New albedo paper?

I was wondering if anyone had any insight into the recent paper by Stephens et al. on the albedo of the Earth. Judith Curry thinks the paper is profound. Andrew Montford and Roger Pielke Sr apparently think it is a landmark paper. Although it seems like an impressive piece of work, I’m not quite sure that I see what is so profound about it.

There seem to be two main results in the paper. A very accurate estimate of the Earth’s albedo (0.293) and that the two hemispheres have very similar albedos: the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (NH, SH) reflect the same amount of sunlight within ~ 0.2Wm-2. The latter result is interesting because it implies that increased reflection from SH clouds exactly balances the increased reflection from the NH land masses.

Something discussed in the paper is that climate models don’t produce this observed hemispheric symmetry. This, obviously, has some people excited: the models are wrong, again!!!!. Something else that seems to have got some excited is the idea that clouds act as some kind of buffer against large changes:

The albedo appears to be highly constrained on the hemispheric and global scale and overinterannual timescales. The hemispheric symmetry is an example of such a constraint, and the interannual variability of reflected energy is another example. The interannual variability is small, mostly regulated by the changes to clouds associated with the main modes of climate variability. Overall, these changes occur in a way that minimizes the global effects of clouds on the albedo, buffering the Earth system from large changes.

Now, I’m not quite sure I get the significance of this, or even quite what it means. If the NH albedo is dominated by land, and if the system will tend to be symmetric (through more reflection from clouds in the SH to balance the enhanced reflection from land in the NH) then I can see how this can act to prevent large swings, but I don’t think this means that clouds will act to oppose any large changes in external forcing. If anything, it might suggest constraints on internally forced changes, rather than on externally forced changes.

If you consider Soden & Held (2006), the albedo feedback is small, but positive (< 0.5 Wm-2K-1) which seems consistent with the albedo being reasonably constant, but is certainly not consistent with the albedo acting to buffer against large changes in external forcing.

So, it seems like an interesting and impressive piece of work, but apart from an accurate estimate of albedo, that there is hemispheric symmetry, and that climate models are not properly representing this symmetry, I’m don’t quite get what some are all excited about. If anyone else has any insights, maybe they could post them in the comments.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Climate change, Climate sensitivity, Global warming, Science and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

108 Responses to New albedo paper?

  1. I meant to link to these presentation slides that seem to be related to this.

  2. russellseitz says:

    The internal variability of albedo is a very real question, and, having pointed it out in an article in the AGU journal, Earth’s Future I’m glad to see it better answered. What’s still up in the air are the limits – the differential between the globally cloudiest and fairest days recorded in the satellite imagery record.

    Realistically explaining how the system gets to interhemispheric albedo equilibrium , and how long it takes, is an ambitious modeling project

  3. Rusell,
    Thanks.

    Realistically explaining how the system gets to interhemispheric albedo equilibrium , and how long it takes, is an ambitious modeling project

    I gather that one of the suggestions is that the system will tend to a state will little inter-hemisphere energy transfer which would require interhemispheric albedo equilbrium. Alternatively, if it were our of equilibrium, energy transport would drive it towards equilibrium.

  4. Catalin C says:

    You might also look at those two and some of the other papers from the very long list of references in that latest paper – http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00132.1 and http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00205.1.

  5. Catalin,
    Interesting, thanks. I had wondered about the aerosol-cloud effect. If the clouds are compensating for albedo asymmetries, does that enhance the aerosol-cloud effect, or reduce it?

  6. David Blake says:

    From what I can tell it is an important paper. The Earth is self regulating. See slide 14 on your above link: “The reflected energy from Earth is highly regulated & this regulation by clouds.

    Insight on global feedbacks (e.g clouds) ‐ fundamentally negative?”

    In short: as the Earth warms – clouds cool it again, because of greater evaporation –> more clouds.

    Much like Ewing and Donn proposed in 1958. Just as Ferenc Miskolczi proposed. Much like I’m always banging on about as well :-D.

    The hydrological cycle is the big dog. CO2 is a flea on the dog.

  7. David,

    The reflected energy from Earth is highly regulated & this regulation by clouds.

    Yes, but this simply implies that the albedo doesn’t change much, not that it responds to balance changes in external forcings.

    Insight on global feedbacks (e.g clouds) ‐ fundamentally negative?

    The question mark probably means something. Past climate changes largely rule out large negative cloud feedback. Even the warming we’ve experience over the last century largely rules this out.

    Much like I’m always banging on about as well

    Yes, I know.

  8. snarkrates says:

    I think people are confusing the state of the system (symmetry between N and S and small variation in eqb. albedo) with its derivative. The paper is talking about the former, not the latter. I seriously doubt that you are going to see more clouds at the North Pole to compensate for loss of sea ice.

  9. Steven Mosher says:

    “I seriously doubt that you are going to see more clouds at the North Pole to compensate for loss of sea ice.”

    “observations show increased autumn cloudiness associated with the extreme 2007 and 2008 sea
    ice minima”

    doubt your doubt.

    http://ccr.aos.wisc.edu/resources/publications/pdfs/CCR_995.pdf

  10. snarkrates,
    That was kind of my thought. That it’s symmetric doesn’t immediately imply that it somehow compensates for large changes in external forcing. Also, if the NH land albedo is dominating the NH albedo, then a reduction in sea ice could then produce a reduction in SH albedo in order to retain symmetry.

  11. Steven,
    Interesting. I guess warmer and more open ocean could well lead to more clouds.

  12. David Blake says:

    @ aTTP,

    “Past climate changes largely rule out large negative cloud feedback.”

    Read the Ewing and Donn link.

    “Even the warming we’ve experience over the last century largely rules this out.”

    Really?

  13. David Blake says:

    “aTTP,

    “Steven,
    Interesting. I guess warmer and more open ocean could well lead to more clouds.”

    Double read that link. That’s exactly what they predicted back in 1958.

  14. David,

    Double read that link. That’s exactly what they predicted back in 1958.

    So what? Replacing ice with clouds is unlikely to increase the albedo.

  15. Robert Way says:

    “Steven Mosher says:
    March 11, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    doubt your doubt.
    http://ccr.aos.wisc.edu/resources/publications/pdfs/CCR_995.pdf

    In the Arctic clouds are a positive feedback:
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921818111000397

  16. Robert,
    I’ve just noticed that even Steven’s link seems to suggest that

    A positive feedback from primarily low cloud changes amid a warming climate is supported by other GCM simulations of the Arctic’s transient and time-mean response to greenhouse forcing

  17. David Blake says:

    @ aTTP,

    “Also, if the NH land albedo is dominating the NH albedo, then a reduction in sea ice could then produce a reduction in SH albedo in order to retain symmetry.”

    Interesting point. We’ve seen a rise in SH ice (from more clouds –> more snow). Self-regulation…?

  18. David,
    I don’t think that an increase in Antarctic sea ice in winter has much of an impact on albedo.

  19. David Blake says:

    @aTTP,

    “So what? Replacing ice with clouds is unlikely to increase the albedo.”
    Ok! Ok! 😀 The article is 8 pages long, so I’ll summarise: Ewing and Dunn proposed a warming climate –> melting glaciers & Arctic –> more open sea –> more evaporation –> more clouds –> more snow & cooling of the climate = self-regulation.

  20. David,
    Slowly now…and concentrate….NH in summer, replace sea ice with clouds, unlikely to increase albedo since ice is very reflective (also as Robert points out, the clouds in the Arctic are a positive feedback). SH in winter, increased sea ice unlikely to have a big effect on albedo as there isn’t much sunlight in winter in the deep south!

  21. JCH says:

    The NH ice and snow is dropping, right? So the NH is absorbing more SW, right?

    And yet, the SW reflected remains roughly balanced between the hemispheres? Does that mean less is absorbed by the NH atmosphere?

    The earth’s “albedo” is constrained. Other things, maybe not so much.

  22. David Blake says:

    @aTTP,

    “Slowly now…and concentrate….”

    My fault for not making myself clearer. A few points:
    1) The new paper seems to suggest that current GCMs do not model the properties of clouds well. So Robert’s modelled result of positive feedback (i,e, warming from clouds) may well be wrong. If the climate is self-regulating then, as the paper (or at least the accompanying slides) suggests clouds are a negative feedback (cooling the earth). More open water lead to more clouds –> more snow –> lower albedo.
    2) The inter-hemisphere regulation would mean that the drop in NH albedo would result in increaing albedo in the SH. Over the Antarctic this would mean more clouds and thus snow – as observed.
    3) This is exactly as Ewing and Donn hypothesied in 1958.

  23. Webby’s paper is pretty bad in comparison to some excellent recent research I have seen.

  24. verytallguy says:

    Soooooo…

    From someone entirely unqualified to comment authoritatively,

    – as I understand it the paper proposes, without defining the mechanism, that SH  and NH  albedo is coupled to keep the same value through cloud variation.

    – models do not replicate this coupling

    – we also know that the absolute value of albedo does vary,  from paleoclimate

    So, an interesting result which shows that models are imperfect?  As we already know this I’ve no idea why this should be significant one way or the other for AGW. 

    I guess until a mechanism is proposed, it’s not clear that the current hemispheric values are not coincidental.

    Doubtless I’ve missed something critical.  Either that or the paper is just not that important.

  25. Lucifer says:

    Is it?

  26. GSR says:

    So, we don’t know how the apparent hemispheric balancing works.
    We do know that Arctic clouds are positive.
    We do know that 2015 is on track to a record low Arctic sea ice extent.
    and we know the albedo values of Greenland’s viciously spreading dark ice sheets.

    And folks at CE are popping corks.

  27. Rob Nicholls says:

    VTG – “I guess until a mechanism is proposed, it’s not clear that the current hemispheric values are not coincidental.” I was wondering about that as well. I note that the paper suggests this finding of similar albedo for both hemispheres isn’t new and goes back as far as 1971.

    Prof Curry says “The failure of models to reproduce this hemisphere synchronicity raises interesting implications regarding the fidelity of climate model-derived sensitivity to CO2.” My first thought was that this is a non-sequitor, but then I remembered that I really don’t understand this stuff so I may well be wrong.

    Knowing so little about the Earth’s albedo and relevant research about it, it’s really hard for me to put this paper in context.

    It looks fairly straightforward to misuse this paper if you want to wish away the dangers of AGW. “See? Models are rubbish. Rubbish, I tells you” or perhaps one can argue that it says that the Earth’s self-regulation will ensure that climate change due to CO2 emissions will be negligible. But if the Earth has such strong self-regulation mechanisms, how have ice ages and other relatively sudden climate changes occurred?

  28. Joshua says:

    What i found interesting about the post at Judith’s was that folks were quick to say that the article is profound and raises “interesting” questions without saying what those questions actually are. In other words, they can imply that the article makes a scientific argument for less warning than models project, without actually saying how the article justifies such a conclusion.

  29. Joshua,

    Your favorite Cap’n has an intriguing theory:

    I believe this thread was started to stop this BS.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/03/10/the-albedo-of-earth/#comment-682810

    He offered as evidence:

    I clearly need a new post; this has degenerated into senseless sophistry.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/03/08/big-players-and-the-climate-science-boom/#comment-682449

    While this qualifies as textual evidence, I don’t think this ClimateBall episode explains nor justifies why Judy would announce a paper her husband wrote, a seminal paper, a paper which may still be read in forty years from now.

  30. russellseitz says:

    If the system is indeed self-regulating , post-Lovelockean modelers will need to get right what Dick Lindzen got it wrong with ‘the iris’ effect’ .

  31. MIchael Hauber says:

    ‘I don’t think that an increase in Antarctic sea ice in winter has much of an impact on albedo.’

    I hope I’ve picked the correct line on the spaghetti chart for the Antarctic as a whole from figure 1c of http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL060172/epdf (My colour sight is mildly deficient and think its the blackish one with the highest peak). If so there is a larger gain of sea ice in late Autumn/early winter than the rest of the year, but the gain in ice in summer is still quite substantial, and I’d say the gain over the 3 months of solar max would be just a bit over half the gain at 3 months of solar min.

    When talking Albedo and sea ice, also remember that snow cover is important. There is pretty much no significant seasonal snow cover in SH, but the loss of snow cover at peak solar summer in NH is more than the loss of sea ice.

  32. MIchael Hauber says:

    Having read partway through the paper and having a think I suspect the albedo symmetry could be directly linked to the possibility that the earth’s atmospheric circulation is roughly in balance between the two hemispheres. If there is no significant heat flux between hemispheres, if both hemispheres are the same temperature and therefor the same long wave radiation, and if they receive the same incoming solar radiation, then to maintain energy balance it is then required that SW reflected must be the same as well.

    So how could this be maintained? What if the NH was painted black and became warmer? The Hadley cells would then shift north to follow the heat, the ITCZ at boundary between the Hadley cells would move north dragging a lot of cloud with it. Except evidently the SH has more clouds than the NH, but as far as I can tell (eg http://www.ux1.eiu.edu/~cfjps/1400/circulation.html ) the ITCZ favours the NH over the SH. Perhaps there is a further knock on effect of the ITCZ moving into one hemisphere on clouds outside the tropics. Or maybe a consequence of shifting the ITCZ off-equator meaning the Hadley Cell in one hemisphere has more area to absorb (and re-emit) solar radiation than the other.

    It does seem quite possible that there is a mechanism which can keep the hemispheres balanced by moving clouds around which has no impact on global energy balance considerations and does not require that the earth’s temperature is self regulating as a whole (and therefore allows stuff like ice ages and global warming to happen).

  33. dhogaza says:

    Willard:

    “I don’t think this ClimateBall episode explains nor justifies why Judy would announce a paper her husband wrote, a seminal paper, a paper which may still be read in forty years from now.”

    Good catch.

    The authors: Graeme L. Stephens1,2,3, Denis O’Brien4, Peter J. Webster5, Peter Pilewski6,7, Seiji Kato8, and Jui-lin Li1

    Peter J Webster is indeed Judith Curry’s husband, so no wonder she touts it as “profound”.

  34. ATTP wrote on March 11, 2015 at 9:36 pm, in reply to David Blake:

    “”The reflected energy from Earth is highly regulated & this regulation by clouds.”

    Yes, but this simply implies that the albedo doesn’t change much, not that it responds to balance changes in external forcings.”

    I keep going back to the most general way of looking at things, which is that there are only two ways to heat a system: (1) Increase the rate at which heat flows into the system, or (2) decrease the rate at which heat flows out of the system.

    And so, for the combined system of atmosphere, oceans, and land, there are only two ways to heat it: (1) There would be an increase in the amount of heat energy from the sun that hits the Earth (from more solar output or a somewhat shorter average distance of the Earth to the sun) or a decrease in albedo (or both, of course), this decrease in albedo increasing the absorption of the heat energy that hits the Earth. (2) There would be an increase in the greenhouse gas effect.

    With this general information in mind – and including the fact that clouds can reflect or trap heat to varying degrees, depending on their altitude, and by such statements as the above “this simply implies that the albedo doesn’t change much”, it seems that maybe we have yet another “own goal” by the deniers – and it may turn out to be not just one but many “own goals” all at once. That is, if by the statement “albedo doesn’t change much” we can rule out changes in (1) that are enough to have had a meaningful effect on global temperature since the late 1800s and to be able to have a meaningful effect on global temperature for the next 1 or centuries or more, then, by the process of elimination, (2) is it. That is, to be more to the point: If this statement “albedo doesn’t change much” is true, then (combined with what we expect on solar output over the next 1 or 2 centuries or more) it means that there is now a higher probability that even if there is an increase in albedo from changes in clouds, then it will not be enough to keep the planet from frying in the next 1 or 2 centuries and especially more per Sherwood and Huber (2010) and the implications of their paper I noted in past comments.

  35. David Blake says:

    Hi KeefeAndAmanda,

    “I keep going back to the most general way of looking at things”

    Oh I agree – I’m also a fan of keeping it simple. As was a very clever pipe-smoking Swiss Physicist; but not simpler than possible. In your example of the two ways to heat a planet, albedo effects the first one, while the GHE effects the second.

    But with clouds we add the first bit of complexity to the situation. As clouds can both reflect SW radiation and “trap” LW radiation they fall into both category 1 and category 2. They can be both a forcing and a feedback:

    * A forcing in the sense that more clouds = higher albedo, decreasing the *effective” solar isolation.
    * and they can be a feedback: a hotter climate –> more evaporation –> which is nucleated by amines and sulphur compounds –> more clouds –> which “trap” more LW.

    The big question is though: will more clouds make it hotter or colder? Will they reflect more SW than they “trap” in LW or is it the opposite?
    The data shows that when there’s less cloud the temperature goes up:

    (Hadcrut 3 is inverted in that plot – the red line). See also this page and the ERBE data shown. Clouds cool the planet from between -13W/m^2 and -21W/m^2.

    So there’s no doubt that, on average, clouds cool the planet. They must on average reflect more SW than they trap LW.

    Turning to this paper and slides, we see that they are saying there is a balancing mechanism of albedo between the hemispheres and (in the slides) we find clouds are a negative feedback. So if the planet warms there’s a natural buffer that explains the relative homoeostasis of the planet over the eons.

    As the two main components of albedo that can change are clouds and ice/snow, and as the latter is mostly caused by the former, understanding clouds is the crucial aspect.

    So, I disagree with:

    “it means that there is now a higher probability that even if there is an increase in albedo from changes in clouds, then it will not be enough to keep the planet from frying in the next 1 or 2 centuries”

    .. because “we have more of 1) {the GHE}”

    For a number of reasons.

    Firstly the GHE is mostly a water vapour effect. If we have a mechanism of stasis through clouds then adding to the GHE through more CO2 may just mean slightly more clouds, until the LW gets back into equilibrium, see below…

    Secondly global warming isn’t ultimately caused by LW anyway! (See, e.g. Donohoe et al ’14). Any LW perturbation is very quickly passed through the system. (See this NASA graph: TOA OLR rises quickly in response to warming). And we are left with SW feedbacks – albedo…. And if the albedo changes in response to temperature that is a very strong dampening mechanism which would decrease the climate sensitivity to any warming.

    Thirdly we have oceans and oceans of (liquid) greenhouse gasses just sloshing about on the planet. Why haven’t we fried yet? Because of the natural dampening mechanism.

  36. BBD says:

    David Blake

    If the climate is self-regulating then, as the paper (or at least the accompanying slides) suggests clouds are a negative feedback (cooling the earth). More open water lead to more clouds –> more snow –> lower albedo.

    So…

    Orbital (Milankovitch) forcing triggers a cascade of positive feedbacks that initiate deglaciation how, exactly?

    Why is the initial effect of increased high latitude NH summer insolation not negated by negative cloud feedback?

    Why aren’t we stuck in a glacial?

  37. David Blake says:

    Good morning BBD,

    “Orbital (Milankovitch) forcing triggers a cascade of positive feedbacks that initiate deglaciation how, exactly?”

    Through increased solar forcing.

    “Why is the initial effect of increased high latitude NH summer insolation not negated by negative cloud feedback?”

    Because the ocean hasn’t warmed yet. Maximum warmth in (for NH) in September/October. Frankly a better question would have been: why isn’t the planet coldest at aphelion (July) and warmest at perihelion (January)?

    “Why aren’t we stuck in a glacial?”

    It’s a *dampening* mechanism that resists change in either direction.

  38. David,

    Through increased solar forcing.

    Except the change in solar forcing is small. It can only act as a trigger for something else, and that something else is thought to be the retreat of the NH ice sheets, reducing albedo and producing increased atmospheric CO2.

  39. BBD says:

    David

    Because the ocean hasn’t warmed yet.

    Deglaciation process:

    – Increased summer insolation at high N latitude (NET global insolation change is insignificant)
    – NH ice sheet melt increases
    – Freshwater runoff inhibits formation of N Atlantic deep water
    – Thermohaline circulation interrupted
    – NH *cools* as equator –> pole heat transport shuts down
    – SH ocean *warms* as it must now NH ‘heatsink’ is substantially reduced
    – SH warming triggers large release of CO2 from deep water
    – Warming becomes globalised, entraining CH4 feedback and amplifying positive ice albedo feedback
    – warming accelerates into full deglaciation

    Nowhere do we see any evidence that negative cloud feedbacks had the slightest effect. Because if they had then we would still be stuck in a glacial.

  40. David Blake says:

    @ aTTP,

    “Except the change in solar forcing is small.”

    That’ a good point. To be honest Milankovitch forcings aren’t something I’ve studied in detail, but I have no answers, but see some posibilities:

    * The Ewing/Dunn theory of ice ages is that the Arctic is *open* during an Ice age. There’s good evidence that people were living in the Arctic during the last ice-age, which would be impossible if it was an icy-wasteland. (You really should read the article..!) They moved from Siberia to N. America after the Ice age – when the Arctic froze again. Their theory is it’s open water there, that causes the ice age(!) (evaporation –> clouds –> snow). Unfortunately that’s not good news for mankind, as we are stuck in a glaciation cycle forever.
    * There’s more to solar input than just TSI. UV varies by 10% or more.
    * It’s the effective insolation that’s important, modulated by (yes) clouds, which in turn are modulated by nucleation particles (cosmic rays, amines, sulphur) and open water.
    * Milankovich orbital variations will also effect the magnetosphere, and we see the correlations between magnetic field shifts and temperature.

    Those are all possibilities, but what we do know is that clouds cool the climate, and so if they are in any way correlated with temperature (and nucleation, and open water) then they must act as a dampener to any temperature change.

  41. BBD says:

    The Ewing/Dunn theory of ice ages

    Please can we keep within the boundaries of current understanding?

  42. BBD,
    Yes, and I’m not that an old magazine article about two people suggesting we’ll soon be moving into a new ice age is all that credible.

  43. David Blake says:

    @ BBD,

    “Deglaciation process:…”

    Or, alternatively, as Ewing and Dunn hypothesised: Ice age but with open water in the arctic –> evaporation –> CLOUDS –> snow and ice & heat exchange with Atlantic –> Arctic freezes (from cloud generated snow and ice –> Atlantic not frozen (interglacial).

    I’m probably not explaining it as well as the original (1958) article, so here’s a quote:

    >>>”But oceans don’t freeze. Ocean currents dissipate the cold — except, of course, in the small Arctic Ocean which is almost entirely surrounded by land.

    “What would happen if the ice went out of the Arctic Ocean as it does in the Yukon or the Delaware?” Ewing and Donn remember wondering, as they went over the problem again, one day at Lamont.

    “Well, we figured, the Arctic Ocean would get warmer. Because water would flow more freely between it and the Atlantic, dissipating the cold. And of course, the Atlantic Ocean would get colder. But wait a minute . . . we saw it simultaneously. If the Arctic Ocean were open water, warmed by the Atlantic, warmer than the land around it, water would evaporate and fall as snow on the land. More snow on Greenland and northern Canada would make glaciers grow. Glaciers don’t grow now because there is no open water in the Arctic to provide the moisture for snow.

    “And suddenly we had the startling hunch that the Arctic Ocean was open during the Ice Age. And that it froze over only 11,000 years ago. It was this freezing over of the Arctic Ocean which so suddenly warmed the Atlantic — and ended the Ice Age.””

    Have a read.

    Anyhow, got to get off to my vineyard,..

  44. BBD says:

    Or, alternatively, as Ewing and Dunn hypothesised

    No. Not ‘alternatively’. I’m not going to concede that something wrong from 1958 can be used as an alternative to current scientific understanding. That would be nuts.

    Let’s stick to the current scientific understanding, eg Shakun et al. (2012). Let’s not spiral off into crankery.

  45. raypierrre says:

    If there really is an unknown mechanism for enforcing interhemispheric albedo symmetry, which current models are unable to reproduce, then that opens up yet another risk incurred by climate interventions that rely on albedo modification. If albedo modification through boundary layer cloud brightening or through stratospheric aerosol modification leads to an asymmetric initial albedo change (deliberately or inadvertently), then the way the climate system responds will be profoundly affected by whether or not the system acts to restore symmetry in albedo, and the albedo at which it chooses to restore symmetry (e.g. does it change the SH to match the NH or does it “mix” albedos to uniformity?).

    Of course, some of the geoengineering boosters would probably say this is yet another reason for deploying geoengineering — think how much we’d eventually learn about clouds from doing something like this! Just like unrestrained global warming may be our best way to get a handle on what was going on in warm climates like the Eocene. Too bad we have to live in the test-tube, though.

  46. izen says:

    @-BBD
    “Let’s stick to the current scientific understanding, eg Shakun et al. (2012). Let’s not spiral off into crankery.”

    See how authoritarian and prone to herd thinking science is!
    Just because our understanding of something has vastly advanced in the last few decades you want to deny the opportunity to invoke any old and refuted hypothesis from being resurrected, or at least zombied, into an alternative explanation. Just because it has been refuted by observation!
    {Sarc/off}

  47. In reply to my comment on March 12, 2015 at 6:23 am, David Blake replied on March 12, 2015 at 8:10 am, in part by rejecting established physics with such as “global warming isn’t ultimately caused by LW anyway”.

    My reply: It seems to me that you replied to my comment and its content based on rejecting established physics as I pointed out. I of course do not accept any argument based on such.

    In general, as to what is the final arbiter of fact-claims or truth-claims about the physical world, for me, I always have and always will go with the literature of the reputable professional textbooks, monographs, and refereed journals *in its ongoing aggregate*.

    And so, to give fair warning to everyone who wishes to take the side against the said literature, for any claim you make, if your claim is not consistent with this literature, then I do not accept your claim.

    The main point of my comment above was to present a natural consequence of the consequent in the implication statement made by ATTP, as I interpreted its meaning. Here is that implication statement again, this time in full, in its context in reply to David:

    “David,
    “The reflected energy from Earth is highly regulated & this regulation by clouds.”
    Yes, but this simply implies that the albedo doesn’t change much, not that it responds to balance changes in external forcings.”

    I took the consequent of ATTP’s implication “the albedo doesn’t change much” to mean “the albedo doesn’t change enough to be able to change the long-term trends verified by Marotzke and Forster with their 62-year runs”. If this last statement is true, then the rest of what I said in my comment is true, since it clearly follows as a natural consequence.

    And so what matters is this: Is that implication statement by ATTP true? Is its consequent true in the meaning I took? Does Stephens et al. essentially support this implication? Does it support the consequent of this implication in the meaning I took?

    For now, I believe “yes” to all.

    It seem to me that the most important question with respect to Stephens et al. is this: Does this paper by Stephens et al. essentially support ATTP’s *consequent* statement “the albedo doesn’t change much”, taken to mean “the albedo doesn’t change enough to be able to change the long-term trends verified by Marotzke and Forster with their 62-year runs”? If so, then what I said is true: This phenomenon of the side against mainstream climate science trumpeting the Stephens et al. paper is the phenomenon of this side scoring not just one but many “own goals”.

  48. verytallguy says:

    Anyone interested in how Ewing and Donn fit into the development of climatological understanding, try Spencer Weart http://www.aip.org/history/climate/pdf/oceans.pdf

    It might be worth just reiterating the common misunderstanding of the term “positive” and “negative” feedbacks in the light of David Blake’s

    Thirdly we have oceans and oceans of (liquid) greenhouse gasses just sloshing about on the planet. Why haven’t we fried yet? Because of the natural dampening mechanism.

    The total system feedback is NOT considered positive by anyone. “Positive feedbacks” are those *before* taking into account the (sigma)(T^4) Stefan-Bolzmann feedback. That’s the “natural dampening mechanism” and the reason we don’t fry.

    People often invoke control systems to argue that positive feedbacks imply runaway “frying” and are therefore unphysical but the *net* feedback is always negative.

  49. verytallguy says:

    raypierre

    e.g. does it change the SH to match the NH or does it “mix” albedos to uniformity

    Would it be fair to state, the following, assuming the hypothesis that albedos in the NH and SH are closely coupled by some mechanism is true:

    1) IF NH follows SH then we’d expect the climate to be less sensitive – snow and ice feedback is small in SH
    2) If SH follows NH we’d expect the climate to be more sensitive – the NH snow and ice feedback would be replicated in the SH
    3) If they follow the mean of changes to snow and ice then there is overall no change in expectations of sensitivity.

    Does that sound about right?

  50. russellseitz says:

    ATTP:
    Since planets and atmospheres at large span a very large range of physical and energy densities and flow moduli, the natural history of their equilibrated circulation may on occasion display on macro scales things we normally only see in the lab , like hexagonal convective cells. Given the nature of Reynolds numbers , seeing local flow regimes recapitulated on planetary time scales is amazing, but not surprising – I hope Ray-Pierre will say more as I have no idea how modelable this may be.

  51. BBD says:

    Blake: “The Ewing/Dunn (sic) theory of ice ages”

    Please can we keep within the boundaries of current understanding?

    Funny. There is a consistent krank at Climate Etc name of Pope who likes to push the Ewing/Donn theory.
    The humor of the Pope is in his Chauncey Gardner schtick …

    People just do not comprehend the depths of the lunacy on that blog.

  52. My take on changing the albedo. Say that the surface was instantaneously covered with a silvered material so that more sunlight would be reflected. In no time at all this would be counteracted as a layer of dust would accumulate. That is negative feedback! Big whoop!

  53. izen says:

    I am probably missing something obvious, but why is there an assumption that the albedo of the Northern and Southern hemisphere should oe would be very different?

    The clouds and water dominate in both hemispheres, I don’t see that the more diverse land albedo which averages out to something similar to water would make that big a difference between the N/S.

    Do climate models generate and provide the albedo of the globe that can be measured hemispherically?
    I don’t see why the N/S hemispheres should differ any more than the E/W hemispheres!

  54. izen,
    The paper seems to claim that climate models don’t reproduce the observed symmetry and that this would have an impact of changes to the hydrological cycle. I don’t know enough, myself, to know the significance of this, though.

  55. Don’t be asking no Curry:


    Author: curryja
    Subject: Comment on The albedo of Earth by curryja

    The point that I would like to make here is the linear thinking of separating out individual feedbacks (e.g. cloud, water vapor) doesn’t work very well for a complex nonlinear system (e.g. I focused on a radiation-dynamics-cloud feedback in context of this paper). About 15 years ago I was very hung ho for figuring out a better way to conceptualize/analyze climate feedbacks, but gave up after I truly understood how complex all this is.

    One word: Quitter

  56. JCH says:

    ATTP – I don’t know if you noticed, but in the supplementary section of the powerpoint there is a discussion on MEP, which I interpret to be pretty much in agreement with Nick Stokes.

    In terms of the EH and the WH, the earth’s energy imbalance would still be accumulating in the southern oceans.

  57. BBD says:

    From Stephens (2005) Cloud Feedbacks in the Climate System: A Critical Review:

    The paper provides a brief overview of the effects of clouds on the radiation budget of the earth–atmosphere system and a review of cloud feedbacks as they have been defined in simple systems, one being a system in radiative–convective equilibrium (RCE) and others relating to simple feedback ideas that regulate tropical SSTs. The systems perspective is reviewed as it has served as the basis for most feedback analyses. What emerges is the importance of being clear about the definition of the system. It is shown how different assumptions about the system produce very different conclusions about the magnitude and sign of feedbacks. Much more diligence is called for in terms of defining the system and justifying assumptions. In principle, there is also neither any theoretical basis to justify the system that defines feedbacks in terms of global–time-mean changes in surface temperature nor is there any compelling empirical evidence to do so.

  58. Susan Anderson says:

    Talk about backwards kneejerk. My bad, but RPJr, Montford, Curry? I’m afraid my first reaction is “is there any there there”. Thanks for taking it on.

    Now I’ll go back and read the stuff. Just confessing my sins in what is probably an inappropriate and possibly unwise public place.

    IMO what’s missing in all this is not so much science and understanding as heart and community. I am so battered by “denial”, particularly the cloaked type marketed by these people, that I am unable to open up to them any more.

  59. Susan Anderson says:

    I should start at the beginning and when I get to the end, stop. Feel free to ignore/delete that outburst. As a non scientist, I mostly don’t belong in this discussion but take it personally the way science is distorted, pushed and pulled like a big lump of taffy, which it isn’t. It is not a religion, it is an evolving way of observing, understanding, and working with what we are able to experience.

    However, if we are hypothesizing that the planet is going to find a balance because there are two hemispheres, the evidence is against that. There’s recent news about Antarctic melting, Australia is in a mess, Sao Paulo is running out of water, Africa is experiencing threat multiplication from planetary abuse and many other causes, and on and on. Ocean currents and water vapor circulations are still going crazy. I don’t see any real-time evidence of correction, though I suspect in geological time, which won’t do us much good, there will be some rebalancing that will eventually (in a few hundred or thousand millennia) exert some corrective influence.

  60. Susan,
    Don’t worry about it. I’m pretty much with you as regards this

    I am so battered by “denial”, particularly the cloaked type marketed by these people, that I am unable to open up to them any more.

    However, if we are hypothesizing that the planet is going to find a balance because there are two hemispheres, the evidence is against that.

    I don’t think that this is what the paper is suggesting, but I think this is how it is being interpreted by some.

  61. verytallguy says:

    BBD,

    what’s your point?

  62. David Blake says:

    Evening KeefeAndAmanda,

    You’ve said that “{I am} rejecting established physics with such as “global warming isn’t ultimately caused by LW anyway””

    This isn’t true. I can only presume you didn’t read the paper I linked to ( Donohoe et al’14, or you perhaps wrongly assume that the authors of the paper are in the pay of Mr Koch, so here is an earlier paper by Trenberth and Fasullo ’09 , and a quote from it:

    >>>”Global climate models used in the Intergovernmental
    Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report
    (AR4) are examined for the top-of-atmosphere radiation
    changes as carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases build
    up from 1950 to 2100. There is an increase in net radiation
    absorbed, but not in ways commonly assumed. While there
    is a large increase in the greenhouse effect from increasing
    greenhouse gases and water vapor (as a feedback), this is
    offset to a large degree by a decreasing greenhouse effect
    from reducing cloud cover and increasing radiative
    emissions from higher temperatures. Instead the main
    warming from an energy budget standpoint comes from
    increases in absorbed solar radiation that stem directly from
    the decreasing cloud amounts.”

    So we can see that the current GCMs do already work on the basis that it is SW feedbacks that ultimately determine global warming, not the original LW peturbation.

    We can confirm the models are right to assume this based on the top-of-atmosphere graph I linked to: here. If LW was being “trapped” by GHGs shouldn’t the TOA OLR reduce? It rises.

    So, “my” claim is not “my” claim: it is the literature, the GCM basis, and the data seems to confirm it. You can accept it, or not, but it isn’t “my claim”.

    As to your question about albedo not changing; I would think it’s a hard thing to measure, but a useful measurement of Earth’s albedo was done by the Project Earthshine team. Where the albedo of the earth was calculated by how much light we reflected on the moon. Their results are in this graph:

    Earthshine is the blue line, they’ve also included ISCCP-FD is black , and CERES is red. So the answer is: possibly. It depends on the dataset…

  63. BBD says:

    VTG

    Insofar as I can parse the convoluted sentence in bold, Stephens is saying that cloud feedbacks do not necessarily modulate surface temperature.

  64. Something that struck me about this whole cloud feedback thing, is that if you consider Soden & Held (2006) they suggest cloud feedbacks of between abdout 0 and 1.2 Wm-2. More recent numbers are maybe 0.2 – 0.7Wm-2. As I understand it, this is both albedo and long-wavelength effect, while what Stephens is looking at is albedo only. So, it’s possible that this work implies that the next change in albedo (surface + clouds) is always going to be small, but that says little about the role of clouds in reducing the outgoing long-wavelength flux.

  65. Meow says:

    @BBD, quoting a paper:

    In principle, there is also neither any theoretical basis to justify the system that defines feedbacks in terms of global–time-mean changes in surface temperature nor is there any compelling empirical evidence to do so.

    If I am understanding this correctly, it makes good sense. Feedbacks occur on a range of scales, but many have components that are local, and that thus operate on local forcings. For example, to a first approximation, the water-vapor feedback operates on a local change in temperature, causing a local change in atmospheric uptake of water from some local reservoir, and creating a local change in backradiation; it doesn’t care that some other change in temperature is occurring simultaneously somewhere else on earth.

  66. verytallguy says:

    BBD,

    I have no idea of you’re right, wrong or indifferent; that sentence that would defy parsing by a parsnip eating parsimonious parson from Parrs Wood.

  67. matt says:

    @ DBlake

    > The Ewing/Dunn theory of ice ages is that the Arctic is *open* during an Ice age.

    Can you explain how that could happen?

  68. OK. This beats everything:

    As far as I can tell, the current paradigm depends on modelling toy units consisting of a “parcel” or region of atmosphere, describing it by means of a “state” that represents the sum of the state of the various particles within it. The behavior of the “parcel” itself, then, is described by a set of parametrizations, whose relationship with reality is assumed without warrant. Until the size of such parcel becomes so small that its “state” can be described by a list of larger items such as droplets or aerosol particles, each with its associated state, the overall model is just a bunch of toys with a bunch of relationships with no demonstrated relationship with the real world.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/03/10/the-albedo-of-earth/#comment-683040

    The earth’s climate contains lots of droplets.

    To give you an idea of the size of the state space, here’s an estimate of the number of possible chess games:

    The Shannon number, named after Claude Shannon, is an estimated lower bound on the game-tree complexity of chess. Shannon calculated it as an aside in his 1950 paper “Programming a Computer for Playing Chess”.[1] (This influential paper introduced the field of computer chess.)

    Shannon also estimated the number of possible positions, “of the general order of \scriptstyle \frac{64!}{32!{8!}^2{2!}^6}, or roughly 1043 “. This includes some illegal positions (e.g., pawns on the first rank, both kings in check) and excludes legal positions following captures and promotions. Taking these into account, Victor Allis calculated an upper bound of 5×1052 for the number of positions, and estimated the true number to be about 1050.[2] Recent results[3][better source needed] improve that estimate, by proving an upper bound of only 2155, which is less than 1046.7.

    Allis also estimated the game-tree complexity to be at least 10123, “based on an average branching factor of 35 and an average game length of 80”. As a comparison, the number of atoms in the observable universe, to which it is often compared, is estimated to be between 4×1079 and 4×1081.

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

    All we need is a new paradigm.

  69. Susan Anderson says:

    Thanks. I did go back and read the article and comments.

    Now this is similarly OT, but I was fascinated. I check earth’s circulation most days via water vapor animations for thought and pleasure (they’re beautiful too), and it turns out there are some whoppers out Australia way right now. Four tropical events, no less. Not exactly related, but if one is taking the temperature of the southern hemisphere ,,, go figure:

    http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/data/geo/index.php?satellite=mtsat&channel=wv&coverage=fd&file=gif&imgoranim=8&anim_method=flash
    (This will change with time; right now it’s a doozy.)

    http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/

  70. dhogaza says:

    After reading Willard’s latest quote from Curry, I have to wonder how the woman steps into a modern airliner without becoming so frightened that she gets the heeby-jeebies. grid-based modeling being just “toys” unless they meet her conditions and all …

  71. matt says:

    Expanding on Lucifers graph, NH snow cover by season (no summer for some reason)

  72. matt says:

    IIRC (although this could just be related to Aus), the start of snow season is more dependent on precipitation, the end on ablation.

  73. In reply to my comment on March 12, 2015 at 11:27 am, David Blake wrote on March 12, 2015 at 8:45 pm:

    “You’ve said that “{I am} rejecting established physics with such as “global warming isn’t ultimately caused by LW anyway”” This isn’t true. I can only presume you didn’t read the paper I linked to ( Donohoe et al’14, or you perhaps wrongly assume that the authors of the paper are in the pay of Mr Koch, so here is an earlier paper by Trenberth and Fasullo ’09 , …”

    I interpreted it how I thought you ultimately meant it, which would be a rejection of the established physics that CO2 is the thermostat that controls Earth’s temperature, as in
    “CO2: The Thermostat that Controls Earth’s Temperature”:
    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/lacis_01/

    And yes, I do accept it as physics that has been established by the literature of all the relevant reputable professional textbooks, monographs, and refereed journals in the ongoing aggregate accrued over the years, of which the studies referenced by this article above including this one
    “Atmospheric CO2: Principal control knob governing Earth’s temperature”
    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/la09300d.html
    are just a part.

    ATTP wrote on March 12, 2015 at 9:01 pm:

    “Something that struck me about this whole cloud feedback thing, is that if you consider Soden & Held (2006) they suggest cloud feedbacks of between abdout 0 and 1.2 Wm-2. More recent numbers are maybe 0.2 – 0.7Wm-2. As I understand it, this is both albedo and long-wavelength effect, while what Stephens is looking at is albedo only. So, it’s possible that this work implies that the next change in albedo (surface + clouds) is always going to be small, but that says little about the role of clouds in reducing the outgoing long-wavelength flux.”

    And so it’s possible that this work may lead to establishing that albedo won’t be able to increase enough to offset CO2 increases enough to make mainstream climate science lower its sensitivity estimates, and via this uncertainly about the role of clouds in reducing the outgoing long-wavelength flux it may even lead to establishing that albedo won’t be able to increase enough to avoid establishing even higher probabilities than present for higher sensitivity estimates.

  74. JCH,
    No, it’s someone trying to mock me and changing “Physics” to “Psychics”, which – given their understanding of Physics – seems appropriate. FWIW, I think it is the person who normally goes by the name David in Tx.

  75. Joshua says:

    Definitely David Springer. He’s been going sock puppet crazy at Judith’s as soon as he discovered how to post Photoshoped photos.

  76. Willard says:

    To be clear, my last quote was from AK. Here’s Judy’s latest in the thread, which explains why Big Dave is having a ball:

    Well, things have changed in the last few months. Some ‘regulars’ have left (upset over my moderation); these were individuals who promoted incivility here. There are some newcomers who are making solid contributions. Overall discussion is more civil, but also somewhat lacking in ‘spark,’ and there has been a strange sophistry from some of the ‘warm’ regulars.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/03/10/the-albedo-of-earth/#comment-682845

    What if I told you that the newest newcomer was Swood?

  77. JCH says:

    Every smart thing the brightest person on the face of the earth does is constrained by the clouds in the other half of his brain that result in him being equally stewpud.


  78. Joshua says:
    Definitely David Springer. He’s been going sock puppet crazy at Judith’s as soon as he discovered how to post Photoshoped photos.

    Not verifiable by you, but you know who can look up IP addresses, right? Fat chance that would happen though, as running a zoo like Climate Etc keeps the FUD monster fed.

  79. verytallguy says:

    Great. In-depth post match analysis of climateball at Judy’s. Just what a Physics blog needs more of.


  80. I have to wonder how the woman steps into a modern airliner without becoming so frightened that she gets the heeby-jeebies. grid-based modeling being just “toys” unless they meet her conditions and all ”

    I don’t think she understands the first thing about statistical mechanics. Anybody that would seriously apply Bose-Einstein statistics to particles at temperatures well above absolute zero has credibility problems.

    Is this a case of lack of scientific knowledge leading to the fear of the unknown — therefore the heebs ?
    Or is it all just a joke?

  81. Not verifiable by you, but you know who can look up IP addresses, right? Fat chance that would happen though, as running a zoo like Climate Etc keeps the FUD monster fed.

    Well, when he responded to one my comments, I was alerted on my blog and the name given was “David in Tx”, not “…and Then There’s Psychics”, so I’m assuming that because he’s commented here, it identified him by whatever name he used here, not the name he was using on Judith’s. I don’t know if that is a glitch or not, but that’s what happened.

  82. BBD says:

    JC’s – even less fun that intonating a Floyd Rose™ bridge.

    If this means nothing to you, then be grateful.

  83. Lucifer says:

    No, it’s someone trying to mock me and changing “Physics” to “Psychics”

    ATTP, imitation and flattery, and all that – I’d take it as a compliment.
    You know it’s not me – I’m a Python fan – just here for an argument.

  84. Willard says:

    > Great. In-depth post match analysis of climateball at Judy’s. Just what a Physics blog needs more of.

    A discussion of the technical comments would be nice:

    Moferation note: this is a technical thread, please keep your comments relevant.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/03/10/the-albedo-of-earth/

    For that, one would need technical comments. The best we had was JCH trying to find a Denizen to have read the paper.

    My contribution started when I questioned what now appears to be a joke by TonyB. Then Koldie appeared, Judy, Cap’n, GaryM, Ordvic, and when I thought I was out, AK pulled me back in.

  85. jac. says:

    BBD

    “Floyd Rose bridge” – where is the moderator when you need him/her?

    jac.

  86. Arthur Smith says:

    ATTP – I think the discussion about H2O vs CO2 you were having over at JC’s boils down to a different issue than what you were expressing regarding residence times. Earth has a huge reservoir of H2O ready to enter the atmosphere in the form of the oceans (and all other bodies of water – and ice) and the atmosphere pretty much holds as much as it can, given temperature distribution and circulation patterns etc. There is no such reservoir of CO2 – we don’t have a huge continent-sized glacier of dry ice on our planet ready to exchange with the atmosphere and maintain CO2 levels. We do have huge reservoirs of carbon in the ground – especially fossil carbon, but it only enters the atmosphere through extraction and burning, i.e. human activity, which is on a scale comparable to other natural reservoirs like dissolved CO2 in the oceans. Our atmosphere is not in any location near saturated in CO2 – the equilibrium vapor pressure at Earth’s average temperature is something like 50 atmospheres. So it’s a very different component. Focusing on lifetime I think misses the main reason for the differences.

  87. Talking about physics, for some reason the American Physical Society workshop on climate change is a topic once again (see WUWT). Reading through the transcript, I find it interesting in that Benjamin Santer says that ENSO is definitely not responsible for any portion of the pause/hiatus, yet Isaac Held has the opposite view.

    I am siding with Held on this one as the evidence is plainly and almost painfully obvious that ENSO is playing a significant role.


  88. verytallguy says:
    Great. In-depth post match analysis of climateball at Judy’s. Just what a Physics blog needs more of.

    I read CE and was taken aback by the “And the There’s PSYCHICS” comment too. But then I looked closely at the name, because those kinds of antics always happen on that blog.

    My point is that Curry could easily eliminate the sockpuppets if that was considered important to running an orderly blog. The excuse of course is ignorance in how to configure and understand the inner workings of a WordPress site.

    The irony of course is that Springer was the one that told Curry how to configure the WordPress switch so that the CE blog comments would get indexed by the Google search engine. Up till that point the CE comments could not be searched.

    Alas, if Google follows through on its intent to rank sites for technically factual content, bad news for CE. But good news for the rest of us. Just this morning, I was googling for charts on the Chandler Wobble, and all I get are hits from WUWT and Tallbloke’s Talkshop kranks. Yuck. Something has to change, as this is really getting ridiculous. Google should follow through and make Slick Watts cry.

  89. Arthur,
    Thanks, that’s a very good point and I did kind of try to get halfway there by pointing out that we were adding new CO2 through burning fossil fuels, but I didn’t do it nearly as clearly as you have. It’s been rather an odd discussion in which some seem to be arguing that WV is very important and could increase substantially and others seem to arguing that it hasn’t increased at all.

  90. JCH says:

    On APS – Santer and Held and Collins have either not read Mann’s new paper or find it unconvincing. I found the PDO half convincing, and the AMO half unconvincing.

    I agree with the 2018 date.

    What would make Santer arbitrarily rule out ENSO: after 2005 there were five La Nina events and two El Nino events?

  91. BBD says:

    JCH

    What would make Santer arbitrarily rule out ENSO: after 2005 there were five La Nina events and two El Nino events?

    This is puzzling me too, unless it’s just that Santer is treating the prevalence of LN states as a subset of the unusual conditions in the Equatorial Pacific since ~2000 eg. England et al. (2014).

  92. JCH says:

    Isn’t acknowledging the PDO could be a factor in SAT flattening really one and the same as acknowledging La Nina dominance?

  93. Santer essentially made up some wishy-washy statements to marginalize the role of ENSO. He made reference to volcanic eruptions interacting co-linearly with ENSO. He then said that if you did multiple regression, you get the wrong answer. That is a rather odd thing to say because the role of ENSO is obvious, and Held said that “it looks pretty good” to use that because the “tropical Pacific is powerful”.

    PDO does not work as well as an ENSO measure such as SOI. I know because I did the multiple regression that Santer claims gets the wrong answer.

  94. BBD says:

    JCH

    Isn’t acknowledging the PDO could be a factor in SAT flattening really one and the same as acknowledging La Nina dominance?

    England et al. sez:

    Here we show that a pronounced strengthening in Pacific trade winds over the past two decades—unprecedented in observations/reanalysis data and not captured by climate models—is sufficient to account for the cooling of the tropical Pacific and a substantial slowdown in surface warming through increased subsurface ocean heat uptake.

    I’m not sure that this is a description of the PDO. But this odd strengthening of the Trades gets you an increased frequency of LN – but LN isn’t the primary cause, just an effect.

  95. JCH says:

    This graph captures a lot of it. The warming trend to 2006 is very stout. 2010 barely exceeded 2005. England’s wind basically resulted in a long period where the trend remains on the La Nina side of ENSO neutral, and that’s part of what caused the pause.

    According to Tsonis, what is important is diagnosing the changes in direction of the SAT. In the 20th century it usually the change in the same direction the PDO does. ~1940 the PDO dives. Soon after, the SAT dives, etc. Until 1985, which is where the PDO and the SAT diverge big time. There has to be a reason. The Judy’s of the world think the reason is the AMO. They got fooled. The reason is ACO2 had become stronger than the PDO as it progressively weakened. ~2005 the PDO, which had been trending down since 1985, reached negative numbers, and it finally, when combined with prolonged La Nina and ENSO neutral, flattened the SAT.

    La Nina and negative phase of the PDO in concert

    Too simplistic, but that’s a lot of cold ocean.

  96. Eli Rabett says:

    JCH, we are nine months or so on from the APS farce so if the Mann paper you are talking about came out since then a working Tardis would have been needed. As Ben Santer said about the APS drafting committee

    Another source of real frustration is that Dr. Koonin had a real opportunity to listen. To consult experts in many different aspects of climate science. To do a deep dive into the science. To seek understanding of complex scientific issues. He did not make use of this opportunity. His op-Ed is not a deep dive – it is a superficial toe-dip into a shallow puddle, rehashing the same tired memes (the “warming hiatus” points toward fundamental model errors, climate scientists suppress uncertainties, there’s a lack of transparency in the IPCC process, climate always varies naturally, etc.)

  97. I read the transcript and Santer was the one that was saying that ENSO would give the “wrong answer”.
    And that gets picked up on the WUWT site.
    Climate science often appears to be about a narrative, yet as with any narrative it can unwind itself and start a different track. Maybe the lesson is that you don’t try to wing it during these kinds of sessions.

  98. Lucifer says:

    Climate science often appears to be about a narrative

    Not just climate science.

    Economist Robert Shiller ( Yale ) was speaking about this – he’s lecturing from psychology books ( to educate about how investment and financial ideas propagate ). It’s probably not surprising – much of our communication must have been geared by telling stories ( fighting the cave bear, journey over the mountain to find water, etc. )

    It’s hardwired to communicate this way and be influenced as well.

    Of course, that leaves open the plausible but unlikely exaggerations of harm that the ‘climate change’ story thrives on.

  99. BBD says:

    Of course, that leaves open the plausible but unlikely exaggerations of harm that the ‘climate change’ story thrives on.

    Very silly assertion.

  100. Dan Hughes says:

    Trying to present a correction to a comment.

    WebHubTelescope said:

    I don’t think she understands the first thing about statistical mechanics. Anybody that would seriously apply Bose-Einstein statistics to particles at temperatures well above absolute zero has credibility problems.

    There is not a single indication that Curry and Khvorostyanov applied Bose-Einstein to particles at temperatures well above absolute zero. Not a single one.

    Bose-Einstein Statistics are introduced in Section 3.2.4 of the book. Here’s the introductory paragraph says about the conditions for which applications of B-E is necessary:

    3.2.4. Bose– Einstein Statistics
    If the temperature of an ideal gas becomes sufficiently low or the density is high, then the criterion for Boltzmann statistics nk ≪ 1 is not satisfied. Bose– Einstein statistics apply when quantum effects are important, the particles are indistinguishable, and they have an integer spin (internal momentum of rotation); that is, counted in integer numbers of Planck constant h. Bose– Einstein statistics was introduced for photons and then later generalized to atoms. Important applications of Bose– Einstein statistics include the following: black-body radiation, which can be considered as an ideal gas of photons; evaluation of the heat capacities of the solids and gases; and ice nucleation at low temperatures.

    Khvorostyanov, Vitaly I.; Curry, Judith A. (2014-08-31). Thermodynamics, Kinetics, and Microphysics of Clouds (Kindle Locations 2248-2254). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

    WebHubTelescope has stated his provably incorrect characterizations of B-E in the textbook in several places over the past several months.

    He has not yet quoted a single illustration that the authors of the book have incorrectly applied B-E statistics. Never has, never can.

    This matter and a couple more of Paul Pukite’s errors are fully covered in this comment at Amazon.

  101. Richard says:

    ATTP, you kicked things off with “Although it seems like an impressive piece of work, I’m not quite sure that I see what is so profound about it”. And even from my position of relative ignorance, I am struggling to see what the fuss is about.

    We have here a review paper (nothing wrong in that), that finds an interesting symmetry between the albedo of NH and SH.

    Some symmetries in nature are genuinely interesting and reflect underlying laws whereas others are probably coincidental (like the fact that the Sun and Moon possess the same apparent size). Seems like a need for more science, not a stream of speculation.

    Based on my (admittedly cursory reading) the authors are not saying AGW is in anyway disproved by their findings.

    Specifically, they are not suggesting that this means that the Earth’s albedo is a constant over time (demonstrably it has changed as the Earth has moved through different equilibria, including extreme ones like ‘snowball earth’ but more recently flipping between a minimum of two states, which we might call the glacial and interglacial, but which might contain intermediate equilibria, I imagine).

    They are also not suggesting that there is not a net energy imbalance on earth, arising from increased CO2 in the atmosphere.

    So, ATTP, can you help me/ educate me with answers to some questions (hopefully exposing my curiosity more than my ignorance):

    1. Given that the review seems to rely heavily on relatively recent satellite data sets, is it not rather early to assume the symmetry they find is not coincidental, and certainly not in anyway a fundamental property of the system?
    2. Could it in fact be a side-effect of the earth having been in a relatively stable state for some time (in terms of CO2 concentrations and average temperatures), perhaps creating scope for all sorts of equalities that may not amount to fundamental symmetries?
    3. Given that complex, non-linear systems possess multiple equilibria, and the earth system is a combination of several such interacting sub-systems, why are the authors of the paper (and some on your comment thread), so enamoured of simplistic linear arguments to try to find a rationale, yet so sceptical of sophisticated models that do not assume the system in linear?
    4. The thermohaline moves across the equator, at a relatively slow rate (compared to the atmospheric system) but carrying massive amounts of energy, so any proposed cross-hemisphere energy balance model would need to include it. Correct?
    5. Why would we expect the climate models to perfectly predict every facet of the system, including this observed symmetry, especially if it is a relatively transient effect or even a coincidence? (The models do pretty well in many other respects.)
    6. If the symmetry is shown to be fundamental in some sense, and a mechanism can be found (I am at this stage discounting speculations regarding clouds), then this observed symmetry might then help the modellers to improve the models further, as they have done progressively ever since they started. Do you agree that it is no reason to suggest ‘ah, the whole thing is obviously flawed, you should give up and go home’ (or words to that effect), but quite the opposite?

  102. Dan Hughes said:


    There is not a single indication that Curry and Khvorostyanov applied Bose-Einstein to particles at temperatures well above absolute zero. Not a single one.

    You don’t bring up Bose-Einstein statistics unless it is applicable. It is ridiculous for Curry to describe that in such a textbook. It’s like bringing up the concept of relativity in a course on statics.

    And she asserts an embarrassment that you go ahead and quote right there:
    ” Important applications of Bose– Einstein statistics include the following: … ice nucleation at low temperatures.”

    B-E for describing ice nucleation at low temperatures! BWAHAHA ! That is just completely nutzo !

    Any student taking a course on statistical mechanics would be rewarded by the professor for pointing out the issues with such an assertion. Unfortunately that is not the case in Curry world, where the denizens defend their leader like an army of flying monkeys.

  103. Richard,
    An attempt to answer.

    1. Yes, possibly.

    2. Possibly, although they suggest that this symmetry may help to keep it stable by constraining variability driven by variations in clouds.

    3. I don’t have a good answer.

    4. Again, I’m not sure about this.

    5. I agree, we wouldn’t. There are things they do well, and things they don’t. Having some understanding of what these are is important. Expecting them to do everything well is unrealistic.

    6. Yes, I agree. This is more an opportunity to help improve models, not some kind of gotcha.

  104. The albedo appears to be highly constrained on the hemispheric and global scale and overinterannual timescales. The hemispheric symmetry is an example of such a constraint, and the interannual variability of reflected energy is another example.

    Is that quote from the scientific article? Just because there is a symmetry does not mean that there has to be a symmetry. To call that a “constraint” based upon one sample does not sound sound to me. And it contradicts the first sentence where it is called “highly constrained”, which means it is not constrained. Not to mention the word “appears” in the first sentence.

  105. Dan Hughes says:

    Well, WebHubTelescope still has not pointed to a single example of Curry and Khvorostyanov incorrectly applying B-E stats. Not in any report, paper, or book. Especially not in the book in question.

    Additional information here. Here’s part of that info:

    It is clearly described in several sections of the book that all calculations of the nucleation rates and particles concentrations in this book were done with the traditional Boltzmann’s statistics as it is usually done in classical nucleation theory (CNT) (page 293, eq. (8.2.1) and subsequent equations in Chapter 8; page 397, eq. (9.2.6) and page 411, eq. (9.6.2) and subsequent equations in Chapter 9).

    Possible application and testing of Bose-Einstein statistics is just briefly outlined on half a page as a possible generalization of Boltzmann’s statistics at sufficiently low temperatures when critical energy of a germ formation Fcr may become comparable to (kT) (page 299 in Chapter 8). This regime may occur not at very low temperatures close to zero Kelvin, as Pukite erroneously assumes, but at intermediate temperatures due to low surface tension or other parameters of CNT decreasing with temperature. But Bose-Einstein statistics was NEVER applied for any calculations in this book. Thus, the statement in Pukite’s review that “The authors apply Bose-Einstein statistics to the formation of both liquid and ice nucleation” is completely wrong falsification of what has done in this book. Boltzmann’s statistics is applied in ALL calculations in this book, not B-E statistics.

  106. (very late to the party) Its not at all clear what a mechanism for this symmetry might be, in the sense they seem to be proposing it existing. If they had a mechanism, doubtless someone would have said (no I haven’t read the paper). To take up something someone else said:

    > “If there is no significant heat flux between hemispheres, if both hemispheres are the same temperature and therefor the same long wave radiation, and if they receive the same incoming solar radiation, then to maintain energy balance it is then required that SW reflected must be the same as well.”

    which all seems rather backwards. *If* there is “no significant heat flux between hemispheres” either that’s because the temperatures already balance, or (if the assertion is that the system, for some reason, can’t support much inter hemispheric xfer) then there’s no reason to expect temperatures to balance. By which I mean that I can’t see how interhemispheric xfer or its lack can do anything useful for the argument.

  107. William,
    The paper did have some discussion about heat flux, but it was sort of as you say. More an argument that seemed to be saying that if the hear flux is zero/small, that the albedos should be small, rather than some mechanism for why it should be small.

    I had thought that maybe the system would tend to such a state, but something that confused me about that is that there must be large seasonal differences between the hemispheres, so it wasn’t completely clear why there should be no heat flux on average.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s