Douglass et al. 2007 may represent a history-of-science-in-the-making showdown between two theories, the infinitely-thick theory of atmospheres as used in GCMs, and the semi-transparent atmospheric model as proposed by Miskolczi.
It misses the point — that the observations discriminate between theories — to focus on the details of the statistical test of the GCMs. To get to the point of understanding why basic theory
might be wrong takes, for me, a lot of work as its not
my field. But its much more interesting and profound
than arguing about parameter uncertainty. For example, the
Michelsonâ€“Morley experiment, one of the most important and famous experiments in the history of physics,
resulting in the trashing of an old theory, not just an adjustment to one of the parameters.
Here, the change in lapse rate of the tropical troposphere is the experiment. GCMs predict faster warming in the troposphere than the surface due to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases aloft. It is believed that faster mid-tropical warming than the surface is a NECESSARY condition for warming to be due to greenhouse gasses. But observations only show a slower rate of warming aloft than at the surface. Therefore, warming is not due to greenhouse gasses — QED.
Douglass et al. 2007 only goes so far as to conclude that the projections of future climate based on these models be viewed with caution (due to their lack of correspondence in reality).
If the Douglass analysis is correct and the tropical troposphere is not warming faster than the tropical surface, then itâ€™s not just GCMs that are wrong, but also theory (from RC).
I think the theory that recent warming occurs via warming of the troposphere by GHGs is at fault. A new theory of greenhouse effect, the semi-transparent theory proposed by Miskolczi, predicts that very little warming of the troposphere is possible due to atmospheric compensations (mainly reduction in humidity) that hold the optical depth constant. It emerges from the solution of energy conservation relationships that a constant optimal greenhouse effect maximizes efficiency of transfer of shortwave into longwave energy.
Figure from Douglass et al. 2007 “A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions” annotated to compare forcing of the GHG theory (red arrow) and stratospheric compensation theory (blue arrows).
The effects of the theories is shown on the annotated figure of Douglass et al. 2007. This figure shows the decadal rates of change in temperature for the average of the models, compared to the observations, at various heights in the atmosphere. The two show a very different pattern, with models predicting much higher rates of increase in the lapse rate of the tropical troposphere than observed.
The difference in the theories can be seen from the annotations. The rate of change in temperature is none other than heating, measured in W/m2, or ‘forcing’. Marked on the figures are the different points of maximum forcing for the two curves.
In the models, the main forcing is at 10km, with the lapse rate temperatures pushed up over the whole troposphere. This demonstrates a theory of warming due to ‘blocking’ of radiation in the troposphere, as embodied in the infinitely thick model of planetary atmospheres.
In the observations, the main forcing is at the surface and at the stratosphere, while the troposphere is almost constant. Temperature changes occur in a ‘seesaw’ effect, with warming at surface the inverse of the cooling in the stratosphere. This relationship is the one of the main findings of the Miskolczi semi-infinite theory of planetary atmosphere, linking surface to outgoing radiation in an apparently novel effect called stratospheric compensation.
I have a note appearing in the AIG newsletter on stratospheric compensation, not greenhouse effect, as the possible mechanism for global warming. If correct, the recent warming must either be due to 1) warming of the surface due to albedo or emissivity changes, or 2) cooling of the surface due to depletion of ozone, or 3) a combination of both.
Thus the most reasonable interpretation of these observations reported in Douglass et al. 2007 is that the theory behind GCMs based in the infinitely-thick atmosphere is falsified, and stratospheric compensation based in a semi-transparent atmosphere theory is confirmed.