JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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New Science 17: Solving the mystery of the missing “Hotspot”

Things are hotting up. After all the hard work of the past few posts, the payoff begins. By solving the flaws inherent in the basic conventional model we solve some of its biggest missed-predictions. And the clincher for conventional models has always been the missing hot spot. Without it, over half the projected warming just vanishes. And if it is telling the tale of a negative type of feedback instead of a positive one, then all bets are off — not three degrees, not even one degree, it’s more like “half” a degree. Go panic about that.

Here David gets into the empirical data — the radiosondes, the satellites, and shows how his model fits their results, whereas the establishment models have repeatedly been forced to deny them. Twenty eight million radiosondes get the wrong results: how many ways can we adjust them? Tweak that cold bias, blend in the wind shear, change the color-scales, homogenize the heck. Smooth, sort, shovel and grind those graphs. The fingerprint of CO2 was everywhere in 2005, though gradually became the non-unique signal of any kind of warming, but it still wasn’t there. It kept being “found”, though it was never reported missing. [...]

New Science 16: Building the alternative model and why it solves so many major problems

In typical style I looked at this draft and told David that the second half of his post should be at the top (that’s where he discusses how his model solves so many problems). He replied that the equations were the most important part, and he wasn’t going to flip them around. So, for readers who don’t speak mathematica-lingua, all I can say, is don’t miss the second half below.

Also in typical style, David prefers this picture he’s just drawn in his diagramming software, to my cartoon in the intro to post 11:

 

In this post, David combines the two smaller models to make one basic climate model (that’s the sum-of-warmings and the OLR models). Unlike the mainstream conventional basic model that underlies the entire establishment culture and philosophy, the alternative model uses more empirical data (and from the real world too, not just the lab). It’s also less reliant on hypothetical partial derivatives. Plus, in the alternate model, different forcings can cause different responses. In the conventional model, the architecture assumes the climate responds to to all forcings the same way.

CO2 has a warming effect on the atmosphere, rather than just on the surface, and [...]

New Science 15: Modeling outgoing radiation (OLR)

OLR — outgoing longwave radiation — is so key, so central to the climate debate that if we had top notch data on the radiation  coming off the planet, we would have solved the effect of extra CO2 a long time ago. That we don’t have a specific satellite  monitoring these changes in detail is like the dog that didn’t bark. Apparently a specialist OLR satellite was to be launched in  2015. More info on the RAVAN Satellite here (was supposed to launch in Sept 2015). (UPDATE: Planned for 2016) h/t siliggy.

There are four main pipes to space, and in David’s work each pipe is considered separately. The conventional model assumes that increasing atmospheric CO2 constricts the CO2 pipe, which warms the surface, causing more evaporation, which then constricts the Water Vapor pipe (this is the “water vapor amplification”, even more constriction of radiation to space by water vapor that forces the surface to emit more by being yet warmer). But the missing hot spot tells us that this theory is wrong. In this OLR model, the water vapor pipe could either expand or constrict. An expansion means a drop in the height of the emissions layer, [...]

New Science 14: Greenhouse Emission Layers — which pipe is the biggest?

Here we get into the nitty-gritty (as much as we can) of the energy coming off the planet. Looking at the spectrum of outgoing infrared we can learn a lot from the Nimbus data. In the graph below we can see a lot more energy comes from certain wavelengths, and given that the curve would follow the “grey” shape if it was a single body emitting, we can also see how some “pipes” are blocked.

The CO2 band shows a large obvious indentation, but don’t be fooled, most of that curve looks the same at much lower concentrations of CO2. As CO2 levels rise in our atmosphere there is little effect on the radiance of the coldest parts of the CO2 band, what changes is in the “wings”.

The hotter a thing is, the more energy it radiates, so in this graph the higher amounts of OLR (outgoing longwave radiation) are coming off the warmer surface or air closer to it. Turn things upside down in your mind, the high readings come from low-altitude places which are warm (like the surface), and as the readings get lower in radiance, they must be coming from colder spots at higher altitudes. [...]

New Science 13: The Start of a New Architecture for Climate Models

In most ways, David Evans’ alternative model is exactly the same as the conventional model. But a reconnection of one forcing, and an additional factor, can make all the difference. Finally, climate model architecture is getting analyzed and discussed — the conventional structure has been in place for over 40 years.

In the conventional basic model the radiation imbalance caused by CO2 is treated like extra sunlight, amplified by the same feedback processes that amplify warming caused by the sun. But as we explained, the effects of CO2 are not just confined to the surface of Earth, but spread through the atmosphere. In the alternative model the warming caused by CO2 is allowed to have its own unique response. Only after the separate “warmings” of the Sun and CO2 are calculated can they be added together. The conventional model adds them too soon, while they are still radiation imbalances, and assumes the Earth’s climate responds to both in the same way — it’s too simplistic.

David’s model also allows for other factors to change cloud cover, with the addition of an input for externally driven albedo (EDA). In conventional models, clouds are just a feedback to surface warming, [...]

New Science 12: How do we model the thermal inertia of the Earth?

Basic models take a top down approach, focusing on gross input and output rather than all the details within the system (which is mainly left to the feedbacks parameter). This makes them very different to the GCMs, which attempt to add up the climate from the bottom up and predict based on adding up grids and guesstimates of clouds, humidity, ice, etc.

The energy coming in to the Earth is called absorbed solar radiation (ASR). It varies significantly. The Earth will absorb the peaks and troughs of this to a certain extent. If we step back and look at the big picture, the question is how many years does it take for a step up in incoming energy to spread its way through the climate system, vanish into the top layer of the ocean, come back out and be released to space. To some extent that extra energy gets absorbed for a while before being released. David analyzed this system from the outside, graphing it like a low pass filter in electronics. (How much “noise” of spikes and troughs in ASR is being smoothed out by the Earth’s climate?)

In a [...]

New Science 11: An Alternative Modeling Strategy

All pipes lead to Space

Inexorably, energy is headed for the coldest vacuum. It’s just a question of how long and what path it takes to get there. On Earth there are four main “pipes” to space — the CO2, water vapor, cloud tops, and surface pipes (see post 6). The basic establishment model treats “trapped” heat as if it were “adding heat” (see post 9). But partially blocking one exit pipe out of four is not the same as adding energy to the incoming pipe. Adding more energy on the incoming side means the total outflow must be higher. But merely slowing the outflow in one pipe means the total outflow remains the same, it just redistributes itself among the four outflow pipes.

David is proposing a paradigm shift in how a basic climate model is organized. This post is a road-map for building an alternative model.

The current paradigm starts from the assumption that reducing the outflow in one pipe is equivalent to the effect of increasing the inflow on the single incoming pipe — it is a radiation balance, where all imbalances are equivalent regardless of origin. Doubling CO2 is “equal” to 2% [...]

New Science 10: Whatever controls clouds controls the climate

How much sunlight makes it to the surface?

We all know how powerful clouds are. Just stand outside on a patchy day — feel the goosebumps. These megaton floating conglomerates of water act as vast shields — they cover 60% of the surface of Earth, and even a small change makes a big difference. While changes in the total amount of direct sunlight coming off the sun are very small, the changes to the amount of reflecting surfaces floating above Earth are, proportionally, at least twice as large, and possibly much much more influential. The IPCC includes changes in sunlight (TSI), so it does not make sense to ignore the larger and more powerful changes in the Earth’s albedo (fraction of sunlight that is reflected) due to “external” factors (due to factors other than feedbacks to surface warming). Both contribute to the amount of sunlight heating the surface, or “absorbed solar radiation” (ASR) (before feedbacks).

There are lots of reasons clouds might change that are not included in standard climate models. Just for starters — cosmic rays may seed cloud formation. Aerosols released by plants, plankton and marine life do — some aerosols are included, [...]

New Science 9: Error 3: All Radiation Imbalances Treated the Same — The Ground is not the sky!

The ground is not the sky

Here’s a big big flaw that is easy for anyone to understand, yet has lain at the core of the climate models since at least 1984. Indeed, you’ll wonder why we all haven’t been chuckling at this simplistic caricature of our atmosphere for 31 years.

The theory underlying the alarm about CO2 is built around a bizarre idea that blocking outgoing energy in the CO2 pipe is equivalent to getting an increase in sunlight. The very architecture of all the mainstream climate models assumes that the Earth’s climate responds to all radiation imbalances or “forcings” as if they were all like extra sunlight. (We call that extra absorbed solar radiation (ASR) to be more precise. It’s all about the sunlight that makes it through to the surface.)

Extra sunlight adds heat directly to the Earth’s surface, and maybe the climate models have correctly estimated the feedbacks from clouds and evaporation and what-not to surface warming. But it is obvious, in a way even a child could comprehend, that this is not the same as blocking outgoing radiation in the upper atmosphere, which is the effect of increasing CO2. [...]

New Science 8: Applying the Stefan-Boltzmann Law to Earth

Energy is emitted to space from many different heights in the atmosphere, depending on the wavelength (not to scale, suggestive only).

One more quick post of mostly uncontroversial foundation for the math-and-physics-heads among us. But it’s a must for anyone who wants to talk Stefan-Boltzmann and follow the details of the next posts. My intro here, just has the gist without the equations.

Mostly the IPCC will agree with this post, but they might be a bit snooty that David thinks their “effective temperature” is too much of an approximation conceptually, and the slightly more complicated idea of a “radiating temperature” is needed. Strictly, the effective temperature idea treats Earth like it is a black-body at infrared, which it isn’t really. Earth is almost a black-body, but not quite.

There is no single layer that radiates to space, instead emissions come from many different heights, depending on the wavelength. We could average the emissions into “one layer”, but doing that would lose detail that matters when computing sensitivity to increasing CO2.

Technically the Stefan-Boltzmann law is not supposed to be applied to Earth, because there is no single physical radiating surface [...]