Broken Reasoning And Hot Air

I got a request to turn a comment into a more complete posting. This is that effort.

There is a standard model of heat gain / loss used by the Global Warming folks. It goes something along the lines of “sunlight shines in. Some turns to Infrared, and can’t get out due to CO2 absorbing it. That is then ‘re radiated’ toward the ground. In the end, the ground and the air gets warmer due to that CO2 preventing the free radiation of that heat as infrared radiation”. It is usually accompanied by a chart to illustrate:

From this paper: we get a picture like the one below.

There are color versions of this chart, but this is the one from the paper.

Energy Budget from Kiehl-Trenberth

Energy Budget from Kiehl-Trenberth

The most fundamental problem with the present theory, the place where it is ‘broken reasoning’, comes from this picture of the world; and that it is a static vision. Nice fixed numbers for cloud cover, evaporation, thermals, CO2. Then the future is predicted (or ‘projected’ or ‘guessed’ or whatever they are calling hand waving these days) based on changing CO2, but leaving the rest of the factors unchanged. A static scoring model, if you will, instead of recognizing the dynamic nature of the real world.

So, just as one example, a surface radiates heat depending on the temperature of that surface. It is a 4th power function. If the surface doubles in temperature, the heat leaving increases by 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 or 16 times as much. Do you see a 16 x increase for hot spots on this chart?

So, for example, if an equatorial area had a cool rain forest turn into a hot desert, there would be a 4th power increase in radiation from that increased temperature. That matters.

But it gets worse.

Notice that evaporation and convection / thermals are constants? (And shown as relatively small ones at that). What happened to weather?

When the sun rises, the surface warms. (Remember that 4th power function… it has strong effects even during the day / night cycle. Notice there is no day / night cycle in the picture?) Anyone who flys, especially in hot air balloons, knows that the best flying is just at sunrise. Inside a couple of hours, the warmth starts causing thermals and the wind picks up, making it too rough to launch. The amount of evaporation, thermals / convection, and wind changes as the energy input changes.

In the tropics, it is common knowledge that in the afternoon there will frequently be rain. The sun rises, the surface warms, and a lot of water evaporates. From the sea. From the forest canopy. From the dirt itself. That water rises high in the sky and condenses to fall as rain. As it condenses, it releases a very large quantity of heat. It does not depend on ‘radiation’ to move that heat to the tops of the clouds. It depends on evaporation, convection, and condensation.

The amount of rain varies fairly directly with the amount of energy in, provided there is water available. (For most of the earth there is plenty of water. Only in a few places do we have large deserts. 70% of the planet surface is water. Water dominates.) The amount of energy being moved in a single hurricane is measured in nuclear bomb equivalents. It is just massive. Note, too, that the image shows those clouds at the bottom of the greenhouse gas layer. In fact, the CO2 is evenly distributed through the air column and the ultimate height that clouds can reach is the base of the stratosphere. How high, and how strong, depends on how much heat is delivered to the moist surface. Again, we have a heat transport system that changes with changes of temperature or heat flow. More heat in gives more heat transport out.

We have a collection of systems here, with non-linear changes, modeled as fixed constants. No day and night. No seasons. No polar vortex with downflowing frigid air. No equatorial zone with tropical hurricanes moving gigatons of water vapor to the stratosphere, and back again as torrential rains. Each of those systems is known to have dramatic changes, sometimes even order of magnitude scale, over time and over the surface of the globe. Yet all of it is just wished away with “an average will do”.

But an average won’t do. A surface of an average temperature, if instead is made of two halves; respectively 1/2 and 2 x the temperature, will radiate over 8 times as much. The average temperature is the same, but the heat loss goes way up. Due to that hot side and a 4th power function. You can’t average away non-linear properties and effects.

This need not be anything so grand as a major desert or ice field. Surfaces have very uneven heating. One spring day I was camping in the mountains. The air temperature was about 80 F / 26 C. We were a bit warm. So we decided to take a swim in the creek. A quick plunge in, and back out, was ‘enlightening’. After the cold shock headache quit, we walked around a bend to find snow in the shadows melting to feed the creek. Inside a small campground, the temperatures ranged from freezing (the snow) to just melted (the creek) to 80 F / 26 C for the air, and on up to about 120 F near 50 C for the black tarmac / asphalt road and the metal on the truck. Those surfaces simply do not radiate at the “average” temperature. We have no idea what surface temperatures are, in detail, and yet they matter dramatically.

Trees even self regulate their leaf temperature. Increasing moisture loss to keep the temperature moderated. This points up another problem. “Heat of Fusion” and “Heat of Evaporation”. Collectively, enthalpy. We have heat being added to the system, yet the temperature of the leaves does not change. There is a lot of confounding of temperature with heat in “Global Warming” theory. It doesn’t work.

So we measure temperature and say “Look, it did not warm”, then ignore all the heat that was stored in water vapor by those trees. Cut down the trees, put in a parking lot or airport, and that self regulation ends. Worse, the asphalt becomes quite hot in the sun. The same energy arrives as a solar heat flow, but instead of evaporating water at a constant temperature, it becomes much hotter air over the runway. We say “Look! It is MUCH hotter! The world is warming!”. Yet “warming” implies heat storage or gain not just higher temperatures. In fact, that hotter surface is radiating heat better and even conducting heat into the air causing convection better. (Any glider plot can tell you the thermals over asphalt in the sun are quite strong, compared to the nearby grass or trees). It’s the same heat flow, just different percentage that goes into enthalpy vs temperature.

Yet when that water vapor rises, condenses to clouds, and falls as rain, the heat is still dumped to the sky.

We didn’t “warm”, we just have dryer air at a higher temperature where we changed the land use. We shifted enthalpy change to temperature change at no net heat gain.

By the way, most of our thermometers used for land temperature are now located at airports and similar such places. What used to be military parade grounds, then made into grass fields for balloons and eventually wood and cloth airplanes, now is acres of concrete and tarmac. That matters. Yet it is ignored. In a very real sense, our “warming land record” is simply recording the growth of aviation; the cutting down of trees and paving grass fields. The Airport Heat Island is well known to exist. That’s where we put the thermometers. That matters.

So there is a lot of discussion of “Back Radiation”, as though it is the only thing that matters, the only thing that changes. Occasionally there will be mention that cloud cover is poorly understood, or not modeled well. Sometimes you may even get a discussion of the Svensmark Theory that solar wind changes the cosmic ray density, and thus the cloud cover. Yet in hushed tones of doubt. (Even though experimental evidence so far tends to confirm it.) But inevitably the argument of “Back Radiation” returns. Based in the picture above. Such as this example:

This has been discussed here at length. Of course back radiation can not increase the temperature of the earth (direct thermalisation), but back radiation can and does slow the cooling of the surface.
No it doesn’t. CO2 does not “warm” the atmosphere, never ever. The sun does. CO2 just slows cooling, at least theoretically, resulting in an increase of average temperature readings.
On top of that: Even if CO2 slows the cooling of the earth, we simply don’t know exactly what other effects kick in (clouds? change in weather patterns?) to counter that reduced rate of heat loss and might even temporarily overcompensate, thus resulting in global cooling.

But we DO know what warm air does! It rises!

So any ‘slower cooling’ from ‘back radiation’ just means more and ‘faster rising’ to make up for it.

Take your model of more “back radiation” and air having some added warmth near the surface (temporarily). The air will expand, become lighter, and head UP. The more that “back radiation” induced temperature becomes higher than it otherwise would have been, the more and faster it rises to dump that heat at the top of the atmosphere to be radiated away more effectively by those same radiating “greenhouse” gases.

The net result of more CO2 is at most slightly faster convection during the warmest part of the day. (As temperatures cycle strongly over the course of the day, the heat is all dumped before sundown anyway. Ask any pilot when thermals happen. They start just after sun-up and run down after the sun sets.)

What about water? To the extent the surface is water, more “back radiation” makes more evaporation (and not higher temperatures). As water vapor is lighter than air, it, too, rises. In that case to eventually make clouds at altitude where it condenses and dumps the energy (and more effectively radiating the heat away).

Ultraviolet light penetrates the water to some depth and can deliver heat into the oceans, but the back radiation is supposed to be in the infrared, which stops in the very top layers of the water. Where that water promptly evaporates and does not turn that heat energy into temperature, but into enthalpy.

During this downturn of the solar cycle, we’ve had a close look (for the very first time) at how the sun changes. The production of Ultraviolet light has dropped dramatically. The solar spectrum has shifted from UV toward longer wavelengths. Yes, the TSI Total Solar Irradiance doesn’t change much, but the part that can get into the oceans drops a lot, while the part that just evaporates water increases. Total energy doesn’t change much, but where it goes and what it does changed a lot. That isn’t even shown in the picture at all (nor is it in the models).

The atmospheric height has shrunk. UV warms the upper layers and expands the height. Less UV, shorter air column. That changes how the wind flows, the degree to which the Jet Stream is zonal (flat) or meridional (‘loopy’). So now it’s ‘gone loopy’ and we’ve got alternating hot and cold spells as the loops slide back and forth over our heads. No different than in the past, but something we’ve not seen for several decades (at least, not to this degree).

That, too, is ignored. Sacrificed on the altar of “back radiation”. Why pay attention to the sun and what it can do? Instead the sun is treated as a static number. Not as the variable star that it really is. Not with a spectrum that can dramatically change on the order of weeks, as it has. No place at the table for UV and a variable star, only IR and a static scored star.

There is a, roughly, 60 year cycle of the ocean that may well be driven by those solar changes or perhaps by a lunar tidal cycle. The moon orbits the earth on a regular schedule, but with a slowly changing orbit. This causes changes in tides on a set of longer term cycles. The lunar orbit is ‘in sync’ with solar changes due to something called “orbital resonance”. This is a well established property of things in orbit. They tend to ‘sync up’ with each other.

That makes it hard to tell if “the sun did it” or if it was just that the lunar driven tide really did it, but at the same time the sun changed. Perhaps “the moon did it”. But what is very clear, is that ignoring both does not help find “who did it”. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation PDO and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation AMO have long cycles. The ENSO ( La Niña / El Niño ) cycle isn’t quite as regular, but it, too, can cause shifts of long term weather (that is called ‘climate’ by the “climate change” folks, but is really just long term average of weather). So there are these cycles, ranging from sub-decade up to 60 years, 200 years, and perhaps even one as long as 1500 years. Likely driven by tides and orbital mechanics, but with natural oscillations on some time scales. See that in the picture above? No? Oh Dear…

Never Mind that the lunar tide influence is clear and strong (ask any sailor about the importance of accurate tide charts, and how they change over time). Never Mind that ENSO drives our fishing economy and monsoon / crop cycles. Never Mind to anything but “back radiation”.

“It’s just weather”… except that the definition of “climate” used by the Global Warming folks is the 30 year average of weather. I think that is a broken definition. Before Global Warming became a fad we had a perfectly good climate definition system that was largely based on latitude, altitude, distance from water, and land form. Last time I looked, the Mediterranean was still a “Mediterranean Climate” and the Arctic was still an “Arctic Climate” and the Brazilian rain forest was still a “Rain Forest Climate” and the Mojave Desert was still a “Desert Climate”. There has been no “Climate Change” on those terms. But there has been a slow warming over the warm half of the PDO cycle. Does that mean “Climate Change”? Or just that a 30 year average of weather in a 60 year weather cycle will show change? Hmmm? The very definition of “Climate” used by the Climate Change folks is based on broken thinking.

Bond Events are periodic cyclical events of significant cooling (usually preceded by significant warming) that happen every 1500 years. How can you possibly say “climate change” is the 30 year average of weather when weather has 1500 year cycles? Cycles that have nothing to do with carbon dioxide or any ‘greenhouse gases’. We had a dramatic cold event in 535 AD that was the start of The Dark Ages. (It came just after a very warm period – The Roman Optimum). 1500 years + 535 = 2035 AD. Any chance we could be in the warming precursor “Modern Optimum” just before the big drop of the next Bond Event? Ought we to worry that the sun has gone very quiet, that the UV level is plunging, the atmosphere shorter, and the Jet Stream “loopy” so folks expecting snow to be “a fond memory” are now under heavy snow? But now, we are told, do not worry. Look at the Pretty Picture! See, all that matters is ‘back radiation’. The sun is a constant and the air is a standard atmosphere and the oceans never change and the moon isn’t even on the picture, so why talk about changes of tides?…

We are over averaging the data, over simplifying the model / picture, and ignoring history. This will not end well.

There is simply no reason to stop the model (mental or otherwise) at the point the photon hits the dirt or CO2 molecule. We do know what happens. Hot air rises. Hotter air rises faster. The evaporation / precipitation cycle runs faster (if ‘rain is in the air’) too. What’s broken is the idea that heat “builds up”, when in reality it “travels up”…

There is simply no reason to think that CO2 dominates the tides, the sun and moon, hurricanes and jet streams, even polar vortexes (that have changed with the UV / stratospheric temperature changes). There is no reason to make CO2 the control knob on all those other factors. Factors that have caused ice ages to come and go, caused Bond Events and Optimums, and caused whole civilizations to fall. All prior to fossil fuel use.

There is a dramatic history of the fall of empires from Rome to Mesopotamia to Egypt as cyclical droughts happened there. Some lasting nearly a century and collapsing Egypt. Yet the model used, the Pretty Picture, makes no allowance for history. No allowance for records of icebergs on the Black Sea nor for Roman villas built without heat, or even windows that could be closed, in places that are now quiet cool. (They knew how to build with central heating, and used it in cold places, so this was a choice. France was warmer then, as was Italy.) No, all of that is to be swept away, as climate is just the last 30 years average weather. Ignore that grapes were grown in southern England for wine, then in later years they had ‘ice fairs’ on the frozen rivers; and swapped to beer since the wine grapes could no longer grow. No, those changes are not to be acknowledged. Just old history. Anecdotes, after all. Not nearly as orderly as the pretty picture of “back radiation” and the CO2 Control Knob.

Yet history doesn’t care. It just is. Similarly, the future doesn’t care. It will be what it will be. The tides will change, the orbits will move, and we WILL plunge into the next Ice Age Glacial. No, we don’t know when. It’s a very slow process. It might not be for another 1500 years, or it might have already started during the Little Ice Age. Yes, it’s that slow.

This ‘warm cycle’ of the 1500 year cycle was not as warm as the last warm peak… The Medieval Warm Period … that was not as warm as The Roman Optimum. Similarly, the Little Ice Age was colder than the Dark Ages, that were colder than the prior Greek Cold Period. We have “lower highs and lower lows”. Just we don’t notice them as each cycle takes 1500 years or so. We ride the roller coaster of natural cyclical changes thinking we matter. We don’t.

So this next cold plunge could be a dramatic one, into a Little Ice Age, or even into the final start of full glaciation and the exit from the “interglacial” we’ve enjoyed for 10,000 years. Or not. We just don’t know. And it likely doesn’t matter. Would a Roman of 600 AD care that in 2000 AD we were paranoid about warming? Or had been paranoid about cooling in 1970? Probably not. Similarly, I’m not particularly worried about Canada being covered in a glacial shield, again, in 1000 vs 2000 years. Not a real problem.

It’s just as broken for me to worry about Canadian Glaciers in a few thousand years as it would be for an ancient Roman to worry about the potential for drought in the Midwest USA in the 1930s. And just as broken to use a time scale of 30 years for a system that needs a thousands of years scale to see what nature is doing. We need to stop worrying about things that are irrelevant, while looking at what nature does on the thousands of years scale. We simply do not properly grasp the scale of nature.

It takes 100,000 years for the full glacial coverage of an ice age glacial to build. So that ice, that WILL expand from Greenland to New York City, will be moving about 800 feet per year, in big years. You can out-walk an approaching ice age glacial in one day per year, and with a not all that long a walk, either. So if the “scary scary ice age” is about as exciting as watching paint dry, what are the odds that the other “scary scary” is overblown and imaginary as well? Weather changes fast. Climate not so much. The very way we think about the time scale of “climate change” is broken. It needs a 2000 year baseline at the minimum. With change measured on century scales.

In Conclusion

In short, we use static scoring and a ridiculously short time scale to think about a process that simply MUST have very long time scales and dynamic system approaches used instead. We put on the blinders of averaging (that hides things) and only one changing parameter, then are surprised to find that parameter is the only one left to change. We make the time scale very short so we don’t notice that other things changed in the past, and did more.

This particular posting will be a ‘work in progress’ for a while. I need to add pictures and a bunch of links. There’s a half dozen topics I’ve not even put in yet. But I need to put something up now, so that the marker is in the ground and folks who where told to ‘watch for it’ know where to watch.

So think of this as the ‘first cut’, not the last. With that, I need a nice cup of tea and a break…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in AGW Science and Background and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Broken Reasoning And Hot Air

  1. Damned nice first cut! This is the best and most succinct summary I’ve yet seen.

    You deserve that cuppa!

  2. John Robertson says:

    Nice summation, did you sleep?Saw your promise at Tom Fullers guest post.
    Or has this one been coming together for a while now?
    Dr Brown’s summary of our ignorance, Willis E’s Tropical weather and now you seem to have most of the loose ends coming together, mostly flattery right now,need to think on it, but the CO2=blanket thing has been annoying me for years, your backhand to the stupid idea is a beauty. Where is a cartoonist to show the blanket ideology wafting off into the stratosphere.
    You are on right track and note for sure, every whack to the ideology helps and demolishing the wet blanket of feedback in clear english will be gold.As you noted its the foundation, of the preamble of the righteous,”I know basic physics says CO2 causes warming” and then the arm waving usually begin

  3. R. de Haan says:

    The entire “CO2 is causing global warming” mantra is the biggest BS story of our times and it has the potential to completely ruin our freedom, our prosperity and our civilization. How far the Green Taliban controling the COP 17 meeting in Doha is prepared to go was experienced by Lord Moncton last Friday when he was banned for life from the UN for speaking the truth.
    What can one say?
    During the Cold War, life was relative simple. Today we’re facing the threat of Islamic fundamentalism, Sharia Law, Fascism pushed by traitors within our own ranks chopping down the very core of our civilizarion and the resurection of the USSR. If we don’t get our act together fast we’re in for a modern version of the Dark Ages soon. And that’s an optimistic assessment of the current situation.

  4. R. de Haan says:

    Some good news is coming from the Monckton story after all but we must see what threat we are facing and act accordingly. We are at war, nothing more nothing less. The apparatchiks behind the Green Doctrine believe humanity and our Western civilization is posing a major threat to the planet. Their target is to destroy the west and reduce global population by 85%. If that isn’t war I don’t know what is.

  5. crosspatch says:

    Saw an article over at Anthony’s yesterday along the lines of “one third of all man made CO2 emissions have happened since 1998 and it hasn’t warmed”. Well, duh. Atmospheric response is logarithmic. Most of the response happened with the first two thirds before 1998. Every ton of CO2 you dump in the air has LESS impact than the previous ton.

  6. DirkH says:

    Thanks, ChiefIO. Posts like these are so far superior to the history tought to me in school. Just a few weeks ago a German friend who is into electric cars and owns one (and is in general, he and his wife, of the doomsdayish malthusian fraction) completely confused the medieval and the Dark Ages; explaining that the medieval was a dark, poor, terrible time. I really pissed him off by asking him how they found the resources to build the European cathedrals and equip the crusades.

    The problem of our school systems is the separation of science and history.

    “The Airport Heat Island is well known to exist. That’s where we put the thermometers. That matters.”

    AND thermometer readings at airports are DESIGNED to err on the warm side! (Because thinner air requires more fuel and the readings are used to calculate the amount of fuel needed)

  7. Chuck L says:

    A well-written and fascinating piece, thanks! I am looking forward to future iterations.

  8. Otter says:

    If I may, Chief, I would like to repost your article over to Deviantart, where I post my own climate materials. Primary example here, if you wondered

    I would of course post all the proper attributions back to you.

  9. Crashex says:

    I think your premise here is spot on. Making a static analysis of a dynamic system is full of gross simplifying assumptions that lead to large errors, particularly in a complex system with numerous non-linear feedbacks.

    One point of caution. Remember that the temperature applied in the radiation correlation is absolute temperature [K or R], not the common units of C or F. The real range of temperature variation on the planet, call it -60 C to +60 C or 193K to 313K, does not constitute the 2X range you apply as an example. I agree that the effective average temperature based on heatflux for any given range is different than the calculated average temperature; it’s just that the absolute temperature ranges are smaller than you imply. It is an important bias error in the static analysis. Using a calculated average temperature to estimate the radiative heat flux for a temperature range will always be less than the actual effective heat flux temperature over the range.

  10. Bair Polaire says:

    Wow! Thanks a lot for elaborating on the issue ‘broken reasoning’. Here you have pieced it all together – a parade of climate science misconceptions: oversimplified models that are so abstract that they become just wrong, the misuse of temperature as a proxy for heat, the mindless averaging away of non-linear properties and effects, the ongoing neglect of (climate) history and the persistent unwillingness to think a little further than just “back radiation”.

    One has to wonder that all this is still called “science”. And that “97 percent” of all scientist supposedly agree with it. Every single point should be made into a peer reviewed paper. I’m sure more than 3 percent of scientists would welcome that.

  11. John Robertson says:

    The premise CO2=warming and the science is certain mantra, have worked very well to push the Team agenda and leave critics feeling that we argue with the mist.
    Baffled by the brain dead certainty of the followers, the everybody knows syndrome, and every time you remove a plank from the belief structure, it turns out, that the previously fiercely defended dogma (Hockey Stick for 1), doesn’t matter now, nothing to see, move along.
    Bob Carters Utube presentations, the line, if the theory was a ship it would be long sunk, as torpedoes of truth have ruptured its hull . Instead the Zombie sails on.
    Now most of us, I think, drifted into taking a closer look at the dogma, by having our BS detectors triggered by a series of claims of science that flat out contradicted what we thought we knew.
    And were handicapped, until climate gate. by the assumption that it was science we were checking out.
    There are many dead fish and zombie distractions put out by the team, kill the wet blanket of co2 (CO2=heat trap,water vapour as positive feedback) and you drive a stake deep into a heart of the beast.
    I think you are on target and your summary of the false premise inherent in the faith the best so far, the more technical and mathematical debunking of the myth, have failed for me because of the fog of explanation mixes into the mist.

  12. John Robertson says:

    If an organization, controlling tax dollars, was appalled by the fact we cannot predict weather and considered that a threat to the nation, yet could not justify research funding at the level needed.
    Would they be justified in setting up some 2nd rate academics, to so piss off the rest of the world with ridiculous claims and threat of draconian regulations based on those claims that thinking people would put aside their current concerns, and really look into weather and weather prediction systems?
    Except that would give credit for foresight and wisdom. I tend toward the law of unintended consequences. The one our social scientist never seem to learn.
    We humans are what we is, and most everything my ancestors feared is now extinct or endangered.
    I question if using fear of weather is a sensible tool. We cannot change or control the weather,but irrational fear of the weather will have unintended consequences.

  13. John Robertson says:

    Sorry don’t mean to bomb your site, just skimmed Joseph Reynen’s deconstruction of “back radiation” the maths & symbols makes my eyes roll back,( .pdf ) So help, is he right?
    Is this useful to the argument you are creating?

  14. John F. Hultquist says:

    Dirk @ 9:24 references the history taught in schools. I once took a class on Europe between two dates I no longer remember. Mostly the class was a list of dates, kings, queens, other scoundrels, and battles. It had no great relevance to much of anything – unless one enjoys knowing about scoundrels.

    The 30 year average – with year ending in ‘0’ and called ‘normals’ – was established before computers and designed for a reasonable purpose. The weather folks simply wanted an understandable and consistent manner of reporting what they had. The idea has been hijacked by the usual suspects for nefarious purposes.

    I live in WA State and close enough to BC that the PDO is an interesting thing – having been “discovered” by folks investigating the time patterns of ups and downs of commercial fishing in the NE Pacific. In addition to being of interest in the above sense, it is also of interest because many writers in the current climate debate seem not to understand the PDO. The number reported for this is a mathematically derived pattern-thing with no easy interpretation in the common sense manner of, say, an average temperature. It has been used incorrectly by some.

    Here is an older post by Bob Tisdale about this issue:

    And here is Part 3 of an even earlier series:

    Bob T., more recently, may have put all of this together but the above links are still available – including a few updates.

    I am prompted to write the above because of the wording you used here:

    “The Pacific Decadal Oscillation PDO and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation AMO have long cycles. The ENSO ( La Niña / El Niño ) cycle isn’t quite as regular, but it, too, can cause shifts of long term weather . . .”

    El Niño/La Niña–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) covers a massive area with El Niño conditions (lowest of the 3 maps in the image below) being much more extensive than the La Niña conditions (top map):

    The PDO is calculated from and represents a pattern north of the 20th Parallel – a large area but much less surface involved than with ENSO.

  15. DirkH says:

    John Robertson says:
    8 December 2012 at 7:05 pm
    “So help, is he right?
    Is this useful to the argument you are creating?”

    Can’t access the paper you linked to…
    But maybe this experiment by Dr. Roy Spencer can help you.
    Roy Spencer, The Box, measuring back radiation

  16. DocMartyn says:

    I am with Shrek on this, its about onions. Is there a band of atmosphere emitting, asymmetrically, 250-350 W/m2?

    Ask about the heat from the Thermosphere and be laughed at, S-B works for bodies, the lower atmosphere is a body but the upper atmosphere isn’t.
    The whole thing is turtles all the way down.
    We know that the absorbance bands of CO2 undergo line broadening with heating and so are board at sea level but very tight at the troposphere.
    I have to accept the amount of LW absorbance at each level as a matter of faith, as the absorbance spectrum of the atmosphere has not been published at different altitudes.

  17. Eric Barnes says:

    Looking at this closely for the first time. That 324 W/M squared for back radiation can’t be correct can it? Simple experience of night and day would seem to defy that number. Also it would seem the convection/conduction numbers are way too low.

    CO2 at altitude would also absorb and emit IR that would potentially never reach the surface, effectively cooling the surface.

    CO2 near the surface would be able to immediately radiate IR away from the surface (cooling more efficiently than non GHGs).

    It seems they are missing 1/2 of the story here unless I’m missing something.

    Thanks for the great article. :)

  18. tckev says:

    Excellent piece EM. So well put, I just wish I could be half as clear in explaining these things.

    John Robertson paper he was referencing is at –

    Click to access IR-absorption_updated.pdf

  19. tckev says:

    I thought something looked familiar in the IR-absorption updated.pdf, then I noticed references to Ferenc Miskolcz’s that can be found at –

    Click to access E&E_21_4_2010_08-miskolczi.pdf

  20. John Robertson says:

    Colour me stupid, you dealt with Joseph Reynen and back radiation 2 posts down.Thanks.

  21. A C Osborn says:

    Isn’t it odd how Non Climate Scientists like ChiefIO have such a good grasp on how the REAL world works, especially Seamen, Farmers and Pilots and how divorced from reality the Climate Science argument has become. But then of course that is deliberate, they have a fairy story to maintain to milk the taxpayers of their Dollars/Pounds/Yen/Rupees. They don’t care about the facts or the monetary type as long as they can keep feeding from the trough the fairy tale generates.
    Nice work E M

  22. jim2 says:

    In the diagram, they break out greenhouse gases. If GHG radiate 324 down, they should radiate slightly more out of the atmosphere to space, due to the curvature of the Earth. Any given molecule is exposed to a greater angular “window” of space vs Earth.

  23. Espen says:

    A very good read – thank you!

    One thing, though: The last glacial period almost killed our species (about 70k years ago, wasn’t it?). There are theories about mega volcanoes being the culprit, but IMHO it could simply be a food problem caused by plants almost starving from lack of CO2. Wouldn’t it be ironic if our fossil fuel combustion makes the next glacial easier to cope with for land plants? But who knows how fast oceans can drain the air for CO2 when they really start cooling…

  24. KevinM says:

    We seem to have settled that the thing that has been named “back radiation” is real, and moved on to evaluating how it fits into the big picture.

    Re “most of it would go into space, and the diagram does not show it”, consider that there are multiple opportunities between Earth’s surface in the top of the atmosphere. The energy comes from the sun. According to theory it arrives at Earth’s surface in a “CO2 can’t have it” form and leaves the Earth’s surface in “CO2 can have it” form. Once its in the latter state it can be passed around the atmosphere like a joint at a Simon and Garfunkel concert.

    The idea that air circulation will lift hotter air to the top where it will be more likely to radiate into space starts by admitting that the air did get hotter. But if CO2 is fairly evenly mixed, then the rising heated insulator will be replaced with falling cooled insulator. The heat released into space would occur faster due to the higher temperature differential, but to say so again admits that the higher temperature differential exists. The proposition reduces to a negative feedback, where energy in minus energy out equals energy gained, and gains in energy increase the rate of energy out.

    So I have finally bought the central premise of AGW, but I agree with the sceptics that the most obvious feedbacks are negative not positive. I think the modelers have gone far out of their way to locate positive feedback and overlook negative feedback.

  25. P.G. Sharrow says:

    My central premise in this CO2 GHG argument, is that there is no way that 1/3 of 1/10 a percent can have any significant effect on changes of climate.
    I have watched this Giea religion being created since the early 1970s. Human caused destruction of the earths’ biosphere and the need to greatly limit the human effect is the central dogma. Any manipulation of cause and effect is used to justify the demands of these religious fanatics. No facts are allowed to get in the way of their logical arguments. As long as the carriers of this religious disease are allowed to operate the levers of education and science, the young that are turned out of the education system must be deprogrammed from this cults brainwashing. People with real intelligence will realize the truth and those with pseudo-intelligence will not.
    Might be a good way to separate the wise from the fools! pg

  26. Espen says:

    Willis’ highly interesting post on WUWT today ( fits nicely in here!

  27. Pingback: Settled science - Anonymong

  28. JoeF says:

    Great posting! One statement re absorption of UV vs. IR in the ocean got me thinking: since 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans, how the oceans absorb sunlight should be very important. I went looking for data. I found this great chapter from U Maine:
    85 pages, lots of equations and graphs. One very important one is Fig 3.4 on Page 82. it shows the absorption Coefficient as a function of wavelength for pure water and pure seawater. Pure? Seawater has lots of stuff that absorbs, scatters and reflects light. All important. All hard to measure individually. Field measurements of light absorption by seawater are quoted as being “a difficult task.” And different locations show radically different absorptions. Not surprising if thought about for a while. Among the constituents in seawater that change absorption are: dissolved organic matter, phytoplankton, organic detritus.
    It should not be surprising to Chiefio readers that this stuff is much more complex than the AGW supporters would have us believe.

  29. P.G. Sharrow says:

    The climate modelers are not able to comprehend complex matters. If in argument, they want to simplify and make assumptions of fact. If that appears to fail, they create computer code that gives the wanted outcome from any data input. Like all religious believers, faith that if you believe strongly enough, it will be so. pg

  30. No more work until January 7, 2103!!!!

    Now that I have too much time on my hands I tend to debate with Alarmists on their own sites. While I realize this is a futile activity, I don’t mind acting as a punching bag. Some of my antagonists will learn enough to stop lashing out wildly. Some of them may even start to think for themselves or trust observations over dogma.

    I reluctantly gave up on John Cook of SKS fame when the “Moderation” there became too intrusive. The attached link shows some of my “snipped” comments:

    While I still respect Barry Brook at “Brave New Climate”, he has made it clear that my comments are no longer welcome even though he once graciously granted me a guest post:

    My current lost cause is Eric Grimsrud. He is a retired professor of chemistry from Montana State (Bozeman). He seems to be a decent person so if any of your regulars decide to comment on his site please don’t be obnoxious. However, he did get angry about the way he was treated at WUWT:

  31. P.G. Sharrow says:

    @gallopingcamel says:”I tend to debate with Alarmists on their own sites.”

    Most likely a waste on them, but lurkers might realize that the science is not as universally accepted as claimed. I am kind of surprised at how many viewers won’t comment. People that I know, that view my site, will comment in person but not on the blog. Afraid?? Won’t say. pg

  32. E.M.Smith says:

    @GC & PG:

    It’s not a waste to put something up at the Warmers sites. Why?

    I think my first comment (ever!) was at RealClimate. At the time, I’d been semi-drenched in the general news flow and just thought “Global Warming could be bad. I ought to learn about it.” (Mostly because I’m a ‘fix it’ kind of guy and thought maybe I could come up with ways to ‘fix it’. Partly because I’ve had a 40 year passion for “Alternative Energy”. I was running alcohol in my car BEFORE the Arab Oil Embargo(!) just for fun…)

    Well, long story longer… ;-)

    I was mostly lurking and reading. Some things didn’t add up. So I posted an “innocent question” along the lines of “FOO doesn’t really support BAR, can someone explain?” That got the proforma “Read these 20 links, and it’s in this 200 pages. It’s all Settled Science.” I looked through the stuff. It didn’t address the problem. I asked, innocently “FOO and BAR are incompatible and not covered in those links. Something doesn’t add up” A smirking “read 20 more links” and an appeal to authority or two later, I posted a couple of more “Doesn’t add up and this isn’t right” about more of the stuff I’d waded through. I had a couple of perfectly reasonable comments snipped. I started to catch a clue. At that time someone said something like “Denier troll likely from WUWT”. A google search later I was at WUWT and it was great breath of fresh air. The next 2 years I got an education… a good one.

    All because of a pointer from a warmers site…

    So to the extent you sound reasonable, and some name dropping happens, the lurkers can see where to go looking for a cleaner POV…

  33. Sometimes I ask myself how bright people in academia like Barry Brook, Richard Alley, Tom Peterson, Eric Grimsrud and many more attribute so much to CO2. Just follow the money.

    Having spent a dozen years in academia I understand all too well that most of the funding comes from government. It follows that “success” in academia often depends on maximizing one’s funding by telling government officials what they want to hear. If you have doubts, never admit to them in public. This was brought home to me with a vengeance a couple of weeks ago when I dropped in on my ex-colleagues at the Duke university physics department where Robert G. Brown and Nicola Scafetta work.

    To my dismay I was told that the physics department was about to cede floor space to the Nicholas School of the Environment which is expanding at an impressive rate thanks to William L. Chameides who is always ready to testify before congress in support of the EPA, IPCC, renewables, “mitigating” carbon or whatever else the government likes. “Truth to Power” is not a winning strategy these days.

  34. P.G. Sharrow says:

    There is the same problem in physics that predates Climate science by 30 years. An old friend was the head engineer for Lawrence Radiation Labs. He said that physicists would come to him with a grant budget to “discover” X and his job was to create an experiment environment that would yield the needed results. No one was likely to redo the experiment as it costs way too much to do. So the results were just accepted and cited for later work. pg

  35. Chiefio,
    I share your enthusiasm for “alternate energy”. The only thing that has prevented me from installing a a 5 KW solar power system is my wife’s insistence that her granite counter tops have a higher priority! Maybe next year…………..

  36. John Robertson says:

    @gallopingcamel 2:39 am Not just academia , the civil servants, who indecently worship the pompous certainty of academia, all practise” If you don’t know don’t ask.”
    He who pronounces the most incomprehensible government speak, generally carries the meeting.
    For the mission statement of the cancer we call government is, Grow at all costs.
    Waste and destruction improves the GDP.
    I worked for govt once, and it was this realization that set me free.
    A junior minion can make multiple purchases of million dollar hardware, on their signature alone, as long as its described in technical terms, no one will ask what it is. (asking implies incompetence).
    But if same minion tries to purchase a common item( Eg Desk & Chair), suddenly everyone in the approval and purchasing chain wants to know why.
    Its not because they care, its cause they know what is being bought, so feel secure enough to question. This I know, I was the minion.

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