Peter Morcombe: Comment on the ‘Unified Theory of Climate’

Posted: March 18, 2012 by Rog Tallbloke in Astrophysics, atmosphere, climate, Energy, Solar physics, solar system dynamics

My thanks to Verity Jones for permission to repost this article by Peter ‘gallopingcamel’ Morcombe from her blog ‘Digging in the Clay’ which always carries well researched and written posts. Peter extends Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller’s work to include a look at the gas giant outer planets in this piece, as well as commenting on other matters arising from their work. Peter refers to them with an abbreviation of their first names (N&K) throughout.

(Image: NASA)

Guest Post by Peter Morcombe

In October 2011, Ned Nikolov & Karl Zeller (N&K) published a poster called the ‘Unified Theory of Climate’ (Direct link to Poster) claiming that planetary surface temperatures can be calculated accurately if pressure and TSI (Total Solar Irradiance) are known. If their claim is correct, so-called ‘Greenhouse Gasses’ such as carbon dioxide are not responsible for the observed ‘Global Warming’ since 1850. This has major implications with respect to energy policies worldwide.

These ideas are hardly new as PaAnnoyed, Steven Goddard, Harry Dale Huffman, Leonard Weinstein, gallopingcamel and others have made similar assertions. N&K boiled it all down to a few equations. Their claims are being hotly debated with critics dismissing it as sophisticated curve fitting. While that makes me wonder whether those critics bothered to read the N&K poster, I have some criticisms of my own.

Albedo

The idea that one can calculate planetary temperatures without allowing for the proportion of incident energy that is reflected seems nonsensical. Surely a planet like Venus with a high Bond albedo (0.75-0.90) will be cooler than it would be if its albedo was more like Earth’s (0.306). Albedo is quite complex given that it is wavelength dependent and varies with time for planets that have clouds, vegetation or ice fields. However, one might be able to ignore the albedo if it was similar for incoming solar radiation (peaking at 500 nm) as for the long wave radiation that planets radiate into space.

Vapors

Planets that have substantial atmospheres tend to have vapors that can form clouds, seas or ice fields. Venus has sulphuric acid clouds, Earth has water vapor, Jupiter has ammonia clouds and so on. These clouds affect many things such as albedos, adiabatic lapse rates and the transport of heat from low to high latitudes. It is hard to take a theory that ignores these effects seriously. Imagine the planet Earth with all of its water magically removed; are N&K implying that this would not have a major effect on temperatures? Is that credible given that adiabatic lapse rates are significantly greater for dry air than for damp air?

They may be right given that when moisture is introduced into the atmosphere there are two opposing effects. When humidity is high the adiabatic lapse rate falls but at the same time the altitude of the tropopause rises. Thus to a first approximation the effect of adding water vapor may be small. It does not worry me that I can’t properly explain this process as I doubt that anyone can convincingly explain the effect of water in its various forms on surface temperature.

Suspend disbelief

In spite of my misgivings I propose to suspend disbelief and probe N&K’s theory using data that is easily available on the Internet. The starting point should be N&K’s equation (8):

Ts = 25.3966 (So + 0.0001325)0.25 NTE(Ps)

The first part of this equation is not controversial, based as it is on the Stephan-Boltzmann radiation equations and the ~2.7 oK black body temperature of the universe.

The second part of the equation that includes the NTE(Ps) is controversial in the sense that this can be criticized as an exercise in ‘curve fitting’. However there is a simple way to test N&K’s core claim that the NTE is a function of pressure while avoiding the charge of ‘curve fitting’.

Earth

To avoid having to discuss the detailed nature of NTE(Ps) I will work at a constant pressure of 1 bar (100,000 Pa) so that the function becomes a constant. I will start by determining the ‘Atmospheric Constant’ = 25.3966 NTE(1). The best data we have for evaluating this constant is from the planet we occupy, Ts = 288.2 K and So = 1,366 W/m2 from which NTE (1) = 47.41.

Already, my computations have tip toed around a serious error. The temperature Ts above is the average global temperature that has wide acceptance in the scientific community but what pressure is it measured at? Here are the three possibilities:

N&K One Bar One Atm.

Pressure (Pascal) 98,888.2 100,000.0 101,325.0

Temperature (Kelvin) 287.6 288.2 288.9

The first numbers are from the N&K poster which I have corrected for 1 Bar of pressure rather than 1 Atm. The above pressures cover a range of only 2.5% but the corresponding effect on temperature is 1.3 degrees Kelvin. Some might think this too small an error to worry about were it not for the fact that the observed ‘Global Warming’ since 1850 is ~0.8 degrees Kelvin.

Venus

Now let’s apply the atmospheric constant to Venus where So = 2,614 W/m2 . The corresponding temperature should be 339 Kelvin or 66 oC. Direct observations are available thanks to the Magellan mission and Jenkins et al. The measured temperature at an altitude of 49.5 km was 339 Kelvin and the pressure was …………. 1,000 mBar = 1 Bar.

Vindication for N&K? Yes, but before one gets too excited it should be noted that there are plenty of sources of error. Note for example that the measurements refer to a latitude of 67N; low latitude temperatures could be significantly different. A measurement at one latitude can hardly be mistaken for a global average.

This result suggests that James Hansen’s theory of a ‘Runaway Greenhouse Effect’ is as real as the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Venus has an atmosphere which is ~96% carbon dioxide in sharp contrast to Earth’s ~0.004% but it appears to have no effect on the planet’s temperature. The ratio is 240,000:1 or more than 17 ‘doublings’ of CO2 concentration. Taking the IPCC’s ‘best estimate of 3 oC/doubling (AR4), the corresponding effect on Venusian temperatures should be ~51 oC; given that the temperature enhancement at the surface of Venus is >500 oC, Hansen’s theory fails miserably.

Other bodies

Besides Earth and Venus, N&K discuss Mercury, Earth’s moon, Mars, Europa, Titan and Triton. Only one of these has a significant atmosphere, namely Titan, so let’s check it out. So = 15.1 W/m2 which would correspond to a temperature of 93 Kelvin. According to the European Space Agency’s HASI experiment, the observed temperature at 1 Bar is 85.8 Kelvin. Here is the relevant data:

Altitude (m)       Pressure (Pa)            Temperature (K)          Density kg/m3

7,536.0            99,914.00000                   85.8031                      3.9349000

7,512.0          100,053.00000                   85.8261                     3.9399000

7,487.0          100,183.00000                  85.8563                      3.9454000

The difference between predicted and observed temperatures is large enough to make me look for sources of error. Unlike the Magellan measurements that used radio occultation from an orbiting platform, the Titan measurements relied on a probe that landed at a latitude of 10S. If you dropped a probe through Earth’s atmosphere repeatedly to the same point, the readings could vary dozens of degrees either way from day-to-day or season to season. With that in mind, a difference of 7 K is impressive.

Gas Giants

While N&K’s equations include the emissivity and albedo for a planet’s surface they should apply to any arbitrary layer within a planet’s troposphere so why not review the gas giants?

As with Titan, observations for Jupiter have been made by a probe descending on parachutes. Considering that giant planets generally have ‘Weather’ on a gigantic scale one should not expect more than a ‘Ball Park’ estimate of planetary conditions from one probe. The other gas giants have yet to be visited by atmospheric probes so the observed temperatures in the table below depend on indirect methods that include complex thermochemical models. Models of Earth’s atmosphere are controversial so one should not expect from models based on sparse data sets.

Figure 1

The correspondence between the calculated and observed temperatures was less impressive than in the case of Venus or Titan. However, some of these planets radiate more energy than they receive from solar radiation which implies they have internal heat sources. Where the dominant heat transfer process is convection (as in a planet’s troposphere) it is immaterial whether the heat comes from above or below. I therefore adjusted the TSI in proportion to the fourth root of the energy balance (Figure 1).


Planet                                          Jupiter        Saturn          Uranus        Neptune

TSI                                                  50.5           14.9             3.71           1.51       Watts/m2

Energy balance                            1.67           1.78             1.06            2.61

Calculated temperature*           144            108               67                67          K

Observed temperature               170            134               76                72          K


[*Updated from original post where the figures (in error) read 126, 93, 66, 53]

Conclusions

N&K’s bold hypothesis that pressure and TSI are the primary determinants of planetary temperatures fits observations in striking fashion. Now we need to ask ourselves why pressure should be so dominant compared to albedo, emissivity, ‘g’, vapors, chemical composition, ocean currents and so on. It may be time for physicists who are used to making testable hypotheses to take over from so-called scientists who claim that whatever the climate does, CO2 is the cause.

The modern era is an interglacial period in an Ice Age that N&K say followed the loss of 53% of our planet’s atmosphere around 50 million years ago (see Figure 9 in the N&K poster). That sounds much more scary than adding traces of CO2 to the atmosphere and it is another testable hypothesis.

Addressing the wrong problem is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Comments
  1. Stephen Wilde says:

    “Planets that have substantial atmospheres tend to have vapors that can form clouds, seas or ice fields. Venus has sulphuric acid clouds, Earth has water vapor, Jupiter has ammonia clouds and so on. These clouds affect many things such as albedos, adiabatic lapse rates and the transport of heat from low to high latitudes. It is hard to take a theory that ignores these effects seriously”

    On the face of it a reasonable comment but just think laterally.

    It is all those things that create the observed outcome by virtue of the atmosphere and all its constituents reconfiguring the circulation as necessary to comply with the basic physical laws that require a planet with an atmosphere to fit the S-B Law from a point outside the atmosphere i.e. at equilibrium energy in equals energy out,

    So the theory does not ignore those effects. It fully incorporates them.

    Failure results in the planet being unable to retain an atmosphere at all.

    In practice it is likely that any given planet just loses to space such proportions of its various atmospheric components as necessary to allow the remaining constituents to be retained.

  2. kim2ooo says:

    Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings and commented:
    “Addressing the wrong problem is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

  3. tchannon says:

    About Venus ” Note for example that the measurements refer to a latitude of 67N; low latitude temperatures could be significantly different. A measurement at one latitude can hardly be mistaken for a global average.”

    There seems little variation. At ground level the high pressure spreads the heat so the poles are unlike thin atmosphere planets. How this would stay the same at 55km I don’t know.

    Plots for the atmosphere’s of Venus and Jupiter, with some links to Jupiter data, where you can dig out the dodgy nature of the data are in the following article

    Please remember this was christmas day and written fast.

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/12/25/palestine-sagan-and-atmospheric-physics/

    That does end with a question which no-one has had the nerve to answer (unless I’ve missed it).

    A question which needs asking anyway is how accurate are the various measurements, usually not a matter of statistics, another story.

  4. Anything is possible says:

    The ratio of CO2 in the atmospheres of Venus and Earth is actually 96 : 0.04, which equates to 2400 : 1, not as you have stated. This means it would take 11, not 17, doublings of CO2 to equalize concentrations, meaning Hansen is even more wrong than you think.

    Another way to look at this would be to re-calculate Earth’s surface temperatures on the basis of increased solar insolation were we to move it into a Venusian orbit.

    All other thing being equal, the answer would be 288*(1.91^0.25) = 338.7K

    Observed surface temperatures on Venus are actually 738K

    Divide the difference in surface temperatures (399.3K) by the number of doublings required to equalize CO2 (actually 11.2) and we get a CO2 sensistivity figure of……

    ……..drum roll…….

    399.3/11.2 = 35.65K!!!

    What was the IPCC’s figure again? (:-

  5. B_Happy says:

    One of the comments that was made by several people about the original paper was that it was unclear precisely where N+K got their experimental data, and how reliable it was. Do you have any information on this, as they never gave clear answers?

    On albedo : I find the inclusion N+K’s calibration set of systems which have essentially no atmosphere, and albedos radically different from a bare rock rather unconvincing. Do you have any comments on their use of Europa and Triton?

    You say “. If their claim is correct, so-called ‘Greenhouse Gasses’ such as carbon dioxide are not responsible for the observed ‘Global Warming’ since 1850. ”
    Surely their theory, if eventually shown to have something behind it, would just set the average, long term temperature, and says nothing about fluctuations about that mean?

  6. Brian H says:

    Perhaps one way to think of the N&K “set points” is that those are the temps that the atmosphere can “sustain”, so all other influences necessarily counterbalance each other to come out somewhere near that. Those “influences” swing back and forth around the set point, which gives a range of possible climatic changes.

    If you want additional fun, try applying it to Greg Esker’s dinosaurtheory.com , wherein he asserts that the Mesozoic had about 370 bar atmo on Earth. Enabled long-necked dinos to walk on land and eat high leaves with only one heart, pteranodons to fly acrobatically, etc.

  7. Anything is possible says:

    “The modern era is an interglacial period in an Ice Age that N&K say followed the loss of 53% of our planet’s atmosphere around 50 million years ago (see Figure 9 in the N&K poster).”

    ====================================================================

    Personally, I am convinced the asteroid strike c. 65 million years BP was responsible for this :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cretaceous%E2%80%93Tertiary_extinction_event

    If dinosaurs were indeed adapted for atmospheric pressures twice (or more) higher than today, then a loss of half the atmosphere strikes me as a pretty compelling reason for their extinction. Also, if the atmosphere was twice as thick as today before the asteroid struck, then a lot more of it would have burnt up in the atmosphere, meaning that it could have been considerably larger than the impact crater would indicate.

    [ Moderator requests please limit section breaks using lines of characters to blog text width otherwise someone has to go in manually and chop it. --co-mod]

  8. Ned Nikolov says:

    I would like to make a few comments to Peter Morcombe’s article, which I like in general:

    (1) Eq. 7 in our original paper was derived using data from hard-surfaced planets ONLY. Hence, Eq. 8 (which uses Eq. 7) predicts only the mean SURFACE temperate of planets, and it should not be expected to produce accurate results for temperatures at various levels in the free atmosphere. The fact that Eq. 8 predicts so well the temperature on Venus at 1 bar pressure is due to the extremely thick (massive) Venusian atmosphere. However, if we compare predictions of Eq.8 for pressures less than 1 bar with actual observed temperatures at different heights in Earth’s free atmosphere, we’d find that, on average, Eq.8 produces higher temperatures than measured. That’s because the lapse rate in the free atmosphere is generally larger (i.e. more negative) than the lapse rate due to rising terrain elevation. This difference has been known in classical climatology for decades, but has been omitted in most modern text books. One can observed this effect of terrain in massive mountain ranges such as the Tibetan Plateau, where temperature drops with elevation typically much slower (2.5 – 4.0 deg / km) compared to temperature decline with altitude in the free atmosphere (5.5 – 10 deg / km). The reason for this is that air adjacent to a hard-surface (which absorbs most shortwave radiation) heats up much more than the air at the same pressure level in the free atmosphere located far away from an absorbing surface. While the relative enhancement factor (Nte) depends only on pressure, the absolute magnitude of the enhancement (measured as temperature difference) also depends on the absorbed solar radiation. Since heat absorption by air adjacent to a hard surface is generally higher than by air at the same pressure in the free atmosphere, the temperature declines slower with raising terrain than with increasing altitude in the atmosphere.

    Bottom line is that our Eq. 8 refers to surface temperatures ONLY, and not to free-atmosphere temperatures!

    (2) We have not claimed that the warming over the past 340 years had anything to do with pressure changes. Pressure affects global temperature over periods of hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of years, not on decadal or centennial time scales! In our view, recent warming has been entirely a result of declining cloud cover and related cloud albedo driven by solar magnetic activity. Earth’s albedo has likely declined about 1.2% since 1670 causing a 1.2K global temperature rise (according to our estimates, the sensitivity of Earth’s surface temperature to albedo changes is 1.03K per percent albedo)… The lack of warming over the past 13 years is (according to satellite observations) due to a sharp increase in low-level clouds, which took place over a 6-month period in late 2000 – early 2001. This was likely caused by a reversal in solar magnetic activity, which began declining in late 1990s. This decline is till continuing and will most likely move global temperature onto a cooling (negative) trend over the next 9 years.

    (3) CO2 has nothing to do with any climate/temperature changes on Earth. That’s because the atmospheric ‘Greenhouse Effect’ (we call ATE) is a pure pressure phenomenon unrelated to atmospheric composition. Mechanisms such as water cycle, ocean currents, convection etc. only serve to re-distribute the kinetic energy provided to the system by solar heating and pressure. These processes do not and cannot affect the average surface temperature, because that temperature is a direct expression (manifestation) of the system’s total kinetic energy!

    (4) Cloud albedo is mostly a function of the pressure-induced thermal enhancement. Only a tiny portion of the cloud albedo (around 1.3%) is controlled by solar magnetic activity. That is why our Eq. 8 has been so successful in predicting surface temperatures over a wide range of planetary environments without explicitly accounting for albedo effects. The idea that cloud albedo is mostly a product of climate and not an independent driver of it is a new paradigm to climate science!

  9. JCrew says:

    Ned,

    The oceans are huge heat sinks. Is pressure the regulator for how hot the oceans can get?

  10. Ned Nikolov says:

    JCrew says (March 19, 2012 at 2:53 am)

    The oceans are huge heat sinks. Is pressure the regulator for how hot the oceans can get?

    Yes, it is! For the same solar input, atmospheric pressure is the one that controls the temperature of the surface, be it oceans or land. If we did not have 1 bar of air pressure on Earth, we would not have liquid oceans. The proof is in the fact that Moon (which is at the same distance from the Sun as Earth) has sizable water reserves at higher latitudes, but that water is deeply frozen under the regolith. Mars also used to have rivers and lakes, and even seas on its surface some 3.8B years ago when it had a thicker atmosphere. After losing its atmospheric pressure due to diminishing tectonic activity, it became a frozen desert. Scientists now believe that Mars has tons of frozen water under the surface….

  11. Anything is possible says:
    “The ratio of CO2 in the atmospheres of Venus and Earth is actually 96 : 0.04, which equates to 2400 : 1, not as you have stated. This means it would take 11, not 17, doublings of CO2 to equalize concentrations, meaning Hansen is even more wrong than you think.”

    I used to insert deliberate mistakes in my optics courses to keep students on their toes or in some cases to discover whether they were still awake. Now that I am in my 70s, I no longer need to add deliberate mistakes because I make so many accidental ones.

    You would get an “A” in my class because you spotted an error:

    Venus 965,000 ppm of CO2,
    Earth 393.63 ppm of CO2 (February 2012, Source: http://co2now.org/)
    Ratio = 2,451
    Doublings = 11.3
    Delta T = 33.9 Kelvin

    In addition to the error that you found, there was a logical flaw in my statement. The calculated temperature change is what Hansen Schmidt et al. would calculate if Earth’s atmosphere was 96.5% of CO2. Neverthess, Hansen et al. are wrong about Venus while Carl Sagan and N&K are right in their different ways.

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1967ApJ…149..731S

  12. I really appreciate the fact that Ned Nikolov took the time to make a lengthy comment on my post. While I am a physicist I am more comfortable with relativistic inverse Compton scattering and gamma radiation than thermodynamics.

    Point 1. I realised it was a bit naughty to assume that your equations could be applied to bodies that don’t have a rocky surface. However, a couple of years ago I was able to explain the high temperature on the surface of Venus using the cloud tops as my reference surface. The lapse rate simply continued in a straight line until the ground got in the way. I did not realise is that Carl Sagan was using the same model in 1967:

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1967ApJ…149..731S

    As usual I was 40+ years late and a dollar short!

    Point 2. My understanding was that you were claiming that the temperature decline that followed the PETM was caused by a 53% loss of atmosphere. I have started to look into this but have found nothing to support it thus far. Current atmospheric losses are in the kg/second range so I am looking at sequestration as a more plausible mechanism.

    I correspond with my ex-colleagues in the Duke university physics department including Nicola Scafetta so solar influences are another interest of mine. However, this seems to be just one of many minor factors. I buy your idea that pressure and TSI are dominant.

    Point 3. I am convinced that Earth’s atmospheric CO2 concentration is controlled by the average global temperature rather than the reverse. In my opinion you could replace the CO2 in the Venusian atmosphere with helium without making a significant difference to the surface temperature:

    http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/06/12/venusian-mysteries/#comment-2953

    Point 4. I guess my idea that the albedo for incoming radiation tends to match the emissivity for outgoing radiation was a bit far fetched.

  13. Stephen Wilde says:

    Ned Nikolov said:

    “Cloud albedo is mostly a function of the pressure-induced thermal enhancement. Only a tiny portion of the cloud albedo (around 1.3%) is controlled by solar magnetic activity. That is why our Eq. 8 has been so successful in predicting surface temperatures over a wide range of planetary environments without explicitly accounting for albedo effects. The idea that cloud albedo is mostly a product of climate and not an independent driver of it is a new paradigm to climate science!”

    Generally agreed but note that the behaviour of the jetstreams and the length of the air mass lines of mixing change in line with some aspect of solar variability.Aithough magnetic activity changes at the same time I don’t think it is a magnetic effect or a cosmic ray effect.

    It is more likely a matter of ozone variations rsponding differentially to changes in wavelength and particle proportions at different heights which then affects the height and slope of the tropopause between equator and poles to shift the jets and climate zones latitudinally.Those changes in turn affect the ATE because they affect pressure distribution (but not global average pressure) and the amount of solar energy reaching the surface in accordance with the N & Z proposals.

    More meridional/equatorward jets produce more clouds. Zonal/poleward jets produce less clouds.

    However caused, the albedo changes are indeed a product of climate zone shifting rather than a cause of climate zone shifting but then those cloudiness variations change the amount of solar energy getting into the oceans for a climate feedback effect.

    Interestingly the feedback is always negative because poleward/zonal jets might allow more energy into the oceans but energy is also lost to space faster and equatorward/meridional jets might allow less energy into the oceans but energy is then lost to space more slowly.

    Recognition of the ability of the atmospheric heights to vary in response to ANY changes within the system combined with the climate zone shifting as a means of regulating the rate of energy loss to space would indeed constitute a new paradigm and provides the means whereby the ATE drives cloud albedo and climate rather than vice versa.

  14. tallbloke says:

    Ned Nikolov says:
    March 19, 2012 at 3:48 am
    JCrew says (March 19, 2012 at 2:53 am)

    “The oceans are huge heat sinks. Is pressure the regulator for how hot the oceans can get?”

    Yes, it is! For the same solar input, atmospheric pressure is the one that controls the temperature of the surface, be it oceans or land. If we did not have 1 bar of air pressure on Earth, we would not have liquid oceans.

    Hi Ned and welcome back, I hope your time away from the blogosphere has been productive. How’s it going with ‘Reply to comments part 2′ ?? :)

    I wondered if you would comment on the idea that Stephen and I have been putting forward that the surface pressure on the ocean might be causing the ocean’s temperature to rise above the theoretical limit of Holder’s Inequality for Earth and so helping the ATE from below. We ran a thread on that recently.

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/gaelic-dancing-part-two-arms-the-missing-half-of-the-greenhouse-effect/

    Thanks.

  15. Stephen Wilde says:

    “and so helping the ATE from below”

    Not sure that I would put it quite like that.

    ATE sets the temperature at the surface whether over land or ocean as Ned says.

    That temperature then dictates the rate of evaporation from the ocean surfaces and from soil moisture on land so that ATE at the surface remains steady.

    However, atmospheric pressure then also controls the energy cost of the amount of evaporation controlled by the ATE by affecting the ratio between the energy required by the evaporative process as compared to the energy required to provoke evaporation.

    That causes the equilibrium temperature of the oceans to remain steady too, subject only to variations in the amount of solar energy getting into the oceans.

    So there is a constant balancing act between sea surface temperature and surface air temperature and at current pressure and insolation that results in an average difference of about 3C which is kept pretty constant by changes in the speed and size of the water cycle.

    Any change from that differential either within the air or within the water causes air circulation changes to keep the system stable.

  16. tallbloke says:

    Thanks Stephen, that’s an excellent summary. I should have been clearer in my question to Ned. I was trying to separate the evaporation issue from the temperature issue as I did in my article, but was too elliptical. In the coupled ocean/atmosphere, such separation isn’t real anyway, as you synopsis demonstrates. I’m just trying to find a way to get those who are used to thinking of the atmosphere only to see that the ocean itself contributes to the situation as well as the ‘Atmospheric Thermal Enhancement’.

    If we could get people into thinking that the ocean is actually part of the atmosphere as Ned’s comment intimates, or that ‘the atmosphere is the extension of the ocean by other means’ as you have said before, the problem would ‘go away’.

  17. A. C. Osborn says:

    Slightly off topic but may have relevance in refuting CO2 control of the climate.
    Chefio has an interesting article on his site.

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/an-elegant-day-vs-night-test-of-agw/#comment-32516

    It is talking about analysis done by HenryP on Diurnal Temperatures which is very interesting.

    http://www.letterdash.com/HenryP/henrys-pool-table-on-global-warming

    I am not sure if you have seen it before, if not perhaps you would consider a Post based on his findings, or ask him to contribute an article?

  18. tallbloke says:

    ACO: I left this comment

    Hi Chief

    I’ve noticed Henry plugging his ‘pool Table’ on WUWT for some time now, and the earlier look I took at it brought me to much the same conclusion. ‘It’s the clouds wot done it’.

    For an elegant analysis of sunshine hours vs temperature, take a look at

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/doug-proctor-climate-change-is-caused-by-clouds-and-sunshine/

  19. A. C. Osborn says:

    Tallbloke I left this comment to your comment.

    I have had a quick look at Doug’s paper and it is looking at something slightly different as it only looks at maximum Temps, whereas Henry compares Min, Mean & Max to show that the changes are consistent with GHG increases, because the wrong temperature Max and not Min is most affected.
    Which was why I posted on your forum.
    It should have said Inconsistent with GHG.

  20. tallbloke says:

    Hi ACO:

    I wasn’t suggesting that Doug’s article covers Henry’s work, just that it is good ‘further reading’ for Chiefio because he was saying that given Henry’s results, it has to be Insolation/cloud cover.

  21. Truthseeker says:

    Stephen Wilde and Tallbloke, I think that if you start talking about climate as the interaction between energy and fluids that would immediately include the oceans into the discussion. It is a well established fact that large bodies of water such as the great lakes have their own weather systems. So climate becomes the global interaction of energy and fluids and weather is the localised interaction of energy and fluids.

    Communication is easier if you get the language right.

  22. A. C. Osborn says:

    Tallbloke, have you also seen the post at WUWT about new findings in solar recurrent changes in geomagnetic activity, it looks to be right up your street.

  23. Stephen Wilde says:

    I like HenryP’s ‘Pool Table’ and consider that it meshes in pretty well with my previous work.

    Whatever is going in it is related to global cloudiness and albedo but the sign of the system response is not as generally assumed.

    A warming world is associated with DECREASING cloudiness and albedo as in the late 20th century whereas AGW theory with its positive water vapour feedback requires INCREASING cloudiness from more water vapour in a warming world.

    That suggests to me that the reduction in cloudiness comes first, warmer oceans with stronger El Ninos follow and the air warms up a bit in response to warmer sea surfaces.

    Hence my emphasis on shifting climate zones. To get a global reduction of cloudiness we need an expansion of the subtropical high pressure cells responding to more vigorous convection along the ITCZ.

    We can get that either from the ocean below the ITCZ OR from an intensification of the polar vortices which get more powerful vertically but contract horizontally which then allows the climate zones to be pushed or pulled poleward.

    During the late 20th century we had positive polar vortices whilst the sun was active and the climate zones did shift poleward. Cloudiness fell, more solar energy got into the oceans and the stronger El Ninos intensified the ITCZ which supplied more descending air for the subtropical high pressure cells to expand and push poleward.

    An active sun pulls the climate zones poleward allowing more solar input to the oceans which then intensifies El Ninos but the system response is negative because poleward climate zones also represents a faster energy throughput. The air gets a fraction warmer but system thermal equilibrium stays the same because of the limiting factor of atmospheric pressure.

    The amount of energy that the system can retain is dictated by surface pressure and solar input. It is like adding more water to a full glass of water with the surface pressure being analogous to the volume of the glass. Any extra water added to an already full glass just flows out over the top and in the case of an atmosphere at equilibrium any extra energy just flows out to space. Only increasing pressure or solar input at top of atmosphere will change the volume of the ‘container’ so as to produce a higher surface temperature.

    GHGs (indeed the entire atmosphere) just redistribute energy within the system for no change in surface pressure globally or solar input at top of atmosphere. As a result, any slowing down of energy transmission from GHGs (or any other gases) is immediately accelerated again by circulatory changes for a zero net effect on equilibrium temperature.

  24. tallbloke says:

    Stephen, this is excellent stuff. The clarity of your exposition is improving with each reformulation. Your explanation adds the internal detail to Nikolov and Zeller’s overarching theory.

    Excellent progress.

    The talkshop will continue this theme while bringing Solar variation and planetary influence on the cyclicity in solar activity levels back to the forefront over the coming months. My feeling is that we are much further forward at this stage and the next round of reiteration should start to tie it all together at a more advanced level.

    Happy I am. :)

  25. Stephen Wilde says:

    Thanks Rog, I feel it all coming together too as I keep simplifying and revising the terms of expression to deal with objections.

    As you say, the next step is to work out why the sun behaves as it does to produce the effects on the climate that we observe and that is where your past work and that of various others will come into play.

  26. Brian H says:

    Per Ned’s emphasis on the surface, would it be fair pool to suggest that ATE provides the set point around which surface temps fluctuate as energy flows adjust and equalize in the water/air envelope?

    Then the discussions about ocean currents and albedo etc. fall into the category of “balancing adjustments” rather than drivers.

    Game, set, match.

  27. tallbloke says:

    “that is where your past work and that of various others will come into play.”

    I have another important post on the solar planetary theory waiting for permission to hit the publish button.

    “ocean currents and albedo etc. fall into the category of “balancing adjustments” rather than drivers.”

    Yep. Which then enables us to recast the debate in terms of cyclicities and cybernetic feedbacks rather than cause and effect over-simplifications.

  28. wayne says:

    Here’s another curiosity.

    When you take the standard formula of potential temperature:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivalent_potential_temperature#Formula

    and plug in Earth’s upper air’s potential temperature at an equivalent to Venus’s surface when lowered, you seen to get the ~740 K that the landers have reported.

    Take the pressure using the Standard Atmosphere at a level adjusted for the Venus to Earth density of ~65 times you find the pressure at level is 1013/65=~15.4 mb. Looking it up the temperature at that level is 224.8K at 28300 km. The ratio using density instead of pressure allows for the Rd and cp differences between the two atmospheres, accommodating the differences in the ratios of the two environmental lapses, g’s, and mean molecular weights. I will fine up those factors later when I get some time but a quick check says they’re very close. Just the 28.96 g/mol to 43.43 is most of that difference between the pressure and density ratios, cp has a smaller correction.

    This gives 224.7 K * (101325 Pa / 1544 Pa) ^ ( 287 (J/kg/K) / 1004 (J/kg/K) ) or ~744 K.

    (the 1544 Pa was used simply because if falls exactly on an even 100 meter division in my program of the 1976 US Std Atm)

    That is the temperature a packet of air at 28300 km altitude was lowered adiabatically to the surface, or that is the way I gather the definition of equivalent potential temperature.

    Too weird! There’s that darn pressure ratio again. I know Ned says their theory really should not be applied to intra-atmospheric conditions like some of Peter’s post, but, I too keep coming up with these amazing relations using standard meteorology and thermodynamic principles and equation and they do tend to show their theory is real. I have found too many examples like this for it to be mere coincidences, for me anyway.

    On the other hand, this could just be another coincidence, or mistake. I always try to keep that in mind as digging through these relationships.

  29. Stephen Wilde says:

    “ATE provides the set point around which surface temps fluctuate as energy flows adjust and equalize in the water/air envelope?”

    Exactly.

    And not just surface temperatures. The whole atmosphere (including the oceans) and all the layers within atmosphere and oceans constantly swirl around, varying in all dimensions i.e. in depth, latitudinally, longitudinally AND over time.

    An extremely powerful and infinitely flexible system of negative checks and balances which ensures that the atmosphere remains neither boiled off to space nor frozen to the surface.

  30. JCrew says:

    Stephen,

    Your comments do sound like they are more comprehensive in scope and relationships of primary regulators.

    It is quite different than the over simplification TB pointed out. You may need patience for others to see your macro-view when we have been exposed to too much simple cause (more CO2) and effect (AGW) and learning something new is not the norm.

  31. Genghis says:

    I think I came up with a dumb little analogy for pressure and temperature that even my wife can understand, a pressure cooker. The higher the pressure setting the higher the temperature in the pot. The pressure directly controls the temperature.

    It doesn’t matter what the pots albedo is.

  32. davidmhoffer says:

    It is a pleasure to see someone talking about N&Z from the perspective of corroborating (or not) data rather than simply screaming about their math.

    Whatever criticism there may be about their math, the fact is that pressure dominates, as you’ve shown. It would be nice to see more investigation in WHY instead of carping about their math. If we understand “why” that can only lead to a better understanding of climate, and ultimately… better math.

    The critics of N&Z have done the skeptic side a great disservice by not looking at their results like gallopingcamel just has.

  33. Anything is possible says: March 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    “The modern era is an interglacial period in an Ice Age that N&K say followed the loss of 53% of our planet’s atmosphere around 50 million years ago (see Figure 9 in the N&K poster).”

    “Personally, I am convinced the asteroid strike c. 65 million years BP was responsible for this.”

    That event has to be at least 10 million years too early and way too small to strip 53% of the atmosphere.

  34. Stephen Wilde says:

    JCrew said:

    “Your comments do sound like they are more comprehensive in scope and relationships of primary regulators.”

    Thanks JC.

    For over 4 years now I’ve been building up a jigsaw from the available observations plus basic physics. Various articles dealing with the different aspects are scattered around the blogosphere but mostly collated at Climaterealists.com.

    Personally, I think I have it pretty much complete now but it is complex and involves sign reversals in at least two parts of the system where actual climate responses are the opposite of that described in established climatology.

    The stratosphere and mesosphere clearly cool when the sun is more active and warm when it is less active whereas the conventional view is that an active sun warms the entire atmospheric column.

    Cloudiness decreases when the troposphere warms whereas it is supposed to increase with warmth.

    However I am now frequently seeing portions of my material paraphrased in other places as other interested parties start to appreciate the main concepts for themselves whether or not prompted by my material.

    TB has taken a major step forward in fully appreciating (and publicising) my points about the power of the oceans, the effects of pressure on the oceans and the significance of variable atmospheric heights and latitudinally shifting climate zones.

    It is the interaction of those features driven by sun and ocean cycles that determine the global climate zone distribution at any given time.

    N & Z provided a good underpinning for my earlier contentions that the so called greenhouse effect is a result of pressure, mass and density of an atmosphere and not composition.

    I had thought that was the established view before the days of the radiative GHG theory and in view of the points made by wayne and Harry Dale Huffman concerning the Standard Atmosphere it appears that indeed it was.

  35. tallbloke says:

    Stephen says:
    TB has taken a major step forward in fully appreciating (and publicising) my points about the power of the oceans, the effects of pressure on the oceans and the significance of variable atmospheric heights and latitudinally shifting climate zones.

    I had reached the conclusion that the oceans were the power in control via a different approach some years ago. As an engineer, the sheer mass and heat capacity of the ocean made it obvious to me that it was the main absorber and holder of solar energy. Once I did some calcs on sea level rise and compared the energies involved with other forces in the system, and appreciated that the ocean heat content was rising despite the fall in the peak amplitudes of the solar cycles because they were above the long term average, it was clear to me that ocean heat content is resident on long timescales.

    I had long arguments with Leif Svalgaard about this on WUWT back in 2008. I remember one occasion on which he got someone to delete both my comment and his response on a new thread there, because I pointed out that he was contradicting what I had finally got him to admit on an earlier thread only days before.

    Stephen’s work has deepened my understanding of the ocean/air coupling and fits well with my own approach to the data. We have been converging for several years, with his appreciation of my work on the link between Solar activity and ocean oscillations, and my appreciation of his understanding of pressure and evaporation has recently ‘clicked’ with the catalyst of N&Z’s work.

    Onwards and upwards.

  36. Roger Andrews says:

    Ned Nikolov: “In our view, recent warming has been entirely a result of declining cloud cover and related cloud albedo …”

    Tallbloke: “It’s the clouds wot done it”.

    Stephen Wilde: “Whatever is going on it is related to global cloudiness and albedo”

    Allow me to observe that my theory that all of the recent warming was caused by heat releases from the ocean that were triggered by solar cycles and not by cloud/albedo changes fits observations a lot better.

    I think we should at least discuss this before the cloud albedo theory gets set in concrete.

  37. tallbloke says:

    Roger, as I see it, the reduction in cloud cover is the result of heightened solar activity, so we both get to keep (and wear) our shorts.

  38. Stephen Wilde says:

    Roger Andrews said:

    “Allow me to observe that my theory that all of the recent warming was caused by heat releases from the ocean that were triggered by solar cycles and not by cloud/albedo changes fits observations a lot better”

    I think we are agreed,as TB points out.

    For heat releases to occur the heat has to get into the oceans in the first place so if solar activity pulls the cloud bands poleward to let more energy into the oceans then that actually helps your theory and squares the circle.

    The clincher is that ocean heat content rose even whilst solar energy was being discharged by the oceans in a series of strong El Ninos.

    One has to explain where all that energy was coming from to support a series of strong El Nino episodes and still add to ocean heat content.

    The observation that cloudiness decreased whilst the sun was more active thus letting more fuel into the system than was being discharged by El Ninos is the only scenario that fits the facts and the physics.

    CO2 effects can be discounted because the whole scenario went into reverse around 2000 despite increasing human emissions. Now we have decreasing solar activity and increasing cloudiness.

    I also think that the latitudinal shifting idea trumps Svensmark’s cosmic ray theory

    The increase in cosmic rays is a mere correlation,not a cause. We have to look at the vertical temperature profile for the cause and that involves a shifting of the fine balance between ozone destruction and creation.

    The CFC idea about ozone could turn out to be boll***s too.

    This thing is far,far bigger than CO2.

  39. Stephen Wilde says:

    “and appreciated that the ocean heat content was rising despite the fall in the peak amplitudes of the solar cycles because they were above the long term average, it was clear to me that ocean heat content is resident on long timescales”

    Exactly.

    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=1396&linkbox=true&position=1

    “The Death Blow To Anthropogenic Global Warming”

    June 4th 2008

    “The critical issue is that having achieved such high levels of TSI by 1961 the sun was already producing more heat than was required to maintain a stable Earth temperature. On that basis alone the theory of AGW cannot be sustained and should now die.

    Throughout the period 1961 to about 2001, there was a steady cumulative net warming effect from the sun. The fact that the TSI was, on average, level during that period is entirely irrelevant and misleading.”

    and:

    “my view that the sun drives the various oceanic oscillations which in turn drive global temperature variations with all other influences including CO2 being minor and often cancelling themselves out leaving the solar/oceanic driver supreme”

    The only amendment I would now make with the benefit of 4 years of hindsight is that it is not the level of TSI that matters but the effect on atmospheric chemistry shifting the cloud bands poleward.or equatorward.

  40. Roger Andrews says:

    TB:

    Was there a reduction in cloud cover?

  41. Stephen Wilde says:

    During the warming spell global cloudiness decreased as did global albedo
    (reflectivity as seen from space) which is consistent with poleward shifting jets
    but the Earthshine project now shows us that both global cloudiness and global
    albedo are increasing again since the late 90s:

    http://bbso.njit.edu/Research/EarthShine/literature/Palle_etal_2006_EOS.pdf

    “The overall decrease in cloud amount from
    1985 to 2000 is about 4–5% with a recovery
    of about 2–3% from 2000 to 2004.”

    Increased cloudiness and albedo are indications that the climate system is
    receiving less solar energy overall and is therefore a sign of reducing energy
    content for the system as a whole contrary to AGW theory.

  42. Roger Andrews says:

    Stephen

    Are the albedo data any better than the cloud data?

  43. tchannon says:

    RA, I note the Y-axis has different label.

  44. Roger Andrews says:

    TIm: Look at the shape, not the label.

  45. Roger Andrews says:

    Stephen & TB

    While you are safely abed and I still haven’t hit the tequila, here are a couple more graphs.

    TB, you say “the reduction in cloud cover is the result of heightened solar activity” (I assume the reduction you’re referring to is the one in the ISCCP record between 1987 and 2000). And Stephen, I think you say the same thing: “Increased cloudiness and albedo are indications that the climate system is receiving less solar energy overall.”

    But when we plot ISCCP clouds against SSN we find the two are uncorrelated (R^2 = 0.003).

    Ned Nikolov claims that “(the) recent warming has been entirely a result of declining cloud cover”. Here is UAH TLT plotted against ISCCP clouds. Maybe a little closer, but still way short of a cigar.

  46. B_Happy says: March 18, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    You say “. If their claim is correct, so-called ‘Greenhouse Gasses’ such as carbon dioxide are not responsible for the observed ‘Global Warming’ since 1850. ”

    N&K say that gas composition is not a significant factor in determining the average global surface temperature. Since 1850 the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has followed a “Hockey Stick” trajectory, yet global temperature has not followed suit in spite of valiant attempts by NASA/GISS to cook the books.

    Take a look at HADCRUT, UAH or RSS since 1998. What happened to the hockey stick? If CO2 was a significant climate driver those temperature plots would not be drooping.

  47. davidmhoffer says: March 19, 2012 at 6:33 pm
    “It is a pleasure to see someone talking about N&Z from the perspective of corroborating (or not) data”

    Thank you for those kind words. There is plenty more data out there so I hope to get into really nasty detail for Venus, Titan and Jupiter. If N&K’s equations hold up for such different bodies it should encourage us to refine our understanding of the underlying physical processes.

  48. Stephen Wilde says:

    Roger Andrews said:

    “But when we plot ISCCP clouds against SSN we find the two are uncorrelated (R^2 = 0.003).

    Ned Nikolov claims that “(the) recent warming has been entirely a result of declining cloud cover”. Here is UAH TLT plotted against ISCCP clouds. Maybe a little closer, but still way short of a cigar.

    Temperature, cloudiness and SSN are not a good match from cycle to cycle because of the confounding effect of the 60 year PDO cycling and the slowness of the accumulation of energy in the oceans.

    What happened from the 80s to about 2000 was that a series of strong solar cycles slowly and erratically caused the climate zones to shift poleward with a conseqent reduction in global cloudiness and albedo.

    From around the top of slightly less active cycle 23 the cloud response appears to have started to reverse with the climate zones slowly beginning to move back equatorward but the process is still in very early stages and continues to be slow and erratic with as yet little effect on global air temperatures save for a cessation of warming.

    So, the ISCCP chart above shows the decline in cloudiness across cycles 21 and 22 with the decline ceasing and a recovery starting after the peak of 23. At the same time warming of the oceans and atmosphere appears to have ceased.

    As long as we have solar cycles significantly less active than 23 I would expect to see cloudiness remain higher than it was at the peak of 23 with the main cloud bands more meridional and/or equatorward.

    I realise that we have not yet acquired a long enough data record to provide the proof that you seem to demand. This is a new concept and it will take a while for the evidence either way to accumulate but there are a lot of ancillary observed phenomena that all point in the same direction when taken together as set out in my various articles.

  49. Stephen Wilde says:

    “Are the albedo data any better than the cloud data? ”

    Both charts show a decline to the late 90s and then a recovery which appears to be ongoing.

  50. tallbloke says:

    Roger: Given the complex relationship you observed between ENSO and solar radiation you found on your thread where I suggest we take this discussion so as not to derail GC’s thread), I don’t understand why you bothered computing an R^2 value for the correlation between cloud and solar.

  51. davidmhoffer says:

    TB;
    I don’t understand why you bothered computing an R^2 value for the correlation between cloud and solar.>>>

    Because of N&Z are correct and albedo is a function of pressure and insolation, then any variations in insolation ought to be reflected in variations in factors affecting albedo, one of which would be clouds (one would think).

  52. Roger Andrews says:

    davidmhoffer

    Right. If albedo is a function of solar activity then variations in solar activity should indeed be correlated in some fashion with variations in factors affecting albedo, one of which is clouds.

    And while on the subject of clouds, it’s instructive to compare Ned Nikolov’s claim:

    “In our view, recent warming has been entirely a result of declining cloud cover and related cloud albedo ….. The lack of warming over the past 13 years is (according to satellite observations) due to a sharp increase in low-level clouds, which took place over a 6-month period in late 2000 – early 2001.”

    With the observational data:

    TB:

    Don’t worry. Unless someone responds I’ll have nothing more to say on this subject. :-)

  53. Q. Daniels says:

    I lean towards treating local vapor pressure and cloud formation as partially independent variables.

    Supersaturation is a necessary condition for cloud formation, but it is not sufficient. It still requires a center for condensation, which may or may not be available.

  54. davidmhoffer says:

    Roger Andrews,
    It is unclear to me both what exactly the two lower lines in your graph refer to and what your point is.

  55. Roger Andrews says:

    davidmhoffer

    Sorry, guess I should have spelled it out.

    The two lower lines are the different versions of low level global cloud cover (in percent) published by the ISCCP, the data source used by N&Z. The two are different because IR is based on IR measurements alone and VIS-IR combines IR and optical thickness measurements.

    The points are:

    1) The lack of warming over the past 13 years isn’t due to a sharp increase in low-level clouds in late 2000 – early 2001. There was no sharp increase in low cloud cover in late 2000 – early 2001.

    2) The lack of warming over the past 13 years in fact coincides with a decrease, not an increase, in low-level cloud cover.

    3) This is the opposite of what the cloud albedo theory says should have happened.

  56. davidmhoffer says:

    Roger Andrews;
    I haven’t the time to go back over what N&Z originaly said, but your assertion is an over simplification. Low level cloud cover at night has a very different effect than during the day. Along the same lines, very different between winter and summer. And between high latitude and low latitude. These are all factors that dictate the low cloud cover being a net gain or a net loss (LW retained vs SW reflected). Further, you used SST and I would expect cloud cover effects to be very different over land.

    In brief, I don’t think you (or N&Z) can take global cloud cover and extrapolate. The question is what areas/times result in a net positive, and what areas and times result in a net negative, and how did each of those track over that same time period?

  57. Roger Andrews says:

    davidmhoffer

    “your assertion is an over simplification. Low level cloud cover at night has a very different effect than during the day. Along the same lines, very different between winter and summer. And between high latitude and low latitude.”

    Ned Nikolov said nothing about night versus day, winter versus summer or high versus low latitudes. All he said was “The lack of warming over the past 13 years is (according to satellite observations) due to a sharp increase in low-level clouds, which took place over a 6-month period in late 2000 – early 2001.” This is a highly specific and easily testable claim.

    And I tested it, and it doesn’t fit observations.

    Simple as that.

  58. tallbloke says:

    Roger,

    Isn’t the timing Ned refers to around the time of the upward jump in surface T which accompanies the recovery from the La Nina which followed the big ’98 El Nino?

    I suspect Ned may be referring to tropical low cloud here, not the global situation. I suppose that the description in the original poster was tight on word count limitations. We should ask Ned before drawing conclusions IMO.

  59. davidmhoffer says:

    Roger Andrews;
    This is a highly specific and easily testable claim.
    And I tested it, and it doesn’t fit observations.>>>

    Frankly, I find this whole attitude in the academic community quite tedious. So and so said XYZ as part of their paper on ABC and someone else jumps in to prove XYZ is false. Fine. So their statement as it reads appears to be incorrect based on the data that you have presented. Here is my question to you:

    Do you think that if they were looking at the same data that you just presented that they would have made the claim that they did?

    Allow me a suggestion or two. It seems to me that either:

    a) they were looking at different data which does corroborate their statement and/or that;

    b) they made the statement with insufficient detail for us to understand exactly what they meant and so further clarification is required.

    You can tear down the work of others or you can ask them to clarify. You can point out a mistake or you can consider expanding on the portions that they got right. Or you can just attack for the purposes of attack, a practice that I have grown weary of in this debate.

  60. tallbloke says:

    Hoff, take your own argument and consider what Roger’s purpose might be. He could be:

    1) Attacking N&Z because he wants to rubbish them.
    2) Flagging up issues he is worried the opposition might seize on because he supports them.
    3) Being a pedantic old giffer because it amuses him.

    Or something else.
    :)

  61. davidmhoffer says:

    tallbloke;

    hence my question to Andrew:

    “Do you think that if they were looking at the same data that you just presented that they would have made the claim that they did?”

    All the rest is general commentary.

  62. Roger Andrews says:

    TB:

    My concern is that N&Z’s treatment of their cloud albedo theory will detract from their credibility on ATE, which I think would be unfortunate. So I guess you can put me in your category 2), although I may also be a category 3) pedantic old Giffer, whatever a Giffer is.

    On the data:

    N&Z’s Figure 7 contains effectively all of the data they present in support of the cloud albedo theory, and I post a direct link to it below for your and davidmhoffer’s convenience.

    The cloud data I use above comes from the ISCCP site (http://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/climanal7.html). The data files I plotted, smoothed to remove seasonal variations, were:

    B41B46B51B56B61B66glbp.dat
    B71B76B81B86B91B96glbp.dat

    I don’t think N&Z specified their data sources, but their cloud data presumably came from ISCCP too. This site, however, contains roughly 300 different cloud data files, and I can’t find any that match the data they plot. Maybe they were using a different site, or maybe the records got adjusted at some time over the last couple of years (my records include 2008 and 2009 data and the N&Z records don’t). But either way the lack of reproducibility is a problem.

    There’s only one record in N&Z’s Figure 7 that shows a sharp increase in cloud cover around 2000-2001 (note that the cloud plots are inverted and shifted forward one year), but it’s the cumulus cloud record, not the low-level cloud record. And the N&Z cumulus record looks nothing like the ISCCP global daytime cumulus record (there is no nighttime cumulus plot).

    On questions:

    TB:

    “Isn’t the timing Ned refers to around the time of the upward jump in surface T which accompanies the recovery from the La Nina which followed the big ’98 El Nino?” Yes.

    “I suspect Ned may be referring to tropical low cloud here, not the global situation.” The N&Z low-level cloud plot isn’t the same as the ISCCP low-level cloud plot for the Tropics.

    “We should ask Ned before drawing conclusions.” Well, I guess I’m hoping that one day he will show up here and give us his views.

    davidmhoffer:

    “They were looking at different data which does corroborate their statement.” The data N&Z show in Figure 7 were the data they were looking at, and they don’t corroborate their statement that “cloud changes appear to have been the cause for temperature variations over the last 30 years.”

    “They made the statement with insufficient detail for us to understand exactly what they meant and so further clarification is required.” You’re right about the insufficient detail, but claims like ‘the low clouds did it’ convey an exact meaning and don’t require any clarification.

  63. davidmhoffer says:

    OK, so given that the plot is the inverse anomaly, and using the interpolated date (for convenience just skipping the forward shifting thing for now) there does appear to be a drop that they might be referring to. The green “low level” line only starts in 1992 which isn’t a whole lot of data in the first place. It has a sharp peak about 1995, then wobbles around sorta steady at just under -1 for a few years and then just after the 2001 mark it starts dropping and then wobbles around the 0 point until 2007 where it seems to end.

    If I had to guess as to what they were referring to, that would be my guess. Interestingly, the red global temp line starts to rise before that (because they forward shifted it?) and also interestingly, the total cloud decreases (line goes up) about the same time the low level cloud increases.

    Tallbloke, could you send a question directly to N&Z and ask them? I’d be interested in understanding this part better and the info from their comments and the graph is just too sparse.

  64. Visible effects of the stirring of the equator to pole meridional flow surges that greatly assist in the heat transport off of the equator, sample of the lunar declinational tidal effects finally produced!

    Higher definition global circulation video showing the lunar declinational tides in the atmosphere, three cycles from 10 degrees North of the equator to max North,then back through the cycles to the same point again. Christmas of 2009 through March 8th 2010.

  65. Stephen Wilde says:

    “Right. If albedo is a function of solar activity then variations in solar activity should indeed be correlated in some fashion with variations in factors affecting albedo, one of which is clouds. ”

    Well I approach that in a different way to N & Z.

    The Earthshine data and the ICCP data show declining global cloudiness up to the late 90s and increasing cloudiness thereafter. How that might be split between lower middle or upper clouds doesn’t matter because Earthshine represents the composite effect of cloud at all levels.

    At the same time (around 2000) the jets began to become more meridional/equatorward after a couple of decades becoming more zonal/poleward.

    Also at around the same time solar cycle 23 peaked at a lower level than the preceding cycles and 24 has been a dud so far, the record solar minimum was accompanied by a record negative AO, global tropospheric temperatures stopped rising as did ocean heat content and the stratosphere stopped cooling and may be warming a little.

    So we have a raft of observed phenomena pointing in the same direction and the only scenario that fits is the one that I have described.

    As it happens that also fits the N & Z proposition.

    So, Roger A may have problems seeing certain types of cloud data taken alone as fitting the pattern but the only thing that really matters is albedo as measured by Earthshine and the trend in that seems pretty clear.They even give pretty precise percentages for the observed decrease and subsequent increase.

    Taking the Earthshine data with all those other observations I am afraid that I cannot take Roger A’s quibbles about some of the other cloud data too seriously given the generally admitted difficulties in accurately measuring the global quantities of the various cloud types.

  66. davidmhoffer says:

    Stephen Wilde;
    The Earthshine data …>>>

    What exactly is earthshine?
    I’m familiar with moonshine, but not earthshine? Is it also intoxicating?

    Actually, my question is serious. The first question I mean. What exactly is earthshine?

  67. tallbloke says:

    Stephen, it’s light reflected from Earth onto the moon. Albedo is calclated from it.

    See Palle et al

  68. tallbloke says:

    Oops, that was to Hoff.

  69. Stephen Wilde says:

    For Earthshine see:

    http://www.bbso.njit.edu/Research/EarthShine/

    and:

    http://www.bbso.njit.edu/science_may28.html

    It’s intoxicating when you know what it means :)

  70. Roger Andrews says:

    Can anyone tell me where I can get up-to-date Earthshine albedo data – annual means, monthly means, whatever?

  71. Roger Andrews says:

    Well, no one can, I guess.

    Stephen W:

    Before you go overboard on Earthshine, here’s a plot of five different CERES, MODIS and SCIAM reflectance/albedo data sets covering the period from late 2003 through 2009. There’s no sign of an overall upward trend in any of them.

  72. Stephen Wilde says:

    Well Roger A, I’ve no idea why the data you produced differs from that from the Earthshine project and the ICCP data but it does so we’ll just have to wait and see.

    I don’t know where to get updated Earthshine data either.

  73. tallbloke says:

    Roger: 2003 is too late..

  74. Roger Andrews says:

    TB:

    I don’t think a few years matters. To validate an albedo-controls-temperature hypothesis against observations we need at least 30 years of reliable albedo data, and we don’t have anything like this much. In fact, I’m not sure we have any at all.

  75. tallbloke says:

    Roger: I know. Frustrating isn’t it?

    Pretty tough job when you think about it,

    “Right, measure how much cloud there is”

    “Yes boss”

  76. Roger Andrews says:

    TB:

    Actually I’m not frustrated, because this is one of those rare occasions where I’ve been able to look at some climate data and reach a firm conclusion. And that is that neither I nor anyone else can say whether the N&Z cloud albedo theory fits observations because there are no reliable cloud albedo observations to check it against.

    And with that I can now move on with a clear conscience to the next challenging project. :-)

  77. Stephen Wilde says:

    “there are no reliable cloud albedo observations to check it against. ”

    Better to say that there are contradictory sets of data which is why I referred to other observations to provide guidance.

    The jets did change their behaviour around 2000, ocean heat content stopped rising around 2003, tropospheric temperatures stopped rising recently, the stratosphere stopped cooling.

    Taking all the observations together suggests that the Earthshine data and the ICCP data which both show cloud amd albedo declines up to the late 90s and increases thereafter appear to be the sets with something useful to tell us.

    But I agree that we need to watch for a bit longer to be sure.

  78. tallbloke says:

    I agree with Stephen about this. The Earthshine data and the ISCCP data don’t correlate perfectly over the limited period of overlap, but there is enough agreement to be able to draw some general conclusions.

    From http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/cloud-albedo-what-does-it-respond-to/

  79. Roger Andrews says:

    I stand by what I said.

    Stephen: “The stratosphere stopped cooling.” Stratosphere temperatures are controlled by volcanic eruptions.

    TB: Your graph uses the outdated Palle 2004 data.

  80. tallbloke says:

    Roger: Just because volcanic events register in stratosphere temperature data doesn’t mean they control its temperature.

    My graph uses both the Palle 2004 data and the 2008 reanalysis, as the legend states and the curves show.

    This thread is now well and truly derailed. My apologies to Peter Morcombe.
    Roger: Please can we move further discussion to your thread.

  81. Leonard Weinstein says:

    Just to be clear on my opinion, I do say that optically absorbing gases and clouds are necessary for the so called “greenhouse gas” effect. I also say that pressure also is a first order player, due to it’s effect on the thickness of the atmosphere. In the end it the effective average altitude of outgoing radiation combined with the lapse rate that is the determining factor.

  82. Stephen Wilde says:

    “Stephen: “The stratosphere stopped cooling.” Stratosphere temperatures are controlled by volcanic eruptions.

    I think that actually shows a downward trend for non volcanic reasons with a couple of eruptions interrupting the background trend.

  83. Roger Andrews says:

    TB:

    Posting a response to your last comment over on “my” thread in accordance with instructions.

  84. gallopingcamel says:

    Leonard Weinstein says, March 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm
    “In the end it the effective average altitude of outgoing radiation combined with the lapse rate that is the determining factor.”

    I think that explains why we agreed when discussing Venus on “Science of Doom”:

    http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/06/12/venusian-mysteries/#comment-2949

    That was in 2010 and I was feeling pretty pleased with my analysis until “Nullius in Verba” showed me that I had reinvented something that was common knowlege in 1967:

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1967ApJ…149..731S

    Given that Carl Sagan had it all figured out so long ago, how did James Hansen manage to sell his absurd “Runaway Greenhouse Effect”?

  85. christophdollis says:

    Hi Ned and welcome back, I hope your time away from the blogosphere has been productive. How’s it going with ‘Reply to comments part 2′ ??”

    I didn’t expect Ned to reply to this yet, TB, even though you left that comment over a week ago. Reading through the comments, I find I was correct. They left the impression they were dividing their reply into two parts to make it easy for us to digest:

    We’ve decided to split our expanded explanation into two parts, so that we do not overwhelm people.

    It has been almost two and a half months. I for one wouldn’t feel overwhelmed if part 2 was released at this time.

    Perhaps the criticisms to the theory were more difficult to counter than anticipated?