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Discussion > Let's get real about climate models

I'm at work and so too time restrained to get involved here, but if anyone wants to know the state of “the science” regarding climate change, the last thing you ought to be reading is the SPM. That's the bit that's put together by the politicians, the NGOs and all the other assorted rent-seekers and hangers-on with the few actual scientists involved very much playing second fiddle. It's almost total bollocks and very often contradicts what's in the actual IPCC report proper.

Jan 23, 2016 at 10:47 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

People keep saying read the SPM, so I did again.

Last line of page 4 state that they have high confidence that there are many negative affects on grain output.

But a quick look at industry bodies data ie http://www.igc.int/downloads/gmrsummary/gmrsumme.pdf

Says grain output is flat or rising for the last 3 years.

Other industry bodies record similar results.

If this document for politicians contains such nonsense why would anyone suggest that others (here) should read it to 'gain knowledge'.

I feel certain that many other pseudo claims can be demolished with a quick 'google'.

Jan 24, 2016 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Richards

Raff
It's real data and in no way agrees with models. Why wouldn't you believe your own lying eyes?

This is Paul Homewood's reply to Entropic's comment, which I notice I linked in a subsequent but related post.


The satellite data we focus on is only the lower troposphere, he is just confusing matters talking about the stratosphere which would be expected to cool under global warming theory.

Most experts, incl the IPCC, say that they would expect the troposphere to warm faster than the surface

Jan 24, 2016 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Raff,
If you like I'll post your comment and we can see what happens, as I never had a problem with any comments there.

Jan 24, 2016 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Where the Believers and sceptics tend to differ is that, while many will agree that viewing trends in the past might be able to help predict project trends in the future, a method referred to as model “hindcasting”, the Believers then go on to say that, while the trend has been less than 1K in a century, and by use of rather obtuse logic, they then declare that this trend is going to soar to many times that by the end of this century. Many (most? all?) Believers seem to follow the line that Entropic man is following, utterly ignoring the “hindcasting” of events that show the results of global warming have, to date, been beneficial, and declare that any projected further rise is going to end in catastrophe disaster. Based on this flawed projection by hindcasting, “something must be done” to prevent further rise. Curiously, this “something” seems to involve the dismantling of Western civilisation. How very odd.

Jan 24, 2016 at 1:42 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Sandy, it is clear, isn't it, that at all altitudes except the highest in his graph ("(balloon) departures") temperatures are going gradually but steadily upwards. It is more pronounced at lower altitudes. This doesn't really apply to RSS for the period he chose. And UAH 6.0 (not shown) confirms to RSS. Why not ask point this out at his site under your own name, no mention of me.

Jan 24, 2016 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

... grain output is flat or rising for the last 3 years.
Jan 24, 2016 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Richards

That is only because of "the pause". Grain production.

Warming has continued exactly as projected. But some of its effects (eg rising temperatures, falling grain production, ...) have temporarily been hidden.

Jan 24, 2016 at 2:46 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Raff
Becauseit is your point/argument not mine. Why should I take the credit?

Jan 24, 2016 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Sandy, there will be no credit, it is not an argument Homewood wants to see. If you prefer, attribute it to me.

Jan 24, 2016 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

I doubt you or Homewood are interested, but here is a graph showing RATPAC sonde data from the surface down to 300mb. This shows steadily increasing temperatures as clear as day and, contrary to what PH says, doesn't fit with what comes from RSS/UAH.

Data is from the 'GLOBE' dataset in: http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ratpac/ratpac-a/RATPAC-A-annual-levels.txt

The black line is a simple average of the other data (that may not be a valid thing to do; most of the atmosphere (atoms) is in the lower layers, so maybe the data should be weighted...)

Jan 24, 2016 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Raff, those graphs are very interesting. When I plotted the data for myself, I noticed that the high altitude temperatures decreased steadily with time, in contrast to the increasing low altitude figures.

I have noticed that it is often stated that the troposphere would warm more rapidly than the ground (and also the sea surface, presumably), despite the fact the the incoming energy is absorbed primarily at gound level. Is there a simple way to explain this? (Obviously "warming more rapidly" is not necessarily the same thing as "getting warmer than".)


.. most of the atmosphere (atoms) is in the lower layers, so maybe the data should be weighted...

Since averaged temperatures have no physical meaning (and the ratpac figures are already averages in any case) there does not seem any reason to prefer one set of weights over any other - so why not stick with uniform weighting?

Jan 25, 2016 at 1:09 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


I have noticed that it is often stated that the troposphere would warm more rapidly than the ground (and also the sea surface, presumably), despite the fact the the incoming energy is absorbed primarily at gound level. Is there a simple way to explain this?

It's essentially lapse rate feedback. The basic idea is that when water vapour condenses (to form clouds) it releases energy. This preferentially happens in the lower troposphere (compared to closer to the surface) and hence it heats this region more than the region closer to the ground. This is quite good. You should also read this and look at, in particular, Figure 1. Lapse rate feedback is negative. Water vapour feedback is positive. If lapse rate feedback is low, then the expectation is that the overall feedback response due to lapse rate and water vapour will be slightly more positive.

Jan 25, 2016 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Yes, I omitted the high altitude lines because below 300mb the warming disappears and the graph becomes muddled (and I wanted to make a point!). Stratospheric cooling with increasing CO2 is well known, was predicted by models and is apparently one of the necessary compensating adjustments that UAH/RSS make to create their TLT measure. I don't know where the stratosphere officially starts (100mb rings a bell).

On averaging, I think it probably should be weighted. The 100mb divisions are arbitrary. Homewood was suggesting that the data be compared to the sat records - and those records use microwave emissions from the bulk atmosphere, with most (presumably, hopefully?) coming from the lower part where most of the atoms, and hence heat, exist.

I don't actually understand the theory behind the microwave sounding units (nor why they are called 'sounding' units). With IR, what is measured from space is (as I understand it) largely from the high atmosphere, not the low (that is what the greenhouse effect is all about, after all). And that is because anything that emits at a given frequency also absorbs at that frequency and thus it takes a lot of emission/absorption up through the layers before an IR photon escapes. So why is it not the same with microwaves with lots of emission/absorption up through the atmosphere muddying the waters and making the MSU see only what pops out of the top? It is doubtless obvious that I really know nothing about atmospheric physics, so I don't need to add my normal disclaimer (which people hate so).....

Jan 25, 2016 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

So why is it not the same with microwaves with lots of emission/absorption up through the atmosphere muddying the waters and making the MSU see only what pops out of the top?

I read up about it a year or two back. However because of my senility (diagnosed by EM on the basis - I assume - that I say things he disagrees with) I can't be sure of the details without looking it up again, which I don't have time for at the moment. It is probably because O₂ is only a relatively weak absorber/emitter of 60GHz µwave radiation, so that you need a much thicker layer of atmosphere to be opaque at 60GHz than you do at long wave IR.

I think the numbers are here: http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/4963/RLE-TR-087-14236979.pdf

On some climate science site I once asked whether O₂ should not also be considered a greenhouse gas, as it too radiates electromagnetic energy but the reply implied I should not have been released into the community.

I think 'sounding' comes from the French 'sonde' - a sounding line - for the sailor at whose job is to 'swing the lead' in sounding the depth of water beneath his ship.

Jan 25, 2016 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

I expect O2 would be considered a greenhouse gas if the planet lost heat to space in the microwave band and not the IR band.

Attenuation due to O2 at 60GHz seems to be above 10dB/Km at the surface. Water also attenuates at this frequency. I assume that this means there is at least some scattering from absorption/emission making it difficult to know where emissions reaching space originated. This is perhaps a factor that makes the satellite record less than perfect.

Does the apparent mismatch between the RATPAC data and UAH/RSS make you think that the satellite records really haven't been validated, as we were discussing before, or do you (still? we didn't get to the bottom of that) think they are validated? If they are not, what confidence do you think we should have that temperatures have "paused" (UAH/RSS) or risen steadily RATPAC/surface indices?

Jan 25, 2016 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

I expect O2 would be considered a greenhouse gas if the planet lost heat to space in the microwave band and not the IR band.

No shortage of statements that O₂ is not a greenhouse gas eg:


Why is oxygen not a greenhouse gas? Answer by Pat Brebner
Oxygen has only two atoms (O2). A greenhouse gas must have three atoms or more so they can capture the infrared radiation and stop it leaving the atmosphere. So gases like oxygen and hydrogen (H), for example are not greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and Methane (CH4) are greenhouse gas.


Is Oxygen a Greenhouse gas? Answer by T.E. Woodwose
No, it isn't. Water vapour, though, is a greenhouse gas.
To be greenhouse gas the molecule must have a strong absorbence in the IR frequencies of light. Neither oxygen nor nitrogen (the major gases in the atmosphere) have this characteristic. To be a greenhouse gas the molecule must have at least three atoms. Water vapor is the most prevalent greenhouse gas in every measurable way. Carbon dioxide comes in a distant second with 0.04% of the atmosphere and about 5% of all warming.

David Archer Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast
Oxygen and nitrogen are not greenhouse gases, because they are transparent to infrared light. These
molecules are invisible because when you stretch one, it doesn’t change the electric field.
These are symmetric molecules, made of two identical atoms whose electric fields just
cancel each other out. Neither atom can hold the electrons any more tightly than the
other. In general, symmetrical molecules with only two atoms are not greenhouse gases

Greenhouse Gases Wikipedia
The major atmospheric constituents, nitrogen (N₂), oxygen (O₂), and argon (Ar), are not greenhouse gases. This is because molecules containing two atoms of the same element such as N₂ and O₂ and monatomic molecules such as argon (Ar) have no net change in the distribution of their electrical charges when they vibrate and hence are almost totally unaffected by infrared radiation.


However the Earth radiates thermally at microwave frequencies, as well as at IR. The power emitted at microwave frequencies is no doubt a tiny fraction of what is emitted in the IR band.

The O₂ moleculehas a magnetic moment, which results in it absorbing and emitting at around 60GHz. So no question that it is a greenhouse gas. Its effect may be minuscule but it is finite.


I don't hold a brief for satellite measurements although I pointed to one or two papers that a 20 second search threw up about calibration and comparison with other measurements in response to your statement (I think you stated it) that they had not been validated.

This is perhaps a factor that makes the satellite record less than perfect.
Well it makes it a weighted average but I'm not sure that that is bad.


I'm out of time for posting but I'm not sure I can answer your last questions sensibly anyway. In brief:

- The notion of a global average temperature: bogus science.

- Surface temperature records: unfit for any purpose whatever.

- Satellite measures: possibly useful but I'd want to know a lot more than I do before putting any trust in them.

- Sonde measurements: I imagine they are conducted and recorded in a systematic and professional fashion and less subject to having their history continually re-written.

Jan 26, 2016 at 10:12 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Further to the excellent answer above, if I remember my chemistry correctly, a greenhouse gas must have a dipole moment. This is a charge polarity in the molecule. Water has the two hydrogens, each with one electron which it shares with the oxygen. The oxygen atom has 6 electrons in its outer shell and uses these shared ones to make up a full shell of 8 electrons.

The hydrogen is effectively electron free or at least electron depleted. while the oxygen is electron rich. This is the cause of polarity and the charge dipole.

Molecules are constantly rotating, stretching and bending and this brings about small changes in dipole.which interact with the electromagnetic IR field.

CO2, unlike water, is a linear molecule, so the O=C=O does not have a dipole but is does acquire one during the bending mode when the oxygens move in and out of line.

Jan 26, 2016 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

If you look at the absorption spectrum of O2 you will notice that it absorbs around 0.2 and 0.7 micrometres.

The black body spectrum for Earth runs from 3 to 100 micrometres. A molecule which does not absorb within the black body spectrum is not going to act as a greenhouse gas.

Jan 26, 2016 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

The radiative aspects of GHG theory are fairly well accepted. Much of it is the basis of spectroscopy. There are parts, however that depend on assumptions rather than proven facts.

The IR blocking, leading to a higher emission altitude and the assumption that applying the lapse rate implies a raised surface temperature is all a construction that is plausible, but not necessarily supported by the observed outcome.

Similarly, the claimed positive feedback by water vapour is unlikely, given our very stable climate and the lack of serious (or any) warming. Humidity measurements also cast doubt on the theory.

These aspects are physical possibilities but not proven parts of the overall mechanism. The climate scientist and modeller have options when constructing the models. In a given option, the science should obey known physics, but that in itself does not make the choice of option correct.

The problem with the models may not lie with incorrect physics but with incorrect choices of mechanism. Models, after all, are simulations of a process. If that process is not fully understood, (and who would claim to fully understand our climate?) then the models could easily be flawed.

IR blocking by CO2 in the troposphere may well happen. The result will be less emission of IR to space and warming of the upper troposphere. A warming of the atmosphere is a manifestation of increased kinetic energy involving excited CO2 molecules. As these become more vigorous, collisions will ensure that other gas molecules dissipate the kinetic energy, but still within the atmosphere.

Water vapour is part of that atmosphere, in abundance compared with CO2. Water molecules with a high kinetic energy can emit photons at discrete wavelengths to space as well as in other directions. The atmosphere will not be opaque to these photons.

Water vapour facilitates heat loss to space which is a negative feedback. That, together with cloud formation which acts a sun shade and the high energy of phase changes, makes water the thermostat of our aqueous planet.

Jan 26, 2016 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

If you look at the absorption spectrum of O2 you will notice that it absorbs around 0.2 and 0.7 micrometres.

The black body spectrum for Earth runs from 3 to 100 micrometres. A molecule which does not absorb within the black body spectrum is not going to act as a greenhouse gas.
Jan 26, 2016 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man


EM - from what you say, it seems possible that you believe:

[1] That the Earth does not radiate microwave energy as a result of its finite temperature - for example, at frequencies around 60GHz (~5mm wavelength).

[2] That atmospheric oxygen (O2) does not have moderately strong absorption (~10dB/km at sea level) for frequencies around 60GHz.

Hard to see how you square [1] with the Planck's law formula and with physical measurement of the Earth's thermal radiation in the microwave bands. Hard to see how you square [2] with the measured electromagnetic properties of oxygen.

Jan 27, 2016 at 12:42 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

EM, one of the lines is at 5mm, so your .2um seems wrong. Maybe there’s an inversion and a factor of 1000 missing ;-)

Martin, so let’s agree that O₂ is an insignificant greenhouse gas and then only at microwave frequencies. Great.

I seems remarkably difficult for you, Martin, to just state the obvious - that satellite data processing is not validated. There may have been some use of sonde data to calibrate it, but validated it is not. Maybe you think it is just too obvious to bother saying. But my guess is that none of those here who swear by UAH or RSS but swear at GCMs because they are “not validated” are aware of this or, if they are, will admit it.

If the notion of a global temperature is “bogus science”, what exactly are the satellite measures that you say may be useful? And the RATPAC graphs that we plotted earlier that show steadily rising temperatures and which you appear not yet to disdain, if they are not a measure of average global temperature, what are they (in a sense that makes a difference that anyone but you would care about)?

Jan 27, 2016 at 3:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Raff,
You might like to go over to this posting here which shows that NOAA data agrees with Christy and Spencer. Read it and in particular the first comment by Joe Public containing a transcript an interesting conversation with Gavin Schidmt

Jan 27, 2016 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Sandy is back! Very interesting, but how did you get on pointing out that RATPAC doesn't agree with RSS/UAH?

Jan 27, 2016 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Raff
Why should I get bogged down arguing your point with a third party. It's a bizarre thought, especially when I have much more important things to do with my time than dealing more than I have to already with you, the cat's just used his tray again and he deserves my attention much more than you do.

Jan 27, 2016 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Kindly explain the logic by which you deduce from these updated graphs that "All climate models are wrong"

Jan 27, 2016 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man