A Modest “Global Warming” Test Idea

Having pondered ways to test the hypothesis that there has been some “Global Warming” over the decades, and do it without too much mathematical mumbo jumbo (i.e. error prone complexity), I’ve had a little idea come into my brain…

IF CO2 is slowing heat loss, then we ought to be able to measure that in Degrees Cooling / Hour during the normal daily drop from max to low of the day.

If solar driven, it would tend to show up in degrees warming / hour during daylight hours.

So why not take the daily data (what there is of it) and find a few places where the environment has not changed much. Then, for each of them, calculate the rate of change from bottom to top and then the rate of change from top to bottom. Compare the same days of the year, across years. See what is the normal range and see if there is any visible change over the decades.

Basically, if the stations at some remote Pacific Island, some remote Atlantic Island, rural India, some place in Canadian forests, and a spot in the Andes are all showing the same rate of cooling at night as they ever did, then there is nothing slowing heat loss. OTOH, if you take a station in clear dry rural Arizona and it has gone from 5 F / hour cooling rate on desert nights to 4 F / hour; it’s pretty clear something has changed.

What do you think?

So, think that has any hope of working? Is there enough data from the right places? IF there is not enough daily data, could the monthly High Low averages be used, or does the loss of timing and detail information hobble it?

Kick it around. Toss rocks. I have some enthusiasm for the idea, but don’t want to sink a few months into chasing something that in the end can be shown never to work via some simple observation I’ve missed… I know level of cloudiness will matter and we have terrible data for that, which is why I was thinking places where clouds are either absent (deserts, selected parts of some islands) or relatively constant (some cloudy northern places or islands that are where it always rains…) might work best.

Also, if someone has already done this, it would be nice to hear it now rather than when writing up months of work and be told “Oh, John Foober did that, but better, here’s a link”…

Subscribe to feed


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.

35 Responses to A Modest “Global Warming” Test Idea

  1. interzonkomizar says:

    Hi Chief. Think this shows cooling, more on way, heh. Charts from us historical climate network, USHCN.


    Up until two weeks ago I was thinking we are coming into a grand solar minimum. But I’m reconsidering that after rereading some articles on skeptic climate blogs. I now believe we entered a ‘Micro- IceAge’ in 2004 when Bob Weber’s fig.10 showed a drop in 10.7 cm solar flux, leading to ocean cooling. I’m calling this a ‘Micro’ because I don’t expect it to last more than solar cycle 24, 25, and 26. Then there will be maybe 7 years to transition back to normal global temperatures; say by 2050.

    What the mainstream media is not highlighting is this last winter was the coldest in 40 years in many countries in the northern hemisphere. North Western European countries on the Atlantic coast reported last summer was the coldest in 40 Years also.

    Also this spring has been cold and longer than usual which will affect the growing season.

    During the Little Ice Age the temperature dropped about half a degree globally. As you can see from the Delingpole essay, it has dropped by 0.56 degrees already.
    This is what we can expect starting from last Dec; some winters extremely cold, some wet cool springs to kill crops, some cold summers, and more frequent and severe storms. The storminess index went from 6.5 to 14 during the LIA. This slide into cold is showing up in German weather station records where the last 30 yrs of winter (DJF) are trending -19 dgC per 1000 yrs, much faster than the slow decline to normal glacials.

    I expect in the next ten years one billion will actually starve due to crop failures*, and one billion will be eaten by stronger omnivores; feral dogs, cats, and … humans.

    As the legal beagles like to say, ‘Time is of the essence,’ so the sooner you act, the better your chances of survival.

    Sandy, Minister of Future

    *NB- the WHO reports 800 mln suffer from hunger, 10 mln die from starvation each yr, 60 mln die from disease each yr.

    So now thats 70 mln / yr, plus more food stress, weakening immune system, more disease, amplified by cold climate / storm stress, could easily be 100 mln /yr … Thats 1 Bln / 10 yrs

    Sandy, Minister of Future

  2. interzonkomizar says:

    Hi Chief- this document showing ground Station solar insolation. It looks like one chart shows a cooling trend from 2000 of about 4 watts per meter squared per decade. So after this micro Ice Age We may just keep stair stepping down for the next four thousand years. Stay tuned.

    from satellite and ground measurements: Comparisons and challenges
    Laura M. Hinkelman Paul W. Stackhouse Jr. Bruce A. Wielicki Taiping Zhang Sara R. Wilson
    First published: 15 August 2009

    Sandy, Minister of Future

  3. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; there is one station that I know of in northern California that is in a high mountain 4600ft area that is nearly unchanged in 100 years and that is at Cedarville,Ca in Surprise Valley As it is on the back side of the Warner Mountains it’s weather/ temperatures are not influenced by outside conditions…pg

  4. interzonkomizar says:

    Hi Chief. This prompted the previous post. Also the decline may be 10 w per decade vs 4.

    Roy Martin suggests insolation low enuf already for ice age descent.

    Many possible consequences might arise from this hypothesis, but one that should give us cause seriously to think is that, falling from a peak early in the Holocene, the present insolation level is already below that of eight of the ten previous CP beginnings.


    Sandy, Minister of Future

  5. interzonkomizar says:

    Hi Chief. Why can’t we have nice things like this?

    Sandy, Minister of Future

  6. E.M.Smith says:


    Thanks! If this idea passes the “kick it around” stage, I’ll check what “daily” data I have on that station and use it as my first test case.


    Some years ago I pointed out we were in the meta-stable state where we could ‘flip’ either way and that we were one big cold dip away from ‘flipping’ state into the next Glacial process.

    The thing folks need to grasp is that the NORMAL state right now is Ice Age Glacial. We ONLY leave it for something like the Holocene during the BRIEF pulse of heating on the North Pole that is sufficient to get rid of the ice. Any other time is either meta-stable (like now or during the Younger Drias era with wide swings) or stable-Glacial.

    Now the Really Big Question is just this: The Little Ice Age almost, but not quite, started the next glacial phase, then the next L.I.A. will be even colder; so is THIS cold excursion going to be sufficient to start the glacial cycle?

    Note that we do NOT need even less sunshine to get there. We are already below the level where a glacial state can stabilize. All it takes is enough cold excursion ONCE to start the albedo feedback and get it big enough. (Where “big-enough” and “long-enough” are both unknown and might be as short as one summer and a bit more than the L.I.A.).

    Now I’m not one of the panic prone nor am I a fear monger. I’m not worried about the advancing ice sheet when the Glacial starts ( it advances, on average, 800 feet or so per year. You can out walk it in one short stroll per year…) nor do I expect massive global famine. We HAVE much more than enough food globally (it is just politics and greed that has anyone dying of hunger right now). I’ve detailed this in many articles like:

    and a few more…


    Despite the FACT that we can grow way more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet even IF a Glacial phase begins; I fear you are correct about what will happen. Folks in NYC will not choose to give up their Prime Rib so that someone in Ethiopia does not starve (they have not yet…) nor will folks in Japan stop eating 1/2 the ocean “take” of the planet and raise their rice intake so that others can share that resource consumption. In the end, if things DO get tough, it will be the poor of the world who move from nearly dead to dead.

    Just because there is no NEED for anyone to starve does not mean folks will do what it takes.

    What do I think will happen this cycle? I expect something rather like the Maunder Minimum or Dalton Minimum. IF we are really really lucky, it will not be quite enough to tip into the glacial feedback process. I fear that with cold on the wind until 2050, by that time there will not be enough warming possible to stop the process from continuing.

    In the end, it will all depend on how long the Sun chooses to be in a funk. And how soon the advanced nations of the planet realize that and respond with building nuclear reactors and greenhouses… As it’s at least a 30 year process to the problem point, that’s more than enough time to get over our present global Global Warming Insanity and get things built in time. I hope.

    “But hope is not a strategy. -E.M.Smith” …

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    Note that Wikimedia has adopted a STUPID naming convention where media DESCRIPTIVE web pages end with GRAPHICS type markers like .PNG but are NOT a png file. You must click on the image proper, then select View Image and THEN get the right URL for a link. I’ve fixed that last one for you.

    It’s a constant bother and I still do the same thing from time to time even though I know better…

  8. ossqss says:

    Let’s start in the not too distant past and go from there. Fair enough?

  9. interzonkomizar says:

    HiChief. This is from the real climate Science Blog. Sounds like his software will do what you want. Can set it to examine all the March 17th records and block it seems like.

    GHCN Software
    I have released a new version of my GHCN software. It is much faster at obtaining NOAA data and should work on Mac, Linux or Cygwin on Windows. Download the software here .

    Then run these commands from a Linux, Mac or Cygwin command prompt.

    tar xvf ghcn.tar
    cd ghcn_files
    chmod 755 get
    cd ghcnd_hcn
    ./ghcn.exe US.txt > US.csv

    This is the software I wrote and use for analyzing the US temperature record. There are tons of command line options. For example, if you want to know what historical temperatures were on March 17 type :

    ./ghcn.exe US.txt date=0317 > US_0317.csv

    As I mentioned, it has a huge range of possibilities for climate analysis, but you will have to dig through the C++ code to figure it out. I will give examples in my posts.

    Sandy minister of future

  10. p.g.sharrow says:

    A number of years ago I had a couple of visions of the Great Basin getting wetter and becoming a series of farming districts. This included a drain in Surprise Valley into the Black Rock Desert drainage. Not cheap! so there must be a reason or need for this kind of a government investment. If the Canadian Shield becomes a permanent snow field. that cold wave dip into the mid-west will suck warmer, wetter weather into the Great basin across Northern California instead of Oregon…pg

  11. E.M.Smith says:


    That is actually not a very good way to look at it. Ice loss is vastly faster than ice gain. Ice gain is a mass flow problem with limited ocean evaporation. Ice loss is subject to massive ice flushing out to sea with actual melt in the tropics… or torrential rains over land melting with water flows.

    Notice the bottom red ice volume graph. Builds up slowly over 100,000 years, then flushed out in a few thousand. Note that the graph is inverted to LOW ice is at the top and BIG ice is at the bottom.


    There are a couple of points at issue in using his stuff. Thanks for the reminder / pointer!

    1) I tried installing an early version and “had issues” so I’d need to try again to validate.

    2) It isn’t clear to me which GHCN it is using. The example implies daily, but …

    3) It isn’t talking about rate of change within the day from high to low, just retrieving the day.

    Now for those last 2, most likely it is just that I’m unfamiliar with what it can do so I need to go look further. For the first one, I need to “try again”. Nothing horrid, just not an out of the box just what I want no questions… I’d also like to assure I was using the GHCN Unadjusted not the Adjusted…

    (I have a big archive of old GHCN and USHCN data already here…)


    That kind of thing is my One Big Fear for food supplies. Too much water arriving in places where folks already farm, and just right water arriving where folks are not ready to farm.

    The problem of “1800 and Froze To Death” where New England farmers emptied out into the Oklahoma land rush… and then the way France could not grow wheat from blow down and wet rot so had a complete government and social collapse. With only modest changes in what folks did on the land, neither one of them needed to be a disaster.

  12. Larry Ledwick says:

    I suggest the place to look is in a metric like heating degree day statistics as it is a broader aggregate of daily weather, rather than just the highs and lows.

    But the HDD metric would have to be computed specifically for this use since it varies by location and the assumptions are different in different communities. By using standard methods at all locations and a daily series of temperatures (like every 2 hours to accommodate the fact that peak heat might happen at different times and duration day to day) you would get an integrated “area under the curve” measure of actual heat required to heat a given structure.

    The ideal way to do this would be to build standardized structures like Stevenson screens designed just to measure heat total heat gain or loss over a day for this specific use.

    You might approximate that ideal if you could find locations that have high resolution soil temperature records of long duration (or ground water temperatures).

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    Interesting ideas, and might give a better measure.

    What I’m trying to do though is to get a delta-T / hour of direct atmospheric cooling (since CO2 air radiative stuff is the core argument). To basically show no change of the radiative cooling of the atmosphere over time would pretty much sink the whole “Green house gas” meme. IF it turned out to cycle higher / lower / higher / lower somewhere, that would argue for some natural Earth based process (like clouds) not a monotonously rising gas concentration. So moving away from the air or from peak to trough changes away from my goal too…

    Basically moves the question from “Is this idea good?” to “what is the best way to show overall change in warming over long times”.

  14. Larry Ledwick says:

    Night time cooling rate is mostly determined by humidity and cloud cover, so you would have to control for those variables to calculate a number ( I suspect way too much noise to be useful ). The radiant sky temperature can be calculated from the dew point temperature.

    Saturated air has about 1.67x the heat capacity of dry air, as seen by the difference in the wet adiabatic and the dry adiabatic lapse rates of 10 deg C/ Km vs 6 deg C /Km

  15. David A says:

    Larry, perhaps this part of the post could account for most of that… “OTOH, if you take a station in clear dry rural Arizona and it has gone from 5 F / hour cooling rate on desert nights to 4 F / hour; it’s pretty clear something has changed.”

    Per CAGW theory the polar regions should warm more due to their dry atmosphere. One should be able to find near identical conditions?

  16. Robin Pittwood says:

    And Larry, as you point out, the effect of humidity would be large. If the experiment ‘fails’ due to this then doesn’t that just support the notion that the effect of CO2 is insignificant, from this point of view too. Which is actually a useful conclusion.

  17. erl happ says:

    Great idea. If greenhouse gases slow cooling the evidence should be plain in elevated daily minimum surface temperatures.

    My own survey of reanalysis data indicates warming in the coldest winter months increasing with latitude. The entire southern hemisphere is no warmer today, in January than it was in 1948. From my point of view that indicates the AGW thesis is untenable.

    Its entirely valid to focus on the 24 hour cycle of warming/cooling.
    Airports have hourly temperature data.

    Radiosonde data could be very handy to look at changes at elevation.

  18. Me from 2012.

    Which includes: “Also, given that the thermal capacity of the oceans is so large compared with the thermal capacity of the atmosphere (by a factor of over 1,000), it strikes me as unsound to rely primarily on measurements of atmospheric temperature, even if they come from satellites.”

    Best regards

  19. anonymous says:

    John Cook’s site is maybe 10 years old. I do not endorse it, but it is well-articulated and well-linked version of the conventional view. IMO It seems to have some basic errors in logic including on its page on your topic (re its discussion of the moon, which it starts with, and should be skipped)

    among its references is

    I am not sure about the logic. the arrival of dawn on a naturally-warming planet would mean greater heat differential with the air, and therefore faster heat transfer (Stefan-Boltzmann), so those graphs would always look like that whether CO2 was a GHG or not. But I can’t fully wrap my head around it.

  20. Don B says:

    The big picture –

    It is impossible – literally impossible – for mankind’s activities to return as much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as was once there.

    There was 10 to 20 times as much CO2 500 million years ago, with irregularly declining amounts since; life flourished with more CO2, and flourishes in this interglacial with less. As Tom Nelson likes to say, CO2 is not the climate control knob.

  21. philjourdan says:

    Builds up slowly over 100,000 years, then flushed out in a few thousand.

    That is actually demonstrated in the sea level rise. Not the hysteria of the present, but the actual fast increase over a few hundred/thousand years. And then the rate of increase crashed.

  22. John F. Hultquist says:

    I did a small look-see at weather stations when A. W. of WUWT had the “stations” project going. I documented two places; see below.
    Mostly, since then I have disregarded temperature studies that investigate fractions of degrees.
    If you decide to research a few stations, investigate what, where, and when for each of them.
    These places are useful for local weather reporting but for long term studies of CO2 related temperature changes I don’t think so.
    Good luck!

    What I found #1: {from memory}
    Ellensburg: Very early, measurements were taken by a person interested in planes/flying. Could not determine where that person lived or took measurements. Might have been at or near where Central Washington University now is.
    Next – readings taken at the school. Likely beside a brick building, or roof top.
    Early modern: Measurements taken behind a radio station building. Man would look at the weather, report it on the radio, and send to the weather service. Location is about 70 ft. higher than the school.
    Mid-1900s: Moved SE to the towns sewage facility, 130 ft. lower. Later moved a few blocks east, more in-town, to the Fire Station. Instruments were beside a gravel parking area, sometimes used for events – like with a charcoal grill.
    Next move: To a new waste treatment facility 1.75 miles south of previous location, and another 100 ft. lower. Instruments are beside an asphalt road 30 feet from the main building, but over grass and with pine trees close by.
    Yakima River is ½ mile away, where cleaned water is discharged. The official Lat./Long. for the station is at this point. Nearby, much water is sprayed on a large grass field in summer. This is now-dirty wash water from a frozen food processor (small packages of carrots, and such).

    What I found #2:
    Cle Elum: Many years ago readings were taken by a woman in her backyard. Neighborhood of gravel roads, trees, small lots. South side of the river. She grew old and became sick. Measurements ceased.
    With a gap of many months, a new location. A new sewage waste water facility was built 1.6 miles east and on the north side of the river. When I-90 was constructed, large ponds were created in the flood plain. Instruments are 400 yards from these, but across the interstate highway.
    Surface where the temperature is measured is light red (brick like) cinders. See here: 47.189, -120.913
    The recording instruments are in the 3-sided light gray roofed building to the right of the point. Rain/snow table and temperature are to the left. Temperature sensor is on a 7 ft. high post [keeps it above the maximum recorded snow level – 3 feet is the recommended height].

  23. ossqss says:

    EM, my point was that the ice did not melt because the Earth cooled over 20,000 years. Just sayin ;-)

  24. Chic Bowdrie says:

    I think it is a great idea if there is enough data tracking diurnal temperature changes.

    The dT/dt will be sort of S-shaped from dawn to noon and won’t be the same shape day after day. That would take some serious computing skill to convert to a daily unit measure of K/hour. Maybe same problem for cooling.

    The other problem is anything short of total coverage of the whole globe will leave some doubt about the results being universally applicable.

    Then there is the possibility of increasing CO2 causing faster daytime cooling in mid-latitudes and a legitimate warming in cold dry places. The actual effects may be a wash, whereas the data may indicate otherwise.

  25. cdquarles says:

    @ Chic,

    Since the “S” shape is due to combining two or more exponential relations, I guess you could start there by differentiating them, once you derived the constants. See: “Logistic curve”.

    Plus, don’t forget that the “background” concentration of variable gases and vapors very much depend on the kinetics of production and destruction locally and as an integration of all local actions over the whole planet.

    Given the relative abundance of water in the atmosphere now compared to carbon dioxide; *and* that water is much more optically active than carbon dioxide over the broader EMRF spectrum; *and* that the effect of IR active species would be to shift the vertical lapse rate toward the “moist” value without that having to have an affect on the surface skin temperature *at all*, I don’t think we could measure any actual effect of carbon dioxide concentrations anywhere in the world except where water concentrations are below a threshold.

  26. Chic Bowdrie says:


    Yes, exponentials with enough parameters and I think polynomials would work for fitting the daily results, as well. But how do you quantitate the day-to-day changes?

    Water vapor would all but swamp out the CO2 signal, I agree. But maybe there would be a way to subtract out the water vapor from humidity data. That’s a lot of work. Hey, I’m not doing this. It’s the Chiefio’s idea.

  27. Chic Bowdrie says:

    It just occurred to me that the principle of CO2 affecting the warming and cooling rates can easily be shown using water vapor. Just correlate the dT/dt profiles with humidity data. It might not say much about about the long term effect of CO2, but it would illustrate the warming and cooling tendencies.

    Theoretically, cooler days and warmer nights makes for less extreme temperatures which would result in a net warmer planet.

  28. H.R. says:

    @Chic Bowdrie: ” Just correlate the dT/dt profiles with humidity data.”

    Yes indeedy! Humidity and clouds are confounding variables that would somehow have to be accounted for when looking to see if CO2 changes the rate of heating or cooling at a particular location.

    Also, the atmospheric CO2 concentration would have to be factored in as well. For example, a station by a cornfield would show lower concentrations of CO2 during the growing season because the corn sucks in just about all of the CO2 that’s over the field by noon, and the assumption that CO2 is a well-mixed gas, pole-to-pole, in the atmosphere would not be safe to assume for a specific site.

    I do think E.M.’s suggestion of cloudless deserts for study sites takes care of the issues of clouds and more variable humidity of other sites. It may be sufficient to just look for the CO2 effect at a handful of desert sites spread around the globe. The only problem I see with that is the lack of long-term records of hourly data. Erl Happ points the way out of that dilemma by suggesting to look for increasing mins with the available data.

    Still, it must be assumed that CO2 is well mixed in the atmosphere over those sites and the CO2 values uncontaminated by say, a town growing to be a city upwind of the study site.

  29. Ian W says:

    I would just like to see two simple experiments
    1. The equivalent of ‘downwelling’ IR at the right frequency for the non-water vapor window CO2 absorption, at the right number of watts per square meter was used to irradiate a tank of sea water in a large closed room of known air temperature and humidity. Thermocouples in the water and just touching the surface of the water. Hypothesis: the infrared will increase evaporation and cool the surface; metrics – temperature reduction at surface no measurable effects elsewhere. Humidity in the room increased. Control precisely the same set up but with no infrared.

    2. A sealed and thermally insulated cylinder with infrared transparent windows, filled with 25% Oxygen and 75% Nitrogen and at 15C with thermocouples in the gas mixture. Infrared sensors are positioned at each of the infrared transparent windows. Add CO2 at 400ppm to the ‘air’ in the cylinder. Hypothesis: the air prior to the addition of CO2 does not radiate infrared. Adding CO2 results in infrared radiation from CO2 molecules as a result of molecular collisions; thermocouples show that the air is reducing in temperature.

    Just these two simple experiments would result in the end of AGW.
    1. At least 80% of the Earth is not heated by ‘downwelling’ infrared but is actually cooled and the heat convected away as latent heat.
    2. CO2 in the atmosphere cools the atmosphere at all levels as it is a radiative gas.

  30. gallopingcamel says:

    At low pressures radiative processes based on CO2 or other “Greenhouse Gases” dominate. This is why the lapse rate in the “Stratosphere” is positive.

    At high pressures, collision broadening kicks in with the result that radiative effects are overwhelmed by conduction, convection and phase changes (clouds, rain, sleet and snow). We call the high pressure region the “Troposphere”. In the troposphere the lapse rate is negative with a value of -Cp/g, consistent with thermodynamics. This value agrees with measurements on Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.

    The -Cp/g lapse rate does not work for Earth and Titan owing to the presence of oceans. Vapors have the effect of reducing the lapse rate to -αCp/g where “α” is a constant less than unity.

    The transition region between these two regions is known as the tropopause corresponding to a pressure of 0.1 to 0.2 bar.

    There is NatGeo letter that explains this in some detail:

    Click to access Robinson2014_0.1bar_Tropopause.pdf

    I have been able to reproduce the Robinson & Catling calculations on a laptop:

    Apologies to any of you who have heard this before. If you have found something that explains temperature better than the R&C hypothesis please send me a link.

  31. E.M.Smith says:


    Great job of showing the answers… now we just need to get the Warmistas to “get it” ;-)


    The other day our peak temp was 20 F lower than the prior day. Cool air came in from off shore.

    I think that kind of process tends to make my proposed test harder to validate. One would need a place where that kind of thing does not happen (Arizona Desert?) or a way of filtering out such days. Somehow one needs a “standardized” test case.

    Perhaps selecting those days in the desert where there was no precipitation, same date, and both temperature ranges match or nearly so. That way it’s only rate of radiative cooling being measured.

    So an August in Phoenix where high was 110 F … compare same (week?) date from 1910, 1950, 1970, 1990, and 2010? IF they are all close to identical then there is no GHG warming…

  32. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – Here’ a link to the historic averages of weather observations at Death Valley, CA. It includes record highs and lows.

    Now I can’t say what kind of jiggery-pokery has been performed on the data presented there, but if you go to the 10-day forecast page, at least it shows that Death Valley has nice, consistent stretches of similar highs, similar lows, effectively no significant cloud cover, and low humidity.

    A good candidate for study if you can find historical records that seem trustworthy. Around Phoenix, I’d be wary of UHI effects over a long record.

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    The only issue with Death Valley is that they added a station against a wall with a strong solar exposure in about 2000?. So we’d need to allow for that and make sure that station is excluded. Otherwise, it’s a pretty stable place with zero UHI and consistent recording at the main station at the visitor center.

Comments are closed.