Early 20th century warming

I’ve been involved in a discussion on another blog (which I won’t highlight) about there being a period of warming in the early 20th century that seems comparable to the warming we’ve experienced since about 1980. This is a somewhat standard “skeptic” talking point that is meant to suggest that a period of warming in the early 20th century, that is comparable to a similar period in the late 20th century, somehow challenges the fundamentals of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Well, it doesn’t and you can read this Skeptical Science post that discusses this.

I’ll make a few general comments. If you consider, for example, a 12 month running average of GISTEMP then selecting the period 1910-1940 might seem a bit of a cherry-pick, as it happens to go from a particularly low point, to a particularly high point. Karsten Haustein has also suggested that there might be a data issue with some of the early-1940s data. So, some of this apparent earlier warming could be somewhat exaggerated.

If we put this to one side though, then there does indeed appear to be a period, starting around 1910 and ending sometime in the 1940s, during which the surface warmed at a rate a bit higher than 0.1oC per decade. However, if you consider this paper by Matthew Palmer and Doug McNeall, then it’s quite possible for internal variability to drive trends of around 0.1oC/decade for a period of a few decades. So, that such a period exists, isn’t necessarily all that surprising. Over longer timescales, however, we would expect internally-driven trends to tend to 0.

Furthermore, if you consider the GISS Forcings, then the net change in external forcing (mainly anthropogenic and solar) over the period 1910-1940 is about half that of the change over a similar period starting around 1980. The earlier warming is maybe about 2/3 that of the later period. So, a large part of this earlier warming could simply have been externally forced (mostly solar and anthropogenic), although maybe not all of it. The point, though, is that there are perfectly plausible explanations for this earlier period of warming, and it doesn’t somehow provide some kind of major challenge to our understanding of AGW (that it has warmed before, doesn’t mean we’re not responsible for the warming now).

However, I think this is all largely beside the point. The fundamentals of AGW are very simply that we pumping CO2 into the atmosphere and causing the atmospheric concentrations to rise. This increased atmospheric CO2 reduces the outgoing longwavelength flux and pushes the system out of energy balance; we will be gaining more energy than we’re losing. This extra energy will be distributed throughout the climate system (atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere) and some of it will warm the surface, causing surface temperatures to rise. In fact – given the increase in atmospheric CO2 – the only way to regain energy balance is for surface temperatures to rise.

Of course, our climate is very complicated and there are various circulations patterns/cycles in the atmosphere and in the oceans. This means that there will periods when this extra energy is distributed in such a way as to cause the surface to warm faster/slower than at other times. This doesn’t, however, mean that some of the warming is not anthropogenic; until we regain energy balance, it’s essentially all anthropogenic.

Of course, one could regard the variability about the long-term trend as a consequence of internally-driven cycles. I’m also certainly not arguing against trying to understand how internally-driven cycles influence how the surface warms. I’m simply pointing out that while we still have a planetary energy imbalance (a consequence of rising atmospheric CO2 due to our emissions) the surface will – on average – continue to warm, and all of this warming will – until we regain energy balance – essentially be anthropogenic. Arguing about the causes of short periods when we warmed faster/slower than expected does not somehow mean that the overall warming is not being driven by our emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. That’s my view, at least. Feel free to disagree in the comments.

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71 Responses to Early 20th century warming

1. The WWII period is unreliable due to fast changes in the kind of ships (and their routes) and their corresponding measurement methods. There is a spurious warming peak in the raw data. We tried to correct for it, but compared to the land observations it would be likely if we did not fully remove the spurious warming in WWII.

In HadCRUT that should mostly affect the WWII period itself. ERSST uses different correction methods for this problem that cannot follow the fast changes that well and they are thus also not too reliable for the period before 1940.

The chosen cherry-picked period stats with some volcanoes and had a small increase in the solar forcing. That was not the case for the more recent period they compare it with. Thus they would still need an explanation why this recent period is warming. I would suggest an increase in greenhouse gasses. But then I am just a scientist.

2. I haven’t looked into this in detail, but I’ve always suspected that much of the warming in the early 20th century was a recover from several big eruptions around the beginning of that century.

3. Victor,

There is a spurious warming peak in the raw data. We tried to correct for it, but compared to the land observations it would be likely if we did not fully remove the spurious warming in WWII.

Thanks, interesting.

Andrew,

but I’ve always suspected that much of the warming in the early 20th century was a recover from several big eruptions around the beginning of that century.

I hadn’t thought of that, but it certainly looks as though the volcanic forcing was quite large during the late-1800s and early-1900s.

4. -1=e^iπ says:

Isn’t gistemp based on ERSST4? And doesn’t ERSST4 not fully correct for biases in SST due to moving from bucket measurements to engine room measurements in ww2? And therefore the choice of gistemp will overstate temperature changes (maybe Cowtan and Way or Berkeley Earth are better data sets to use).

Also, 1910 = low ENSO, low AMO, low PDO
1940 = high ENSO, high AMO, high PDO

that should be able to explain an increase in temperature by about ~0.5 C.

5. -1=e^iπ says:

you also had an increase in solar output and reduction in volcanism during this time period.

6. Yes, there were some volcanoes, just before and at the beginning of this period. And a small increase in solar activity and naturally also partially greenhouse warming

Figure 8.18 from WG1 of AR5:

7. Nick Stokes says:

The main difference between the periods is that the modern period continued. Usually people who say this compare 1910-40 with 1971-2000 or some other cut off period. But it didn’t stop there. I do shaded plots (interactive here) of trends over all periods in a range. For each period, the x axis is the end year, and y is the start. Rainbow colors with red for warming, but with a grey used for 1.7C/Cen, which was the expected current trend from models. Here is the plot:

I’ve marked the earlier period with a blue star (ending in 1945, which is more impressive), and a comparable period ending 2000 with white. You can see that if you stopped the graph in 2000, with a bit of squinting you could say they were comparable, almost. But it didn’t stop.

And the CO2 point is right. Warming from mid-century was predicted, and has happened. In terms of validating prediction, you can’t do better than that. Incorrigible doubters can just wait a bit – it shows no sign of stopping.

8. JCH says:

There are two warming spikes in the 20th century and one warming spike in the 21st century. All proximate with spikes in the PDO. There are two warming hiatus “events” in the 20th century and one warming hiatus “event” in the 21st century. All proximate with dips in the PDO. The Eastern Pacific is huge. Combine it with the North Pacific, it’s a GMST bully.

9. paulski0 says:

This comment I made several months ago seems relevant.

The tl:dr is that, using a facsimile of the IPCC process for attributing 1951-2010 warming, anthropogenic contribution over 1910-1940 can be estimated at +0.13 +/- 0.1K (likely range), natural forced contribution can be estimated at +0.15 +/- 0.1K (likely range) and internal variability has a likely upper bound of 0.15K (based on general assessment of internal variability potential rather than analysis of 1910-1940 specifically).

There’s no indication that warming over 1910-1940 disputes current AGW understanding, and people who suggest it does clearly have never bothered to check their assertions.

10. While there is objective evidence of warming, as has been shown by a lot of good work of the kind above and in its references, I’ve never quite understood the fascination for seeking observational evidence for warming and radiative forcing, with all its pitfalls, when we know from Physics that such forcing necessarily has to happen given increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. At worst, to arrive at a finding of “no observational evidence for warming” means that all the radiative forcing from greenhouse gas effects is holed up someplace in the climate system waiting to “come out”, a hypothetical condition which cannot be stable in the long term, because mixing will out.

11. Watch out about the “spurious warming peak” during WWII. True that there is a clear indication of difference in measurement techniques, but there is also a very broad El Nino — 2 consecutive according to NOAA — that is centered around 1941-1942. This is real as the SOI pressure at Tahiti and Darwin captures this without temperature measurements. This may have had an influence on global temperatures greater than a narrow El Nino since there was no time to decay between the successive El Ninos. There is no other example of having 2 strong El Ninos back-to-back in the modern historical record.

BTW, the cross-validated ENSO model captures this broad peak accurately and the reason is well explained by external forcing.

12. Coincidentally, I have just finished writing up a paper on the subject (Victor and other familiar names are co-authors). Unsurprisingly, we find that literally all of the Early Warming is explained by external forcing (GHGs, recovery from volcanoes, increased solar activity and a minor contribution from Black Carbon aerosols). As far as SSTs are concerned, the ERSSTv4/v5 WWII warming spike is an artefact. We provide ample evidence for that (Kevin Cowtan has also a paper in prep on the subject). Interestingly, it’s more a substantial cold bias before and after WWII (1910-1940 and 1946-1976) rather than a small warm bias during 1941-45 that causes the ridiculous warming spike during WWII in ERSST. We aim to publish high profile … so wish us luck 😉

13. Karsten,
That sounds interesting. Thanks.

14. Magma says:

Off topic (or maybe Early 21st century warming)

The early contrarian takes on Hurricane/Biblical deluge Harvey (paraphrased)

Spencer: we’ve always had big storms and floods
Pielke Sr: we’ve always had big storms and floods
Pielke Jr: it’s just one storm… don’t politicize it
Curry: what Roy and Roger say

15. angech says:

So, is an artefact?
Is it a cherrypick?
Is it spurious due to data issues?
Or is it real but due solely to increased solar radiation and GHG combined with volcanoes and aerosols before and after?

If it is real then it is not an artefact.
If it is an artefact then all the explanations re volcanoes and solar radiation effects etc are not real
If it occurred and then occurred years later why does one call one a cherrypick and not the other ?
Does spurious mean something happened but we should not pay any attention to it or does it mean that the artefact, cherry picking and reasons are all wrong.

Then there are the questions about the role of the oceans and heat circulation. What if all the heat is merely a long buried warm layer coming to the surface for 30 years?

An inconvenient fact challenging AGW or simply weather.?
I would suggest simply accept natural variation and as Hypergeometric and ATTP says wait for it to come out in the wash as it surely will.
Too much angst and too many contradicting assertions makes it look like there is a problem.

16. geoenergymath says: Watch out about the “spurious warming peak” during WWII. True that there is a clear indication of difference in measurement techniques, but there is also a very broad El Nino — 2 consecutive according to NOAA — that is centered around 1941-1942.

Don’t worry, we do not just remove the peak because it is a peak. That would be easy to do and then it would have been removed perfectly already. 😉

We try to understand the measurement errors and remove them, what happens to the peak is an outcome. As our understanding is limited we will typically undercorrect and it is thus useful to know the quality of the raw data in your assessment of the adjusted data.

17. Yes, as I said that WWII artefact is well known. CSALT is an analysis from a few years ago that describes the issue in detail
http://contextearth.com/2013/11/16/csalt-and-sst-corrections/

But that is just an example of an artefact of inconsistent measurements and not as interesting as determining the physics of the natural variations of ENSO. Consider that the artefact does not even show up if you compare NINO34 (a temperature measurement) vs SOI (a pressure measurement). It must be that the El Nino effect for that region of the equatorial Pacific completely overshadowed any measurement artefact.

18. Also note in re-reading that link, note the 2 warm spikes in Arctic readings that bracket the ENSO 1941&1942 warm years during WWII. Lots of stuff happening between 1940 and 1945.

19. But that is just an example of an artefact of inconsistent measurements and not as interesting as determining the physics of the natural variations of ENSO.

I guess that is a personal preference. I find homogenization to be a lot more interesting than some ocean swapping a bit on the other side of the Earth. I love methodological questions.

20. angech,

What if all the heat is merely a long buried warm layer coming to the surface for 30 years?

If this were the case, we’d see the ocean heat content going down. It is not, it is going up. The overall amount of energy in the climate system is increasing. Why? Because we’re adding GHGs to the atmosphere.

I would suggest simply accept natural variation and as Hypergeometric and ATTP says wait for it to come out in the wash as it surely will.

I’ve no idea what you’re suggesting here, so I doubt this is what I’m saying.

21. dikranmarsupial says:

on the bright side, at least angech is not confidently asserting the experts are wrong, this time.

“I would suggest simply accept natural variation and as Hypergeometric and ATTP says wait for it to come out in the wash as it surely will. “

If we have evidence that there has been changes in the forcings in the early 20th century (perhaps not pointing in the same direction), it is denying physics to attribute it all to natural variation as that can only be the case if forcings were assumed to have no effect on climate (which would be absurd).

We all accept natural variation; we all ought to accept forcings (and feedbacks) affect climate, the question is how much of each plausibly explains what we see.

22. @angech, @ATTP,

To clarify, I meant that I saw questioning observational evidence for temperature increases as being more than a nuisance for the Physics of climate disruption. In other words, establishing temperature increases is a tough slog, performed successfully, but it isn’t necessary to establish that to demonstrate why, with greenhouse gas increases, climate disruption is inevitable. I simply mounted a red herring argument that the heat would have to be holed up in some part of the climate system to fail to see it expressed, something which is incredibly implausible, and, as ATTP noted, additionally, we’d see it going there.

It’s a question of what one can say to a doubter in 2 minutes to argue climate disruption. Appealing to complicated treatments of observations and series of them seems to be taking the bait from the Science Denier crowd. They know they haven’t a prayer on the basic Physics, so they trot out incomplete analyses and statements about things they know perfectly well are more difficult to defend, at least to a less sophisticated audience.

For more sophisticated audiences, sure, the Science of the observational series is fascinating and entertaining as here. But note there’s crossover: I’ve been to meetings of meteorologists in New England where one or two get up and present, clearly arguing that weather manifestations of climate or climate change itself is hogwash. For them, going to ab initio Physics seems the better counterpunch.

23. JCH says:

There are no long buried warm areas that can come to the surface. Long buried means it’s likely completely diffused; it comes up ice cold.

24. Ragnaar says:

With changing clouds, the oceans can both warm and emit more to the atmosphere. Sea levels from about 1870 indicate warming oceans since then. The about 1910 to about 1940 warming as shown by GISS occurred during rising sea levels.

25. VV, I like the physics aspect as it tends to define a more challenging problem. But I also enjoy the metrology aspects where it may be possible to precisely specify some behavior.

Actually, the ocean sloshing in the equatorial Pacific is essentially the biggest consistent contribution to natural variability. Trying to solve this based on Navier Stokes is kind of an applied Millennium Challenge problem.

26. BBD says:

Ragnaar

Why does SLR post-1870 have to be driven mainly by thermal expansion? Perhaps it wasn’t.

Slangen et al. (2016) shows that the C20th trend in SLR arises from an ever-increasing anthropogenic component (GHGs + aerosols). Early C20th anthropogenic forcing accounts for only about 15% of SLR. By the late C20th (1970) this has risen to ~70% and has continued to rise to the present.

Terrestrial ice sheets and glaciers exhibited a lagged response to the increased temps post-LIA (post-1870 in S16). This lagged melt was the principal driver of early SLR, slowly diminishing and giving way to ever-increasing anthropogenic forcing during the C20th.

27. geoenergymath says: “VV, I like the physics aspect as it tends to define a more challenging problem.

Ah, so you never actually worked on homogenisation.

28. Steven Mosher says:

As far as SSTs are concerned, the ERSSTv4/v5 WWII warming spike is an artefact. We provide ample evidence for that (Kevin Cowtan has also a paper in prep on the subject). Interestingly, it’s more a substantial cold bias before and after WWII (1910-1940 and 1946-1976) rather than a small warm bias during 1941-45 that causes the ridiculous warming spike during WWII in ERSST. We aim to publish high profile … so wish us luck 😉”

yup

29. BBD says:

We aim to publish high profile … so wish us luck 😉”

yup

I don’t often get to say this, so I will seize the opportunity: I fully agree with Steven 🙂

30. I´ll just repeat the thermodynamic question: can a cold fluid that is heated by a warm solid increase the temperature of it´s own heat source?

I will say: absolutely not.

Give one example of a similar physical relationship outside the greenhouse theory to confirm that it is a valid theory. You need to show how a warm solid body submerged in a cold fluid can increase in temperature from increased heat absorption in the cold fluid. If you can´t, you are wrong.

31. Whatever. I accepted the notion of an average global temperature and anomaly long ago, about the time that Essex and McKittrick were raising a fuss about it.

32. angech says:

Steven Mosher says: August 29, 2017 at 9:26 pm
“As far as SSTs are concerned, the ERSSTv4/v5 WWII warming spike is an artefact. We provide ample evidence for that (Kevin Cowtan has also a paper in prep on the subject).”

Thus partly raising the question where did all the warming attributed to extra solar activity and recovery from volcanoes in 1910-1940 go?
I also do not see how ATTP can describe 1910 -1940 as a cherry pick of increasing temp when you describe it as a substantial cold bias for exactly the same dates. Help please.
“Interestingly, it’s more a substantial cold bias before and after WWII (1910-1940 and 1946-1976) rather than a small warm bias during 1941-45 that causes the ridiculous warming spike during WWII in ERSST. We aim to publish high profile … so wish us luck 😉”

Best of luck with your publishing and research.

33. I just wanted to comment on this, because I think it’s quite important

In other words, establishing temperature increases is a tough slog, performed successfully, but it isn’t necessary to establish that to demonstrate why, with greenhouse gas increases, climate disruption is inevitable.

We do have a good understanding of what will happen if we continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It’s, of course, important to make observations (temperatures, ocean heat content, sea level rise) that allow us to check if our understanding is correct and also to get a better understanding of some of the details. However, make some kind of formal attribution is difficult. Not being able to do so, however, doesn’t really change our basic understanding. It’s one reason why I think all the discussion about attribution is a bit of a distraction. It’s not that I think it’s wrong to try, but the inability to do it seems to then lead to a suggestion that somehow AGW is less certain, when it really isn’t.

34. Uli says:

I tried to find the contribution of some forcings and ocean cycles to the BEST-lo temperature change from 1850 to 2014 using a EBM with forcings from AR5.
From this I can extract results for the 1910 to 1940 f.e.

Total warming rate in K / decade.
BEST lo +0.147 (measurements)

CO2 +0.030 (EBM)
other GHG +0.026 (EBM)
aerosols -0.013 (EBM)
landuse+BC -0.002 (EBM)
solar +0.005 (EBM)
volcano +0.026 (EBM)
ENSO +0.017 (regression)
AMO +0.022 (regression)

SSTjump +0.037 (residuals)

residual +0.001

SSTjump means an uncorrected error in the SST measurements, probably a jump from about 1936 to 37 by 0.24K in SST which is 0.17K in global mean.

This may give a crude estimate of the magnitudes of the contribution of the different forced and unforced sources.

35. dikranmarsupial says:

angech wrote “Thus partly raising the question where did all the warming attributed to extra solar activity and recovery from volcanoes in 1910-1940 go?”

Have you thought of reading the chapters of the IPCC WG1 report on attribution? (hint, there are multiple forms of forcing, they don’t all cause warming, and they don’t all act at the same time).

36. angech wrote “Thus partly raising the question where did all the warming attributed to extra solar activity and recovery from volcanoes in 1910-1940 go?”

In addition to what Dikran has said, forcings are measured relative to some earlier time (typically 1750). There was quite a lot of volcanic activity in the late-1800s and early-1900s which produced a negative forcing (relative to 1750) and hence some cooling. When this abated, the system would warm back up again (but the effect was still probably quite small). Solar forcing increased in the early 20th century, and then dropped back down again over the second half of the 20th century. Therefore, the net effect of the Sun over the 20th century is small (warming in the first half, cooling in the second).

37. paulski0 says:

Thus partly raising the question where did all the warming attributed to extra solar activity and recovery from volcanoes in 1910-1940 go?

Adding to what others have said, the ERSST warming spike is actually almost all post-1940, so removing that makes barely any difference to 1910-1940 trends.

38. Steven Mosher says:

bbd.
i am looking forward to it.

39. lifeisthermal,

Give one example of a similar physical relationship outside the greenhouse theory to confirm that it is a valid theory. You need to show how a warm solid body submerged in a cold fluid can increase in temperature from increased heat absorption in the cold fluid. If you can´t, you are wrong.

Your analogy is simply wrong. The greenhouse effect is NOT comparable to a warm solid body submerged in a cold fluid. Maybe you should consider why a blanket helps you stay warm.

40. dikranmarsupial says:

Not the second law of thermodynamics, yet again?

“can a cold fluid that is heated by a warm solid increase the temperature of it´s own heat source?”

Yes, of course it can. Take a constant-power heat source in a vaccum and measure its equilibrium temperature. Put it in a liquid (initially at zero Kelvin) and it will heat up. Why? In a vaccum the heat source radiates energy in proportion to the fourth power of its temperature (Stefan-Boltzmann), the equilibrium temperature is the one where the power radiated is the same as the power of the heat source. When it is in a liquid it is a bit more complicated, it will still radiate energy with the power governed by the Stefan-Boltzmann law, but it will also lose some heat by conduction. However the liquid will also heat up and that means it too will radiate heat with power proportional to the fourth power of its temperature, some of which will be absorbed by the heat source. The amount conducted away depends on the difference in temperature between the source and the liquid in contact with the source. Consider a liquid with very low thermal conductivity and very low specific heat capacity; in this case the thin shell of liquid immediately around the source will rapidly heat up, approaching the temperature of the source. At this point conduction largely stops (as it depends on the temperature difference), and we need only consider radiation (there is no substantial gravity in this thought experiment, so there is no convection to worry about). The source still radiates with power proportional to its temperature, but is now absorbing some energy from the surrounding fluid as well as from its internal power source. Therefore at equilibrium, it has to be warmer than it was in a vacuum because it has more power that it must dissapate via radiation.

P.S. Caveat, I am no physicist, this is just what I get when I think through the physics of the question – happy to be corrected.

41. dikranmarsupial says:

“Put it in a liquid (initially at zero Kelvin) and it will heat up. “

should be

“Put it in a liquid (initially at zero Kelvin) and its equilibrium temperature will be higher.”

42. KarSteN says:

@lifeisthermal:

I´ll just repeat the thermodynamic question: can a cold fluid that is heated by a warm solid increase the temperature of it´s own heat source? […] I will say: absolutely not.

Absolutely yes: Imagine a freezer that is colder than your fluid. Put both fluid and warm solid in there and wait for equilibrium (don’t forget to turn the freezer off). Now put the solid only and wait again. Result: The freezer is warmer with solid and fluid compared to freezer with solid only. Ergo: The cold fluid caused the solid to be warmer in the end. Magic!

43. Uli says:

1970 to 2000
total warming rate in K / decade.
BEST lo +0.158 (measurements)

CO2 +0.084
other GHG +0.085
aerosols -0.041
landuse+BC -0.005
solar +0.003
volcano -0.030
ENSO +0.024
AMO +0.014

residual +0.023

1951 to 2010
total warming rate in K / decade.
BEST lo +0.112 (measurements)

CO2 +0.075
other GHG +0.074
aerosols -0.041
landuse+BC -0.005
solar +0.002
volcano -0.011
ENSO +0.009
AMO -0.006

residual +0.015

1850 to 2014
total warming rate in K / decade.
BEST lo +0.056 (measurements)

CO2 +0.038
other GHG +0.034
aerosols -0.022
landuse+BC -0.003
solar +0.004
volcano +0.005
ENSO +0.002
AMO -0.001

residual -0.001

44. @lifeisthermal

1. Where the heck did this come from?
2. It would help if you were specific by what you mean by solid and fluid. Otherwise we’re just guessing, and any answers can founder on misunderstanding of what you mean.

Assuming I do (and we’ll see if that’s right), any physical body in space is surrounded by a vacuum which cannot convect or conduct heat (energy). That leaves radiation. So, quite simply, if the energy out, as radiation, does not balance the energy in, as radiation, namely, if energy in is larger, the temperature of the body must increase because, well, the energy needs to go someplace. That’s the First Law.

Second, since balance is necessary, and the only way for energy to leave such a body is by blackbody emission, and since blackbody emission is proportional to the 4th power of temperature (Wien), the temperature corresponding to a higher emission must necessarily be higher.

So, what don’t you understand?

45. “1. Where the heck did this come from?”

The atmosphere is a cold fluid, right? 33 degrees celsius colder than the surface.

The surface is, in relation to the atmosphere, a warm solid, right?

Then, can a cold fluid, heated by a warm solid, cause increasing power density of it´s own heat source?

That is what the greenhouse theory claims that the atmosphere does.

“So, quite simply, if the energy out, as radiation, does not balance the energy in, as radiation, namely, if energy in is larger, the temperature of the body must increase because, well, the energy needs to go someplace. That’s the First Law.”

The “energy out” does not determine the temperature of the emitter. The temperature of the emitter determines the “energy out”. Decreased emissive power, “the radiative imbalance”, is equal to decreased temperature. You cannot heat up an engine by cooling the exhaust. If less heat leaves the system, from increased absorption of heat, that means that the absorber has dropped in temperature. You cannot increase the temperature of a heat source, by increasing the amount of heat absorbers in the surroundings. Thermal insulation works by *reducing* absorption of heat in the surrounding low temperature environment. Not by increasing it, like co2 does. Just check “thermal insulation” on wikipedia. It´s in the introduction to the article. It says that the exact mechanism you claim heat the earth in the GH-effect, is what you prevent with thermal insulation.

“if energy in is larger, the temperature of the body must increase because, well, the energy needs to go someplace”

Energy in is constant and limited. TSI=1360.8W/m^2. You cannot increase the power density within the system by adding heat absorbers to a constant limited flow of heat. More heat absorbers per watt, means less watt per heat absorber. Increasing the fraction of co2 in a constant, limited flow of heat, means less heat per co2-molecule. Logic.

If you use units of Nm^2 for gravity, as thermal resistance, you can see that surface temperature is equal to a resistance of 4g^2. With gauss law of gravity, you find that tropopause temperature is equal to a resistance of 4/3*g^2. From that you can see that TSI/V=V*8g^2, with V=4/3*pir^3. This is the same equation as:
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/elesph.html

And then you can find mean surface temperature as 1/2*(TSI/V^2). This comes from irradiation on the hemisphere, 2pi*r^2, dissipating in a double shell volume, 4/3pi*r^3. One shell for the atmosphere and one for the solid ball. It works for Mars and Venus as well(with modifications for differences).

By the way, just as a curiosity, check what T^4 is for 1360.8W/m^2. Run that in the spherical volume and watch the rain of zeros.

Again, can a cold fluid that is heated by a warm solid, make the warm solid warmer?

Can you find one single experimental study that supports the claim that co2 can increase the power density of the heat source heating the gas?

Are you aware of that the emissive power of the surface needs a source with 4 times the intensity? And that the source power of surface emission is equal to a thermal resistance of 16g^2?

The Earth system, the Venus system and the Mars system contains an instantaneous amount of energy equal to 32g^2. Nm^2 is equal to W/m^2.

Do you like the greenhouse effect so much that it should stand in the way of progress?

46. lifeisthermal,
I’m not going to let this go on much longer, but I’ll respond to this.

The atmosphere is a cold fluid, right? 33 degrees celsius colder than the surface.

The surface is, in relation to the atmosphere, a warm solid, right?

Then, can a cold fluid, heated by a warm solid, cause increasing power density of it´s own heat source?

47. I am fully aware that you think I am a delusional “denier”. I can guarantee you that I only want truth. But climate science is all lies. Can you please stop using the blanket analogy, it makes you look less smart. Just look here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_insulation

The introduction shows very clearly how bad the blanket-analogy is. A blanket does the opposite of what co2 does.

” If there were no atmosphere, then the surface would radiate energy directly to space and the temperature of the surface would be such that the amount of energy radiated from the surface matched the amount of energy received from the Sun.”

[Playing the ref. – Willard]

The emission from the atmosphere and the surface needs to be supplied with heat from the sun, instantaneously. They both emit *at the same time*. The power density of the heat source needs to feed them both at the same time. Try doing the calculation of the energy balance yourself. Stack them on top of each other and watch how they add up. You can´t deny the accuracy of those calculations. I don´t want to use your comment field as an advertiser of my blog or my opinions, but you can find the numbers there. For christ sake, you are doing physics, you should be no stranger to thermodynamics.

[Snip. AT has a contact page. – Willard]

Honestly, I just want the truth, and it is not the greenhouse theory.

48. lifeisthermal,

Can you please stop using the blanket analogy, it makes you look less smart.

It is just an analogy. However, the atmosphere acts to impede the transfer of energy from the surface to space and, hence, causes the surface to be warmer than it would be in the absence of an atmosphere.

I am just trying to stop this bullshit greenhouse nonsense before you people send us back to the stone age.

It’s not nonsense, and I have no idea what this has to do with the stone age.

Honestly, I just want the truth, and it is not the greenhouse theory.

Maybe you believe that you want the truth, but you seem to have made up your mind, and what you’ve decided is almost certainly not the truth.

49. @lifeisthermal,

There’s confusion here. I’ll try to stay clear of what ATTP has already addressed.

The atmosphere is a cold fluid, right? 33 degrees celsius colder than the surface.
The surface is, in relation to the atmosphere, a warm solid, right?

No. I deny that dichotomization. That’s how you posed it. What’s warming is the atmosphere. Sure, because the atmosphere is warmer, the equilibrium temperature of the surface is higher than it would be without an atmosphere.

To get technical, since that is the kind of discourse that’s apparently wanted, define “top of atmosphere” as height at which an infrared photon has a 50% probability of escaping completely into space, parameterized by greenhouse gas concentration of atmosphere (mostly CO2), solar insolation, which for the point of the exercise is assumed constant. As GHG concentration increases, “top of atmosphere” rises in height, because it’s more likely the photon will run into a GHG molecule, “warming” it and the atmosphere about it. That 50% point can also be thought of as a level surface of constant temperature. If you run the lapse rate profile backwards, because the top is at greater height, and temperature increases more or less monotonically along the profile, when you get back to the surface, just above it, you are at a greater temperature. Hence, global warming.

The emission from the atmosphere and the surface needs to be supplied with heat from the sun, instantaneously. They both emit *at the same time*. The power density of the heat source needs to feed them both at the same time.

But they are at different frequencies, and, so, different “flavors” of photons. GHG concentrations are transparent to incoming. Captured incoming high frequency photons (solar radiation spectrum as seen from surface of Earth) warm surface. Surface radiates with low frequency photons (Earth thermal radiation spectrum). Peak of said spectrum is nearly coincident with CO2 667 wavelengths per centimeter. CO2 resonates at that. In fact, it’s so hungry (large radiation cross section) that even after such a photon is re-radiated, at concentrations in lower atmosphere comparable to present, mean free path of said photo is very short. Moreover, lifetime of elevated energy states are long. There are other important candidates to be a temporary host of said photon, notably, water vapor, and, as well, there is exchange among molecules due to intermolecular collisions. See Pierrehumbert, 2011 for more details.

Finally, related to

The “energy out” does not determine the temperature of the emitter. The temperature of the emitter determines the “energy out”. Decreased emissive power, “the radiative imbalance”, is equal to decreased temperature.

the calculation is that of the $\delta T$ for a $\delta \rho_{GHG}$. As previously described, the effect is to raise the “top of atmosphere” equilibration point and, so, the height of the lapse profile. That increases temperature of atmosphere at surface.

50. There is a nice illustration (H/T Rasmus Benestad/Realclimate) of what Hyper is saying in this post.

51. Steven Mosher says:

“Then, can a cold fluid, heated by a warm solid, cause increasing power density of it´s own heat source?

That is what the greenhouse theory claims that the atmosphere does.”

err no. that is not what the theory claims.

52. verytallguy says:

But climate science is all lies.

Looks like we’re well into pig-wrestling territory.

53. Charles Nagy says:

off topic but Skeptics have been claiming for a while that Richard Feynman disproved Global Warming in a paper in the Maxwell Gravito Thermal Theory. This is something that Steve Goddard aka Tony Heller also pushes. Would be interested in your thoughts on this, as it seems somewhat Flakey to me. Here is a link to the paper… (apologies for linking to a denialist site)
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.fr/2015/07/physicist-richard-feynman-proved.html

54. Charles,
Essentially, what Feynman was illustrating was why the atmosphere gets less dense as you go up in altitude. He assumed a constant temperature (isothermal) and simply illustrated that the atmosphere would be in hydrostatic equilibrium – the upward force of pressure would balance the downward force of gravity. Given this, you expect the density to decay exponentially with height (assuming T = constant). However, this tells you nothing about what the actual temperature should be – that is set by energy balance and, because of the greenhouse effect, the surface has a higher temperature than it would have in the absence of an atmosphere.

55. Steven Mosher says:

Charles

If I told you I had a mathematical proof that 1=1=2, would you need to have the error pointed out to you? That is, would you actually be in doubt and want to find the exact place that the proof went wrong? Or would you say “well, that cant be right, so why waste the time finding the error”

When you see something touted by heller or hockschtick… just know. It’s wrong.

And if you want ammunition to fight them remember this. They will never correct their beliefs.
All you have to do is understand how heller got kicked off WUWT to understand that.

56. Marco says:

“He assumed a constant temperature”

Cue the standard joke about physicists:

57. Willard says:

Speaking of Willard Tony, achievement unlocked:

58. I think I may only have achieved level 1. On the other hand, according to Anthony I’m dumber than a box of rocks when it comes to climate. That must be at least level 1.5.

59. [Mod: Okay, sorry, but I’m not going to post this. If you want to construct a short comment that explains your position and that avoids telling us what we’re denying (which we aren’t), I might post it.]

60. dikranmarsupial says:

@lifeisthermal I gave a direct answer here here (note the slight correction in the following post) to your question

“can a cold fluid that is heated by a warm solid increase the temperature of it´s own heat source?”

A productive approach would be for you to either explicitly accept that your question has been answered in the affirmative, or to point out the specific error(s) in my answer and explain why they are errors. That is how science works, by asking questions and discussing the answers. I will then respond to your reply.

61. dikranmarsupial says:

BTW while the blanket analogy gives only the most basic analogy for (part of) the greenhouse effect, but it does explain why the second law of thermodynamics argument is incorrect – if it were not the case, blankets would violate the second law of thermodynamics as well, but we all have personal experience that they work.

Like a blanket, the atmosphere, the blanket is heated from beneath, in the case of the blanket by body heat, and in the case of the atmosphere by the surface that is heated by the sun. The blanket keeps you warm because more energy is transferred from the [air under the] blanket to your body that you would have received from the open sky. Similarly an atmosphere heated by IR radiated from the surface returns more energy back to the surface than an atmosphere that is only warmed by conduction/convection. In both cases the net flow of energy is in an upward direction; more heat energy flows from the body to the [air under the] blanket than from the [air under the] blanket to the body, so neither breaks the second law of thermodynamics.

The blanket analogy becomes unsatisfactory only when you need to properly explain the mechanism by which adding more GHG to the atmosphere increases the GHE, but we don’t need that to refute the second law argument, so the blanket analogy is fine in this particular case.

62. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

lifeisthermal says:

Honestly, I just want the truth, and it is not the greenhouse theory.

I don’t believe Hurricane Harvey is God’s punishment for Houston electing a lesbian mayor. But that is more credible than “climate change.”
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) August 29, 2017

You’re welcome.

63. Willard says:

64. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

#AllCitiesMatter

65. Willard says:

66. As Prof Robert Young from the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines has repeatedly pointed out, we don’t even need to bring up climate disruption to see how badly we are collectively failing being prepared for even the rate of storms now. We rebuild, per Sandy, right were the structures were before, at outrageous expense to federal taxpayers, shielding people in those areas from financial risk completely. Let’s hope Houston proves different. Whatever people think about climate change, if there’s any acceptance of it at all, what it means is whatever you see as coastline and inland flood risk now, it isn’t going to get better, again a point which Prof Young makes.

67. Willard says:

68. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

#AllHashtagsMatter

69. Willard says:

I wonder if I still have my notes on quantifer games.

70. Charles Nagy says:

Thanks for your prompt reply ATTP. After having more time to look at the “paper” in question, I see that it is just a standard lecture by Feynman on statistical mechanics, using a highly simplified atmosphere as an example, assuming, as you say, constant temperature, and in fact an atmosphere with no greenhouse gases at all, and one apparently at thermal equilibrium to boot. So not a particularly representative atmosphere at all. In fact all he does is derive a density function for this “atmosphere”, no attempt at temperature distribution with height even. Also, a totally isolated atmosphere with no heat coming in or going out, so totally inappropriate in fact, for comparison with a real atmosphere at all. The fact that Deniers co-opted this lecture, as Feynman disproving the Greenhouse Effect, just shows how clueless and deluded they are. Sorry to have taken up your time on this, but at least I now have some ammunition to go back with in my debunking of these memes on various blogs. Not that it does any good, I might add.

And yes I agree, Steve Mosher, that anything from that particular blog and Tony Heller/S Goddard is going to be bunk, however, I have found arguing that point just leads to accusations of “argument from authority” and suchlike. When pointing out that something is a bunch of horseshit, it does help to be able to point exactly to where the steaming pile of dung is lying. (Didn’t realise by the way that Heller/Goddard had been banned from WUWT. Must take a special kind of idiocy for a denier to be banned from a Denialist blog! )

71. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

I wonder if I still have my notes on quantifer games.

In case not:

∀q ( q ∈ G → M(q) )

and,

∀q ∈ G M(q) ≡ ¬( ∃q ∈ G ¬M(q) )

🙂