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« The view from the Whitehouse | Main | Diary date »
Thursday
Dec202012

Not waving but drowning

The Climate Science Rapid Rebuttal Unit has finally issued its response to the Climate Sensitivity is Low articles - or at least to Matt Ridley's Op-Ed. Nic Lewis's article barely gets a mention. 

At first glance, they are struggling to keep their heads above water.

[Updated to direct link to main site rather than mobile version]

 

 

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Reader Comments (75)

As someone who works in the web game himself, that site looks dreadful.

The images are all maxed to 100% width, which pixellates them on a large monitor, whoever designed the link style with the floating underline needs to be sacked, and his guide dog.

This is before we look at the strawmen arguments [snip].

Dec 20, 2012 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Let's try and maintain the more level-headed tone of the last 24 hours.

Dec 20, 2012 at 2:51 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I suspect you're looking at the mobile version rather than the page designed for the desktop.

Dec 20, 2012 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris

Chris, you are right, the link goes to the mobile version.

Dec 20, 2012 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

I wish someone could explain the following to me, apologies if it's redundant, in the article linked to above.

1) According to which known mechanism of heat transfer could the global heat increase induced by CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere possibly end up even in the bottom ~99% of the 0-700m layer, let alone in the 700-2000m layer, without a much more visible effect on the sea surface temperatures and the atmospheric temperature? Even as a thought experiment?

2) Assuming that such a heat transfer mechanism does exist (and if that does exist, I'll have learned something), is there any reliable evidence that it is actually happening? The only data that would be reliable - at least we can hope so - come from the Argo project. But their data goes only as far back as 2003. Still, soon we will have 10 years of their data - should that not be enough to spot that heat hidden in the oceans - if it's there?

What am I missing?

And if I am missing nothing, the whole thing is not just a "travesty" - it's sheer lunacy.

Dec 20, 2012 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter B

True, dat.

Here.

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterThon Brocket

they are sticking with global warming IS STILL happening, its going tinto the oceans (lewandowsky articles Shaping Tomorrows world & Skeptical Science try this now.

the only response is, well why have the polityitians been banging on about air temperatures for 20 years, and a 2C air temp target.

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

"the IPCC's canonical range gives about the right probability distribution: 2-4.5°C [3.6-8.1°F] is the likely range, with values below 1.5°C [2.7°F] being very unlikely."

Judging by the growing difference between IPCC GCM projections and observed surface temperatures, as charted in the AR5 draft, the IPCC "cannon" has been firing duds for 25 years now..

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

Complaining that Ridley doesn't provide sources, and then quoting from Skeptical Science - You have got to be kidding me...

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave ward

To echo Peter B and ask again my question from a couple of threads ago: how can "downwelling LWIR from the GHE" warm the ocean, when IR can only penetrate a millimetre or so into the water?

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Bromige

To be fair, I see nothing in that article other than appeal to authority - did I miss any content?.

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean Houlihane

So twenty years warming the planet surfaces both land and ocean, the ocean at depth as well as surface.

Now 16 years only warming the ocean at depth, why the change? Did we do it? If so what did we do?

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:29 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

I predicted the skepticalscience rebuttal. Is there anything those guys have not rebutted (all with the same graphs)? Is there anything they don't know?

They are really scraping the bottom of the barrel, arent they?

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:32 PM | Registered Commentershub

They say:

Finally, Ridley is just plain wrong to claim that future warming will be mild or even helpful.

But didn't he say 'may'? It's in the headline that way. So finally, don't misrepresent the person you're rebutting.

Sensitivity is the subject the CAGW PR people said should never be mentioned. Lovely to see them struggling with it.

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:47 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

So, just to clarify, for the past 16 years the atmosphere has been transferring heat to the deep oceans without actually warming up itself? Is that the argument?

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill Williams

Bish

thanks for the insight into how the activist nutjobs react to science in comparison to real scientists like Curry and Betts

hope I am not being too harsh. spent a bit of time on Worstall's blog and it may be rubbing off

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

I thought we had spent enough time debunking that SkS post for Bitbucket on a Discussion post a few weeks ago. It is amusing to see it again, however.

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

"At first glance, they are struggling to keep their heads above water." Well, bear down on 'em boys.

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

This is it? It's all they've got after all this time?

Where's the missing heat?

However, it is now safe for the BBC and Guardian to comment now that they hace received the party line.

BTW. William "Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don't look around my eyes, look into my eyes" Connolley has been doing a lot of hand-waving over at Tim Worstall's site. Very amusing.

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Helpful update, Bish, on the very different stories on aerosols. Can't the peer-reviewed literature help us on this? I think Nic is saying it can, from observations.

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:22 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

"I know of no evidence that would suggest that the temperature effect of sulfur emissions are small. This conclusion is totally at odds with my peer reviewed publication in the area, which indicate that sulfur emissions have a significant effect on temperature."
So burning coal is its own mitigation - hurrah!

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

Richard

Nic is just taking the IPCC's own figures for aerosols.

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:34 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

But isn't using them correctly in calculating sensitivity? Amazing and yet not.

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:38 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

The Media Matters article has the 'fools rush in where angels fear to tread' effect hanging over it. The contradictions are now built up to a good pressurehead.

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:39 PM | Registered Commentershub

Whatever laws of physics govern the mechanism of the way the Earth absorbs,dissipates and/or reradiates IR striking its surface; they will have remained the same for billions of years. As Green Sand indicates, the suggestion that warming suddenly switched to the oceans is ridiculous.
Specifically the effect of increased levels of CO2 will have obeyed the same laws for billions of years. Without claiming to understand that mechanism you can still see a record of the results in the ice cores. Those ice cores give not one iota of evidence to support the theory that CO2 causes warming. I suggest that Mat Ridley's Climate Sensitivity is therefore still too high, not too low ^.^

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:40 PM | Registered CommenterDung

It is pathetic how MediaMatters quote scientists to rebut claims that were never made in Matt's op ed.

Like that aerosol cooling was not unambigous and significant - a claim never made in the WSJ article. But the reduction from the AR4 best estimate of -1.2 (range -2.4 to -0.6) W/m^2 to the AR5 best purely observational estimate of -0.7 (range -1.3 to -0.1) W/m^2 is very substantial, in the context of AR4 estimating that total forcing was only 1.6 W/m^2, circa a third of which has to be deducted when estimating climate sensitivity since it is being used to heat up the ocean etc.

Nor did the WSJ article claim that the rate of heat absorption by the world's oceans was overstated. It said it was now known to be modest, which (per the latest data in Levitus et al., 2012) it is in comparison both with the rate at which AOGCM simulations had been pushing heat into the ocean and with the estimated total forcing of 2.4 W/m^2 in 2011. Even James Hansen accepts this (http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/11/13421/2011/acp-11-13421-2011.pdf, section 7) athough, naturally, he draws the conclusion that aerosol forcing must be even more negative than AR4 estimates, rather than that climate sensitivity must be lower!

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterNic Lewis

The argument from the remarkable stability of the earth's temperatures for four billion years is a crucial one in favour not just of low sensitivity (and Willis Eschenbach speculates about a cruise control mechanism that will make sensitivity concepts redundant) but of adaptation being the whole of the answer to any climate fears we may have developed. But it's also proper to play the IPCC at its own game and show that it is not being self-consistent. From the moment Nic began this journey I've felt it was key. Now it's got the WSJ treatment and all that flows from that. Things are looking up for climate scepticism at Christmas 2012.

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:47 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Nic:

It is pathetic how MediaMatters quote scientists to rebut claims that were never made in Matt's op ed.

The misdirection habit is hard to kick. Once people wake up to how much it's been a staple of responses to any criticism of climate orthodoxy, there'll be a reckoning. WSJ readers are getting a useful head start.

Dec 20, 2012 at 4:58 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Nic,
A brief 250-word summary of the ideas presented in your post and especially in your comments above - a la Jesus paper - would be super-useful right now. Question is, who would do it?

Dec 20, 2012 at 5:01 PM | Registered Commentershub

It would be difficult to find a better example of non sequitur than this:

"Finally, Ridley is just plain wrong to claim that future warming will be mild or even helpful. When contacted by Media Matters, scientists were blunt. Trenberth wrote "There is now widespread agreement that stopping global mean [temperature] increase at 2 [degrees] C [3.6°F] is impossible. Rather 3 [degrees] C [5.4°F] will be difficult."

Dec 20, 2012 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

[...] With regard to the rate of ocean heat absorption: Trenberth wrote: "On the contrary there is now very good evidence that a LOT of heat is going into the deep ocean in unprecedented ways, which completely undermines this sort of argument. OHC [Ocean Heat Content] keeps increasing at a fairly steady rate, just as sea level keeps going up." [...]

Aerosols aside, I'm not convinced here. The "good evidence" seems to be Lyman (2010) coupled with some as yet un-identified (as far as I can see) mechanism for heat transport to the deep Ocean that doesn't include the intervening layers.

There seems to be a distinct boundary line in Lyman between the older data and Argo deployment. Strange that he (Lyman) would use 1993 (pre Argo) as a start point - conveniently covering the 'switch over'. Once Argo is operational we see little of anything at all trend wise.

One would have thought that, with a 'step change' in the 'energy budget' (CO2 and the industrial revolution), the Ocean would (with inertia) warm at a fairly steady rate (with an ideal monitoring system). Argo, as near as we have to ideal currently, is a game changer. I'm just not convinced that it can be merged with the random noise of the past in any convincing way.

As to the deep Ocean storage - I'll get back to that just as soon as the physical mechanism becomes a little clearer.

Dec 20, 2012 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered Commenter3x2

Peter B,

"1) According to which known mechanism of heat transfer could the global heat increase induced by CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere possibly end up even in the bottom ~99% of the 0-700m layer, let alone in the 700-2000m layer"

It's off-topic, and it would probably be better to ask the question elsewhere, but to try to answer you quickly - low pressure weather systems cause converging wind-driven currents that drive plumes of surface water down below the surface. Also, there are places where ocean currents collide, such as off the southern tip of Greenland, where deeper mixing is common. Deep water formation ocurs in the polar regions, when surface water cools by radiation to space and sinks. Heat can enter the depths if it does so when it's slightly less cold.

"To echo Peter B and ask again my question from a couple of threads ago: how can "downwelling LWIR from the GHE" warm the ocean, when IR can only penetrate a millimetre or so into the water?"

Heat enters the water by downwelling shortwave, and leaves via evaporation, convection, and radiation from the surface. It is the balance of the rates that determines the temperature of the water, and the air above the water being warmer reduces the rate at which it escapes, which in turn reduces the rate at which deeper water convects, until the water has warmed too.
However, the greenhouse effect does not work through downwelling longwave radiation. It works by raising the average altitude at which radiation escapes to space, and the surface is warmed relative to this by the adiabatic lapse rate times the height difference. (See here for more explanation.)

I'll say no more here, since it's OT.

Dec 20, 2012 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

shub @5:01, I tried to write a summary - sorry, not much time, so it is (a) too long, and (b) lacking links. Here we go though:

The Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) is the key factor in our understanding of climate change due to CO2 and other anthropogenic emissions. It measures the extent to which global temperature would rise if the atmospheric concentration of CO2 were to double with respect to pre-industrial times, as it is expected to do by 2100 AD. One way to estimate this is by using computer models of the coupled atmosphere and ocean. This approach, much used in reports by the International Panel on climate Change (IPCC) leads to various values for ECS, typically around 3 °C, which is considered to be high enough to be worrying.

Another approach is to rely on empirical observations of the key factors that enter into ECS. This approach is well established in the literature, and has been used e.g. in a mainstream climate science paper by Gregory et al (“An observationally based estimate of the climate sensitivity”, Journal of Climate, 2002, http://tinyurl.com/d3wepln). One needs to measure the extent to which the CO2 already emitted into the atmosphere (and other known factors) modifies the flow of infra-red energy from the surface of the Earth out into space – the additional radiative forcing effect compared to pre-industrial times. This is known to be 2.79 W/m2. Next, you need to estimate the amount of heat currently being absorbed by the deep oceans of Earth – a result of the significant thermal inertia of the system. This too has been measured, at 0.43 W/m2. Finally, you need to know how much extra radiation is being reflected back into space due to formation of aerosols caused by human activities. This number has not, previously, been well known, and high estimates of up to 2 W/m2 or more have been suggested. The most recent accurate measurements suggest a value of 0.7 W/m2. Finally, you need to know how much the global temperature has increased since pre-industrial times – 0.73 °C. If you combine these numbers, you can work out what the ECS would be: 1.62 °C. As each of the numbers mentioned previously have some uncertainties, there is also an uncertainty on the derived ECS value. One way to describe the uncertainty is to say that it is more than 95% likely that the ECS is below 3 °C – the value claimed as most likely from models by the IPCC.

Prior estimates of the effect of aerosol were larger – up to 2 W/m2. When such larger values are used in the sum described here, they predict a higher ECS. Nic Lewis’s post asks the question: why does the draft of the next report of the IPCC, recently leaked on the internet, not report the new best empirical estimate of ECS, 1.62 °C, which is significantly lower, and less worrying, than the much touted 3 °C value?

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:03 PM | Registered CommenterJeremy Harvey

I'll just add to NiV's description, just briefly to state that the greenhouse effect via CO2 supposedly acts at timescales insensitive to such deep mixing mechanisms. If, on the other hand, it is sensitive, then any warming via such an effect has correspondingly been overestimated.

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:07 PM | Registered Commentershub

Jeremy, thanks! All that is needed is to refer to the various ad-hoc objections that have been flung, in the text above along with running responses.

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:09 PM | Registered Commentershub

I'd be over 1000 words then, let alone 250...

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:10 PM | Registered CommenterJeremy Harvey

Nullus in Verbia; 5:56: '[However, the greenhouse effect does not work through downwelling longwave radiation. It works by raising the average altitude at which radiation escapes to space, and the surface is warmed relative to this by the adiabatic lapse rate times the height difference.'

There can be no significant CO2 band surface IR emission. This is basic radiative equilibrium otherwise we'd be an expanding ball of gas. you prove it fairly easily by MODTRAN. No CO2-AGW means no positive feedback. The real GHE is surface warming because of reduced emissivity.

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

[ Peter B,

"1) According to which known mechanism of heat transfer could the global heat increase induced by CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere possibly end up even in the bottom ~99% of the 0-700m layer, let alone in the 700-2000m layer"]

It's off-topic, and it would probably be better to ask the question elsewhere, but to try to answer you quickly - low pressure weather systems cause converging wind-driven currents that drive plumes of surface water down below the surface. Also, there are places where ocean currents collide, such as off the southern tip of Greenland, where deeper mixing is common. Deep water formation ocurs in the polar regions, when surface water cools by radiation to space and sinks. Heat can enter the depths if it does so when it's slightly less cold

.

Don't think it is in any way "off-topic". The CSRR 'rebutal' clearly has Dr. Trenbeth as an expert witness in matters Ocean. As per my previous post, you seem to suggest that, in your view, 'weather systems' and colliding currents send the 'heat plumes' down deep. OK, but why exactly are they not captured on the way down at any point by our monitoring systems? Seriously - we were not in the right place at the right time? Batteries died at the moment we needed them?

There comes a point where questions need to be answered without resort to 'hand waving' - are you up to the task?. You seem to suggest that 1.4 billion cubic Km of liquid water just gets blown around by the atmosphere like a leaf. Shall we employ some Phyiscs? Mass/Density/heat capacity/inertia and all that other C$ap?

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered Commenter3x2

3*2

I notice that the downwelling which begins the thermohaline circulation takes place off the East coast of Greenland. With the Arctic showing the most rapid warming on the planet, it would be interesting to know if, and if so how much, extra heat is being taken into that circulation. Anyone got data?

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Jeremy: thankyou++

Dec 20, 2012 at 6:56 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

"it is very clear [they] have a cooling impact,"

An increase or steady state should cool.

But from 1980 to 2000 SO2 dropped by 1 Pinatubo's worth as clean air legislation took over.

That should have a warming impact right???!!!

Dec 20, 2012 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Entropic - "Anyone got data?"

No - have you? Sounds back to front to me. Seems counter intuitive that the cold poles would be transporting heat back across the equatorial regions.My guess would be warm lower density water arrives in the colder northern latitudes, gives up its heat, its density increases and it sinks, sustaining circulation as it does so. So I think you have it the wrong way round; but you are right, some numbers would be good. Did you try google? Wikipedia had this:

"This warmer, fresher water from the Pacific flows up through the South Atlantic to Greenland, where it cools off and undergoes evaporative cooling and sinks to the ocean floor, providing a continuous thermohaline circulation"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermohaline_circulation

Dec 20, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

As I predicted.

'Trenberth wrote "There is now widespread agreement that stopping global mean [temperature] increase at 2 [degrees] C [3.6°F] is impossible.'


As a 100% sceptic, I would believe Buddy the Elf or Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer before I would believe Matt Ridley. Anyone who takes a point of view on a science matter on the basis of his politics should get a new hobby.


I read a debate between Roger Pielke Snr and Real Climate monkey. They couldn't agree on anything. Climate science is voodoo.

Dec 20, 2012 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

it is interesting to compare Annan's initial reaction to ConnollEEEEEEEy's

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=9959776&postID=8737085272281993925

Dec 20, 2012 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

From the Thinkprogress piece, the figure used to illustrate it strikes me as a distraction. It uses an emissions scenario that has CO2 levels rising by around 250% by 2100 to about 1000ppm, and by roughly 550% to about 1850ppm by 2200. This is *far* beyond the 130% rise considered in 2100 Matt Ridley's article both in the size of the rise and the timeframe.

The two related Fair Plan papers are here and here and you should be able to read them by clicking the 'Full text' links.

It is illustrating Representative concentration pathways 8.5 when a closer match would be RCP6.

Dec 20, 2012 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Gareth
"It is illustrating Representative concentration pathways 8.5 when a closer match would be RCP6."

The 130% rise in equivalent CO2 levels by 2100 in the quote from me in Matt's WSJ article actually corresponds to the RCP4.5 scenario. I used that scenario, making clear that I was just taking a scenario, because it is the only one for which I have the corresponding forcings dataset. It is also a scenario that I know gets some use (as the only scenario used) in recent peer reviewed work.

Dec 20, 2012 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterNic Lewis

not banned yet

I had trouble finding heat transfer numbers, but I did find sources quoting times from 200 to 2000 years fro water sinking in the Arctic or Antarctic to return to the surface.

If warming Arctic and Antarctic oceans were sending warmer water into the deep thermohaline circulation, it would be stored for a considerable time before it contributed to any warming. This is the sort of effect which would help account for Trenberth's "missing heat"

https://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/news/2013/missing-heat-may-affect-future-climate-change

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropoc_man....how long would it take for ARGO to pick up this warming? Any ideas?

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

"but I did find sources quoting times from 200 to 2000 years fro water sinking in the Arctic or Antarctic to return to the surface."

So the warming we are (or are not, you choose) experiencing now is a result of something that happened 200-2000 years ago? No wonder those science folks can't get a grip of that detection and attribution thingy.

Not just hand-waving, but an epicycle of biblical proportions. And timescale.

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Entropic - hmmm, I think if you'd said that is the sort of effect which would help account for Trenberth's missing credibility, you might've had a point.

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:45 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

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