Susan Solomon: “There’s another term – Solar forcing – which I didn’t include”

Posted: July 11, 2013 by tallbloke in Analysis, atmosphere, climate, Clouds, Dataset, Natural Variation, ozone, Solar physics, volcanos

Last night I attended a lecture at the university’s chemistry dept. by Susan Solomon, IPCC lead author and architect of the Montreal Protocol on CFC’s. The subject was:

Surprises in Radiative Forcing: What Chemicals Are Changing Our Recent Climate?


In it she outlined an explanation for the ‘hiatus’ or ‘standstill’ in global warming since around the turn of the millennium. I’ll give only a brief synopsis here, since the vid I made of the whole lecture is uploading on youtube and will be added to the post soon. Basically, Prof Soloman says the hiatus is due to a combination of two factors: A reduction in stratospheric water vapour concentrations, and the effect of volcanic SO2 based aerosols getting into the stratosphere from smaller than expected volcanoes.

I think the second of these is pretty dubious myself, but hey, she’s supposed to be the expert.

However, right near the end of the Q&A section there was a good point made by the bloke sitting to my right, one tier down, who pointed out that on the plot Susan Soloman has made for a forthcoming paper, she had failed to include the downturn in solar forcing, which was perhaps twice as large in radiative forcing terms as either of the two factors she included.

I managed to catch her admitting that this was correct, and that she’d omitted it. The Q&A is in the middle of the short segment below:

The key point here is that once included, it implies that the overall energy balance has gone negative. That means that far from the ‘missing heat’ being sequestered in the abyss, energy is coming out of the deeper oceans to maintain surface temperature

  1. tchannon says:

    Rog you raising this subject is completely unexpected yet if you flip right a few times in this web browser there is Dobson, stratosphere, WMO, more or less all of it.

    A take on some of this I was considering fits exactly with a class of science types coming across something new and then getting the panics about we are all going to die based on incomplete knowledge. Solomon seems to have bought this, perhaps originating as with others from the same core group.

    More digging needed.

  2. vukcevic says:

    Perhaps more of an incidental answer to natural climate oscillations is in the Dr. Solomon’s fortuitous surname rather than in her ‘wisdom of Solomon’.

  3. Kon Dealer says:

    But, But I thought that atmospheric water vapour was going to increase and lead to a positive feedback on Global temperatures?

  4. Streetcred says:

    They really don’t know, do they ? All trying to sound important and at the cutting edge of scientific understanding … and then some mere mortal science guy comes along with a simple observation that crashes the house of cards. They know more and more about less and less until eventually they know everything about nothing … sounds just like climate science.

  5. Stephen Wilde says:

    ” A reduction in stratospheric water vapour concentrations,”

    Does that mean relative humidity or absolute humidity?

  6. Fanakapan says:

    Attempting to Extend by Pretending 🙂

  7. tchannon says:

    After managing to get Flash operating on a spare computer I got a take on the video. Wish I hadn’t, she sounded awful, just as well I was not there.

    The last part, clouds, you do what? She didn’t understand or was not listening. Water vapour in the high stratosphere has diddle to do with clouds, similarly her going on about old air is a total miss given no effect. And wetter, really, what data is that? Why didn’t she call out the question was off topic?

    I think her straw grasping was kidding on any effects up there apply to long ago, but she is wrong on that too, the overturn has a much lower mean, not that much is really understood.

  8. A good example of how settled the science is. Here we see a climate scientist fumbling in the dark, literally and metaphorically. I suppose we should defer to Michael Mann or John Cook, they’re never stuck for an answer.

  9. Kramer says:

    I know I’ve seen graphs of the water vapor content in the atmosphere and they show a decline. What I don’t understand is, I’ve read many times that AGW would increase the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.

    Anybody else remember reading the same thing?

  10. michael hart says:

    “Last night I attended a lecture at the university’s chemistry dept. by Susan Soloman..”

    -Memories. In a different life, I used to attend lectures in the same Chemistry department, running across the remodelled graveyard from Henry Price flats in the (too) early morning light. One winter night, an old grave collapsed and swallowed a student friend who was not sticking to the path while walking in darkness.

    I fear that is the fate which awaits IPCC scientists who strayed from the path of science and into politics.

  11. […] Over at Tallbloke’s the subject has got around to the stratosphere, including a post by Rog reporting on a lecture he attended at Leeds Uni. given by Susan Solomon. Link here. […]