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Satellites show a warmer Earth is releasing extra energy to space

(I’m revisiting older important papers and setting up resource pages, largely thanks to Tony Cox’s prodding. In this post I found it interesting that Lindzen’s work, which was so controversial because it proved the IPCC is wrong, was in many ways merely confirming earlier results. — Jo)

Guest Post: Tony Cox and Jo Nova

Satellite measurements agree with the ocean heat content measurements. As the Earth warms, more radiation escapes to space.

If feedbacks are positive (as the IPCC estimates), then as the Earth warms the amount of energy being radiated to space will shrink (thus warming the Earth even further). If feedbacks are negative, as the Earth warms more energy will radiate away.

Multiple studies show that feedbacks are negative.

Lindzen and Choi analyzed short periods of warming looking for changes in the outgoing long-wave radiation leaving from the top of the atmosphere. The satellite observations show, repeatedly, that as the Earth warms, the climate system shifts and lets more of the infra red or long-wave energy out to space.[1],[2] It’s like a safety release valve. This means that the system has negative feedbacks (like almost all known long-lived or stable natural systems). The changes dampen the effects of extra CO2.

Wielicki 2002 already showed the effect Lindzen further demonstrated in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

As the world warms satellites show the outgoing radiation (red line) increases. More energy escapes from the atmosphere, demonstrating that feedbacks are negative and that model predictions do not match observations. From Wielicki, et al 2002: Figure 1

Lindzen and Choi’s results were the exact opposite of what the IPCC-favored models predicted. But rather than being unusual, their results fitted the pattern of previous papers.

Wielicki et al 2002[3] had already showed that outgoing radiation increased as the earth warmed from 1985 – 1999, and that the outgoing infra red radiation was seven times larger than the models predicted. Wielicki’s results were confirmed by four other groups.[4],[5],[6],[7]

On its own, this one discrepancy between models and observations conclusively shows the models are wrong. There is no disaster coming, the warming effect of CO2 has been exaggerated by a factor of roughly six fold.

With no net amplifying positive feedback there is no catastrophe. Because satellites are recording long-wave radiation leaving the planet, they are effectively assessing the net effect of all forms of feedbacks at once. We can’t tell which part of the system is responsible: clouds, humidity, ice-cover or vegetation, but we know the net effect of all of them together is that when the world’s surface warms, more energy escapes from the planet.

Lindzen and Choi’s publication in 2009 [1] was heavily criticized, but the criticisms were addressed and submitted in 2010 and finally published in 2011[2]. The conclusions remained the same: The models are wrong.

 Thanks to WUWT for background info  Lindzen on negative climate feedback — where it seems that the Wielicki graph above has been updated since 2002 to account for satellite decay, which reduces the difference between the models and the observations. But as Lindzen points out, the adjusted data still does not fit the models predictions, and yet again, even though this adjustment may be correct, it’s implausible that all the adjustments non-randomly bring the data closer to the models.

[1] Lindzen, R. S., and Y.-S. Choi (2009), On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L16705 [abstract, PDF]

[2] Lindzen, R. & Yong-Sang Choi, Y, (2011) On the Observational Determination of Climate Sensitivity and Its Implications, Asia-Pacific J. Atmos. Sci., 47(4), 377-390, 2011  [PDF]

[3] Wielicki, Bruce A, Takmeng Wong, Richard P Allan, Anthony Slingo, Heffery T Kiehl, Brian J Soden, C T Gordon, Alvin J Miller, Shi-Keng Yang, David A Randall, Franklin Robertson, Joel Susskind, Herbert Jacobowitz [2002] Evidence for Large Decadal Variability in the Tropical Mean Radiative Energy Budget, Science, Vol 295 no. 5556 pp 841-844, [Abstract] [Discussion]

[4]  Chen, J., B.E. Carlson, and A.D. Del Genio, (2002): Evidence for strengthening of the tropical general circulation in the 1990s. Science, 295, 838-841.

[5]  Cess, R.D. and P.M. Udelhofen, (2003): Climate change during 1985–1999: Cloud interactions determined from satellite measurements. Geophys. Res. Ltrs., 30, No. 1, 1019, doi:10.1029/2002GL016128.

[6]  Hatzidimitriou, D., I. Vardavas, K. G. Pavlakis, N. Hatzianastassiou, C. Matsoukas, and E. Drakakis (2004) On the decadal increase in the tropical mean outgoing longwave radiation for the period 1984–2000. Atmos. Chem. Phys., 4, 1419–1425.

[7] Clement, A.C. and B. Soden (2005) The sensitivity of the tropical-mean radiation budget. J. Clim., 18, 3189-3203.

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