David M Hoffer: Bad accounting causes climate confusion

Posted: January 24, 2012 by tallbloke in climate, Energy, general circulation

Joel Shore;
You are still not getting it. How is it possible to have 150 W/m^2 leaving the surface as radiation than leaving the TOA unless some of that radiation is getting absorbed (or reflected), i.e., unless there is a greenhouse effect?>>>

It isn’t and it doesn’t. You keep averaging things that should not be averaged and then drawing false conclusions from them. Here is the ERBE image of net radiance of the earth:

http://eos.atmos.washington.edu/cgi-bin/erbe/disp.pl?net.ann.

Note that the tropics are net absorbers of energy, and hence radiating at a temperature well below their SB Law equilibrium temperature for the amount of radiance they receive.

Note that the high latitudes are net losers of energy, and hence radiating at a temperature well above their SB Law equilibrium temperature for the amount of radiance they receive.

Note that for the planet to be in thermal equilibrium, the net loss from the high latitudes must equal exactly the net gain from the low latitudes.

Note that there are multiple mechanisms by which energy is moved from the tropics to the high latitudes, and note further that it matters not in the slightest what they are, only that thermal equilibrium is achieved.

Now for the hard part that requires that you STOP averaging things that should not be averaged.

Note that the increase in the number of degrees above SB Law of the high latitudes is in excess of the decrease in the number of degrees of the low latitudes despite. Despite the amount of energy being moved FROM the tropics being exactly equal to the amount of energy being moved TO the high latitudes, the TEMPERATURE of the high latitudes increases MORE than the temperature that the low latitudes decrease by.

Hence, the “average” temperature of the earth with an atmosphere is higher than the average temperature of the earth with no atmosphere because the atmosphere enables the movement of energy from tropics to high latitudes, and while doing so does NOT change the total amount of energy radiated to space, it DOES increase the average temperature of the earth.

This is not to say that GHG’s do not also alter surface temperature, but it does show that the surface temperature can be raised, and raised significantly, simply through conduction and convection moving energy from the hottest part of the planet to the colder parts. Every watt moved from tropics to artic and then radiated out raises the temperature of the arctic more than it cools the tropics.

That is why if you ignore SB Law which states that P varies with T^4 and instead average just P and compare to average of just T, you get wrong answers.

Comments
  1. tallbloke says:

    George E. Smith; says:
    January 23, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Why is it that people keep explaining that the sun is heating the ground and the ocean during the day, and then during the night everything reverts to radiating energy away to cool things.

    The earth COOLS much faster during the day, than it does during the night. In the hottest tropical deserts, the earth cools during the day at over twice the global average cooling rate. If it didn’t then the earth would be very much hotter than it is.

    On the other hand the cooling rate at the poles is more than ten times lower than it is during the day in the tropical deserts; so the polar regions serve very little to cool this planet.

    In addition the surface emission in the tropical deserts moves even further into the atmospheric window, getting further away from the 15 micron CO2 absorption band, and even dodging much of the Ozone block. And of course with very little moisture in the tropical deserts, the atmosphere never had it so good in passing most of the surface LWIR radiation energy through to space.

  2. tallbloke says:

    hotrod (larry L) says:
    January 23, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    George E. Smith; says:
    January 23, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    And of course with very little moisture in the tropical deserts, the atmosphere never had it so good in passing most of the surface LWIR radiation energy through to space.

    George I do not think that is correct.
    If measured as relative humidy, yes the deserts have very little water (compared to what they could hold), but their absolute water content is actually higher than in the arctic due to two effects.

    First hot air can hold enormous amounts of water, cold air even at 100% humidity can hold very little.

    Second the tropopause is much higher in the equatorial regions and adjacent deserts so the atmospheric layer that can hold lots of water vapor is also thicker.

    If you look at the map on page 789 of this pdf you will see that the Sahara has 2x-3x the mean precipitable water content as the polar region.

    Click to access mwr-096-11-0785.pdf

    “It has often been said that the air over deserts is not
    really dry and these areas lack precipitation primarily
    because of their high saturation deficits and stable
    atmospheric conditions. This is confirmed by the annual
    map of precipitable water. The Sahara, for example, has
    nearly as much precipitable water as the cooler regions
    of northern Europe and the northern United States.
    The deserts do have less precipitable water than other
    areas in the same latitudes, however.”

    Larry

  3. Nick Stokes says:

    No, this post displays bad accounting, and completely misses Joel’s point. He’s saying that there is a discrepancy between what is radiated from the ground and what is emitted at TOA. A picture of net radiation, on the LW side, tells you only what is emitted at TOA.

    But a picture of OLR does establish Joel’s point, which has really nothing to do with averaging. The maximum OLR, over tropical Pacific, is about 290 W/m2. SST is typically there stable at about 300K, with an emission at the surface of about 450W/m2 by S-B. There’s the 150 W/m2 discrepancy. You can do similar calcs anywhere.

  4. Bill Hunter says:

    Nick Stokes Obfuscates: “But a picture of OLR does establish Joel’s point, which has really nothing to do with averaging. The maximum OLR, over tropical Pacific, is about 290 W/m2. SST is typically there stable at about 300K, with an emission at the surface of about 450W/m2 by S-B. There’s the 150 W/m2 discrepancy. You can do similar calcs anywhere..”

    The key clause was: “for the amount of radiance they receive.”

    The surface receives an average of 174 watts of radiance, TOA is emitting an average of 239 watts. The difference is the amount of radiance absorbed by the atmosphere 65 watts.

    Its all accounted for. . . .some what.

    Where it gets screwy is when you have people telling you a surface if it were a blackbody at some average temperature for the earth should emit an average of 390 watts.

    I asked this very question on Judith Curry’s blog and got blown off. Namely could the 390 watts be a huge mistake from averaging temperatures.(e.g. Holders inequality). The answer I got was the models did not operate that way instead took each individual grid (themselves averaged from temperatures over hill and dale, not to speak of Hansen’s land and ice extrapolations) and calculated radiation from those averaged temperatures in each grid before running the models.

    But I got no response when I asked what the radiation in the model grids averaged up to. Not that I thought that would be definitive but it seemed to be a reasonable sanity check anyway.

    Of course I might ask that if Dumfckin, Finland Stevenson screen records a one time reading of 15degC on some fine warm spring day and 102watts of conduction and evaporation are conducting from the surface how can the surface even support 390 watts of radiation?

    If somebody ran a publicly traded business like this the only half way safe place to do it would be from the Cayman Islands. But even then if you got into the dollar figures climate science is into you can bet we would invade the Cayman Islands.

  5. Joe's World says:

    TB,

    He is right about one thing.
    Averaging is the ONLY way to generate that single calculation that generates the pretty graphs that are useless as they encompasses then the whole planet at the ONE specific point in time.
    It does not continue for a whole 24 hour period with 24 different calculations for the 129,600 grid squares on our planet.
    We still yet to have the technology to monitor every grid square 24/7.

    Note: Just because an experiment is made does NOT mean that all parameters were included in that experiment to generate the persons OWN conclusions. An experiment may be interpreted in one way and the conclusion published in another. Especially when using the sun with a moving planet in a stationary lab with stationary heat sources.

  6. Tenuc says:

    Bill Hunter says:
    January 24, 2012 at 11:32 am
    “…Where it gets screwy is when you have people telling you a surface if it were a blackbody at some average temperature for the earth should emit an average of 390 watts…”

    I think your comment hits the nail on the head, Bill. Thanks for bringing things back down to Earth with a bit of applied common sense!

    It would seem from various comments made by some physicists that they cannot differentiate between the dynamic effects produced by real world systems, which are never in equilibrium and exhibit spatio-temporal chaos, with simple linear systems as seen in the lab. The elephant in the room here being that system averages taken over any time period do not describe what the system is doing.

    The evidence of this is seen in the poor predictive power of GCM’s which use the mythical ‘radiation budget’ to produce scenarios of future climate possible states, when observation shows other processes have a bigger effect.

  7. Tenuc says:

    Joe’s World says:
    January 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm
    …”Note: Just because an experiment is made does NOT mean that all parameters were included in that experiment to generate the persons OWN conclusions. An experiment may be interpreted in one way and the conclusion published in another. Especially when using the sun with a moving planet in a stationary lab with stationary heat sources.”

    Ha ha! Another elephant spotter… 😉

    Great comment, Joe and I think your world is much closer to reality than that of the majority of consensus climate scientists. Yes, of course the sun eventually done it, but it is aided and abetted by the law of MEP and our planets complex, dynamic non-linear climate system.

  8. Genghis says:

    As is usual, everyone is talking past each other and aren’t explaining things adequately.

    Joel and Nick are assuming a radiative shell that encompasses the earth, which will increase the amount of radiation the earth receives and transmits. They are correct. It is easy to do the radiation calculations of a black body inside a perfectly conducting outer sphere. The inner black body receives and transmits a lot more radiation (hence is a lot hotter).

    The problem is that the GHG’s are only partially like a perfectly conducting outer sphere, and the earth is only partially like a perfect black body. Averaging temperatures over a grey body is totally misleading and about 300% wrong as the UTC paper clearly shows.

    Toss in complicating factors like an atmosphere, an ocean, changing albedo, and spin, and the problem gets tricky to say the least.

    The thing that is really exciting right now is that because of the UTC paper I think we have a much better approximation of earths baseline temp. Before, everyone was floundering around because the numbers didn’t add up. Now we know why.

  9. adolfogiurfa says:

    There is a small niche of opportunity for our GW´s friends: As the solar cycle 24 is a long cycle, its maximum, lasting longer, will warm up things a little, though they will have to wait the “time lag” due to oceans, they will be compensated a little. Then, after 2020 it will be over and they will have to forget all their dreams of a paradisiacal hell.

  10. davidmhoffer says:

    Joe’s World says:
    January 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm
    TB,
    He is right about one thing.
    Averaging is the ONLY way to generate that single calculation that generates the pretty graphs that are useless as they encompasses then the whole planet at the ONE specific point in time.
    ********************

    You’ve hit on another part of the equation that I didn’t address in that comment which is that this same issue (P varies with T^4) makes a time series of temperature that is averaged even more deceptive.

    If we presume a uniform increase in radiance (put aside source for the moment, it doesn’t matter for this discussion) the number of “degrees” of temperature increase we see will be larger in the high latitudes than in the low latitudes. In other words, by averaging T across the globe, when there is an actual temperature increase, the slope of the temperature trend will be well above the slope of the increase in radiance.

    So the insanity of averaging T is, in my opinion, a double whamy when it comes to understanding climate. We start out by calculating a differential between effective blackbody temps and observed temps that is outright wrong, and then compound that sin by trending T that is indicative of a far larger change in energy balance than is actually occurring.

    In fact, you can even construct scenarios where the tropics cool a certain amount, and the high latitudes warm, such that the net radiance is lower but the net temperature is higher. I’m very frustrated attempting to have this discussion over at WUWT because this fact seems rather plain to me. If we can have a scenario in which average T is increasing, but the average radiance is decreasing, that alone should tell us that the average of T is totaly and completely useless for the purpose of discussing the earth’s energy balance in general, and how changes in CO2 affect it.

  11. Nick Stokes says:

    Bill Hunter says: January 24, 2012 at 11:32 am
    ‘The key clause was: “for the amount of radiance they receive.”’

    It isn’t. It’s DMH’s addition; nothing to do with what Joel was saying. Which is simply that there is a discrepancy between what the surface emits, calculated from known temperature and S-B, and what emerges at TOA.

    Global averaging complicates slightly, but the effect is large, and easily found by checking regions. Thinking about Finland? OK, check Finland. You’ll still find the surface emits more LW than appears at TOA.

  12. tallbloke says:

    Hi David, and Welcome. You’ll be please to hear Hans Jelbring is putting up the first of his two new papers here tonight. This one deals with the dynamic situation as a complement and extension of the static situation covered by his 2003 paper. The S-B misapplication paper will be along soon.

    Nick: How do we know whether it is the emission is coming out from underground through the surface or if it’s coming from the air just above the surface? From what I understand of the devices such as AERI which take the readings, there’s no way of knowing which it is.

  13. davidmhoffer says:

    Nick Stokes says:
    January 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm
    Bill Hunter says: January 24, 2012 at 11:32 am
    ‘The key clause was: “for the amount of radiance they receive.”’

    It isn’t. It’s DMH’s addition; nothing to do with what Joel was saying. Which is simply that there is a discrepancy between what the surface emits, calculated from known temperature and S-B, and what emerges at TOA.
    *****************

    And Joel also continued to claim that the discrepancy is 33K. My point in explaining the fallacy of averaging T and converting to P, or of averaging P and converting to T, is that the discrepancy is far, far, in excess of 33K. In fact, I provided Joel with a sample insolation curve typical of the tropics that resulted in an “average” of 240 w/m2 and an “average” of 140K. That leaves a “discrepancy” to the observed “average” of 288K of 148K, not 33K. That is hardly a “discrepancy” that’s more like a massive disparity. Further, Joel continues to take the “average” temperature (which is wrong) and subtract from it the “average” blackbody temperature (which is also wrong) and from there attribute the difference 100% to GHE. That is utter nonsense, not just because the number calculated is wrong, but because since we don’t know how the averages are affected by convection and conduction moving energy from low latititudes to high latitudes, we also don’t know how much to attribute to the non linear relationship between T and P and how much to attribute to other factors.

  14. Nick Stokes says:

    TB,
    The surface, of the tropical E Pac ocean, say, is at 300K. It’s emissivity is essentially 1. Those are well-established measurements. By S-B the ocean surface will emit 459 W/m2 LW, regardless of what else is emitted by what. By TOA, there’s only 290 W/m2. What happened to that flux?

  15. davidmhoffer says:

    Nick Stokes says:
    January 24, 2012 at 9:59 pm
    TB,
    The surface, of the tropical E Pac ocean, say, is at 300K. It’s emissivity is essentially 1. Those are well-established measurements. By S-B the ocean surface will emit 459 W/m2 LW, regardless of what else is emitted by what. By TOA, there’s only 290 W/m2. What happened to that flux?
    ****************

    The observed flux at TOA does not originate at TOA. It originates at all altitudes. It originates from clouds, aerosols, and GHG’s including water vapour. The outbound flux at TOA is a combination of the upward bound fluxes that reach TOA from each and every layer of the atmosphere. Very little of the upward bound flux from the earth surface actually escapes because it has a good chance of being intercepted, absorbed, and re-emitted at a higher altitude. Upward bound flux from higher altitudes has a higher chance of escaping because there is less atmopshere between the higher altitude and TOA to intercept the flux. As a consequence, the 290 w/m2 being observed at TOA originates in part from low altitudes with high temperatures and from high altitudes with low temperatures. The total flux that escapes is 290 w/m2, and must be calculated from the portion that reaches TOA from all altitudes that are radiating. To satisfy over all energy balance, some portion of the energy emitted must be moved to higher latitudes via processes such as conduction, convection, and yes, GHG absorption and re-emission which operates horizontally as well as vetically.

  16. davidmhoffer says:

    my last comment should have read:

    The observed flux at TOA does not originate at earth surface (for the most part)

  17. diogenes says:

    so much abstract physicising….does anyone actually measure things anymore? Or doi you prefer to argue rather than to measure and know the “truth”

  18. davidmhoffer says:

    diogenes says:
    January 24, 2012 at 11:12 pm
    so much abstract physicising….does anyone actually measure things anymore? Or doi you prefer to argue rather than to measure and know the “truth”>>>>

    The problem here diogenes is that we ARE measuring things. What we are discovering is that what we THOUGHT we were measuring and what it turns out we ACTUALY are measuring are two different things.

  19. kuhnkat says:

    Nick Stokes,

    “By S-B the ocean surface will emit 459 W/m2 LW, regardless of what else is emitted by what. By TOA, there’s only 290 W/m2. What happened to that flux?”

    SOD had it as about 240 w/m^2 in his posts I have actually read. Yes, what DID happen to the flux?? It appears to be converging with the ground number over time. Could you compute a trend for us??

  20. Genghis says:

    Nick Stokes, ““By S-B the ocean surface will emit 459 W/m2 LW, regardless of what else is emitted by what. By TOA, there’s only 290 W/m2. What happened to that flux?””

    Maybe we can work out the numbers : ) Solar radiance is 1,362 W/m2 and the GHG radiation is 290 W/m2 together that is 1,652 W/m2 absorbing and re-radiating from the ocean surface. That would make the surface 413.6 K (140˚ C) under the noon day sun. Is it reasonable for the surface to get to 284˚f ? I don’t think so. Maybe I need to account for Rayleigh scattering and subtract 25% of the Solar radiance, for 1,021 W/m2 and do the calcs again. I get 1,311 W/m2 (keeping the greenhouse radiation constant) for a S-B surface temperature of 390K or 116.8˚C.

    Obviously the S-B equation does not give the proper surface temperature of the ocean under the noon day sun, something is missing, and the radiation is accounted for.

    But Nick stokes is correct, the ocean surface does emit 459 W/m2 and the ocean temperature is reasonably stable between day and night temperatures. 459 W/m2 translates to 300k or 26.8˚C so we have a missing (1,311-290) 1,021 W/m2.

    Obviously the bulk of the 1,000 W/m2 went into evaporating the surface of the ocean and the energy got convected away into the atmosphere. Evaporation/conduction/convection is the energy transport mechanism in the atmosphere at 4 times the magnitude of radiation.

    Obviously the above is all wrong, so I would like someone to point out the errors : )

  21. davidmhoffer says:

    Genghis;
    Obviously the S-B equation does not give the proper surface temperature of the ocean under the noon day sun, something is missing, and the radiation is accounted for.>>>>

    Actually, you’ve got a whole series of things wrong in your calcs, but the big one is that you didn’t allow for heat capacity. SB Law provides you with the temperature of a body at equilibrium. SB Law doesn’t tell you how much time it will take to REACH equilibrium. That is one of the many great unknowns that muddy up our ability to apply SB Law in a simple manner. If we shut the sun off completely this instant, the earth would cool off to the background temperature of space, about 3 degrees K or -270 C. How long would that take? I don’t know, but a lot longer than a day. The same applies to heating it up. If we blasted the earth surface with 1,000 w/m2 on a 24 x 7 basis, it would not hit equilibrium for days, perhaps weeks or months.

  22. Wayne Job says:

    The earth is an unplumbed chaotic heat pump with water as the refrigerant. This talk of missing watts in the tropic zones is rather puzzling to me. The tropics give our world an almost unchanging heat input regulated by thunderstorms that vary in quantity to the varying solar input thus acting as a thermostat, the BTU input is almost a constant.

    The temperate zones are the elephant in the room as they control the flow of heat to the arctic radiators. The main ocean currents and jet streams are modulated by the chaotic behaviour of the temperate zones.

    Thus we have five thermostats, the tropics , the two poles and the two temperate zones, so it becomes a little difficult to come to terms with various real world measurements and averaging anything.

    With a rampant sun the the tropical regions self regulate to a constant heat input, the temperate zone oceans gain heat. This finds its way to the arctic regions, melts some ice, losing heat and the open water dumps heat to space, self regulating thermostat.

    A quite sun does the opposite and the temperate zones get cooler, the tropics stay the same and less heat traveling to the arctic regions means they have a bit of extra ice to keep the heat in.

    All of this radiant heat stuff and GHG stuff is irrelevant and CO2 for god sake make no difference as the worlds thermostats work on temperature. Too hot is impossible without our sun misbehaving badly. It is in the other direction that we should be looking as ice ages are a proven fact, AGW not so much.

    Take all the measurements you want but only apply them when you know how our air conditioner works. Then we may know what is going on.

  23. Joe's World says:

    David,

    The whole field of climate science and the majority of science “jumped on the horse” without understanding it first.
    The strictly following temperature data missed a vast amount of area needed to create this somewhat stable temperature.
    Scientists belief is of a balance which was NEVER there. The planet and solar system is in constant change and every moment is unique and NEVER to be repeated exactly. From water loss to space to a slowing planet to the movement away from the sun. Every point on our planet is unique at any individual moment.
    So why is averaging temperature going to predict anything?
    Even an Ice Age is a precipitation based event.

    This is why I have absolutely no use for our current LAWS and theories and strictly started to follow the evidence.
    I even created the velocity mapping to better understand how the different velocities effect the circulation of this planet.

    Click to access world-calculations.pdf


    Click to access world-calculations-2.pdf

    There is a vast amount of different activities in play from salt changes to the shape of our planet effects on clouds that move from the equatorial region and NEVER returning.

    Click to access curryetal_nature2003.pdf

    Yet, I’m suppose to believe the science LAWS are absolutely accurate?
    When the majority do not include motion.

  24. davidmhoffer says:

    Joe’s World;
    Yet, I’m suppose to believe the science LAWS are absolutely accurate?>>>

    I agree, but only in part. The laws are accurate. But you have to read the fine print, and that is what has been missing in my opinion. SB Law is accurate as far as I am concerned, and completely useless for this debate unless it is applied with the fine print in mind. SB Law is accurate ONLY for uniform radiance across a uniform surface at a uniform temperature. It has been applied willy nilly to averages which do not in any way reflect uniformity, they are two different things.

    Wayne Job;
    Thus we have five thermostats, the tropics , the two poles and the two temperate zones, so it becomes a little difficult to come to terms with various real world measurements and averaging anything.>>>

    AGREED!

  25. steven mosher says:

    “Nick: How do we know whether it is the emission is coming out from underground through the surface or if it’s coming from the air just above the surface? From what I understand of the devices such as AERI which take the readings, there’s no way of knowing which it is.”

    Please see the documentation on calibration.