This month’s open thread…
… continued here.
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.
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!
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]
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.
Oops! That comment of mine above is for the previous topic: West Antarctica.
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.
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? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12285230 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?
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.
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 http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/02/dummies-guide-to-the-latest-hockey-stick-controversy/ and I notice that both of the holocene.evsc.virginia.edu 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.
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.
#46, Lynn Vincentnatnathan on Rao and cosmic rays:
William Connolley has the extended version of what Gavin said.
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.
Septic Matthew @58 — That article clearly implicate thermal coal generating stations.
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.
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?
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”?!
Google wants to be your friend:
Old fart, just in case you cannot find at SS
Hockey sticks , http://www.skepticalscience.com/Kung-fu-Climate.html
read through comments for newer additions
It’s an ill wind, as they say … the worst mercury pollution sources are among those shut down: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2010/03/17/texas-power-plants-tops-for-mercury-emissions/
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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?
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?
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]
To amplify on Gavins statement that you can easily measure downwelling radiation, simply buy, or borrow an IR thermometer and point if upwards.
#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.
> infrared thermometer
compare a clear night sky with a cloudy night sky
‘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 …
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?
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.
“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.”
http://www.energyfutureholdings.com/about/businesses/luminant.aspx (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.
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.”
I sincerely hope that you will consider a formal libel suit against Pearce and New Science.
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.
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]
@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?
Gavin – Tallbloke has ‘outed’ himself as Fred Pearce’s source over at Judith Curry’s blog.
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.
#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:
“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.
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]
For Vickyl: see http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/02/monckton_myths.php
One of the producers of that BBC program answers questions in the comments.
CBC radio [Canada] recently had a good Ideas debate program on “Green Growth or No Growth” worth listening to. Some info on participants here.
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) ?
The Storyville programme “Meet The Climate Sceptics” can be viewed outside UK at
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.
Weaver sues Ball http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/02/04/Climate.pdf
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.
“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.
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