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Discussion > Does Climate Science Exist?

EM - I wrote to the lead author:

Dear Dr Feldman, I was interested to see the abstract of your paper "Observational determination of surface radiative forcing by CO2 from 2000 to 2010" which I think represents a significant advance. I am in rural France and I have neither library facilities nor a budget to access 'paywalled' papers via the internet. I would be very grateful to receive a copy of your paper, ideally in electronic form. Regards (name + address)

I won't hold my breath. The only reply I ever got from similar requests to climate scientists was one that helpfully told me to download it.

Er... the power from a thyristor is actually proportional to the integral of the square of the waveform (voltage or current) assuming a resistive load, not the integral (the area) itself but I know what you are getting at. I have spent lots of time computing, measuring, recording, and processing power spectra in other areas, so the concepts are familiar to me.

As I say, I'll comment when I can. You had told me that the paper reported on "radiative forcing" which, depending on what definition you are looking it, is normally taken as something like the the difference between total incoming radiation from the Sun and total outgoing radiation to outer space. I'm not sure how what they are measuring (downwelling IR arriving at the surface if I have underestood it) can be described as "radiative forcing" but the full paper would make that clear.

Your comment seemed to imply that the widely used IPCC defintion of radiative forcing (for which your 5.35 ln(C/C0) formula applies) was now capable of being measured. I found that surprising as the IPCC definition very clearly is of a nonphysical concept which can exist only in a numerical model of the atmosphere.

"The radiative forcing of the surface-troposphere system due to the perturbation in or the introduction of an agent (say, a change in greenhouse gas concentrations) is the change in net (down minus up) irradiance (solar plus long-wave; in Wm-2) at the tropopause AFTER allowing for stratospheric temperatures to readjust to radiative equilibrium, but with surface and tropo-spheric temperatures and state held fixed at the unperturbed values"

Jul 2, 2015 at 12:25 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin, this the Lawrence Lab study. The logic of it is:

Observation: In Alaska and Oklahoma CO2 and DWIR are both increasing.
Claim: Additional CO2 is due to fossil fuel emissions.
Claim: Higher DWIR is due to higher CO2 levels.
Claim: Global DWIR is rising.
Claim: Global surface temperatures are rising.
LL Conclusion: Fossil fuel emissions are causing Global surface temperatures to rise

In sum, lots of claims on top of some observations.

Jul 2, 2015 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRon C.

I am forced to say to EM that right now I am unable to back up my statements about CO2 always preceding temperature (and I am choking on that) but the reason for that is proof enough that I was right.
Miraculously lots of papers (both old and new) now fill the first 5 - 10 pages of Google searches and these papers argue that CO2 does not always precede warming ^.^
The amazing fact is that there is no new science involved here, no new methods for dating either CO2 or temp, just new interpretations with no justification. I will get to the bottom of this but right now I am too depressed by the ease with which these things can be manipulated. :(

Jul 2, 2015 at 8:02 PM | Registered CommenterDung



There are times when I hate Google too. I have had the same problem as older items get displaced by more recent ones.

Somewhere in oblivion there is an excellent paper on the formation of Arctic bottom water and the thermohaline circulation that I have lost and am still kicking myself for not downloading.

The supposedly intelligent software does not help. It keeps giving me what it thinks I want, instead of what I am looking for.☺

Jul 2, 2015 at 11:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Ron C - thanks. Without necessarily agreeing with everything in the link you gave, the Lawrence Lab paper does seem to be a case of looking at some measurements and extrapolating to a conclusion that confirms what the orthodoxy believes.

It certainly got Entropic Man into a state of great excitement, leading him to state that "radiative forcing" can now be measured and giving a link to the abstract of the paper.

I was (obviously I hope) talking about radiative forcing as defined by the IPCC* and to which the formula 5.35 ln(C/C0) which EM loves dearly applies. It's not capable of being measured physically because it's something that does not exist in reality - it can only exist in numerical models.

So far as I can see, the Lawrence paper talks about "surface radiative forcing" as being the same thing as IR arriving at ground level. Nothing to do with radiative forcing as defined by the IPCC. A quick search for the term seems to lead only to the Lawrence paper, which seems to suggest they made up the term because it sounds good in getting across the pre-Paris message they wish to convey.

Entropic Man has a tendency to point to things which he thinks probably say what he'd like them to say but without actually checking in detail. There is a word for that but I won't mention it here lest doing so should upset EM.

[No sign of the requested reprint so far]

* Change in net downward radiative flux at the tropopause after allowing for stratospheric temperatures to readjust to radiative equilibrium, while holding surface and tropospheric temperatures and state variables fixed at the unperturbed values

Jul 3, 2015 at 7:45 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Climate science exists in the same way that the Ptolemaic universe existed – people claim to perceive a pattern, and have come up with the wrong explanation. However, as has happened in science throughout history, having come up with an explanation, people do their damnedest to hold onto it, hence the increasingly bizarre contortions that we are seeing, both amongst the so-called experts, and their more numerous minions and acolytes, with the evidence and theories of the climate.

Without having resorted to intensive, extensive research or investigation, here is my hypothesis:
It is agreed that the two principle gasses of the atmosphere (oxygen and nitrogen) are effectively invisible to radiation, hence neither hinder its impingement onto the Earth nor restrict its transmission to space. Being poor absorbers of radiation, they are also poor emitters of it; in other words, the gasses do not radiate much of the energy they may have absorbed, its loss being by conduction or by convection, whereby the molecules of the gas lose their energy while rising within the atmosphere.

How are these two gasses heated? Slightly more than 50% of the Earth is in receipt of solar energy at any particular time. As mooted before, the vast majority of this energy impinges upon the Earth’s surface, with the angle of impingement on the surface affecting the amount of energy absorbed – hence the tropical regions gain more energy than the higher latitudes – or on particles within the atmosphere; these particles may be solids such as dust, or water droplets; water droplets may be in sufficient concentration to form clouds, the net effect being to increase the albedo of the Earth, and reflecting some of the Sun’s energy to space. These heated surfaces (either on the Earth or the suspended particles) are in contact with oxygen and nitrogen molecules, thereby heating them by conduction. As the air is invariably in motion, these heated molecules are mixed within the atmosphere, thereby heating those which are not in contact with any surface; the heated parcels of air then rising by convection, to dissipate the heat at higher levels in the atmosphere. This creates convection cells within the atmosphere, increasing the mixing of the gasses, so distributing the heat, leading to the complex weather systems that we have.

At night, the Earth radiates heat gained. However, as said before, neither nitrogen nor oxygen are good radiators of heat, so what heat that exists in the atmosphere tends only to be lost by conduction with whatever surface there is. If there is movement of the air, this cooling will be distributed to an extent dependent upon the amount of movement – hence, it is possible to have ice on the ground while completely still air above remains comfortably warm (an effect I have experienced, once); more usually, the amount of air movement can lead, as it increases, to frost or dew, low-lying fog or mist, fog or mist, or low-level clouds.

The “greenhouse” gasses might have some effect on this process, but the overall effect will be minimal, as even the most abundant, water, is still little more than a trace gas. However, the properties of water will help to ameliorate losses or gains in energy, depending upon its local concentration – hence, little difference between day and night temperatures where the humidity is high or there is extensive cloud-cover, and the dramatic plunging of night temperatures in arid regions.

Obviously, that is just a simplified overview; what would be required is some funding to explore this hypothesis and develop more provable theories. Now, who would (or, perhaps, should) fund me?

Jul 3, 2015 at 11:26 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Sorry RR - my budget is fully committed.

Jul 3, 2015 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBig Oil

" and the dramatic plunging of night temperatures in arid regions."

Good Summary. Is it practically possible to measure the proposed CO2 IR absorption in these arid areas. I assume AGW theory proposes these places will cool less overnight and we should be able to detect this.

Jul 3, 2015 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Big Oil: dang! Perhaps Big Tobacco? Or Big Sugar? Big Salt? Big Alcohol? (Oooh, my favourite… oh, except for Big Chocolate, of course.) Surely one of them could offer me a suitable remuneration for this cushy number important research?

Rob Burton: no idea. More research is required, preferably with a generous stipend attached. Are you offering?

Jul 3, 2015 at 1:56 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical Rodent

If you are looking for funding try the Cato Institute. They might be sympathetic.

Jul 3, 2015 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM "They might be sympathetic."

You think they have so much money they can spend it on RR's fondness for booze and chocolate?

Jul 3, 2015 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

" Are you offering?" . That would dig into my swanning around the world budget I'm afraid. Tying up with unthreaded I was actually in Mandalay when the SolarImpulse landed there.

Jul 3, 2015 at 8:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

TinyCO2: well, I was hoping that they would… all for research purposes, of course. I would also need to fly to all sorts of exotic locations (business class, natch), ’cos it does seem to be a prerequisite for this. Could anyone recommend suitable hotels in Hawaii, Fiji, Singapore, Rio, Los Angeles or the Bahamas? Ooh, and Kuala Lumpur sounds good, too! I would consider recommendations for other, similar locations, too… research is just so-o-o important!

Jul 3, 2015 at 9:31 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

The Fragrance Riverside In Singapore was fantastic value for money in a brilliant location. The rooftop pool was amazing after a massive all day walk in about 15 degrees of global warming compared to the UK. Obviously I was just researching the impending thermopocalypse while there. Not been to LA I'm afraid and just ruled out the Bahamas in a fortnight during the summer holidays.

As I'm sure I've said the hypocrisy of people who fly and then preach CO2 is evil that really gets me. At least my old supervisor who now heads up the Bristol climate unit admits to a high CO2 footprint.

Jul 3, 2015 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Ooh! Been there! But… meh…

I need somewhere that can give me the quiet and inspiration needed, and the size of room for my experiments and associated gear (whatever that may be; I haven’t worked out what might be needed, yet). Ready access to a good cup of tea and a genuine gin sling would also be useful.

Naturally, my carbon footprint would be enormous, but such is the price of this essential research. Such are the sacrifices I will have to bear, hence the need for greater remuneration, just to soften the assault on my conscience.

Jul 4, 2015 at 12:45 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent


"You think they have so much money they can spend it on RR's fondness for booze and chocolate?"

Nobody has that much money! ☺

Jul 4, 2015 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM - we often see "energy budget diagrams" like the following.

Like much in Climate Science, these diagrams seem to have been accepted uncritically. Yet the proportions of energy leaving the Earth's surface seem hard to resolve with intuition (my intuition, at least):

The 48% of the incoming sunlight that directly warms the Earth's surface is removed from the surface in the following proportions:

25% latent heat of evaporation
17% radiation
7% convection

[Sorry that (incoming) ≠ (outgoing) but that's what the diagram says.]

MY QUESTION: Where can one find definitive disucssion of how these quantities were obtained?

Jul 4, 2015 at 3:58 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Entropic man
Hope Mrs EM is ok?
Have you had time to answer the questions here yet?

Jul 4, 2015 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Also, Martin A, when EM shows you the data for the latest earth radiation budget, don't expect to see the error bars/ uncertainty ranges.

Jul 4, 2015 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Martin A., here's a source regarding the oceans (71% of planet surface)

Summary from

Much of the direct and diffuse solar short wave (less than 2 micros, mostly in the visible range) electromagnetic radiation that reaches the sea surface penetrates the ocean heating the sea water down to about 100 to 200 meters. Solar heating of the ocean on a global average is 168 watts per square meter

The infrared radiation emitted from the ocean is quickly absorbed and re-emitted by water vapor and carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases residing in the lower atmosphere. Much of the radiation from the atmospheric gases, also in the infrared range, is transmitted back to the ocean, reducing the net long wave radiation heat loss of the ocean. Net back radiation cools the ocean, on a global average by 66 watts per square meter.

When air is contact with the ocean is at a different temperature than that the sea surface, heat transfer by conduction takes place. On average the ocean is about 1 or 2 degrees warmer than the atmosphere so on average ocean heat is transferred from ocean to atmosphere by conduction.

If the ocean were colder than the atmosphere (which of course happens) the air in contact with the ocean cools, becoming denser and hence more stable, more stratified. As such the conduction process does a poor job of carrying the atmosphere heat into the cool ocean. On global average the oceanic heat loss by conduction is only 24 watts per square meter.

The largest heat loss for the ocean is due to evaporation, which links heat exchange with hydrological cycle (Fig. 4). On global average the heat loss by evaporation is 78 watts per square meter.

Jul 4, 2015 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterRon C.

Ron C - thank you. The numbers you quote are roughly comparable with those in the NASA graphic. I'll study the reference in due course.

michael hart - Another characteristic of climate science seems to be (often) to quote numerical results without any discussion about the error range, even though the uncertainties are obviously large. But we won't hold that against EM.

Jul 4, 2015 at 5:23 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


I much appreciate the empathy and humour you have shown recently and I particularly appreciate your recognition that Dangermouse has serious alcohol problems hehe.



"You think they have so much money they can spend it on RR's fondness for booze and chocolate?"

Nobody has that much money! ☺
Jul 4, 2015 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man"

Jul 4, 2015 at 10:00 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Just back from the hospital. One more set of tests to go next week but I am encouraged (and knackered). I' ll try a couple of brief answers.

Martin A

The IPCC definition refers to radiative forcing under standard conditions as a change in downwelling radiation with time. The tropopause reference is because downwelling radiation can often be easier to measure from orbit as the difference between the OLR and the black body radiation at TOA.

To use a cave analogy, think of a limestone cave with a flat floor and a domed roof.

The amount of black body radiation is the total volume of the cave,.

The OLR is the volume of air in the cave and the downwelling radiation is the volume of the stalactites.

Measuring the downwelling radiation from below needs a clear clean night. Driving back, I was remembering a past flight. I was due to fly my father from Cambridge to Northampton on a very hot day with a temperature inversion.

Above 3000ft you could see forever and an IR detector at 3000ft.would have detected a lot of downwelling radiation that night.

Below 3000ft the air was a polluted fug and you could barely see two miles. I was unable to navigate and abandoned the flight(to my dad's great annoyance). An IR detector at ground level would have detected much less that night.

Michael hart

On uncertainty, discussion of error bars and uncertainly is normally standard practice in the body of the original paper. They may be mentioned in the abstract, are occasionally mentioned in the press release and rarely make it onto discussion websites.

I have the same access limitations as yourselves, so cannot always tell you the levels of uncertainty. On the radiative forcing formula, I think Martin A gave a link to one of the original papers. If he has access to the text he can probably tell us the uncertainty the authors calculated from their data. It would be interesting to know.


Already answered, on this thread.


" CO2 has no warming effect after about 220 ppm (Ice core records/AR reports)"

You may be mistaken that warming due to CO2 plateaued at 220 ppm.

There is empirical evidence that CO2 induced warming continues.

1) If CO2 had completely saturated the OLR spectrum would be 50% of the black body radiation throughout the band between 13 micrometres and 17 micrometres. Instead it has only saturated at the 15 micrometre spot frequency.

2) Remember the paper I linked last week. It showed an increase of 0.2W/m2 over the 2000-2010 period in the CO2 band of the downwelling radiation. If CO2 forcing had stopped at 220ppm that would have stayed constant.

"In 750,000 years of ice core records warming never once followed a rise in CO2 levels."

That may not be the case. Most of the time you are correct. The main forcings are changes in insolation. The main modifier of its effect is the geography of the poles, sometimes allowing glacial periods. IfCO2 acts as a feedback, amplifying the temperature forcing.

"Never"is too strong. There have been occasions when change in CO2, usually volcanic, have driven temperature..

Offhand, weathering pulling CO2 way down triggered snowball earth conditions and accumulating volcanic CO2 forced their subsequent thawing. Shield volcanoes released aerosols and lots of CO2. They produced short term cooling due to the aerosols. When the aerosols settle you got long term warming from the CO2. The Permian and Cretaceous extinctions come to mind, along with the PETM.

Finally we have the last 100 years. At a time when we should be drifting cooler, our civilisation has increased CO2 concentration out of the normal ice age range and temperatures are ~1C warmer than expected. CO2 is doing the forcing and temperature is following CO2.

Jun 30, 2015 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

And so to bed. 😑

Jul 4, 2015 at 11:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropic Man
I was referring to this I hoping for the answers to Martin A's which there is no answer (apart from the something more important part)

The link was to a pdf near the top of my history, it wasn't really meant as homework.


Hopefully tonight.

I take something more important came along?

You say above

At a time when we should be drifting cooler,

How can you be sure?

Jul 5, 2015 at 8:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Aaah, EM. You have a sense of humour!

Actually, my hypothesis was mooted as a genuine alternative to the present “[Human-produced] CO2 is so Bad” meme; the idea of me pursuing the research was not (unless there really is a possibility of someone being such a mug as to fund me as handsomely as suggested!). And, EM, you are providing us with an excellent example of the contortions I mentioned, in your desperate defence of the anti-CO2 meme.

Jul 5, 2015 at 8:50 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent