rainfall was low across Amazonia, with apparent similarities to the major 2005 drought. We analyzed a decade of satellite-derived rainfall data to compare both events. Standardized anomalies of dry-season rainfall showed that 57% of Amazonia had low rainfall in 2010 as compared with 37% in 2005 (≤–1 standard deviation from long-term mean). By using relationships between drying and forest biomass responses measured for 2005, we predict the impact of the 2010 drought as 2.2 × 10^15 grams of carbon [95% confidence intervals (CIs) are 1.2 and 3.4], largely longer-term committed emissions from drought-induced tree deaths, compared with 1.6 ×10^15 grams of carbon (CIs 0.8 and 2.6) for the 2005 event.

    PS. ReCaptcha seems to be sampling the linguistic diversity of the Amazonian tribes. Or something. “Kirātalīlā okagoo”?!

    Comment by CM — 3 Feb 2011 @ 6:13 PM

  67. Google wants to be your friend:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Feb 2011 @ 6:20 PM

  68. Old fart, just in case you cannot find at SS

    Hockey sticks ,

    read through comments for newer additions

    Comment by john byatt — 3 Feb 2011 @ 6:23 PM

  69. It’s an ill wind, as they say … the worst mercury pollution sources are among those shut down:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Feb 2011 @ 6:26 PM

  70. JCH and Hank Roberts, there’s this as well:

    It appears that at least 2000 or so of the lost megawatts were from 3 coal-fired plants. This link names two of them.

    Recall that I do support more wind power.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 3 Feb 2011 @ 6:41 PM

  71. I had an idea for a method to constrain the amount of “missing heat” that may have been transferred to the deep ocean (below Argo). In order for the method to have a hope of working the following two statements need to be true.
    1. The primary means of heat transfer from the surface to the deep ocean is the bulk movement of water, aka overturning or convection. (In other words radiation and convection are much less.) True or false?
    2. The primary means of CO2 transfer from the surface to the deep ocean is also the bulk movement of water, not diffusion. True or false?

    I think both of those are true, but I thought I’d better check. Thanks!

    Comment by GFW — 3 Feb 2011 @ 6:51 PM

  72. It does look like the wind is pretty low in West Texas. Don’t know how that relates to the top of the towers.

    But I’m getting my West Texas wind power. A tumble weed just popped out of my wall socket.

    Comment by JCH — 3 Feb 2011 @ 7:10 PM

  73. Does this mean that Cuccinelli can’t go after Dr. Mann any more? Am I reading this correctly?

    “The Democratic-led Virginia Senate has approved a bill to strip the attorney general of the power to issue civil subpoenas of academic work at universities, a reaction to an attempt by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to seize e-mails and other documents related to the work of a former University of Virginia climate scientist.

    The Senate adopted the bill on a vote of 24 to 16, after one of the chamber’s most conservative members acknowledged that Cuccinelli’s effort has made even some Republicans uncomfortable.”

    Comment by Snapple — 3 Feb 2011 @ 7:19 PM

  74. The article also says: that “the bill, …will most likely be rejected by the GOP-led House of Delegates.”

    I am tired. What does all this mean?

    Comment by Snapple — 3 Feb 2011 @ 7:24 PM

  75. A few general questions about night time temps, water vapor, and general greenhouse science.

    1) On J. Curry’s website the issue of back radiation and down-welling radiation was discussed, and try as I might, I wasn’t really understanding the difference between these two, and specifically, how it relates to night temps and the general increase in water vapor we’ve seen. Could someone explain this in layman terms without getting into quantum mechanics?

    2) In regard to higher night time temps, is the purely a result of the increase in water vapor, or, is some of this effect due to the increase in CO2 as well, especially as CO2 in noncondensing at these temps, and so, even though water may condense out at night, does the higher levels of CO2 have an effect on keeping temps higher at night?

    Comment by R. Gates — 3 Feb 2011 @ 7:38 PM

  76. 1. Could someone explain in layman’s terms why higher night time temps are predicted with increases in CO2? Is this purely from the predicted increases in water vapor, or is there some component of CO2 also helping with greater downwelling or “back radiation” at night?

    2. Also, could someone please explain the difference between down welling and back radiation. It was being discussed at J. Curry’s site, and the more I read the more confused I got. I always thought of them as the same, but now I’m not sure what to think…

    [Response: ‘back-radiation’ is not a common term in science texts on the issue, though it comes up in contrarian blogs a lot. Not quite sure why. More standard terms are simple ‘radiation’ – i.e. all objects radiate (and in all directions!). At any point in the atmosphere you can measure the infra-red (IR) radiation (also called longwave -LW- radiation) going up (called ‘up-welling radiation’), or going down (not surprisingly, called ‘down-welling’ radiation). At the surface, the ‘down-welling radiation’ helps keep the surface warm and is a function of all the greenhouse substances in the air (water vapour, CO2 and clouds predominantly). It is this which is generally referred to as back-radiation and the various ineffectual efforts to prove there is no greenhouse effect usually start by declaring that ‘back-radiation’ (aka. downwelling IR radiation) doesn’t exist. Which is odd, because you can easily measure it. – gavin]

    Comment by R. Gates — 3 Feb 2011 @ 7:45 PM

  77. To amplify on Gavins statement that you can easily measure downwelling radiation, simply buy, or borrow an IR thermometer and point if upwards.

    Comment by Thomas — 3 Feb 2011 @ 9:33 PM

  78. #75–I hope this won’t confuse you any more, R. Gates, but “back-radiation” or “downwelling IR” has also been termed “sky radiation”–most notably by Guy Callendar back in 1938, in his seminal paper on CO2 warming. I think the term isn’t quite extinct, though it’s no longer common, either. And Calendar already had reasonably good measurements to work with back then (though they’ve obviously gotten better still.)

    On the question of higher night-time temps, I’ll take a crack at it–I believe the issue is largely one of downwelling IR.

    And it’s mostly (again, *as I understand it*) a relative thing: daytime warming (on reasonably clear days, at least) is driven to a considerable extent by direct solar radiation, which is fairly constant. (Of course air temps, greenhouse effect, convective effects and any cloud cover all play into the daytime temperature, too.) In sum, though, radiative *input* as well as radiative *output* affects daytime temps.

    Nighttime temps, on the other hand, are largely a function of how efficiently energy can radiate away. On reasonably clear nights, that in turn is a function primarily of the greenhouse effect. In other words, at night, it’s all about ‘output.’

    So you end up with a more predominant effect of GHGs–which affect only radiative ‘output’–upon nighttime temperatures than upon daytime ones, and thus nights that warm more rapidly than days under increasing GHG forcing.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 3 Feb 2011 @ 10:09 PM

  79. > infrared thermometer
    compare a clear night sky with a cloudy night sky

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Feb 2011 @ 10:09 PM

  80. Gavin:

    ‘back-radiation’ is not a common term in science texts on the issue, though it comes up in contrarian blogs a lot. Not quite sure why. More standard terms are simple ‘radiation’ – i.e. all objects radiate (and in all directions!). At any point in the atmosphere you can measure the infra-red (IR) radiation (also called longwave -LW- radiation) going up (called ‘up-welling radiation’), or going down (not surprisingly, called ‘down-welling’ radiation).

    Curry could use your input, because she expresses confusion over terminology at her blog, and is apparently clueless that “back-radiation” isn’t a common term in science …

    Though acting as teacher to student would probably just harden her faux-rational denialism …

    Comment by dhogaza — 4 Feb 2011 @ 12:38 AM

  81. Since the subject has come up, I’ve been trying to find this with no luck. Has Potosí, Bolivia, elevation 4,090 meters, experienced a change in average daytime and nighttime temperature?

    Comment by JCH — 4 Feb 2011 @ 1:20 AM

  82. 69, Hank Roberts: It’s an ill wind, as they say …

    If it turns out that only the coal-fired plants were shut down and the wind turbines continued to put out reasonable amounts of electricity, then it will have been a bright day for wind power, though a bad day for me for jumping to conclusions.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 4 Feb 2011 @ 1:26 AM

  83. “It’s a dark day for us wind power advocates:” Septic Matthew — 3 Feb 2011 @ 4:08 PM
    “Energy Future Holdings’ plants accounted for less than half of the total missing capacity, said Allan Koenig, a spokesman for the Luminant power generation business. He said some equipment at the new coal plants is exposed to the elements and stopped working because of the cold.”
    “When large coal plants go down, ERCOT calls on natural gas plants to fire up quickly to meet demand. However, the state’s natural gas network was also grappling with the cold, and the pipelines had lost pressure. So some natural gas plants — including at least one Luminant plant — couldn’t get fuel.”
    “The company has capacity for the generation of 18,300 megawatts (MW) of electricity in 20 power plants spread across Texas, of which 2,300 MW come from nuclear power generated at the company’s Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, 5,800 MW from coal fired power plants, and the remainder from natural gas-fired plants. Luminant is also a major purchaser of wind power.” (Energy Future Holdings owns Luminant. its generating subsidary)
    “….a current portfolio of more than 900 MW of wind energy…” “Luminant is the largest wind purchaser in Texas”
    “More than 50 Texas power plants stopped working on Tuesday and Wednesday because of the cold weather, including a number of big coal-fired plants. ERCOT prevented a total blackout by rotating outages throughout the state for eight hours.”
    “Other coal plants also broke down, including a Central Texas unit owned by NRG Energy Inc.”

    “Or are you reposting stuff you find at some thirdhand disinformation site without checking it for yourself? Hank Roberts — 3 Feb 2011 @ 6:06 PM
    “So we’ve gotta an administration that wants to somehow roll back prosperity in this country for whatever perverted reason. So, yeah, here’s some rolling blackouts in Texas. What they’re trying to do is come up with this new “green energy.” They’re throwing all kinds of money into it, bribing GE one way or the other. Maybe it’s a mutual bribe, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.
    The fact of the matter is that in weather like they’re having in Texas and throughout the country, the windmills shut down — and you need wind, anyway. If there’s no wind, you can’t fake that. You can’t manufacture that. The rolling blackouts would be the new norm. Because, don’t forget, as far as Obama and his crowd are concerned, we are wasting electricity.”

    It’s a cold dark day for fossil fuel advocates, and right wing fact free bloviators like Rush Limbaugh.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 4 Feb 2011 @ 1:53 AM

  84. Texas electricity: Somebody probably sees humor in not designing for worst case weather and then blaming it on the weather. Not the people who got cold, of course, but the electric companies probably maximized profit by doing it that way. It would be the stockholders who are laughing all the way to the bank. There needs to be a penalty for that kind of profit.

    Snapple: It isn’t a law yet, but it is a clear hint to Cuccinelli that he is on thin ice. “Cuccinelli’s effort has made even some Republicans uncomfortable.”

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 4 Feb 2011 @ 2:18 AM

  85. #53 Gavin

    I sincerely hope that you will consider a formal libel suit against Pearce and New Science.

    Comment by JiminMpls — 4 Feb 2011 @ 6:31 AM

  86. #58 SM

    Utter bullsh_t. How does “The company’s three new coal-fired plants were down, but he declined to say which others may have tripped. ” mean dark days for wind power.

    Comment by JiminMpls — 4 Feb 2011 @ 6:39 AM

  87. Thanks for all the very helpful comments regarding my questions on so-called “back radiation” as well as night time temps. It seems there is a bit of confusion about this over at J. Curry’s blog, and the related question arose regarding whether you could measure the source of LW radiation at night– that is, can you tell whether or not LW is coming from CO2, versus water vapor, etc? Also, it would be interesting to see a chart that shows the increase in global night time temps specifically over the past few decades, and even see this broken out for different latitudes.

    [Response: I respectfully disagree with my esteemed colleague Gavin regarding the term “back-radiation.” I have spent a lot of the past few years dealing with radiative transfer, and this term is a pretty common shorthand for the infrared radiation radiated from the atmosphere to the ground, though I can see the confusion about the term “back,” since it’s not in any sense the “same” radiation coming back — in fact that whole issue doesn’t make much sense since you can’t really tell one photon from another anyway. Nonetheless, the term has been used for quite a while without creating any confusion, at least among people who understand the rudiments of radiative transfer. I use it myself in Principles of Planetary Climate, and until Judy Curry got involved with the term on her blog, it never occurred to me that somebody could get themselves so confused and tied into knots over such a simple unambiguous concept. The confusion over there has nothing to do with the term itself, but a lot to do with Judy’s not having any conception about how little she knows about radiative transfer subjects that were well worked out nearly a hundred years ago. As for your specific questions, in a dry cold atmosphere like high latitude winter, most of the downward radiation into the surface comes from CO2 under clear sky conditions, and there’s not a lot of it. If there are low clouds, most of the back-radiation comes from clouds; as clouds are made higher, you get less and less back-radiation from them. At surface temperatures above 270K or so, the back radiation from water vapor becomes significant, and by the time you get to 300K, if the boundary layer is reasonably saturated as it is over the ocean, almost all of the back radiation comes from water vapor, even in clear sky conditions. That does NOT mean that CO2 has no effect on surface temperature in that case — that’s the “surface budget” fallacy discussed in The Warming Papers, in Chapter 6 of Principles of Planetary Climate, and in my article on Plass here on RealClimate. -raypierre]

    [Response: To answer another bit of your question, you can easily tell what is emitting the back radiation by just looking at the spectra of downwelling radiation. This is done using FTIR instruments all the time; at some point I am planning to put together an FTIR back radiation data set as a supplemental data set for my book; or maybe put it in the second edition. There aren’t any long term FTIR monitor records, so far as I know and in any event this wouldn’t tell you whether or not CO2 causes a night-time warming trend, because increasing CO2 can increase the back-radiation by indirect means — through processes that increase the low level air temperature, allowing clouds and water vapor to radiate into the ground at a higher temperature. –raypierre]

    Comment by R. Gates — 4 Feb 2011 @ 9:38 AM

  88. Hi Raypierre,

    @40 you said you think magnetic fields are overrated, why? do you think thick atmos. loss processes are not that important?
    or that outgassing, etc. would replenish atmospheres?


    Comment by Alastair McKinstry — 4 Feb 2011 @ 10:06 AM

  89. Gavin – Tallbloke has ‘outed’ himself as Fred Pearce’s source over at Judith Curry’s blog.

    Comment by Louise — 4 Feb 2011 @ 10:08 AM

  90. Did any UK users see Storyville on BBC4 on Monday (31st Jan)? It was entitled “Meet the climate sceptics” and was a fascinating hour of viewing, following Lord Christopher Monckton (featured on RC quite often!) as he tours the world. It shows an incredible insight into the mindset of some sceptics, the difference in different nations (Australia and the US feature most prominently), and without any science manages to put across both sides of the ‘debate’.
    Just thought I’d put it on here in case people want to watch it (UK viewers only unfortunately).
    The first third is frustrating for those that believe the climate is changing (to the point where I had to take a break, calm down, then return to it later for fear of punching my computer), the middle is a middle ground, and the last third starts to question the sceptics.
    I promise, I don’t work for the beeb, I just found this programme fascinating and thought I’d share it.

    Comment by VickyI — 4 Feb 2011 @ 10:34 AM

  91. #87–“. . .can you tell whether or not LW is coming from CO2, versus water vapor, etc?”

    I don’t know the full answer to that, but you’d approach the problem by looking at the frequencies of the downwelling radiation–emissivity will match absorptivity, which means that the CO2 will have a characteristic frequency profile, as will H2O, etc. But they also overlap to some degree. I’m guessing it’s possible to disentangle the two (as well as any other GHGs present.)

    Of course, if you took your measurements in a very arid atmosphere–say, at the South Pole–you shouldn’t have to deal much with H2O.

    Or I could actually Google for some real knowledge. Let’s try “downwelling IR antarctic” for search terms.

    Hey, check this out:

    Hmm, says:

    “About two-thirds of the clear-sky flux is due to water vapor, and one-third is due to CO2, both in summer and winter.”

    [Response: I don’t see how that could be true in the Antarctic interior in winter, but there may be enough water vapor in coastal regions to do the trick. But the abstract states these measurements were collected at the South Pole. I’m reading the paper now to try to disentangle what is going on; it may be a simple matter of my having used a too-cold Antarctic winter temperature in the estimate of water vapor content I used in making my earlier response on this issue. The result also seems strange, though, because the CO2 is the same (essentially) in summer and winter, whereas the water vapor content changes. –raypierre ]

    Oh, well, I was right about spectrographic methods being the key, and that you can disentangle contributions.

    Like Hank always says, Google is our friend.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Feb 2011 @ 11:31 AM

  92. Re 75, 76 78 – Back radiation can’t be measured directly but it’s an important theoretical concept, because it refers to the ability of atmospheric greenhouse gases that have absorbed upwelling radiation to return some of it downward, thereby contributing to surface heating. Downwelling longwave radiation (which can be measured) includes back radiation, but also radiation from atmospheric greenhouse gases that absorbed solar radiation from above, as well as some IR present the solar radiation itself (mainly in the near IR spectrum).

    [Response: Since the near-IR from solar sources (0.7 to 2.5 um) is easy to distinguish in wavelength from downwelling IR from atmospheric constituents (4 – 100 um), I don’t see that there is any practical confusion. In the standard toy models for the greenhouse effect your ‘back-radiation’ is identical to the downwelling IR. However, raypierre is on-board with it, and so I will bow to his authority on this…. – gavin]

    Comment by Fred Moolten — 4 Feb 2011 @ 12:10 PM

  93. For Vickyl: see
    One of the producers of that BBC program answers questions in the comments.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Feb 2011 @ 12:20 PM

  94. CBC radio [Canada] recently had a good Ideas debate program on “Green Growth or No Growth” worth listening to. Some info on participants here.

    Comment by flxible — 4 Feb 2011 @ 12:43 PM

  95. @40: raypierre,

    Why do you think magnetic fields are overrated for atmospheric protection?
    do you think atmospheric loss processes are not as high as usually stated, or there are replenishing mechanisms (comets, outgassing, etc) ?


    Comment by Alastair McKinstry — 4 Feb 2011 @ 12:46 PM

  96. The Storyville programme “Meet The Climate Sceptics” can be viewed outside UK at


    Comment by MARodger — 4 Feb 2011 @ 12:46 PM

  97. I notice that the idea of “transient sensitivity” (to increasing CO2) is now frequently being used while perhaps distracting attention away from the question of the time required for eventual temperature equilibration. Given that the atmosphere is a thin film surrounding a 10,000 km diameter globe, any calculated rise in atmospheric temperature consequent upon excess CO2 emissions must clearly then take account of the ongoing resultant heat transfers between the atmosphere and the regions below the various surfaces it contacts. The untutored eye might not unreasonably see this as a process requiring centuries or more to approach stabilisation.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 4 Feb 2011 @ 12:52 PM

  98. Weaver sues Ball

    Comment by w kensit — 4 Feb 2011 @ 1:39 PM


    According to that one, the wind provided an important role in guaranteeing that electricity production did not fall further. In a reverse of the usual worry, the wind turbines backed up the thermal plants. It was a bright day for wind power.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 4 Feb 2011 @ 1:53 PM

  100. “I was hoping to put to rest any skeptical debate about the basic physics of gaseous infrared radiative transfer.”

    JC, poking an angry beast with a sharp stick hoping it will settle down.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Feb 2011 @ 2:12 PM

  101. Here is another nice back and forth, if you read all the comments:

    Reportedly, the wind turbines did not all operate at their nameplate power the full time, but that’s a detail for later discussion; the wind farms collectively were generating about 7% of total demand, what I would call a respectable figure for this stage of what I hope will be a long-term development of a renewable energy economy.

    Despite the egg on my face now, I am encouraged. A concurrent event is the shortfall of natural gas in places in New Mexico and Texas.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 4 Feb 2011 @ 2:26 PM

  102. OK here’s the skinny on the interesting paper unearthed by Kevin McKinney in Comment # 90, and an update to my response to Comment 87, basically quantifying how “dry and cold” an atmosphere needs to be in order for most of the back-radiation to come from CO2 rather than water vapor. Any paper with Steve Warren on it is well worth reading, and I encourage everybody interested in this subject to read the paper Kevin linked. It’s very illuminating.

    You can actually get a handle on this question from Figure 6.1 from the surface energy balance chapter of Principles of Planetary Climate, which plots the surface radiative cooling factor vs. surface temperature and CO2 for both moist and dry atmospheres. I didn’t make up this figure with the particular question under discussion in mind, but you can still get an idea of what is going on from the figure. For fixed atmospheric temperature, the back radiation is proportional to 1-estar, where estar is the cooling factor I plot in the graph. Looking at the curve for 100ppm CO2 and comparing the wet and dry results, at 240K 1-estar is .35 for the wet case and .12 for the dry case,which is very close to the 3:1 total to CO2 ratio given in the paper cited. I don’t have a curve there for 380ppm but if you own the book you can try this for 1000ppm or use the software included to re-do the figure yourself. In any event, you’d expect some mismatch because the paper cited used actual measured temperature and humidity profiles, rather than the ideal. But anyway, we’re in the right ballpark. You have to go to temperatures of something like 200K before CO2 becomes dominant. Fig 6.1 also illustrates the point I was making in my comment, that as you go toward 300K, the water vapor almost completely determines clear-sky back-radiation. (N.B: Readers who have not yet had a chance to purchase the book can still follow this discussion by downloading the figures from the Resources tab on the CUP web site. That’s open-access, as is the courseware on my own site).

    Now, as to the puzzling result that summer and winter at the South Pole give similar H2O/CO2 emission ratios, the paper does some nice radiative transfer modelling which shows that this is mostly because the South Pole water vapor fluctuates in a range where the dominant contribution to water vapor opacity is fairly much radiatively saturated, so that the emissivity contributed by water vapor is rather insensitive to water vapor concentration over this range. That would break down at significantly lower or significantly higher water vapor mixing ratios. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to use the Pythonized CCM radiation model provided with the courseware to see how well the CCM model reproduces this effect, and where the effect breaks down.

    Altogether neat! You learn all sorts of interesting stuff by reading RealClimate. I think I will include something on this in the second edition of Principles of Planetary Climate, and in the meantime add some problems on this to the supplementary online problems for Chapter 6, once I start putting those up on the web site.

    Comment by raypierre — 4 Feb 2011 @ 3:16 PM

  103. Raypierre,

    A quick, hopefully easy question. Imagine a completely arid world with an O2/N2 atmosphere completely devoid of greenhouse gases, and with a relatively slow rotational period, so that the ground on the sun side can heat greatly while the night side can cool greatly.

    Will the atmosphere ever heat to any notable degree (as such heating is limited to conduction at the very surface)? If the atmosphere succeeds in warming, can it in turn warm the cooled night side surface to a notable degree?

    And what if the rotation is quickened, so that the night/day difference is minimized and the surface can achieve a relatively stable temperature?

    [Response: In fact, I do exactly this case, though without O2 (which doesn’t matter anyway) in my ApJL paper about Gliese 581g. That paper is available through my publication site. The atmosphere still heats, but the interesting wrinkle is that the ONLY energy exchange is the turbulent exchange between the surface and atmosphere. Absorbed stellar energy is just reradiated directly from the surface. Nonetheless the atmosphere heats up by turbulent transfer (not just conduction) and if the rotation rate is slow enough it will carry heat to the night-side. In the paper I only discuss the slow-rotation case, but the case with more rapid rotation won’t behave very differently from the results in the Merlis and Schneider paper I cite in the ApJL piece. Generally speaking, as you increase rotation you reduce the day-night difference because the surface has less time to cool down. But also, a more rapidly rotating atmosphere can support larger temperature gradients in principle. But, in actuality the day/night contrast still stays pretty small, because you get atmospheric jets which carry heat around. There are some interesting unresolved questions regarding the behavior of the north/south temperature gradient as a function of rotation, though. –raypierre]

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 4 Feb 2011 @ 3:27 PM

  104. SM,

    Just for information, generally wind turbines do not curtail their power output until the temperature drops below -10 deg C, unless they are equipped with a cold weather package that allows for lower temperature operation. Power output is ramped down from maximum output at -10 to standstill at -20 deg C.

    Blade icing is a separate issue, normally it’s a concern only in coastal areas with high humidity. Seems like it was too cold for that to be a factor but I could be wrong,

    Comment by PHG — 4 Feb 2011 @ 3:33 PM

  105. > wind turbines did not all operate at their nameplate power the full time


    Oh, wait:


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Feb 2011 @ 4:08 PM

  106. 104, PHG

    Thank you. Having initially overreacted, I think I’ll now wait until I can read a comprehensive account. There are reports of turbines failing, but the whole system from Texas to California, including Utah, is being tested and found, so to speak, wanting. The turbine failures (if real) were a small fraction, not a large fraction, of the 7,000 MW that was out of service.

    There is more interesting good news on solar power in California, which I’ll post tomorrow or later.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 4 Feb 2011 @ 4:12 PM

  107. #98–Kensit, thanks for that info. Very interested that Dr. Weaver has served Ball for his lies. I’m wishing him luck; it’s appalling how consequence-free deliberate falsehood has been of late.

    (I’m also interested to see that Dr. Weaver apparently has a new book, Generation Us, coming out this spring.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Feb 2011 @ 4:18 PM

  108. Septic Matthew: Thank you for linking to that supreme display of idiocy by know-nothing weathermen.

    I hope that you know that wind power is nowhere near peak during extreme winds, because the turbine speed has to be limited. Also, the peak rating is just that – peak. Pretending that turbines are supposed to deliver peak output constantly is just ignorant.

    Your mention of the comments is curious, since I only see vitriolic ignorance there.

    Comment by Didactylos — 4 Feb 2011 @ 4:27 PM

  109. For those intereted in some technical detail of wind turbines in Europe.

    IEA Wind Power Study

    Comment by David B. Benson — 4 Feb 2011 @ 5:11 PM

  110. Edward Greisch @19 – could be the aliens got annihilated by excess O2 when pesky photosynthetics that release that toxic, combustion promoting gas spread out of control. Or too much CO2 got sucked out of the atmosphere into carbon sinks to become (eventually) carbonate rock, coal and oil and that sent their world into a perpetual ice age? The conditions they thrived on could have changed radically but those conditions are not necessarily based on atmospheric conditions like ours.

    Isn’t our problem that the conditions we’ve grown and thrived with are facing radical change?

    Comment by Ken Fabos — 4 Feb 2011 @ 5:20 PM

  111. Tangentially related to the CO2/H2O back radiation question, during LGM both CO2 concentrations and temperatures were lower. This graphic
    certainly suggests that, by in large, the world was a rather dryier place than it is now.

    But it was not too dry for proto-agriculture. The Jomons appear to have begun ca. 14,000 years and and recently a new dig in northrn Jordan strongly supports the idea of proto-agriculture there before ca. 16,000 years ago.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 4 Feb 2011 @ 5:41 PM

  112. Apropos the term “back-radiation” the following search turns it up from Revelle’s 1957 _Tellus_ article (link will break at the double-quotes so copy and paste it). All I see is the bit Google Scholar quotes.

    I wonder how his estimate of a “ten year” CO2 lifetime determined how the state of things looked to him and how it might have been different if he’d had a better idea how much of the CO2 then in the atmosphere was already there from fossil fuel.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Feb 2011 @ 6:10 PM

  113. It would be nice if there were a way to search articles at in a way that excluded the comments. I have been trying to find out if there have been any articles about the Permian extinction, and wading through lots and lots of comment posts. . .


    Comment by J-Chapman — 4 Feb 2011 @ 6:29 PM

  114. I look at “Still Hope for Arctic Sea Ice” ( ) and I cannot quite understand the animation of Arctic sea ice over the last 30 days. ( )

    Any suggestions on how we could have the ice area changes in the animation, when “the models” say it is a long way even to summer breakup? To me, the variance in the Barents and Kara sea’s sea ice area suggest the models may not include all factors.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 4 Feb 2011 @ 6:45 PM

  115. Raypierre (87) – I’ve read Judy Curry’s radiative transfer pieces on her blog, including her reference to your Physics Today article, which she praises. I’ve had some questions about specific points, but I’m unaware of any egregiously wrong representation of the subject in her descriptions. In fact, they tend to conform well to most mainstream descriptions of radiative transfer that I’ve seen, including those in your new book.

    I wonder whether you shouldn’t revisit your generalization about her knowledge in this area. If you disagree with specific points, you should mention them, but unless you continue to judge her understanding to be seriously deficient in general, I would recommend that you modify your statement to one that is less perjorative.

    [Response: You can recommend all you want, but I’m not going to be less pejorative until Judy loses the habit of making a big noise first and only learning the subject matter afterwards. But I’m glad she likes the PT article; any common ground is a step forward. –raypierre]

    [Response: May I please add, that while it is reasonable to talk about ‘mainstream views’ on climate variability (for example), there is no ‘mainstream’ understanding of radiative transfer. There is very simply a correct one. I may not be up to speed on the details the way Ray is, but I am unaware of any scientific ‘alternatives’ in the known physics.–eric]

    [Response: I’ll also add that I’ve given my opinion on Judy Curry’s level of understanding of climate and you can take it or leave it. It’s not a high priority for me to spend my time giving a detailed scorecard of what Judy understands and what she doesn’t and what she initially didn’t understand but after a while was dragged kicking and streaming into understanding. I have other things I need to be doing. If you want me to provide that level of evaluation, you should persuade Judy to enroll in one of my courses. It’s the sort of thing students pay tuition for, you know. You’re lecturing the wrong person, Fred. –raypierre ]

    Comment by Fred Moolten — 4 Feb 2011 @ 7:50 PM

  116. Raypierre,

    I’m a bit confused on your references to turbulent exchange. On a molecular level (only), how does heat get transferred from the surface to the atmosphere, or vice versa, except by conduction? I’m interpreting “turbulent exchange” to effectively mean the movement of large bodies of air, due to various external factors (temperature differentials, planetary rotation, Coriolis effect, etc.). Or am I misunderstanding?

    [Response: Heat is transferred by conduction to a very, very thin layer of atmospheric molecules in contact with the surface, but if you had to rely on molecular diffusion to carry this heat up to the rest of the atmosphere it would take hugely long. Conduction essentially instantaneously resets the temperature of the diffusive sublayer to the temperature of the ground, but then you have to rely on turbulence to carry the energy the rest of the way into the atmosphere. Good question, though. –raypierre]

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 4 Feb 2011 @ 8:07 PM

  117. Bob, there’s plenty of mechanically driven or buoyancy-driven (convection) turbulent exchanges that help regulate the surface energy budget through the transport of heat/moisture, and turbulent eddies also maintain momentum balance. If the boundary layer is statically unstable, something known as flux Richardson number is negative and turbulence is sustained by convection, a critical part of atmospheres which let in a lot of sunlight to heat the ground (or gas planets heated by interior heat release).

    By the way, I know your hypothetical considers only a transparent atmosphere, but N2 in general can be a very effective greenhouse gas. It’s not on Earth (but still contributes to pressure broadening) but it does have collisional continua that can be important and may dominate the greenhouse effect for colder and denser atmospheres. O2 may also not be completely unimportant since it lacks an electric dipole but has a permanent magnetic dipole moment, giving rise to a few rotational absorption bands.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 4 Feb 2011 @ 9:42 PM

  118. @JChapman #113, the zvon link at the top of the right hand sidebar is probably the best way to search for articles on realclimate, using the keyword search.

    I’ve searched for permian using both zvon and google and it looks to me that RC has not published an article on this event. There is a Wikipedia article and lots of papers in Google Scholar if you want to research the topic. (Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.)

    Comment by Sou — 4 Feb 2011 @ 9:51 PM

  119. Re 87 and 115 –
    “You’re lecturing the wrong person, Fred” (Raypierre 115)

    No, I’m lecturing the right person, although it wasn’t intended as a lecture. I’m addressing a person who is justifiably acknowledged to be one of the true experts in the field – someone whose comments should make a perceptible difference in the conclusions others draw about climate science principles. That impact depends on credibility, and if credibility is sacrificed by issuing statements based on inadequate information, the impact is lessened, even if the statements are about another person rather than a radiative transfer equation. I have the impression from your comments, Raypierre, that your claim that Judy Curry’s understanding of radiative transfer is highly deficient (stated in the present tense) is not based on your own knowledge of her current understanding. If that’s true, she deserves better, and her history is irrelevant. I often cite you in trying to make a strong case on climate science issues. I want your credentials for objectivity to remain as impeccable as your credentials for expertise. If it were someone else making unfair accusations, I wouldn’t have bothered.

    Eric – I’m not sure why you interjected a comment. It misrepresented my point. I did not refer to mainstream radiative transfer views but to mainstream “descriptions”. Descriptions are not intended as opinions but as statements of fact, and the mainstream descriptions are factually correct.

    I’ve said all I wanted on these points. From now on, I’ll keep my peace.

    [Response: Fred, I think Ray made his point pretty clear. As for my interjection, you make a fair enough distinction. Still, I wanted to make sure there was no ambiguity here. This radiative transfer stuff actually is settled. Curry’s attempts to ‘discuss’ it provide no clarity — or learning opportunity — that I can discern.–eric]

    Comment by Fred Moolten — 4 Feb 2011 @ 11:12 PM

  120. raypierre,

    Back at the end of the last roundup, we got to the point where carbon dioxide could not maintain a high surface temperature for long enough (owing to weathering of silicate rocks) for enough hydrogen to escape to space from a high water vapor mixing ratio stratosphere for the Earth’s oceans to be eliminated. The time to eliminate the oceans would be over 100 million years and weathering works over the million year timescale.

    Looking closely at fig. 5 of Kasting (1988) it appears as though the atmosphere may be unsaturated up to 25 km or so for the 340 K surface temperature curve above which it follows the moist adiabatic lapse rate.

    It strikes me that for a raindrop formed in the saturated portion of the atmosphere above 25 km, a fall through 25 km of unsaturated air may cause it to evaporate. Such things can happen even with the much lower cloud decks of today.

    Without rain, or indeed freeze/thaw cycles at high elevations, the weathering rate of silicate rock may be slower than at present or in the past. If so, vulcanism may maintain the atmospheric carbon dioxide content up around 3000 ppm, as proposed by Hansen, for much longer than we would normally expect.

    A one dimensional model may not be adequate to assess the likelihood of rain falling to the surface anywhere but it is intriguing that we might be left with only a bit of ever receding tidal sloshing to expose fresh calcium ions and deliver them to the wet chemistry needed for limestone formation.

    Not a dead certainty at this point in my mind, but perhaps a deadly uncertainty worth a more detailed look?

    [Response: Like (almost) all such studies to date, Kasting’s calculation is done using a radiative convective model, which lacks any large-scale dynamics. Some parameterized convection models (like Emanuel’s) can generate unsaturation through microphysical processes, but lacking large scale dynamics there can be no real prediction of unsaturation. Any subsaturation in a model like Kasting’s would be put in there by fiat, not because it is right. In any event, in the moist runaway, there is a liquid ocean at the surface, which means there is a dynamic equilibrium between evaporation and precipitation reaching the surface — otherwise the water in the atmosphere would either be increasing or decreasing until equilibrium is achieved. This is not really any different from the Earth’s atmosphere, just hotter. Most of the Earth’s atmosphere is substantially undersaturated, yet rain reaches the ground and returns to the ocean whence it came. In a hot runaway, silicate weathering would proceed much more quickly even for fixed rainfall rate, because of the exponential increase of reaction rates with temperature. I am quite sure this would drive CO2 to low levels in a moist runaway, once silicate weathering has time to equilibrate. I discussed this in an AGU talk some years back, and some of that got into the discussion of hot silicate weathering in Chapter 8. But note that in the moist runaway in Kasting’s calculation, the temperature isn’t high primarily because there’s a lot of CO2 around. The temperature is high because the solar absorption is high. If you added 5000 GT of carbon as CO2 to Kasting’s atmosphere, it would make hardly a blip in the temperature. –raypierre]

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 4 Feb 2011 @ 11:44 PM

  121. > Curry’s attempts to ‘discuss’ it provide no clarity

    JC expresses the hope people understand some basics, but encourages people to go on at length — and her participants, mostly people who don’t understand the material, do go on at length expounding their notions. It’s hard to find any separation between the science and the “etc.”

    I’d have hoped for something from JC at least as clear as Roy Spencer’s recent efforts. But looking back there are quite a few topics full of people’s various odd notions about how the world works. And it’s stuff that’s not helping anyone understand the basic physics.

    There’s a difference between knowing something and being able to teach it or even lead a discussion away from people’s mistakes. Any leadership in teaching the matarial has not been apparent there. It seems to me she’s been trying to win the trust of people by not challenging them when they’re wrong. Not an approach that works, I’d say.

    Posting an actual academic lesson or two, with reading and questions and exercises, would be a useful approach. Others do that successfully. But it requires deciding to teach rather than just host a conversation.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Feb 2011 @ 12:09 AM

  122. I don’t want to get into a debate about Judith Curry and mainstream science so I’m just going to post this, but in an effort to be fair I must point out that she has never been challenging “settled” radiative physics concepts like the existence of back-radiation, Stefan-Boltzmann law, the existence of a greenhouse effect, etc. In fact she has been quite vocal against such people who raise these sorts of objections. Like Eric, I don’t see much point in opening up discussion threads about a book that claims the greenhouse effect is not real, but that’s her choice.

    That said, she has challenged a number of implications that stem from radiative transfer or thermodynamics, such as the “no-feedback climate sensitivty”. She’s also repeatedly misunderstood the details of detection and attribution, made a number of vague and unsupported attacks on her colleagues in climate science, etc. My feeling is that she has just played wolf too many times. I agree with Fred about Judith and back-radiation, but I also agree that keeping tabs on what she’s saying about every topic is not extremely worthwhile anymore.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 5 Feb 2011 @ 12:26 AM

  123. Fred Moolten:

    No, I’m lecturing the right person, although it wasn’t intended as a lecture. I’m addressing a person who is justifiably acknowledged to be one of the true experts in the field – someone whose comments should make a perceptible difference in the conclusions others draw about climate science principles. That impact depends on credibility, and if credibility is sacrificed by issuing statements based on inadequate information, the impact is lessened, even if the statements are about another person rather than a radiative transfer equation

    So Judith’s given a free pass for screwing up radiative physics, while raypierre is declared to be a bad representative of science because he points out that Judith’s screwed up, but isn’t willing to give her an undergraduate-level education in the subject for free, on his spare time.

    Does that about sum it up?

    What a sad state the world is in …

    Comment by dhogaza — 5 Feb 2011 @ 12:35 AM

  124. That impact depends on credibility, and if credibility is sacrificed by issuing statements based on inadequate information

    And, Fred, assuming that he’s wrong about Judith, how does this affect his credibility regarding physics?


    (for the record, raypierre’s right on regarding judith, but Moolten’s statements regarding transference of credibility is just stupid. He’d sink Newton, too …)

    Comment by dhogaza — 5 Feb 2011 @ 12:38 AM

  125. Raypierre: “Resources tab on the CUP web site. That’s open-access, as is the courseware on my own site”

    URLs please?

    [Response: Sorry, it takes a few extra tens of seconds to insert links, and to give me more time to answer questions here I often skip that in the assumption that people know where the basic resources are by now. My own book site is here and that also contains a link to the Cambridge U. Press site which has the figures. I’ll eventually put a copy of the figures on my own site also, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. The figures are provided gratis by Cambridge for the convenience of people using them in lectures and presentations. -raypierre]

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 5 Feb 2011 @ 1:14 AM

  126. #89 What Gavin really wrote in response to Lisbon invitation (from Tallbloke’s blog)

    Here is Gavin’s response:

    “I’m a little confused at what conflict you feel you are going to be addressing? The fundamental conflict is of what (if anything) we should do about greenhouse gas emissions (and other assorted pollutants), not what the weather was like 1000 years ago. Your proposed restriction against policy discussion removes the whole point. None of the seemingly important ‘conflicts’ that are *perceived* in the science are ‘conflicts’ in any real sense within the scientific community, rather they are proxy arguments for political positions. No ‘conflict resolution’ is possible between the science community who are focussed on increasing understanding, and people who are picking through the scientific evidence for cherries they can pick to support a pre-defined policy position.”

    You go, Gavin! Again, I believe a libel suit is in order here.

    Comment by JiminMpls — 5 Feb 2011 @ 1:54 AM

  127. Totally OT – Where’s Barton? He hasn’t posted in quite some time. Is he OK?

    Comment by JiminMpls — 5 Feb 2011 @ 2:40 AM

  128. Fred Moolten says:
    3 Feb 2011 at 10:57 AM

    A subject that perhaps deserves more attention than often awarded is the extent to which future climate change is dependent on the availability of easily extractable fossil fuel reserves. Coal is often estimated at about 900 Gtons, and oil plus gas at probably a smaller figure.

    It’s moot except in discussion of apocalyptic scenarios. 1. We’re already over budget, so *any* more is just adding to the problem. 2. We are already seeing all the problems we feared at even higher CO2 concentrations, so how much worse can it get, except to see them fully realized? 3. Recent research (Hansen, et al., I believe) indicates Greenland can destabilize at 400 ppm, and we will hit that in a few years. 4. Just ten percent of the permafrost melting will give us another 80 ppm or so, then add in the continued deforestation and melting sea floor clathrates… we’re looking at over 500, and closer to 600 ppm already.

    This argument that FF reserves are too low to be dangerous is not logical.

    Comment by ccpo — 5 Feb 2011 @ 4:52 AM

  129. If unforced variation = natural variation, then it might not be always possible to separate coincidence from acquiescence as the case may be in here:

    [Response: There are also natural forcings – solar, volcanic, orbital etc, so the magnitude of internal variability (aka unforced variations), cannot be simply defined from the observed record. – gavin]

    Comment by radun — 5 Feb 2011 @ 5:13 AM

  130. Fred@119,
    Come on. Judy has committed some appalling blunders. Moreover, I find that I’ve never really learned anything from her expositions. All I can say is that there are much better and reliable sources on the science. Judy has not published anything relevant to climate science in a decade. That’s not a characteristic I look for when I’m looking for someone who can explain the science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Feb 2011 @ 8:30 AM

  131. Raypierre,

    I have one quick separate question. I wound up in a debate where I was trying to explain something tangentially related to what was previously discussed… Most people were getting all tangled up in the idea that CO2 “shoots IR” around (up, down, sideways) and that most of it should therefore escape into space. I tried to point out that in most of the troposphere (until one gets up high enough), density is such that before absorbed IR energy can be emitted, the energy is instead transferred through collisions to O2/N2 (as translational energy), which is then unable to effectively radiate the energy away (in relevant amounts and timescales) due to the geometry of those molecules. This “frees” a CO2 molecule to absorb (and then transfer) more IR, while heating the atmosphere around it.

    The counter argument was that all bodies must radiate, and since O2/N2 make up 99% of the atmosphere, then even if they radiate slowly/weakly, their contribution would still overwhelm that of the CO2 in radiating away heat. “Obviously CO2 plays no part in heating or cooling the atmosphere” was their solid conclusion.

    My problem came from the fact that I could not find any hard numbers on this to prove the counter point (that O2/N2 radiate too slowly/weakly to make any difference, even as 99% of the atmosphere). I could show that the band in which they radiate is narrow, but could not prove that the energy released by the amount of O2/N2 in the atmosphere was still minuscule in comparison to CO2, H2O and other greenhouse gases. I suspect that the O2/N2 (and Ar) contribution is so very small (and accepted) that no one has even bothered to document it.

    But to my question: Are there any numbers (observations or calculations) available on the total amount of energy ultimately radiated to space by each component of the atmosphere, per unit time? Alternately, are there numbers available simply at the molecular level, to show the total expected energy emission, per mole per unit time for each of the gases at normal atmospheric temperatures (and from which, obviously, I could extend to apply to the total atmosphere)?

    [It only just hit me, too, that I could have argued that even if O2/N2 emit enough to matter, they are still constrained by the same issues as CO2, i.e. collisions and re-absorption in the denser parts of the atmosphere. But this would have been dodging the main point, anyway.]

    [Response: I love these questions. Regarding the collisional de-excitation of CO2 states, I do have a paragraph in the Physics Today article addressing some of those issues, with a few numbers in. I would have loved to have rambled on about that for another page or two, but I had to keep the article to 6 pages total. The answer to O2/N2 opacity is easy though, since the infrared opacity of these gases was first measured by Tyndall, and has been repeatedly studied by spectroscopists ever since. The main source of IR opacity for diatomic homoatomic molecules like these is collision-induced absorption, but the effect is so weak for Earthlike atmospheric pressure that the IR opacity of these gases in the Earth’s atmosphere is completely negligible despite the mass. Collision induced abosrption for N2 and H2 has been very well studied for planetary purposes, and you can find a link to a site that has tables in the Data section of my book site. There is also a graph of the N2-N2 absorption cross section in Chapter 4, based on Courtin’s data. For atmospheres as dense and massive as Titan’s the IR opacity of N2 is important, but for Earth you can bang in the numbers and find it is negligible. I don’t have up-to-date numbers for the O2-O2 collisional absorption handy, since it’s unimportant for Earth radiative transfer and planetary people don’t care much about it because it’s hard to think of any way to accumulate an atmosphere with, say, 10 bars of O2 at 95K in it. –raypierre]

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 5 Feb 2011 @ 8:50 AM

  132. > Edward Greisch says:
    >> Raypierre: “Resources tab on the CUP web site. That’s
    >> open-access, as is the courseware on my own site”
    > URLs please?

    Edward, see the right hand columnn on every page here? links to sources and citations from all the RC authors: click on Contributor Bio's — find the name on the list there; click on that; follow.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Feb 2011 @ 10:15 AM

  133. Ray Ladbury @ 130:
    “Judy has committed some appalling blunders.”

    Which, to my mind, are the least of her sins against science. Broadly accusing her colleagues of corruption and malfeasance places her firmly among the persistent bad actors in the denier world.

    Why should any scientist who has been tarred with her libelous brush, even by association, attempt to engage with her in good faith?

    Comment by Adam R. — 5 Feb 2011 @ 10:17 AM

  134. Raypierre (#120),

    Kasting did go to quite a bit of trouble to understand the lapse rate in his model. There is an appendix on the details. I was thinking though that large hail should make it to the surface and with a higher terminal velocity than rain drops, would have quite an impact from a 25 km fall. That might expose fresh surfaces.

    [Response: You’re not paying attention. First, it’s the relative humidity profile we’re talking about, not the lapse rate. Second, you ignored the argument I gave you that the rain MUST reach the surface, otherwise the hydrological cycle would be out of equilibrium; a subsaturated low level atmosphere will always create evaporation, and if this isn’t balanced by rain reaching the surface the water content of the atmosphere grows. In a true runaway, the water vapor content of the atmosphere indeed increases until there are no oceans left. In a moist runaway (by definition) you reach an equilibrium before that point is reached. –raypierre]

    Martin Rees was very sure that the collision of pairs of neutron stars produce some gamma-ray bursts. Models were not good enough to show it. He just knew it. The experiment to check that seems to be very sensitive gravitational wave detection. Those may or may not be available during his lifetime. So far, evidence for neutron star black hole mergers as the origin of short gamma-ray bursts is available.

    Hansen has expressed a similar sentiment at the end of his chapter. Models aren’t good enough but he feels sure.

    I don’t think helium rain makes it to the core of Saturn. You’re pretty sure that rain on Earth must reach the surface. But, we are now in the same position as Rees and Hansen except with more time, if not more brain power, to investigate the question.

    The world desert alternative gives another 3000 GT of carbon from soil so blips might be adding to something.

    [Response: I’m not sure what you’re getting at here, but if you want the last word in this discussion, you can have it. –raypierre]

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 5 Feb 2011 @ 10:26 AM

  135. > 89, 126
    Jiminmpls, you quote (and the guy may have only seen) one of two paragraphs. It’s always better to point to your source rather than copypaste from it so people can find the context and follow the thread. Do that and you’ll eventually get to Gavin’s full email response:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Feb 2011 @ 10:26 AM

  136. Bob (Sphaerica), Huh? I think that where you are getting wrapped around the axle is when you say categorically that “all bodies must radiate”. They will radiate, but they can only radiate at energies that correspond to an energy difference in the molecule or atom. N2 and O2 have no absorption/emission lines in the IR. Therefore they do not radiate significantly at terrestrial temperatures.

    However your interlocutors are even more confused. In an atmosphere that cools as you go up, any absorber/emitter will absorb more than it emits, for the simple reason that the radiation field is not in equilibrium with the matter. Your correspondents do not understand blackbody radiation, which is a simple consequence of a photon gas in equilibrium with surrounding (perfectly absorbing/emitting) matter. When the absorber/emitter is not perfect, the emission spectrum will look like a slice out of the blackbody spectrum over the spectral range where it can emit/absorb.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Feb 2011 @ 10:46 AM

  137. Dr Paul Williams makes a generous offer at the Guardian, which might be of interest to those who are into modelling (if you’re not already aware of it).

    You are absolutely right that this is a very general algorithm, which is applicable to more than just weather and climate models. I’m happy to send you (and anyone else) PDFs of this new study, as well as a couple of related papers, if you want the gory details. Contact details are on my website, which is linked from the article.

    How better time travel will improve climate modelling

    The addition of just a couple of lines of code to the model led to the five-day weather forecast being as accurate as the old four-day forecast. That would mean 24 hours more notice of what’s on the way. And to get climate models right, you need to first get the weather right, so good news there too.

    The fact that the tweak is so concise bodes well for its uptake, as it doesn’t need modellers to reengineer their millions of lines of code. It is now being tested in over 50 more models.

    Comment by J Bowers — 5 Feb 2011 @ 10:55 AM

  138. Adam R. says, “Why should any scientist who has been tarred with her libelous brush, even by association, attempt to engage with her in good faith?”

    Scientists are by and large a forgiving bunch. They will tend to remain on good terms with any other scientist who is doing good science even if they suspect their brains of resembling creatures of the Antediluvian. I have colleagues (a very few, I would add) I would not trust further than I could throw them on a steep upslope that I make a point of discussing matters with at conferences, because they have an interesting and thought provoking perspective…even if I feel I must wash afterwards. A scientist who rashly draws conclusions without understanding the facts, though, tends to be rather lonely at conferences. They may be perfectly nice, even bright, and it may be nothing personal. Conferences are busy times. Scientists are busy people. Oh well, at least Judy has the adulation of the denialosphere.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Feb 2011 @ 10:56 AM

  139. Chris Colose @122 says, ” don’t want to get into a debate about Judith Curry and mainstream science so I’m just going to post this, but in an effort to be fair I must point out that she has never been challenging “settled” radiative physics concepts like the existence of back-radiation, Stefan-Boltzmann law, the existence of a greenhouse effect, etc.”

    So could we summarize Judy’s position as being uncomfortable with anything that has happened since, oh, 1900?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Feb 2011 @ 11:02 AM

  140. Re # 87

    Ray, since you and your readers seem interested in radiative transfer in the wintertime high latitudes, you might want to read some of my papers on the subject (note this was the subject of my Ph.D. thesis):

    Curry, J.A., 1983: On the formation of continental Polar air. J. Atmos. Sci., 40, 2278-2292.

    Herman, G.F. and J.A. Curry, 1984: Observational and theoretical studies of solar radiation in Arctic stratus clouds. J. Clim. Appl. Met., 23, 5-24.

    Curry, J.A. and G.F. Herman, 1985: Relationships between large-scale heat and moisture budgets and the occurrence of Arcticstratus clouds. Mon. Wea. Rev., 113, 1441-1457.

    Curry, J.A., 1986: Interactions among turbulence, radiation and microphysics in Arctic stratus clouds. J. Atmos. Sci., 43, 90-106.

    Curry, J.A., 1987: The contribution of radiative cooling to the formation of cold-core anticyclones. J. Atmos. Sci., 44, 2575-2592.

    Curry, J.A. and E.E. Ebert, 1990: Sensitivity of the thickness of Arctic sea ice to the optical properties of clouds. Ann. Glac., 14, 43-46.

    Curry, J.A. and E.E. Ebert, 1992: Annual cycle of radiative fluxes over the Arctic ocean: Sensitivity to cloud optical properties. J. Climate, 5, 1267-1280.

    Curry, J.A., J. Schramm and E.E. Ebert, 1993: Impact of clouds on the surface radiation budget of the Arctic Ocean. Meteor. and Atmos. Phys, 57, 197-217.

    Curry, J.A., D. Randall, and W.B. Rossow, and J.L. Schramm, 1996: Overview of arctic cloud and radiation characteristics. J. Clim., 9, 1731-1764.

    Pinto, J.O., J.A. Curry, and C.W. Fairall, 1997: Radiative characteristics of the Arctic atmosphere during spring as inferred from ground-based measurements. J. Geophys. Res., 102, 6941-6952.

    Pinto, J.O., J.A. Curry, and A.H. Lynch, 1999: Modeling clouds and radiation for the November 1997 period of SHEBA using a column climate model. J. Geophys. Res., 104, 6661-6678.

    Curry, J.A., P. Hobbs, M. King, D. Randall, P. Minnis, et al.. 2000: FIRE Arctic Clouds Experiment. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., 81, 5-30.

    Benner, T , J.A. Curry, and J.O. Pinto, 2001: Radiative transfer in the summertime Arctic. J. Geophys. Res., 106, 15173-15184.

    When I make a public statement about what a scientist does or does not know, I make a point of actually reading what that scientist has to say on the subject, rather than what other people say about that scientist on blogs.

    Judith Curry

    Comment by Judith Curry — 5 Feb 2011 @ 11:09 AM

  141. “When I make a public statement about what a scientist does or does not know, I make a point of actually reading what that scientist has to say on the subject, rather than what other people say about that scientist on blogs.”

    And she said it with absolutely no sense of irony, too!

    Comment by Didactylos — 5 Feb 2011 @ 11:22 AM

  142. A recent reply by JC over there gives a feel for what’s been happening:

    ( )

    \… he can probably get this published in E&E, but certainly not in any scientific journal of any repute or credibility.

    Given your complete failure to understand all this, I do not see any point to engaging with you further on any topic related to the science of the greenhouse effect. Over the past year, I have very patiently pointed out to you many problems with the ideas and theories you are promoting. By your irrationality on this subject, you are isolating yourself even from skeptics like Monckton…..\

    \… the insights themselves prevail. Even if the establishment shoots the messenger, so long as the message is valid it will work its way into the heart of the enemy’s camp….\ — Peter Watts

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Feb 2011 @ 11:44 AM

  143. Sad news –

    “Professor emer. Dr. Phil. Willi Dansgaard passed away Saturday, January 8, 2011 at the age of 88 years.”
    “[His] chance discovery in 1952 and 12 years of systematic work resulted in a scientific description on how it was possible to use the content of the hydrogen isotope Deuterium and the isotope O-18 in natural precipitation to determine the temperature of the precipitating clouds.”

    but his work is a reminder of how broad the shoulders are of the giants we stand on.

    The O18-abundance in fresh water – Dansgaard (1954), “Fresh water of various origins as distinct from ocean water shows great variations in O18-abundance. Proceeding from the temperate towards the colder climates a considerable decrease is noticeable.”

    Stable isotopes in precipitation, W Dansgaard – Tellus, 1964 (google scholar reports 2378 cites)

    Evidence for general instability of past climate from a 250-kyr ice-core record – Dansgaard et al. (1993) “Recent results from two ice cores drilled in central Greenland have revealed large, abrupt climate changes of at least regional extent during the late stages of the last glaciation, suggesting that climate in the North Atlantic region is able to reorganize itself rapidly, perhaps even within a few decades.”,
    his work as a climatologist has been singularly influential.


    Comment by Brian Dodge — 5 Feb 2011 @ 12:39 PM

  144. 108, didactylos: Your mention of the comments is curious, since I only see vitriolic ignorance there.

    I hear you. The “good” comments were rather far down the list, and they were a minority.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 5 Feb 2011 @ 12:50 PM

  145. When I make a public statement about what a scientist does or does not know, I make a point of actually reading what that scientist has to say on the subject, rather than what other people say about that scientist on blogs.

    Judith Curry

    Good grief. This from the woman who said:

    “Once the UNFCCC treaty was in place, there was pressure on the IPCC to back this up with science. Hence the “discernible” in the SAR. Ben Santer has taken huge heat for that, but look at where the pressure was coming from. The whole UNFCCC treaty wouldn’t make sense unless there was at least “discernible” evidence that this was actually happening.

    …and then:
    I do not have any knowledge of this situation beyond what is reported in the standard sources. This issue has been widely discussed and disputed. There is no particular reason to rehash it here, i brought it up as a key issue in the history of the IPCC and the debate surrounding it.”

    Comment by Adam R. — 5 Feb 2011 @ 12:59 PM

  146. 105, Hank Roberts: > wind turbines did not all operate at their nameplate power the full time


    do you disagree with my suggestion that providing 7% of available power was a good thing? Everybody knows that they only provide on average about 35% of nameplate power, but their over all performance during the crisis was respectable, about equal (according to one of the links I provided) to last year. You don’t disagree with that, I hope.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 5 Feb 2011 @ 12:59 PM

  147. Re: Post #87: As the one who originally posted this, and sparked a bit of discussion related to radiative transfer, let me just say this. There are many non-professional scientists who frequent the more popular climate-related blogs who are either directly in policy making roles, or are staff members working for policymakers and have been tasked with keeping up with the issue global climate change. So in addition to direct briefings by science advisory boards and reports such as the IPCC, these blogs are beginning to fill a more and more essential role for allowing one to keep abreast of issues through these kinds of important background discussions. Blogs of course have their obvious limits, but they also have advantages that other sorts of briefings and reports don’t. Yes, it must get very tiresome, tedious, and frustrating for scientists to see the nonsense that is posted on these blogs, but that is part of the new way the science is being communicated. For example, if both Dr. Curry and Dr. Pierrehumbert were testifying before a panel in Washington, and stated different positions on the same issue, then at some point behind closed doors a policymaker is going to have to make sense of those disagreements and ultimately set policy based on how well they (and their all important staff) have been able to “read between the lines” of differing testimony given by two PhD’s. I would maintain, that this blog, Dr. Curry’s blog, and even such blogs as WUWT can help to supply a bit of the background necessary to “read between the lines” in differences of opinion. The majority of those setting climate related policy will hardly be able to understand the complexities of radiative transfer, but they’d better darn well trust that they (and their all important staff) have understood enough of the the science, and enough of the uncertainties (and when there are truly uncertainties) to set reasonable and effective climate-related policy.

    Comment by R.Gates — 5 Feb 2011 @ 1:25 PM

  148. In an article I read in a blog called the Examiner, Judith Curry criticized Dr. Mann’s role in the UN because he was young, inexperienced, and had only recently received a PhD. Her tone was was really patronizing. She didn’t say why the hockey stick was wrong. She even mistakenly identified Dr. Mann’s institution as U. Mass. Dr. Curry just sounded jealous to me of a younger more gifted scientist. Dr. Mann earned several advanced degrees before his PhD, and great scientists often do great work when they are relatively young. Perhaps the more senior UN scientists recognized Dr. Mann’s exceptional abilities and understood how his research could make climate change clear to policy-makers.

    Dr. Curry did not seem aware of the fact that many other scientists have subsequently demonstrated this hockey stick graph in their own work.

    She tries to pass herself off as some kind of expert, but she didn’t make any scientific points. She was just really catty.

    Comment by Snapple — 5 Feb 2011 @ 1:57 PM

  149. 136, Ray,

    Yes, no, I know… that is, I wasn’t the one saying that all bodies must radiate, they were. And admittedly O2/N2 do radiate some in the IR, due to rotational energies (I think), but in such narrow, infrequent, and low energy bands as to be negligible. My problem was coming up with documented numbers to refute their broad brush, ill-conceived claims.

    [Response: Sorry, I didn’t mean to give the impression that I thought you had this misconception yourself. I was just trying to provided the arguments you would need to address the issues raised by your friends. The simple answer is just that the infrared opacities of N2 and O2 have been measured, and they are too small to make any significant difference to Earth’s atmosphere. Then, if you want to explain WHY the opacities are small, the answer is that the transitions in N2 and O2 that have the right energy levels to couple to IR have no dipole moment (just draw the sketch of a diatomic homoatomic molecule being stretched) so they only couple to the electromagnetic field very weakly, through higher moments. Those higher moments aren’t the main source of opacity in dense atmospheres though — in that case it’s the ability of collisions to make a pair of colliding molecules act like a complex molecule for the time they are together. N.B: those latter arguments will only be of use when talking to physicists. –raypierre]

    But the problem they were having (after first completely ignoring the transfer of energy due to collisions, as well as how those factors change with altitude/density) was this idea that “everything must radiate” with a sort of socia1ist equality. A lot of people seem to have a problem understanding that a black body is a conceptual convenience, not a real universal condition.

    I’m the first to admit that I don’t understand everything, and in my advanced years I’m now annoyed to discover that half of learning now involves unlearning what I thought I understood, but didn’t… but it is shocking how many people are very, very confused by so many things, even rather arrogant engineers who think they are beyond being taught or better educated.

    [Response: Nobody understands everything. One of the things I absolutely love about the area I am working in is that there’s ALWAYS something more to learn. The important thing is to be able to know when one is ignorant, and needs to put in time learning something. A lot of people who should know better don’t do this. –raypierre]

    On the flip side, I’m also embarrassed at what I had thought was the great public school and private university education I had received. My own daughter is now in honors chemistry in high school (a mediocre high school, at that) and she’s learning the material far better and in more depth than I ever did.

    [Response: I am also completely in awe of the scientific and mathematical training the top students get in high school these days. –raypierre.]

    Admittedly she has the advantage of that wonderful rarity, a fantastic and engaged teacher, but still, I’m stunned at how much better her education has been in both chem and bio than mine was back in the 70s in high school. It’s just too bad that it only applies to the honors classes, which in turn only hosts 10% of the students, and only half of those are actually understanding and learning what they’re being taught.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 5 Feb 2011 @ 2:10 PM

  150. Raypierre,

    Your site is fantastic. A wealth of real, hard data. It’s been put at the top of my climate bookmarks.

    [Now I’m going to have to buy your book, too, and then build a working time machine so that I have time enough to read it.]

    [Response: Thanks. By the way, the Gruzka and Borysow collision induced absorption data I link on the site is in the funny units beloved of spectroscopists — (1/cm)/amagat**2 . To me amagat sounds like an Irish curse of some sort, but really it’s just a unit of density. In the graphs in my book I convert C.I.A. absorption data into m**2/kg units that make it easier to do path computations (to estimate optical thickness you just multiply by the mass path in kg of gas per m**2 of surface area of the planet). I have that for N2-N2 in the book, but I didn’t include the H2-H2 data there. When I do a second edition, I plan to replace a lot of the discussion of the continua — esp. the CO2 continuum — with the newer stuff from Gruzka and Borysow. –raypierre]

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 5 Feb 2011 @ 2:14 PM

  151. Bob (Sphaerica), the best treatment of blackbody radiation I know of is in Landau and Lifshitz’ Stat Mech text. And diatomic molecules radiate in the IR only when they are excited in collision–something that happens less and less at higher altitude. People need to remember that blackbody radiation is not some completely other kind of radiation not subject to the rules of quantum mechanics. It is merely thermal equilibrium between the photon gas and its material surroundings. An atom/molecule can still only absorb/radiate between its energy states.

    [Response: Ray, what do you think of the way L&L handle Kirchhoff’s law? I’m still hunting around for a good place to send people who want a deeper understanding of the microscopic origins of Kirchhoff’s law. –raypierre]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Feb 2011 @ 2:28 PM

  152. Look back at JC’s blog (or, shudder, if you follow it regularly, which I certainly don’t): she’s started one topic after another attempting to reach some common agreed facts — and each has gone the same way, badly. E.g.

    I am glad to see her becoming more blunt in dismissing folly. Not yet as clearly as Spencer does, but better. Both attract many comments by people who are having great difficulty separating the physics from the conclusions they are determined to reach.

    Lines from Blake:

    \If others had not been foolish, we should be so.

    If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise
    Folly is the cloke of knavery.\

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Feb 2011 @ 2:32 PM

  153. Bob (Sphaerica), just for the record and FYI, I do not fully agree on Ray Ladbury’s characterization of blackbody/planck-function radiation versus radiation related to vibrational and rotational molecular energy changes.

    [Response: I’d be interested to hear your point of disagreement. Admittedly, blackbody radiation has a lot of subtleties that aren’t evident at first glance. For a true blackbody (one that is strongly interacting with photons of all wavelengths) it really is a completely straightforward exercise in equilibrium thermodynamics, once one has the Planck quantization hypothesis. The subtlety is that we can actually make some use of equilibrium thermodynamics even if the photons are interacting strongly with matter only in a limited band of wavelengths. That little gift from nature descends from the linearity of Maxwell’s equations, or in quantum terms the fact that photons interact with matter but not with each other (at least not in the energy density regime common to planetary atmospheres). –raypierre]

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Feb 2011 @ 2:34 PM

  154. Hank, I’m mostly just observing and absorbing here, but I did not get the point you were making in #142. If not too cumbersome would you explain it?

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Feb 2011 @ 2:56 PM

  155. R. Gates: ” I would maintain, that this blog, Dr. Curry’s blog, and even such blogs as WUWT can help to supply a bit of the background necessary to “read between the lines” in differences of opinion.”

    You’re kind of new at this, aren’t you? First and foremost, in science the truth is not in the middle, but rather where the evidence guides us. WUWT is an evidence-free zone and hence irrelevant to any scientific debate–except for the very useful purpose it serves as an asylum for morons.

    And in disputes between scientists, it is not a matter of one scientist, one vote. You have to take into account the publication records of the scientists involved, how influential their publications have been, whether they have their own agendas, and on and on. There are good reasons for all of this. Not all scientists are equally skilled, wise or straightforward. And in some cases, a scientists’ prejudices will keep him or her from acheiving greater understanding of the subject matter. This will show up as a dearth of publications or a lack of cites if the rest of the community do not find their work helpful. The communities in which a scientist works keep up with all of this because they have to if they want to remain current in the field. As such, the proportion of scientists who agree with a proposition about the field can be a guide to the current consensus, but it need not coincide with it. You can also look whether the consensus is increasing or stable or whether it is decreasing. In the case of climate science you can also look at whether those in related fields tend to support or dissent from the consensus, but this is not always a reliable guide.

    In the case of climate science, the only way you can deny that it is happening or that we are causing it is self delusion. One can legitimately state that there remains uncertainty in how severe the consequences may be–but in doing so, one must acknowledge that there’s more probability on the high side of severity than on the low side. Uncertainty is NOT your friend if you favor inaction.

    Lawmakers have access not just to studies by the IPCC, but also the National Academies, Professional Societies of scientists and Federally funded Research scientists. Why, pray would they turn to blogs unless they don’t like the answers they are getting from the professionals?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Feb 2011 @ 3:09 PM

  156. Rod B.@152, True, but then, you don’t understand it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Feb 2011 @ 3:11 PM

  157. @140 Dr. Curry,

    Dr. Pierrehumbert’s critique in #87 of your knowledge of the physics radiative transfer is certainly harsh. Specifically, his following statement:

    “Nonetheless, the term [back radiation] has been used for quite a while without creating any confusion, at least among people who understand the rudiments of radiative transfer. . . [U]ntil Judy Curry got involved with the term on her blog, it never occurred to me that somebody could get themselves so confused and tied into knots over such a simple unambiguous concept. The confusion over there has nothing to do with the term itself, but a lot to do with Judy’s not having any conception about how little she knows about radiative transfer subjects that were well worked out nearly a hundred years ago.”

    Since he is referring to posts and commentary from your blog Climate, etc., presumably he could cite writings by you that back up his criticism. And if I were him, I’d be sure about being able to do so before so criticizing you publicly. I’ll leave it to Dr. Pierrehumbert to show that he can walk the walk as well as talk the talk. And it is understandable that you take great exception to his view of your knowledge in this area.

    However, your response in #140 leaves a lot to be desired. Putting aside the dripping sarcasm of your opening paragraph, (revealing in itself, possibly inadvertently) a long list of peer-reviewed publications is hardly a compelling retort. It exemplifies a common debating error. Namely: “my position is correct in this specific issue because I have a graduate degree in a relevant field and have worked professionally in a relevant field for X years.” That may be reason to listen closely to somebody’s view, but it says nothing of relevance regarding the quality or credibly of that view. It’s “believe me because I know what I’m talking about”, which ultimately is circular, and a distressingly common phenomena in technical, science, and policy debate.

    A better response to Dr. Pierrehumbert would have been something like this:

    Ray: your comments in #87 regarding my discussions of radiative transfer physics are quite harsh. I take exception to them. Therefore could you please point out the specific passages or comments that I wrote which you find to be so erroneous or ignorant? That would enable me to explain myself better, or even to point out where you in fact are in error on this topic.

    Among its positive attributes, Dr. Pierrehumbert would be obliged to be specific about what made him so discouraged about your knowledge of this are of science. And ensuing silence on his part would look bad.

    Second, with regard to Adam R.’s quote of you in #144 as follows:

    “Once the UNFCCC treaty was in place, there was pressure on the IPCC to back this up with science. Hence the “discernible” in the SAR. Ben Santer has taken huge heat for that, but look at where the pressure was coming from. The whole UNFCCC treaty wouldn’t make sense unless there was at least “discernible” evidence that this was actually happening.”

    While Dr. Pierrehumbert’s criticism of you was serious, ultimately it’s a debate between you and him, with ramifications that don’t propagate much further beyond the reputations and professional credibility of two individuals, however hardworking, upstanding, and dedicated they may be.

    On the other hand, if Adam R.’s quote of you is accurate, your criticism of international climate treaty negotiations and the IPCC has potentially serious ramifications for many many folks who must in the end trust their governments and the scientific communities to get it right on such issues and challenges.

    Extraordinary accusations require extraordinary evidence. I beseech you to think deeply about the potential consequences of stating such views publicly in the blogosphere, before Congress, and in various mainstream media. If you have that evidence or can point to credible sources for such evidence, than speak forthrightly. I am prepared to hear it, consider it, and evaluate it on behalf of the government leaders I report to.

    If you cannot provide or point to such evidence, than such accusations are simply irresponsible.

    Comment by Sloop — 5 Feb 2011 @ 3:43 PM

  158. Update on the O2 continuum absorption:

    Although the O2 continua don’t play any role in determining the greenhouse effect on any planet I’m aware of, there has been a fair amount of work on the continua because it is of intrinsic interest as a problem in molecular physics, and because the near-IR can have a detectable (though slight) effect on near-IR absorption of solar radiation by Earth’s atmosphere. To get the flavor of some of this work, look at:

    and the references therein. I haven’t yet found a database for O2 collisional continua that is as convenient to use as the ones provided by Courtin for N2, or by Borysow for a variety of other gases. Perhaps some of the readers here can help out. There are a lot of O2 spectroscopy papers out there to comb through and some more eyeballs would be useful.

    Comment by raypierre — 5 Feb 2011 @ 3:54 PM

  159. Raypierre, re 148,

    Sorry, I think I confused you. My comment in 148 was a reply to Ray Ladbury‘s comment in 136 (about my question to you in 131), not your inline reply to my question in 131.

    It’s a case of ambiguous Rays.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 5 Feb 2011 @ 4:31 PM

  160. From an analysis of world food price rises by Paul Krugman:

    Most of the decline in world wheat production, and about half of the total decline in grain production, has taken place in the former Soviet Union — mainly Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. And we know what that’s about: an incredible, unprecedented heat wave.

    Obligatory disclaimer: no one event can be definitively assigned to climate change, just as you can’t necessarily claim that any one of the fender-benders taking place right now in central New Jersey was caused by the sheet of black ice currently coating our roads. But it sure looks like climate change is a major culprit.

    The corncrakes are complaining…

    Comment by The Raven — 5 Feb 2011 @ 4:44 PM

  161. Re: Ray at #154:

    You make many fine points, and certainly, as I hope as my post indicated, I’m not suggesting that the blogosphere could ever make up for any of the traditional routes that policymakers use to gather critical information and make decisions, but rather, they fill a increasingly important social roll of sizing up the landscape of differences between the experts. The comments between the experts are the most interesting and valuable, and even though one expert may have more credentials and expertise in a given area, and clearly recognized as the “leading” authority, dissenting opinions by other PhD’s do get traction in the political arena simply due to the fact that, at least in the U.S., that political arena is highly polarized. Reading blog exchanges between PhD’s on a given climate subject area helps to set at least give some of the background and see where the science may not be settled. For example, J. Curry’s attempt at creating a discussion on “Slaying the Dragon” was helpful in that a policymaker, or their staff could potentially discount this book, and know where the weaknesses are if any of their political opponents should be so foolish as the quote from it or reference it as a reason for doubt or inaction.

    Comment by R.Gates — 5 Feb 2011 @ 6:02 PM

  162. > 142
    Saying I wish her luck over there, but I think she’s an optimist.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Feb 2011 @ 6:14 PM

  163. Does anyone else notice a certain asymmetry in these two sets of quotes?

    “When I make a public statement about what a scientist does or does not know, I make a point of actually reading what that scientist has to say on the subject, rather than what other people say about that scientist on blogs.”

    “Let me say that this is one of the most reprehensible attacks on a reputable scientist that I have seen, and the so-called tsunami of accusations made in regards to climategate are nothing in compared to the attack on Wegman.” and then “So I rose to Wegman’s defense, without being anywhere near adequately informed to get involved in a discussion on this.”

    Are they unrelated? I think we should be told.

    Comment by Heraclitus — 5 Feb 2011 @ 6:25 PM

  164. @ Heraclitus

    Indeed they are not unrelated. You may find ythe context here:

    Comment by Adam R. — 5 Feb 2011 @ 7:55 PM

  165. Since no one has yet mentioned it: two reports out today, one on Russians drilling down to Lake Vostok in Antarctica to extract multi-million years old living material; the other on the all-time historic low Arctic ice formation for January.

    Comment by spyder — 5 Feb 2011 @ 8:10 PM

  166. Re 146 – R.Gates The majority of those setting climate related policy will hardly be able to understand the complexities of radiative transfer,

    Maybe, but the underlying principles are actually quite easy (in my mind, far easier than understanding much of the rest of climate physics):

    Picture smoke. Okay, if it’s more familiar, picture fog. Think about how far you can see through it – how you see more of the fog and less of other things as it gets thicker, how you see more of the closer bits of fog and less of the farther bits of fog as it gets thicker.

    The fog is scattering radiation; it’s temperature doesn’t matter directly in how it affects what you see (indirectly via effects on optical properties – freezing fog is a bit different, etc.), but in net effect it reflects (backscatters) some radiation toward where it comes from, blocking radiation from one place from getting farther, to greater extents as the fog gets thicker, etc.

    Now go back to smoke. Let’s make a smoke that doesn’t scatter much light, so it mainly absorbs and emits radiation; the emission increases with higher temperature. Picture how it looks over different distances with different thicknesses of smoke with different temperature distributions. For a given thickness it emits more if it is hotter; over a given distance and for a given thickness it absorbs a fraction of incident radiation, that fraction is the absorptivity of that path length; over the same path it emits the same fraction (emissivity, equal to absorptivity) of blackbody intensity, the intensity of radiation that is in equilibrium with other matter at that temperature. Thus, over longer distances or with thicker smoke, or with smaller temperature gradients, the amount of radiation seen at a given location tends to correspond more closely with the temperature at that location (and tends to be closer to the same in all directions, with little-to-no net flux in any direction); thinner smoke reveals radiation coming from farther away in amounts corresponding to temperatures found farther away.

    The fog blocks radiation coming toward you from behind and replaces it with radiation coming from behind you. The smoke blocks radiation by absorbing it and replaces it with what it emits.

    The gases in the atmosphere generally act like the smoke, of varying thicknesses depending on amount, type, and wavelength. Clouds act more like the smoke than the fog at longer wavelengths where emission at the relevant temperatures is significant. Temperature generally decreases with height through the troposphere, above which, in the global average at least, to a first approximation, the vertical energy flux is accomplished by radiation alone.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 5 Feb 2011 @ 8:49 PM

  167. It was a clear and chilly night….

    If I may return to that matter, I have seen comments on warming nights here and elsewhere but I still have questions. It is said and published I think that the average nighttime temperature anomaly is greater than the daytime anomaly. In addition, record low temperatures for a given place and day of the year (eg, your town and the date of 4 July) are much scarcer in recent decades than record high temperatures.

    Can I say that in general, clear cool nights are not as cool as they used to be? Could this be due to water vapor alone, or is CO2 in the troposphere a cause? To what extent if any can “nights warming faster than days” support attribution? I don’t see that it can, but what does RC say?

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 5 Feb 2011 @ 10:09 PM

  168. @RGates #160, you wrote: “I’m not suggesting that the blogosphere could ever make up for any of the traditional routes that policymakers use to gather critical information and make decisions, but rather, they fill a increasingly important social roll of sizing up the landscape of differences between the experts.”

    I’d be horrified if I learnt that policy makers thought, for example, that Curry’s blog, or CA, or WUWT reflected ‘the landscape of differences between the experts’. Those blogs are not dominated by experts, or except in the case of Curry, not run by anyone having scientific expertise. Even with Curry’s blog, her posts are more often pseudo-philosophic twaddle than science (or snide remarks and insinuations about her colleagues) and most of those commenting are deniers.

    I would not rely on them to guage public opinion, either. They attract the same relatively small group of people. posts provide some good insights into the science and many of the comments are from informed people (and many aren’t, which is in keeping with the purpose of the site.) I’d not be as surprised or dismayed if science advisers were frequent visitors to this site (or, to supplement their knowledge of technical developments etc)

    On the whole, policy makers would be much better informed about the science if they used advisers who kept abreast of scientific and technical journals. And better informed about the concerns (and notions) of the public if they used market researchers who poll public opinion.

    Comment by Sou — 5 Feb 2011 @ 11:52 PM

  169. Judith Curry has finally got around to defending Gavin from her hordes of winged monkeys.

    But, as is her style, she also has to have a self-indulgent dig;

    “And I agree that his [Gavin’s] style on the blog often comes across as arrogant and authoritarian”

    Comment by Michael — 6 Feb 2011 @ 12:49 AM

  170. To Sou@ #167-

    You make some good points, but I’m not suggesting at all that policymakers or their staff would learn any substantial science behind climate change by coming to blogs, but rather, to learn a bit more about the real dynamics of who the players are, to size them up a bit, and learn how to “read between the lines” as it were, when comparing the differences of opinion between them. Certainly in the blogosphere, sites will have more or less value, and a different kind of value, than others in sizing up the players. It certainly it speak volumes about Trenberth that he refuses to engage at all here (I’m not saying this is a bad personal choice of his). But like it or not, this forum (i.e. the blogosphere) is here to stay and grow in it’s influence and importance in the ways I’ve outlined above. Nothing will take the place of simply picking up and reading credible journals to learn more about the science, but to learn a bit about the differences in perspective that the people behind that science have, the blogosphere is becoming an essential tool. Understanding those differences, and the basis for it(unsettled science vs. raw academic talent and knowledge) can be vital to settling in on sound climate policy and defending it against political opposition.

    Comment by R.Gates — 6 Feb 2011 @ 2:15 AM

  171. Raypierre (#134),

    Not looking for the last word at all. Just exploring a challenging claim.

    Suppose the rain in Spain fell only on the plain. All the calcium ions were leached away and never replenished from erosion from the mountains. Then, no matter how heat might accelerate formation of limestone, none would form. We currently have a situation where water evaporates from the Indian Ocean but very little rain falls down wind on the Sahara. I wonder if a model that is not one dimensional might turn up something that goes counter to your expectation of enhanced weathering?

    Where I was going in the last comment was that sometimes very good scientists (Rees was elected President of the Royal Society) make ‘trust me’ statements. These statements don’t have value as scientific statements but do give prominence to the issue just because of the manner in which they are put.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Feb 2011 @ 2:20 AM

  172. A random question:

    How is the earth’s crust modelled, and does it have any meaningful effect on how heat is distributed around the earth in any climate change scenarios? Could it, for example, have any effects at regional level, or (mis-?)modelling have an effect on thermal inertial on earth and the transient response to climate change?

    Or is it simply too small to bother with when compared to heat distribution (and currents) throughout the oceans?

    Comment by Damien — 6 Feb 2011 @ 3:10 AM

  173. Apologies if this is the wrong place to ask; perhaps some kind soul will point me in the right direction, even if it’s just the exit.

    We all did the elementary experiment with the thermometer in the ice bath over the Bunsen burner: the temp stays at 0 until all the ice melts. I’m wondering if anyone has done a quantitative analysis of how much of a moderating effect all the polar ice melting is having on global temperatures.

    I could just about calculate the total heat of crystallization involved, but then I’d have no idea whether that quantity was negligible or significant. Thanks for reading. Cheers.

    Comment by Scot Danner — 6 Feb 2011 @ 4:07 AM

  174. @ The Raven #159: No single extreme weather event can be blamed on climate change, as you say, but I agree: it sure does look like we can attribute a largish part of the blame for the recent rash of extreme events on AGW. Has anyone tried to quantify this?
    Disclaimer: I have a vested interest in finding out more. Cyclone Yasi just went over the top of us.

    Comment by MalcolmT — 6 Feb 2011 @ 6:16 AM

  175. How are chaotic oscillations included in climate models? This came up in a discussion about “global warming has stopped.” My understanding is that, since natural internal variability is of greater magnitude than greenhouse forcing, it’s no surprise to see periods of relative cooling or no trend, and that these are predicted to continue over the 21st century. The enhanced greenhouse effect does not stop the oceans sloshing about. Someone told me that the models are all wrong because they can’t capture chaos. So I did a little reading (I’m a total layperson), and found things about the period doubling cascade and other routes to chaos. Can anyone point me in the right direction, or give a short explanation on modelling chaos and models acheiving ENSO etc. oscillations and interannual variability?

    Comment by aphillips — 6 Feb 2011 @ 7:32 AM

  176. In my book-in-progress on sea level rise, I’d like to describe the 300-pp. U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s January 2009 study, “Coastal Sensitivity to Sea-Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region”, as “one of the most recent and most comprehensive US Government reports on sea level rise.” Is this an accurate statement? If it is NOT, please let me know off-list at

    Comment by Hunt Janin — 6 Feb 2011 @ 8:29 AM

  177. R. Gates, I believe you missed my point. Why should policy makers turn to blogs when they can ask (and have asked) the National Academies for advice, and that is precisely the reason why the Academies were founded? Some “science” blogs are a joke. Some are unreliable. Some (like Realclimate and Tamino) are absolutely stelar. Do politicians and policy makers have the experience and judgment to know which is which? On the other hand, the Nantional Academies have been a reliable source for synthesizing scientific consensus for policy makers for 150 years.

    When faced with a strong consensus, I think it is a natural human tendency to look for dissenting opinions. That is not how science works. Often in science,when you have a strong consensus, the only voices it does not include are the cranks or the ideologically blinkered. The cranks are much easier to find in the blogosphere than in a NAS study. Do policy makers know the difference? If so, why are they looking to the blogosphere in the first place?

    The best of the blogs can play a critical role in educating people about the science. The worst of the blogs serve no useful role other than as objects of ridicule. It is pretty clear to me that a lot of our elected officials cannot distinguish between the two classes.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Feb 2011 @ 8:57 AM

  178. 154 Ray Ladbury: People who “read between the lines” are jokers and provokers, not scientists. “Reading between the lines” is just a means of provoking anger by refusing to hear that which is written on the lines. You can’t read where nothing is written. Provokers are people who are afraid to express their own anger, so they go about getting other people to express anger for them. Provokers are and have a psychological problem. Just avoid them and refuse to communicate with them, for your own good.

    “And in disputes between scientists, it is not a matter of one scientist, one vote.” That much is true.

    “You have to take into account the publication records of the scientists involved”
    False. Scientists do not have a proportional vote because no human has a vote. Only Mother Nature has a vote. There is no democracy. Nature is the absolute dictator. Science has nothing to do with popularity.

    Do not do a Thomas Kuhn [The Structure of Scientific Revolutions] or a Ryghaug and Skjølsvold or a Jerry Ravetz. Physics is not about sociology. Physics is about rock-hard physical reality and nothing else. The “current consensus” is a guide only to those who have no hope of understanding it, whatever “it” is. Lawmakers ought to understand the science, and that is a moral “ought.” Without understanding, they cannot make adequate laws.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 6 Feb 2011 @ 9:34 AM

  179. Edward Greisch,
    I agree that nature ultimately gets the only vote that counts, but the problem is that she plays her cards very close to her bosom. Unfortunately, policy must be based on prognostication, not history, and scientific consensus is the best guide we have for prognostication. I’ve stated before why I think this is so–e.g. that those with the best understanding of their field with usually be the most prolific and influential publishers in that field.

    And I do not think that lawmakers need necessarily understand “the science.” That may be too much to expect given that they must pass laws affected by all areas of science and technology. However, I think they have to uderstand science (e.g. method and why science works) well enough to identify and listen to the true experts in the field.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Feb 2011 @ 10:19 AM

  180. A rare instance of a denier propagandist feeling consequences:

    Particularly gratifying is this bit:

    The suit (attached below) arises from an article that Ball penned for the right-wingy Canada Free Press website, which has since apologized to Weaver for its numerous inaccuracies and stripped from its publicly available pages pretty much everything that Ball has ever written.

    Comment by Adam R. — 6 Feb 2011 @ 11:02 AM

  181. MalcolmT wrote: “No single extreme weather event can be blamed on climate change …”

    No weather event, extreme or otherwise, can be “blamed” on any single cause, including global warming.

    All weather events arise from a multitude of causes and conditions.

    And global warming is now a pervasive, inescapable condition that affects all weather events.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Feb 2011 @ 11:58 AM

  182. No, changes in temperature and water vapor have never been causes of weather, and you alarmists are not going to get away with changing that!

    [Response: Oh golly, thanks for opening my eyes on that! And here I always thought heat waves had something to do with, well you know, the temperature sort of getting higher. –raypierre]

    Comment by JCH — 6 Feb 2011 @ 12:17 PM

  183. Unfortunately, policy must be based on prognostication, not history, and scientific consensus is the best guide we have for prognostication. – Ray Ladbury

    Her latest.

    With respect to the Brisbane flood this is why it is so important to them to claim the flood was not unusual when compared with past floods. The decision for new flood mitigation should exclude AGW considerations. Since the recent Brisbane flooding caused significant damage and took lives, past decisions on flood mitigation are under their microscope. The historic record led experts to propose additional dams. Australians rallied against them and they were not built. This is a political opening, and a means of implying the opponents of the dams are murderers, which has been done on blogs.

    So in a way the strategy is to take the weather changes they know will happen because of AGW and using any catastrophe they cause as a means of defaming environmentalists, who chose lung fish over human beings.

    A real possibility is the flood was likely caused by a weather event that was unique. The final analysis will tell the story. The flood-mitigation infrastructure failed to hold the flood level to the predicted level, which could be an indication something outside the historic record took place.

    But to them the fix is simple: build the dams the historic record indicated were needed.

    [Response: Hang on a second. I don’t know the particulars in Australia, but dams historically haven’t helped mitigate flooding; quite the opposite. It ain’t so simple.–eric]

    Comment by JCH — 6 Feb 2011 @ 1:07 PM

  184. If only politics were like science, and simple “consensus” were enough to move policy forward. If that were the case, there might not need to be letters like this one, written by scientists to members of Congress:

    Like it not, the Blogosphere is the new global town hall, and both scientist and politician needs to move effectively through this new space…

    Comment by R.Gates — 6 Feb 2011 @ 1:21 PM

  185. Re #168,

    So Curry “defends” Gavin with an ad hominem attack of her own? How sweet. Not the way to build bridges.

    How about a sincere and unequivocal defense Curry? No rhetoric, no innuendo– you know, just doing the right thing for the right reasons.

    Comment by MapleLeaf — 6 Feb 2011 @ 1:48 PM

  186. raypierre, re your response in #148. To clarify, I’m pretty sure you are saying that molecules with no dipole moment (like N2 and O2) will absorb virtually no IR radiation, but if one of those molecules collides with another molecule its physical configuration might be misshapen, causing a dipole, so that at the instant of collision it can indeed absorb IR radiation into its vibration or rotation energies. Did I get this correctly?

    If so what is the prevalence or likelihood of such absorption, given that the average N2 or O2 molecule is colliding with something extremely frequently? Is there something akin to an Einstein coefficient that puts a (low??) probability or (high??) half-life on such collision coincident absorptions? Or does the nature of the physical collision play a part also?


    [Response: Yes, that is how collision induced absorption (CIA) works. The quantification of the probability of absorption is given by the binary absorption coefficient tables I linked to in one of my earlier answers. See the papers on the Borysow site I linked to for details of how the quantum mechanical computation is done. –raypierre]

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Feb 2011 @ 2:03 PM

  187. Bob (Sphaerica), I might suggest the term “Planck function radiation” which might unwrap the semantic differences with “blackbody radiation.” Blackbody literally, as you say, seldom exists and is an ideal rather than a fact. But planck function radiation is the exact same general process as blackbody without the nitpick baggage. [Though if the meaning is understood, “blackbody” is much easier to write and say…]

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Feb 2011 @ 2:38 PM

  188. JCH #181:
    I’m not sure I’m happy to have clicked your link…
    I think this is another for curryquotes. After reading Trenberth’s essay thrice, I still can’t see how she could interpret that as saying “scientists should call the policy shots”.

    Comment by Marco — 6 Feb 2011 @ 2:44 PM

  189. Just a follow-up to post #182 –

    Scientists can write all the letters they want, but the political reality, like it or not (and I don’t especially) is that money ultimately runs D.C.– not logic and science. See this illuminating article from today’s LA Times:

    So, if you are of the mind-set that AGW is not just real, but likely to cause serious problems, then an equally serious and frustrating problem is the way politics works. In such a scenario, money trumps all, until nature does.

    Comment by R.Gates — 6 Feb 2011 @ 2:48 PM

  190. 181, eric in comment: dams historically haven’t helped mitigate flooding; quite the opposite

    In what area of the US did the TVA dams increase flooding? Did the dams of China (Three Gorges Dam et al.) cause increased flooding in China in 2010 compared to pre-dam eras?

    The levees along the banks of the Mississippi protect towns and croplands from most floods, but increase the extent of the flooding in the 3% or so most extreme floods. But the upstream dams all over the region from the Appalachians to the Rockies have not heretofore (to my knowledge) been said to have been responsible for increased downstream flooding.

    How about dams in California, in the San Gabriel Mtns and the Sierras? Have they increased the depth, extent, frequency or economic costs of flooding?

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 6 Feb 2011 @ 3:07 PM

  191. 151, Hank Roberts: Look back at JC’s blog (or, shudder, if you follow it regularly, which I certainly don’t): she’s started one topic after another attempting to reach some common agreed facts — and each has gone the same way, badly.

    FWIW, I agree.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 6 Feb 2011 @ 3:11 PM

  192. Apologies if this appears twice.

    I have a question about modelling chaos. Someone told me that models are wrong, because they can not accurately represent the chaotic oscillations of ENSO events and inter-annual variability. This doesn’t seem to be right – I read of something called the period doubling cascade as a “route to chaos.” Is anyone able to sum up modelling chaotic oscillations, and how they are fed into climate models, in lay terms?

    [Response: I can’t, but of course, any time you hear the phrase “models are wrong” immediate red flags should go up, because it indicates that the person making the claim doesn’t really understand what modeling is all about in the first place.–Jim]

    Comment by aphillips — 6 Feb 2011 @ 3:57 PM

  193. @151 Hank Roberts: Look back at JC’s blog (or, shudder, if you follow it regularly, which I certainly don’t): she’s started one topic after another attempting to reach some common agreed facts — and each has gone the same way, badly.

    Inevitable. See the heroic efforts at Science of Doom for an illustration of the futility of a genuine skeptic’s attempts to bring deniers to the proximity of reality. They don’t want to know. Engaging with them is a guaranteed waste of time.

    Comment by Adam R. — 6 Feb 2011 @ 4:07 PM

  194. > have they increased
    Or decreased, or led to development later damaged in the floodplains ….

    The area has been extensively researched. This keeps coming up as though nobody had talked about it. Curious, eh?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Feb 2011 @ 4:12 PM

  195. [Response: Hang on a second. I don’t know the particulars in Australia, but dams historically haven’t helped mitigate flooding; quite the opposite. It ain’t so simple.–eric]

    Your logic is about to be put to the test in Australia, and I agree that it is very complicated. If you look at the 1983 flood level versus the 1974 flood level, there is an obvious difference. Some would argue part of it was the flood-mitigation provided by the Somerset Dam, which was finished in 1959. Obviously an accounting of the water has to be included.

    After the 1974 flood a comparison was made, and they decided to build the Wivenhoe Dam. A later analysis indicated the Wivenhoe Dam needed upgrading. They completed a phase of that in 2005. In mid-January of 2011, the Wivenhoe failed to hold the flood level to the prediction: which I believe was 2 meters under the 1974 crest.

    Many bloggers looked at that graph and concluded the 2011 flood was much less severe than either 1974 or 1893 (Curry and Pielke Jr.are examples,) and that claim has been made in the comments section here. I do not agree with them.

    What they will argue is building the dams the public refused to build in past decades would have mitigated much of the 2011 flood in Brisbane.

    If dams do not mitigate flooding, as you say, then they could have converted the flood-mitigation components of both the Somerset and Wivenhoe Dams to water storage. I think that is a tough sell. The 2011 flood would have likely topped 1974, and possibly 1893. With no mitigation capacity, all the rainwater flowing into the dams would have been sent straight to Brisbane.

    Comment by JCH — 6 Feb 2011 @ 4:12 PM

  196. An example, from a site with extensive research documented:

    Large dams have provided extensive benefits during the past 60 years: for example, fueling the powerful economy in the Western United States through cheap power, irrigation and municipal water supplies. There has also been a dark side of these massive civil works projects that were not fully comprehended during the early project planning process. This is not surprising since ecosystem response and physical processes at the basin scale are immensely complex and could not have been fully anticipated with the state of science in the 1930s and 40s. The implementation and management of large dams is still a relatively new science, compared to the time frame necessary to detect and understand some negative impacts occurring at the watershed scale. This paper attempts to summarize the unforeseen or unanticipated environmental consequences of these projects, as well as potential ramifications to the overall performance of the project. One of the important management concerns is to ensure that there is a viable decommissioning strategy for the dam at the end of its design life, and including this cost in the life cycle cost-benefit analysis….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Feb 2011 @ 4:15 PM

  197. Re 170 Chris Dudley – in climatic equilibrium, precipitation balances evaporation in a global time average. Imbalances will of course exist regionally and temporally. The present H escape to space is quite small; there is not much of a H2O sink at high altitudes – well, actually CH4 oxidation is a source, but again, small relative to surface fluxes of H2O (etc. for photosynthesis, respiration)…

    I haven’t seen the fig 5 you wrote of, but I’m guessing, that maybe the higher RH (relative humidity) shown at 25 km is in the stratosphere and not expected to be a significant source region of precipitation reaching near the surface. Precipitation generally falls from clouds, which are generally local maxima in RH in an otherwise generally unsaturated troposphere (in fact the precipitation helps produce dry air by removing H2O – consider what happens when the air in a cloud sinks/warms, without the same total amount of H2O that was present when it formed).

    Of course if in some odd scenario rain did not reach the surface but hail did, then the hail fall would be what balances evaporation (setting aside frost/dew/etc.).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 6 Feb 2011 @ 4:21 PM

  198. How about dams in California, in the San Gabriel Mtns and the Sierras? Have they increased the depth, extent, frequency or economic costs of flooding?

    It will be interesting to see what Eric says, but keep in mind that not all dams are built with flood mitigation in mind. For instance, the dams along the Columbia are all (to my knowledge) traditional hydro (Bonneville, Grand Coulee, and others) or run-of-the-river dams (such as the John Day) built both for hydro and to raise the level of the river behind the dam to reduce irrigation costs for nearby farms (they don’t have to pump it as far).

    So a more specific question is how well do dams built primarily for flood mitigation work? In the case of the Wivenhoe Dam we’re probably going to learn a lot over the next few years, I’m sure it’s going to be intensely studied for some time.

    Comment by dhogaza — 6 Feb 2011 @ 4:31 PM

  199. 178 Ray Ladbury: The scientists should write the laws. Which scientists? Mike Mann, Jim Hansen, and RealClimate. Jim Hansen should run for the US senate. The laws will not be correct until the scientists have political power. That is why we humans are in danger of going extinct. Scientists may be given power as soon as it is too late to do any good.

    I know that scientists don’t want political power. It just isn’t in our job description. Nor does it fit our personality type. We don’t have the numbers of scientists required to form a voting block. etcetera.

    Politicians “have to understand science (e.g. method and why science works) well enough to identify and listen to the true experts in the field.” But they don’t. They understand getting money to get re-elected. So evolution, alias gigadeath, is going to happen. If we are lucky, the average math IQ will go up a few points.

    Instead of writing letters to congress, as in


    the scientists should write a proposed law and proposed implementing regulations and explain what the law and regulations would do if implemented. The economic and social differences from BAU should be included. The scientists should act as a shadow government, as some out-of-power political parties do.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 6 Feb 2011 @ 4:35 PM

  200. I should say “not with flood mitigation as a primary purpose…”

    Obviously when floods threaten, river managers will do what they can with the tools they have…

    Comment by dhogaza — 6 Feb 2011 @ 4:36 PM

  201. Dam’s themselves have not created flood frequencies or intensities, but many flood control activities have shunted water a way from one area and subsequently increased both frequency and intensity down stream.

    Anything that lowers the time water remains “on the land” can increase flooding. Railroads, roadways, and agriculture often disrupt natural stream flow that results in a down cutting of the stream channels. That channelization traps water preventing it from reaching its flood plains and re-watering the local aquifer, instead rushing down stream. Also as the channel cuts downward it also drains the water table instead of recharging it and thus add to the flooding.

    Comment by Jim Steele — 6 Feb 2011 @ 4:42 PM

  202. @193 Dams and flooding: Ross River Dam (1971) in Townsville North Queensland was designed as both water storage and flood mitigation and seems to be working well in both roles. Certainly, the city hasn’t flooded as badly since its construction as before – and we do get enough cyclones and post-cyclonic rain depressions to give us a fairly good idea.

    Comment by MalcolmT — 6 Feb 2011 @ 4:49 PM

  203. raypierre (152): Simply (maybe too much so…), blackbody radiation and radiation from molecular vibration, rotation (and possible even electron) have a different genesis and significantly different characteristics. (I’m using “blackbody” as the generic planck function radiation, not as the ideal actual blackbody.) Blackbody is broadband (technically including the entire E-M spectrum); vibrotation radiation is single frequency, though maybe has a number of single frequencies. Blackbody radiation is continuous and quantized only in the vein that translation energy (of a molecule or an airplane) is quantized into almost infinitely small levels. Vibrotation is quantized only at the single frequency of vibration or rotation, and at most 3, 4, or so hf multiples about that single frequency. Blackbody radiation comes from vibrating charges that were created solely by heat/temperature, and it is temperature that is the sole cause of the radiation, though the physical characteristics of the body help determine how much radiation is generated. Vibrotation radiation is predominately caused or determined by the physical makeup of the molecule in a bath of any sort of E-M radiation. Blackbody radiation is continuous in time while vibrotational radiation is bursty, determined by such things as Einstein coefficients and molecular collision rates, both of which are only very loosely related to amBEant temperature.

    The rub: the actual physics and mathematics of molecular radiation is very complex and difficult; for blackbody, not so much. Plus, stemming from the very basic fact that a photon is a photon and that at the basic level photon absorption and emission of any type have much in common, as you say, blackbody math and physics can be used for molecular radiation analysis with very good accuracy, though not exactness. Does the lack of exactness matter? I suspect that some of it might, though that is currently only an idea and of no worth to anyone else. In the meantime it seems to work quite well and so Planck (and Kirchoff and Beers and even Stefan) have given us tremendous insights into molecular radiation. We even use Stefan-Boltzmann, a strictly full spectrum blackbody construct, to build the basic models of greenhouse gas stuff with its multi-layered atmosphere from a flat surface stuff.

    This is accomplished mostly by playing with emissivity, which of course is 1.0 for a black body. But with generic planck radiation the overall emissivity is less than 1.0 overall and moreover has a wavelength dependency. Even though it would never occur in reality there is no mathematical reason why we can’t construct a body that has an emissivity of 0.0 everywhere except say 15.00um where it has a 1.0 emissivity. There are a couple of things that fall off the wagon here, but probably of little import, so violà: Planck physics allows a super helpful analysis of greenhouse gas called molecular radiation. [Though your description of this is much better than mine here…]

    But they are not the same thing.

    Though the other Ray and others differ…

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Feb 2011 @ 4:56 PM

  204. In her defense Curry did moderate out a blantant ad hominem toward Gavin in a comment. Though, to detract some, as I said in a comment to her, moderating with strike through is not near as good as a deletion.

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Feb 2011 @ 5:04 PM

  205. @101
    “Wind power didn’t run at nameplate power the whole time”?! They NEVER ran anywhere close to close to nameplate power. Here is a summary:

    A representative of the American Wind Power Assn. said, twice, he would provide the figures that indicated wind power provided significant power during the period of peak demand yet, in spite of six requests, he never did so.

    As the crisis unfolded in Texas wind power dribbled down to nothing. Before you dispute that, keep in mind the peak demand was not Wednesday morning, it was Wednesday evening between 8 and 9pm Central time.

    Comment by Mike Smith — 6 Feb 2011 @ 5:18 PM

  206. For those with an interest in dams and Brisbane floods, this is the best I’ve seen. Certainly a good counter to arguments that 2011 flooding was not as severe as earlier events.

    Comment by adelady — 6 Feb 2011 @ 5:42 PM

  207. Has anybody noticed that Antartic Sea Ice is very low this year, though it the melting seems to have almost stopped now. This is interesting because it was supposed to be defying the trend.

    [Response: Personal gripe: everyone loves to average Antarctic sea ice over the entire domain, but this is about as sensible as averaging sea surface temperatures on the Pacific coast of the U.S. with sea surface temperatures on the Atlantic side. Actually, it’s the same thing! It doesn’t make any sense, but it is done all the time, especially by people (including — ahem — many of my colleagues) who’ve never been to Antarctica and can’t appreciate the scale of the place.

    Anyway, the trend has been negative (less ice) for the entire satellite record in the Amundsen, Bellinghausen, and even most of the Ross Sea. It is positive (more ice) over most of the coastline of East Antarctica. It is interesting if indeed the average trend is now flattening out, but the average trend was never statistically significant anyway. I wish NSIDC and others would start showing plots of both areas separately on their web site. Looking at the average is very close to meaningless.–eric]

    Comment by D. Price — 6 Feb 2011 @ 7:03 PM


    “… Wind power was a bit player in Texas as recently as four years ago. Today, wind turbines produce a significant share of the state’s electricity.

    But the growth of wind power has attracted powerful critics: the owners of natural-gas power plants…..”

    “… On a recent day, a stiff 24-mile-an-hour wind was blowing …. The Papalote wind farm was turning that into 116 megawatts …. Its top output is 180 megawatts. Over one 24-hour period, said Mr. Collier, it ran at 88% of its maximum—nearly unheard of in the wind business.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Feb 2011 @ 7:12 PM

  209. Rod B., True blackbody radiation is continuum, but there are no true blackbodies. Real materials–and this includes CO2–can only emit light corresponding to transitions between its energy states. This can, however, form a portion of a blackbody spectrum when the radiation fields is in equilibrium with the surrounding matter. There is no separate “blackbody” radiation. And you should know this, because you have not been able to produce a single reputable source that backs your assertion. I really seriously doubt that Landau did not understand blackbody radiation.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Feb 2011 @ 7:38 PM

  210. Edward Greisch, Having scientists write the nations laws is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, the skills needed to understand the laws of nature are quite different from the skills required to understand law an politics. WRT mitigating the threats due to climate change, the sole requirement the scientists can levy is that they be effective at addressng the problem. However, effectiveness is only one requirement of a good law. What we need to do is ensure that we elect politicians who have at least a nodding acquaintance with reality. If we are to insist on the expertise of the scientists, we must also respect the expertise of good policy makers

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 Feb 2011 @ 7:52 PM

  211. An earlier commenter asked about models. Here are some useful starting points.

    “A Climate Modelling Primer” by Henderson-Sellers
    Introduction to Three-Dimensional Climate Modeling 2nd Edition
    Warren M. Washington and Claire Parkinson

    Comment by David B. Benson — 6 Feb 2011 @ 7:57 PM

  212. Harold Pierce Jr says:
    6 Feb 2011 at 7:21 PM

    cm at 28

    RE: “whether ocean oscillations (…) could explain the global warming of the past 40 years

    RE: Climate Cycles: What the Russians say.

    The English translation of “Cyclic Climate Changes and Fish Productivity by L.B. Klyashtorin and A.A. Lyubushin can be downloaded for free thru this link:

    NB: This mongraph is 223 pages. The Russian edition was published in 2005 and the English translation, in 2007. This book is not about climate science and they don’t discuss the origin of the ocean and atmospheric oscillations.

    By analyzing a number of time series of data related to climate, they found that the earth has global climate cycles of 50-70 years with an average of about 60 years which have cool and warm phases of about 30 years each. They summerize most of the studies published upto early 2005 that show how this climate cycle influences fish catches in the major fisheries.

    The last warm phase began in ca 1970-75 (aka the Great Shift) and ended in ca 2000. The global warming from ca 1975 is due in part to this warm phase. A cool phase has started and they predict it should last about 30 years. See Fig. 2.23.

    In Fig. 2.22 and Table 2 they show that increasing world fuel consumption does not correlate with or affect the cool and warm phase of the 60 year cycle.

    Several others studies have found this 60 year cycle. During the cool phase La Nina years usually out number El Nino years as was the case from ca 1940-70. This can be seen in the plot of the MEI at Klaus W’s website.

    I haven’t checked to determine if the book was referenced AR4.

    Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 6 Feb 2011 @ 7:58 PM

  213. There seems to be a “consensus” on two things that don’t seem right to me.

    First is cooling during winter at the south pole. I looked at the data from Amundsen/Scott station (from the GISS website), and it doesn’t look statistically significant to me.

    Second is Eric’s statement that regarding Antarctic ice, “the average trend was never statistically significant anyway.” But I compute it as being a small but statistically significant increase (at about 15000 km^2/yr).

    Am I missing something?

    [Response: Nope, you are probably right on both counts. Last time I checked, both of the statements I made were accurate, but it was probably more than a year ago. That’s what happens with barely-significant trends. I do hope that you appreciate the main point I was trying to make though, right? –eric]

    Comment by tamino — 6 Feb 2011 @ 8:01 PM

  214. #194 The major difference comparing Brisbane floods 1974/2011 was where the rain fell, see Australian BOM statement :

    Comment by john byatt — 6 Feb 2011 @ 8:07 PM

  215. Take a large variety of bouncy balls. Each bounces in its own characteristic way. Now tie them all together in a web with short pieces of elastic. How do they bounce?

    I’m sure I’ve said that before, or something much like it, so I won’t go on.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Feb 2011 @ 8:24 PM

  216. This is totally off from anything that’s been discussed so far but it’s an open thread.

    I’ve been arguing with a guy over on another blog ( He has a web page up at:

    He’s saying of course that it’s all natural. I’ve been telling him that it’s a simple numerical chart without any insight into the underlying causes and that he should take into account at least solar forcing which was significant in the first half of the 20th century but not since then.

    Maybe someone more knowledgeable than I can take a look at it and give me some more solid understanding about how to counter his arguments if you care to.

    Comment by Dave Werth — 6 Feb 2011 @ 8:47 PM

  217. Re: #211 (Harold Pierce)

    Klyashtorin and Lyubushin actually have attempted to model climate change with their 60-year cycle. It turned out to be a miserable failure at anticipating the continued global warming since 2000:

    The globe has definitely continued to warm since 2000:

    In fact the warming is statistically significant even since 2000, in spite of the end of the putative “last warm phase.”

    The whole “global warming is due to ocean cycles” nonsense is nothing but the latest attempt to muddy the waters by those who simply don’t want to accept the truth — that it continues, and it’s caused by human activity. The “it’s the sun” nonsense didn’t work, nor did the “galactic cosmic rays” nonsense, so they’re trying the next excuse. Can you smell the desperation?

    Comment by tamino — 6 Feb 2011 @ 8:55 PM

  218. For Dave Werth:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Feb 2011 @ 9:11 PM

  219. @Mike S.#204
    As the crisis unfolded in Texas wind power dribbled down to nothing.

    The following article appears to refute your contention…

    “In an interview with the Texas Tribune, ERCOT CEO Trip Doggett put it this way: “I’m not aware of any nuclear plant problems, and I’m not aware of any specific issues with wind turbines having to shut down due to icing. I would highlight that we put out a special word of thanks to the wind power community because they did contribute significantly through this timeframe. Wind was blowing, and we had often 3,500 megawatts of wind farm generation during that morning peak, which certainly helped us in this situation.”

    Peak demand may have been in the afternoon, but according to ERGOT the critical period was in the morning, when the coal plants were failing. And even in the afternoon, wind power continued to provide 7% of the power, according to the article.

    Comment by Mark C — 6 Feb 2011 @ 9:19 PM

  220. tamino says: “the globe has definitely continued to warm since 2000”

    How do you separate the globe absorbing more energy versus recording higher temperatures?

    For example with less ice on the Arctic Ocean to insulate the -2C Arctic Ocean from the -20C or more air temp, you could record higher temperatures but the globe would actually be cooling. Likewise an increase in the frequency of El Nino’s would create higher recorded temperatures but El Nino’ s are venting energy.

    Seems like Argo data is the best metric to resolve this issue.

    Comment by Jim Steele — 6 Feb 2011 @ 9:55 PM

  221. “they found that the earth has global climate cycles of 50-70 years with an average of about 60 years”
    “The last warm phase began in ca 1970-75 (aka the Great Shift) and ended in ca 2000.” Harold Pierce Jr — 6 Feb 2011 @ 7:58 PM

    If this were true, and you go back 50-70 years from 2000, one cycle, temperatures should be as warm as today. They aren’t

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 6 Feb 2011 @ 9:58 PM

  222. “Suppose the rain in Spain fell only on the plain. All the calcium ions were leached away and never replenished from erosion from the mountains.” Chris Dudley — 6 Feb 2011 @ 2:20 AM

    The rain isn’t only falling on the plain in Spain, but also on the Andes mountains in South America. Because they are tall, and because the atmosphere gets cooler with height, even if it’s too hot in the lowlands -“very little rain falls down wind on the Sahara” – for precipitation to make it to the ground (virga), it will still be raining or snowing on the Andes peaks. At 5 km elevation, the temperature will be 25 to 40 degrees Centigrade cooler than at the surface.
    Modelling the Andes as a pyramid 7000 km long, 200 km wide, and 4 km tall gives a volume of 2.33e5 km^3 for the top 2 km (This is likely a conservative underestimate, since the average height is 4 km, but there are ~ 50 peaks over 6 km). A large fraction of the rocks are of volcanic origin, and contain feldspar minerals.
    This would contain ~1e17 moles CaO equivalent at 1% concentration(The anorthite fraction of plagioclase feldspars weathers, releasing Calcium ions – CaAl2Si2O8 + H2O + 2CO2 => Ca2+(aq) + 2HCO3-(aq) + [Al2O3 + SiO2](kaolin). The Ca2+(aq) + 2HCO3-(aq) => CaCO3(solid) + H20 + CO2(gas))
    CO2 is 22727 moles per tonne, so the CaO equivalent in the top half of the Andes could fix ~4e12 tonnes of CO2 to CaCO3. The earth’s atmosphere contains about 3e12 tonnes of CO2.
    You should do the same calculation for the Cascades, Aleutian, and other volcano chains. Uplift mountain ranges (Rockies, Himalayas) contain more sedimentary/metamorphic rock, in which the Calcium is already CaCO3. Some ranges (Sierras, Urals, Alps) have a mix of of rocks, and have eroded down to their igneous roots which contain feldspars, and have heavily metamorphosed rocks that contain Calcium in non-carbonate forms- see The calcium carbonate fraction of weatherable rocks can also sequester CO2 into the deep ocean – CaCO3(solid) + H20 + CO2(gas) => Ca2+(aq) + 2HCO3-(aq). See Enhanced Carbonate Dissolution as a Means of Capturing and Sequestering Carbon Dioxide, Greg H. Rau1,2, Ken Caldeira2, Kevin G. Knauss2, Bill Downs3, and Hamid Sarv3

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 6 Feb 2011 @ 10:33 PM

  223. JCH (182) plus much of the dam/flood control projects were scaled back because of the recent many-year droughts — per the experts.

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Feb 2011 @ 10:37 PM

  224. R. Gates, I really don’t want in on this discussion, but feel compelled to offer a small comment. I think protagonist scientists, given their learned studies and passionate concerns, ought to be writing letters to Congress (in addition to testifying). But the shrillness and paranoia shown in the referenced letter (183) I’ll guarantee is no way to get their point accepted. For those who might correctly say that the shrillness and paranoia was small I would add that a tiny amount in a letter to Congress is enough to get it stuck directly in the bug letter bin.

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Feb 2011 @ 10:51 PM

  225. > but the globe would actually be cooling
    And the heat would be going — where?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Feb 2011 @ 10:58 PM

  226. raypierre, thanks for the response (185).

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Feb 2011 @ 11:18 PM

  227. 204, Mike Smith: As the crisis unfolded in Texas wind power dribbled down to nothing.

    That appears not to have been the case. Read the links that Hank Roberts and I provided. I hope for a really good survey soon.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 6 Feb 2011 @ 11:36 PM

  228. 206, eric in comment: Personal gripe: everyone loves to average Antarctic sea ice over the entire domain, but this is about as sensible as averaging sea surface temperatures on the Pacific coast of the U.S. with sea surface temperatures on the Atlantic side

    Gracious! Are you questioning the practice of averaging the temperatures over the whole earth?

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 6 Feb 2011 @ 11:41 PM

  229. Ray Ladbury (208), you keep hiding behind the semantics of ‘no such thing as a black body’ which I can’t argue with. I’m talking of the radiation stemming from Planck’s equation. Call it what you like. His equation has things like h, c, pi, wavelength, and T. Nothing about vibration and rotation levels anywhere for miles around.

    [Response: Hey Rod! Get this. Clausius and Clapeyron walk into a bar. Great prediction of vapor pressure vs. temperature, sez Clausius to Clapeyron. But hey,sez bartender, no molecules in sight, in that formula. Must not have anything to do wit da molecules. Comes in Stefan and Boltzmann, carryin a big Plank, Is thermodynamics! Is wonderful! Is true whatever da stuff is made of! –raypierre]

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Feb 2011 @ 11:41 PM

  230. Ray Ladbury, cogent helpful comment in 209, IMO.

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Feb 2011 @ 11:44 PM

  231. Hank Roberts #224 asked “And the heat would be going — where?”

    Most likely the same place the day time heat goes at night. But it is not always a matter of where did the heat go? but where did it come from?

    Regards Antarctica or any mountainous region on the globe you can have a foehn wind storm that raises temperatures by 30C within 24 hours. If we used surface temperature data only, we could easily misconstrue that warming as added energy. But it is really the result of asymmetrical temperature measurements that had not accounted for the upper layers of atmospheric heat, that have now been mixed and brought down to the surface. These foehn winds typically have unique names around the world like the Chinooks.

    Simple changes in wind can lead to a warming event that is dynamical but in no way represents increased heat input. For example Hartman and Wendler 2005, ‘On the significance of the 1976 Pacific climate shift in the climatology of Alaska’, showed the warming in Alaska was dynamical ad associated with the observed wind changes. Both advection and disruption of the thermal inversion were suggested mechanisms.

    Likewise other recorded warming in the Arctic is likely dynamical. I believe Rigor, Wallace and Colony, 2002, ‘Response of sea ice to the Arctic Oscillation”- or perhaps it was another Rigor paper- detailed how much of the Arctic ice loss was due to wind shifts more actively moving ice out through the Fram strait. The winds were coming from the coldest part of Siberia and at very cold temperatures that were not melting the ice but removing it. The heat from exposed warmer ocean waters then get advected and measured as a rise in temperature.

    The major portion of the rise in global temperatures are recorded in the polar regions and during the winter and at the nightly minimums. All places and times where thermal inversions most present. The above dynamical responses seem better able to explain much of the warming compared to the notion of “polar amplification” which appears based on reduced albedo. Albedo has little impact during the dark polar winters, although undoubtedly albedo plays some smaller role in the summer.

    That’s why OHC, via Argo, should be the main metric to separate temperature changes from heat changes. OHC will be better able to determine if heat is being added or subtracted, but even then there will be problems and OHC pre ARgo will have wide error bars. Surface temperatures by themselves can be very misleading.

    So let me ask a question in return. During and after the 1998 El Nino global temperatures rose and fell by ~0.8 C. That change equaled the century warming trend. Where did all that heat come from? and where did go?

    Comment by Jim Steele — 6 Feb 2011 @ 11:45 PM

  232. RodB @223 – I’ll give you credit for generally being civil and clearly not being a numbskull, but you do contribute more than your share of nonsense here. Nonetheless, I think your suggestion that the letter from scientists referenced @183 displays “shrillness and paranoia” may take the cake. Care to point out the relevant passages? And remember, if someone’s actually out to get you it isn’t paranoia.

    Comment by Rick Brown — 6 Feb 2011 @ 11:50 PM

  233. 200, Jim Steele: Dam’s themselves have not created flood frequencies or intensities, but many flood control activities have shunted water a way from one area and subsequently increased both frequency and intensity down stream.

    And others, no one has written that dams are a panacea or problem-free. But does anybody agree with eric’s statement that I quoted?

    In CA there is a movement to remove the Hetch Hetchy dam and reservoir that supplies drinking water to San Francisco. To the most extreme environmentalists, the drinking water to San Francisco is not worth the damage to the natural Sierra Nevada ecology. It’s a claim I suppose you can make.

    [Response:I do research in the area between there and Yosemite Valley, estimating forest change types and amounts. That movement started long ago, with John Muir in fact. It’s not so much an issue of ecological damage–that’s long done and it’s a relatively small area anyway. It’s always been more an issue of National Park management policies, and aesthetics. If you’ve seen pictures of the pre-dam H-H valley, you know why. And it’s still spectacular, even flooded.–Jim]

    No one is talking about removing Hoover Dam and undoing the damage done to Imperial, Los Angeles and San Diego Counties, and the Colorado River Delta. Whatever else you might claim about Hetch Hetchy and the dams on the Colorado, they have not increased the damage from downstream flooding.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 Feb 2011 @ 12:05 AM

  234. The only way that Wivenhoe could have prevented any flooding in Brisbane would have been with hindsight, The claims of incompetence are coming from the climate change skeptics, trying to project their own feelings of guilt?

    Wivenhoe is operated strictly to a Manual, the operators are bound by law to follow the manual. they did, Holding back more water would have placed the dam in danger of catastrophic collapse. was only 60cm from that

    Comment by john byatt — 7 Feb 2011 @ 12:13 AM

  235. Re my. Catastrophic collapse re Wivenhoe, should have read automatic catastrophic

    Comment by john byatt — 7 Feb 2011 @ 12:20 AM

  236. Re: #230 (Jim Steele)

    Dynamical processes (as you characterize them) can raise or lower temperature, in fact they do both. They are responsible for fluctuations, especially on small geographical and short time scales. But over the long haul, over the entire globe, they tend to average out to zero. They’re part of the “noise” in global temperature, not the signal (or if you prefer, part of the weather not the climate). Your portrayal gives the opposite impression, and you’re mistaken.

    Your statement that “The major portion of the rise in global temperatures are recorded in the polar regions and during the winter and at the nightly minimums” is likewise, just plain wrong. The arctic (but not the antarctic) is warming faster than any other region (except perhaps the antarctic peninsula), but it’s also a small fraction of the entire globe. Your conflating the most rapidly warming region with the “major portion of the rise” indicates that you simply don’t understand what the major portion of the rise is. The same is true of the more rapid nighttime and winter warming — you need to think it through more carefully.

    I agree that ocean heat content is an excellent metric. As soon as the data problems with Argo are solved, it may be a worthwhile substitute for global average temperature. Until different research groups can agree on what the ocean heat content actually is, it seems to me that global average temperature is the best we’ve got — and one for which the different data records are in excellent agreement. Your comments which suggest its inappropriateness are just smoke and mirrors.

    Comment by tamino — 7 Feb 2011 @ 12:29 AM

  237. I second 231 Rick Brown.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 7 Feb 2011 @ 12:41 AM

  238. 209 RayLadbury: “Having scientists write the nations laws is a recipe for disaster.”
    It couldn’t get any worse. Disaster is where we are headed. The scientists at least have the IQ required to figure it out. Where do you get the idea that “Having scientists write the nations laws is a recipe for disaster.”? That is just an ad homonym attack on scientists. Scientists do not fit your stereotype. Ethics and morality are now in the jurisdiction of the new science called sociobiology. Reference: Sam Harris’ latest book “The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values”; “The Science of Good & Evil” by Michael Shermer and The Brights project on ethics and morality without god.
    That means that ethics and morality are no longer in the jurisdictions of religion and philosophy.

    “politicians who have at least a nodding acquaintance with reality” can be counted on the fingers of one hand. There is one physicist in congress.

    “the expertise of good policy makers” doesn’t happen. They just copy what the corporations write. See:

    I don’t have a quote for you of corporations directly writing laws on hand, but I have seen them. You get to congress by getting votes, not by passing an exam on policy writing.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 7 Feb 2011 @ 12:43 AM

  239. Rod B:

    JCH (182) plus much of the dam/flood control projects were scaled back because of the recent many-year droughts — per the experts.

    Given your track record of falling for a vast number of denialist claims due to your political leanings, I don’t think that I’m out of line in suggesting that if you want people to pay attention to this claim, that you should link to *credible* sources that support it.

    Emphasis again on the *credible* bit.

    Comment by dhogaza — 7 Feb 2011 @ 1:10 AM

  240. Paul Krugman op-ed piece on climate change and food production. It is probably time to start talking about the social science related to climate change.

    [Response: Bold highighting mine. I agree, we should all be learning more about this. –eric]

    Comment by The Raven — 7 Feb 2011 @ 1:21 AM

  241. In regard to dams for flood mitigation, this has been a practice in Australia for some time. Many areas (most productive areas?) of the country go from drought to flood with a few ‘normal’ years in between. It’s the ‘normal’ years when farmers make their money. These ‘normal years’ have been non-existent this decade across large parts of the nation (not just Queensland).

    The difficulties now facing Australia are that most areas suitable for dams are already dammed and global warming is making droughts and flooding more extreme.

    The recent floods show that although floods can be mitigated, they cannot be prevented. I understand that Wivenhoe has prevented flooding in recent years. It would appear that the floods would have come sooner and maybe have been more severe on Brisbane city if not for Wivenhoe. The flood inquiry should tell us more about that and if that, in fact, was the case.

    To drain the water storage component of the dual purpose dam in preparation for a flood not yet forecast is fraught with the danger that drought may come first and the water will run out (as it has in some large centres during recent droughts). With the recent huge improvements to weather forecasts on a medium term scale as well as the short term scale, flood mitigation and water storage can be and has been fine-tuned (AFAIK).

    There is a Murray-Darling plan being developed this year (another attempt following forty plus years of attempts) and that should address some of the issues surrounding water management for floods and droughts of Australia’s largest river catchment, in the context of climate change.

    Comment by Sou — 7 Feb 2011 @ 1:24 AM

  242. Re my post on flood mitigation in Australia, a disclaimer – I have no expertise in hydrology or dam design/management. (In this context, my background is in agricultural policy.)

    Comment by Sou — 7 Feb 2011 @ 1:38 AM

  243. > extreme environmentalists

    Oh, SM, you don’t get one fact straight without twisting another, do you?

    Please, that’s too hysterically funny — you’re talking about Schwarzenegger, the Sierra Club, a bunch of water agencies, and a huge civil engineering improvement program. And you’re agin’ it??

    “The Schwarzenegger Administration’s report confirms earlier conclusions by our organization and others that restoration of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park is feasible and practical, and can be achieved with no harm to San Francisco Bay Area water and power users and Central Valley irrigation districts…. ”

    Read up on it before you attack something you’re only imagining, would ya?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Feb 2011 @ 1:40 AM

  244. Jim Steele,

    //”…notion of “polar amplification” which appears based on reduced albedo. Albedo has little impact during the dark polar winters, although undoubtedly albedo plays some smaller role in the summer.”//

    I don’t agree with this. Summer temperature changes over the Arctic ocean are small, since the melting sea-ice keeps air temperatures near the freezing point. In fact, the first signs of Arctic amplification are in the cool months. Mark Serreze has some recent articles explicitly pointing out that the feedback involves extra heat that is absorbed being carried through winter. That’s another thing I talked about in my feedback posts here at RC (Part 1). I also want to note that models still produce polar amplification without an ice-albedo feedback, so there’s other (probably bigger) things at play. Jianhua Lu has some work on polar amplification, and once again, I refer to Pierrehumbert (2002) on the issue of the Pole-Equator temperature gradient in climate shifts.

    On your interpretation of changes in Arctic and dynamics, is way too simplistic and you’re ignoring several articles on the subject. First “Arctic ice loss” and its causes vary from region to region. Rigor shows wind-driven anomalies important near the coast (though this enhances thermodynamic anomalies) but Francis et al (2005) looked at different regions, including Barents, Kara, Laptev, E. Siberian, Chukchi, and Beaufort and found various relative roles in causal factors for sea ice responses. Rothrock and Zhang (2005) decomposed into thermal and wind components, and found that the downward rise is largely in response to Arctic temperatures. Even further, there’s work showing the AO patterns may not be independent ofgreenhouse-forced climate change.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 7 Feb 2011 @ 1:45 AM

  245. Brian (#221),

    This is a somewhat esoteric discussion of a moist “runaway” model where the atmosphere is unsaturated up to about 25 km and all the rain that happens originates from above that altitude. Not sure that mountains would be all that important. You can look at the model here:

    Raypierre is arguing that rain must reach the ground owing to the need to balance evaporation and so silicate weathering must occur. I am now wondering if a large fraction of silicates might be protected from weathering owing to precipitation being geographically restricted.

    To back track, I asked raypierre to shoot down Hansen’s assertion that burning all fossil fuels would lead to the Venus Syndrome since raypierre’s book has reappeared out of the publishing process. He has a nice clean argument based on the idea that the temperature at the top of the atmosphere is limited if there is a condensable greenhouse gas in equilibrium with a non-gas reservoir and so there is a maximum rate at which the atmosphere can shed energy. This maximum means that other greenhouse gases are not all that important once the maximum is approached because the condensable gas comes to dominate the opacity. If we accept that Venus must have had a true water runaway first then Hansen is wrong modulo some worries that raypierre has about cloud albedo. But the argument is especially clean because it says only the Sun can trigger a true runaway, not other greenhouse gases.

    But, possibly, Venus had a ‘moist runaway’ where the stratosphere became wet enough to lose the original oceans but the solar input was never high enough to drive a true water runaway before the oceans were lost. Other noncondensable greenhouse gases can play a somewhat more decisive role in this borderline region so maybe Hansen is not shot down. But to get to a wet enough stratosphere, other greenhouse gases are still diluted in importance and, very importantly, the timescale for losing the oceans is quite long compared with the timescale for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by forming carbonate rocks from the metal ions released from weathering of silicate rocks. So, Hansen is down again because even if we can moisten the stratosphere enough using carbon dioxide to prime things, it won’t stick around long enough to lose even 10 meters of ocean before the stratosphere dries up again.

    So, is there then any way to reduce weathering of silicates to put Hansen back in the running? Probably not, but now a one dimensional model may not be adequate to answer the question. Suppose rain only falls at the poles where the clouds are lower? Another question is could the equatorial stratosphere get wet sooner and stay wet longer and make a difference that way? If we lost 500 m of ocean, the salinity would be quite different and maybe that counts as total catastrophe even if the process does not go to completion and there is a billion year reprieve before the loss process starts up again?

    [Response: Chris, if you think you are still trying to save Hansen’s argument, you are way of the mark here. The silicate weathering issue is very relevant to what happens in the atmosphere of a rocky planet during a moist runaway, but the time scales of silicate weathering are so long that this issue plays no significant role whatsoever in the question of whether the Earth does something like a moist runaway in response to anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Your invoking of the Kasting moist runaway calculation is also irrelevant to the issue of Hansen’s argument, because he can only get those conditions because the solar absorption is substantially higher than Earth. Alternately (though implausibly( you could get those conditions with Earth’s solar absorption, but only for CO2 concentrations way, way in excess of any conceivable fossil fuel inventories. There is, in principle, a question of whether clouds could bump up the climate sensitivity so much that you could get conditions similar to Kasting’s calculation with only 5000 Gt or so of carbon emissions, but the climate fluctuations of the cenozoic really make that extremely, extremely implausible. It is always entertaining to think about extreme climates, and working through the way the hydrological cycle works on a very hot planet is stimulating. But if you still think you are on the track of rescuing Hansen’s irreperably broken argument about runaway conditions on Earth, you are just wasting everybody’s time. –raypierre]

    [Response: And another thing. If you’re going to discuss silicate weathering during a wet runaway, (keeping in mind we’re not talking about AGW here), you also need to keep in mind that even if rain somehow conspired to miss all the continents, you would still have weathering of ocean floor silicates, and that becomes increasingly important as the oceans get hot. That alone would tend to give you low CO2 during a wet runaway, as I argued in an AGU talk some years back. But if you want to beat silicate weathering and generate a very hot climate, there’s an easy way to do that. Just trigger a Snowball. Then (depending somewhat on dust) the CO2 builds up to huge concentrations before deglaciating, and you’re left with a hot super-greenhouse world. Because of the strong silicate weathering during the snowball aftermath, though, it’s not going to stay hot for long enough to lose much of the ocean. Again, we’re not talking about anything relevant to AGW here, but it’s bound to be happening out there somewhere in the galaxy, right as we speak. –raypierre]

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Feb 2011 @ 1:56 AM

  246. Tamino suggests; “Your portrayal gives the opposite impression, and you’re mistaken.” and “Your conflating the most rapidly warming region with the “major portion of the rise” indicates that you simply don’t understand what the major portion of the rise is”

    I agree that much of what I mentioned is “noise” that often equals out on an annual average. In part I was simply trying to highlight that an increase in surface temperature can not be simply taken as an input of energy to the global system. But indeed I am also arguing that oscillations can create asymmetries in heat distribution that last for 30 or more years. I also understand that over centennial scales that such oscillation should average out. But they are superimposed on two trends that were increasing this century solar and CO2. Using sunspots as a proxy spots have doubled since 1900, and the past 50 years solar energy is higher than the past 150. And granted solar may account for around 25% of the century trend, but it also means trends generated by oscillations superimposed on that solar trend will not just revert back to “zero”.

    The warming in Alaska is associated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation wind changes. A 30 year Alaskan warming trend due to dynamical changes is more than noise. The Arctic warmed even more rapidly in the 30’s and 40’s than what has been recently observed. What does that mean? Read Bengtsson 2004 he states “The largest warming occurred in the Arctic (Johannessen et al. 2004) averaged for the 1940s with some 1.78C (2.28C for the winter half of the year) relative to the 1910s” and “It seems unlikely that anthropogenic forcing on its own could have caused the warming, since the change in greenhouse gas forcing in the early decades of the twentieth century was only some 20% of the present”. Like Rigor with ice and Hartman and Wendler with Alaska’s climate these changes are much morer than noise. Am I arguing that they account for all the warming? Maybe mostly, maybe just a little. But no matter what it must be part of the equation. And your insistence on characterizing those effects as simply noise so you can more easily dismiss it is often contradicted in the literature. There are many climate scientists trying to understand ocean oscillations because only then can they separate the factors affecting climate change. To simply say “You are wrong”, adds precious little to a scientific discussion. It adds about as much as deleting alternative viewpoint posts, so only your interpretation can hold sway.

    I will check my files to give your references, but I am sure you are aware that there are several papers that show approximately 2/3 of the observed warming is reflected in the minimum temperature. I have witnessed that when using USHCN temperature for biological studies. In the Sierra most places had decreasing maximums. Combine that with the “most rapidly warming areas” at the poles and I see no reason to quibble with my statement unless it is simply for the purpose of character denigration. If your purpose is to delineate areas of warming that contribute more to the global average than what I have mentioned and to better clarify our discussion, then you should simply do so. Otherwise your dismissive approach can only disintegrate into a “I am right and you are wrong shouting match”

    Comment by Jim Steele — 7 Feb 2011 @ 1:56 AM

  247. One of the early dam tussles was over over turning this Tasmanian beauty into a lake. They may have been experts, but they weren’t too smart. That was a great way to begin a prolonged losing streak.

    Comment by JCH — 7 Feb 2011 @ 2:09 AM

  248. Tamino, The question I asked before and will ask again is

    “How do you separate the globe absorbing more energy versus recording higher temperatures?”

    It doesn’t require “debunking me” but by answering that question directly it could put anything I might argue into its proper perspective.

    [Response: Let’s get clear here. Anybody who says that ocean heat content is the right metric but global mean temperature is the wrong metric of global warming is just engaging in pseudoscientific obfuscation. Global mean temperature is clearly a valid and important summary of the state of the system, and the one that is easiest for us to measure. Ocean heat content is another characterization of the state of the system, but one that is harder to get accurately. It is an important thing to measure, because ocean heat uptake is one of the terms in the energy budget that goes into figuring out how the Earth’s temperature is changing while it is approaching a new, hotter equilibrium in response to increased CO2. Ocean heat content fluctuations can cause transient fluctuations in the Earth’s temperature, but because the heat is just shuttling from one place to another on Earth, cannot lead to a sustained warming. In any event, we know the oceans are taking up heat (over long enough averaging periods) so we know that what they are doing is delaying the approach to equilibrium. The tricky thing is understanding how much they are delaying it. –raypierre]

    Comment by Jim Steele — 7 Feb 2011 @ 2:16 AM

  249. Chris Colose says:
    “Summer temperature changes over the Arctic ocean are small, since the melting sea-ice keeps air temperatures near the freezing point. In fact, the first signs of Arctic amplification are in the cool months. Mark Serreze has some recent articles explicitly pointing out that the feedback involves extra heat that is absorbed being carried through winter. ”

    I agree mostly with what you said above and that’s what I meant by “albedo effects in the summer”. I suspect as Serreze suggests that it will mostly have an impact on how quickly the ocean refreezes. However I read several paper regarding that and it was never clear how that was quantified. I suspect most of the heat is quickly lost as winter approaches but that depends on summer vertical mixing.

    And granted what I wrote was to simple regards Arctic ice, however I was not trying to characterize the whole Arctic ice situation. My Arctic examples were illustrating how a rise in temperature could happen without additional energy input through dynamical processes. The northward intrusion of warm water from the Atlantic also plays a substantial role on ice extent. But then again that could be due to changing currents not added energy.

    Again the main question I was asking is- how do you separate rises in temperature due to dynamical processes versus increased energy inputs such as CO2 forcing.

    Comment by Jim Steele — 7 Feb 2011 @ 2:34 AM

  250. Chris Dudley– Look, I respect Jim Hansen and if you are going to bet on him being wrong it’s usually a loss, but his status might be giving much more attention to the runaway stuff than it deserves. If he’s going to argue for a plausible runaway scenario then it’s up to him to demonstrate this, and a few qualitative passing-by remarks in his book is not how you advance such a case. Like I said, I haven’t looked at his book (and I probably won’t in the close future) but I think raypierre has made his case clear in his textbook where he goes through quantiative efforts, and has mentioned the peer-reviewed work of many others (e.g., Kasting) which arrive at these conclusions. Right now, we can’t work with perfect models of hothouse climates, cloud feedbacks, their chemical and hydrololgic interactions, but you haven’t made a convincing case that they are so far off the mark as for the current literature to essentially be useless.

    I also think that this is a very good academic discussion (and a topic I’d like to learn more about), but it would be better if all the uncertanties could be throught through and discussed communally rather than slanted to why Hansen might be right and raypierre might be wrong. Humans would be gone well before a “runaway greenhouse” if we added a couple atmospheres worth of CO2 to the air anyway, so while it’s great to talk about Venus or the Gliese planets, boiling everything down to humans needing to worry about a runaway right now is almost as silly as the Super Bowl halftime show.

    Back to your post, another thing that’s important to note here is that the precipitation (which dominates weathering rates) is ultimately constrained by the absorbed shortwave radiation, so at some point you can increase the longwave opacity from CO2 and still asymptote to a cap on the global precip-evaporation amounts, and this is especially the case if you’re thinking about a situation where the solar flux is relatively low and the CO2 is very high. My guess is you’d need a model with good boundary layer physics in an alien atmosphere to really get a feel for what is going on, aside from the geologic issues you mention which can vary planet-to-planet.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 7 Feb 2011 @ 2:39 AM

  251. JCH – I think you’re confounding one lot of experts with other experts. Engineers and hydrologists design dams and hydro electric schemes. (The Franklin was for hydroelectricity not flood mitigation AFAIK.) Land management and natural resources experts provide advice on the impact on the environment. Politicians make the decisions. The community expresses its views, sometimes loudly. I’m with you in essence, though. All the experts should be involved well before politicians make decisions.

    In the case of Franklin River, fortunately one lot of politicians over-rode the decision of another lot of politicians as a result of an outcry by environmentalists. Described more or less accurately here:

    Unfortunately it took the expansion of Lake Pedder to invoke this level of nationwide outrage and consequent government response.

    Comment by Sou — 7 Feb 2011 @ 2:48 AM

  252. Edward Greisch says: “Scientists do not fit your stereotype.”

    Ed, I am a scientist. I’ve been doing physics for 30 years. Scientists should do science. It is what they are good at. It’s where their expertise lies.

    The problem with the legislative branch these days is the electoral process and its dependence on money from special interests. It is not that legislators are immoral or stupid or corrupt. It is the process.

    Science works because the scientific method generates reliable understanding even when weilded by fallible human beings. What is needed is a similarly robust method of acheiving good legislation.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Feb 2011 @ 5:17 AM

  253. OK, Rod@228, Let’s science this out. Take a simple system–a low-pressure atmosphere of CO2 in a glass tube–as one would expect in a gas-vapor lamp. We heat said vapor to a temperature T and let it come to equilibrium. What will the emission spectrum look like?

    I contend that you will see emission only in spectral lines corresponding to the differences in energy in the molecule, and that the relative strengths of the lines will be determined by where they would intersect the blackbody radiation curve. My reasoning for this is 1)the photon gas cannot self-interact, so 2)the only way it can come into equilibrium is to interact with the matter around it–in this case the CO2. So, in sum: we will see line radiation and virtually no emission in the continuum? You?

    [Response: Something for everybody to keep in mind when following this discussion is that spectral lines have a finite width. Over most of the atmosphere, the main broadening mechanism is collisional. When the lines get broad enough, they overlap enough to form a continuum. But beyond that, I’m not entirely sure what the argument is about here. There’s no inconsistency between the spectral properties of molecular absorption and the emergence of the Planck function once you have Kirchoff’s Law, which applies in local thermodynamic equilibrium. It is a consequence of Kirchoff’s law (emissivity = absorptivity) that a sufficiently extended isothermal body of gas will have its photons in the Planck distribution any place in the spectrum where the absorption/emission probability is nonzero. If you are near the center of a strong spectral line, it doesn’t take much gas to do that, but if you are way out on the wings between lines it can take a huge amount of gas. A more productive discourse would be on the origins of Kirchoff’s law. I mean the microscopic origins; the macroscopic origins as a consequence of the Second Law are clear. –raypierre]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Feb 2011 @ 5:41 AM

  254. re: #244 Raypierre’s inline remark: “Hansen’s irreparably broken argument”. Which paper does this remark refer to please? No axe to grind here – just interest.

    [Response: This doesn’t refer to anything in Jim’s articles. It refers to the claim he has sometimes made that the Earth would be subject to a “Venus Syndrome” runaway greenhouse if we burn all the coal. Just to be crystal clear, Jim is dead right about most things, even when he goes out on a limb and is somewhat ahead on the data. I think he is rather far out on a limb with regard to “350ppm” being a danger threshold, but not so far out that the arguments aren’t worth listening to. But on the Venus Syndrome business (for Earth as a result of AGW) his concern is entirely misplaced. –raypierre]

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 7 Feb 2011 @ 5:49 AM

  255. Australia, ex cyclone Yasi , hits east coast, now fueling bush fires on west coast, burning through suburbs north of Perth

    Comment by john byatt — 7 Feb 2011 @ 7:49 AM

  256. 230, Jim Steele,

    Do you understand what Trenberth meant when he said:

    The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.


    Your original question was:

    How do you separate the globe absorbing more energy versus recording higher temperatures?

    That’s exactly Trenberth’s point, but including the opposite point of view… “how does one separate the globe absorbing more energy versus not always recording higher temperatures?”

    Of course, if NASA had had an appropriate climate sciences/earth sciences satellite budget for the past 15 years, and if we put the proper effort/money into many aspects of the needed observations, we’d be a lot further along in answering that question.

    Thirty years from now people are going to wonder (aside from what will by then be clear to be silly brouhaha that’s gone on with rampant political denial) why we simply didn’t spend more on observational techniques, starting with better satellite intel. Maybe we don’t always know exactly what we need to measure, or how, but we’re too slow to react when we do figure it out.

    We’re playing a dangerous game of “Marco Polo” with the earth’s temperature.

    But you are basically right in your observations. Measuring heat here, there, and everywhere, without adding it all up into a total energy budget, is “the best we can do” but it’s not enough. We need a complete, accurate energy budget, and regular accounting statements to make sure we’re living within it. Right now we’re living beyond our means, and we won’t be able to prove it to some people until we’re already in bankruptcy.

    But at the same time, the planet only actually gains or loses energy through radiation, and it is very plain and clear that changes in CO2 levels will alter that balance in the continuous, relentless, relevant long run (not the irrelevant short term, like the lifespan of a single El Nino). Despite our failures to adequately measure the energy balance, the fact is that the planet will warm until the planet reaches a new balance of outbound radiation = inbound radiation.

    Which was Hank Roberts point in #224 when he asked “And the heat would be going — where?”

    All of the clamor about “this is warmer but that’s cooler” or “it was warmer then but it’s cooler now” is just noise. That’s why this is all so frightening to the people who actually understand the physics behind the problem. The passengers on the airliner can get as frantic as they want about the increased turbulence, when the flight engineer knows that the real problem is that hydraulic pressure light that keeps flashing on his control panel, and what it means, no matter how much or little the plane is shaking from turbulence.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 7 Feb 2011 @ 9:32 AM

  257. Re: #246 (Jim Steele)

    … how do you separate rises in temperature due to dynamical processes versus increased energy inputs such as CO2 forcing.

    One indicator is that, as I said before, dynamical processes have a tendency to average out to zero over large geographical and long time scales. That’s one of the reasons we can separate weather from climate.

    For example, consider the dramatic 2007 arctic ice loss. Dynamical processes were a major contributor to that year’s ice loss, with winds and currents that flushed ice out through the Fram straight. But if it were just dynamical, then we’d have seen (over the satellite era, and the entire 20th century to boot) recovery from that temporary dynamical process, as well as other dynamical changes of similar magnitude. We would not see the (rather dramatic and unique) declining trend (which is especially alarming in the context of the last century and the last few thousand years).

    It’s the same with global temperature. There are lots of fluctuations and lots of dynamical processes, but over the entire globe and over long time spans it’s the changes in energy inputs that dominate the trend. This is clear from paleoclimate reconstructions of the last few thousand years, and from glacial cycles over the last several million years.

    The conclusion is evident: modern global warming is due to changes in the energy balance, not the dynamical processes you’re focusing on.

    Comment by tamino — 7 Feb 2011 @ 10:14 AM

  258. Ray, how’s this?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Feb 2011 @ 10:26 AM

  259. raypierre (243 and 251),

    I think you are misunderstanding Hansen’s argument. He is not talking about burning all the coal. He is talking about burning all the coal, all the natural gas, all the oil and then going on to burn all the tar sands and all the shale oil, much much more than just all the coal. And, he expects all clathrates to destabilize as a result on a level even larger than the PETM.

    Hansen has put his arguments in a book like Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, Gibbs, Cantor and anyone who has written a PhD thesis. That book is available at both the U. Chicago and UW-Madison libraries. I suspect his arguments may be wrong because they end in a “trust me” statement. But, we should at least address them as they are and not mischaracterize them.

    On ocean weathering, I’d like to learn more. What mechanism exposes fresh surfaces? Is just the formation of new basalts enough? Why don’t sediments eventually limit exposure of basalts presuming surface weathering is ongoing?

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Feb 2011 @ 10:27 AM

  260. Raypierre,

    If I could impose on you a bit more (you’ve already looked too hard, I think, to find the complete answer to my O2/N2 emission question)… hopefully this one will be just off the top of your head.

    I tried all weekend without luck to find a source to answer another molecular physics question. Now it’s bugging me.

    When a phase change occurs in water, and latent heat is released, at the molecular level how is that energy realized? Is it emitted as a photon, or converted to translational or vibrational (or rotational?) kinetic energy, and if kinetic, what is the “recipient” of that kinetic energy (the bonding H2O molecules, or an unrelated nearby molecule that collides at the right time)?

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 7 Feb 2011 @ 10:41 AM

  261. Raypierre, tamino, Bob (Sphaerica) ,

    It looks like in view of the lack of any descriptive or mechanistic answers to my question, the short answer is you don’t know how to make that distinction. The rest of the replies are just “noise”, expected political noise.It is both a valid and a critically important question if we wish to get the heat budget right. Wigley’s 1990 paper stated “Virtually nothing is known about the nature or magnitude of internally generated low-frequency variability.” Six years later the Pacific Decadal Oscillation was named.

    Although progress is being made, to simply dismiss such variability as irrelevant or self-servingly impute a motive of obfuscation is simply an impediment to a more scientific discussion and understanding.

    Comment by Jim Steele — 7 Feb 2011 @ 10:44 AM

  262. Jim, and Hank Roberts: thank you for your comments on Hetch Hetchy. Of course I knew that Hetch Hetchy was opposed from the start, and that opposition comes from more than “extreme” environmentalists. If a new water supply for San Francisco is built first, that will have environmental consequences of its own: not least the threat to the famous river smelt. If someone has proposed actually building one and raising the money to pay for it, I have missed it. There isn’t even enough money to maintain and enhance the existing flood control system in the Central and Sacramento Valleys.

    Back to the question of Hetch Hetchy increasing the risk of flooding? The others that I mentioned: Hoover Dam and the Glen Canyon Dam? The two dams where the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers flow into the Ohio? The dams in the San Gabriel Mountains? Grand Coullee and Bonneville Dams, did they also increase the risk of catastrophic flooding? Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River? Kingsley Dam on the North Platte? Lucky Peak and American Falls Dams in Idaho? Flaming Gorge Dam in Utah? Eric made a rather universalistic claim.

    If some water control projects work and others don’t, the next step is to build more of what works, and avoid the things that don’t work.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 Feb 2011 @ 11:15 AM

  263. 256, Hank,

    That was great reading. I was particularly taken (in light of current events) by this statement (emphasis mine):

    One of its biggest critics was Wilhelm Ostwald, the father of physical chemistry (and Nobel Prize winner in 1909), who wanted to rid physics of the notion of atoms and base it purely on energy – a quantity that could be observed. Like other logical positivists (people who accept only what can be observed directly and who discount speculation), Ostwald stubbornly refused to believe in anything he couldn’t see or measure. (Boltzmann eventually killed himself because of depression brought on by such persistent attacks on his views.)

    Hopefully, today’s climate scientists aren’t similarly driven to the brink by the sturm and drang of denialism.

    For those deniers who like to claim that climate science is immature, I also did not realize that acceptance of atomic theory was still reluctant just 120 years ago:

    “[I]n spite of the great successes of the atomistic theory in the past, we will finally have to give it up and to decide in favor of the assumption of continuous matter.”

    By the 1890s Planck had mellowed a bit in his stance against atomism – he’d come to realize the power of the hypothesis, even if he didn’t like it…

    So is all of modern physics and physical chemistry therefore as immature (read “untrustworthy”) as climate science?

    Last, but not least, I find the concluding paragraphs to be a useful parable for science, of value to all of those hard nosed, show-me-the-money deniers who clamor for empirical evidence, despite (or in addition to) the inarguable logic before them.

    So much in science is realized and discovered from the abstract, before it is concretely observed. Yet Planck discovered quantum theory before it could be measured, and before he had even accepted the idea that matter, too, must be divided into discrete units.

    To put a value on molecular disorder, Planck had to be able to add up the number of ways a given amount of energy can be spread among a set of blackbody oscillators; and it was at this juncture that he had his great insight. He brought in the idea of what he called energy elements – little snippets of energy into which the total energy of the blackbody had to be divided in order to make the formulation work. By late 1900, Planck had built his new radiation law from the ground up, having made the extraordinary assumption that energy comes in tiny, indivisible lumps.

    And yet, even after he’d done so:

    It was to be a slow delivery. Physicists, especially Planck (the “reluctant revolutionary” as one historian called him), didn’t quite know what to make of this bizarre suggestion of the graininess of energy.

    It seems that science, like history, is doomed to repeat itself.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 7 Feb 2011 @ 11:18 AM

  264. Jim, you’re conflating internal variability and heat budget for the planet.
    These are not the same thing.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Feb 2011 @ 11:24 AM

  265. Re: #259 (Jim Steele)

    Gee, I thought you were serious about wanting to know so I actually answered your question. Now it seems you just don’t like the answer because it interferes with your intention to use the “dynamical changes” to jump on the “it’s all natural variations!” bandwagon. The “political noise” is coming from you.

    Comment by tamino — 7 Feb 2011 @ 11:37 AM

  266. 259, Jim Steele,

    I’m not sure that you read (or understood) my post. To make it crystal clear:

    1) It is a travesty that we can’t close the Earth’s energy budget. We do need to invest considerably more money in that area. More satellites (with backups, given launch and equipment failures) would be a great start.

    2) The fact that we can’t account for all heat is an excuse that deniers may not use for inaction or for arguing against a logical, reasoned and considered climate theory.

    …to simply dismiss such variability as irrelevant or self-servingly impute a motive of obfuscation is simply an impediment to a more scientific discussion and understanding.

    Actually, no, quite to the contrary, to focus on such variability is the obfuscation/impediment which distracts from the meaningful scientific discussion. It’s an area of the science (improving measurements) worth discussing, but not an argument for throwing out the baby with the bath water.

    Hint: You quoted Wigley about “internally generated low-frequency variability.” Key word = internal. In a closed system, it doesn’t matter. It’s inputs and outputs (an open system) that matter. No amount of shuffling heat around within a closed system is going to account for the upward trend, and cries that we can’t measure the upward trend accurately enough are just excuses to ignore the obvious.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 7 Feb 2011 @ 11:38 AM

  267. SM, the older the dam, the more sediment has filled in behind it. The ability to control floods requires keeping empty space behind the dam. The older the dam, the lower the estimate of the volume of water it needs to control. You’re listing old projects that worked for a while for the specific purpose and ignoring the rest of the issues.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Feb 2011 @ 11:44 AM

  268. SM, note what you’re doing, again.

    With the wind turbines you quote a nameplate-capacity statement as though it indicated poor performance, then back down with “everybody knows” when people cited better information.

    With Hetch Hetchy you invoke “extreme environmentalists” then back off with “of course I knew” when cited better information.

    See the pattern? Overstatement, pasting in odd notions from unidentified sources instead of making the effort to look them up for yoursel.

    Unthinking, unconsidered copypasting.

    It’s a waste of time and attention.
    You’re taking both time and attention away from the topics we’re here for.

    Please stop. Do beter.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Feb 2011 @ 11:49 AM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Feb 2011 @ 11:55 AM

  270. 251 Ray Ladbury: If you think scientists can’t write good laws just because they are scientists, you have a stereotype of scientists even if you are one. Politicians get no special training in legislation writing. Neither do lawyers. Politicians come from all possible backgrounds that can get elected, and that is all legal careers.

    “What is needed is a similarly robust method of achieving good legislation.”
    It certainly is. Most of the time there is an ulterior motive and the title of the law is irrelevant to what the law does. Plain old honesty would help a lot, and that is something that scientists have, at least until elected.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 7 Feb 2011 @ 11:55 AM

  271. Jim Steele, You are commiting a fundamental sin against the scientific method–you are trying to explian the unknown in terms of the unknown. That ain’t science. None of your oscillations will explain why the stratosphere is cooling even as the troposphere warms. It will not explain why the effects we are seeing are global. In the end, you will keep looking for wiggles you can add together to sum up to the curve you want, and you “theory” will look like Ptolemy’s cycles and epicycles.

    Or, you could go with known physics and explain all of it. You just won’t like the implications.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Feb 2011 @ 12:13 PM

  272. Chris (#248),

    I kind of liked the half-time show, maybe because my daughter was excited about the surprise appearance of Usher. As a big dance number I thought it pretty successful.

    Hansen has devoted a book chapter to the Venus Syndrome including quantitative detailed arguments, it was not just in passing.

    If anything, Kasting’s work opens up the discussion since we are no longer discussing a factor of 1.4 above the solar constant but a factor of 1.1 which is less impossibly far to go with carbon dioxide forcing. The factor of 1.4 seems to be the ‘true’ runaway threshold but 1.1 (also in the abstract) is the Venus Syndrome threshold as regards Earth. The KI limit is not the main issue though the increased climate sensitivity is important. And, this is the threshold Hansen discusses on p. 230.

    A factor of 1.1 is still a long way to go. In terms of carbon, he seems to be discussing about 3 GT of conventional fossil fuels, at least that much of unconventional fossil fuels, I would guess 5 GT there and more than 3 GT of carbon feedback from clathrates, so perhaps 12 GT. I could see more coming from thawed permafrost so getting 15 W/m^2 of forcing seems plausible. That is still not a factor of 1.1 but its is getting closer. But he also thinks that climate sensitivity may be an increasing function of forcing so maybe that is how he gets there. But there, I don’t understand his fig. 30 all that well as I mentioned before.

    So, it might be better to read the chapter before dismissing it as hand waving.

    [Response: Chris, you continue to try to talk about things you obviously don’t half understand. In invoking 1.1 times present solar constant, you seem to think there is a threshold there, as there is with the classic dry runaway. There isn’t. In a moist runaway, the planet just gets continuously warmer as you increase the solar constant (or the CO2), leading to a progressively weaker cold trap and a moister stratosphere, yielding water loss OVER A HUNDRED MILLION YEARS OR MORE. Kasting’s calculation does not give you any mechanism getting climate sensitivities beyond the IPCC range, and it has no relevance to what happens during the warming pulse of the duration that results from anthropogenic carbon release. I’ll put it this way. A 10% increase in solar constant is about 24 W/m**2, roughly equivalent to the radiative forcing from 6 doublings of CO2. This would bring CO2 to 18,000 ppmv, or about 1.8% of the atmosphere. Given likely carbon inventories, it’s completely out of the question you could do this as a result of fossil fuel emissions and carbon cycle feedbacks (though you could get that as a result of a few million years in a Snowball state) , but even if you did go that high you wouldn’t lose the oceans and you wouldn’t turn into Venus. But what if you went to just 3 doublings as a result of fossil fuel emissions plus carbon cycle feedbacks. At a standard 3.5C climate sensitivity, that’s a 10.5C warming, and if the climate sensitivity were 8C (hard to completely rule out) you’re talking about a 24C warming. That’s a long way from Venus, but catastrophic enough for life, especially in the tropics. That ought to be plenty reason for caution about CO2 emissions. But the Earth is not going to lose its oceans and it is not going to turn into Venus under those conditions. Think about that hard before you post again, please. Every time we start to get somewhere in this conversation, you change the subject and venture into areas where you display new levels of ignorance, before having fully understood the previous topic. It’s getting really tedious. –raypierre]

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Feb 2011 @ 12:15 PM

  273. Raypierre #253. Thank you.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 7 Feb 2011 @ 12:26 PM

  274. I was posting my latest on Post-NBormal Meltdown in Lisbon, when I noticed that the New Scientist has updated Fred Pearce’s post.

    But the leaders of mainstream climate science turned down the gig, including NASA’s Gavin Schmidt. who said the science was settled so there was nothing to discuss. [Gavin Schmidt has asked us to clarify his reasons for not attending: see the bottom of this post.]

    Update: Gavin Schmidt has asked us to clarify his reasons for not attending the meeting. We are happy to reproduce the email in which he declined:

    Thanks for the invitation. However, I’m a little confused at what conflict you feel you are going to be addressing? The fundamental conflict is of what (if anything) we should do about greenhouse gas emissions (and other assorted pollutants), not what the weather was like 1000 years ago. Your proposed restriction against policy discussion removes the whole point. None of the seemingly important ‘conflicts’ that are *perceived* in the science are ‘conflicts’ in any real sense within the scientific community, rather they are proxy arguments for political positions. No ‘conflict resolution’ is possible between the science community who are focussed on increasing understanding, and people who are picking through the scientific evidence for cherries they can pick to support a pre-defined policy position.

    You would be much better off trying to find common ground on policy ideas via co-benefits (on air pollution, energy security, public health water resources etc), than trying to get involved in irrelevant scientific ‘controversies’.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 7 Feb 2011 @ 12:38 PM

  275. 267, Hank roberts: With the wind turbines you quote a nameplate-capacity statement as though it indicated poor performance,

    No, it was just another detail to avoid making wind turbines sound too good (because I have written in support of them on other threads); I also quoted the paper saying that they were providing 7% of generation, which I said was a good thing. I wrote that the fact that they were operating at about 35% of total capacity was something for future discussion (along with the general theme of intermittancy and need for backup, and a general scorekeeping of the methods of electrical generation, which I left unwritten.)

    With Hetch Hetchy you invoke “extreme environmentalists” then back off with “of course I knew” when cited better information.

    In California, it is indeed mostly the extreme environmentalists who lead the campaign to remove the dam at Hetch Hetchy, with the mostly pro-environmental Schwarzenegger administration agreeing that it’s possible. Opposition to Hetch Hetchy is as old as support for it.

    For review, here is a line from the post (185) by JCH and the response by eric that I was responding to:
    But to them the fix is simple: build the dams the historic record indicated were needed.

    [Response: Hang on a second. I don’t know the particulars in Australia, but dams historically haven’t helped mitigate flooding; quite the opposite. It ain’t so simple.–eric]

    I gather from your comments on my comments that you support eric’s claim of “quite the opposite”, written without qualification. You have certainly had opportunity enough to outline any disagreement you may have had. Would you oppose (rhetorically, I mean, since you won’t be concretely involved) the construction of new flood-control and irrigation systems in the Indus Valley?

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 Feb 2011 @ 12:58 PM

  276. Lisbon Reconciliation Workshop

    But the naivete and gullibility do not end there, for Pearce missed the truly fascinating part of the whole story. “Tallbloke’s” passing around of the email he wasn’t even supposed to have was not just a supremely ironic coda to a workshop ostensibly dedicated to building trust and reconciliation (a circumstance which seems to have completely eluded the befuddled Pearce). Somehow the fringe blogger and WUWT regular managed to forge a connection between a highly respected science philosopher and the contrarian blogosphere, and then put himself in the inner circle planning the resulting workshop a year later, providing a fascinating insight into this misbegotten enterprise.

    Comment by Deep Climate — 7 Feb 2011 @ 1:03 PM

  277. Should you happen to think of any topics which SIMPLY MUST BE be included in my introductory survey on sea level rise, please feel free to send them to me off-list at Thanks very much.

    Comment by Hunt Janin — 7 Feb 2011 @ 1:36 PM

  278. Well worth a considered look —“King+County”+snowpack+climate

    They’ve understood that with more rain rather than snow, faster runoff, earlier peaks, less water stored in the snowpack, that the existing dam system fails. They can’t store the rainfall water because they have to leave room for the floodwater — think warm spring rain on snow, and sudden melting. And they can’t not store the rainfall water because, well, there might not be all that much and they won’t have melting snow to continue the supply through the summer dry season.

    They’re making good plans.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Feb 2011 @ 1:45 PM

  279. Everybody please drop the various accusations of obfuscation, inability to answer questions and the like and just stick strictly to the scientific questions at hand.

    Comment by Jim — 7 Feb 2011 @ 2:14 PM

  280. > flood control and irrigation

    What you build depends on whether you expect snowpack and glaciers or rain, and when and how much. What you get depends on what actually happens.

    Big infrastructure projects haven’t been built to cope with the range of variation we know has happened in the past. Flood plains and wetlands do considerably better, the’re more resilient to change. Which should we be ‘building’?

    Urban civilization in the Indus valley has come and gone with changes in water supply that didn’t match their flood control and irrigation systems.
    Climate change at the 4.2 ka BP termination of the Indus valley
    civilization and Holocene south Asian monsoon variability

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Feb 2011 @ 2:53 PM

  281. raypierre (#271),

    Recall that I’m the only one who has provided a counter to Hansen’s arguments in the context of what he actually says; namely that weathering would remove the forcing before the oceans escaped. What we discussed a couple of years ago based on your text turned out to be irrelevant once his book came out because it turned out that he was not talking about a runway in the ‘pure’ sense. He is invoking carbon feedbacks, not just fossil fuel sourced carbon so I don’t think he has run out of room there. Turning all permafrost soils to sand (or clay) probably gives you more than 0.2 bar.

    I think it would really help if we could get on the same page in terms of what Hansen is actually arguing. I bet the library can send you the book by campus mail and it would take you less than thirty minutes to skim the chapter. He does not look at things from exactly your perspective but he is staying pretty close to the literature.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Feb 2011 @ 3:08 PM

  282. #260 Jim Steele

    As a darn layman I would suggest looking at the heat budget if internal variability was the culprit. Were the oceanic heat responsible for sustaining global warming over *decades* (and should we leave CO2 induced infrared capture aside), the oceans as a whole would necessarily lose energy, significantly. One would expect oceanic cooling sustaining atmospheric warming. Instead we see warming of the oceans, for instance:

    Comment by Marcus — 7 Feb 2011 @ 3:17 PM

  283. Brain Dodge at 220

    Down load the book and read the first few chapters. I skipped over the chapters on the detailed analyses of various fisheries. I’m not fish guy.

    Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 7 Feb 2011 @ 3:26 PM

  284. Raypierre, regarding the “Venus Syndrome” this lecture contains the phrase “The ocean boils into the atmosphere and life is extinguished.” Which you clearly disagree with. What if it said “The ocean evaporates into the atmosphere…”? Your inline remarks at #271 suggest that is unlikely but possible, I think. Once again thanks for your time.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 7 Feb 2011 @ 3:30 PM

  285. I’m sure this is not helpful but microscopically, I think a decent way to think of Kirchoff’s law is to give attention to a pair of energy levels of a body, and we know that these give rise to absorption/emission features at some wavelength. If the probability of a transition is large, the E-field within the incident radiation easily induces transitions from lower to upper levels (absorption).The thermal disruption also readily produces transitions from the upper to lower levels (emission).

    Comment by Chris Colose — 7 Feb 2011 @ 3:34 PM

  286. This has been an interesting unforced variation on a theme. It’s time for me to move on to other things, so I won’t be monitoring this thread and making comments anymore. Thanks for all the stimulating discussion. The thread will probably stay active for a while, but from here on you’re on your own, at least as far as my own areas of expertise are concerned.

    Comment by raypierre — 7 Feb 2011 @ 4:17 PM

  287. 278, Jim,

    Everybody please drop the various accusations of obfuscation, inability to answer questions and the like and just stick strictly to the scientific questions at hand.

    Sorry. It’s the Monday after the Superbowl. We’re all cranky (unless you live in Green Bay).

    [Response: So that was yesterday and Green Bay must have won? Good deal, that means spring training is right around the corner…–Jim]

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 7 Feb 2011 @ 4:19 PM

  288. Raypierre,

    Thanks greatly for your time and help. It’s very much appreciated.

    [If you missed it, I’m still agonizing over my question in 259, about the release of energy during the formation of hydrogen bonds as water condenses or freezes… but only if you can answer it off the top of your head. I suspect the answer lies in a change in energy levels of an electron. I just have to look harder for the answer. It’s got to be out there somewhere.]

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 7 Feb 2011 @ 4:24 PM

  289. Atmospheric CO2 for January was 391.2 ppm at Mauna Loa, speeding away from 350 ppm target at 2.7 ppm per year:

    [Response: No, it’s winter in the NH remember. Seasonal rise. It’s about 1.8 ppm over the last few years.–Jim]

    Comment by Kees van der Leun — 7 Feb 2011 @ 4:59 PM

  290. Jim Steele,

    Using sunspots as a proxy spots have doubled since 1900, and the past 50 years solar energy is higher than the past 150.

    But TSI peaked around 1960 and has been flat or slightly downwards since then.

    Comment by Andrew Adams — 7 Feb 2011 @ 6:11 PM

  291. Re 237 Edward Greisch – It’s a good point about laws being written by corporations, etc., but ethics/morality will always be in the jurisdiction of philosophy – however, science will be called to the witness stand many times. This is different, however, from relegating scientists to the witness stand, because scientists are not just scientists, they are people. Etc.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 7 Feb 2011 @ 6:42 PM

  292. Andrew Adams #289 says “But TSI peaked around 1960 and has been flat or slightly downwards since then.”

    Absolutely. And furthermore if you look at many of the warming trends such as Sierra Nevada USHCN maximum temperatures, Arctic warming or glacial retreats, the peaks are in the 30’s and 40’s. So any linear correlation with sunspots is very weak if at all. However the peaking of several warm events in the 40’s suggests that the 1960’s peak of sunspots/solar activity was modulated by the oceans. The PDO oscillation coincidently shifted to a negative in the 40’s. From the 40’s to 1976 of the PDO was in a negative phase, During that time there were fewer El Nino’s and a smaller warm pool which allows for greater heat absorption. Above 28 C that defines most warm pools, most incoming energy is quickly used to evaporate sea water and not available for deeper storage. During La Nina’s the heat is more readily stored and the heat is quickly (~1-1.5 years) transported to the subtropical gyres where it has a greater shelf life. The thermocline at the equator is very shallow, but very deep in the midlatitudes. And it is the midlatitudes where the 30-40 year oscillations operate.

    If the ocean oscillations have modulated the solar input that peaked in the 60’s although it was still relatively high in the 80’s and 90’s, it suggests now a solar cooling trend and that we should be at the end of further oceanic warming. ARGO observes that plateau, but certainly that my be a coincidence. If the above scenario has any validity that would suggest the surface temperatures should soon plateau also although global averages may be effected be feedbacks such as less ice. The next 20 years will either confirm or repudiate this idea.

    Incidentally the PDO shift to its negative phase is showing it biological effects. SF Bay has increased crab catches and porposies have returned for the first time since WW2, probably a result of cleaner water and PDO effects. California Salmon catches should increase accordingly

    Comment by Jim Steele — 7 Feb 2011 @ 7:52 PM

  293. I have asked something like this before, elsewhere – but only received one relevant reference to a paper on ‘roughness’. My now slightly more refined (but obviously still pig-ignorant) question is… How much energy would we need to extract from, say, wind, tide and solar for it to make a really significant impact on our carbon emissions, such that we need not worry about them any more? Or, at least, so that we can then practise carbon sequestration with current technology and not worry any more? OK – then how much of that total ‘renewable’ energy extraction would need specifically to be wind an tide? OK, then, given we were extracting that much energy from wind and tide, and given that there is no such thing as a free lunch – what would the effect be on the planet in extracting that much energy from it that way? Is it all truly continuously replaced from outside? (loss of angular momentum, longer days, greater tectonic movement?) Just asking…

    Comment by David Oser — 7 Feb 2011 @ 8:06 PM

  294. for David Oser, you’ll find a start on most of those questions in these:
    and a bit more with Google turns up numbers for the rest, such as

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Feb 2011 @ 8:34 PM

  295. David Oser – Where will we be putting this energy we “extract from the planet“? Yes, you are right, there is no “free lunch”.

    Comment by flxible — 7 Feb 2011 @ 8:37 PM

  296. Real Climaters — Ads for WIndows live and something which appers to be a website are now, without invitation, usurping and invading

    On my Linux/Firefox noless.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 7 Feb 2011 @ 9:22 PM

  297. “The aide (Republican Carl Rove) said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” – Suskind

    Comment by Vendicar Decarian — 7 Feb 2011 @ 9:28 PM

  298. PS for David Oser:
    > and not worry any more?
    A bit too late to eliminate worries, much of the warming we’re already committed to, from the fossil fuel already burned, hasn’t begun to affect us yet. This is a very common misapprehension.
    “… most people don’t understand the basic dynamics of the climate system. Most dangerously, people tend to underestimate both the time it will take for the climate to adjust to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and the size of the reductions that will be needed to stabilize the climate….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Feb 2011 @ 9:30 PM

  299. 279, Hank Roberts, all good points. I especially liked “What should we be building?”

    Whatever, I hope that they finish it before the next “unprecedented” or even “precedented” (30-year) rainfall.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 Feb 2011 @ 10:38 PM

  300. Again, Jim, you are trying to come up with a sum of oscillations that matches another curve that is not oscillating. I call this “Fun with Fourrier”. If you can find enough oscillations you’ll get close–but you will have no idea if they are really the cause. The thing is, we have a theory that matches the trend very well. It also explains a lot of other things, ranging from glacial/interglacial cycles to stratospheric cooling.

    What you are doing is not science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Feb 2011 @ 5:09 AM

  301. Re Brisbane flood , Wivenhoe dam at 197% capacity, came close

    Comment by john byatt — 8 Feb 2011 @ 5:25 AM

  302. Bob, related to your question in 259: in general, when chemical bonds form (or the bonding type changes from weaker to stronger, as in your phase change example), the energy is usually released as vibrational motion, though there are probably exceptions to this. The extra energy is then removed by collisional energy transfer (in the atmosphere that means collisions with N2 or O2 molecules, in a liquid it means collisions with whatever solvent molecules are present). So when part of a water droplet starts to freeze (typically around some seed particle), I would guess that the latent heat is initially released as increased vibrational motion of adjacent water molecules, which is then removed by thermalizing collisions with the surrounding gas. Does this help?

    Comment by Theo Kurtén — 8 Feb 2011 @ 5:57 AM

  303. 301, Theo,

    Yes, thank you very, very much! That’s exactly what I was looking for.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 8 Feb 2011 @ 8:36 AM

  304. Jim Steele @ #291:

    Interesting points. I am wondering as well about the AMO cycle. Seems like the potential for the AMO and PDO to both align in a negative phase is there, and this too, could provide for a longer period where we see no new record warm years. On the flip side, should we see a few record warm years during a cool PDO/AMO cycle, that would be quite telling as well. Regardless, the flattening of the global temp rise during such a period will give plenty of ammo to AGW skeptics and make it that much harder to press forward with any meaningful GHG reductions. If you’re a believer that this is a crucial period, the timing couldn’t be worse…

    [Response: The PDO (at least) is not periodic, so this sort of prediction is meaningless. Yes, things might happen to align that way, by chance, but even if they did, these have negligible impact on global temperatures anyway. Statistics may conspire against a continuing trend for a few years here and there, but I’m with Stefan on this: it’s not a strong bet.–eric]

    Comment by R. Gates — 8 Feb 2011 @ 9:39 AM

  305. R. Gates – while it’s simplistic and probably meaningless, you can go to wood for trees and crudely replicate the Tsonis-Swanson graph using GISS, UAH and RSS, and get a very different picture of the “shift”. Which is something Swanson hinted at with respect to GISS in his article here.

    jmho from the cheap seats, but I think some people need to sell off some natural variation and buy some Asian brown cloud.

    Comment by JCH — 8 Feb 2011 @ 12:02 PM

  306. So I agreed to discuss climate science with an old highschool friend and denialist. I told him I wouldn’t discuss anything that was on “the wrong side of crazy” which included an 8 page manifesto from the heartland institute that started started stupid and quickly devlolved into demonstrable lies. Today I received this which was supposed to be demonstrating a big inconsistency.

    James Overland 2004 :
    When scientists trained their analytical tools on the North Pole and its environs, they quantified the local knowledge: The polar ice cap is 40 percent thinner and millions of acres smaller than it was in the 1970s.

    What happens at the North Pole can affect the rest of the planet, potentially altering the course of the Gulf Stream, which moderates climate from the East Coast of the United States to the British Isles. Closer to home, the jet stream that dictates much of Seattle’s weather can be diverted when the polar vortex speeds up.

    “It’s probably contributing to the fact that it’s warmer and we’ve been getting less snow,” Overland said.

    James Overland 2011 :
    Our region experienced record snowfall last winter, topping the charts dating at least as far back as the late 1800s. In all, more than six feet of snow fell at sites such as Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. Extreme weather nailed other U.S. cities last winter, too, and swaths of Europe saw unprecedented snowfalls and record cold temperatures. This year, the nation’s capital has suffered one unusually severe storm. Parts of the East Coast from Atlanta to Boston have been experiencing blizzard conditions. Last week, a vast swath of the country’s midsection and East Coast got deluged with sleet and snow, paralyzing travel. What gives?


    The WP article wasn’t quoting Overland. Here is the correct link to the WP article:

    They weren’t quoting Overland. bloviators wouldn’t deliberately obfuscate would they?

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 8 Feb 2011 @ 12:07 PM

  307. Chris (#248),

    Looks like I left the ‘k’ off the carbon mass estimates in #271. Multiply by 1000.

    Looking into what is worrying Hansen a little more deeply we have (in addition to the 5 Tt of carbon from burning all coal, oil and gas) ‘Canadian and Venezuelan deposits contain about 3.6 trillion barrels … of recoverable oil’ Here recoverable means about 10% of the carbon in place. But, the mining method exposes all of that carbon to oxidation over time so at 7 barrels per tonne that comes to another 5 Tt of carbon.

    There are also large reserves of oil shale. We might expect all of the estimated oil in place to be oxidized if mining is used. Less if in situ methods are used. This looks like about 0.5 Tt of carbon known so far.

    Hansen then invokes a warm ocean once all ice sheets are gone which would destabilize clathrates. That comes to 10 Tt of carbon.

    Those are the sources he mentions. About 20 Tt in all based on these estimates.

    Additionally there is organic carbon in permafrost regions. For areas without ice sheets this comes to about 1.8 Tt of carbon.

    For areas under ice sheets I don’t think much is known but we might guess a total of 4 Tt of land based frozen soil carbon available for carbon feedback over a several thousand year timescale.

    If equatorial deserts expand a great deal, we might get another 2 Tt from soil carbon, loss of forests and burned peat. So, all together, that is another 6 Tt that Hansen does not mention.

    So there are presently about 0.75 Tt of carbon in the atmosphere. If we assume that the oceans saturate in their carbon uptake soon then the atmospheric content might go to 27 Tt, or 35 times the current concentration. That is somewhat under 6 doublings. Even with these very generous assumptions, using Hansen’s 4 W/m^2 of forcing per doubling, that is only 22 W/m^2 and not the 25 which is what he required (10% over current solar forcing).

    But, when discussing fig. 30 he says that he only needs 10 to 20 W/m^2 change to get either a snowball or a ‘runaway greenhouse’ (p. 227) so if that is the case then the generous assumptions get him there. But, in the way I read that figure (and I’m not sure I’m doing it right), the 20 W/m^2 would be the number for the runaway greenhouse, not 10 and we don’t get there without more carbon sources than he mentions (plus ocean uptake saturation). So I’m still not too sure how he has convinced himself without these unstated aspects.

    Other possible assumptions within the carbon sources he mentions are more clathrates than in the estimate I linked to, or undiscovered tarsands or oil shale. Unless he has decided that 10 to 20 W/m^2 means 15 W/m^2 it does not seem to add up to a dead certainty.

    But, if we grant him that, then I think it probable that he thinks that getting to 1.1 times the solar forcing leads to inevitable loss of the oceans. This is strange because he seems sanguine about walking back from 450 ppm to 350 ppm, something that Solomon might not sanction. And, while one dimensional models probably can’t inform about silicate weathering rates, at the level that he is certain of a runaway, we might be nearly as certain that the process would be halted by formation of calcium carbonate and like minerals and removal of carbon from the atmosphere.

    I think this may be the most important problem. He seems to think that a runaway must runaway but his runaway involves losing the oceans and that is not inevitable. Ocean loss does not lead to more ocean loss in this regime. I think raypierre would say that it never gets started (never gets to a damp stratosphere), but it is pretty likely that if it does, it will not continue. So, it could be that semantics are the conceptual issue. When the Sun gets brighter, things will ‘runaway’ but only because the Sun is not going to get any fainter going forward. Once the oceans are gone, weathering will cease and we should get an atmosphere similar to that of Venus. But, carbon dioxide can become less so it is not the backstop that the Sun is. The word ‘runaway’ sounds inevitable, but it needs something to run from.

    Anyway, that is what I think at present.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Feb 2011 @ 12:39 PM

  308. Calling BPL …

    Drought in the Amazon:

    Drought in China:

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 8 Feb 2011 @ 1:13 PM

  309. Re: Eric reply in #303:

    No periodicity in the PDO? I find this odd, though it may be nonlinear, it seems charts like this show clear periodicity:

    And certainly as does the AMO, with even some mechanisms given:

    I happen to believe the AGW is occurring, but I’m hardly blind to these longer term ocean cycles, nor what it could mean if they happen to align to both be warm or cold at the same time. Witness, the well-known “Great Climate Shift” of 1976, was a point in time when both the AMO and PDO began strong uptrends toward warm.
    I think a more interesting question, and perhaps one we’ll never know, is how AGW could be affecting these longer-term multi-decadal cycles.

    Comment by R. Gates — 8 Feb 2011 @ 1:15 PM

  310. Re: #308 (R. Gates)

    The statement “it seems charts like this show clear periodicity” is a very poor indicator of genuine periodicity. In fact it’s usually indicative of misinterpretation.

    This is my specialty, and I often suspect that the false identification of periodic behavior is one of the most common mistakes in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, let alone in blog posts and idle speculation. Some posts on the topic:

    I haven’t yet seen any solid evidence that the PDO (or the AMO for that matter) is periodic. Period.

    Comment by tamino — 8 Feb 2011 @ 2:04 PM

  311. Tamino @ 309

    I’ve only recently began looking at both of these in any detail, and I’ll trust your expertise. I still can’t but help think that the fact that both the PDO and AMO started going positive around 1976 was part of the “climate shift” so noted in that year, but of course, this is confusing cause and effect I suppose, as that is exactly what they were measuring, as opposed to causing. Also, the current cold cycle of the PDO looks rather like La Nina in pattern, and I’m wondering how one might distinguish them, other than length of duration?

    Comment by R. Gates — 8 Feb 2011 @ 2:13 PM

  312. Interesting posts recently, thank you for the clarifications.

    I have a question please?
    Whilst viewing the Cryosphere today images and the NOAA/METOP Infra-red passes together, it strikes me that there maybe a significant error in the display of the northern polar ice-cover as represented. The raw satellite Infra-red images show that there is a massive variation in the homogeneity of the Sea ice cover, many areas of ice are very cracked with fissures and leads that travel in some cases completely across the polar Seas.

    This cracking varies and produces areas that reveal large areas of the warmer sea beneath, and these cracks do allow the warmer sea to warm the areas along the cracks, in several instances this area can be more than 10 times the width of the crack.(several 1000’s square km). The result of this effect on the infra-red images are warm areas within the main ice mass. (To a level that would only normally be expected along the sea/ice boundary.)

    The question is, why in most visible displays of ice cover is not the quality of the ice given more prominance?
    And is the ratio of crack/ice factored into calculations of sheets total coverage, if so how?
    (I know estimated ice thickness is)

    The warmth along the cracks from the Infra-red images seems to show that when low/high pressure storms “impact” the top of the ice sheets in the arctic the cracks increase, and the area gets “warmer” in the infra-red images. In some cases like the recent breakup of the eastern Greenland coastal sea ice shelf, the cracks precipitate much faster changes in the quality of the ice, which is of significance.

    The Cryosphere today images don’t appear to reflect the quality of the ice properly, in some cases from some images; I estimate the area of cracked ice well exceeds that of the un-cracked component within an area, yet on sites showing ice coverage these areas are shown as ICE. Some areas I estimate only have approx 20% Ice cover yet are shown as Ice.

    From my own archive of data, it seems to me that the cracks in the Arctic sea ice have increased over the last few years but this is not illustrated in images or information I have seen.

    Not picking on the Cryosphere today site, as it is very good, just using it as an example, the NASA/NOAA sites show the same.


    Comment by Erikthefish — 8 Feb 2011 @ 3:02 PM

  313. Mongol Invasion in 1200s Altered Carbon Dioxide Levels

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Feb 2011 @ 7:56 PM

  314. Thought experiment.

    Imagine a world in which these opinion pieces were published anonymously. How much attention would they receive? As far as I can remember his bubble-economics appeared to be almost as over-optimistic as his technological speculation.

    By the way would the term inactivist be more appropriate than contrarian? Except for his equation :
    climate change = warming of the cold regions.

    Comment by deconvoluter — 8 Feb 2011 @ 8:06 PM

  315. Apologies for clumsy aim:
    My previous comment was intended for the thread on FD.

    Comment by deconvoluter — 8 Feb 2011 @ 8:09 PM

  316. R. Gates @310 — There is evidence that both the AMO and PDO have existed for a long time as quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs); try searching for tree ring studies in the North Pacific and in Northern Europe. However, along with the SOI for ENSO, these are but indicies of inteernal variability and make but little difference in explaining the global temperatures over the instrumental period.

    Here is an ultra-simple illustration to make the point for the AMO:
    I’ve recently completed a somewhat more realistic two reservoir model using annualized data. In that, the net of all forcings explains most of GISTemp with SOI a substantial aid in explaining more of it. Then a modest dose of AMO explains some more and a much smaller dose of the PDO explains a tiny bit more. The gist of the matter is that the forcings explain what has been happening to global temperatures since 1880 quite well and the indices of internal variability (SOI,AMO,PDO) explain very little.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Feb 2011 @ 8:39 PM

  317. Proposals in Texas and Iowa single out public education for steep cuts.
    In Texas, one proposal would reduce total education spending by 15 percent, or $7-$10 billion, depending on K-12 enrollment. The plan also calls for shutting down four community colleges in a bid to close the state’s $15 billion deficit while honoring Republican Gov. Rick Perry’s pledge not to use rainy-day funds or raise taxes.
    Iowa GOP Gov. Terry Branstad wants to cut preschool funding from $71 million to $43 million, which would eliminate the universal free pre-school for four year-olds the state established in 2007.

    Comment by Vendicar Decarian — 8 Feb 2011 @ 10:10 PM

  318. Oh, lordy, someone’s gone bonkers and Google News is featuring this:

    It’s a mishmash of some real science items, not new, and not related, to make it sound like there’s been an announcement by NASA.

    The actual paper mentioned (at least by name) is a speculative one from 1974!

    Weather and the Earth’s magnetic field
    JW King – 1974 – “A comparison of meteorological pressures and the strength of the geomagnetic field suggests a possible controlling influence of the field on the longitudinal variation of the average pressure in the troposphere at high latitudes….”

    And that’s been conflated with recent paleo work on major storm events that may happen again in California, and with a the recent paper about movement of the North magnetic pole.

    Mush together, stir wildly, rush to print. Egad.

    Briefly: Yes, there are a variety of magnetic poles, not just one straight through the middle, yes, the surface locations change, no, recent changes do not mean the poles are going to flip and cause giant storms, and no, NASA said nothing of the sort.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Feb 2011 @ 10:33 PM

  319. I agree, with Rai, there is a large tendency amongst most contrarians to minimize AGW with one oscillation or another. La-Nina usual effects are floundering because planetary waves are placing themselves according to NH surface conditions not strictly stemming from the temperature of the equatorial Pacific, but from a combination as a whole. Check out what these oscillations guys predict or project, since they admit having a basic misunderstanding of Climate, utterly rejecting AGW, they usually flunk more often than not in any predictions,
    or they utterly are incapable of daring one.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 8 Feb 2011 @ 11:45 PM

  320. A new take on the Australian poem My Country by D Mackellar

    I love a sunburnt country
    A land of sweeping plains
    Of climate change deniers
    Of droughts and flooding rains,
    Of bleaching coral reefs
    In oceans that are warming –
    making cyclones rage through towns
    and huge fires go a-storming.

    I love her coal industry lobbyists,
    I love her rightwing jocks –
    either choosing wilful ignorance
    or lying through their socks.
    I love her weak politicians,
    heads firmly in the sand –
    ‘the greatest moral challenge’
    has pretty much been canned.

    I weep for what will happen,
    And wonder where it ends
    Watching scenes of great destruction,
    untold damage, death of friends.
    I love her far horizons
    with their burnt or ripped-up trees,
    her vulnerability and our terror –
    the wide-brown land for me.

    Comment by john byatt — 9 Feb 2011 @ 12:43 AM

  321. @ john byatt #319, best add the ‘poet’ and source:

    Poem by Judy Horacek who write: “A poem written more than 100 years ago by a homesick 19 year old versus an ever-increasing body of refereed scientific thought…hmm, hard to know which way to jump really.”

    As published here:

    Comment by Sou — 9 Feb 2011 @ 2:31 AM

  322. R. Gates, not to put too fine a point on it, but the thing about oscillations is that they repeat…repeatedly. In other words, you really don’t know if it’s periodic until you see several periods. There are all kinds of oscillations–some are actually periodic, and these must be driven by a periodic forcing. More commonly, the system has a sort of bi-stability and the distribution of perturbations makes it look quasi-periodic. Exercise for the reader: Graph the following sequence

    1 – 2
    2 – 7
    3 – 1
    4 – 8
    5 – 2
    6 – 8
    7 – 1
    8 – 8
    9 – 2
    10 – 8

    Looks periodic, doesn’t it? But it ain’t. The “y”s in the pairs are the digits of the transcendental number e–the base of Napierian logarithms. The human eye is trained to see order. Sometimes it sees it when there really is none there.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Feb 2011 @ 5:06 AM

  323. 321 Ray:

    You don’t need periodic forcing for a system to respond with periodic oscillations. There are two generic ways for a nonlinear dynamical system to bifurcate from steady to periodic: hopf bifurcation and saddle node bifurcation. Periodic forcing isn’t needed in either case.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 9 Feb 2011 @ 10:01 AM

  324. #299 Ray

    Here is a sample of a longer term outlook on temperature (HadCRUT3gl) using 3 different methods: MOV, 2-Pole “filtfilt” Chebushev & a Fourier Convolution. The time frame was a 10 year MOV, and a 0.1 cycles/year filter cut-off freq.

    The three methods were used as a comparison between the methods, and to evaluate their strengths & weaknesses. The MOV “cuts out” before the end, which is not helpful, and the “filtfilt”, or forward & reverse recursive is subject to “reflection” conditions at the end. The Fourier does seem to give the best result, particularly at the end point.

    The upper figure shows the three filter methods, and their respective responses. The bottom figure is a little more interesting, in that it shows the difference between the Fourier Convolution filter response and the “raw” signal. Of more importance, it provides a metric to evaluate the filtered value error from the actual. It shows the difference is pretty much less then +/- 0.2 deg. over all, while the mean is virtually negligible. Assuming a Gaussian distribution, the 3 sigma error would be less then 0.3 deg. Probably better then most of the temperature data taken over the past 150 years.

    Comment by J. Bob — 9 Feb 2011 @ 10:58 AM

  325. John E., sure, but the fact that you can get a periodic oscillation that way has no bearing on whether what you’re seeing in some aspect of climate is a periodic oscillation. Could be, it’s not impossible. Nobody says it is.

    Ray and Tamino and others persistently explain that we’ve developed tools to tell us whether there’s a pattern because we can’t trust our eyes — we know by now that people are highly biased toward seeing patterns, whether or not a pattern really is there. It’s been a useful bias for a long time.

    Fail to detect the leopard spots in the leafy shade? No more offspring.

    Nowadays it’s our own actions that may cause patterns we need to know are there in time to avoid their consequences. It’s still a problem to know.

    Could be periodic? Could be a trend? Could be multiple periods and multiple trends. What are your tools? How do you know? Why do you trust your tools?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Feb 2011 @ 11:17 AM

  326. @ Harold Pierce Jr — 7 Feb 2011 @ 3:26 PM (and thanks for the Freudian slip “Brain” compliment &;>)

    L.B. KLYASHTORIN and A.A. LYUBUSHIN in CYCLIC CLIMATE CHANGES AND FISH PRODUCTIVITY start out admitting there has been global warming –

    “As shown in Fig. 1.1, the increasing secular linear trend (about 0.06 °C per each 10 years; Sonechkin, 1998) at the background of interannual year Global dT variations is observed.”

    then do their best to obscure this fact by removing the trends (sorta like McLean, de Freitas and Carter); at least they didn’t use a derivative filter which would have increased short term noise.
    After detrending, the long-period fluctuations of Global dT with the maxima at about 1870s, 1930s and, apparently, at 1990s are clearly observed”
    “Fig. 1.6. Comparative dynamics of detrended Global dT (bold line) and zonal ACI…”
    “Moreover, similar to Global dT, dynamics of water area free of ice demonstrates increasing secular linear trend (about 15% per century). To compare multiyear fluctuations of the water area free of ice and Global dT. both detrended curves are shown in Fig. 2.15.”
    They use the word “detrend(ed,ing)” 41 times.

    They say
    “It is thus not our goal to discuss particular mechanisms of the climatic processes.”
    “Similarity in the shape of Global dT and AT anomalies curves also suggests that there is a relationship between changes in the atmospheric transfer and subsequent fluctuations of the global temperature, although the mechanism of this dependence in not clear yet.”

    Basically they are doing curve fitting without attempting to understand the underlying physics, and assuming that the mechanisms are periodic without any explanation why that should be.
    “60-year periodicity of the climate fluctuations”
    “(50-70 year) temperature periodicity”
    “16.8-, 32-, 60- and 108-year periodicity”
    “periodicities: 17.5, 23 and 57 years”
    “54-year periodicity, the 32-year peak”
    “predominance of the 60-year peak, whereas the 32-year peak is lower”
    “predominance of the 76-year peak, whereas 26- and 39-year peaks are less intensive.”
    “predominance of the 55.4-year peak”
    “predominant peaks (54 years)”
    “close to the 60-year periodicity” (but no cigar)

    Their figure 1.13 shows four spectra, ice cores and tree rings, with peaks at 25.6, 32, 32.5, 38.6, 53.9, 55.3, 60.2, and 75.8 year periods.

    They go on to say “Fluctuation spectra of California sardine and anchovy populations during the recent 1700 years (Fig. 1.15) demonstrate well defined predominant peaks: 57 and 76 years for sardine and 57, 72, and 99 year for anchovy. This correlates well with the predominant spectra of climatic fluctuations during the last 1500 years according to ice core samples and tree growth rings.” But they don’t say what the correlation coefficient(s) is(are).
    I made a spreadsheet with periodic (sin) functions at the frequencies Klyashtorin et al found in their data, and plotted them over 400 years, along with their average + 20% random noise, and a lowpass filtered (40 year running average) random sequence. I also generated a graph of average of all frequencies, the average of the four frequencies from 50-70 years, (with noise), and a lowpass random sequence.
    The chart is here –
    In the top graph the dotted curves are the noise and the average + noise. Clearly there are no strong “eyeball” correlations. The bottom plot is the comparison of all frequencies, four frequencies, and random data.

    Referencing Kryizhov V.N. 2002. Regional features of climatic changes in the North Europe and the West Siberia in the 20th century, they leap to the conclusion that –
    “The absence of secular increasing temperature trends in the Arctic region seems unexplainable from the point of view of the so-called global warming,…
    This might explain why they included a chapter on global fossil fuel consumption in a work about fisheries.

    PS In my chart, the random data is blue, all frequencies is tan, and four frequencies is green.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 9 Feb 2011 @ 11:48 AM

  327. 324: Hank.

    Perhaps I took Ray’s remark out of context. My reading was that he said that periodicity required periodic forcing as a general statement not with specific reference to climate. I was talking about mathematics not climate. I think that people who look at 130 year’s worth of data and insist there is a period of 65 (or whatever) years are talking through an orifice not their mouth. I know full well how difficult it is to not see patterns in noisy data. These days I devote essentially all my time to trying not to see patterns where there are none. I’m making some headway.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 9 Feb 2011 @ 12:28 PM

  328. This subject is picking up interest

    probably because of a regrettably confused Google News promotion of a wacko grab-bag confused story (featuring magnetic field change a few days ago).
    The original has already been dealt with here:

    The original nonsense threw together mention of sources that are real and related to climate.

    So, perhaps the real stuff is worth addressing?,5

    \The United States Geological Survey (USGS) Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project (MHDP) is preparing a new emergency-preparedness scenario, called ARkStorm, to address massive U.S. West Coast storms analogous to those that devastated California in 1861–62. Storms of this magnitude are projected to become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change.

    The MHDP has assembled experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USGS, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the State of California, California Geological Survey, the University of Colorado, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and other organizations to design the large, but scientifically plausible, hypothetical storm scenario that would provide emergency responders, resource managers, and the public a realistic assessment of what is historically possible.

    The ARkStorm is patterned after the 1861–1862 historical events but uses modern modeling methods and data from large storms in 1969 and 1986. The ARkStorm …, with a ferocity equal to hurricanes, slam into the U.S. West Coast for several weeks.\

    That’s a distinction between \alarming\ and \alarmist\ — realism.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Feb 2011 @ 12:39 PM

  329. From another thread:

    “Nope. Dr Spencer’s models show that warmer temperatures cause oceans to outgas CO2, so much so that 80-90% of the rise since ~ 1930 has been caused by warming, not anthropogenic emissions.

    Those posts by Spencer clearly illustrate his inability to distinguish interesting but wrong mathematical analyses and the reality supported by the scientific consensus of the experts. The relationship between global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 due to ocean outgassing is well known: the exact magnitude is not precisely pinpointed, but has been estimated to be around 7 to 10 ppm/degree C (Denman et al., Chapter 7 WGI IPCC AR4). Not 7-10 ppm/degree/year, but 7-10 ppm/degree in equilibrium. Therefore, the past century’s temperature rise should account for less than 10 ppm of the total CO2 rise.

    Not to mention, this requires ignoring the ice core record of the past 800,000 years which suggests that CO2 concentrations did not exceeded 300 ppm during this time period, until the last century. Or, maybe, is Spencer suggesting that the past century was warming than any time in the past 800,000 years? Not even the most alarmist of mainstream scientists claims that that is true (Yet, anyway. By the end of the 21st century, if we continue emitting GHGs, and we’re unlucky, we may unfortunately reach temperatures unprecedented in the past million years).

    So, basically, Spencer confuses the factors leading to year to year noise in the system – namely biological and oceanic response to temperature change – with the factors leading to the long term trend in the system – namely, anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Hmm. This is surprisingly parallel to his arguments about temperature change and his weird scribble diagrams attempting to claim low climate sensitivity but high unforced cloud response…


    Comment by M — 9 Feb 2011 @ 2:14 PM

  330. From Starship vs Starship thread
    danny bloom
    Rebrand Earth with More Fitting Name — Before All Hell Breaks Loose

    A climate activist is seeking to rebrand the name of our planet Earth with a more fitting name — one that would better reflect a better understanding of where we live and our place in the cosmos. He says that his
    crusade is a public awareness campaign and has no financial backers or corporate sponsorship.

    “It’s my way to seeking to give this planet a more apt name, and I have no agenda, other than to help people think of the planet in a new and improved way, since ‘earth’ really just means the ground, the dirt, soil,” he says.

    He says he is campaigning now for a new name for the planet we live on, given that, in his opinion, the word Earth is not a very good one.

    “Let’s rename the Earth,” he adds, ” especially in regard to the fact that we need to work hard to stop global warming and climate change from doing a huge number on this third rock from the sun.”

    Okay, so what name would you suggest, dear Reader?

    One word is best, but this rebranding could aso use as many as 2 -5 words in a term as well, such as “Third Rock from the Sun” or “Terra Firma”.

    He says he is looking for a word that will help teach younger generations in the future to treat the planet with more respect and gratitude for giving us life.

    By the way, the current name “Earth” derives from the lame Anglo-Saxon word ”erda”, which means ground or soil, and is related to the lame German word ”erde”. Duh. It became ”eorthe” later, and then ”erthe” in Middle English. But people in the 16th Century had no idea what the plaent was really all about. Now we do. What new name would you suggest?

    How about Fubbel you wubble you cucked ?

    Comment by john byatt — 9 Feb 2011 @ 2:51 PM

  331. # 320, TA sou, i use the ABC (Aust} climate change forum articles to promote Real Climate and Skeptical Science,

    Comment by john byatt — 9 Feb 2011 @ 3:11 PM

  332. Ray Ladbury (252 et al), Planck function radiation and spectroscopy radiation are not the same thing but neither are they mutually exclusive. Temperature is the direct cause of Planck radiation; it is only indirect for spectral radiation. CO2 vibration band at 15um will emit ONLY if the 1st energy level is excited, and that can happen in a number of ways. However a higher amBEiant temperature makes it more likely to be excited so temperature plays a secondary role. An exception to this is temperature often is the direct cause of electron level excitation and so is directly responsible for spectral radiation in the visible.
    There is no reason why a body cannot emit “blackbody” radiation and spectral radiation at the same time. One gets almost a perfect broadband blackbody from the sun while simultaneously seeing He and H, et al spectral lines (though in the sun’s case they are mostly absorption lines as emission lines will be mostly drowned out by the blackbody radiation. Still…. they’re not the same thing (other than after the fact all radiation (photons) is exactly alike.)
    The 2nd part of your comment gets us into the bugaboo of a gas emitting Planck radiation. I’m in the camp that it does (“ALL bodies radiate…”), though by my limited survey I’d say 2/3 or so say it doesn’t. In any case a Planck-radiating gas does pose some oddities. Figuring out the surface and assessing the emissivity are no easy tasks. It’s my view that this radiation is very weak (small emissivity), which might explain the prominence of the spectral line radiation.
    I do not agree that the relative strength of the line emission is determined by where it intersects a Planck curve (if I understand your point correctly…) Since the energy absorbed or emitted by CO2 vibration is exactly fixed and the same, the line strength is purely a function of the number of molecules absorbing or emitting. If you draw a blackbody curve at, say, 275K and determine the intensity at the precise frequency where CO2 emits, you cannot can say the CO2 emitted intensity is (always) exactly on the blackbody curve for that frequency.
    I disagree just a little bit with just a part of raypierre’s response. At least by my rough math, Doppler broadening is virtually nil and even collisional broadening is quite small (and subject to a fair amount of uncertainty, btw). Where collisional broadening does spread the line frequency, the intensity is very low and still the broadening is not much to write home about. It seems the “banding” is more a function of closely spaced rotational lines – which can be significant. (I don’t know if increased density (collisions) tends to enhance the rotational lines or not; I suppose it might….) ray’s other points are well taken and might also explain the confusion between planck and spectral/line radiation.

    Comment by Rod B — 9 Feb 2011 @ 3:56 PM

  333. Jim Steele, the biggest problem with discussions about internal variability is time. For example, what is a short term trend with regards to climate?

    For the current world, trends exist anywhere between 100kyr and 5 years, so:

    100kyr = very very long term trend

    10kyr = very long term trend

    200-300 years = long term trend

    60 years = short term trend

    30 years = macro trend

    5-15 years = micro trend

    In the last 10kyrs, we have had a very long term cooling trend with plenty of long term /short term warming and cooling…

    So what does that say about the current global warming?

    Comment by Isotopious — 9 Feb 2011 @ 4:44 PM

  334. Has anyone else read the above paper? It get’s quoted some here and there. I lack more than rudimentary statistics, but he seems to be saying that the actual theory of how the physical components of climate interact doesn’t matter, since the data can be ‘generated as a random walk process.’ Anything here make sense?

    This quote shows up a lot too, including in my local paper:

    Professor Terry Mills, professor of applied statistics and econometrics at Loughborough University in England, looked at the same data as the IPCC and found that the warming trend it reported over the past 30 years or so was just as likely to be due to random fluctuations as to the impacts of greenhouse gases. Mills findings are to be published in Climatic Change, a peer-reviewed environmental journal.

    I found the journal, but you have to pay to read anything.

    There’s also this:

    In a paper published in the Journal of Data Science Terry Mills concludes

    Indeed, examining much longer records of temperature reconstructions from proxy data reveals a very different picture of climate change than just focusing on the last 150 years or so of temperature observations, with several historical epochs experiencing temperatures at least as warm as those being encountered today: see, for example, Mills (2004, 2007b) for trend modelling of long-run temperature reconstructions. At the very least, proponents of continuing global warming and climate change would perhaps be wise not to make the recent warming trend in recorded temperatures a central plank in their argument.
    Any comments? I couldn’t find Mills in the RCWiki. Has he shown up on this thread already? If so I apologize for not reading alll of it first. In that case will someone direct me. I appreciate anything.

    Thanks, Andy

    Comment by Andy — 9 Feb 2011 @ 5:26 PM

  335. I found no reference to this Terry Mills on RCWiki or RC, and his comments are showing up in my local newspaper in science-denial land. I lack the statistics to critique his, but he seems to discount the physical components of climate theory in favor of pure statistical arguments, even though he SAYS he doesn’t.

    from here: and also see paper in above journal.

    In March this year I had a post that reported on some forthcoming research into the econometrics of climate change.

    I haven’t been able to track down a paper but I have seen reports on this

    Professor Terry Mills, professor of applied statistics and econometrics at Loughborough University in England, looked at the same data as the IPCC and found that the warming trend it reported over the past 30 years or so was just as likely to be due to random fluctuations as to the impacts of greenhouse gases. Mills findings are to be published in Climatic Change, a peer-reviewed environmental journal.
    In a paper published in the Journal of Data Science Terry Mills concludes

    Indeed, examining much longer records of temperature reconstructions from proxy data reveals a very different picture of climate change than just focusing on the last 150 years or so of temperature observations, with several historical epochs experiencing temperatures at least as warm as those being encountered today: see, for example, Mills (2004, 2007b) for trend modelling of long-run temperature reconstructions. At the very least, proponents of continuing global warming and climate change would perhaps be wise not to make the recent warming trend in recorded temperatures a central plank in their argument.
    I should point out that Mills is not a climate scientist either, he is an econometrician and author of magnificent book on modelling time series. It might be a bit hard claiming that he doesn’t understand first year stats.
    The paper is still forthcoming but is now on the website in press (subscription required). What does Mills conclude? (emphasis added)

    While a number of interesting features of the monthly global temperature series have been uncovered by fitting structural models, the trend component is likely to be of most interest, as this naturally features in debates concerning global warming. The trend component is generated as a random walk process with no drift, so that a pronounced warming trend cannot be forecast. Indeed, sensitivity analysis shows that, within this class of model, it is almost impossible to deliver an increase in trend temperatures over the twenty-first century that is consistent with that projected by conventional coupled atmospheric-ocean general circulation models: to do so would require choosing ill-fitting models statistically dominated by simpler specifications and then imposing a value on the slope parameter that, on statistical grounds, is highly unlikely. A similar, if less extreme, conclusion may be arrived at from a sensitivity analysis of the breaking trend model, although here, of course, some degree of global warming is forecast. In contrast, cointegration/error correction models, when supplemented with the assumption of a 1%annual increase in radiative forcing (equivalent to a doubling over 70 years), produce long-range forecasts much more in keeping with those from coupled general circulation models.
    Given these alternative models of observed temperature series—and from the references given above, several others could be offered—there is no doubt that, in this area, there are indeed many ways to skin the proverbial cat. Which of the alternatives should be chosen? Do you adopt a carefully specified univariate time series model that, because of its property of adapting quickly to current movements in the series, essentially is unable to deliver any increase in forecasted temperatures; do you choose a simpler trend break model in which the breaks are a consequence of rare and large changes in key external forcing factors, as proposed by Gay-Garcia et al. (2009); or do you explicitly model the long-run, cointegrating relationship between temperatures and radiative forcing that is based on the hypothesis that changes in radiative forcing , influenced in part by human activity, generate changes in temperatures (Kaufmann et al. 2010). Statistical arguments alone are unlikely to settle issues such as these, but neither are appeals to only physical models or the output of computer simulations of coupled general circulation models. In such circumstances it would appear that, to quote another ageless proverb, ‘you pays your money and you takes your choice’. Indeed, it could be argued that such a proverb is particularly apposite given the ongoing debate concerning the potential costs of combating global warming and climate change, the most notable recent protagonists being Stern (2007) and his reviewers, for example, Nordhaus (2007), Tol and Yohe (2006) andWeitzman (2007).
    I also found a paper at the Journal of Cosmology – I don’t know anything about this journal, but Mills makes much the same argument.

    The most notable implication of these structural models is that concerning the presence of a global warming signal. The absence of a significant drift in the trend component, making this a simple random walk, thus precludes the presence of a warming – or, indeed, a cooling – trend. Long term forecasts of trend temperatures are given by the current value of the trend component and future trend temperatures have as much chance of going down as they have of going up. This may seem surprising given the general upward movement of the trend component over the last thirty years or so but such departures, which would be attributable to natural variation, are entirely possible for random walks and are a consequence of the arcsine law of probability (see Feller, 1971). As a consequence, forecast bounds for the trend component quickly become large as forecast error variances increase linearly with the forecast horizon for a random walk.

    How does one respond to this? Thanks for anything. Andy

    also sorry if I accidentally multi-post

    Comment by Andy — 9 Feb 2011 @ 5:39 PM

  336. Andy: Tamino has rejected the “random walk” hypothesis very firmly.

    But that is beside the point – the whole issue is a neatly dried red herring, since we don’t rely on statistics to conclude that the globe will continue warming. We measure recent trends purely so we can know exactly how fast we are warming.

    So, not even wrong.

    Comment by Didactylos — 9 Feb 2011 @ 5:57 PM

  337. Andy: one recollection from the past “random walk” discussions is that it is very easy to show that any data is a random walk simply by making some inappropriate choices when choosing parameters.

    It is easy to test this on synthetic data.

    From the introduction, we see that he splats a linear trend from 1850 to 2010 and starts from there. That’s clearly not a good start. How on earth does he plan to model all the complex climate interactions over that period? Duh. He doesn’t.

    Economists all fall into the same trap. Their economic data doesn’t follow rules, so they think all data is the same – and then they mess with climate and embarrass themselves in the literature. I don’t want to generalise, but I genuinely can’t think of a counter-example.

    Loughborough: one of the top sports science universities in the United Kingdom!

    Comment by Didactylos — 9 Feb 2011 @ 6:10 PM

  338. OK, Rod, think about this. We have an atom or molecule in an energy eigenstate E2, a second excited state above its ground state E0. It may be able to radiate to E1 or E0, but it cannot radiate to a state halfway between E1 and E2. No energy states exist there. The wave function goes to zero. So just how–by what physical process–do you propose to have this molecule radiate over a continuum? There is no separate “blackbody radiation mechanism”.

    Now think of a hydrogen gas lamp. Pass a current through it to heat it to a high temperature and look at the spectrum. It is a line spectrum. Is there a continuum in addition to those lines? No. Between the lines is black. So, why would there not be a continuum if it were possible for the hydrogen to radiate in the continuum as well as between its energy states?

    We get a blackbody from the sun because 1)the plasma is quite dense and quite hot so there is lots of spectral broadening, 2)it takes years for a photon radiated in the photosphere to make its way to the surface and escape.

    And no, the spectral strength is not equal to the number of molecules absorbing and emitting, but to the difference between the number of molecules being excited and the number of molecules that relax by processes other than radiation.

    Rod, find just one textbook that says that matter emits thermal radiation in other than between its (broadened) energy eigenstates. I don’t know why you persist in this fantasy when you have found bupkes to support it coming from actual scientists.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Feb 2011 @ 6:12 PM

  339. Ray Ladbury, here’s a simple (but too long) copy from a course put out by JPL/NASA I think for advanced secondary schools.
    There are bupkes like this up the yin-yang. I’ll respond to some of your specific ideas later.

    “Examples of thermal radiation include:
    1) Continuous spectrum emissions related to the temperature of the object or material.
    2) Specific frequency emissions from neutral hydrogen and other atoms and molecules.

    ….. any object that contains any heat energy at all emits radiation…. ….and then emits the energy at all frequencies… All the matter in the known universe behaves this way.

    Electromagnetic radiation is produced whenever electric charges accelerate, that is, when they
    change …speed or direction of their movement. In a hot object, the molecules are continuously vibrating (if a solid) or bumping into each other (if a liquid or gas), sending each other off in different directions and at different speeds. Each of these collisions produces electromagnetic radiation at frequencies all across the electromagnetic spectrum. However, the amount of radiation emitted at each frequency (or frequency band) depends on the temperature of the material producing the radiation.

    …… A blackbody with a temperature higher than absolute zero emits some energy at all wavelengths.”

    Comment by Rod B — 9 Feb 2011 @ 11:07 PM

  340. Rod:,5

    Look at the introduction, 1.1 up through 1.3, available from the Google Books images. I’m nowhere near a physicist but I can follow this much. In a solid those vibrations aren’t single pure notes. A musician can ‘bend’ a note on a vibrating string by stretching it. A solid composed of atoms/molecules is full of bonds that are bent and stretched. Those are the charges accelerating/changing that cause the infrared photons to come off a solid, while heat’s moving through those same bonds.

    Then by 1.3 he gets to “thermal” radiation — discrete specific frequency emissions.

    If y’all could just pick a book like that one, and start a blog to discuss it, maybe attract a teacher you could agree on, this wouldn’t have to keep coming up over and over here, and might be a good education for the rest of us bystanders instead of a recurring argument that never gets anywhere.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Feb 2011 @ 12:52 AM

  341. Has anybody seen this one before?

    “It Is Impossible For A 100 ppm Increase In
    Atmospheric CO2 Concentration To Cause Global

    Comment by AIC — 10 Feb 2011 @ 3:33 AM

  342. At ABC Australia unleashed
    No its not the joke of the day

    john byatt :
    10 Feb 2011 1:26:10pm
    ” You ain’t seen nothing yet”

    By 2200, the PCF strength in terms of cumulative permafrost carbon flux to the atmosphere is 190 ± 64 Gt C. This estimate may be low because it does not account for amplified surface warming due to the PCF itself and excludes some discontinuous permafrost regions where SiBCASA did not simulate permafrost. We predict that the PCF will change the Arctic from a carbon sink to a source after the mid 2020s and is strong enough to cancel 40–88% of the total global land sink. The thaw and decay of permafrost carbon is irreversible and accounting for the PCF will require larger reductions in fossil fuel emissions to reach a target atmospheric CO2 concentration.” Kevin Schaefer, Tingjun Zhang, Lori Bruhwiler, Andrew P. Barrett, 2011, Tellus B, DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0889.2011.00527.x.

    Reply Alert moderator

    scotty :
    10 Feb 2011 2:59:38pm
    “We predict that the PCF will change the Arctic from a carbon sink to a source after the mid 2020s”

    And correspondingly, the Antarctic will become a sink, as Antartic ice is at record levels on the majority of its landmass, and Antartic ice grows when Arctic ice recedes (and vice versa).

    Selective analysis to prove your pre-determined point isn’t scientific, in fact that’s the precise problem with much of the climate ‘science’ that is out there.

    recaptcha made more sense

    Comment by john byatt — 10 Feb 2011 @ 4:56 AM

  343. Rod, first, that is not a physics text. I’ll take Landau over a tutorial for amateur astronomers. Second, we are not talking about
    1)a solid, in which allowed energies form continuous bands
    2)a plasma, in which the electrons are free to interact with the electromagnetic fields of the photons and scatter them

    In a gas, energy levels are discrete lines–that is precisely why you get spectral lines when starlight passes through a gas cloud. Blackbody radiation is the spectrum you get when photons are in thermal equilibrium. Photons do not interact with each other, so the only way they come into equilibrium is by interacting with surrounding matter. That means absorption and emission. Those absorptions and emissions must occur between allowed energy states–in a gas, lines; in a solid, bands. Just how is a neutral material going to absorb and emit at energies that are forbidden?

    In addition, there are no true blackbodies. The closest you can get is a cavity with a small hole. Why? Because it allows for maximum time for the gas to truly reach equilibrium and maximum time for extremely improbable interactions to fill in a bit the gaps between lines. And even then you don’t get a true blackbody spectrum–just close.

    Look at the emissions from a vapor lamp–they’re line emissions, not blackbody. How is that consistent with your thesis?

    Rod, I am harping on this for a reason. You cannot understand the greenhouse effect if you think CO2 molecules radiate and emit at all energies. If they did, we’d be a whole helluva lot warmer than we are, since some of the excited states are long-lived and would turn light into kinetic energy until we no longer had near the lapse rate we do.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Feb 2011 @ 9:53 AM

  344. raypierre in 252 said “A more productive discourse would be on the origins of Kirchoff’s law. I mean the microscopic origins; the macroscopic origins as a consequence of the Second Law are clear.”

    I’m not sure what you meant by microscopic origins, a mechanism? Is a mechanism required? At equilibrium all fluxes balance. If the body is at equilibrium with a radiation field, by definition of equilibrium, the photon flux absorbed by the body must equal the photon flux emitted by the body. If the fluxes were not balanced the radiation spectrum of the body would be changing with time. The flux balance must hold for all wavelengths. It seems to me that it is as interesting to ask how bodies reach (radiative) thermodynamic equilibrium. My discussion is obviously naive; I think there are issues involving the long time and large body limits that I’ve given short shrift to.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 10 Feb 2011 @ 10:06 AM

  345. Hank, I really didn’t intend to get into the bulk and detail of the question, for the reason you stated. But raypierre asked about my assertion and I thought it best to reply.

    Comment by Rod B — 10 Feb 2011 @ 10:26 AM

  346. Hank, there is also broadband kinetic “vibrations” from the continual collisions and interactions among the molecules of liquids and gases.

    Comment by Rod B — 10 Feb 2011 @ 10:32 AM

  347. Hi!
    RealClimate’s links below “Other Opinions” are kind of outdated. I just checked them all so I can give you some help tidying up:

    “Andrew Dessler” hasn’t been updated in a long while.
    “Nexus 6” also hasn’t been updated in quite some time.
    “The Intersection” has moved and can be found here now:
    And then there’s Stephen Schneider’s blog (which I realize feels sad to remove).

    Best regards,

    [Response: Thanks. I’ll tidy. – gavin]

    Comment by Daniel — 10 Feb 2011 @ 11:06 AM

  348. Rod, Vibrations? Harmonic oscillator energies are also quantized. Unless the electrons are free, you get line, or at least band emission, not continuum Try agian.

    John, I think that is what Raypierre means. It’s not a trivial problem. Depending on how much the material departs from a perfect absorber, reaching true equilibrium would have to depend on very low-probability events to fill in the gaps between lines and bands.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Feb 2011 @ 11:19 AM

  349. No, Rod.
    As Ray L. says: these are different:
    solids and plasmas
    liquids and gases
    You’re not getting the difference.
    Seriously, look at least at 1.1 through 1.3 of the book at Google.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Feb 2011 @ 12:40 PM

  350. Ray L, translation energy is not quantized ala vibration and rotation energy.

    Are you saying the nice continuous solid camel-hump curve of insolation is made up of a helluva spreading of a few H and He line spectra?? Or that the 100-year old Planck equation is nonsense??

    I didn’t say spectral strength is equal to the number of molecules. I said it’s dependent on the number of excited molecules — which I think is what you said…

    I’ll let you go tell NASA/JPL that they’re full of crap.

    If gas molecules radiate at all energy levels we would be a helluva lot warmer only if they radiated a helluva lot. I don’t know if this is accurate in the least, but with a hypothetical example, radiation of a body at 250K and an emissivity of 1.0 radiates 220 watts; at 0.1 emissivity, 22 watts, which is less than 7% of the earth’s downwelling.

    Comment by Rod B — 10 Feb 2011 @ 2:40 PM

  351. > translation energy

    That’s motion of particles from here to there in an electromagnetic field.
    You’re now talking about the solar plasma.
    That produces photons.
    Photons are quantized.

    In a solid, the particles are wiggling, but their interatomic bonds are stretching. That produces photons, also quantized.

    Are you postulating a non-quantized photon in your theory, Rod?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Feb 2011 @ 4:38 PM

  352. “… the amount of airborne dust doubled in the 20th century, according to a recent scientific paper in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Feb 2011 @ 5:15 PM

  353. Hank, photons per se are not quantized other than theoretically their energy has to progress in steps of one (1) Hz which has no affect on anything. The energy levels of certain things are distinctly quantized, and if changed might emit a photon, but that photon is not quantized. Or I misread what you are saying…

    Comment by Rod B — 10 Feb 2011 @ 6:19 PM

  354. Sun, meet Mr. Rod B. Rod, Meet Mr. Sun. Mr. Sun is made of plasma. He is so dense that a photon takes years to make it to the surface and radiate away. So:
    1)The electrons spend most of their time free, and so can interact with a photon of any wavelength.
    2)There are lots of complicated interactions that broaden, split and otherwise distort the lines that are there.

    OK, Rod, let’s take it even another step simpler: Does a single atom emit blackbody radiation in addition to its atomic spectrum? I’m really gonna hope you say no, because otherwise we’ve got to go back to quantum mechanics. Assuming you say no, how about two molecules? If so, why are two molecules different than one? If not, how about three molecules? And so on. What new radiative process comes in when you have a group of molecules that you don’t have with a single molecule?

    As to my JPL colleagues, when they are full of a messy organic substance that is the product of normal metabolic processes, you can be assured that I do tell them. The tutorial you found was a very low-level attempt to lay the groundwork for understanding cosmic microwave background. It was not completely wrong, but it does not support your contention of a separate blackbody radiation mechanism. Read it again. No support.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Feb 2011 @ 6:21 PM

  355. Rod B.: “Hank, photons per se are not quantized other than theoretically their energy has to progress in steps of one (1) Hz which has no affect on anything.”

    Rod, photons are quanta of electromagnetic radiation. That sounds pretty quantized to me. But hey, Rod, here’s a photon. Can you give me change in half photons?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Feb 2011 @ 6:24 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Feb 2011 @ 7:00 PM

  357. Rod, translational energy levels are also quantized at least if the molecules or atoms in question are in a finite “box”, though in practice the spacing is so close that the translational energy levels can indeed be treated as continuous.

    Also, what does the unit of Hz have to do with anything? In this context, Hz = 1/s is just an arbitrary unit, it doesn’t have anything to do with quantization of photons. Where are you getting this stuff from…? (Just think about it a little while: if mankind had happened to choose a different fundamental unit of time than the second – which is based on dividing the rotation period of one specific planet by the completely arbitrary number 24*60*60 – would the laws of the universe have been rewritten…? If we had been using “heleks” instead would you be claiming photon energies are quantized in units of 1/helek?)

    “Collisions and interactions” (e.g. various types of clustering of gas molecules at different timescales) in a gas of non-zero pressure does indeed give rise to some new spectral lines, but that still doesn’t make the spectra of gas molecules a continuum – it’s still (at least for the gases and pressures and spectral ranges of interest in our atmosphere) lines, there are just a bit more of them (and they are more smeared out).

    Comment by Theo Kurtén — 10 Feb 2011 @ 7:00 PM

  358. Re #346:

    Please keep the link for Stephen Schneider.

    [Response: Without question.–Jim]

    Comment by AIC — 10 Feb 2011 @ 9:14 PM

  359. First off, how about we get out of the semantics rationalization. When I say something is “quantized” I mean with quantum steps that are clearly measurable and discrete, like the inner molecular energy levels of rotation, vibration and electron orbits. When I say “not quantized” I mean from a meaningful practical sense. I would say the momentum of a 767 is not quantized even though technically in a nitpick sense it most certainty is quantized. EVERYTHING with energy or momentum is quantized, but this is not a helpful thing to discuss. Theo Kurtén described molecular translation energy correctly. For simplicity I would say it is not quantized and lose absolutely nothing in meaning.

    Ray, the energy level of a free electron is not quantized (reread the above) and can take on any momentum from zero to relativistic levels and everything in between. The orbital energies of electrons are quantized. I’m not sure: in answer to my question are you saying, yes, that nice smooth insolation curve does come from spectral lines but with a bunch of slicing and dicing??

    Ray, whether a single atom or molecule can emit Planck radiation is a big debate — though as much philosophical as physics. Most physicists (by far) say it can not, though Einstein among others said it can. One of the problems is, even if it can, how could anyone tell?? Since the radiation requires an accelerating charge which in turn most likely requires a collision, one atom has nothing to bump into. Even if there were two a collision the next billion years seems remote. (It’s a little bit like our old debate over a molecule having temperature — this is just an analogy in passing, not a resurrection!) BTW this would apply to solids, liquids, plasma and gases. So there clearly must be a very large number density of molecules to produce blackbody radiation. The denser the better. While I’m convinced gas like our atmosphere can emit planck radiation, square meter for square meter it is significantly less than solids or liquids because of its very low number density among other things.

    Photons are quanta, but aren’t quantized other than (as in the semantics above) one photon must be 6.626×10^ -34 joules different from its nearest neighbor. That’s almost immeasurable let alone observable. That means he has to be wiggling one cycle per second more or less than his neighbor. Compared to freq of 20 TeraHz, that ain’t much. Saying photons are quantized is almost like saying one joule is quantized. Energy levels in something can be separated by one joule and are therefore quantized — meaning the molecular energy levels, not the joule itself.

    Ray, the direct quote from NASA/JPL (which you must have glossed over) is “….. any object that contains any heat energy at all emits radiation…. ….and then emits the energy at all frequencies… All the matter in the known universe behaves this way.” That was one of my assertions. Why do you say the article had “no support” for me???? Do you happen to know the cutoff for NASA/JPL publishing accurate science versus made-up false lying stuff? I wonder what their practices call for. (Maybe Gavin by chance knows.) Evidently if they are writing for advanced high school level their rules say that they can just make stuff up and write anything they damn well please. I just wonder how high up it goes….

    Comment by Rod B — 10 Feb 2011 @ 10:25 PM

  360. “Since Milankovitch cycles create 50-80 W/m^2 irradiance swings between the Hemisphere’s, it is not easy to validate that CO2′s forcings swings (presumably in the range of 2-4 W/^2) could have much of any influence.”Rob — 10 Feb 2011 @ 8:57 PM in the Starship vs. Spaceship Earth thread.
    The 50-80 W swings are redistribution from one place to another on the planet, and changes in the seasonal amplitude. The effect on total forcing is much smaller – see—cycles.gif.gif – the almost flat line in the center of the graph. It can be seen with an expanded vertical scale at—cycles—global.gif.gif

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 11 Feb 2011 @ 12:12 AM

  361. #121 Enhanced Carbonate Dissolution as a Means of Capturing and Sequestering Carbon Dioxide, Greg H. Rau1,2, Ken Caldeira2, Kevin G. Knauss2, Bill Downs3, and Hamid Sarv3

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 6 Feb 2011 @ 10:33 PM

    How about we just switch over to nice, gentle natural no-till, heavy mulch, green manures-type (regenerative) agriculture? Add in a billion or so home gardens and we could suck up 50% of current carbon emissions, I’d guess (40% for farmland farmed this way). Then, we need to reduce consumption of a fair list of things – water, oil, etc., – anyway, so why not reduce consumption by 50%, too? Or more. Then add in rebuilding forests, adding a bunch of food forests for more reliable, very efficien food supply, localize, walkable neighborhoods, “renewable” energy production…

    [Response: Sane, humane and addresses multiple problems. Which is why we don’t have it now.–Jim]

    This is so very, very doable.

    Come take a class and redesign a city.

    Comment by ccpo — 11 Feb 2011 @ 12:39 AM

  362. Rod, you’re contending that every object emits energy at all levels. You’re misreading something perhaps poorly written for high schoolers. That would include, say, hard x-rays — doesn’t happen.

    Are you saying if you wait long enough you’ll be able to detect an X-ray emission from anything above absolute zero?

    Well, your repeated returns to your theory are a proven way to distract people whenever they start to get focused in a climate topic.

    Works real well for that. We fell for it again.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Feb 2011 @ 12:48 AM

  363. Sorry to interrupt other conversations, but a question came up in a conversation on another blog that I thought someone here might be able to help me understand:

    How rapidly does methane disperse into the global atmosphere?

    I see that concentrations are much higher in the northern hemisphere, and especially in the Arctic. Should we take that to mean that there is a continual large emission going on there. If it had stopped, say, a decade ago, would the methane levels have evened out between the two hemispheres (north and south, that is) by now? A year ago?

    And if there were a large, sudden burst of methane from a particular point, how long would it take to spread, say, 1000 miles. (I assume prevailing winds would have a lot to do with it, but I’m speaking on average.)

    Thanks a head of time.

    [Response: about 10 years. – gavin]

    Comment by wili — 11 Feb 2011 @ 4:56 AM

  364. Rod, you are talking out an alternative orifice. They can trap single atoms now and keep them for weeks. They’ve even NAMED them like pets! I absolutely defy you to produce evidence that Einstein thought a single atom emitted continuum radiation. IT CAN NOT! If it could, the electronic orbits would be unstable and you would not have an atom.

    Rod, THINK. The energy of a photon is h times its frequency. Do you think the frequency must be integral? How do you think photons are produced?

    Free electrons–yes, their energy is not quantized. However, they also don’t emit radiation unless accelerated. And I don’t see many free electrons in a neutral gas.

    As to your reference, read again for comprenension. It says that an “object” will emit radiation. It does not say that radiation will be in a continuum. You are taking a short, nontechnical briefing for a lay audience with limited science education and reading into it what you want to see. Look again. It ain’t there. I agree it could be phrased more clearly, but the author chose to be vague so she wouldn’t have to go into more sophisticated concepts that were not central to her theme.

    Rod, I can assure you that physicists understand this. It’s not new. Some of us have done the math. Try it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Feb 2011 @ 5:13 AM

  365. Rod,
    again: are you really, seriously claiming that the quantization of photon energies follows our (entirely arbitrary) choice of the second as the fundamental unit of time? Which was incidentally chosen quite a few centuries before anybody even knew about photons? I respectfully suggest you have entirely misunderstood the whole E=h*f thing…

    Your point about blackbody radiation (correct me if I’m wrong) seems to be that given a collection of > 1 atoms or molecules at non-zero pressure, it is theoretically possible that they might interact in such a way that emission (or absorption) of radiation at any arbitrary frequency becomes allowed. This may or may not be true, but the probability of absorption or emission far from the “allowed” lines (defined primarily by the energy levels of a single molecule, and secondarily by the most common collision complexes or other transient clusters) is vanishingly small for any conditions relevant to our atmosphere. I guess this is what you mean when you say “quare meter for square meter it is significantly less than solids or liquids because of its very low number density among other things”. (Though “significantly” here might involve quite a lot more powers of ten than you might think.)

    Comment by Theo Kurtén — 11 Feb 2011 @ 6:35 AM

  366. Climate science at this point in time is a baby. We are living in the open chaotic plumbing system of a water modulated heat pump. The sun is the primary source of heat, water is the refrigerant and the atmosphere is our unbounded plumbing system. We are like gold fish in a bowl surrounded by weather that is created by non linear events. This on a decadal scale is very difficult to comprehend as complexities of chaos maths require real starting point information and the correct equations. This will not happen any time soon.
    The starting point to understanding our climate is the big picture. Firstly we must find and totally understand the causes of the ice ages, which are plainly re-occuring at set intervals, secondly the interglacials are also highly regular in their appearances. The causes for both of these must be celestial because of their periodity.
    The nit picking and statistical analysis of mainly imaginary numbers to try and evoke a warming or cooling caused by trace elements of gas in the atmosphere is not science.
    The real science is yet to be done, when a full understanding of the reasons for glacial and interglacial periods is understood, then and only then can we even begin to unravel the causes of the smaller ups and downs in our climate. It is time to stop and have a good slow look around at reality. The drivers of our climate are the sun the ocean and celestial mechanics.
    This is not a good time for our world, we are by all accounts at the end of an inter glacial, those recorded drivers of decadal warmth have all in unison turned negative. This is not usually a bad thing as droughts break but many suffer bad winters. This usually also is not a problem, but this cycle has a sun that refuses to awaken and is tracking at less than SC5 the LIA trigger, NASA are bewildered by the behaviour.
    A warming future is looking further from the truth by every day that passes that old Sol stays asleep.
    It is imperative that we investigate and understand the real cause of our climate changes, such that we can really prepare for what is to come, Warm is good cold would kill billions of people.

    Comment by wayne job — 11 Feb 2011 @ 7:00 AM

  367. Wayne Job burbled at 365

    “A warming future is looking further from the truth by every day that passes that old Sol stays asleep…”

    So do tell us why it’s still warming, Wayne…

    Comment by Joe Cushley — 11 Feb 2011 @ 8:14 AM

  368. Wayne (#365)–

    You write with conviction, but unfortunately I must respectfully tell you that your convictions are for the most part not factual.

    I’m sure others will have comments on specific points that you raise. I’m most familiar with the historical aspects, though, so that’s what I will respond to.

    Climate science is NOT “a baby.” Its roots predate relativity, quantum theory, electronics, and even (somewhat ironically) modern chemistry.

    Here’s a summary (and far from complete) of the early history:

    1824: Joseph Fourier calculates first heat budget for the Earth, and mathematically demonstrates the existence of what we now call the “greenhouse effect.”

    1838: Claude Pouillet studies insolation and atmospheric absorptivity, arriving at the first estimate of the “solar constant.” His data provides valuable constraints on Fourier’s model.

    1861: John Tyndall discovers the physical basis for Fourier’s greenhouse effect: CO2 (which he called “carbonic acid gas,” or simply “carbonic acid”) and other gases, transparent to light, were nonetheless largely opaque to radiant heat (infrared radiation.) He is able to measure this effect accurately in the laboratory, and suggests that this effect may offer the basis of an explanation of the Ice Ages.

    1896: Svante Arrhenius hand-calculates the first global model of CO2-induced global warming. Note that his primary research question was to “find and totally understand the causes of the ice ages!” This is your research program, Wayne, and in fact it was the impetus for most of the early research on CO2 and climate change.

    1901: Nils Ekholm summarizes the then-current understanding of the interplay of CO2 sinks and sources to the atmosphere. Notable is his verbal description of the effect of CO2 on effective radiating altitude–a perspective on the effects of CO2 that could have averted much time spent in the blind alley of the notion of “CO2 saturation.”

    1938: Guy Callendar synthesizes up-to-date information to show not only that the CO2 saturation argument is incorrect from an empirical point of view, but that CO2 concentrations are rising much more rapidly than previously thought, and that climate was warming quite rapidly.

    With Callendar, CO2 theory was brought into the 20th century, and the stage was set for the development of the modern theory. You’ll notice that that was over 70 years ago!

    More detailed summaries of these and subsequent ‘classic’ climate science papers can be found here:

    [Response: And of course you can read more about the long history of development of the physics behind global warming in “The Warming Papers,” put together by Dave Archer and myself. –raypierre]

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Feb 2011 @ 8:48 AM

  369. Miscellaneous points, suitable, I suppose, for “Unforced Variations”:

    1) I’m glad to see the O’Donnellgate thread close. It was getting tedious, and IMHO, eric’s comment to one fellow about “looking foolish” were both more widely applicable and charitable.

    2) I’ve taken a whack at the current cold weather and the recurrent “stopping” of global warming in a new web article. Its contents won’t surprise many here, but I hope it’s a useful resource for those dealing with folks overly impressed with the first, and too little aware of the history of the second. I titled it somewhat provocatively, which seems to be having the desired effect so far.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Feb 2011 @ 9:01 AM

  370. wayne job:

    1) Climate science is old (older than any field that started in the last century).

    2) We have a much better understanding of ice ages these days.

    3) We already have a remarkably good understanding of climate.

    Just because you do not understand these facts or any of the science does not mean that the science does not exist.

    There will always be things we don’t know. But that doesn’t take away from the vast amount that we do know. Now, before you post another collection of denier talking-points, please try to approach them sceptically.

    Comment by Didactylos — 11 Feb 2011 @ 9:19 AM

  371. Wayne Job,
    Others have pointed out the misconceptions in your post. I’ll just ask where you got these misconceptions and why you consider it to be a reliable source of information.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Feb 2011 @ 9:34 AM

  372. Where did wayne job get his misconceptions? Possibly here: Tomas Milanovic.

    Comment by JCH — 11 Feb 2011 @ 10:00 AM

  373. Now I look again at wayne job’s burblings, it’s like he copy and pasted something from 2008 or 2009, without thinking about what has changed since. Solar cycle 24 is now well underway – all those people saying “it’s another Maunder Minimum” are looking like the premature idiots they are. NASA aren’t even slightly “bewildered”. It is well documented that solar cycle prediction is difficult during a minimum, and more reliable once the cycle is a few years old. Yes, current predictions say cycle 24 will be quieter than recent cycles. But what of it? Solar energy delta is a small climate forcing, and simply no longer dominant.

    Also, he seems to be confusing the Maunder Minimum with the Dalton Minimum.

    Talking about global cooling is just silly after a record warm year. Doubly ludicrous when the proposed mechanism isn’t feasible.

    Triply daft when it involves sweeping away all that inconvenient science about “trace elements of gas in the atmosphere”!

    Don’t live in the past, Wayne. Try to learn from it instead.

    Comment by Didactylos — 11 Feb 2011 @ 10:14 AM

  374. But Didactylos, the climate is savaged by unpredictable tipping points that spring up out of thin air from the deep ocean. Like when the 30-year cold phase started in December, 2010. Less than 1% of climate scientists understood they could not see that one coming!

    Comment by JCH — 11 Feb 2011 @ 10:57 AM

  375. “if history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. I’m absolutely certain that the same is true of science.”

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 11 Feb 2011 @ 11:58 AM

  376. > wayne job says: 11 Feb 2011 at 7:00 AM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Feb 2011 @ 12:44 PM

  377. Hank, I haven’t taken Planck’s equation out to x-ray and beyond but I’m positive one gets an intensity from it at those frequencies. Anyway you’re scraping the barrel for fly specs to try to disprove my (and NASA/JPL’s) assertion . And if you think gaseous radiation emission and absorption has nothing to do with climate change you need to spend more time on RC!

    Comment by Rod B — 11 Feb 2011 @ 2:05 PM

  378. Ray, your gyrations and contortions to make apple pie out of a NASA article is quite impressive. Explaining that radiation is in a few frequencies or bands rather than “all” frequencies is way too sophisticated for an advanced high schooler to get, is it? Ya think?

    IIRC Einstein hedged his planck radiation from a single atom a bit when it got to a continuum. He couldn’t quite figure that one out. It’s not worth my time to search archives for Einstein’s assertion. You’ll just say he was dumbing it down for dummies.

    Ray and Theo, O.K. if the quanta break is not one cps, what is it? Or is it non-existent, in which case you just destroyed ALL quantization. You are aware that quantum numbers are almost always integers (or integers + ½) aren’t you?

    Comment by Rod B — 11 Feb 2011 @ 2:53 PM

  379. Rod, are you still responding to Raypierre’s question?

    (“A more productive discourse would be on the origins of Kirchoff’s law. I mean the microscopic origins ….”)

    You claim NASA, JPL, and RC support these statements?

    “… translation energy is not quantized ala vibration and rotation energy.”
    “… photons per se are not quantized other than theoretically their energy has to progress in steps of one (1) Hz which has no affect on anything.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Feb 2011 @ 3:15 PM

  380. #374–Ed,


    IMO, that is a great example of what can be done to communicate the science.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Feb 2011 @ 3:22 PM

  381. 376, Rod B,

    Wow. I missed a long, great conversation about molecular physics. Bummer. I didn’t even know it was going on (too distracted by Eric’s problems, as well as the need to earn a living)…

    Rod, I can’t believe you’re sticking to such a warped POV. I started this whole thing by asking a question because I’d run into people who simply could not distinguish between black bodies (artificial construct), massive bodies (like the sun, which approximate a black body) and a homogeneous gas of limited (i.e. not diverse) content, or an individual molecule.

    If I may, however, you keep bolstering your document by calling it a NASA/JPL assertion.

    It was written in 1998, clearly is an introductory text on astronomy (not quantum mechanics or physics), can (and obviously does) contain errors, and most importantly… you are misinterpreting an ambiguous sentence.

    Constantly referencing it as NASA/JPL, as if that gives it weight because “NASA said it,” is just silly.

    Can you please find anything that is (1) less vague and (2) a little more advanced (and specific) to support your (untenable) position?

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 11 Feb 2011 @ 3:50 PM

  382. Rod B,

    You should note that that “Introduction to Radio Astronomy” guide (from 1998) is all over the Internet… on amateur astronomy sites. Claiming this as a position held by NASA is just way, way over the top.

    FYI, the document has nothing to do with NASA.

    In the author’s words on how it was written:

    We had to assume afew things about the background of our audience. We geared our material to high school graduates who had taken chemistry, physics, and basic algebra. We avoided math almost entirely, instead seeking to impart a basic grasp of broad concepts, as well as to generate some enthusiasm for the subject.

    Next we had to choose our topics. Most of the materials we found that dealt specifically with radio astronomy were intermediate graduate or post-graduate astronomers,with most pages containing more equations than words! We used these materials to glean our choice of broad topics, but then sought simpler, more concept-oriented explanations of topics in general astronomy and physics texts.

    On the author herself:

    Diane Fisher Miller is a science and technology writer and web site developer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and has been at JPL 15 years.

    So you’re basing your knowledge of physics on the 13 year old writings (aimed at high school students, about radio astronomy) of a technology writer and web site developer with a degree in English.

    But you’re quoting it as if it’s the Gospel position of all of NASA.

    Come on, get serious. Find some evidence that a physicist agrees with your position (not a 13 year old pamphlet written as an introduction to Radio Astronomy).

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 11 Feb 2011 @ 4:01 PM

  383. Rod B,

    Just to clarify a little further:

    JPL also worked with the Lewis Center to establish protocols and procedures,et up meaningful research projects, and train its community volunteers, teachers, and, ultimately, students to operate the telescope and interpret its data. The first item on the radio telescope training agenda was to introduce the whole idea of radio astronomy. We assumed that most of our intended trainees barely understood what part of the electromagnetic spectrum radio astronomy dealt with, much less where this energy came from and what it could tell us. So we set out to develop a brief, self-administered workbook that would introduce the basic concepts at level appropriate to our audience.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 11 Feb 2011 @ 4:09 PM

  384. RodB says: “Ray and Theo, O.K. if the quanta break is not one cps, what is it? Or is it non-existent, in which case you just destroyed ALL quantization. You are aware that quantum numbers are almost always integers (or integers + ½) aren’t you?”

    This statement shows that you have not even mastered the basics of radiation absorption and emission. The quantization condition for light is its ENERGY, not its frequency. Energy = integer * Planck’s constant * frequency, where the integer is the number of photons.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 11 Feb 2011 @ 4:31 PM

  385. Rod: very simple: photons are quantized (as Ray said, you can’t have half a photon). Photon *energies* are not quantized in the sense that you seem to think (i.e. that “f” in E = H*f must have an integer value in the *totally arbitrary* system of units we happen to be using). Many processes can only produce photons with a certain value (or a certain range) of f, but there is no absolute universal law forbidding all photons, everywhere, from having any arbitrary value for f (and thus E). Where on Earth have you got the idea that only integer value frequencies (in units of inverse seconds) are allowed?

    But this is rather a side issue. Did I interpret your central argument correctly in my post above? (I.e. that due to interactions between molecules even in a gas, in principle any emission or absorption could – briefly and very improbably, but still – become allowed.) If so, this could be a case of “right in very abstract principle, wrong in practice” (by so many orders of magnitude you wouldn’t even believe it).

    By the way, have you considered that “any object” in your source might just mean “any macroscopic object”? (That would be sloppy writing, yes, but not a particularly serious error given the purpose of the text.) Look, I work with modeling of molecules and molecular clusters for a living, and I *still* would not even have thought of interpreting the “any object” as literally meaning “anything at all you can come up with, up to and including single molecules and atoms, and presumably even elementary particles”.

    Actually, how about emailing the author of the text in question and asking her about what she meant with this sentence? Since your interpretation of it contrasts with pretty much *every other source* out there, then it would certainly make sense to check whether or not this is just an issue of sloppy wording?

    Comment by Theo Kurtén — 11 Feb 2011 @ 5:20 PM

  386. Rod,
    this is a sidetrack but I couldn’t resist: if electromagnetic radiation were truly restricted to integer frequencies in units of 1/s, don’t you think e.g. this page would have a teeny-weeny bit of information on that:

    For example: “The fundamental mode of the Earth-ionosphere cavity has the wavelength equal to the circumference of the Earth, which gives a resonance frequency of 7.8 Hz.” Now, that’s a non-integer number of Herz. Is this a measurement error? (With some more googling we can probably find nice examples of radio waves with frequencies well below 1 Hz, which your theory says are impossible.)

    Comment by Theo Kurtén — 11 Feb 2011 @ 5:34 PM

  387. Rod,
    1)A presentation to an amateur astronomy group is not an authoritative source.
    2)A graduate text in stat mech is–particularly when the authors are Landau and Lifshitz
    3)I’ve been doing physics for 30 years. You?
    4)Your source doesn’t even support you–nowhere does it say that all matter must emit in the continuum. Prove me wrong with a quote.
    5)A single neutral atom cannot emit in the continuum. If it could, the electron would do so as it accelerates around the nucleus and the atom would not be stable.
    6)How is a collection of atoms qualitatively different from a single atom?

    Let’s start there. Which of these do you dispute?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Feb 2011 @ 7:15 PM

  388. @ AIC — 10 Feb 2011 @ 3:33 AM re
    “It Is Impossible For A 100 ppm Increase In Atmospheric CO2 Concentration To Cause GlobalWarming”

    He demonstrates a lack of understanding of basic atmospheric processes –
    “It is also important to understand that the thermal gradient in the troposphere is set by the lapse rate. This may be calculated thermodynamically from the surface air temperature and humidity, but the uniformity assumptions generally used may not always be valid. However, in all cases the lapse rate is not changed by 100 ppm variations in the concentration of the permanent greenhouse gases such as CO2.” The first part is oversimplified, the second part False. The dry adiabatic lapse rate is a theoretical model of the change in temperature that an isolated parcel of air would experience as it was moved from one altitude/pressure to a different altitude/pressure. The moist adiabatic lapse rate is the temperature change when the air contains enough moisture to change state from gas to liquid/solid, giving up latent heat that compensates for the cooling caused by expansion. With CO2, the gas can absorb IR, and transfer the energy to the other molecules; the CO2 can also absorb energy from the other molecules, and radiate it. To the extent that CO2 is transferring radiant energy into and out of the system, the process is no longer adiabatic. (an adiabatic process or an isocaloric process is a thermodynamic process in which no heat is transferred to or from the working fluid.) Because the energetics of the adiabatic processes are large and dominant, the environmental, or normal, or observed lapse rate in Earth’s atmosphere is usually between the moist and dry adiabatic lapse rates. But since the atmosphere isn’t adiabatic – there’s radiative transfer, and turbulent mixing, and layers with different humidities. and rainfall – there is no “set” thermal gradient.
    see and

    He’s internally inconsistent – “The air parcel will also absorb LWIR radiation from the air layers above and below. Usually the downward emitted flux and the upward absorbed flux are similar, whereas the absorbed downward flux from the cooler air layers above will be less than the upward emitted flux. The net effect is therefore a cooling of the atmosphere.” Therefore 100 ppmv more CO2 will cause more cooling of the upper atmosphere, increasing the lapse rate. This has been observed, and is confirmation of increased CO2 effect on atmospheric energy balance.
    See – “increases in carbon dioxide lead to highest cooling at altitudes between 40 and 50 km.” Their Fig 4, reprinted from Ramaswamy et al., Reviews of Geophysics, Feb. 2001, shows the greatest observed cooling from ’80-’94 at 47 km.

    He conflates difficult or impossible to observe with “not happening”
    “Small increases in LWIR emission from the atmosphere are converted into increases in ocean surface evaporation that are too small to detect in the wind driven fluctuations observed in surface evaporation….(therefore)…It is simply impossible for a 100 ppm increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration to have any effect on ocean temperatures.”
    Imagine you have the following:
    1. A 12 gallon water tank with 10 gallons of water in it,
    2. a pump whose rate randomly varies from 5-15 gallons per minute, taking water from the bottom of the tank and pumping it
    3. through meter 1 into
    4. a 20 foot standpipe with
    5. an orofice on the bottom that allows a flow of 20 GPM when the pipe is full, that empties into
    6. a drain line back to the tank that has
    7. a valve to a water supply to allow filling of the tank, and
    8. meter 2 that measures the flow back into the tank.
    You come in Monday morning to start it up, and notice the tank is a little low. You open the fill valve, and meter 2 registers ~1 GPM. when the tank is filled to the ten gallon mark, you close the valve, and turn on the pump. Meter 1 starts indicating flow that varies from 5-15 GPM, the stand pipe fills about half way, and starts draining back to the tank, and meter 2 starts indicating about the same flow as meter 1, but with a lag in changes; this is because when the pump rate increases and is reflected in meter 1, it takes some time for the standpipe to fill to a level where the inflow and outflow through meter 2 are balanced, and vice versa for decreases in pump rate. You decide to add a little extra to the tank to account for the volume in the standpipe, so you open the valve and ring the level up some, then close the valve. You don’t notice anything in the meters, cause the changes from the variable pump rate and the lags between the readings mask the effect of opening the valve. What you don’t see is that the fill valve is now leaking 0.1 GPM into the return flow from the standpipe. When you come back in 24 hours, how much water will have spilled on the floor? Does it make any difference what the meters read, or how much water got pumped?

    He’s doesn’t really know how climate models work, and is unfamiliar with important work in the field –
    “Any atmospheric energy transfer analysis must explicitly consider these linewidth effects and any approximations made to simplify the lineshape calculations have to be properly validated using high resolution results. These linewidth effects invalidate all of the flux equilibrium assumptions used in radiative forcing calculations.” False – the effects have been considered, and the radiative flux calculations in Global Climate are known to be valid approximations.
    Radiative transfer for inhomogeneous atmospheres: RRTM, a validated correlated-k model for the longwave
    EJ Mlawer, SJ Taubman, PD Brown… – Journal of Geophysical …, 1997 –
    “… A rapid and accurate radiative transfer model (RRTM) for climate applications has been developed
    and the results extensively … The radiative transfer in RRTM is performed using the correlated-k
    method: the k distributions are attained directly from the LBLRTM line-by-line …”

    He, like Gerlich & Tscheuschner, doesn’t really understand radiative transfer and the Second Law –
    “The temperatures in the upper troposphere are near 220 K. The assumption that small changes in LWIR flux in the upper troposphere or stratosphere can influence surface temperatures of 288 K requires a flagrant violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Heat does not flow from a cooler to a warmer body. The calculated ‘equilibrium surface temperature’ produced by radiative forcing calculations is not even a physically measurable climate variable.”
    In fact, it’s pretty clear he is channeling G&T, with a little bit of “its the sun, or water vapor” thrown in.
    see –
    “here are G&Ts conclusions and our targets
    (2) There are no calculations to determinate an average surface temperature of a planet
    (6) Re-emission is not reflection and can, in no way, heat up the ground-level air against the actual heat flow without mechanical work.”


    Comment by Brian Dodge — 11 Feb 2011 @ 8:30 PM

  389. Brian, I’d also add that “Usually the downward emitted flux and the upward absorbed flux are similar” seems completely unjustified–does the lapse rate (about which he makes such a fuss) take effect only at the altitude he considers for his ‘parcel of air?’

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Feb 2011 @ 9:25 PM

  390. For the Pliocene epoch’s climate
    is ok but for the mistake about the emergence of the long glacials; the paragraph in the introduction is wrong. The long glacials began but about one million years ago; the are more details in Tamino’s two threads I linked earlier.

    Also, more recent evidence pointss to the closure of the Isthmus of Panama, about 4 +- 1 million years ago:

    Neither appears to affect the conclusions of Lund et al. (2010).

    Comment by David B. Benson — 11 Feb 2011 @ 11:31 PM

  391. Re my #389 — Oops, wrong thread.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 11 Feb 2011 @ 11:50 PM

  392. For those following OHC.

    Comment by JCH — 12 Feb 2011 @ 9:09 AM

  393. 347 Ray said about what Raypierre meant.

    It’s a funny thing really. Thermodynamics doesn’t speak about time. The notion of thermodynamic equilibrium is profoundly useful but true thermodynamic equilibrium states don’t exist; they take forever to prepare. How long would we have to wait for a google Hz photon to be radiated by the chair I’m sitting in ?How many times would the chair have to radiate and absorb google Hz photons before it could be said that the google Hz modes had equilibrated? The Planck distribution suggests 10^(10^85) seconds (far far far longer than the age of the universe) give or take a few factors of a google. I think it’s fair to say that the chair will never equilibrate with the google Hz radiation because google Hz radiation doesn’t happen. I suppose one could argue that since there is no google Hz radiation that my chair is in fact equilibrated with it. But we can back the frequency down to whatever frequency the Planck distribution suggests is emitted once a year. Or once a decade. Then I would suggest that the notion of thermodynamic equilibrium ought to be in terms of flux balance. I think the distance that a given mode is from equilibrium can be defined as the time integral of the flux difference (flux difference = energy absorbed per unit time per unit area per unit frequency – energy radiated per unit time … ) over the time integrated radiated flux. Call that ratio epsilon. epsilon is a dimensionless function of both the integration time, T, and the frequency, nu. THen one could say that on time scales of T (the integration limit) the fluxes for frequency nu are balanced to within epsilon(T, nu). You’d find that if you fix epsilon that T would be an increasing function of nu since the high frequency events are rare. If you choose both T and epsilon there will always be frequencies that can’t equilibrate to within epsilon within time T. I’m not sure I’ve said anything that isn’t entirely trivial about detailed balance or Kirchoff’s law.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 12 Feb 2011 @ 10:11 AM

  394. @365 Wayne Job

    “Climate science at this point in time is a baby.”

    If that’s the case, then all science is infantile at this point. Others have posted enough evidence for this. It also started to get very serious in the 1950s. A good discussion arose right here

    “We are living in the open chaotic plumbing system of a water modulated heat pump.”

    Open system, yes. Heat pump, yes, this is an analogy I often use. Chaotic? Not really. Chaos means “no order” and there is much order to the climate system. Some simple examples: we know how much moisture air can hold at any given temperature, we know that when air rises, it begins to lose its ability to hold moisture, water freezes, under most circumstances, at 0 degrees Celsius, etc., etc. On a bigger scale, we understand regular phenomena like El Nino, La Nina, the Indian monsoon cycle, PDO, etc., etc., etc. Under chaos, none of these things would exist as known conditions: the system would react differently to the same conditions each time. Thus, there is a great deal of order to our climate system.

    “Firstly we must find and totally understand the causes of the ice ages, which are plainly re-occuring at set intervals, secondly the interglacials are also highly regular in their appearances. The causes for both of these must be celestial because of their periodicity.”

    Milankovitch cycles have a great deal of influence over ice ages, but the periodicity isn’t as neatly bounded as you claim. There are lots of climate amplifiers. GHGs are a big one, albedo another, sun spot activity, volcanism (which is short term unless persistent), ocean circulation patterns (back to the heat pump), moisture in the atmosphere, cloud cover, and lots of other things. Some of these things we understand well, and some have more questions marks around them, but lots of people are working on these things, and our understanding continually increases. The reality is that we don’t have to know every single detail to have a comprehensive understanding about the big picture once the most fundamental basics are known. I think it’s safe to say at this point that the most fundamental basics are known and have been tested repeatedly at this point.

    “The nit picking and statistical analysis of mainly imaginary numbers to try and evoke a warming or cooling caused by trace elements of gas in the atmosphere is not science.”

    Now you’re just making stuff up. The numbers are not imaginary – it’s pretty easy to quantify the amount of any given element in the atmosphere. It’s pretty easy to quantify what is produced when materials are burned (university chemistry 101-201 easy). Go back to the link I posted above – the insulative properties of GHGs in the atmosphere has been tested and documented and it’s pretty well understood how it works in the troposphere and higher. We’ve got new satellites that will help us refine that understanding to a much more granular point. Just because you don’t understand it or you don’t think other people understand it, doesn’t mean that the knowledge isn’t out there.

    It’s time for you to start asking questions of scientists instead of pretending to know something. The next time you think we collectively don’t know something – try asking instead of telling. You might learn something.

    “It is imperative that we investigate and understand the real cause of our climate changes, such that we can really prepare for what is to come, Warm is good cold would kill billions of people.”

    As noted, those investigations are ongoing and have been for a very long time. There isn’t some little handful of scientists dictating this and that, there are 1000s of us, each investigating little and big parts, and when we figure things out, we put it out there. And saying that warm is good and cold is bad is an outrageous oversimplification. Humans did pretty well in the Pleistocene – we wouldn’t be here if not. Diseases thrive in warm weather, not cold. The same with molds – when I lived in FL, I had long lasting respiratory infections all the time, almost none since I’ve been back up north. My brother in GA ha a longer growing season, but the buds on his second round of tomatoes dried up and fell off, then he got hit with blight and mold. Yes, those are anecdotal reports, not scientific, but think about. When the air is warmer and can hold more water, that means water evaporates more easily. Think about it. Use logic instead of sound bites and think it through.

    “Warm is good” also ignores the problem that rapid changes, whatever the result, are historically harbingers of disaster and extinction. Evolution favors slow environmental changes, no matter the species. On that note, ocean acidification from CO2 absorption means that shelled organisms, the base of the oceanic food chain, will have a hard time surviving. The rock record holds evidence of this, as well as simple chemistry. How “good” is it if the life in the oceans is dying off? How “good” is it if diseases and pestilence can more easily spread? Up north, we’re being invaded by several previously southern species of tree-killing insects. This is your idea of good?

    Comment by Shirley J. Pulawski — 12 Feb 2011 @ 10:34 AM

  395. In other news, RPJr. has been a naughty boy again:

    “In other words, researchers have yet to find evidence of more-extreme weather patterns over the period, contrary to what the models predict. “There’s no data-driven answer yet to the question of how human activity has affected extreme weather,’ adds Roger Pielke Jr., another University of Colorado climate researcher.”

    Kudos to Mapleleaf over at CP in compiling a list of post AR4 studies that highlights Roger’s ignorance (at least I hope it is merely that and not something else).

    Comment by Former Skeptic — 12 Feb 2011 @ 11:00 AM

  396. John Pearson,
    Stat Mech addresses the issue you are referring to in terms of the Ergodic hypothesis and the stosszahlansatz–that given enough time, a system will approach any point in phase space arbitrarily closely and that energy/momentum of nearby particles is uncorrelated. It is the only way to get from a phase space probability to a probability in time and so to explain irreversibility and entropy increase. It has actually been one of the most problematic aspects of the statistical mechanical explanation of thermodynamics, and it’s gone through many different incarnations since Boltzmann first articulated it (I think in the 1870s). None of the incarnations have been entirely satisfactory, but they are powerful and it’s tempting to think they are at least on the right track.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Feb 2011 @ 12:14 PM

  397. Re 393 Shirley J. Pulawski – actually the system is chaotic, at least in some ways, for example in the butterfly-effect-limited time horizon for weather prediction. But the chaos is bounded (boundary conditions force the climate) – and the chaotic behavior has a predictable ‘texture’ (that being an aspect of climate), if not exactly repeatable pattern.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Feb 2011 @ 1:26 PM

  398. Hank, yes I’m still responding to raypierre’s question (#152, main answer at #202) though not explicitly to his secondary suggestion about delving into Kirchoff’s laws, and though it got sidetracked with a couple of sidebars along the way.

    The NASA/JPL article (RC’s not involved at all) would indirectly support the translation energy non-quantization bit, but neither said nor implied anything about the quantization of a photon. The latter is mostly semantics it seems.

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 1:48 PM

  399. Bob (Sphaerica), referencing a NASA/JPL article as a NASA/JPL article is silly why again?? Actually it’s a JPL article posted on a NASA site, so NASA probably shouldn’t be referenced… and everybody knows what a schlock outfit JPL is! Oh! Wait. It was written back in 1998 before JPL had time to catch up on the latest of Planck equation stuff. Plus I see you join Ray L in that since it was written for less than PhDs they clearly had license and the desire to just make stuff up. Right! Actually, it seems it could help some PhDs.

    from Wikipedia: “Thermal radiation is a byproduct of the collisions arising from atoms’ various vibrational motions. These collisions cause the atoms’ electrons to emit thermal photons (known as black-body radiation). Photons are emitted anytime an electric charge is accelerated (as happens when two atoms’ electron clouds collide).” from Michael Fowler of University of Virginia: “…At sufficiently high temperatures, all bodies become good radiators…. Any body at any temperature above absolute zero will radiate to some extent, but the intensity and frequency distribution of the radiation depends on the detailed structure of the body…” A primer from The National Radio Astronomy Observatory: “…Any object or particle that has a temperature above absolute zero emits thermal radiation. The temperature of the object causes the atoms and molecules within the object to move around. For example, the molecules of a gas, as in a planet’s atmosphere, spin around and bump into one another. When the molecules bump into each other, they change direction. A change in direction is equivalent to acceleration. As stated above, when charged particles accelerate, they emit electromagnetic radiation. So each time a molecule changes direction, it emits radiation across the spectrum, just not equally….” So says roughly a site

    I’m certain there is a pile of rationalizations why the above sources don’t count in your-all’s minds, but I thought I’d throw them out. Feel free to attack them for the record, but I won’t be defending them — wastes everybody’s (especially mine) time.

    Is it the quote, “… any object that contains any heat energy at all emits radiation…. and then emits the energy at all frequencies…” that you find ambiguous?? Maybe if you read it slower or somethin’.

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 1:50 PM

  400. Rod, from your own quotation: “Any body at any temperature above absolute zero will radiate to some extent, but the intensity and frequency distribution of the radiation depends on the detailed structure of the body”

    First, is a gas a body? How about a single atom? Second, what about the latter part about the intensity and frequency distribution depending on the detailed structure of the body? Whence arises that dependence? How does it depend?

    Now, did I say NASA or JPL was not a usually reliable source. Does that mean that everything you find there is 100% accurate or phrased in the best way possible? No. Again, your source contradicts you. You just don’t realize it.

    Rod asks: “Is it the quote, “… any object that contains any heat energy at all emits radiation…. and then emits the energy at all frequencies…” that you find ambiguous?? ”

    OK, Rod, a single atom isolated in a magneto-optic trap at 2 Kelvins: Does it radiate in a continuum or not? It’s a simple question. Answer it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Feb 2011 @ 2:23 PM

  401. Rod, take a lump of anything.
    Put it on the table in front of you.
    What “frequencies” do you think it’s emitting?
    What does a “frequency” mean to you?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Feb 2011 @ 2:26 PM

  402. Re Rod B. – coming into the conversation midpoint, note that a blackbody radiation flux – unpolarized, incoherent, isotropic, an intensity in amount and spectral distribution fitting the Planck function, be produced, at least approximately (maybe nearly isotropic except for some directions), with one or more methods:

    Take a large isothermal opaque empty box or empty ball or whatever, and put a tiny hole it. Even with nonzero albedos, even large nonzero albedos at some frequency, polarization, etc, the path that a photon would have to take to go in, be reflected, and come out without absorption, will, with some possible exceptions in some directions, require many reflections. With some exceptions, each interaction with the material offers some probability of absorption. The same path offers the same probability of emission in the opposite direction. (PS I would think that many multiple interactions would also allow some equilibration of photons to non-photons even via Raman scattering and fluorescence) So the tiny hole, if tiny enough relative to the size of the chamber and for it’s inner surface’s albedo, can act approximately like a blackbody (PS maybe not for the wavelengths which are sizable relative to the hole; if the temperature is high enough, or the hole is allowed to be larger by using a less reflective material or larger chamber, then most of the energy will not be affected much by diffraction out the hole).

    Alternatively, an isothermal path that is sufficiently long to be nearly opaque, through a material with small single-scatter albedo – or the radiation seen from within a vast isothermal expanse, whatever scattering may occur.

    PS radiation is quantized in the sense that there are photons – whatever energies the photons have.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Feb 2011 @ 2:27 PM

  403. t_p_hamilton, WHAAA??! So, I’ll take the integer one (or two if you’d like) and since there is (evidently) an infinite range of allowable frequency differential (even smaller than 10^-100 Hz) I have an infinite number of quantum levels. I dunno, but that seems to defeat the whole purpose…

    Theo Kurtén, probably correct about the one Hz break. I wasn’t at all central to my point and is totally insignificant — like angels on the head of a pin. I did think it telling though that to counter my argument of a quanta at 20THz to the nearest whole Hz I was chastised for not including 2.00000000000004 Hz! There still seems to be something amiss. But, maybe you (and t_p_hamilton) are more correct… [scratch, scratch]

    Yes, you interpreted my central argument correctly (although this argument is a side bar to the initial question of planck radiation versus line spectral radiation and one I would have preferred not have come up — but my fault), which essentially says gases (or everything) can radiate ala Planck.. Though as I said, probably little in most cases (though I doubt as near infinitesimal as you are suggesting) and certainly requires at least enough atoms/molecules to make up a normal Boltzmann distribution.

    One of the things that bothers me (and I can’t so far get a crisp answer to) is how can 396 watts in a full planck spectrum emitting from the earth (and supplemented by 78watts coming from the sun into the atmosphere) physically generate a back radiation of 333 watts reaching the earths surface from only the narrow radiation bands of greenhouse gases (though admittedly H2O is pretty substantial) — and all of the details that attend this.

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 2:42 PM

  404. Ray Ladbury, answers:
    1) I heard you the first time you said JPL is not an authoritative source.
    2) Probably so, though I don’t see how Landau and Lifshitz are necessarily more authoritative than others.
    3) After 30 years I would have guessed you’d be more up on stuff. ;-)
    4) I agree it’s pretty hard for a single atom or molecule to radiate in a continuum.
    5) You can get something like a Boltzmann distribution which can generate a distribution of frequencies.

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 2:54 PM

  405. Brian Dodge, thanks for your #387. I started into the Ventura article and it seemed pretty scientifically astute. Then I stumbled across some pretty goofy sounding stuff and decided I’d catch it later, now with your critique to help.

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 3:07 PM

  406. Mr. Rod B commented on Landau and Lifshitz. I really like the whole series. Particularly: Vol. 10: Physical Kinetics. I recall fondly the discussion of detailed balance which helped me immensely when a calculation went pear shaped. I must warn that it takes a grad school level of technical proficiency, and it helps if you have a mentor for the sticky bits.


    Comment by sidd — 12 Feb 2011 @ 3:22 PM

  407. Rod B: Your own quotation contradicts you. “the intensity and frequency distribution of the radiation depends on the detailed structure of the body”

    Lord knows I’m not a physics expert, but I’ve always found reading comprehension a useful skill.

    Even your original quote contradicts you: “the amount of radiation emitted at each frequency (or frequency band) depends on the temperature of the material”

    Of course, I could have misunderstood your own position. Reading comprehension is only useful when there’s something there to comprehend.

    I did notice that you elided the words “(although not equally)”. It’s almost as if you aren’t being honest. Oh wait….

    If you are relying on an introductory workbook, don’t you think that’s a big clue that you’re out of your depth? Knowing when you’re out of your depth is a really useful thing to know.

    Comment by Didactylos — 12 Feb 2011 @ 3:25 PM

  408. Ray L, picking up some of the pieces:

    Finding something ambiguous and disagreeing with something are NOT the same thing.

    Yes gas is a body; a single atom not so much.

    Emissivity causes deviations from the classic continuous blackbody radiation curve, and CAN be a function of wavelength and temperature and physical structure.

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 3:45 PM

  409. Hank a lump at 300K radiates theoretically from 0 to maybe ~10^50 Hz, practically from about 10GHz to about 100THz with a peak intensity around 20THz. I don’t know the quanta though they’re pretty small. What’s your point?

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 3:56 PM

  410. RodB:”t_p_hamilton, WHAAA??! So, I’ll take the integer one (or two if you’d like) and since there is (evidently) an infinite range of allowable frequency differential (even smaller than 10^-100 Hz) I have an infinite number of quantum levels. I dunno, but that seems to defeat the whole purpose…”

    Purpose of what – quantization? Quantization was at first an ad hoc principle applied by Planck to get the blackbody radiation curve correct. It was with a continuous frequency spectrum – to verify this just look at the equation – do you see any integer type numbers or indices? No, you will not.

    The quantization idea is this:

    Say you have $100 and I have $1. This is analogous to available energy (temperature). We wish to buy sodas that cost $0.50 (a small amount, like the amount of energy in the infrared). Essentially you can buy as many as you want within reason, because the quantum required ($.50) is insignificant compared to the available energy ($100). Now for the ultraviolet (like buying a new car), you and I can buy exactly the same amount – zero. In classical physics making up any amount of payment was possible (so you could by 100/25,000 th of a car), because there were no requirements to buy an integer number of items. The concept of items (quanta) did not exist. This theory gives infinite energy for high frequencies, whereas the actual observed amount approaches zero. This is more than just a little disagreement.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 12 Feb 2011 @ 3:58 PM

  411. Re Rod B. quoting Wikipedia in 399 When the molecules bump into each other, they change direction. A change in direction is equivalent to acceleration. As stated above, when charged particles accelerate, they emit electromagnetic radiation.

    I would like to hear what a physicist would say about that; neutral molecules may have dipoles (temporary and permanent) and changes in spin and vibration would accelerate charge (and collisions can do that), but the acceleration of the whole molecule in some direction doesn’t do that if the molecule is neutral. An oscillating dipole emits radiation; I’m not clear on what happens with an accelerating dipole (translation, not accelerating the oscillation).

    Vibrations and rotations are quantized, though. (? I would imagine translational states might be quantized when other molecules are around, perhaps only with significant effect in sufficiently dense packing, as in solids and liquids (? – phonons?).)

    PS it has sometimes been said that, when there are quantized states, other states aren’t available and the system jumps instantaneously from one available state to another – but actually, the solution for the time-independent Schrodinger equation is what describes the available states; the process of transition from one such state to another must be described by the time-dependent equation; a continuum of states are available so long as the state is changing and thus the system is in the process of emitting or absorbing energy or … but that process can not be completed until the system reaches a state that is available when the state is not changing – so far as I know.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Feb 2011 @ 4:00 PM

  412. > 396 watts in a full planck spectrum emitting from the earth

    You’ve been asserting, for years, that physics doesn’t allow for warming due to increasing CO2 based on this notion — right?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Feb 2011 @ 4:26 PM

  413. “Any body at any temperature above absolute zero will radiate to some extent, the intensity and frequency distribution of the radiation depending on the detailed structure of the body….

    … Einstein took the next step: he conjectured that all oscillators are quantized, for example a vibrating atom in a solid. This would explain why the Dulong Petit law, which assigns specific heat 3k to each atom in a solid, does not hold good at low temperatures…. The specific heat falls, as is indeed observed. Furthermore, it explains why diatomic gas molecules, such as oxygen and nitrogen, do not appear to absorb heat into vibrational modes—these modes have very high frequency….

    … the two measures, per unit interval of frequency and per unit interval of wavelength, are different, so a claim that, say, sunlight is most intense in the yellow has to specify which is being used (actually it would be wavelength, frequency would give the near infrared).”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Feb 2011 @ 4:36 PM

  414. Rod B,

    Wow. Just wow.

    Suggested recipe for education:

    Buy a textbook (not any random article you find on the Internet that supports the misunderstanding you already have).




    Then come back and we’ll talk.

    [I cannot believe a bunch of PhD physicists and chemists have been sucked into arguing about this with you, when A) your understanding is so tragically, comically warped, B) you are so unwilling to listen, reason and learn and C) you actually attack people who do understand the subject! Just amazing.]

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 12 Feb 2011 @ 4:51 PM

  415. Re Rod B – about energy being quantized, see last paragraph of my last comment. The energy is quantized in that individual systems only have a discrete set of allowable states (when not in the process of interacting with other systems or things – note that a larger system can be defined to include that interaction, though – right?). A sufficiently large system (solid of large number of atoms) may have so many closely-spaced energy levels that it may seem like a continuous band. Different systems that may otherwise be identical may be perturbed in different ways so that the photons emitted and absorbed don’t fit the same identical set of energy levels, or be moving relative to each other, so that emitted photons are red- or blue-shifted differently. Then there’s the uncertainty principle. As explained by someone else on another thread, a shorter finite time a photon emission occurs within requires some range of frequencies for that photon (a shorter pulse of wave amplitude is the superposition of a larger range of wavelengths).

    The energy is also quantized in the sense that it is carried by or consists of particles, or something which acts like particles even if it is also waves.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Feb 2011 @ 5:12 PM

  416. PS Rod B. – remember that the radiation emitted toward the surface from the atmosphere will be, at frequencies where the atmosphere is more opaque (or else when there are lower-level clouds) coming from layers that are generally warmer (aside from inversions). Peaks (or if there is an inversion that is sufficiently optically thick, dips) in the spectrum of downward radiation reaching the surface may fit a Planck function for temperatures found near the surface.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Feb 2011 @ 5:19 PM

  417. Maybe it’s time for Rod B’s contributions on this to be sent to the Bore Hole? I’ve learned a lot from the attempts by Patrick, Rays, Hank, Theo etc to educate him on this matter (unintended pun). He hasn’t.

    Comment by Joe Cushley — 12 Feb 2011 @ 5:55 PM

  418. Patrick 027 (411), sounds good. An oscillating dipole is an accelerating dipole.

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 6:17 PM

  419. Hank, I’ve been asserting for years that physics doesn’t allow for warming due to increasing CO2 based on this notion that 396 watts in a full planck spectrum emits from the earth, you say??? Where did that come from? You clearly have me confused with somebody else? I’ve never said, implied, or thought such.

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 6:22 PM

  420. > Rod
    > a lump at 300K radiates theoretically from 0 to maybe ~10^50 Hz,
    > practically from about 10GHz to about 100THz with a peak intensity
    > around 20THz.

    300K, 80.33F

    A lump of what, Rod? Glass? Aluminum? Soot? Ice? White paint?
    You really don’t believe there’s any difference?
    Why’s Stephen Chu suggesting white roofs, then?

    Try this version:
    Wilhelm Wien
    The Nobel Prize in Physics 1910

    “… If one assumed that Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetic radiation, which worked well in the macroscopic world, was also valid at the microscopic scale (tenths of nanometers), then these oscillating charges would radiate, presumably giving off heat and light….

    … A full understanding of how this works needs quantum mechanics, but the general idea is as follows. There are charges-electrons-in glass that are able to oscillate in response to an applied external oscillating electric field, but these charges are tightly bound to atoms, and only oscillate at certain frequencies. It happens that for ordinary glass none of these frequencies correspond to those of visible light, so there is no resonance with a light wave, and hence little energy absorbed. Glass is opaque at some frequencies outside the visible range (in general, both in the infrared and the ultraviolet). These are the frequencies at which the electrical charge distribution in the atoms or bonds can naturally oscillate…..

    … Heated bodies radiate by processes just like the absorption described above operating in reverse. Thus, for soot heat causes the lattice to vibrate more vigorously …. On the other hand, the electrons in a metal have very long mean free paths, the lattice vibrations affect them much less, so they are less effective in radiating away heat….

    At sufficiently high temperatures, all bodies become good radiators. Items heated until they glow in a fire look much more similar than they do at room temperature. For a metal, this can be understood in terms of a shortening of the mean free path by the stronger vibrations of the lattice interfering with the electron’s passage.

    … Any body at any temperature above absolute zero will radiate to some extent, but the intensity and frequency distribution of the radiation depends on the detailed structure of the body. To make any progress in understanding radiation, we must specify the details of the body radiating…..”

    You’re obscuring the detail by talking about “a lump” Rod — the hotter you get the material, the less its detailed structure limits “the intensity and frequency distribution” because the details — the dimensions/connections/distances between bits of the structure — vary more and more, the hotter it gets.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Feb 2011 @ 6:27 PM

  421. “…not clear on what happens with an accelerating dipole…” Patrick 027 — 12 Feb 2011 @ 4:00 PM
    “…or be moving relative to each other, so that emitted photons are red- or blue-shifted differently.” Patrick 027 — 12 Feb 2011 @ 5:12 PM
    The emission from an oscillating dipole which is accelerating in the observers frame of reference would be chirped; increasing frequency if it is accelerating towards the observer, decreasing if it is accelerating away – changing doppler shift as its velocity changes.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 12 Feb 2011 @ 6:29 PM

  422. Rod, So an gas is a body, but not an atom of a gas. How about 2 atoms? 3? 4? If so, what is different about the multi-atom assembly from the single atom case? How many atoms are needed? OK, now look at a hydrogen vapor lamp. Do you see a continuum spectrum? Why, no. We see a Balmer series. Why?

    And, Rod, I would appreciate it if you would actually do me the courtesy of reading what I write and not distorting it. What I said is that the particular JPL presentation you cite is intended for a lay audience, and so is not precise in its phrasing. And even then, it does not support what you say.

    Patrick, collisions that would distort the energy levels of an atom sufficiently for it to radiate will outside its allowed energy levels would be extremely rare. As I said to Rod above, if you look at a vapor lamp, you see emission in a line spectrum. This is why thay have to put phosphors on mercury vapor lamps to get anything even remotely approaching full spectrum lighting.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Feb 2011 @ 7:27 PM

  423. Re 421 Brian Dodge – Thank you; actually though I was wondering about a dipole whose translation is being accelerated and is not necessarily oscillating. If the charges are closely spaced relative to wavelengths being emitted then their radiation should largely cancel out, but …?

    Re 422 Ray Ladbury – thank you (about collisions). But how about the vibrational/rotational states of molecules (I haven’t reviewed pressure/collisional broadenning in a while; that is what I was thinking of)?

    PS Re Rod – vibrational/rotational energy levels of relatively simple molecules (like CO2) can produce huge numbers of closely spaced absorption/emission lines.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Feb 2011 @ 7:54 PM

  424. > Rod
    > One of the things that bothers me (and I can’t so
    > far get a crisp answer
    > to) is how can 396 watts
    > in a full planck spectrum

    See, there’s your first problem, you assume a “full planck spectrum” describes the energy pictured in the classic chart

    > emitting from the earth

    What’s the temperature of the surface? Everything that passes through the atmosphere is intercepted in the surface and changed into heat. The surface is at a temperature in the infrared range.

    > (and supplemented by 78watts coming from the
    > sun into the atmosphere) physically generate a back radiation of
    > 333 watts reaching the earths surface from only

    Here’s another problem:

    > the narrow radiation bands of greenhouse gases

    What’s the temperature of the atmosphere? The earth is bright in the infrared. That energy is intercepted in the greenhouse bands, and if you look at the lines they cover most of that infrared range. That energy is intercepted, passed to nitrogen and oxygen, averaging out the temperature, and passed back to greenhouse gases, winding them back up to where they emit infrared.

    > (though admittedly H2O is pretty substantial)
    > — and all of the details that attend this.

    That’s the problem you keep raising — you
    can’t see how the greenhouse effect works.
    Your theory doesn’t allow you to see how it works.

    Try doing it as a hypothetical.

    If energy behaved as the physicists are telling you it does — would that make sense to you? Do you follow the argument except you don’t believe the surface heat is radiated in the infrared at the surface temperature?

    Or is this where you say heat isn’t temperature and temperature isn’t heat?

    –> What would have to be true, for you to believe the picture? <–

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Feb 2011 @ 8:40 PM

  425. Patrick, Collisional/pressure broadening can cause some of the lines to coalesce, but it doesn’t come close to absorbing a continuum. But basically, the higher the density, the more interaction, and the more of the spectrum that gets absorbed. However, even in a liquid, you don’t really get continuum absorption. And in a solid, the energies are in bands, so it’s close. That’s why you use a metal filament in a lightbulb. Even here, though, not quite a blackbody.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Feb 2011 @ 8:58 PM

  426. Maybe this will help:

    “… our atmosphere is only partially transparent to infrared wavelengths. Filled with water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane, our atmosphere absorbs almost all infrared light …. These molecules grab infrared light and trap it, preventing it from passing through the atmosphere (which is why they are called greenhouse gases)….
    … The final problem posed by our atmosphere for infrared astronomers is that it — and the Earth itself — is warm. Infrared light is characteristically emitted by room-temperature objects. Objects like you and I glow brightly in infrared light, and so does the Earth and its atmosphere. If you could see in infrared light, the night sky would look as bright as daylight!”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Feb 2011 @ 9:02 PM

  427. Bob (Sphaerica), so you’re saying in #414 that I’m idiotic to believe some article written by JPL when I have you to listen to instead??

    [editorial comment: OK, we’re going to ask everyone here to tone down the rhetoric from here forward. Anything further that is personal/ad hom is going to be edited out]

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 9:43 PM

  428. And these may help:

    “The atmosphere is transparent to visible light, but mostly opaque to infrared.
    Infrared “opacity” comes from absorption bands of H2O, CO2, CH4 and others molecules. Zoom into the near-Infrared (1-6micron) showing specific molecular bands ….
    “Photons are absorbed by the ground, heating it up
    The warm ground radiates infrared photons (Wein’s Law)
    The atmosphere, however, is mostly opaque to infrared photons
    Most of the infrared photons emitted by the warm ground get absorbed by the atmosphere on their way out, heating the atmosphere.”

    Yet another: — “every wavelength” is for a theoretical object, not reality.

    “A black body is a theoretical object that absorbs 100% of the radiation that hits it…. In practice no material has been found …. It is also a perfect emitter of radiation…. It would emit at every wavelength of light as it must be able to absorb every wavelength to be sure of absorbing all incoming radiation.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Feb 2011 @ 9:45 PM

  429. Patrick 027, I think your #415 is about right. The various numerous energy states of a crystal stems from bounding a piece of the crystal, as I understand it (which I understand is perfectly proper for analysis). I agree with your red shift/blue shift or uncertainty factor in radiation analysis. But this applies whatever the genesis of radiation. Also, from a practical matter with atmospheric absorption/emission, they have virtually no effect.

    I don’t fully follow your ‘radiation into opaque frequencies’ thought. GHGs radiate at rather precise frequencies determined intrinsically by the GHG molecule, not by what is in the path of the radiation. Or are you saying that CO2 (e.g.) in the path is far more likely to absorb backradiation from other CO2 molecules and therefore present a more opaque path. Can you better explain your thought?

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 10:16 PM

  430. Hank, were you just trying to catch me off guard with a veiled gotcha?? My lump answer (for your lump) was for a blackbody. In real lumps emissivity and therefore planck function intensity CAN vary with temperature, wavelength of physical makeup, as I clearly said earlier. I find nothing in the main of your #420 that I disagree with.

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 10:30 PM

  431. Ray, I’ve answered your points in #422 at least twice. I would appreciate it if you would actually do me the courtesy of reading what I write and not distorting it before lambasting it.

    “is not precise in its phrasing.” Is that spinmeister’s words for lying through their teeth and making stuff up? If such an article had been written by a so-called denier, how would you have characterized that? ‘Not precise in their phrasing???’ Just curious.

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 10:41 PM

  432. Patrick 027, “hugh” is an imprecise subjective term. I’d by “lots;” Maybe a ‘whole lot’… I agree and have said that the combined vibration-rotation spectral lines form a band like spectra much better than uncertainty, doppler and even collisions (which usually get the credit.)

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 10:49 PM

  433. Rod, #431–

    “is not precise in its phrasing.” Is that spinmeister’s words for lying through their teeth and making stuff up?

    No, Rod, it’s not. When you are explaining things to beginners, you can’t be fully precise because the result will be information overload and zero comprehension.

    Hence, pedagogical simplifications are useful in a great many subject areas–from radiation physics to music theory. (Which I mention because that is where I personally have had the most occasion to deploy pedagogical simplifications.)

    And I’m not making that up. . .

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Feb 2011 @ 11:13 PM

  434. Could I ask the experts – what are your views on the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project (a new global temp data set)?

    Comment by Ianash — 12 Feb 2011 @ 11:18 PM

  435. Hank, the upwelling surface radiation IS a full spectrum planck type. The earth is considered to have an emissivity of near 1.0 and hardly wavelength dependent — so much so that 1.0 is assumed in most analyses taking earth as a blackbody at 288K +/-.

    I know fully how the greenhouse gas theory works. It’s the specific numbers that seem to me to have a problem. (And I mean “seem.” Can’t say with certainty that they do have a problem.)

    Yes, heat isn’t necessarily temperature but I’m not sure that’s a factor here…

    Your referenced statement that “…our atmosphere absorbs almost all infrared light…” might sum up my questions here. I know that’s what the models say (absorbs roughly 90% of the full spectrum emitted watts), but if one looks at high resolution Spectracalc there are far more wavelengths with no (or extremely light) absorption in CO2, e.g. I haven’t done the math so I can’t say anything is wrong, but it raises questions because my sniff test is not good.

    Comment by Rod B — 12 Feb 2011 @ 11:28 PM

  436. > gotcha
    No, Rod, I’m sincerely trying to figure out why you keep bringing up this doubt of yours, over and over, repeatedly taking conversations away from climate change and the greenhouse effect, by saying there’s something you’re just a mite uncertain about, something you can’t quite see how it could be so, something that just couldn’t work the way all these physicists think so some little error must have crept in.

    Then we go ’round and ’round with you and — nothing gets figured out.

    And a few months later, you bring it up again, but never get clear.

    What, as clearly as you can say, is it that you don’t believe or doubt or don’t think adds up?

    Whatever it is you’re trying to say — can you please say it?

    Just say it. Clearly as possible.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Feb 2011 @ 11:30 PM

  437. hmmmm

    “The emissivity of most natural Earth surfaces for the
    wavelength range covered by the five ASTER TIR bands between 8 and 12 μm
    (Table 1) is from 0.65 to close to 1.0.”
    Remote Sensing of Environment
    Volume 113, Issue 9, September 2009, Pages 1967-1975

    The North American ASTER Land Surface Emissivity Database (NAALSED) Version 2.0( has now been released ….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Feb 2011 @ 12:15 AM

  438. Just say it. Clearly as possible

    How about this: RodB doesn’t understand, therefore he doesn’t except mainstream climate science.

    This is *much* better than those who say, \I don’t understand, therefore climate science is a fraud\.

    Comment by dhogaza — 13 Feb 2011 @ 12:42 AM

  439. “Do you know how much trouble it is for me to pretend to care about facts?” Rod B

    Do you know how boringly irritating it is for the majority here to have to scroll past all your “efforts” in order to find comments relevent to Unforced variations actually concerning climatology?

    Hank and Ray, in particular, please stop feeding the troll!!

    [Response: Not defending Rod B, who appears to be just spinning things along in an attempt to create an impression that there’s something not understood here (Rod, prove me wrong, it would make me happy!), but the quote up there seems to have been from somebody posting as a parody, under the name “Rod B-“. I deleted that since I thought it might cause confusion. Note that although I’ve made a cameo re-appearance, I don’t propose to start moderating this thread with comments again. Just issuing a put-up or shut up. –raypierre]

    Comment by flxible — 13 Feb 2011 @ 1:27 AM

  440. dhogaza #438. Accept, not except. And I think you’re wrong about Rod B. I think his statements are insincere from the start: none of his positions are genuine; it’s not that he doesn’t understand, I think his interest lies elsewhere. However, I am learning where he is not, so I value the answers to his drivel.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 13 Feb 2011 @ 1:39 AM

  441. I’m not making an attempt to moderate this thread, but I happened to notice (rather to my astonishment) that the gabfest between Rod B and others on thermal emission is still going on, but seems to be going nowhere. Some useful references for people to read have emerged, but I see an awful lot of confusion here (most, but not all by Rod B) on points of the statistical mechanics of radiation and how that relates to quantum states (lines) that are in fact completely understood and have been for a long time. I don’t want any casual readers (if there are any left after roughly 450 comments) to drive by and think there’s anything really unresolved in the physics here. In fact, after taking a quick look at the exchanges, I can’t figure out just what Rod B is really complaining about. The closest thing to a statement about what is confusing him is the statement about where the back radiation is coming from (and I don’t fully understand the question).

    So, Rod B, could you please state, concisely and clearly, what (if anything) there is in your conception of radiative transfer that leads you to think that some of the numbers in the basic greenhouse theory don’t (as you put it) quite “add up”? If you can’t do that, we might as well just shut down this discussion, since it’s not going anywhere. Rod B., if you are not getting answers to the questions you are posing, it is because most of us cannot figure out what you are trying to get at.

    Comment by raypierre — 13 Feb 2011 @ 1:49 AM

  442. Science of Doom and a Rod B discussed the subject.

    [Response: Hmmm. The discussion of back-radiation by Science of Doom was really excellent, and I see that Rod B didn’t manage to learn anything from that exchange and is just repeating the same points of confusion here. I’d love to be proven wrong, but I’m beginning to doubt Rod B is going to make any more progress this time than last time (assuming charitably that he really wants to make progress). –raypierre]

    Comment by JCH — 13 Feb 2011 @ 10:56 AM

  443. How did Arrhenius do it? He managed to figure out the greenhouse effect on climate very well without quantum mechanics. I am not proposing to explain Arrhenius. Perhaps a future RC post (or short series?) explaining how Arrhenius did it and then showing how to do it even better with QM would add greatly to the understanding of all RC readers.

    [Response: You don’t need a post. There is a very in-depth discussion of this in the chapter on Arrhenius in The Warming Papers. The upshot is that it’s perfectly possible to make use of physical laws based on observation before one has understood the microscopic origin of those laws in statistical mechanics. Specific heats depend on quantum theoretical effects, but people were making predictions based on specific heat long before quantum theory. The Stefan-Boltzman radiation law was well established experimentally long before its origins in the Planck hypothesis were understood. Similarly Kirchhoff’s laws and the spectrum of emission of various non–black radiating bodies and gases. What Arrhenius was lacking to do the calculation completely correctly was not so much quantum theory as accurate measurements of the spectroscopy of water vapor and CO2. –raypierre]

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 13 Feb 2011 @ 11:06 AM

  444. I am a fool for jumping back into this, and I don’t intend to stay long, but I want to lay to rest Rod B’s concern that the back-radiation can be greater than the net solar radiation. He also seems concerned about comparison to the solar radiation absorbed in the atmosphere, rather than the total, but that confusion, like the rest, is because he forgets that whatever is absorbed at the surface — solar or IR — is given back to the atmosphere in the form of turbulent heat fluxes plus upward infrared. To make things clearer, let’s look at the extreme case of Venus, for which so little solar radiation reaches the surface we can practically neglect it in the surface term. In this case, moreover, the CO2 density is so high that it is optically thick throughout nearly all the spectrum. Then, the back-radiation at 727K is a whopping 15838 W/m**2, way in excess of the 163 W/m*2 of solar radiation absorbed by Venus (remember the high albedo!). But there’s no problem energetically, since the ground is radiating upward also at very nearly the same temperature, giving the back radiation right BACK to the atmosphere, which absorbs it because it is optically thick. All that energy just keeps shuttling back and forth. No problem. Never was, never will be.

    In the Earth’s tropics, the situation is rather similar, except most of the opacity of the low level atmosphere is provided by water vapor and low level clouds. Further, for Earth, a significant proportion of the energy exchange between surface and atmosphere is by turbulence, not radiation.

    But nobody should think any of this is a good route to understanding the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is best understood in terms of the top-of-atmosphere budget. See the discussion of the Surface Budget Fallacy in our book, The Warming Papers, or in Chapter 6 of my book Principles of Planetary Climate.

    Comment by raypierre — 13 Feb 2011 @ 11:10 AM

  445. Hey, Fred Pearce seems to redeem himself slightly here…

    The play is on just up the road from me, and I’m booking tickets. ‘Greenland’ at the National Theatre is another outing I’ll be making soon…

    Comment by Joe Cushley — 13 Feb 2011 @ 11:19 AM

  446. Raypierre, I’d really like to hear more on what you were getting at with regard to the microscopic origins of Kirchoff’s law!

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 13 Feb 2011 @ 11:36 AM

  447. oops. sorry. I meant Ray (Pierrehumbert) I’d really like to hear what you were getting at with regard to the microscopic origins of Kirchoff’s law!

    [Response: It might be better to hold that thought for the next Unforced Variations open thread. At this point I don’t think many others are still listening in, and anything we say will reach only a limited audience. Mind, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Kirchhoff’s Law, just that it’s something which has a lot of subtlety to it. It’s something that people really ought to feel a bit confused about, until they’ve studied it in depth. –raypierre]

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 13 Feb 2011 @ 11:37 AM

  448. John, try:

    “… the second law of thermodynamics has not appeared anywhere in this argument. That’s because it’s entirely microscopic, whereas thermodynamics is a macroscopic theory. Nevertheless, one can show, via statistical mechanics, that when the relationships described here hold at the microscopic level, then the macroscopic properties will obey the laws of thermodynamics. We don’t need to invoke thermodynamics because we’re guaranteed that anything that we calculate from the microscopic theory will, as long as we do not make a mistake or an inappropriate approximation, obey thermodynamics.

    Thus, I view Kirchhoff’s and Boltzmann’s original derivations of Kirchhoff’s law and the Stefan-Boltzmann law, which did invoke the laws of thermodynamics as, in some sense, having been superseded. By requiring that macroscopic properties obey thermodynamics, Kirchhoff and Bunsen derived relationships that any microscopic theory of radiation-matter interactions would have to satisfy. This was of enormous importance for the historical development of the microscopic theory. Nevertheless, we now have a successful microscopic theory the interactions between radiation and matter. As noted above, Dirac wrote down the essentials in 1927.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Feb 2011 @ 11:47 AM

  449. 443, Raypierre, in comment: The upshot is that it’s perfectly possible to make use of physical laws based on observation before one has understood the microscopic origin of those laws in statistical mechanics.

    I am glad that you wrote that.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 13 Feb 2011 @ 12:05 PM

  450. 444, Raypierre, in comment: See the discussion of the Surface Budget Fallacy in our book, The Warming Papers, or in Chapter 6 of my book Principles of Planetary Climate.

    I have read chapter 9, because it’s short and deals with a subject that is treated more fully in another book that I recently bought. I have been reading chapter 4, and the lively thought-provoking exercises. So I took his advice and scanned chapter 6 as well.

    If anyone is still seeking enlightenment on the exchanges between Rod B and others, I recommend we all follow Raypierre’s advice — leave here, and read his book.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 13 Feb 2011 @ 12:19 PM

  451. “At any given time, somewhere between three and five atmospheric rivers are typically ferrying water in each hemisphere. More than 1,000 kilometers long, they are often no wider than 400 kilometers and carry the equivalent, in water vapor, of the flow at the Mississippi River’s mouth. ‘That has really captured the imagination of scientists,” says Marty Ralph, also a meteorologist at the Boulder lab. “There are only a handful of these events, and yet they do the work of transporting 90-plus percent of water vapor on the planet.’

    Ordinary clouds don’t carry lots of water vapor long distances; they rain out as soon as water droplets coalesce and get heavy enough to fall as precipitation. In the 1990s, MIT researchers calculated from wind and moisture data that jets in the atmosphere, which the scientists termed atmospheric rivers, must exist to help ferry water around the planet.

    Since then researchers have gotten a better look at the rivers, using microwave-sensing instruments carried on polar-orbiting satellites….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Feb 2011 @ 12:33 PM

  452. A fraternity hazing technique is to have the initiate hold a burning match while reciting the Greek alphabet. The challenge is to deliver answers before being burned. And similar games are played while holding ice cubes – merely an uncomfortable test.

    [Response: Huh?]

    We live in a world of radical change with an increasing rate of change, measuring astounding events. Scientific effort should be commesurate with the rate of change in our world. To meet the challenges of the future, we need far more research and faster reporting and review. Why not? The need is there.

    I point to one amateur’s blog on the problem of ozone pollution… – by a non-scientist and mother, Gail Zawacki, who simply observes serious problems in the world she sees. She is in contact with researchers studing tropospheric ozone – and calls up some serious questions deserving of more study. (O3 generation from ethanol, damage to plant life, increase with heat, etc)

    [Response: Well actually you’re giving quite a good example of why “blog science” by amateurs is a real problem–and it doesn’t matter which side of the “AGW fence” you’re on to qualify it as such. You are sure right that we need more science, but that science has to be of high quality, and peer-reviewed by the scientific community, which much “blog science” is decidedly not. You don’t just assemble whatever information you can find, throw it together on a blog, and act like that proves your pet theory (while at the same time accusing the mainstream science community of cover ups, malfeasance etc)–as the blog and person you refer to, has done. Nor do bloggers generally discover any important problems that scientists are not already aware of, though they dearly like to imagine so–Jim]

    Blogs are not formal science research – but the rates of change increases and time compresses. In the midst of dire problems, we should welcome all comers who increase reporting.

    [Response: NOPE, not unless they show they are credible–they simply add to the noise otherwise.–Jim]

    This is no fraternity hazing, right now all humans are touched by increased combustion and rapidly melting ice.

    Comment by richard pauli — 13 Feb 2011 @ 12:40 PM

  453. 447, Hank Roberts, thanks for the link. It was a good read.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 13 Feb 2011 @ 1:07 PM

  454. This is not encouraging; good science is being discarded for political PR:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Feb 2011 @ 1:11 PM

  455. Thank you, Jim, for that quick sanity check response above.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Feb 2011 @ 1:35 PM

  456. “I certainly think that blogs can be of tremendous value in bringing up more context and dispelling the various mis-apprehensions that exist, but as a venue for actually doing science, they cannot replace the peer-reviewed paper – however painful that publishing process might be.”

    I totally agree and have tremendous respect for real science. My blog was never intended to be scientific in the proper academic sense of the word.

    When I first noticed that all the trees are dying (and they are, all dying, every species of every age in every habitat)

    [Response: Is that a fact? You’ve been around the world observing this first hand have you. Or is it that you’ve gone thoroughly through all the various forest inventory data of various countries and analyzed tree mortality with respect to various possible causes?–Jim]

    the first thing I did was write to all the scientists I could dredge up who might have some knowledge and ask them, why?

    I emailed them pictures of damaged leaves so they could see the symptoms I referred to in my letters, but it was slow and cumbersome for me to send and people to download – and so I started the blog initially so that I could supply a link that would be fast and effortless.

    At first I thought the trees were dying from climate-change drought, and so I learned everything I could about climate change. Eventually however I came to the conclusion that this explanation, although it will ultimately disrupt the climate enough to cause mass extinctions, could not be the source of the sudden and precipitous and universal damage to foliage that was occurring, not just on trees growing in the wild, but also young trees being watered in nurseries, and annuals in the ground and in pots with enriched soil, and even aquatic plants that are always in water. The only thing all this vegetation has in common is the composition of the atmosphere. This is the point at which I started looking, reluctantly, into tropospheric ozone.

    I discovered there is much evidence that ozone is toxic to vegetation, and so the blog also became a repository for all the legitimate, peer-reviewed research I can find that has been published on the topic.

    [Response: Yeah, so are certain insects. And numerous fungi. And invasive earthworms. And acidic precipitation. And over-crowding from alteration of natural disturbance regimes. And resource acquisition and allocation patterns related to age-related stand dynamics. And wind and ice storms. And fire. And….–Jim]

    Scientists know that ozone damages plants and kills trees and causes crop yield decreases in the billions of dollars annually. They have proven that exposure to ozone increases the incidence of insects, disease, fungus, impacts from drought and extreme weather, the usual reasons cited for tree death. [edit accusations of conspiracy by scientists]

    We should drastically curtail burning fuel, reserve it for only for the most essential purposes, and transition to clean sources of energy on an emergency basis.

    [Response: Yep, and we should do it for the right reasons.–Jim]

    [Response: if people want to discuss this specific topic can do so on the open thread. It is OT here. I moved a couple of responses there already. Thanks. – gavin]

    Comment by Gail Zawacki — 13 Feb 2011 @ 2:19 PM

  457. raypieere, thanks for your comment calculating W/m^2 for venus at the surfaqce, which quite clearly shows it is radiation balance at the top of atmosphere that is important.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 13 Feb 2011 @ 2:21 PM

  458. Hank, thanks for the references in 428. I have serious Qs on the first ( graphic). 1) I assume its TOA in which case it shows far more radiation escaping than not. 2) The representative blackbody 280K curve is way out of kilter (wrong peak and wrong slopes). Am I reading the graphic or its units correctly? (I couldn’t get to the site description.)

    [Response: Rod, no matter what people throw at you, all you have are “serious questions.” You never listen to or try to understand the “serious answers,” and I’m still waiting for a concise description of just what it is that’s bugging you about radiative transfer anyway. You’ve done the same thing on other blogs, and I am beginning to doubt your motives. A lot of people have given you the benefit of the doubt for a long time, but this is getting unproductive and I’m not tolerating any more of it. –raypierre]

    Comment by Rod B — 13 Feb 2011 @ 2:40 PM

  459. Kevin McKinney (433), except ‘not fully precise’ are the spin words for something you all have said is FLAT OUT WRONG! (Not including your presumption that high school seniors cannot distinguish between “all matter” and “solids” or between “all frequencies” and “a few frequencies.”)

    [Response: Rod, enough of you. You haven’t responded to repeated requests to tell us just what precisely it is you think “doesn’t add up”. This thread is closed, and any further comments by you go to the Borehole. –raypierre]

    Comment by Rod B — 13 Feb 2011 @ 2:55 PM

  460. Rod B,

    The 280 K blackbody curve is not peaked correctly (it should be at ~10 microns) but this is rather beside the point, and since the Planck tail falls off quite gradually at wavelengths longer than the peak there’s of course plenty of room for absorption by CO2 and other gases. None of the qualitative features in the graphic should be surprising though. It’s rather easy to interpret.

    scienceofdoom has a variety of very good articles on the subject. I also have one taking some advantage of Dave Archer’s online MODTRAN model which looks at the TOA perspective

    Comment by Chris Colose — 13 Feb 2011 @ 3:11 PM

  461. Gail Zawacki:

    You really damage your cause by blindly blaming everything you see on one thing. The world is more complicated than that, and you don’t even know what an oak apple is. How then can you hope to attribute all the many and various causes of leaf damage?

    Some of your “science” links are broken, others refer to articles that don’t support your theories. In one particularly daft example, you attribute sheer fiction to the WHO. If you want to be taken seriously, then get serious. If you want your blog to form a useful adjunct to the science, then it must be accurate (or make a reasonable attempt to be) – or it’s just another anti-science conspiracy site.

    If you can’t convince someone like me, think how quickly working scientists will dismiss you as a crank. They already know about ozone. Thinking of yourself as the sole beacon of light and wisdom…. not a good plan.

    Comment by Didactylos — 13 Feb 2011 @ 3:38 PM

  462. #6


    Good responses Jim.


    But you do accuse the foresters for a cover up and hiding the truth from the public on your blog. To simply say that bark beetles killing trees is inaccurate and misleading is meaningless as you fail to support your position with any science. Therefore it is only opinion based upon your observation, that admittedly is not scientific in nature. The USDA makes information readily available to the public. Effects of Ozone Air Pollution on Plants But you yourself cannot state with certainty whether ground level ozone is a contributing factor in all areas that are under attack from bark beetles unless you can provide the science to back that claim. Therefore it is blogs such as yours that are misleading. You may be entitled to your opinion, but remember that accuracy does count.

    Comment by Ron Crouch — 13 Feb 2011 @ 3:43 PM

  463. GailZawaki. Please don’t blame all the dying vegetation around your location on one aspect of the environment world wide [either drought or ozone], there are very many things, even directly related to climate, that have effects on trees and other levels of plant life. There are some varieties of trees in some specific eco-niches in my area that are noticeably dying from direct effects of drought, while other species right next to them are thriving, but the most massively affected areas are the beetle kill forests that are primarily a result of warmer winter temperatures. Ozone isn’t a primary culprit outside major urban centers. Drought, and floods, and heat waves will massively degrade world wide food production well before ozone eliminates all the decorative landscape in your yard.

    Yes, burning all our carbon stores is a bad thing, but the low level ozone problem is more directly the NOx and VOC emissions that react with sunlight to create it, and they have come under regulation in the U.S., there is something being done about it. Please put your effort into insuring your newly elected politicians don’t kneecap those regulations!

    Comment by flxible — 13 Feb 2011 @ 3:59 PM

  464. When I first noticed that all the trees are dying (and they are, all dying, every species of every age in every habitat)

    This statement’s simply not true where I live (in the western PNW, and in Portland, where presumably ground-level ozone might be present).

    [Response: Not true anywhere, anytime, including those areas most hard hit by mountain pine beetle now.–Jim]

    Anyway, I’ve bumped heads with Gail over at Climate Progress, and, unfortunately, she’s as stubborn as any other science crank. Though she seems like a very nice and well-meaning person.

    Comment by dhogaza — 13 Feb 2011 @ 4:10 PM

  465. Gail, without meaning to be nasty, your blog is an example of why so many blogs just ain’t representative of the peer review process in science publishing. On your blog you note that you found some dead trees in a forest near your home while on a walk. You then conclude: “I stopped soon after I realized the ecosystem is collapsing.” To echo Jim: “Oh, really?” You see some dead or dying trees, are not sure of the etiology of the dying trees, have not done any systematic survey to determine what genus or species or how many trees are dead or dying, do not appear to have done an exhaustive review of the related research literature, have not determined how this phenomenon relates to other processes in the surrounding ecosystems … and you conclude the ecosystem is “collapsing,” whatever that means.

    Do you see the problems here? There are so many steps left out of the rigorous processes of observation, hypothesis formation, literature review, data collection, analysis, determining if your data support your hypothesis, and then having your learned peers methodically review your work.

    With regard to climate science blogs, from what I can determine there are many blogs whose proprietors think they are doing science when in fact they have left out many of these steps, or have performed sloppily, or have become blinded by ideology, or are unwilling or unable (due to lack of rigor) to have their work reviewed by qualified peers.

    Comment by Charles — 13 Feb 2011 @ 5:20 PM

  466. Regarding my earlier comment #6 – I guess I wanted to convey some concern over the pace of climate change and to call for increased levels of science inquiry. Of course blogs have no role in doing science work, no one has asked for that level of respect. And I would not. But certainly we need to hear the calling of important questions.

    It is a Berkeley blog that notes the worrisome trend in how formal academic science is funded — posing the question “Are you selling out or buying in?”

    “The world’s largest oil companies are showing surprising interest in financing alternative energy research at U.S. universities. Over the past decade, five of the world’s top 10 oil companies—ExxonMobil Corp., Chevron Corp., BP PLC, Royal Dutch Shell Group, and ConocoPhillips Co.—and other large traditional energy companies with a direct commercial stake in future energy markets have forged dozens of multi-year, multi-million-dollar alliances with top U.S. universities and scientists to carry out energy-related research. Much of this funding by “Big Oil” is being used for research into new sources of alternative energy and renewable energy, mostly biofuels.” (another blog!)

    In light of this trend, it seems unwise to leave it solely to formal science to select the questions for further inquiry — not doing the science, but selecting the question. RC seems to be very touchy about biofuel combustion – yet there are more than a few formal studies that show that biofuels are dangerous.

    I hope that academic funding awards will be able to overlook funding biases arising from specified carbon fuel sources. This is precisely the kind of question that can be loaded and misguided by political and business interests. How should this question get the attention it might deserve?
    [OT, moved]

    Comment by richard pauli — 13 Feb 2011 @ 8:05 PM

  467. This belongs in unforced variations, but it appears that thread is close. Anyway, in the unlikely event you missed it, the case of the CRU hack has been cracked. No room for illusions any longer. Certainly none for innocence.

    Comment by Majorajam — 16 Feb 2011 @ 11:56 AM

  468. Interesting new research on climate change and flooding:

    [Response: We’ll have a post on this soon. – gavin]

    Comment by SteveF — 16 Feb 2011 @ 2:06 PM

  469. Majorajam, your link (although fascinating) has absolutely nothing to do with the CRU.

    Comment by Didactylos — 16 Feb 2011 @ 2:55 PM

  470. richard pauli:

    You seem to think that your “biofuels are dangerous” claim has been backed up with evidence (“more than a few formal studies”). Yet the link that you cunningly disguised is to a Google Scholar search for “biofuels worse than fossil fuels” (unquoted). Unsurprisingly, such a search produces few journal articles comparing biofuels to fossil fuels, but even if you narrowed the search, it still wouldn’t back up your “dangerous” claim.

    So, are you actually going to provide references?

    Comment by Didactylos — 16 Feb 2011 @ 3:07 PM

  471. > CRU hack has been cracked.
    BOGUS CLAIM — no mention of CRU whatsoever at that link

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Feb 2011 @ 5:30 PM

  472. Interesting scientific research (not blog science) on O3 and vegetation:

    If it turns out that Zawacki is right, some of you may have little more than your words to eat.

    [Response: How interesting that you post exactly the very same link, on the same afternoon, that another individual included in a (deleted) general diatribe of exactly the same kind that climate change deniers typically bring. I know what’s going on OK. Gail Zawacki has a cadre of people that she calls on to submit comments here in support of her beliefs about surface ozone pollution, which she continues to disrupt threads with. Well, here’s the story on that. RealClimate is a climate change science related blog. Not an air pollution blog, not an ozone blog, not a plant physiology blog, not a forest ecology blog, not a timber harvesting blog. The open thread is not an open sewer to throw anything in you feel like throwing out there. Gail Zawacki has already ruined one post with aggressive fixation on ozone, with repeated accusations of scientific cover-ups of the issue, and when called on these things, has responded by cursing out, several times, members of RealClimate, comments which I will post here if necessary. RealClimate is not a dumping ground for pet theories, much less for expressions of open hostility and slander when these ideas are challenged. You are wasting our time and energy here. NO MORE ON THIS TOPIC.

    Comment by Johannes Climatus — 16 Feb 2011 @ 5:53 PM

  473. JC, the European result is no surprise, it’s confirming what’s long been known. Yes, it’s a real, major problem. If you only discovered it by reading a blog, you may have the mistaken notion it’s being ignored. Not so.

    Ozone at the surface has been and will continue to cause serious problems.

    Ground level ozone has long been a big issue for public policy

    Look at the modeling results and related articles. Truly scary stuff.

    Concerned? The science is there. So are some of the needed laws and regulations. If you mistakenly think this is a new issue the scientists are ignoring, you won’t notice the very hot current policy battle going on.

    If you don’t know the decades of history on controlling air pollution, or have some idea of the chemistry that causes it, or recognize the industries producing the precursors that become the problem — you’ll end up yelling at scientists instead of at your representatives.

    That would be a mistaken use of your time and attention.

    Who’s got leverage? The legislators and industries using their leverage the wrong way, trying to repeal the Clean Air Act and regulations. Look:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Feb 2011 @ 7:30 PM

  474. I think it was Sunday evening – TWC (The Weather Channel) had a very nice rebuttal to a comment (which was, to paraphrase: ‘it’s cold! you’re political!’) on it’s Earth Watch segment.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 16 Feb 2011 @ 9:17 PM

  475. Ryan O has a new post (with no vitriol as far as I can tell, which is why I’m mentioning it) at the air vent. He adds false trends to the data analyzed and shows how it affects the reconstructions of S09 and O10. The idea of testing the method seems like a good idea. Can anyone comment here (to the methods or results)?

    [Response: I looked at earlier version of this, and one of the things that those results showed is that you still get trends in West Antarctica, even without *any* trends on the Peninsula. In other words, one of the key things McIntyre has been saying for two years, and which they put in the paper — namely that the trends we found were an artifact of Peninsula warming — is wrong. I’m not going to bother reading anything O’Donnell writes, unless it is published, but somehow I doubt that his post admits this point. I could say a lot more but it’s more worthwhile putting it into my next paper on this.–eric]

    Comment by sambo — 16 Feb 2011 @ 9:44 PM

  476. The blogosphere has been going gaga over this WSJ article, The Weather Isn’t Getting Weirder , which interprets Gilbert Compo as saying that the Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project has found no trend in increasing weather extremes. I skimmed the paper but it did not seem to me that the paper itself is making strong claims, but rather presenting a data set and analysis methods. Is WSJ making stuff up again, or is Compo making claims not directly in the paper? Or did I miss something significant?

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 16 Feb 2011 @ 10:24 PM

  477. Philip@476 – I wonder if the blogosphere will use the stuff WSJ made up to trash the Nature article due this week from an Environment Canada study at U. Vic in B.C.

    Comment by flxible — 16 Feb 2011 @ 11:26 PM

  478. JC@472 and HR@473:

    If there is clear evidence of widespread vegetative damage, doesn’t that raise the possibility that the climate models (which, I believe, all make certain assumptions about forests acting a carbon sinks) need to be adjusted?

    In other words, if the models call for several trillion tonnes of CO2 absorption annually, but the absorption capacity erodes as carbon sinks decline (isn’t there a point at which carbon sinks become carbon emitters?), wouldn’t the pace of heating accelerate, etc.?

    Is this being discussed anywhere? For instance, are the authors of the MIT Probabilistic Forecast considering an adjustment to their projections?

    Comment by Aldus Worp — 16 Feb 2011 @ 11:50 PM

  479. Eric,

    His post has a comment that originally came from an RC thread. It wasn’t claiming there was no warming in West Antarctica. This doesn’t speak to other comments at the time or to what McIntyre said (quite frankly I don’t want to search through 2 year old threads to find everything). I did manage to find the post on air vent originally talking about O10 though (written by Ryan O) and he does specifically state that West Antarctica is warming by 0.10 C/decade and it was statistically significant.

    Maybe more specific to the science, what do you think of adding artificial trends to the raw data in order to test the method used in the reconstruction. Can you optimize the method with a technique like this? Is it possible to go one step further? For instance, can you create 3 – 4 models for continent wide behavior (artificially known) and model station error in measurement, discontinuities and variability? This could even guide placement and design of new stations to be installed in order to maximize the useful information.

    Sorry if I keep bringing up the personal stuff. I’m actually interested in the science here and I’ll be looking forward to your paper on this topic.

    Comment by sambo — 17 Feb 2011 @ 12:25 AM

  480. I want to defend Majorajam #467: no, there is no mention of the CRU hack, but the relevance is obvious. And Majorajam’s inference is not remotely as paranoid as that of the CRU slanderers :-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 17 Feb 2011 @ 2:58 AM

  481. I’m looking for an editor for my book-in-progress on sea level rise. The successful candidate will get title page credit (details to be discussed) and 50% of the royalties from sales of the book.

    If interested, please contact me off-list at

    Comment by Hunt Janin — 17 Feb 2011 @ 3:03 AM

  482. Funding: Can anyone evaluate the gains to science and society if each modeling group had just one (or one more in a few cases where they already have one) supercomputer?

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 17 Feb 2011 @ 8:51 AM

  483. Pete Dunkelberg,
    Well, it would make IBM VERY happy.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Feb 2011 @ 10:26 AM

  484. 470 Didactylos said about biofuels;

    Is there evidence that the large scale production of biofuels can possibly work?
    I thought I detected agreement amongst the forestry types on here that growing large numbers of trees (a la Dyson’s carbon eating trees) to absorb CO2 couldn’t possibly help reduce CO2. (Before Christmas there was a guy went on & on & on & on about this. He was ruining the site in my view.) I haven’t heard anyone discuss the water needs for the large scale production of biofuels, but if you assume you’re going after the same scale of CO2 reduction as with the carbon eating trees then roughly the same amount of photosynthesis ought to be required, oughtn’t it? If a certain amount of water is required for each carbon fixing reaction then roughly the same amount of water ought to be needed for biofuels as for carbon eating trees? oughtn’t it? I understand the devil is in the details here and I’m shooting from the hip, but I’d really like to be convinced that biofuels are or aren’t a good thing to pursue. I’m not really a fan of Lovelock’s but I don’t immediately disregard everything he says either. Lovelock claims (Revenge of Gaia) that the large scale production of biofuels would be a disaster. It also isn’t clear to me that biofuels are a winner compared to direct removal of CO2 from the air and conversion into liquid fuel using whatever power source you have, nuclear, wind, photovoltaic, …, . All that being said, I’ve supported biofuels research in the past and probably will in the future, but I’d like to see sounder science than I have seen supporting the contention that we can actually hope to get significant carbon reduction from them.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 17 Feb 2011 @ 11:13 AM

  485. IBM does not have the whole market. China and
    Japan can probably beat them on price.

    JAXA has a 2008 Fujitsu. What does NASA have?

    Then there are personal supercomputers for under $10,000.

    So I wonder: how much is research held back by the modeling centers not having computing power that is available for a few dollars more?

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 17 Feb 2011 @ 11:17 AM

  486. Johannes C–check the borehole for examples of out of bounds ozone claims.
    There are people who go beyond the science on all sides of issues like this.
    None of them deserve slack for exaggeration; they distract from real sources.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Feb 2011 @ 11:41 AM

  487. I am seeing a lot of references to one Chuck Wiese, a new fake skeptic favorite. So far I’ve found links to icecap, Joe Bastardi of Accuweather, Lubos Motl (string theory denialist), and the new crop of denialists trying to take over our country. I hope someone can flesh out this information.

    (new DotEarth article on this, also covered at Climate Central – Wiese is the new hero of the antis.):

    Just now, a further article claiming it is not seeking “false balance” which needs early comments from those who are not fake skeptics to leaven the vast pile of nonsense that is about to appear:
    [off topic]

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 17 Feb 2011 @ 12:37 PM

  488. Hank Roberts @ 486.

    My inbox is filled, at least hourly, with out of bounds claims. I am familiar with the phenomenon – and various solutions.

    Let me try posing the problem a different way

    [Edited: off topic. Is it a listening problem or a comprehension problem with you? Or is it that you enjoy getting under peoples’ skin? I suspect some combination of the three. Let me go slowly: this is a climate science blog. Got that?–Jim]

    Comment by Johannes Climatus — 17 Feb 2011 @ 3:20 PM

  489. Further to John E. Pearson’s @ 484:

    I recall seeing an article at, I think,, referrencing some recent research at Stamford linking biofuels with human health issues.

    Also (I’ll have to dig through some older posts on another site), a report or two corellating ethanol combustion with increases in PAN and other VOCs.

    Comment by Horton Bluett — 17 Feb 2011 @ 4:10 PM

  490. Martin Vermeer (#480)

    I read the article as well, however I don’t see the relevance. The guy mostly used public data such as facebook, twitter, linkedin and other such public access. His other means was to create “fake” friends from high school and such and use that to get access. Besides his prior experience, none of this required more that a 9th grade level of sophistication in order to accomplish. Even speculating that he was the CRU hacker has no merit because it wouldn’t be in his interest (it doesn’t demonstrate any of the “skills” he was trying to demonstrate in order to win contracts).

    As far as I know, there are two pieces of information that you can base these speculations on. He hacked RC and he used masked IP addresses. I can probably do the later (engineering degree working in aerospace simulation), however the hacking of RC is likely more complicated, although the number of people capable is likely quite large (nothing in the article demonstrates that this guy is capable however).

    I’m assuming you’re referencing the theories that claim someone from within the CRU is responsible (ie as the paranoid inference). While none of this information points to this as a possibility, it also doesn’t remove this possibility. I certainly wouldn’t call it paranoid, although maybe some of the claims do run a bit farther that what I’ve mentioned above (I don’t follow all of those blogs, especially the more extreme ones).

    Comment by sambo — 17 Feb 2011 @ 6:10 PM

  491. Signal to noise ratio is declining…

    Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Feb 2011 @ 6:42 PM

  492. flxible #477: the rainfall study has also been reported in Australia.

    As with any new scientific result, you need to wait for the follow-ups to see if it stands up. The media unfortunately want the latest and most startling result, and don’t go back a year later to check if it stands up. What we are seeing here is totally normal in science. One group comes up with a result, another appears to contradict it. Everyone scurries away and checks whether something is really wrong, or the two are simply not measuring the same thing, and a long-term understanding builds. It’s a self-correcting process, and has worked pretty well for the last 300 years or so, even better when we got rid of political influences like the Inquisition and extremist libertarians.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 17 Feb 2011 @ 7:41 PM

  493. An excellent site on computational climate modeling is hosted by Steve Easterbrook, professor of computer science at Univ of Toronto.

    Recent posting on Systems Thinking for Climate Systems seems especially relevant.

    Comment by richard pauli — 17 Feb 2011 @ 8:40 PM

  494. [edit – rambling off-topic insults deleted. Nice Sagan quote though.]

    The best current estimates of the number and spacing of Earth-mass planets in newly forming planetary systems (as George Wetherill reported at the first international conference on circumstellar habitable zones [Doyle, 1995]) combined with the best current estimates of the long-term stability of oceans on a variety of planets (as James Kasting reported at that same meeting [Doyle, 1995]) suggest one to two blue worlds around every Sun-like star. Stars much more massive than the Sun are comparatively rare and age quickly. Stars comparatively less massive than the Sun are expected to have Earth-like planets, but the planets that are warm enough for life are probably tidally locked so that one side always faces the local sun. However, winds may redistribute heat from one hemisphere to another on such worlds, and there has been very little work on their potential habitability.

    Nevertheless, the bulk of the current evidence suggests a vast number of planets distributed through the Milky Way with abundant liquid water stable over lifetimes of billions of years. Some will be suitable for life–our kind of carbon and water life–for billions of years less than Earth, some for billions of years more. And, of course, the Milky Way is one of an enormous number, perhaps a hundred billion, other galaxies.

    Carl Sagan, Bioastronomy News, vol. 7, no. 4, 1995.

    Comment by Industrialist — 17 Feb 2011 @ 10:50 PM

  495. #490 Sambo…

    I think the point to take is that there are groups who are willing to stoop very low indeed in order to have their way. The cited article made it painfully clear how low Aaron Barr and ‘Team Themis’ was willing to go to make wikileaks look bad for BoA. Said members were willing to perform criminal deeds and dig up dirt on spouses and children of their ‘enemies’.

    If this doesn’t remind you of what went on with the break-in, theft, and quote mining of climate researchers at CRU you’re being deliberately obtuse. Neither Martin or anyone else implied it was the same people.

    Comment by David Miller — 17 Feb 2011 @ 11:07 PM

  496. I have recently complete an analysis of monthly temperature data for various sites around Australia using Fourier Transforms. For those who are unfamiliar with this technique it converts time domain data into frequency domain data. The result are very interesting. There is a clear component with a period of 1 year, another large component with a period of 6 months (2nd harmonic) and another peak with a 60 year cycle.

    What is the explanation for the 60 year cycle?

    Comment by David Harper BE (Elec) — 18 Feb 2011 @ 2:10 AM

  497. David Harper: How long is your temperature record?

    Unless it’s several hundred years, I think a better description of your “cycle” is “not a cycle”.

    Certainly, if you look just at the last century, any resemblance to a cycle is just an artefact of global temperatures going up, then down, then up. A pattern which is the result of varying climate forcings over the century, not any underlying order.

    Comment by Didactylos — 18 Feb 2011 @ 8:01 AM

  498. John E. Pearson:

    “Is there evidence that the large scale production of biofuels can possibly work?”

    Well, short answer – yes. Brazil is doing very nicely, thank you.

    But your comments lump together the almost-zero-carbon energy source aspect of biofuels with the carbon sequestration aspect.

    And it’s at this point that we have to remember that different biofuels vary wildly in what they can do and how effectively they can do it. Bundling them all together under one label is not productive, and discussing them all individually is way off topic.

    Comment by Didactylos — 18 Feb 2011 @ 8:32 AM

  499. David Harper, lack of data? Apply your Fourier algorithm to the following series:


    You can see it looks periodic. What is your next predicted value?

    Mine is 4. Why? Because I know these are the digits of the base of napierian logarighms, e.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Feb 2011 @ 9:49 AM

  500. David Harper BE (Elec): Along with all other physical scientists, I am familiar with the Fourier method. How many years of monthly data did you have? I’m guessing somewhere around 120? I personally find your belief that extraction of a 60 year period from 120 years of noisy data is significant to be flat out goofy, but then that’s just me. I suggest you write up your results and submit them to a reputable journal. Once your analysis has cleared the very low hurdle of suitability for publication it might be worth discussing. Otherwise it is simply blog science. Yuk. I got a little blog science (aka BS) on me. I hate when that happens.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 18 Feb 2011 @ 9:59 AM

  501. Captcha knows latex. use underscores for subscripts!

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 18 Feb 2011 @ 10:00 AM

  502. Re: #497 (Didactylos), #499 (Ray Ladbury), and #500 (John E. Pearson)

    Thank you.

    Thank you.

    Thank you.

    (repeated 3 times so David Harper would think it’s periodic)

    Comment by tamino — 18 Feb 2011 @ 11:19 AM

  503. OK guys: ReCaptcha is way over the line. When it’s not showing something that I have no idea what the hell it is, it’s putting in umlauts and other accents. Such things are not on my keyboard.

    I’m not the only one who has complained *recently*.

    Seriously: this pain-in-the-ass is a disservice to your readers. Do you really need to annoy, and sometimes offend, your most ardent followers who are working for the same cause? What’s the purpose of this blog anyway?

    Comment by tamino — 18 Feb 2011 @ 11:23 AM

  504. “What is the explanation for the 60 year cycle?”

    Improper windowing, filtering, and edge effects on a dataset too short for meaningful Fourier analysis of 60 year frequency components over ~160 years of data.

    I suggest as an exercise in understanding that you do the following –

    Create a synthetic 160 year dataset which combines random numbers with a 1 year sin function. Compare the results of Fourier Analysis with Rectangular, Hann, Hamming, Blackman, Tukey, Kaiser, and so on, windows.

    Add (non periodic) synthetic trends to the dataset; one trend starting at the midpoint of the dataset, as a first approximation to Industrial Revolution forcing, and a larger trend for the last quarter, as a first approximation of the increasing growth in population and fossil fuel consumption. Repeat the FA, and compare results.

    Add a triangular negative impulse, with a rapid rise, 10-20 years, and slower decay, starting in 1930, as a first approximation to cooling from the rise and decline of sulfate emissions from high sulfur fuel consumption and the clean air act. Repeat the FA, and compare results.

    If you want to test the null hypothesis “there is no AGW trend”, you can’t use a tool such as Fourier analysis which not only doesn’t test for trends, but can give false results when there are trends.


    Comment by Brian Dodge — 18 Feb 2011 @ 12:12 PM

  505. @ Tamino #503 – I ignore the punctuation and accents and it goes through fine (ie you don’t need to bother with them, just copy the letters and numbers). If I can’t read the Captcha text at all, I click on the redo arrows and get another.

    Comment by Sou — 18 Feb 2011 @ 1:26 PM


    “… One of the words displayed by reCAPTCHA is from an old book which is being digitized. As such it is not graded — it cannot. Indeed, occasionally it may be blank, or just a bit of noise.

    On the word that is checked, the user is (by default) allowed to be off by one letter. It has been found that this increases the user experience while not degrading security by a large amount. This is tuned dynamically based on many factors.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Feb 2011 @ 1:42 PM

  507. Found that in a thread titled \atypical characters\ in the Google Group for ReCaptcha.
    (its URL gets blocked by the spam filter, go figure …)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Feb 2011 @ 1:47 PM

  508. Confirmed on 2nd try — Tamino, try just typing the one word that’s readable and ignoring the other one.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Feb 2011 @ 1:48 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Feb 2011 @ 2:56 PM

  510. Hank Roberts, I came over here to read comments on the paper by Song and Colberg regarding deep ocean heating that you just posted the link. Song and Colberg claim that deep ocean heating could be contributing one third of the observed SLR of 3.1 mm per year.

    If someone can translate that into a heating rate, say 3 to 4 x 10^21 joule per year, and compare it to upper level OHC buildup, that would be helpful. The Song and Colberg result seems to imply that deep ocean heating can almost close the planetary energy budget.

    Comment by Paul K2 — 19 Feb 2011 @ 12:10 AM

  511. Here’s a recent Tellus paper written by folks at NSIDC:
    It indicates melting permafrost may have a more positive permafrost carbon feedback than previously thought.

    Comment by Imback — 19 Feb 2011 @ 8:05 AM

  512. This is the place for off-topic comments, right?

    Some global warming denialist named Pete Ridley does not like the fact that I use the nom-de-plume “Snapple” on my blog.

    Ridley writes in the comments on Desmogblog (1-21-11) that he has “low regard for those who hide behind false names.”

    Ridley even makes the ludicrous threat that some ex-CIA operative named Kent Clizbe might track me down with the help of his CIA friends: “I’m sure [ex-CIA operative] Kent [Clizbe] could easily use his CIA contacts to track [Snapple] down…”

    In fact, the not-very-sincere Pete Ridley actually has enormous regard for DENIALISTS who hide behind false names: Pete Ridley celebrates the misdeeds of anonymous cyber-criminals who hacked into the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), stole the scientists’ emails, and posted them on a Russian server in Tomsk right before the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen.

    The cyber-criminals, who did not give their names, hypocritically called themselves “honest men.”
    Why doesn’t Pete Ridley ask the cyber-criminals to identify themselves if they are really “honest men”?

    The CIA does not track down people who have blogs that explain the CIA position on global warming. The head of the CIA climate change unit is named Larry Kobayashi, and he doesn’t sound anything like the supposed ex-CIA case officer Kent Clizbe. For one thing, Larry Kobayashi sounds like an educated person who is trying to help the whole world avert a terrible catastrophy, and Kent Clizbe sounds to me like a real phony in his self-promoting Internet articles.

    CIA employees don’t take orders from the likes of Kent Clizbe about whom to hunt down. In fact, Kent Clizbe is probably an embarrassment to the CIA, if he was ever in the CIA in the first place. After all, Kent Clizbe disparages both the FBI and the CIA analysts in his articles on the Internet. He harrasses climate scientists while the CIA gives them security clearances.

    The CIA is probably mortified that an ex-employee is emailing professors and claiming that they will get millions of federal dollars if they denounce the famous scientist Dr. Mann, who demonstrated global warming in his famous “hockey stick” graph. The only people who are trying to discredit Dr. Mann are political subversives who are on the take from the fossil fuel companies and their blogger-dupes.

    It seems to me that ex-CIA operative Kent Clizbe is undermining the CIA instead of supporting their mission of addressing the national security threat of climate change.

    Comment by Snapple — 19 Feb 2011 @ 8:24 AM

  513. Here is a really fake religious site called “Real Catholic TV” that tries to make it appear that “real Catholics” don’t believe in global warming, although the Vatican says officially that there is global warming.

    The site is nothing to do with the Vatican and even confuses people with a big logo that says CIA at the top. They trade on the CIA logo by calling themselves the Catholic Investigative Agency (CIA), though they have a tiny disclaimer at the bottom saying they aren’t the real CIA.

    They aren’t real Catholics, either.

    The Vatican says there is global warming. Children and college students learn about global warming in Catholic schools. It’s a social justice issue that needs to be addressed by real science. The Vatican supports the UN report on climate change.

    Here is a fake organization that claims to be made of Evangelicals—the Cornwall Alliance. Monckton, who disparaged John Abraham’s Catholic University as a “Bible college,” is part of that. The ornwall Alliance is really an anti-religious site that disparages Christians who are worried about global warming. They characterize the Christians who are concerned about global warming as being like members of a “cult.”

    If religious organizations were really against global warming, the denialists would not need to make up FAKE religious organizations.

    Sometimes science sites seem like they accept this propaganda from fake sience organizatons. It would be better if scientists gave major Christian denominations credit for believing in global warming.

    Plenty of religious people look to religion for moral guidance while also having a scientific outlook. Global warming is a moral issue, and educated Christians look to great scientists for guidance about how to solve this problem.

    Comment by Snapple — 19 Feb 2011 @ 8:51 AM

  514. 509, Hank and Tamino,

    To clarify something, reCaptcha is an effort to do some impossible Optical Character Recognition on old books. That is, they give you two words, one of which they know, and the other they don’t. You can’t always be sure which word is which, but usually it is obvious. Usually the “unknown” word is not a real word, or has bizarre features in the characters.

    But the reason for the two word strategy is to kill two words with one stone, so to speak. By getting a human user to translate both words, they verify that the translator is a human being with one, and they store the translations of the other, helping them to digitize the source (i.e. when enough people translate a word a “saucilicious” they know that must be what’s actually printed in the book, even though it’s not in any real dictionary).

    You are actually helping Google to digitize old printed books.

    So don’t just skip the bad word. Take a shot at it. You won’t be penalized for getting it wrong, because they don’t themselves know what the right answer is (yet).

    P.S. Tamino… if you have a Mac, generating spécîäl characters is really easy. If you have a Windows PC… get a Mac.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 19 Feb 2011 @ 9:29 AM

  515. A misplaced reply to Tom Szabo — your belated reply to me at the end of the now-closed thread ‘getting it right’ claimed Alaska proves that day length favors giant vegetables. Partly true, Tom, that was my point. Plants that are not day-length-dependent, like those pumpkins and squash, don’t “bolt”–they just get bigger. Look up “day length” and the plant name.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Feb 2011 @ 11:21 AM

  516. For Paul K2: at the bottom of the page at Ari’s site, he points to: — try there.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Feb 2011 @ 11:23 AM

  517. To quote Monty Python, “now for something completely different”, the recent article by Schaefer et al. in Tellus

    is troubling on several levels. First is the rapidity and quantity of CO2 they predict will be released by thawing of northern hemisphere permafrost. Second, as I read it, their assumptions are quite conservative. They limit the source of the CO2 to a thin layer, and do not include all areas of permafrost, and more importantly, they assume that the GHG released will be CO2, not methane, and they do not reintroduce the released CO2 into their future predictions of temperature. As tundra and boreal soils are typically water saturated, it is likely that a large proportion of the GNG’s released will be in the form of methane. Also, there analysis does not include methane from the East Siberian Continental Shelf.

    It would be nice to see a review of the climate modeling aspects of this study on Real Climate.

    Comment by Mark — 19 Feb 2011 @ 11:48 AM

  518. Can one of you scientists please look at this video? This is NOT the position of the Catholic Church.

    Comment by Snapple — 19 Feb 2011 @ 4:44 PM

  519. @ Snapple – thanks for finding religious astroturf groups

    “The opinions expressed on are those of the individuals responsible for []…all of whom are Catholics in good standing who strive to conform to the teaching and laws of the Church.”

    those opinions are:
    “global warming accomplishes:
    1. Population Control
    2. Global Governmental Cooperation
    3. Earth Worship instead of God Worship

    Global Warming is a Government power grab via population reduction.
    Pseudoscience and Hyper-sensationalism are being used to promote the global warming agenda, just as they were in the early 20th century eugenics movement. In fact, global warming is the evolution of the early eugenics programs.”

    Catholic teaching on AGW (from is:

    “God created our world with wisdom and love and when he had finished his great work of creation, God saw that it was good.”

    “Today however the world is confronted with a serious ecological crisis. The earth is suffering from global warming as a result of our excessive consumption of energy.”

    “With the apostle Paul we can affirm: creation has been delivered into the power of destruction, it groans as in the pains of childbirth.”

    “We cannot deny that human beings bear a heavy responsibility for environmental destruction. Their unbridled greed casts the shadow of death on the whole of creation.”

    “Together Christians must do their utmost to save creation. Before the immensity of this task, they must unite their efforts. It is only together that they can protect the work of the creator.”

    I wonder if it’s a sin to lie about being a good Catholic?

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 19 Feb 2011 @ 6:12 PM

  520. ClimateSight has a post about “Extinction and Climate.” Read it — it’s one of the most important global warming posts I’ve ever seen.

    The author of that blog is Kate, a young woman (18 or 19 years old I think) who is an undergraduate studying climate science. And she’s one of the best writers on the subject around. She combines genuine knowledge, perspective, and a cool head to get right to the point.

    Sometimes the utter stupidity of our politicians drives me to the brink of despair. Then I remember we’ve got Kate on our side. It gives me hope.

    Comment by tamino — 19 Feb 2011 @ 6:40 PM

  521. Dear Brian Dodge,

    Thank you very much. Climategate really opened my eyes. I am no expert, but I could see that the denialists were lying to me and persecuting the scientists. I can’t believe this is happening in America.

    I think that climate scientists need to know that the Catholic Church and many Protestants are following what the scientists are learning. We want to teach our children what is true.

    Educated Christians follow scientific issues and can see through all that HOCUS-POCUS of denialism. We can see that denialists like Marc Morano, Inhofe, Barton, Cuccinelli, etc. are trying to TRICK us. They are bad people and bad leaders.

    Catholic schools use science books that teach about global warming. The Vatican says this is happening. The National Academies, all our scientific agencies, the Pentagon and the CIA say this is happening.

    I hope the scientists will keep fighting for our civilization even though some of our “leaders” aren’t leading. They are just taking money from the energy companies and lying to us.
    I am so angry that we have all these selfish politicians ruling us.

    The climate scientists are the real leaders because they are trying to help our civilization learn how to change so that we can survive and move forward.

    It is terrible that our politicians are so arrogant, stupid, and greedy that they can’t appreciate these smart scientists.

    Comment by Snapple — 20 Feb 2011 @ 5:00 AM

  522. One of the religious leaders of the Cornwall Alliance, Dr. James Tonkowich, denigrates Christians who believe in global warming when he makes this bigoted, anti-religious allegation (scroll to the third picture of him):

    “Global warming is the central tenet of this new belief system in much the same way that the Resurrection is the central tenet of Christianity. Al Gore has taken a role corresponding to that of St Paul in proselytizing the new faith …. My skepticism about [anthropogenic global warming] arises from the fact that as a physicist who has worked in closely related areas, I know how poor the underlying science is. In effect the scientific method has been abandoned in this field.”

    If you only read the home page, it seems that Dr. Tonkowich is claiming that he said these words and that he is a trained physicist, but if you click on the link, Dr. Tonkowich is actually quoting another person: “So wrote Atmospheric Physicist Dr. John Reid, quoted in a new report on more than a thousand scientists who dissent over the claims about man-made global warming.”

    That seems a very deceptive to me. Also, these one thousand scientists do not represent the scientific consensus. Almost all climate scientists say there is global warming. The National Academies says that global warming is happening.

    It is hard to believe that this dishonest clergyman was once a leader of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. Dr. Kent Hill, who led the IRD in the 1980s, would never have misrepresented himself like Dr. Tonkowich does.

    Christians who believe in global warming are not cultists who have embraced a “new belief system;” rather, many Christians are educated people who read what our scientists and our religious leaders are learning about global warming. Educated Christians follow the discoveries of modern science and don’t swallow the stupid lies of the denialist “scientific” and “religious” organizations.
    We know they are often just the mouthpieces of the fossil-fuel industry.

    Details so you can see how Dr. Tonkowich seems to claim he is a physicist.

    Comment by Snapple — 20 Feb 2011 @ 6:54 AM

  523. A blogger who calls himself Pete “the ferret” Ridley (his own appelation) is threatening to “ferret” me out and tell the world my real name.

    Ridley has already claimed over at DeSmogBlog that Kent Clizbe (the off-message ex-CIA dude who spams college professors and offers them millions to denounce Dr. Mann) can easily find out who I am with the help of his CIA contacts.

    Actually, Pete “the ferret” Ridley can easily find out who I am by asking Virgina’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to blow the lid on Snapple. I write to his deputy W. Russell all the time and complain about the persecution of our scientists.

    Since Cucinelli can’t seem to expose Dr. Mann, he might have to settle for exposing old ladies who teach Catholic school. Perhaps he would like to round up all the Holy Sisters who teach Catholic children about climate science, while he’s at it. We don’t teach the “other side” because it’s not science and it’s not religion.

    Cuccinelli cites the Kremlin’s official press agency RIA Novosti in his suit against the EPA.

    …but the Vatican says there is global warming. It’s not really a hard pick, like Thin Mints or Do Si Dos.

    Cuccinelli homeschools, but the kids who attend Catholic school might end up discussing science and religion on that Facebook the young people use to foment revolution.

    Cuccinelli might actually make a lasting, if unintentional, contribution to climate science and trigger a Facebook revolution against foreign tyranny in Virginia, all in one fell swoop. Cuccinelli is always encouraging Virginians to remember their revolutionary roots, and I hear him loud and clear!

    Ridley says I am a coward not to use my real name on my obscure blog and that he has a “low regard for those who hide behind false names.”

    The low regard of hypocritcal ferrets who threaten me with Clizbes does not especially trouble me. We are used to that in Soviet Studies.

    Actually, the not-very-sincere ferret has a high regard for the annonymous hacker-criminals who stole the CRU emails. The criminal hackers are also big fat hypocrites who call themselves “honest men.”

    Perhaps Pete “the ferret” Ridley grew up in the USSR where accusations of disseminating the CIA or Vatican line could get you charged with anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda; but so far, supporting the CIA and the Vatican line is not a crime in Virginia.

    If you like irony, check the ferret’s droppings in the comments.

    Comment by Snapple — 20 Feb 2011 @ 8:54 AM

  524. Re Snapple

    Pete Ridley, eh!? See if you can spot him on this page.

    There might be info there you might find useful, too.

    Comment by P. Lewis — 20 Feb 2011 @ 9:45 AM

  525. Tamino 520

    Joe Read. There’s just not sufficient mockery in the known universe to heap upon the heads of him and his ilk. Classic exhibit of inflammation brought on by blockage of the meritocracy.

    Hank quoted:

    “Law has its own tests of what is law, and those tests validate much that is immoral and illogical…”

    Yeah, perhaps it’s time to grab some hammers and take a good long, hard look at those tests.

    I don’t see ClimateSight listed at RC. Seems like a fair enough addition.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 20 Feb 2011 @ 12:06 PM

  526. I want to say something about the 2010-2011 Queensland floods in my book-in-progress on climate change/sea level rise. If anyone has clear, well-founded ideas on the CAUSES of these floods, please contact me off-list.

    Comment by Hunt Janin — 20 Feb 2011 @ 2:32 PM

  527. British Government Chief Scientific Adviser John Beddington goes on the offensive against pseudo-science, calling for it to be tolerated as much as racism is.

    Dellingpole’s upset, so Beddington must be doing something right ;)

    Comment by J Bowers — 20 Feb 2011 @ 4:05 PM

  528. Phillip # 476, someone somewhere on one of the climate blogs wrote that Compo was preparing a corrective piece for the WSJ’s mis-characterization of his work. Maybe that time has come and gone without publication, or maybe it’s still coming, I dunno. It seems to me that climate story corrections are not WSJ’s cuppa, but I could be wrong.

    Comment by ghost — 20 Feb 2011 @ 6:07 PM

  529. In aid of Beddington’s efforts:

    Massimo Pigliucci
    Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
    University of Chicago Press, 2010.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Feb 2011 @ 6:52 PM

  530. Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science
    Robert L. Park, Ph.D


    1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.
    2. The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.
    3. The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection.
    4. Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.
    5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.
    6. The discoverer has worked in isolation.
    7. The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.

    Comment by J Bowers — 21 Feb 2011 @ 7:39 AM

  531. 530 Bowers on Park:

    I like Park but I don’t think this is what is going on in the case of the attack on climate science. He’s kind of describing your run-of-the-mill crackpot. The attack on climate science is orchestrated by economic and political interests.
    It is quite distinct from your random run-of-the-mill crackpot, although It often sounds indistinguishable from random crackpots.

    I recently had occasion to read part of a document that Fred Singer’s disinformation organization sent to congress. Of course Lindzen and Happer signed it followed by the usual gang of idiots. Roy Spencer’s name wasn’t on it. I wonder why?

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 21 Feb 2011 @ 1:41 PM

  532. sambo #490,

    you need to read more. Some of the techniques described would give you serious prison time if not used in her Majesty’s service… and all that’s stopping them is them being such nice folks :-(

    Yes, there’s plenty more people capable of doing things like this.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 21 Feb 2011 @ 4:18 PM

  533. # 523

    check the comments of the Ferret on this blog they even printed up my name address and phone number for him,

    a very strange person indeed ,

    Comment by john byatt — 22 Feb 2011 @ 5:52 AM

  534. Dr. Will Happer said in Senate testimony that the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind.Strangely, Dr. Will Happer, who made this claim in his Senate testimony, did not include any footnotes in his testimony.

    Later, footnotes were added by SPPI that often cited a non-scientist who is known to mischaracterize his sources, Lord Monckton. Then it was published by the SPPI–that “scientific” institute whose main address is a post office box in a Virginia parcel post store. When I went there to see the SPPI, I thought my GPS was messed up; however, it really is a mailbox in a parcel post store.

    The altered document was also on the Virginia Mining Association site.

    I have all the details about this documented here. I am not a scientist, but seeing how Happer’s paper was footnoted after his testimony was one of the things that showed me how dishonest a few “scholars” are.

    At first, I thought that a Princeton scientist like Dr. Happer would probably be furious that a non-scholar had taken it upon himself to actually change his Senate testimony by adding footnotes that were not in the official testimony.

    In fact, however, the Happer Lab site directs the reader to the adapted SPPI testimony instead of to Happer’s official Senate testimony:

    There are several places on the web where you can find his testimony—here are two:

    The Environment and Public Works Blog

    The Science and Public Policy Institute

    The first link is a press release from Marc Morano.

    Links and full story here:

    Comment by Snapple — 22 Feb 2011 @ 8:43 AM

  535. Antarctic Creature’s Growth Rate Mysteriously Doubles

    Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Feb 2011 @ 9:10 PM

  536. A question. Can someone who knows this text book by Richard Lindzen answer this? I assume that there is nothing in there that is controversial. Is my assumption correct? I ask because I’m trying to work through some atmospheric physics with an old friend and have been told that I’m only willing to read stuff by people who “agree with me”, when in fact I’m only willing to read climate science by actual climate scientists. The difficulty my friends is having is that there are zillions of people with opinions on climate science who aren’t climate scientists, and, silly me, I don’t want to waste my time reading all that stuff.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 23 Feb 2011 @ 9:43 AM


    “… After I last wrote about online astroturfing, in December, I was contacted by a whistleblower. He was part of a commercial team employed to infest internet forums and comment threads on behalf of corporate clients, promoting their causes and arguing with anyone who opposed them. Like the other members of the team, he posed as a disinterested member of the public. Or, to be more accurate, as a crowd of disinterested members of the public: he used 70 personas, both to avoid detection and to create the impression that there was widespread support for his pro-corporate arguments. I’ll reveal more about what he told me when I’ve finished the investigation I’m working on….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2011 @ 1:03 PM

  538. “… After I last wrote about online astroturfing, in December, I was contacted by a whistleblower. He was part of a commercial team employed to infest internet forums and comment threads on behalf of corporate clients, promoting their causes and arguing with anyone who opposed them. Like the other members of the team, he posed as a disinterested member of the public. Or, to be more accurate, as a crowd of disinterested members of the public: he used 70 personas, both to avoid detection and to create the impression that there was widespread support for his pro-corporate arguments. I’ll reveal more about what he told me when I’ve finished the investigation I’m working on….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2011 @ 1:04 PM

  539. This probably belongs in The Bore Hole, but I can’t post there.

    RE Unforced Variations-Feb (I noticed the thread is reopened.): I don’t mean to resurrect the issues but want to tie up some loose ends and, since asked, succinctly explain my comments for the record.

    1) Planck radiation and line spectral radiation are not the same thing. This was my initial and primary assertion and I am 98% certain it is correct. My position was clear and explicit IMO (though the reader determines this in the end, not the writer) and can be seen at comments # 152 and 202, et al, of the Unforced Variations-Feb thread. No one has provided me a satisfactory scientific/physical explanation why they are essentially the same thing (and it’s been in the ring here a couple of times before) — though some have tried. For a quick example, raypierre said (441) “…points of the statistical mechanics of radiation and how that relates to quantum states (lines) that are in fact completely understood…” which is scientific and with which I agree but does not actually address the question.

    The other two are sidebars that grew out of the above.

    2) Gases emit planck function radiation, albeit maybe small. I’m 75% certain of this. Many papers and texts support me; many explicitly disagree. (Though detailed explanations of the physical generation of Planck radiation I find are strangely sparse.)

    3) I don’t see how earth’s back radiation adds up. This was just a late aside and a curiosity of mine, though does relate to #2, above. I need to study this further.

    IMO the above two were also clearly stated. I think it’s not that the other commenters don’t understand my question as it is their annoyance that I don’t readily accept some of their answers, which sometimes are non-scientific declarative rebuttals of the “is so” — “is not” variety. But again maybe this is just me.

    I’ve been on RC for a few years attempting to learn the science and have picked up some education along the way. (90%+ of my climatology blog time is spent on RC.) But it has become evident to me (and you all) over the past many months that much of my questioning and assertions generate copious and diffused back and forth comments that are more hindrance than help to RC. I’ll check out RC from time to time but I think it’s time for me to bow out for a while.

    ps — for Hank and Chris Colose: the referenced graph was made backwards from what I expected and I just misread it.

    pps — this is belated because I lost my internet connection for a while.

    Comment by Rod B — 23 Feb 2011 @ 5:09 PM

  540. Rod, see if you can identify your belief with any of the ideas in the history:

    Once you read through the whole introduction, noting the points around p. xxxvi and xxvii might be helpful. I think you’re working through the history of the idea (to the extent any of us can without doing the math). I wonder if you can point to any particular description of one of the ways this stuff was for a while understood and say that’s the one you believe.

    If none of it makes sense, the math is probably essential to understanding.
    There must be an online course for this somewhere.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2011 @ 7:40 PM

  541. Rod, you may think that was clear. It was not. Try with simple declarative sentences. And maybe also consider how, if the atoms of a gas can emit in a continuum, what is to stop the electrons from spiraling into the nucleus?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Feb 2011 @ 8:36 PM

  542. Frabjous day!

    The local lending library finally was ready to lend out
    Principles of Planetary Climate by Raymond T. Pierrehumbert.

    [Response: Calloo, Callay! –raypierre]

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Feb 2011 @ 9:53 PM

  543. Gavin,

    I’ve changed my mind, since La Nina is fading quite quickly now (along with my odds), I bet 2011 will not be one of the Top 10 warmest years on record.

    Just a bit of fun, gisstemp is fine by me. I propose that if I lose the bet, I will be put into the borehole for life.

    If I win however, You have to put one of your comments of my choosing into the borehore.

    I think 2001 is the 10th warmest…(0.47 deg C)

    Wanna bet?

    Comment by Isotopious — 23 Feb 2011 @ 11:28 PM

  544. Re Rod –
    1. capping earlier discussion of line broadenning and multiple lines – you could have many many lines packed closely together but if each is of zero or infinitesimal width, you’d still have zero or infinitesimal* flux over the spectrum even with nonzero spectral (monochromatic) fluxes at the lines (for emission – or zero/infinitesimal absorption for absorption spectrum given a continuous band of incident radiation). (*well, infinity * infinitesimal can equal some non-infinitesimal number, but anyway…)

    It is the line broadenning that allows such lines to actually fill some nonzero fraction of a spectrum and if gaps start to be filled, produce a continuous distribution of nonzero absorption and emission over the spectrum; having many closely spaced lines reduces the amount of broadenning necessary to fill in the gaps significantly.

    Given such filling of gaps, sufficiently thick isothermal layers can produce a spectrum of radiation approaching a Planck spectrum, over an absorption/emission band. The line centers require less thickness in a layer to approach that spectrum but the fluxes found at the gaps may diverge depending on how temperature varies through other farther layers whose emissions are able to affect the fluxes found at some location, due to reduced opacity.

    If the atmosphere had sufficiently large optical thickness extending to the surface (ie not counting higher level clouds, ozone layer, etc.) over the whole LW portion of the spectrum, then the backradiation would tend toward a Planck spectrum and amount corresponding to the temperature found at or near the surface, because most of what ‘can be seen’ from the surface, given the opaqueness of such an atmosphere, would be near the surface and have temperatures near that of the surface (we can just require larger optical thickness to balance larger temperature gradients near the surface (nocturnal inversions, etc.) to bring about this condition).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Feb 2011 @ 11:46 PM

  545. New paper on the AMO references Keenlyside et al.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 24 Feb 2011 @ 12:03 AM

  546. The “Rod” business: Planck’s Theory of Heat Radiation? That’s 520 pages, and the google reader won’t even give me enough pages to read the suggested ones.
    Ray’s comment is like a question I would ask if given the opportunity: Why are there no classical atoms? Because the electrons would radiate and spiral into the nucleus and down would come baby, atoms and all.
    Patrick generally makes sense I think, but each spectral “line” must really be a band of some small but finite width, else there would be no radiation hence no people. QED by reductio ad absurdum. The width is guaranteed by Heisenberg uncertainty I presume. Pressure broadening of the bands, at first seeming nonsense because pressure is a bulk property of the gas, is caused by collisions which distort the electric field of the molecule for some small fraction of the time, the fraction being greater at greater pressure (more frequent collisions).

    To what extent do we get small sections of radiation-matter equilibrium and the Planck curve at surface pressure?

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 24 Feb 2011 @ 1:57 AM

  547. Hi guys

    could anybody enlighten me about the interpretation of this paper here?

    I know it has been briefly touched upon before here. They are discussing the earth´s albedo, and their conclusion puzzles me somewhat:

    “Summarizing, over the roughly defined periods: i) 1960–1985: The Earth’s albedo may have increased by as much as 7 W/m2 [Gilgen et al., 1998; Stanhill and Cohen, 2001; Liepert, 2002]; ii) 1985–2000: the Earth’s
    albedo has decreased by a quantity from 2–3 W/m2 [Wielicki et al., 2002; Pinker et al., 2005] to 6–7 W/m2 [Palle´ et al., 2004; Wild et al., 2005]; iii) 2000–2004: the trends for two of the data sets in Figure 1, are toward an albedo increase of about 2 W/m2 [Palle´ et al., 2004] and
    2oK [Casadio et al., 2005] and a large peak in 2003 with a drop in 2004, while CERES data shows a decrease of about 2 W/m2 [Wielicki et al., 2005]. Newly updated ISCCP data seems to support the increasing trend shown by the ES and OBT”.

    The size of the forcings in this appear, prima facie, just wildly unreasonable to me. How do the suggested 6-7 watts per square meter from the allegedely decreasing albedo fit into the temperature rise from 1985 to 2000? And if the albedo INcreased by about the same value from 1960 until 1985, then what is one to conclude, given the fact that the temperature rose significantly in both these intervals (1960-85 and 1985-2000)?

    Is the albedo suggested to be an independent forcing according to this research? Are these values reasonable and replicable? How do they compare with the forcing from GHGs? And what are the implications for the future global warming in this? Hope someone can help me! Thx, W

    Comment by Wajed Ali — 24 Feb 2011 @ 6:07 AM

  548. Very interesting paper in Nature this week:

    Thuiller, W. et al. (2011) Consequences of climate change on the tree of life in Europe. Nature, 470, 531-534.

    they conclude:

    “Linking phylogenetic and biogeographic information can help identify regions of past production and present maintenance of biodiversity (so-called cradles and graves)14, but projecting them into the future is challenging. Our study addresses this challenge and presents a unique large-scale assessment of the potential impacts of climate change on the evolutionary history of plants, birds and mammals. Although our assessment integrates uncertainty in phylogenetic reconstructions, it should be noted that projected changes in evolutionary history are also inevitably sensitive to the species distribution and climate models used. To address this problem, we have used cutting-edge bioclimatic ensemble forecasting methodologies. Because high-resolution climate projections have large uncertainties (owing to the difficulty of simulating local climates and the inaccuracy of interpolation techniques15), we have included three well-known global change models encompassing a large variation in future climate and shown that our results were robust to this variation. Accordingly, we show that although different metrics of species vulnerability to climate change tend not to be randomly distributed with regards to the tree of life, the loss of European phylogenetic diversity is not greater than expected under a model of random extinctions4. The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species provides clear evidence that extinction risk is selective among particular groups such as the amphibians, birds and mammals16. The prevalence of threatened species differs significantly among these groups and among the families and orders within each group9, 16. The fossil record also provides evidence of phylogenetically clustered extinctions, although the previous five mass extinctions provide examples of less extreme selectivity17, 18. Our projections do not predict a large drop in total phylogenetic diversity, but they do suggest a future restructuring of the spatial distribution of the tree of life. Phylogenetic diversity over Europe will be homogenized owing to the reshuffling of species assemblages and the migration of the tree of life into higher latitudes and elevations.”

    Comment by SteveF — 24 Feb 2011 @ 9:06 AM

  549. > Pressure broadening … caused by collisions which distort the
    > electric field of the molecule

    And stretch-tug-and-wrinkle broadening — distortion of the fields and bonds — with temperature change of the bits that are holding one another tighter and closer together when they’re making liquids and even more in solids.

    Same stuff all the way down; different constraints on how the bits move.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Feb 2011 @ 10:36 AM

  550. Re 546 Pete Dunkelberg – the effect of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is considered one of broadenning mechanisms.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 25 Feb 2011 @ 2:21 PM

  551. An interesting note on a change in how peer review may work. I noticed this recently mentioned in a newspaper article, where a researcher said he submitted his paper to Science, but it got passed on and published in a more specialized Science-Something journal.

    “… with my last two submissions …. the journals practice cascading peer review and would forward my rejected article — along with the reviews — to the next appropriate journal in line. I would not have to write another cover letter, change my reference style, or go through the resubmission process and wait in line for an editorial assistant to handle my submission. My dossier would go straight to the editor.

    Which leads me to ask the editors and publishers who practice rejection referral whether they are seeing more submissions to their top journals from authors like me?

    If the practice of cascading peer-review becomes standard within the industry, the function of editorial and peer-review becomes less about gate keeping and more about finding an appropriate home for a manuscript. In this world, rejection rates, as an indication of selectivity and brand identity, start to lose their meaning. Similarly, an author’s choice of where to publish becomes less about choosing a journal and more about cultivating a relationship with a publisher.

    This puts larger publishers in a distinct advantage, especially those who manage a portfolio of titles within a discipline….”

    I noticed there’s been a proliferation of little journal families showing up lately.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Feb 2011 @ 2:53 PM

  552. Russia’s official press agency RIA Novosti is citing a report from the American National Academy of Sciences about how global warming [глобальное потепление] will make allergies worse.

    Let’s all spam Cuccinelli. He cites RIA Novosti as an authoritative source on science, and now the line has changed!

    You can follow their discussion by using the google translation tool and searching глобальное потепление.

    There is also an interview with the top meteorologist Roman Vilfand. He says that due to global warming the cold Arctic air is stalled out over European Russia and Siberia because of anticyclones like last summer with the heat. Usually they get the air from the Atlantic.

    Vilfand is the head of of an agency called Roshydromet. It’s sort of like NOAA. The article claims, “Oddly enough, the abnormal cold is related to global warming.”

    He says this pattern will be repeated. Last summer destroyed their crops.

    Comment by Snapple — 25 Feb 2011 @ 3:24 PM

    (Hat tip to: )

    Scientists Are Cleared of Misuse of Data
    Published: February 24, 2011

    “… An inquiry by a federal watchdog agency found no evidence that scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration manipulated climate data to buttress the evidence in support of global warming, officials said on Thursday.

    The inquiry, by the Commerce Department’s inspector general, focused on e-mail messages between climate scientists that were stolen and circulated on the Internet in late 2009 (NOAA is part of the Commerce Department). Some of the e-mails involved scientists from NOAA.

    [bogus balance paragraph here]

    In a report dated Feb. 18 and circulated by the Obama administration on Thursday, the inspector general said, “We did not find any evidence that NOAA inappropriately manipulated data.”

    Nor did the report fault Jane Lubchenco, NOAA’s top official, for testifying to Congress that the correspondence did not undermine climate science….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Feb 2011 @ 10:27 PM


    Clim. Past Discuss., 7, 437–461, 2011
    © Author(s) 2011. CC Attribution 3.0 License.
    Climate of the Past Discussions
    This discussion paper is/has been under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).
    Please refer to the corresponding final paper in CP if available.
    Continuous and self-consistent CO2 and climate records over the past 20 Myrs

    “… a continuous CO2 record over the past 20 Myrs. Results show a gradual decline from 450 ppmv around 15 Myrs ago to 280 ppmv for pre-industrial conditions, coinciding with a gradual cooling of the Northern Hemisphere land temperatures by approximately 12 K, whereas there is no long-term sea-level variation caused by ice-volume changes between 13 to 3 Myrs ago. We find no evidence for a change in climate sensitivity other than the expected decrease following from saturation of the absorption bands for CO2.
    The reconstructed CO2 record shows that the Northern Hemisphere glaciation starts once the average CO2 concentration drops below 265ppmv after a period of strong decrease in CO2. Finally it might be noted that we observe only a small long-term change (23 ppmv) for CO2 during the mid-Pleistocene transition ….”

    (Note, would someone get a jump on the automatic keystroke bot brigade by explaining “the expected decrease following from saturation of the absorption bands for CO2” as used there? I’ll bet the robots will find that phrase and claim it proves something.)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Feb 2011 @ 11:19 AM

  555. Ah, that’s been caught.
    In the first interactive comment posted on that paper, and the commenter writes:

    “Minor comments
    p. 438, lines 16-17: “We find no evidence for a change in climate sensitivity other than the expected decrease following from saturation of the absorption bands for CO2.” Climate sensitivity accommodates for the saturation effect (i.e., it is cast in log space), so the second half of the sentence is misleading and should be cut. The first half should be revised too, given that the authors conclude that climate sensitivity was higher than the present-day during their paleo-interval (!)”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Feb 2011 @ 11:41 AM

  556. re: 555 scientists cleared

    Surely if they weren’t guilty of {\it something} they wouldn’t have needed clearing. (My feeble attempts at humor occasionally need explanation. This is one.)

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 26 Feb 2011 @ 12:54 PM

  557. # 512 snapple,

    Two articles , may help

    Comment by john byatt — 26 Feb 2011 @ 2:03 PM

  558. Thanks for the tip. I took a look at that post. I am not that sophisticated at this Internet stuff. Does this mean that Pete Ridley is trying to trick people by blaming someone else for his posts?

    Comment by Snapple — 26 Feb 2011 @ 3:47 PM

  559. It is indeed a mystery snapple, I thought that Mike WtD handled it very well.

    it could go ferret, oops i mean feral ,

    You got it .

    Had a go at Re captcha for the cause . hetHe Uoon=o , n=o was below

    Comment by john byatt — 26 Feb 2011 @ 4:16 PM

  560. Its getting stranger snapple, at “the climate sceptics”
    the real pete is claiming in defence that the nasty post was in Australia time zone and his own posts are in UK zone,
    small problem, the nasty post was never put up, must be psychic?

    Comment by john byatt — 26 Feb 2011 @ 5:56 PM

  561. “Pete Ridley” seems like a very confused person. He was raving indignantly that I deleted one of his comments on my site, but he also quoted my response to what he said. It’s very weird. I have no idea what he’s talking about.

    I don’t think I have deleted any comments by “Pete Ridley” because his comments show what morons denialists are. Probably “Pete Ridley” commented on a different post and lost it. Or maybe he put it on a different blog and got all mixed up.

    Now “Pete Ridley” demands that I answer science questions he poses.

    This is so ridiculous. First the denialists call the scientists liars who are supposedly “hiding the decline” in temperature. Now the denialists admit it is warming a little bit but that the warming and the CO2 will be beneficial for the plants.

    So how were the scientists “hiding the decline” in temperature if it is getting warmer? Denialists sound like Goldilocks tasting the bears’ porridge.

    Comment by Snapple — 26 Feb 2011 @ 7:19 PM


    Unusual extreme weather
    Ross ice shelf setting sail

    Just another couple of ticks in the boxes eh. 

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 26 Feb 2011 @ 8:20 PM

  563. .

    apathy versus denial

    It ain’t their fault?

    What to do?

    For example, parents who warn their young kids too emphatically that crossing the street is dangerous, that a truck may come along and squish them, may find that their children now cross the street with their eyes closed – thus avoiding having to see that terrifying truck. (Note that fear appeals are often very useful. They backfire when they’re unbearable.)

    It appears the only way is to take each group separately , impossible, so we need to work out which group is in the majority and target them with the message that would help them best ?

    Comment by john byatt — 26 Feb 2011 @ 8:48 PM

  564. Has anyone else noticed that the WDC for paleoclimatology seems to be down?

    Comment by tamino — 26 Feb 2011 @ 10:51 PM

  565. Hi everyone,

    can anyone elucidate to me what as caused the erly 20th Century warming? I gather that the solar forcing originally reconstructed by Lean or Solanki has been more than cut n half by Wang and others – what is the ikely insolation impact (in Watts/m2) from 1900-1945 or so?

    Comment by Lorius´s car — 27 Feb 2011 @ 3:26 PM

  566. LC, in addition to increased insolation, this was also a period of exceptionally low volacanic activity, and increased greenhouse gasses probably played some role as well. Tamino has looked at this on his blog using his two-box model, although I don’t know if can find the analysis there or would need to consult the guide to the old posts on

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Feb 2011 @ 4:08 PM

  567. Lorius´s car @565 — Lack of volcano eruptions + excess CO2. See the vocanic lull thread on

    Comment by David B. Benson — 27 Feb 2011 @ 4:15 PM

  568. Re: #565 (Lorius’s car)

    In the revised Lean reconstruction (the latest I’ve got, anyway), the change in average TSI (total solar insolation) from 1900 to 1950 is about 0.5 W/m^2. That translates to a change in climate forcing (accounting for geometry and albedo) of only 0.09 W/m^2. At a sensitivity of 0.75 K/(W/m^2) that would induce warming of only 0.07 deg.C.

    Most people don’t appreciate the significant impact of the early 20th-century lull in volcanic activity. It can have a long-term effect due to the thermal inertia of the oceans. For an exploratory analysis, see this and this.

    Comment by tamino — 27 Feb 2011 @ 4:16 PM

  569. Any comments on this?

    Attribution of climate forcing to economic sectors

    1. Nadine Unger
    2. Tami C. Bond
    3. James S. Wang
    4. Dorothy M. Koch
    5. Surabi Menon
    6. Drew T. Shindell and
    7. Susanne Bauer

    Comment by AIC — 28 Feb 2011 @ 2:48 AM

  570. To all the nice people who provided the good answers I got: Thank you all very very much indeed! Just a few follow-up questions: Tamino, do you have a link to the latest Lean reconstruction you mention? And is there any difference between the solar forcing of this Lean reconstruction and that of Wang et al. (2005)?

    Comment by Lorius´s Car — 28 Feb 2011 @ 5:09 AM

  571. Lean (2011)

    Lean and Wang

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Feb 2011 @ 10:43 AM

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