Moncktons argument

Monckton’s main argument seems to be represented by the statement that climate sensitivity to CO2 has been overestimated by the IPCC by around 6-7 times, giving exaggerated projections of warming for a business as usual scenario of CO2 emissions. The IPCC range is around 2-6C degrees warming by 2100, and Monckton’s is 0.5C. While he provides some calculations, this view is also supported by a measure of respectable scientific literature.

The view that CO2 sensitivity is being grossly exaggerated is the one that is shared by myself and the likes of Spencer, Shaviv, Lindzen, Douglass and others. The most concise illustration of this is the one produced by Spencer, showing where the various authors lie, relative to the IPCC model projections.

spencer_fig1_models-reality1

There seems to be a new view being put, given the problems of the ‘gates. Essentially, climate scientists have been right all along that increasing CO2 has a warming effect and that climate sceptics are wrong that CO2 does not produce any warming. First there is the straw man that sceptics don’t admit the possibility of a small effect. Another defense recently appeared on arXiv called “Man made global warming explained – closing the blinds“, by T. Sloan, A.W. Wolfendale. They conclude that:

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), using their more exact models, estimate that doubling the of the CO2 level in the atmosphere will change the mean surface temperature of the Earth by between 2 and 3.5C. Our model predicts a rise of between 1 and 1.5C (see also [3] who ignore all effects except infra red absorption), again illustrating that something extra is needed beyond the simple absorption of the infra-red radiation.

They then go on to argue that something must be done about even this lower amount of warming. They think the sensitivity can’t be low because the models can’t be explained.

Otherwise we would be relying on an unexpected future cancellation to save us from the possible ravages of climate change induced by ever growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Deltoid also attempts to rebut Monckton’s argument, suggesting the sensitivity can’t be that low because then ice ages can’t be explained. JoNova pulled his argument apart here.

The hypothesis took the lowest possible range of carbon dioxide’s known warming effect on climate, multiplied it by the lowest possible effect of the various feedbacks that amplify the warming effect, to give a figure well below that shown by any observation. One of the implications of the hypothesis was that, given what we know about climate, there could not have been ice ages in the past. “The hypothesis is completely inconsistent with the observations,” said Professor Matthew England, the co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW.

The main difference between the low and high sensitivity results are that one is based in ‘observations’, and the other in models. Belief in low sensitivity is based in preference for ’empiricism’. Most climate scientists OTOH argue our knowledge of radiative properties of CO2 outstrip the information climate measurements can provide, and propose accounts of how this provides additional information about the world (such as produced by models or historical reconstructions of ice ages).

A classic dispute between rationalism and empiricism? I tend to think we do need rational approaches, based in models, but models need to be ruthlessly eliminated by evidence. The good models sit at the intersection of the larger sets of plausible dynamic models, and sets of empirically-fit models. Sure there may be things about low climate sensitivity that cannot currently be explained. The intersection of low sensitivity and high natural variability, as recently described by Spencer, have not been decisively eliminated by observations. The high sensitivity models with low natural variability have.

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119 thoughts on “Moncktons argument

  1. If the planet has a internally self regulated system that is constantly shifting to try acheive an equilibrium than a low sensitivity is very likely (as I suspect). This can still explain ice ages, as the pattern to ice ages is related to our distance from the sun, and the sun is an external input and it also explains the earths historic non-reaction to co2. If the incoming energy is reduced, than the planet changes its regime. I still think the sun has many other influences on the system which we do not fully understand and these may play a greater role. The next 5 years will give us an indication as to whether or not a solar minimum can have a significant effect on the climate for example.

  2. If the planet has a internally self regulated system that is constantly shifting to try acheive an equilibrium than a low sensitivity is very likely (as I suspect). This can still explain ice ages, as the pattern to ice ages is related to our distance from the sun, and the sun is an external input and it also explains the earths historic non-reaction to co2. If the incoming energy is reduced, than the planet changes its regime. I still think the sun has many other influences on the system which we do not fully understand and these may play a greater role. The next 5 years will give us an indication as to whether or not a solar minimum can have a significant effect on the climate for example.

  3. Another analysis showing low sensitivity, coming from a completely different angle, can be found here http://www.palisad.com/co2/eb/eb.html. George White seems like a very bright fellow, but I am not sufficient of a scientist or mathematician to be sure he has not made a simple error somewhere; those more qualified than I may like to check his paper out.

  4. Another analysis showing low sensitivity, coming from a completely different angle, can be found here http://www.palisad.com/co2/eb/eb.html. George White seems like a very bright fellow, but I am not sufficient of a scientist or mathematician to be sure he has not made a simple error somewhere; those more qualified than I may like to check his paper out.

  5. Not so. CO2 as part of a feedback loop has always been a very minor part of warming theory, and plays really no role in AGW, whether at their figure of 7.7ppm/C or whatever higher figure people might have thought of. In fact, I doubt that it would have been discussed at all except for similar misconceptions about CO2 rise being a cause (or not) of Ice Age recovery. Even at the very high figure of 40 ppm/C (which I had never heard before now) would mean only about 30 ppm due to industrial age warming; about a fifth of the rise.Water vapor feedback was always the big one.

  6. I might add one extra observation – that biological life, of which we are irrefutably part of – is an epiphenomenon. Life proliferates when the environmental conditions favour it. Given the dominance of instinctive behaviour of all species to replicate themselves, then global warming would result in more of everything living thing.The corollary to this is that global cooling will cause less of every living thing, as the geological record attests.Mass species extinctions are associated with ice ages, not globally pervasive warming events.I suspect most of the Green angst over “over population” derives more from a fundamental ignorance of biology than anything else.It might be provocative to add that those who consider themselves progressive, liberal, social democratic, statists, have a persistent tendency to blame their personally created misery on externalities. If this logic is followed then the exploding human population then is the result of an externality.Except that this time our progressives, instead of deferring to something greater, then invert the cause to humans themselves – this mode of thinking is pathological.

  7. Cohenite,just read the abstract you referred to Nick. So what do they attribute as the primary source of energy that warms the surface of the Earth? Solar radiation? If so the model is incomplete because we are not dealing with a rock ball covered with a thin film of gas which we live at the bottom of, but a thermally active mass that clearly does not get it's energy from surface irradiation. To think thus implies that somehow the Earth accumulates energy from solar radiance, stores it, somehow, internally, then to release it suddenly if a volcanic eruption, as one example.The whole AGW argument (it isn't a debate) is over the physics of a film of gas coating an enormous mass of thermally active planet.The AGW debate seems much like a bunch of fleas arguing over the changing environment when the tail of the elephant they reside on, moves through local environmental changes.Elephant farts and the fleas think its a heat wave.Elephant has a swim and the fleas think its a deluge.Much ado over nothing, and there is not purpose in pointing to paper A contradicting paper B, for that is but the process of debating. In this case the scientific papers are nothing more than debating points expressed numerically, and then, because numbers can be manipulated infinitely, a case of numerically literate argument; it's a misuse of the scientific method.Science is about observation, frame the hypothesis, design the experiment, test it.Science is about explaining physical reality, not imaginal, because the imaginal we can never test physically. It's Einstein's legacy of though experimentation. Intellectually interesting, physically all baloney.

  8. Not so. CO2 as part of a feedback loop has always been a very minor part of warming theory, and plays really no role in AGW, whether at their figure of 7.7ppm/C or whatever higher figure people might have thought of. In fact, I doubt that it would have been discussed at all except for similar misconceptions about CO2 rise being a cause (or not) of Ice Age recovery.

    Even at the very high figure of 40 ppm/C (which I had never heard before now) would mean only about 30 ppm due to industrial age warming; about a fifth of the rise.

    Water vapor feedback was always the big one.

    • the feedback acts as a multiplier of the no feedback change-the coefficient is 1/1-f

      WV feedback is typically given as an f of .5. this doubles the sensitivity. HOWEVER! A feedback merely equal to WV would lead to a coefficient of 1/0 or and infinite sensitivity.

      In terms of feedback factors, WV as the starting point actually guarantees that any additional feedback, even smaller than the WV feedback, actually increases the sensitivity more than WV does. So I would hardly say that WV is really “the big one”.

      • Well, if you want to add f numbers, that’s a commutative operation, so it has to be OK to say the biggest is the biggest, even if some notional sequence might lead to some other feedback added last causing the onset of instability.

        But CO2 feedback really is much smaller than water. And this new result really doesn’t seem so out of line with the past. I found this estimate in the AR4, 7.3.4.3 –
        “A 1°C increase in sea surface temperature produces an increase in pCO2 of 6.9 to 10.2 ppm after 100 to 1,000 years (Heinze et al., 2003; see also Broecker and Peng, 1986; Plattner et al., 2001). “

        which is not so far from these new results.

      • Really what I’m getting at is that most of the variation in estimates of climate response comes from the modeled response of clouds. Since WV is in all of them, and is fairly well accepted, it is now worth talking about whether clouds will render that very important or irrelevant.

        My point had little to do with CO2 feedback per se. But it raises the question: Since CO2 is typically considered a radiative “forcing” how would one treat it as a “feedback” in the typical 1/1-f manner? It’s clearly not a simple number which is dependent on temperature, but is also time variant. And nonlinear. Hm…

      • To show just how small CO2 feedback is – if you increase SST from 10 to 11C, you increase WV just above the sea by about 750 ppm. And WV is a stronger GHG, though the increase won’t be propagated at full strength through the atmosphere. It still makes 7ppm per 1C for CO2 look small.

      • Hans,
        No, I doubt if such people exist. The paper is a muddled, absurdly ponderous and tendentious ramble, and barely has the form of a scientific paper at all. For example, sec 3.2 is titled “scientific error vs scientific fraud”, and says:
        ” However, some authors and filmmakers have argued that the greenhouse effect hypothesis is not based on an error, but clearly is a kind of a scientific fraud.”
        and sure enough goes on to describe the contents of these often obscure films and pamphlets, contributing no analysis of their own. This isn’t science.

        But if you can find some actual discussable point that you think they have proved, and where they have proved it, I’d be happy to discuss it.

      • Whatever happened to the modellers telling us that they can’t match the temp record from the 20th century without CO2???

      • So, make up your mind then, if you have an independent one.

        Either that tiny contribution from CO2 causes a WV feedback which causes excessive warming or it doesn’t.

        Sorry to make you think for your self Nick the Apologist!!!

      • No, you should read for yourself. No-one has said anything about WV feedback. Frank has a paper saying that CO2 feedback. a minor feedback, is about what the AR4 estimated, and less than what a couple of recent papers have suggested. It says very little about CO2 and AGW.

    • Nick,

      ” CO2 as part of a feedback loop has always been a very minor part of warming theory, and plays really no role in AGW, whether at their figure of 7.7ppm/C or whatever higher figure people might have thought of.”

      So, we can finally put to bed the idea that we need to limit the amount of CO2 we release??

      Thanks, may I quote you to James Hansen, Phil Jones…??

      • No, KK, CO2 is a driver. If you pump it into the atmosphere it causes warming.
        The feedback mechanism refers to the process where warmth drives CO2 out of the ocean. People like Tom Quirk propose this as an explanation for the current CO2 rise. But as this study shows, and the AR4 said, warmth does force CO2 out, but not much.
        So yes, you can quote me to JH etc. They’ll yawn.

      • Love the way you flip back and forth Nick.

        You say CO2 as a feedback is negligible and everyone ignores it.

        Then you claim that CO2 is a driver and causes warming so we must worry about it because in the atmosphere it causes warming all by itself. But, temps have been falling over the last 10 years also!!

        But the IPCC claims that CO2 drives WV feedback.

        I believe in all 3 scenarios CO2 is a driver.

        You are quite silly sometimes Nick the Apologist.

        This also shows you are trying to ignore the terminology that “CO2 is part of a feedback loop” which applies to all 3 scenarios.

        I do love the way y’all have switched from it’s all CO2 to it is WV driven by CO2. Tell me, didn’t CO2 DRIVE both 20 years ago??? Didn’t it warm the atmosphere 20 years ago??

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

        But then, CO2 does not appear to be driving WV over the last 10 years. In fact, it does not appear that WV has been driving WV over the last 10 years. With the falling temps CO2 doesn’t appear to be doing a lot of warming even though the IPCC tried to claim we are at record highs for this inter glacial!!!

        You just can’t admit it can you!!

      • KK, you’re pretty muddled here. CO2 is a driver, and causes warming. WV is a response to warming, and causes more warming. So it’s a feedback. They are the big issues, and not affected by this paper.

        Warming also causes some CO2 to emerge from the sea. This causes more warming to, and so is a feedback (to warming). But it’s minor, and distinct from its role as a driver from burnt fossil fuel.

      • Nick,

        are you serious?? That is a response of some kind???

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

        WV is estimated to be 60% of warming. That is a DRIVER that would cause more WV.

        CO2 and WV can both be considered, in classical AGW, to be driver and feedback.

        The fact that you are tying yourself in knots trying to show a difference that is only in magnitude, and not qualitative, has nothing to do with the discussion of WV decreasing in the strat exactly where classical AGW says warming will increase it increasing the feedback blah blah blah blah…

        WV and temps both decreasing over 10 years. Huh, who woulda thunk. What’s left for classical AGW??

        OOH OOH OOH, I know teach!!! The warming is hiding in the ocean behind an insulative layer that prevents it from coming out and releasing more WV!!!

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      • Again muddled. WV isn’t a driver, it’s a feedback. Human creation of WV is tiny compared with ocean evaporation.

        There’s no real evidence WV has decreased. I think your mixed up with relative humidity.

      • Nick,

        I think it is time for you to explain what the meaning of is is!!!!

        CO2 and WV are both GHG’s. Both are increased by human interaction with the environment. Both are alledged to cause warming. Both will therefore cause feedbacks in both WV and CO2 per the IPCC. Sorry you can’t confuse things more, but, you are soooo funny!!

        You were wrong. You are still wrong, and I imagine you will be wrong in the future. Good luck with the apologietics that continue to get thinner !!!

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      • Of the feedbacks involving greenhouse effect, yes. Ice albedo feedback is also important – I’m not sure how they rank. But CO2 is minor. It wouldn’t be remarked at all except that it’s rise can be seen in the paleo record. But that rise is quite small relative to the very big temperature changes.

        To put it another way, the post-ice age rise in CO2 is typically less than the current manmade rise. Yet the post-ice age temperature rise is of the order of 6C.

  9. I might add one extra observation – that biological life, of which we are irrefutably part of – is an epiphenomenon. Life proliferates when the environmental conditions favour it. Given the dominance of instinctive behaviour of all species to replicate themselves, then global warming would result in more of everything living thing.

    The corollary to this is that global cooling will cause less of every living thing, as the geological record attests.

    Mass species extinctions are associated with ice ages, not globally pervasive warming events.

    I suspect most of the Green angst over “over population” derives more from a fundamental ignorance of biology than anything else.

    It might be provocative to add that those who consider themselves progressive, liberal, social democratic, statists, have a persistent tendency to blame their personally created misery on externalities. If this logic is followed then the exploding human population then is the result of an externality.

    Except that this time our progressives, instead of deferring to something greater, then invert the cause to humans themselves – this mode of thinking is pathological.

  10. Cohenite,

    just read the abstract you referred to Nick. So what do they attribute as the primary source of energy that warms the surface of the Earth? Solar radiation? If so the model is incomplete because we are not dealing with a rock ball covered with a thin film of gas which we live at the bottom of, but a thermally active mass that clearly does not get it’s energy from surface irradiation. To think thus implies that somehow the Earth accumulates energy from solar radiance, stores it, somehow, internally, then to release it suddenly if a volcanic eruption, as one example.

    The whole AGW argument (it isn’t a debate) is over the physics of a film of gas coating an enormous mass of thermally active planet.

    The AGW debate seems much like a bunch of fleas arguing over the changing environment when the tail of the elephant they reside on, moves through local environmental changes.

    Elephant farts and the fleas think its a heat wave.

    Elephant has a swim and the fleas think its a deluge.

    Much ado over nothing, and there is not purpose in pointing to paper A contradicting paper B, for that is but the process of debating. In this case the scientific papers are nothing more than debating points expressed numerically, and then, because numbers can be manipulated infinitely, a case of numerically literate argument; it’s a misuse of the scientific method.

    Science is about observation, frame the hypothesis, design the experiment, test it.

    Science is about explaining physical reality, not imaginal, because the imaginal we can never test physically. It’s Einstein’s legacy of though experimentation. Intellectually interesting, physically all baloney.

  11. I don't know Louis; I just try to point out to Nick some contradictions in his position, but he's a persistent fellow and I'm a glutton for punishment. I hope the drilling is going well.

  12. I don’t know Louis; I just try to point out to Nick some contradictions in his position, but he’s a persistent fellow and I’m a glutton for punishment. I hope the drilling is going well.

  13. the feedback acts as a multiplier of the no feedback change-the coefficient is 1/1-fWV feedback is typically given as an f of .5. this doubles the sensitivity. HOWEVER! A feedback merely equal to WV would lead to a coefficient of 1/0 or and infinite sensitivity.In terms of feedback factors, WV as the starting point actually guarantees that any additional feedback, even smaller than the WV feedback, actually increases the sensitivity more than WV does. So I would hardly say that WV is really “the big one”.

  14. CoheniteDrilling starts end of March at Goldsworthy – we have a slight problem this time of the year with cyclones up there, so March April is the time. I see Monckton did rather well in Brisbane.

  15. Cohenite

    Drilling starts end of March at Goldsworthy – we have a slight problem this time of the year with cyclones up there, so March April is the time. I see Monckton did rather well in Brisbane.

  16. Hans,No, I doubt if such people exist. The paper is a muddled, absurdly ponderous and tendentious ramble, and barely has the form of a scientific paper at all. For example, sec 3.2 is titled “scientific error vs scientific fraud”, and says:” However, some authors and filmmakers have argued that the greenhouse effect hypothesis is not based on an error, but clearly is a kind of a scientific fraud.”and sure enough goes on to describe the contents of these often obscure films and pamphlets, contributing no analysis of their own. This isn't science.But if you can find some actual discussable point that you think they have proved, and where they have proved it, I'd be happy to discuss it.

  17. Well, if you want to add f numbers, that's a commutative operation, so it has to be OK to say the biggest is the biggest, even if some notional sequence might lead to some other feedback added last causing the onset of instability.But CO2 feedback really is much smaller than water. And this new result really doesn't seem so out of line with the past. I found this estimate in the AR4, 7.3.4.3 – “A 1°C increase in sea surface temperature produces an increase in pCO2 of 6.9 to 10.2 ppm after 100 to 1,000 years (Heinze et al., 2003; see also Broecker and Peng, 1986; Plattner et al., 2001). “which is not so far from these new results.

  18. To show just how small CO2 feedback is – if you increase SST from 10 to 11C, you increase WV just above the sea by about 750 ppm. And WV is a stronger GHG, though the increase won't be propagated at full strength through the atmosphere. It still makes 7ppm per 1C for CO2 look small.

  19. If the Soloman paper is correct in saying WV dropped 10% after 2000 the question is, as Louis asks, why did WV levels drop when temperature is still going up? This is particularly pertinent since evapotranspiration is declining;http://www.worldclimatereport.com/index.php/201…In addition Stewart Frank's new paper shows that increased temperature does not increase WV levels; Franks says:”During drought, when soil moisture is low, less of the sun's radiant energy goes into evaporation and more goes into the heating of the atmosphere which causes higher temperatures.”WV is not the positive feedback which AGW relies on but, given the multiple forms which WV can take, particularly clouds, WV in fact dampens climate sensitivity.

  20. If the Soloman paper is correct in saying WV dropped 10% after 2000 the question is, as Louis asks, why did WV levels drop when temperature is still going up? This is particularly pertinent since evapotranspiration is declining;

    http://www.worldclimatereport.com/index.php/2010/01/20/hydrocycle-looking-better-than-ever/

    In addition Stewart Frank’s new paper shows that increased temperature does not increase WV levels; Franks says:

    “During drought, when soil moisture is low, less of the sun’s radiant energy goes into evaporation and more goes into the heating of the atmosphere which causes higher temperatures.”

    WV is not the positive feedback which AGW relies on but, given the multiple forms which WV can take, particularly clouds, WV in fact dampens climate sensitivity.

    • Coho, stratospheric wv dropped 10%, according to Solomon et al. Stratospheric wv is hardly connected to evapotranspiration. Generally WV becomes very scarce around the tropopause, and can’t easily move across it. Usual sources are leakage from disturbances, or oxidation of methane.

      Over land, drought (if that happens) reduces evaporation, and can partially counter the wv feedback mechanism. But that doesn’t apply to the oceans, which are a much bigger source of wv.

      • Nick,

        “Generally WV becomes very scarce around the tropopause, and can’t easily move across it.”

        Yeah, little things like hurricanes, tornados… and thunderclouds hardly move anything up there!!

  21. Coho, stratospheric wv dropped 10%, according to Solomon et al. Stratospheric wv is hardly connected to evapotranspiration. Generally WV becomes very scarce around the tropopause, and can't easily move across it. Usual sources are leakage from disturbances, or oxidation of methane.Over land, drought (if that happens) reduces evaporation, and can partially counter the wv feedback mechanism. But that doesn't apply to the oceans, which are a much bigger source of wv.

  22. My point is Nick, that temperatures, according to GISS, have continued to rise but WV is declining; that would have to mean ocean evaporation as well as evapotranspiration is declining; how can this be if temperatures are increasing?In addition, the Soloman paper confirms the view that WV has different affects depending on its location as well as its form; stratospheric WV enhances warming because it will block OLR in the water spectrum; lower WV generally promotes cooling because it usually is in the form of clouds which increase albedo; I can only see the Soloman paper as a vindication of Paltridge and a rebuttal of Dessler.

  23. Really what I'm getting at is that most of the variation in estimates of climate response comes from the modeled response of clouds. Since WV is in all of them, and is fairly well accepted, it is now worth talking about whether clouds will render that very important or irrelevant.My point had little to do with CO2 feedback per se. But it raises the question: Since CO2 is typically considered a radiative “forcing” how would one treat it as a “feedback” in the typical 1/1-f manner? It's clearly not a simple number which is dependent on temperature, but is also time variant. And nonlinear. Hm…

  24. My point is Nick, that temperatures, according to GISS, have continued to rise but WV is declining; that would have to mean ocean evaporation as well as evapotranspiration is declining; how can this be if temperatures are increasing?

    In addition, the Soloman paper confirms the view that WV has different affects depending on its location as well as its form; stratospheric WV enhances warming because it will block OLR in the water spectrum; lower WV generally promotes cooling because it usually is in the form of clouds which increase albedo; I can only see the Soloman paper as a vindication of Paltridge and a rebuttal of Dessler.

  25. Nick,”Generally WV becomes very scarce around the tropopause, and can't easily move across it.”Yeah, little things like hurricanes, tornados… and thunderclouds hardly move anything up there!!

  26. Nick,” CO2 as part of a feedback loop has always been a very minor part of warming theory, and plays really no role in AGW, whether at their figure of 7.7ppm/C or whatever higher figure people might have thought of.”So, we can finally put to bed the idea that we need to limit the amount of CO2 we release??Thanks, may I quote you to James Hansen, Phil Jones…??

  27. Whatever happened to the modellers telling us that they can't match the temp record from the 20th century without CO2???

  28. No, KK, CO2 is a driver. If you pump it into the atmosphere it causes warming.The feedback mechanism refers to the process where warmth drives CO2 out of the ocean. People like Tom Quirk propose this as an explanation for the current CO2 rise. But as this study shows, and the AR4 said, warmth does force CO2 out, but not much. So yes, you can quote me to JH etc. They'll yawn.

    • Coho, in Ice Age times no-one was pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. CO2 wasn’t a driver.

      Notice the scales on your graph. Temps change by about 6C; CO2 by at most 60 ppm. CO2 isn’t driving anything there. It’s just coming out of the sea in response to temp change, at about the rate that Frank, AR4 etc have been saying. The warming effect of that small CO2 change is, in the context, irrelevant.

      And yes, CO2 as a warming driver is persistent, but in the short term sometimes overshadowed by decade-scale events.

  29. Coho, in Ice Age times no-one was pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. CO2 wasn't a driver.Notice the scales on your graph. Temps change by about 6C; CO2 by at most 60 ppm. CO2 isn't driving anything there. It's just coming out of the sea in response to temp change, at about the rate that Frank, AR4 etc have been saying. The warming effect of that small CO2 change is, in the context, irrelevant.And yes, CO2 as a warming driver is persistent, but in the short term sometimes overshadowed by decade-scale events.

  30. On the left side, the ascending temp may be dragging CO2 from the ocean but what is happening on the right side? And without wanting to get into the isotopic marker dispute and whether the CO2 increase over the 20thC is entirely due to ACO2 how is it that ACO2 is a driver or forcer but CO2 is only a feedback?

  31. On the left side, the ascending temp may be dragging CO2 from the ocean but what is happening on the right side? And without wanting to get into the isotopic marker dispute and whether the CO2 increase over the 20thC is entirely due to ACO2 how is it that ACO2 is a driver or forcer but CO2 is only a feedback?

    • ACO2 is a driver because it is something external happening to the system. Fossil C is being taken from the ground and burnt. That creates new CO2 in the system.

      CO2 has always had the capacity to warm, if its concentration changed. But in the past there was nothing to change it, except warming. Then it creates more warming, which is a feedback, But it is a small one, basically because of that low figure that Frank has once again emphasised. It takes a lot of heat to make a small increase in CO2, which then makes a bit more heat.

      It’s a bit like working a swing. If you’re on the swing, and wriggle in various ways depending on where the swing is in its cycle, you can get it moving. Because you wriggle in response to the swing’s point in the cycle, you could call that a feedback. But if someone comes and gives a push, that’s a driver.

      And OK, that’s not a very good analogy, because self-pushed swinging works fairly well.

  32. ACO2 is a driver because it is something external happening to the system. Fossil C is being taken from the ground and burnt. That creates new CO2 in the system.CO2 has always had the capacity to warm, if its concentration changed. But in the past there was nothing to change it, except warming. Then it creates more warming, which is a feedback, But it is a small one, basically because of that low figure that Frank has once again emphasised. It takes a lot of heat to make a small increase in CO2, which then makes a bit more heat.It's a bit like working a swing. If you're on the swing, and wriggle in various ways depending on where the swing is in its cycle, you can get it moving. Because you wriggle in response to the swing's point in the cycle, you could call that a feedback. But if someone comes and gives a push, that's a driver.And OK, that's not a very good analogy, because self-pushed swinging works fairly well.

  33. You're just an old swinger Nick. It's a clever system though which can tell the difference between a normal systemic CO2 molecule and an external one; but I can feel a tautology coming on in that even though CO2 levels were fairly constant during the last 2000 years we have still had substantial temperature fluctuations; the AGW argument is that, hockeysticks apart, we now have an ACO2 regime which will equal or exceed prior natural temperature movements; but this is not a priori rationalism because there is no precedent for asserting external CO2 can do the job claimed; in fact, given that Arrhenius was wrong about the heating properties of CO2 and that CO2 based climate sensitivity is much lower than thought;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7280…and that if temperature has already gone up over the 20thC due to a 40% increase in ACO2 by 0.7C, then according to the Frank paper which has found an overestimation by 80% of IPCC projections for 2xCO2, which reduces the IPCC CS estimate of ~3C to 0.6C, whatever heating was going to happen from the 2xCO2 has already happened.

  34. You’re just an old swinger Nick. It’s a clever system though which can tell the difference between a normal systemic CO2 molecule and an external one; but I can feel a tautology coming on in that even though CO2 levels were fairly constant during the last 2000 years we have still had substantial temperature fluctuations; the AGW argument is that, hockeysticks apart, we now have an ACO2 regime which will equal or exceed prior natural temperature movements; but this is not a priori rationalism because there is no precedent for asserting external CO2 can do the job claimed; in fact, given that Arrhenius was wrong about the heating properties of CO2 and that CO2 based climate sensitivity is much lower than thought;

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7280/abs/nature08769.html

    and that if temperature has already gone up over the 20thC due to a 40% increase in ACO2 by 0.7C, then according to the Frank paper which has found an overestimation by 80% of IPCC projections for 2xCO2, which reduces the IPCC CS estimate of ~3C to 0.6C, whatever heating was going to happen from the 2xCO2 has already happened.

    • There’s nothing in Frank’s paper about Arrhenius being wrong. And I think you’re getting sensitivities mixed. He’s talking about “global carbon cycle sensitivity to climate”, not climate sensitivity.
      Did the Frank paper really reduce the CS estimate to 0.6C? There’s no mention in the abstract. Or about the 80%.

  35. So, make up your mind then, if you have an independent one.Either that tiny contribution from CO2 causes a WV feedback which causes excessive warming or it doesn't.Sorry to make you think for your self Nick the Apologist!!!

  36. Love the way you flip back and forth Nick.You say CO2 as a feedback is negligible and everyone ignores it.Then you claim that CO2 is a driver and causes warming so we must worry about it because in the atmosphere it causes warming all by itself. But, temps have been falling over the last 10 years also!!But the IPCC claims that CO2 drives WV feedback.I believe in all 3 scenarios CO2 is a driver.You are quite silly sometimes Nick the Apologist.This also shows you are trying to ignore the terminology that “CO2 is part of a feedback loop” which applies to all 3 scenarios.I do love the way y'all have switched from it's all CO2 to it is WV driven by CO2. Tell me, didn't CO2 DRIVE both 20 years ago??? Didn't it warm the atmosphere 20 years ago??HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHABut then, CO2 does not appear to be driving WV over the last 10 years. In fact, it does not appear that WV has been driving WV over the last 10 years. With the falling temps CO2 doesn't appear to be doing a lot of warming even though the IPCC tried to claim we are at record highs for this inter glacial!!!You just can't admit it can you!!

  37. There's nothing in Frank's paper about Arrhenius being wrong. And I think you're getting sensitivities mixed. He's talking about “global carbon cycle sensitivity to climate”, not climate sensitivity.Did the Frank paper really reduce the CS estimate to 0.6C? There's no mention in the abstract. Or about the 80%.

  38. No, you should read for yourself. No-one has said anything about WV feedback. Frank has a paper saying that CO2 feedback. a minor feedback, is about what the AR4 estimated, and less than what a couple of recent papers have suggested. It says very little about CO2 and AGW.

  39. KK, you're pretty muddled here. CO2 is a driver, and causes warming. WV is a response to warming, and causes more warming. So it's a feedback. They are the big issues, and not affected by this paper.Warming also causes some CO2 to emerge from the sea. This causes more warming to, and so is a feedback (to warming). But it's minor, and distinct from its role as a driver from burnt fossil fuel.

  40. No, I said Arrhenius was wrong. The Frank paper says this:”Our results are incompatibly lower (P < 0.05) than recent pre-industrial empirical estimates of ~40 p.p.m.v. CO2 per °C (refs 6, 7), and correspondingly suggest ~80% less potential amplification of ongoing global warming.”80% of 3C is 0.6C; the 3C comes from IPCC estimates of the CS to 2xCO2.

  41. No, I said Arrhenius was wrong. The Frank paper says this:

    “Our results are incompatibly lower (P < 0.05) than recent pre-industrial empirical estimates of ~40 p.p.m.v. CO2 per °C (refs 6, 7), and correspondingly suggest ~80% less potential amplification of ongoing global warming."

    80% of 3C is 0.6C; the 3C comes from IPCC estimates of the CS to 2xCO2.

    • That’s all wrong. He’s talking about the amount of CO2 from the ocean per °C, not CS. They are almost entirely unconnected. and you can’t take the 80% from one figure and just apply it to the other.

      Anyway, as I said, the IPCC uses almost the same figure as Frank. The 40 ppmv refers to some more recent papers.

  42. That's all wrong. He's talking about the amount of CO2 from the ocean per °C, not CS. They are almost entirely unconnected. and you can't take the 80% from one figure and just apply it to the other.Anyway, as I said, the IPCC uses almost the same figure as Frank. The 40 ppmv refers to some more recent papers.

  43. Nick, as I said before, the system cannot distinguish in effect CO2 from ACO2, so how can feedback from CO2 as described by Frank et al be different from the forcing of ACO2? If they can't the CS to 2xCO2 is reduced per the Frank findings.

  44. Nick, as I said before, the system cannot distinguish in effect CO2 from ACO2, so how can feedback from CO2 as described by Frank et al be different from the forcing of ACO2? If they can’t the CS to 2xCO2 is reduced per the Frank findings.

    • You have no basis for taking a figure for ppm/C CO@ and applying to to CS. They are just different things. You certainly have no basis for taking a “reduction” based on some recent high estimates. As I say, the AR4 figure is similar to Frank’s, and your 3C is also their figure. If the IPCC used any CO2 feedback figure for calculating CS, then you should base a reduction on the figure they quoted. BUt they didn’t; any CO2 feedback contribution to CS would have been minuscule.

      CO2 feedback is a simple idea which doesn’t involve distinguishing ACO2 at all. A 1C rise brings x ppm CO2 out of the sea. That causes a small amount of extra warming. You just measure x. It has nothing to do with the effect of CO2 from burning.

  45. Nick,are you serious?? That is a response of some kind???HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAWV is estimated to be 60% of warming. That is a DRIVER that would cause more WV.CO2 and WV can both be considered, in classical AGW, to be driver and feedback.The fact that you are tying yourself in knots trying to show a difference that is only in magnitude, and not qualitative, has nothing to do with the discussion of WV decreasing in the strat exactly where classical AGW says warming will increase it increasing the feedback blah blah blah blah…WV and temps both decreasing over 10 years. Huh, who woulda thunk. What's left for classical AGW??OOH OOH OOH, I know teach!!! The warming is hiding in the ocean behind an insulative layer that prevents it from coming out and releasing more WV!!!HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  46. You have no basis for taking a figure for ppm/C CO@ and applying to to CS. They are just different things. You certainly have no basis for taking a “reduction” based on some recent high estimates. As I say, the AR4 figure is similar to Frank's, and your 3C is also their figure. If the IPCC used any CO2 feedback figure for calculating CS, then you should base a reduction on the figure they quoted. BUt they didn't; any CO2 feedback contribution to CS would have been minuscule.CO2 feedback is a simple idea which doesn't involve distinguishing ACO2 at all. A 1C rise brings x ppm CO2 out of the sea. That causes a small amount of extra warming. You just measure x. It has nothing to do with the effect of CO2 from burning.

  47. Again muddled. WV isn't a driver, it's a feedback. Human creation of WV is tiny compared with ocean evaporation.There's no real evidence WV has decreased. I think your mixed up with relative humidity.

  48. Nick, I think the Soloman paper shows WV has declined;http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/…Anyway, the Frank et al paper says that 1C in warming causes an increase of 7.7ppm of CO2; this is distinguished from ACO2 because the ACO2 is a forcing since it is not part of the natural cycle; but neither is that 7.7ppm if it was caused by the increase in ACO2; temperature has gone up ~0.7C since 1900; CO2 has gone up about 40% during the same period; this is about 50% of what it should have gone up on the basis of human emissions which must be due to an expansion of sinks; so what can we conclude from this:1 On the basis of Frank's findings the 0.7C increase in temperature should have produced an increase of CO2 of 7.7/.7 = 5.39ppm.2 The other part of the 40% increase in atmospheric CO2, or ~114.61ppm, must be due to ACO23 According to AGW 114ppm of ACO2 forcing has caused a 0.7C increase in temperature4 According to AR4 a 40% increase in CO2 should have caused an increase in temp of ~ 1.2CSo why is there a 0.5C shortfall? Is the feedback to ACO2 warming negative? Remember this is assuming all the warming is due to ACO2 which obviously isn't the case since even IPCC allows for a solar impact of between 0.1-0.4C. The answer lies in the Frank's paper; the CS of the natural CO2 system, y, is miniscule; how can you then argue that the CS of the whole climate system to ^CO2 is great?

  49. Nick, I think the Soloman paper shows WV has declined;

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/science.1182488

    Anyway, the Frank et al paper says that 1C in warming causes an increase of 7.7ppm of CO2; this is distinguished from ACO2 because the ACO2 is a forcing since it is not part of the natural cycle; but neither is that 7.7ppm if it was caused by the increase in ACO2; temperature has gone up ~0.7C since 1900; CO2 has gone up about 40% during the same period; this is about 50% of what it should have gone up on the basis of human emissions which must be due to an expansion of sinks; so what can we conclude from this:
    1 On the basis of Frank’s findings the 0.7C increase in temperature should have produced an increase of CO2 of 7.7/.7 = 5.39ppm.
    2 The other part of the 40% increase in atmospheric CO2, or ~114.61ppm, must be due to ACO2
    3 According to AGW 114ppm of ACO2 forcing has caused a 0.7C increase in temperature
    4 According to AR4 a 40% increase in CO2 should have caused an increase in temp of ~ 1.2C

    So why is there a 0.5C shortfall? Is the feedback to ACO2 warming negative? Remember this is assuming all the warming is due to ACO2 which obviously isn’t the case since even IPCC allows for a solar impact of between 0.1-0.4C. The answer lies in the Frank’s paper; the CS of the natural CO2 system, y, is miniscule; how can you then argue that the CS of the whole climate system to ^CO2 is great?

    • “Nick, I think the Soloman paper shows WV has declined;”
      No, you’re not distinguishing properly. The Solomon paper is about stratospheric water vapor.

      “So why is there a 0.5C shortfall?”
      Be patient. The theory doesn’t say it all comes at once.

  50. Nick,I think it is time for you to explain what the meaning of is is!!!!CO2 and WV are both GHG's. Both are increased by human interaction with the environment. Both are alledged to cause warming. Both will therefore cause feedbacks in both WV and CO2 per the IPCC. Sorry you can't confuse things more, but, you are soooo funny!!You were wrong. You are still wrong, and I imagine you will be wrong in the future. Good luck with the apologietics that continue to get thinner !!!HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  51. It would be handy to have a property of the global system that did not change in total, that is a converved property, so that the various parts could be summed to see that the answer is 100% and so all effects are accounted for.Temperature is out, of course, because we are looking at variation in temperature.Of the long-term instrumental records, barometric pressure at first came to mind. If baro pressure is the weight of a column of atmosphere above a point, then it ought to add to 100% even though it varies from place to place with weather/climate. But it does not because its density changes with vapour content. This in turns gives it another possible use, a backup check to temperature calculations. This might be old ground, but if we accept broadly that baro pressure is affected by WV and clouds are formed and albedo changes and temperature changes (this is simplified) then there should be some possibility of baro pressure helping distinguish which temperature step adjustments are valid (eg instrumental error) or natural (eg change in solar irradiance).There are some stations with backup data on both of these, when wet and dry bulb temps are taken for relative humidity. But this is RH at station altitude whereas baro pressure is affected by RH integrated over the whole vertical column.Does this line of thinking ring a bell with anyone or has it been done to death? One aim is to see what substance there is behind claims that global RH has varied significantly in the past 20 years. My fault that I have not looked at relevant literature.

  52. It would be handy to have a property of the global system that did not change in total, that is a converved property, so that the various parts could be summed to see that the answer is 100% and so all effects are accounted for.

    Temperature is out, of course, because we are looking at variation in temperature.

    Of the long-term instrumental records, barometric pressure at first came to mind. If baro pressure is the weight of a column of atmosphere above a point, then it ought to add to 100% even though it varies from place to place with weather/climate. But it does not because its density changes with vapour content. This in turns gives it another possible use, a backup check to temperature calculations.

    This might be old ground, but if we accept broadly that baro pressure is affected by WV and clouds are formed and albedo changes and temperature changes (this is simplified) then there should be some possibility of baro pressure helping distinguish which temperature step adjustments are valid (eg instrumental error) or natural (eg change in solar irradiance).

    There are some stations with backup data on both of these, when wet and dry bulb temps are taken for relative humidity. But this is RH at station altitude whereas baro pressure is affected by RH integrated over the whole vertical column.

    Does this line of thinking ring a bell with anyone or has it been done to death? One aim is to see what substance there is behind claims that global RH has varied significantly in the past 20 years. My fault that I have not looked at relevant literature.

    • “It would be handy to have a property of the global system that did not change in total, that is a conserved property, so that the various parts could be summed to see that the answer is 100% and so all effects are accounted for.

      Temperature is out, of course, because we are looking at variation in temperature.”

      How about a simple relationship between Bond albedo and surface temperature derived from a constant, geometrical degree of partitioning of (a) re-transmitted SW, (b) ‘realized’ latent heat and (c) sensible heat between TOA and BOA for albedos between (say) 0.27 and 0.35?

      http://jump.fm/JOORH

      http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/90/3/pdf/i1520-0477-90-3-311.pdf

      Seems to me Miskolczi was more or less on the right track….but, in his inimitable way, for all the wrong reasons.

      • Global surface temperature is strongly correlated with solar activity (strongly in the sense that the correlation is twice that between El Niño and surface temperature).

        Modeling albedo as a function of surface temperature recognizes the strong negative feedback that stabilizes Earth’s climate against greenhouse effects. IPCC’s omission of this effect and related observations is a fatal flaw.

        Gross albedo varies because of the availability of Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCNs) from galactic cosmic rays and the specific humidity, which varies with surface temperature.

        Another powerful mechanism probably exists, one that links cloud cover to atmospheric changes, especially heating, from SW radiation. This would mean that the Bond albedo is also dependent on solar activity, even if surface temperature does not change. In this model, albedo is an amplifier of solar activity, increasing solar forcing beyond the simple forcing equal to the change in solar irradiance on which IPCC relies.

        While nominal solar irradiance controls the nominal climate (K&T’97; T.F & K’09), variations in solar activity account for the observed climate changes on Earth. This occurs because the solar insolation at the surface is proportional to the total or fractional solar irradiance, multiplied by a TSI-dependent albedo.

        Increased solar activity should work to reduce cloudiness long before surface temperature, dominated by the ocean, can then increase humidity.

        The latter albedo gain factor is a fast loop, dependent in part on atmospheric thermal capacity. That gain might be best modeled as nonlinear in TSI, but it should be sufficient, over small variations in albedo about the current warm state mean, to model it as a simple linear tangent to the response – for a vastly improved first order model.

        Careful inspection of my simple Excel-based model will reveal that :

        * the atmospherically absorbed incoming SW (which I labelled F); and

        * the atmospherically ‘realized’ latent heat (which I have labelled LH); and

        * the atmospherically absorbed sensible heat (dry thermals) thermals),

        all appear to distribute their produced LW IR more or less equally i.e. 37.4% to TOA and 67.6% to BOA under the current narrow range of albedo (a) (K, F & T ’09).

        Under this condition of a narrow Bond albedo range about ~0.30 (±0.03 – 0.04 say) this is simply just a basic geometric effect of the fact that the effective (average) TOA is about 5.5 km altitude. After all, the atmosphere is a relatively thin ‘skin’.

        This realization was quite a little epiphany for me when I realized this a couple of years ago from pouring over K&T’97 and while trying at the same time to make some sense of the Miskolczi distraction.

        A passable analogy for the Earth’s climate seems to me to be a house, which is heated or cooled by means of solar radiation and its variation (of course) but which has tacked on (and into) it, a solar powered air conditioning unit.

        The primary means whereby the air conditioning unit, which is a ‘complex time dependent filter’ conditions/stabilizes the internal temperature of the house (at any point between the externally-driven glacial (not snowball) state and externally-driven interglacial warm state is by manipulation of albedo.

        What many people including scientists don’t seem to realize is that the air conditioning unit has undoubtedly become increasing complex and robust with time (at manipulating albedo) for any given externally imposed state. It is quite easy to identify those points in time where this has occurred.

        Of course the first point was the evolution of marine photosynthetic organisms which ‘chewed up’ most of the GHG CO2 and replaced it with oxygen, cooling the planet, but not too much? However, these organisms also started to stabilize the albedo by continually pumping an excess of CCNs into the atmosphere to make low cloud formation easier, and by affecting sea surface albedo etc.

        As a spin off from this, much later along came the (relatively recent) evolution of land plants, leading (ultimately) to shrubs and trees – not only pumping out more CCNs but making evapotranspiration (ET; which leads to cooling via latent heat transfer into the atmosphere), a much simpler and stronger feedback function on surface insolation. It is a fact that 89% of the variance of ET on land is a simple function of only annual rainfall and the relative proportions of forest (most effective ET), shrubs (next most effective) and grasses (least effective).

        Zhang, L. Dawes, W.R. and Walker, G.R. (2001) Response of mean annual evapotranspiration to vegetation changes at catchment scale. Water Resour. Res. 37, 701-708
        Zhang, L. Hickel, K., Dawes, W.R., Chiew, F. , Western, A., (2004) A rational function approach for estimating mean annual evapotranspiration. Water Resour. Res. 40, W02502.

        This is not a trivial example because 53% of the planet’s photosynthetic biomass is now on land.

        Even the continental drift and/or the again more recent (externally Milankovich cycles driven) Pleistocene glacial/intergalacial end states have added increased robustness.

        For example, about 42 Ma ago the Drake Passage opened, producing a complete circumpolar oceanic current for the SH, about 11 ka ago the Indonesian Archipelago flooded allowing Indian Ocean, northern Pacific water exchange and prfoundly changing the activity of the East Asian monsoon.

        Such effects are equivalent to opening doors inside the house, thereby smoothing the temperature throughout the ‘house’. Other effects are equivalent to spraying water into rooms of the house.

        Did the regularity of the Milankovich cycles somehow increase the robustness of the air conditioning unit’s feedback loops? Maybe yes, maybe no – a hard one. Interested in any suggestions.

        Most recently humans have increased the CO2 content of the atmosphere. But the house’s air conditioning unit has seen this before too and has numerous feedbacks up it sleeves (= in its circuits), some now active, some just requiring a little crank up to swing back into action.

        For example, we are already seeing seeing increases in rates of tree growth which no one has considered in terms of its effect on ET and hence on albedo etc. Another big sleeper we haven’t heard from yet (i.e. realized is already starting to act) is the massive amount of nitrogen the human race is pumping into the continental shelf waters. This should be producing a significant upwards trends in coastal cyanobacterial primary productivity and hence CCN production.

        In a nutshell, Earth’s climate appears to be a complex, time dependent filter responding to solar activity, but stabilized by albedo. The greenhouse effect is a weak forcing parameter, being strongly mitigated by albedo.

  53. “It would be handy to have a property of the global system that did not change in total, that is a conserved property, so that the various parts could be summed to see that the answer is 100% and so all effects are accounted for.Temperature is out, of course, because we are looking at variation in temperature.”How about a simple relationship between Bond albedo and surface temperature derived from a constant, geometrical degree of partitioning of (a) re-transmitted SW, (b) 'realized' latent heat and (c) sensible heat between TOA and BOA for albedos between (say) 0.27 and 0.35?http://jump.fm/JOORHhttp://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/90/…Seems to me Miskolczi was more or less on the right track….but, in his inimitable way, for all the wrong reasons.

  54. Global surface temperature is strongly correlated with solar activity (strongly in the sense that the correlation is twice that between El Niño and surface temperature). Modeling albedo as a function of surface temperature recognizes the strong negative feedback that stabilizes Earth's climate against greenhouse effects. IPCC's omission of this effect and related observations is a fatal flaw.Gross albedo varies because of the availability of Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCNs) from galactic cosmic rays and the specific humidity, which varies with surface temperature. Another powerful mechanism probably exists, one that links cloud cover to atmospheric changes, especially heating, from SW radiation. This would mean that the Bond albedo is also dependent on solar activity, even if surface temperature does not change. In this model, albedo is an amplifier of solar activity, increasing solar forcing beyond the simple forcing equal to the change in solar irradiance on which IPCC relies.While nominal solar irradiance controls the nominal climate (K&T'97; T.F & K'09), variations in solar activity account for the observed climate changes on Earth. This occurs because the solar insolation at the surface is proportional to the total or fractional solar irradiance, multiplied by a TSI-dependent albedo. Increased solar activity should work to reduce cloudiness long before surface temperature, dominated by the ocean, can then increase humidity. The latter albedo gain factor is a fast loop, dependent in part on atmospheric thermal capacity. That gain might be best modeled as nonlinear in TSI, but it should be sufficient, over small variations in albedo about the current warm state mean, to model it as a simple linear tangent to the response – for a vastly improved first order model.Careful inspection of my simple Excel-based model will reveal that :* the atmospherically absorbed incoming SW (which I labelled F); and* the atmospherically 'realized' latent heat (which I have labelled LH); and* the atmospherically absorbed sensible heat (dry thermals) thermals),all appear to distribute their produced LW IR more or less equally i.e. 37.4% to TOA and 67.6% to BOA under the current narrow range of albedo (a) (K, F & T '09).Under this condition of a narrow Bond albedo range about ~0.30 (±0.03 – 0.04 say) this is simply just a basic geometric effect of the fact that the effective (average) TOA is about 5.5 km altitude. After all, the atmosphere is a relatively thin 'skin'. This realization was quite a little epiphany for me when I realized this a couple of years ago from pouring over K&T'97 and while trying at the same time to make some sense of the Miskolczi distraction.A passable analogy for the Earth's climate seems to me to be a house, which is heated or cooled by means of solar radiation and its variation (of course) but which has tacked on (and into) it, a solar powered air conditioning unit.The primary means whereby the air conditioning unit, which is a 'complex time dependent filter' conditions/stabilizes the internal temperature of the house (at any point between the externally-driven glacial (not snowball) state and externally-driven interglacial warm state is by manipulation of albedo.What many people including scientists don't seem to realize is that the air conditioning unit has undoubtedly become increasing complex and robust with time (at manipulating albedo) for any given externally imposed state. It is quite easy to identify those points in time where this has occurred.Of course the first point was the evolution of marine photosynthetic organisms which 'chewed up' most of the GHG CO2 and replaced it with oxygen, cooling the planet, but not too much? However, these organisms also started to stabilize the albedo by continually pumping an excess of CCNs into the atmosphere to make low cloud formation easier, and by affecting sea surface albedo etc.As a spin off from this, much later along came the (relatively recent) evolution of land plants, leading (ultimately) to shrubs and trees – not only pumping out more CCNs but making evapotranspiration (ET; which leads to cooling via latent heat transfer into the atmosphere), a much simpler and stronger feedback function on surface insolation. It is a fact that 89% of the variance of ET on land is a simple function of only annual rainfall and the relative proportions of forest (most effective ET), shrubs (next most effective) and grasses (least effective).Zhang, L. Dawes, W.R. and Walker, G.R. (2001) Response of mean annual evapotranspiration to vegetation changes at catchment scale. Water Resour. Res. 37, 701-708Zhang, L. Hickel, K., Dawes, W.R., Chiew, F. , Western, A., (2004) A rational function approach for estimating mean annual evapotranspiration. Water Resour. Res. 40, W02502.This is not a trivial example because 53% of the planet's photosynthetic biomass is now on land.Even the continental drift and/or the again more recent (externally Milankovich cycles driven) Pleistocene glacial/intergalacial end states have added increased robustness. For example, about 42 Ma ago the Drake Passage opened, producing a complete circumpolar oceanic current for the SH, about 11 ka ago the Indonesian Archipelago flooded allowing Indian Ocean, northern Pacific water exchange and prfoundly changing the activity of the East Asian monsoon. Such effects are equivalent to opening doors inside the house, thereby smoothing the temperature throughout the 'house'. Other effects are equivalent to spraying water into rooms of the house.Did the regularity of the Milankovich cycles somehow increase the robustness of the air conditioning unit's feedback loops? Maybe yes, maybe no – a hard one. Interested in any suggestions.Most recently humans have increased the CO2 content of the atmosphere. But the house's air conditioning unit has seen this before too and has numerous feedbacks up it sleeves (= in its circuits), some now active, some just requiring a little crank up to swing back into action.For example, we are already seeing seeing increases in rates of tree growth which no one has considered in terms of its effect on ET and hence on albedo etc. Another big sleeper we haven't heard from yet (i.e. realized is already starting to act) is the massive amount of nitrogen the human race is pumping into the continental shelf waters. This should be producing a significant upwards trends in coastal cyanobacterial primary productivity and hence CCN production.In a nutshell, Earth's climate appears to be a complex, time dependent filter responding to solar activity, but stabilized by albedo. The greenhouse effect is a weak forcing parameter, being strongly mitigated by albedo.

  55. Hi Steve; that figure of 53% for photosynthetic biomass on land; I could only find a figure of 50% from a 1998 paper; is the increase due to the increase in plant density as a response to the extra CO2 with less CO2 being available in the oceans since they are a net emitter as per the Frank paper which Nick and I have been discussing?

  56. “Nick, I think the Soloman paper shows WV has declined;”No, you're not distinguishing properly. The Solomon paper is about stratospheric water vapor.“So why is there a 0.5C shortfall?”Be patient. The theory doesn't say it all comes at once.

  57. Hi Steve; that figure of 53% for photosynthetic biomass on land; I could only find a figure of 50% from a 1998 paper; is the increase due to the increase in plant density as a response to the extra CO2 with less CO2 being available in the oceans since they are a net emitter as per the Frank paper which Nick and I have been discussing?

    • Hi Anthony; I got that figure of 53% for land biomass distribution more recently from a Nature Geoscience (to which I subscribe) paper. Then I work my way through it once a month while sitting on the you-know-what! I can try to dig out the reference if you like?

      I don’t recall any paper for global biomass balances between the land and oceans which shows an increase or altered balance in recent times due to ‘extra CO2’. The 50:50 or 53:47 ratios (land:ocean) have a fair bit of imprecision (prob. ~±5%) anyway. It is just not possible to be precise about such massive amounts!

      Cyanobacterial primary productivity in the oceans is generally limited by nutrients – principally available nitrogen and dissolved iron. Water temperature (and hence concentration of dissolved CO2) is almost invariably not a limiting factor, except in the rarest circumstances.

      Even if the oceans were a net CO2 emitter (I haven’t read the Frank paper) this would not alter the cyanobacterial primary productivity.

      But I very much doubt that proposition!

      While the remineralization depth can be shown to be quite significant in altering atmospheric CO2 (Kwon et al., September 2009), the magnitude of the sinking flux of organic carbon, most of which derives from CO2 ‘fixed’ by cyanobacteria is so overwhelming that it ensures that the oceans are always a net sink of CO2.

      This is why we have massive amounts of oil, gas, Latrobe Valley brown coal (a marine sediment) etc., etc., deriving from the oceanic fixed carbon sinks. No one (not even God) thought to switch those processes off!

  58. Hi Anthony; I got that figure of 53% for land biomass distribution more recently from a Nature Geoscience (to which I subscribe) paper. Then I work my way through it once a month while sitting on the you-know-what! I can try to dig out the reference if you like?I don't recall any paper for global biomass balances between the land and oceans which shows an increase or altered balance in recent times due to 'extra CO2'. The 50:50 or 53:47 ratios (land:ocean) have a fair bit of imprecision (prob. ~±5%) anyway. It is just not possible to be precise about such massive amounts!Cyanobacterial primary productivity in the oceans is generally limited by nutrients – principally available nitrogen and dissolved iron. Water temperature (and hence concentration of dissolved CO2) is almost invariably not a limiting factor, except in the rarest circumstances.Even if the oceans were a net CO2 emitter (I haven't read the Frank paper) this would not alter the cyanobacterial primary productivity.But I very much doubt that proposition! While the remineralization depth can be shown to be quite significant in altering atmospheric CO2 (Kwon et al., September 2009), the magnitude of the sinking flux of organic carbon, most of which derives from CO2 'fixed' by cyanobacteria is so overwhelming that it ensures that the oceans are always a net sink of CO2. This is why we have massive amounts of oil, gas, Latrobe Valley brown coal (a marine sediment) etc., etc., deriving from the oceanic fixed carbon sinks. No one (not even God) thought to switch those processes off!

    • Anthony

      In relation to the biomass that counts (CO2-wise), from Wikipedia:

      Global primary production can be estimated from satellite observations. Satellites scan the normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) over terrestrial habitats, and scan sea-surface chlorophyll levels over oceans. This results in 56.4 billion tonnes C/yr (53.8%), for terrestrial primary production, and 48.5 billion tonnes C/yr (46.2%) for oceanic primary production.

      Thus, the total photoautotrophic primary production for the Earth is about 104.9 billion tonnes C/yr. This translates to about 426 gC/m²/yr for land production (excluding areas with permanent ice cover), and 140 gC/m²/yr for the oceans.

      However, there is a much more significant difference in standing stocks – while accounting for almost half of total annual production, living oceanic autotrophs account for only about 0.2% of the total biomass.

      BTW, in an interesting aside, there is 5 times as much biomass of krill (which feed on oceanic autotrophs) on the planet as there is biomass of humans.

  59. AnthonyIn relation to the biomass that counts (CO2-wise), from Wikipedia:Global primary production can be estimated from satellite observations. Satellites scan the normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) over terrestrial habitats, and scan sea-surface chlorophyll levels over oceans. This results in 56.4 billion tonnes C/yr (53.8%), for terrestrial primary production, and 48.5 billion tonnes C/yr (46.2%) for oceanic primary production.Thus, the total photoautotrophic primary production for the Earth is about 104.9 billion tonnes C/yr. This translates to about 426 gC/m²/yr for land production (excluding areas with permanent ice cover), and 140 gC/m²/yr for the oceans.However, there is a much more significant difference in standing stocks – while accounting for almost half of total annual production, living oceanic autotrophs account for only about 0.2% of the total biomass.BTW, in an interesting aside, there is 5 times as much biomass of krill (which feed on oceanic autotrophs) on the planet as there is biomass of humans.

  60. Of the feedbacks involving greenhouse effect, yes. Ice albedo feedback is also important – I'm not sure how they rank. But CO2 is minor. It wouldn't be remarked at all except that it's rise can be seen in the paleo record. But that rise is quite small relative to the very big temperature changes.To put it another way, the post-ice age rise in CO2 is typically less than the current manmade rise. Yet the post-ice age temperature rise is of the order of 6C.

  61. Of the feedbacks involving greenhouse effect, yes. Ice albedo feedback is also important – I'm not sure how they rank. But CO2 is minor. It wouldn't be remarked at all except that it's rise can be seen in the paleo record. But that rise is quite small relative to the very big temperature changes.To put it another way, the post-ice age rise in CO2 is typically less than the current manmade rise. Yet the post-ice age temperature rise is of the order of 6C.

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