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Slingo writes to Lewis

There has been another exchange in the flow of correspondence between Julia Slingo and Nic Lewis. Slingo wrote to Lewis at the end of last week, her letter not addressing the points made in Lewis's rebuttal last week, but instead moving the discussion onto the observationally constrained estimates of climate sensitivity.

As a physicist who has worked extensively on using observations to understand climate processes and natural climate variability, and subsequently to model them, I would like to understand in more detail how you estimate equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and aerosol radiative forcing from the observational base.

Nic seems to have responded positively.

I'm sure it's all very welcome to have an exchange of views on the observationally constrained studies, but there's a fairly large elephant in the room. Since both sides seem to agree that the the UKCP09 climate projections are flawed and there seems little doubt that they are being used to inform major investment decisions, is it not incumbent for the Met Office to withdraw them post-haste?

If the Met Office were to remain silent while public funds were being wasted, that would be a considerable scandal I would say.




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Reader Comments (21)

Can I detect (and I am including Osborne's comments on green subsidies among other things) that among all the noise emanating from supporters of the IPCC view that there is a slow backtracking going on in Government?

PS One of Mr Lewis's links is broken.

Sep 29, 2013 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

Perhaps you could change the title of this post to "Polite evasion in practice: Julie changes the subject".

Actually, isn't "changing the subject" a form "let's move on"? Nice to see the old tires getting a retread.

Sep 29, 2013 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterthe sweet sound of chiseling

A classic fail and mistake of students is that do not answer the question which was asked , but answer one they want to.

Slingo carries on in that fine 'tradition' for climate 'scientists' having professional standards lower than would be expected than an undergraduate student . How did these people get there PHD' 'form the back of cereal packets ?

Sep 29, 2013 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Slingo actually makes good points but notice how they are trying to extract radiative forcing from Co2 alone from observations.

They should already have a good idea of IR forcing at these frequencies if they had characterised it or at least bounded it in a lab setting. To try and extract it from observations requires knowing what to look for and is prone to subjectivity.

So basically the Met Office has answered my long standing question. No work has been done to properly verify Jim Hansens forcing equation. They don't know what their inputs are doing so how can they be confident in the outputs?

Sep 29, 2013 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

@ Micky H Corbett

CO2 forcing is near zero. This is because Tyndall's experiment has been misunderstood. External IR is absorbed but cannot be thermalised in the gas phase. Hence it thermalises at heterogeneities such as clouds and Space.

The idea of 'back radiation' breaches the 2nd Law and Conservation of energy: it's a radiation field and most of that is annihilated at the surface. Net IR is a bit of non self-absorbed water vapour IR and the 'atmospheric window'.

Basically they cocked up the radiative physics.

Sep 29, 2013 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

There is an assumption in making these invites that once you come into contact with the folks at the Met Office you'll like them - which I'm sure is true - and because you like them you'll agree with them, which I'm not sure is true. It is the opposite side of the coin, which is that if you don't agree with them they don't like you. Of course, the downside is that they will like Nic Lewis and agree with him, which I'm not sure will be true.

There are people, me among them, who believe that the Met Office's most important duty is weather forecasting, they tell me through press releases that they are one of the two top forecasters in the world. I'm assuming that East Anglia is a blot on their landscape because they're nowhere near a top forecaster here. They are a laughing stock with their long range forecasts mainly because they seem to be little more than "anthropogenic warming is happening" coded messages, which has led to their abandonment after 12 out of 13 long range forecasts turned out to be disastrously wrong. If I were it's Chief Scientist my focus would be on fixing the problems with weather forecasting, not pushing out environmentalist propaganda.

Either way polite dialogue is better than slanging matches.

Sep 29, 2013 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

If you go to Google and select 'IMAGE' and then type the name 'Mystic Met', guess who turns up at number one slot.

Yep, it's


Sep 29, 2013 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

I am very much in favour of polite dialogue as long as it has as its goal improving our scientific knowledge. So best not prejudge this particular endeavour. I hope you enjoy your visit to the MO, Nic and that as a result there is more understanding in the world. No doubt you will keep us informed.

Sep 29, 2013 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead


It's interesting what you mention. However Co2 does re-emit radiation at 4.99 and 14.99 microns. It's an atomic level emission resulting in no net energy change to the molecule. And it's been tested.

As far as I understand the theory it's half of this radiation that comes back to the surface. My point though is that even if the theory is sound or not as you may argue, it's still best to SHOW this by experiment. Ultimately you have to put your money where your mouth is and test it. And so it is with back radiation causing a surface to heat up.

What the MO has admitted is that they are using an uncharacterised input to their models and then claiming it is the major effect via climate sensitivity. I've worked in aerospace software for a while so it's like not testing a module on your code but then claiming the software is certified.

Btw I think we are on the same page with regards to the lack of thought or experimentation done on Co2 forcing.

Sep 29, 2013 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

watch those words..."using OBSERVATIONS to understand climate processes and natural climate variability, and subsequently to MODEL them".

It's the classic Schmidt-talk, where observations and pretty much everything else has a value only as long as it helps improve the models.

This assumes implicitly that the only informational/decisional point in matters of climate is in the models, not in the observations. IOW no pause of any length will ever be relevant.

Sep 29, 2013 at 2:23 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC), delivered in Stockholm, warns that it is now 95% certain that global temperatures are rising and that human activity is to blame.

Fair enough, they are now more certain that human activity is causing global warming, even thought actual data suggest it is not.

However, they do appear to admit that the amount of warming is unknown:


No best estimate for equilibrium climate sensitivity can now be given because of a lack of agreement on values across assessed lines of evidence and studies,

Is this like Gordon Brown's famous "zero percent rise"?

Sep 29, 2013 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

I can already project what the IPCC will say in AR6 if the pause continues.

- Although the oceans have absorbed all the extra heat they can, we think it is 'very probably really quite likely' (certainty range 10 to 90%) that extreme turbulent weather has generated a mini black hole over the Antarctic, sitting somewhere in the ozone hole. This absorbs the 'lost' heat, waiting to spurt it out at some future date. We have no direct observational evidence for the mini black hole, but our super computer models tell us it must be there. Those wise words of Damian Carrington back in 2013 remain valid: that "Undue focus on the air temperature plateau is cretinous".

Sep 29, 2013 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered Commenteroakwood

"As a physicist who has worked extensively on using observations to understand climate processes...."

Well Julia, you missed the bleedin obvious;

1. Radiative energy exchange happens at the speed of light and therefore, has no capacity to store energy.

2. Diurnal cycles cancel stored surface heat.

3. The non-radiative gasses are the true greenhouse gasses as they can respond only to conduction. The energy stored in the system, manifested as the 33degC greenhouse effect, is held by them on a rolling annual basis +/- input perturbations.

4. Carbon dioxide is a 2-way, not 1-way, street as solar irradience is full spectrum.

5. Radiation can do no work (add energy) against a temperature gradient, only with one.

Might it not be worth changing the physics of the models? I understand that 95% of them agree that they run hot.

Sep 29, 2013 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Swiss Bob,

Or Gordon Brown's "negative growth"?

Sep 29, 2013 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

@ssat: the real ghe = 11 K. The 33 K figure is a 'mistake' in 1981_Hansen_etal.pdf: they apparently 'forgot' that taking out ghgs from the atmosphere would mean no clouds or ice so SW to the surface would rise by 43%.

Sep 29, 2013 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

@Micky H Corbett: please be patient as I am (with Claes Johnson) creating the bit of Physics Planck missed out on.

There is no bidirectional 'photon flux' between two emitters. The net radiation field, continuously varying from thermal noise, supplies energy to the cooler emitter. If that is a gas, therefore the radiative density of states is full and the Law of Equipartition of Energy applies, for each photon accepted, one is ejected to a cooler optical heterogeneity.

The whole atmosphere is involved. There is no 'back radiation'. Thermalisation is at the optical heterogeneity; bare aerosols, clouds or Space (cosmic microwave background).

Sep 29, 2013 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Whilst climate scientists debate the detail, the simple fact is that the model output and reality have diverged for the best part of two decades. The models are WRONG.

The UKMO refuse to admit this.

Sep 29, 2013 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat


Are you going to submit a paper or do I have to come and knock on your door -.-

Sep 30, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Registered CommenterDung


at last someone says something sensible and bleedin obvious
if co2 doesnt control temperature then co2 forcing is either neglible or doesnt exist

Sep 30, 2013 at 8:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Shiers

Swiss Bob

PS One of Mr Lewis's links is broken.

Thanks. Now fixed

Sep 30, 2013 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterNic Lewis

I'm finding it hard to type... I'd never seen a photo of Slingo before and had never realised how acute the Josh likeness was. I can't stop laughing.

Oct 1, 2013 at 3:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

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