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The wisdom of Solomon

Filed under: — gavin @ 29 January 2010

A quick post for commentary on the new Solomon et al paper in Science express. We’ll try and get around to discussing this over the weekend, but in the meantime I’ve moved some comments over. There is some commentary on this at DotEarth, and some media reports on the story – some good, some not so good. It seems like a topic that is ripe for confusion, and so here are a few quick clarifications that are worth making.

First of all, this is a paper about internal variability of the climate system in the last decade, not on additional factors that drive climate. Second, this is a discussion about stratospheric water vapour (10 to 15 km above the surface), not water vapour in general. Stratospheric water vapour comes from two sources – the uplift of tropospheric water through the very cold tropical tropopause (both as vapour and as condensate), and the oxidation of methane in the upper stratosphere (CH4+2O2 –> CO2 + 2H2O NB: this is just a schematic, the actual chemical pathways are more complicated). There isn’t very much of it (between 3 and 6 ppmv), and so small changes (~0.5 ppmv) are noticeable.

The decreases seen in this study are in the lower stratosphere and are likely dominated by a change in the flux of water through the tropopause. A change in stratospheric water vapour because of the increase in methane over the industrial period would be a forcing of the climate (and is one of the indirect effects of methane we discussed last year), but a change in the tropopause flux is a response to other factors in the climate system. These might include El Nino/La Nina events, increases in Asian aerosols, or solar impacts on near-tropopause ozone – but this is not addressed in the paper and will take a little more work to figure out.

Update: This last paragraph was probably not as clear as it should be. If the lower stratospheric water vapour (LSWV) is relaxing back to some norm after the 1997/1998 El Nino, then what we are seeing would be internal variability in the system which might have some implications for feedbacks to increasing GHGs, and my estimate of that would be that this would be an amplifying feedback (warmer SSTs leading to more LSWV). If we are seeing changes to the tropopause temperatures as an indirect impact from increased Asian aerosol emissions or solar-driven ozone changes, then this might be better thought of as impacting the efficacy of those forcings rather than implying some sensitivity change.

The study includes an estimate of the effect of the observed stratospheric water decadal decrease by calculating the radiation flux with and without the change, and comparing this to the increase in CO2 forcing over the same period. This implicitly assumes that the change can be regarded as a forcing. However, whether that is an appropriate calculation or not needs some careful consideration. Finally, no-one has yet looked at whether climate models (which have plenty of decadal variability too) have phenomena that resemble these observations that might provide some insight into the causes.

487 Responses to “The wisdom of Solomon”

  1. 201
    Septic Matthew says:

    194, Gavin. Thank you. I gather that it was at least worth a rebuttal, but it was never published, and some of the reviewers’ comments eventually appeared on line. I read as far as this, which I have downloaded:

    Is “Raypierre” named “Ray Pierrehumbert”? I am trying to order his book from Cambridge University Press, and I do not find it listed on their web page.


  2. 202
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Anand Rajan KD says: 1 February 2010 at 11:19 PM A

    “There are entire blogs dedicated to preserve comments rejected at RealClimate. ”

    Yes? I have a rock in my pocket I picked up while serving as a foot soldier during the siege of Troy. I saved it because I knew I might later need to prove I was there.

    Seriously (well, I’m trying, at this point “serious” is really not the word), you’re saying there are folks on the Internet who compose posts to RealClimate and always counter-post them to special dedicated blogs, thinking the posts might be rejected? How very meta.

  3. 203
    gary thompson says:

    #197 – gavin wrote – “[Response: You aren’t that stupid, and so misconstruing CFU’s comment is just deliberate noise generation. The last time CO2 was 400+ for any extended length of time was most likely the Pliocene (some 3 million years ago). Sea levels were indeed some 20m higher than today. However the rate at which ice sheets can melt is somewhat constrained, and so this statement cannot be equated to your caricature. If you want to play games, play them somewhere else. – gavin]”

    i assure you that my goal here is not to play games. over and over again i have accepted the rejection of my prozaic questions and theories and have not taken anything personal. as long as we are debating the data and the science you can be as harsh and direct as you want to be – i can take it and i don’t take it personal. i appreciate that my posts and questions have not been censored and that is why i continue to come back to this site. as a skeptic i could take the easy path and immerse myself in the websites that support my views but i instead choose to come to the site where the best and brightest of the AGW croud post. my goal here is the quest for truth however troubling it may be. and i think that is the purpose of this site – to debate the science and deviate from the politics.

  4. 204
    t_p_hamilton says:

    Anand:”Mr. Hamilton:
    “By symmetry, the result of reduced greenhouse gases would be cooling from CO2 decrease:…”

    The paper estimate the sensitivity of CO2 to temperature changes to be different (higher) in a cooling period compared to a warming (lower) period.”

    That would be great news if true. But, these authors’ gamma for both warming and cooling are much lower than other estimates.

    High gamma, bad for warming, good for cooling. Low gamma, not so much but better for warming and worse for cooling.

    “There are saying there is no symmetry that you speak of.”

    Not necessarily true if gamma is mostly temperature dependent but reversible. The authors do not know for sure. They say “The higher values for gamma during the late period result from the strong LIA CO2 dip around 1600”, so a temperature reconstruction with a smaller slope for that transition would not be so large.

    The consensus T sensitivity to doubling CO2 (+275 ppm) is 3 degrees C, and these authors propose only an increase of say 23 ppm (using their most likely single value) for 3 degrees. Basically, the effect of reducing CO2 primarily works through the temperature sensitivity, maybe 10 times larger than feedback from the carbon cycle.

  5. 205
    t_p_hamilton says:

    Anand says:”My concern, vis a vis this paper, is more along these lines: In a warming system, even assuming CO2 effects – direct and feedback-mediated to be the predominant driver of temperature, the effect we could have via γ would very small – a fractional drop in an effect that is already small. We would only be left with reductions achievable via the direct effect of reducing CO2-mediated warming (GHG).”

    Yes, we have to do it the hard way.

  6. 206
    Josh Cryer says:

    #187 Barton Paul Levenson, got a cite for that Palmer Index claim for 13% drought in the 70s and 30% now? I have enjoyed looking at your site, btw, quite an interesting character you are. And your arguments against deniers are pretty solid!

    #194 Septic Matthew, having just read much of BPL’s site, I think you should check out his arguments against Miskolczi on his Climatology page, I just discovered it, myself, and I think it’s a pretty convincing argument and is certainly well researched.

  7. 207
    ccpo says:

    Re:Comment by gary thompson — 2 February 2010 @ 1:02 AM

    i assure you that my goal here is not to play games…

    Ah, but you are contradicting yourself. As a former TEFL teacher, let me illustrate. You said,

    “excellent, cfu has provided a prediction here.”

    Wrong. cfu answered your question. It’s not hard to extrapolate trends, nor is it a prediction.

    “taking your advice to “be. more. specific.””

    Dripping with sarcasm, else no need for quotes. When one simply wants to use the same words, the quotes are unnecessary as the exact speech used is utterly immaterial. When we wish to emphasize, in this case sarcastically, we do as we do in conversation and exaggerate the response we are wishing to insult.

    let me try and solidify this since you were vague. if atmospheric CO2 levels continue their linear increase then we’ll expect sea levels to rise 20 meters in 100 years.”

    Two points here: cfu wasn’t vague, cfu was explaining and in no way intended to imply a rise in sea level of 20 meters in 90 years. Why? So far as we know, it’s pretty much impossible without some seriously out of balance stuff going on.

    Of course, you know this. That is why he slapped you upside the head. Trying to twist the response into something it never intended to imply, and doing so intentionally is unethical.

    “I think that is the purpose of this site – to debate the science and deviate from the politics.”

    Your actions say otherwise.

  8. 208
    ccpo says:

    Anand Rajan KD says: 1 February 2010 at 11:19 PM A

    “There are entire blogs dedicated to preserve comments rejected at RealClimate. ”

    How convenient. Post something somewhere claiming it was posted here and rejected. Nice trick. Less screen shots, I’m doubting the veracity based on past experience.

  9. 209
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Completely Fed Up:
    So you are going to kill Gary by piling lego on him? :)”

    No, just pointing out that it’s possible.

    Even though one lego brick is irrelevant toward that aim.

    See also army ants. One ant: no problem to a spider. An army? Problems to EVERYTHING.

  10. 210
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “excellent, cfu has provided a prediction here. taking your advice to “be. more. specific.” let me try and solidify this since you were vague. if atmospheric CO2 levels continue their linear increase then we’ll expect sea levels to rise 20 meters in 100 years.”

    Nope, I predicted CO2 levels of 620ppm in 100 years.

    I guess that gary is predicting 20m sea rises in 100 years.

    I didn’t.

  11. 211
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Eli: “The Earth is far enough out from the sun, with a somewhat lower solar insolation that you can’t get rid of liquid water, e.g. no runaway greenhouse like Venus.”

    The question wasn’t whether there was enough greenhouse gasses, just whether it;s possible for CO2 with its narrow IR absorption band to cause a greenhouse effect.

    I even said it right in the first response which was ignored to strawman the response, and you bought it, unfortunately: “if there’s enough of it”.

  12. 212
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Note too Venus doesn’t have a runaway effect either: it’s temperature has not reached the fusion point of its contents and progressed toward infinity.

    So it hasn’t run away.

  13. 213
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Oops, rereading the original, it was 690ppm CO2, not 620.

  14. 214
    Doug Lowe says:

    gary thompson
    “what is the explanation for the poles being so much hotter than the rest of the globe?”

    The atmosphere and oceans transport heat from the tropics through the mid-latitudes out to the polar regions (down the heat gradient). Increasing the heat retention of the system (by increasing CO2 and CH4 concentrations) will decrease the heat gradient, because the poles will retain proportionally more of the heat energy being transported out from the tropics.

    Conversely, if the increase in temperature we’re now observing was caused by increased solar radiance then we could expect to see an increase in the temperature gradient, as the tropics absorb more energy while the polar regions continue to radiate heat away at the same rate.

  15. 215

    gary t: i haven’t heard the scientific explanation as to why the poles are so out of step with the rest of the globe.

    BPL: Polar amplification is due to two factors.

    1. The land-ice albedo feedback. As more ice melts, darker land is exposed, which absorbs more sunlight.

    2. There is less water vapor in colder air, so CO2 is proportionally more important the closer you get to the poles.

  16. 216
  17. 217
    Jiminmpls says:

    BPL: If it keeps up, we will lose pretty much ALL agricultural land some time in the next 40 years.

    That is an extremist and unsubstantiated claim. The “UN Warns of 70 percent desertification by 2025″ headline is a sensationalist misstatement that was repeated in several newspapers. The UN actually warned that 70% of agricultural DRY LANDS are threatened by desertification”. That’s about 25% of the total landmass.

    Desertification a a major threat, but hysterical claims that 8 billion will die as a result of desertification in the next 30 years are just that: hysterical. Were you one of those who believed Clinton had 200,000 soviet troops stationed in the salt mines under Detroit?

    I can’t seem to find the atual UN reports, but here is a little more sober overview of the issue:

  18. 218
    Daniel Bailey says:


    #199 gary thompson says:
    1 February 2010 at 11:04 PM

    “what is the explanation for the poles being so much hotter than the rest of
    the globe?”

    Search RC – the answers probably are already there for you:

    Homework = hard work

    Climate Science = Harder

    A learner just like you,


  19. 219
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Gary Thompson,
    A gentle criticism. You will get a lot further in your understanding if you learn to phrase your questions precisely.

    You ask,“what is the explanation for the poles being so much hotter than the rest of the globe?”

    The poles are not hotter. They are still cold. They are just warming up more rapidly than the tropics and temperate regions due to the factors in the Polar Amplification post Dan cited.

  20. 220
    Bob says:

    gary, #199:

    We must be looking at two different things. This is what I’m looking at.. To make sure you get the same image, a copy of the Zonal Mean graph I see is here and (with a map of the continents as a helpful background) here.

    This shows:

    Avg. Global Temp Anomaly: 0.36C
    North Pole Anomaly: ~1.6C
    30-60 North Anomaly: ~0.6C
    Equatorial Anomaly: ~0.2C
    30-80 South Anomaly: varies
    South Pole Anomaly: ~0.4C

    Other people have already given sufficient answers about the warming at the poles, although there are lots of fun things to learn concerning how and why warming (and climate) are asymmetric on our planet (try Hadley Cells, ITCZ, Coriolis Effect, La Nina/El Nino, Deep Ocean Currents, and on and on and on).

  21. 221
    gary thompson says:

    #220 Bob wrote – “We must be looking at two different things”

    the difference was in the use of a trend (what i did) instead of anomalies (what you did). To compare that decade with a base year the use of anomalies would be better. i started out wanting to look at the trend for that decade.

    here is my page for what it’s worth (don’t know how to imbed link in this message window text) –

    and yes, thanks to many who answered my question regarding the higher rate of warming at the poles as compared to the rest of the globe.

  22. 222
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Jiminmpls says:
    2 February 2010 at 7:50 AM

    BPL: If it keeps up, we will lose pretty much ALL agricultural land some time in the next 40 years.

    That is an extremist and unsubstantiated claim. ”

    How can ANY prediction be substantiated? The future hasn’t happened yet.

    By the way, you’ve no problems apparently with unsubstatiated claims that AGW mitigation will cause economic hardship.

  23. 223
    Phil. Felton says:

    Anand Rajan KD says:
    1 February 2010 at 11:19 PM

    There are entire blogs dedicated to preserve comments rejected at RealClimate. Twice, my posts were ‘memory-holed’. A few others had some or the other surgery performed on them. That’s my evidence.

    I can assure you there were no abusive wording in those posts.

    Actually maybe there were, the spam checker is very aggressive and will reject posts that contain objectionable words even when they are hidden inside other words, notably certain drugs. For example I had a post rejected several times because I used the word ‘amb-ient’ .

  24. 224
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re: #201 Raymond Pierrehumbert’s book

    Its in the pipe line according to Raypierre and CUP. The latter estimated about 9 months , about 2 weeks ago.

  25. 225
    Ken W says:

    Anand (200) wrote:
    “There are entire blogs dedicated to preserve comments rejected at RealClimate. Twice, my posts were ‘memory-holed’.”

    Really? And you “know” those are valid accusations how? Because 2 of your posts disappeared? Wow, I’ve had dozens of posts to my own kids disappear on Facebook, but I don’t accuse them of censorship. Welcome to the Internet where sh*t sometimes happens.

    Don’t you consider it rather careless of the realclimate “censors” to allow you to post this claim? Surely, if they were active censors, they would want to hide such incriminating “evidence” of their wrongdoings. Yet here it is, your accusation made it through their filters.

    [Response: To all. This is a moderated forum for which there is guidance for politeness, on-topic-ness and prevention of troll infestation. Think of it as a dinner party we are hosting – you can disagree and discuss, but if you start throwing around food or insulting the hosts, you will be asked to leave. The discussion about comment moderation is getting a little dull. Please move on to something substantive. – gavin]

  26. 226
    Septic Matthew says:

    Josh Cryer and Barton Paul Levenson, Thanks for the links. I had in fact gotten to BPL’s link by following the links from the link that Gavin gave me.

    Geoff Wexler, Thank you. I got to Raymond T. Pierrehumbert’s university web page by following one of the links from the book’s web page. I was not quite sure that “raypierre” who posts here was the same “Ray Pierrehumbert”, but he is.

  27. 227
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Eli Rabett says: 1 February 2010 at 8:25 PM
    > FWIW(#176) you have to first say what you mean by a runaway greenhouse….

    followed by giving us a clear specification of what it means for Earth

    > 212 Completely Fed Up says: 2 February 2010 at 4:53 AM
    > Note too Venus doesn’t have a runaway effect either: it’s temperature has
    > not reached the fusion point of its contents and progressed
    > toward infinity.
    > So it hasn’t run away.

    Unique definition, confusing rhetoric. True, Venus did not evaporate and run away from the Solar System, it’s still there. Not helpful.

    Please, when you engage in a battle of wits and rhetoric, don’t depart from science you can cite. Your real audience is readers who come here later.

  28. 228
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Or the word for someone who has the opposite of a broad spectrum of knowledge beginning with special and ending with ist is likewise a spamword.

    Kind of hard to avoid using when you’re talking about a domain where you need a lot of people who have trained in small areas of endeavour but in great depth.

  29. 229
    Completely Fed Up says:

    gary: “the difference was in the use of a trend (what i did) instead of anomalies (what you did). ”

    You fail to understand. Or maybe you have some deep insight into the maths, but normal humans find a trend by taking the differences between points in some progressing series over time or whatever independent variable separates all the points.

    And an anomaly is a difference between a measurement and another set point.

    In fact, since the Celsius scale is based off the freezing point of pure water, these measurements are anomalies.

    But maybe you can explain some “deeper truth” that shows that this doesn’t make trends impossible if you’re using anomalies in your datapoints.

  30. 230
    Hank Roberts says:

    > sea levels to rise 20 meters in 100 years

    Please, folks. Yes, a famous Associated Press typographical error, reprinted in many newspapers, echoing still in blogs of all varieties, started the mistaken claim of “20 feet” — not meters — this century.

    If you must channel grossly wrong claims, at least get them wrong _right_.

    If you confuse feet with meters you’re going to miss Mars.

  31. 231
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “Science leads you to killing people.” – Ben Stein – Republican Speech Writer.

  32. 232
    Bob says:

    gary, #221:

    Okay. For “Trends”, the base period is ignored. You’re basically comparing 2000 to 2009. But again, the choice of endpoints has a big effect, and using “Trends” eliminates the ability to average a few years together. For instance, if you compare 1998 to 2008 or 2009, you’ll see big drops in temperature in many areas… but that’s all choice of end points, which is further exacerbated by the short time frame (10 years).

    If you look at this page from GISTEMP you can more clearly see part of your answer (find 2000 and 2009 in each hemisphere).

    My use of “anomalies” instead of “trends” basically helped to eliminate the end-point problem by letting you use ranges (which basically means a multi-year mean) on both ends.

    As far as looking for a trend in the last decade… that’s hard to do at this point with any honesty, because the decade began with an El Nino and ended with a La Nina and a solar minimum. It’s just not a meaningful comparison because of the noise. You really need to wait at least 3-5 years so that you can at least use a 5 or 10-year average centered around 2009, and compare that with a 5 or 10-year average centered around 2000.

    But really, either way, even one decade is nothing. We’re talking about something that will take a half a century to really start to play out. For people that are going to insist on seeing simple thermometer evidence on a short time scale… they’re just going to be dissatisfied (until it’s too late).

    As I posted earlier… this is the picture that I think really tells the story.

  33. 233
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Phil. Felton says: 2 February 2010 at 10:49 AM

    “Actually maybe there were, the spam checker is very aggressive…”

    Oh, yes, spec_e_c_i_a_list, etc. But surely somebody bumping into that would notice the intervening page explaining the intervention?

    Also, could “Al Gore” be added to the list of blocked terms for this site?

  34. 234

    #221 gary thompson

    To add on the polar amplification thing… think of it this way. The northern hemisphere has a lot more land. You can heat and cool land easier than water.

    The southern hemisphere is mostly water and a really big chunk of ice at the bottom.

    Water takes longer to heat than land.

  35. 235
    Hank Roberts says:

    >> gary thompson says: 1 February 2010 at 10:52 PM …
    >> sea levels to rise 20 meters in 100 years. [edit of pointless digression]
    > [Response: You aren’t that stupid, and so misconstruing CFU’s comment
    > is just deliberate noise generation….

    Thank you Gavin.

  36. 236
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Bob
    > … this is the picture that I think really tells the story.

    Can you put the text of the caption –and source — into that image, as part of the picture? I get it, but it lacks a cite, and needs an explanation people can find and attribute.

  37. 237
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Doug: “But surely somebody bumping into that would notice the intervening page explaining the intervention?”

    Not if they didn’t want to think it may not be censorship of themselves.

    Remember, Anand WANTS to be the martyr, walking into the lions den and mauled to death like the Christians in roman times.

  38. 238
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Vendicar Decarian says:
    2 February 2010 at 1:03 PM

    “Science leads you to killing people.” ”

    Anti-science idiots leads you to want to kill people – CFU.

  39. 239
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Hank Roberts says:
    2 February 2010 at 12:36 PM

    > sea levels to rise 20 meters in 100 years

    Please, folks. ”

    Please, Hank. That’s ***gary’s*** prediction.

    Mind you, does it make it OK if it’s 200 years to get to 20m SLR rather than 100 years?

    It’s not like we’ll use the 100 extra years to build 20m seawalls around every inch of coastline…

  40. 240
    Bob says:

    CFU, #229:

    In Gary’s defense, no, he was fine in his statement… because the context of that discussion was specifically the GISTEMP map generator interface at, and specifically a drop down menu there that lets you choose between “Anomalies” and “Trends” (their terminology, not his).

    His comment was purely and specifically in relation to that, and was a perfectly clear and accurate one in that context.

    I’m actually myself a little confused about the difference between the two (in the interface, not in the real world). On the face of it, I’d expect that “Anomalies” for a “Time Interval” of 2009-2009 and a “Base Period” of 2000-2000 would yield the same map as “Trends” for a “Time Interval” of 2000-2009, but it doesn’t. They’re close, but not the same. I’m not really clear, I think, on what “Trends” is delivering vs. “Anomalies” on that page.

  41. 241
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Hank :”Unique definition, confusing rhetoric. True, Venus did not evaporate and run away from the Solar System, it’s still there. Not helpful.”

    Not really unique.

    Just not one you’ve considered. Just like I’d not considered the thermal radiation leaving a planet to be a negative feedback.

    And it’s very helpful: it shows how gary’s questioning is pointless because an answer to such a vague question IS answered by that explanation.

    So in what way is it not helpful?

    It may not help in bringing more knowledge to light but gazzer has already once made up what I’ve said before, so he’s not here for knowledge. He’s here for sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  42. 242

    gary t: i haven’t heard the scientific explanation as to why the poles are so out of step with the rest of the globe.

    Polar amplification (5 factors):

    1) When ice melts, it leaves dark surfaces remaining which absorb heat.

    Okay dude, more on this. So light energy short wave) comes in at about 1000 trillion oscillations per second and hits the dark ground, trees, or ocean (except for a few clouds or ice which reflects some of it). So it goes through the greenhouse gases and does not see them (not vibrating at the same frequency) until it hits something dark, like ground or ocean or trees. The dark surface absorbs the heat.

    An extremely oversimplified explanation for this is that dark surfaces have closely held electrons. The light energy hits the outer electron. Because it is so closely held, it hits the next more closely-held electron to the nucleus, etc, etc, etc until it hits the nucleus. Now the nucleus starts vibrating but at a slower rate (it is “denser”). It now, to relax, gives off slower energy (heat, long wave energy, infrared [IR}). This heat is now vibrating slower than light at about 10 trillion oscillations per second.

    It is now shot off and tries to go and hit Buzz Lightyear in outer space. But woops, it now hits dense greenhouse gas molecules first in our atmosphere which are vibrating at the same frequency as the “heat” and so interacts with them. Incoming light has too fast vibrations to interact with the greenhouse gases and just goes right through them.

    The “heat” particle hits the greenhouse gas molecule and because it is at the same frequency, it starts the greenhouse gas molecule vibrating and spinning at the heat frequency (it gets all hot and bothered, capiche?). To calm down and return to its normal state, it takes a cold shower (it hits another molecule) and releases heat in all directions and creates heat by banging another molecule…and so on.

    Now, on the other hand when the fast moving light from the Sun hits something light colored, more reflective, more conductive like ice it is reflected out and usually hits Buzz Lightyear on the butt in outer space and is not turned into heat.

    The light colored surfaces have electrons far away from the nucleus (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I am oversimplifying this). So when the light hits the outer electron on an outer valence level on a light color like ice, the electron can’t hit the next closer layer to the nucleus, so the electron throws the light energy back out into space instead of hitting the nucleus and turning into heat.

    2) When the dry cold air gets warm and wet (global warming) you now have added a strong greenhouse gas: water vapor where it was not there before.

    3) Ice used to be a shield which stopped the warming oceans from warming up the air. With the ice gone, the warming oceans can now warm up the air.

    4) In summer, ice keeps the air colder due to latent heat. Global warming melts the ice and so the air gets warmer.

    5) When the water-filled ice melts, comparatively dry Arctic plants and ground replace it. Arctic plants and ground now less hold water than ice, so the heat
    can’t be slowed up by taking up the energy to evaporate and goes right into heating the surface temps up.

    Dude, this is rocket science. It’s why people like you should not be telling scientists why global warming is not happening and how humans are not causing it…

    In my opinion after having been at a national climate center for 11 years and having personally talked to top publishing climate scientists whose work holds up over time from at least five national agencies for 11 years, we are so close to getting screwed you have no idea. Global warming has lots of latency or delay in it because of the oceans. It is already here, but the effects are delayed due to the oceans slowing it up (thermal inertia).

    In my opinion, your delaying actions because you are scared of a big government takeover or don’t want to lose profits because of changing over from oil, coal or gas are effectively killing our chances for future civilization. We will have no choice but to have a big government takeover, just what you are afraid of.

    Scientists (top division heads, publishing whose work holds up over time) I personally know from NCAR, NOAA, NASA, EPA, NREL are privately freaking.

    We have to be talking now of how to change over to alternate sources of energy such as advanced geothermal where you dig two side by side holes 2 km deep where it is 200 C and build a geothermal power plant on top of the holes to replace coal.

    Of using algae to produce a fuel replacement and/or coal replacement (you could just burn the algae oil 24/7 to produce base load electricity.

    Whatever ways we choose, we have the technology to change over, now. We need the political will. We will have to change over anyway (we’ll run out and other countries will be ahead of us and get the market share). In my opinion, your ideology is slowing down changes and endangers the United States and our children.

  43. 243
    Septic Matthew says:

    232, Bob

    Good picture. I bookmarked it.

    Others: where is the assertion that the sea level will rise by 20 ft this century? That’s about 6 meters, or 60 mm/year, compared to the 20th century average of 2 mm/year or 20 cm for the century (and 19th century, iirc). Sorry, I have lost my bookmark to the 2mm/year claim. If I am wrong, send me to a better source.

  44. 244
    Radge Havers says:

    Anand @ 200

    “I can assure you there were no abusive wording in those posts.”


    A while back before it got edited, I noticed a post at RC that was briefly visible to the public in its entirety. In that instance, what got cut wasn’t abusive so much as it was an airy stream of random piffle.

  45. 245
    Didactylos says:

    I was going to call BPL on the 8 billion claim a few days ago, then I just stopped caring. Some people really enjoy laying on the doom and gloom.

    However, it is worth considering that there actually is something to be alarmed about.

    One study puts excess deaths due to climate change as rising to nearly 500,000 per year by 2030 (Global Humanitarian Forum). And that study only considers a very limited number of factors.

    Come on, people: if you want to raise alarming spectres or dismiss the whole idea, at least provide real numbers from real sources. To me, reality seems scary enough, without exaggerating it.

  46. 246
    Anand says:

    Mr Hamilton:

    You say yourself – “But, these authors’ gamma for both warming and cooling are much lower than other estimates.” So, going by the authors’ estimate of gamma – a low one – one cannot expect dramatic decreases of temperature mediated by the feedbacks. Meaning we are on a steady state of warming, isnt it? No alarmsism then.

    Apart from that, your argument is based on saying basically that the authors’ contentions may not be ‘true’ – you say that twice. Not very substantiative. Anyway, I wanted to discuss possibilities if they were true. Figure 3 (distribution of probabilistic gamma values) in the paper looks pretty convincing.

    About your ‘hard way’, I hope it is not the ‘hard on me, but easy on you’ kind. Like taking my money to fund ‘clean energy’ and selling that energy back to me. ;)

    There are about 6 posts talking about RC post deletion. All I want to say is – there are things that cannot be said here. They are non-abusive, on-topic, no-trolling and all very civil in content. But it still cannot be discussed here. I criticize aspects of RC here not de novo, but because I was forced to. For the record, I have defended RC, at least partially elsewhere. A spade is a spade.

    Keeping fingers crossed!

    Thanks and regards

  47. 247
    Ike Solem says:

    Many news organizations are coming up with strange interpretations of this paper, while ignoring many complexities. The best headline might be the one in the original NOAA press release, here at sciencedaily:

    “Stratospheric Water Vapor Is a Global Warming Wild Card”

    In the lower troposphere, cloud effects are the main uncertainty in the water vapor feedback effect, confounded by the role that aerosols play. The conclusion seems to be that small variations in the overall water vapor trend can be amplified (either positively or negatively) in the lower stratosphere – and that microscale processes, as with clouds and aerosols, have to be taken into account.

    None of this changes the overall water vapor feedback effect, it just adds a complicating factor. The basic concept, that warming temperatures lead to moister air and hence to more warming, is not being challenged. For the background, and a more general overview of water vapor and climate, see:

    Dessler & Sherwood, A Matter of Humidity, Science Feb 2009 (pdf)

    The basic issue here is the “expectation that the atmosphere’s relative humidity would remain roughly constant – meaning that the specific humidity would increase at the rate of the equilibrium vapor pressure, which rises rapidly with temperature.”

    Translation: as air warms (on an ocean planet) it tends to moisten. Or, the net amount of water vapor in the atmosphere increases with global temperature. If true, this can reduce the uncertainty in predictions:

    “Despite the simplicity of this idea, which entirely neglects detailed microphysics and other small-scale processes, such models accurately reproduce the observed water vapor distribution for the mid and upper troposphere. One recent study estimated the uncertainty in the water vapor feedback associated with microscale process behavior at less than 5%.”

    However, if the lower stratosphere is very sensitive to water vapor concentrations, radiatively speaking, then the microscale process issues could become more important than in the troposphere. Variations in everything from methane emissions to ozone to El Nino to the tropopause temperature could thus introduce greater uncertainty into climate predictions on the short-term scale – hence, a “wild card” factor.

    If so, then the more you know about the distributions and concentrations of gases in the atmosphere – the better satellite coverage you have – then the better your predictions will be… so what does the latest federal satellite budget look like?

    The budget is much more about spending closer to Earth. It promises a speeding up of launching new Earth’s observing satellites, especially to monitor climate change. It includes money to fly a replacement for a carbon dioxide monitoring satellite that fell into the ocean last year instead of going into orbit.

    Good news! The ostrich has removed its head from the hole – it appears to be looking around…

  48. 248
    L. David Cooke says:

    Re: 215

    Hey Barton,

    How certain are you as to the cause of growing polar heat content and it’s causes? Based on the data I have seen so far, the water vapor heat content record seems to demonstrate the surface temperature forcing examples you have provided seem to be small drivers in total. (This conclusion derived due to both the seasonal angle of incidence and shaded (diffuse) surface measurements.)

    We have seen clear indications that there are higher surface temperatures driven by insolation. These examples were demonstrated by experiments performed by two research teams in the last two years employing “high albedo blankets” over “soft ice” firming up the surfaces. Secondly, we have clear measures at high altitudes of higher upper tropospheric / tropopause temperatures due to advection of lower latitude convective air parcels. (The report was in a NASA paper either in late 2005 or early 2006…)

    Are you suggesting greater insolation due to a decrease in near surface water vapor/clearer skies? If true would this not be true regardless of the zone? As it is clear there have been marked increases of dry air wedges related to universal occurrences of stagnant anti-cyclonic Rossby Waves. I certainly would be interested in the what has driven your conclusions and the level of participation in the abnormal zonal heat content in the polar regions…

    Dave Cooke

  49. 249
    Bob says:

    Hank, #236:

    It’s actually cobbled together from the NASA GISS pages, from this page (near the bottom) from this image.

    I mucked with it to let it flow smoothly from left to right (I should have rotated it so it would go top to bottom). Their version chops it up into 3 parts to keep the entire image more narrow, but in so doing it ruins the cold-warmer-hot visual effect.

    It’s really a very clever graph, though, because it lets you see full year data for 79 years, by month, with comparable months side by side (e.g. December-December) to eliminate the confusion of season variations, and with annotations for significant events… V’s for volcanic eruptions, E’s for El Nino’s (bigger E’s for bigger El Ninos), L’s for La Ninas, and M’s for solar maximums and m’s for solar minimums.

    The only other thing I think they could have crammed in there would have been black circles where the diameter of each circle denotes the CO2 concentration (proportionally bigger circles = more CO2).

  50. 250
    Completely Fed Up says:

    David L Cooke: “How certain are you as to the cause of growing polar heat content and it’s causes?”

    Got a better explanation than the one the IPCC scientists have?

    Or are you angling for “you’re not *certain*, so it’s not that” angle and skip the part where you need a replacement theory?