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Lucia on climate sensitivity

Lucia Liljegren's post on climate sensitivity written by Paul-K is rather technical but a must read for those that can handle such stuff. She's looking at a series of papers that have examined the effects of the Mount Pinatubo eruption on radiative fluxes at the top of the atmosphere, analyses that should lead, usually via comparison to a computer model, to an estimate of climate sensitivity.

So of these two papers, Wigley2006 offers a climate sensitivity but fails to reconcile to the measured flux data.  Soden2002 does seek to match the observed flux data but does not report on the implied climate sensitivity.

I am now sufficiently cynical about mainstream climate science to believe that the reason for the non-barking dogs in the two cases is the same.  I will show that you cannot get a reasonable match to the flux and temperature data with a high [equilibrium climate sensitivity].  Wigley would have had to show a serious mismatch with the flux data, and Soden would have had to report and explain the politically incorrect, low, climate sensitivity implied by his match of the flux data.

This seems very important to me.

Update: author name added 9.40am, 23.10.12.

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Reader Comments (26)

Bish, a correction, the piece you link to is by Paul_K actually.

Oct 23, 2012 at 8:44 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

The post isn't from Lucia - she's just hosting it.

It's by Paul_K

Oct 23, 2012 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered Commentersteveta

Yes, it is a very interesting piece. The argument is basically that climate sensitivity empirically measured in response to natural experiments has an upper and a lower bound, neither of which leads to any sort of catastrophic warming.

If this is right, its end of the road for AGW and particularly for policies designed to lower emissions. It needs really thorough discussion and analysis, but its one of several skeptical accounts of sensititivy. Growing in number.

Oct 23, 2012 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

Lucis doesn't allow me to post on her site because she believes in 'back radiation', a form of scientific mass hypnosis, failure to understand that pyrometers measure a temperature radiation field [Poynting Vector] most of which is annihilated at radiative equilibrium. The message will sink home soon.

Oct 23, 2012 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

We all get tired of reading the same comment on most threads.

Oct 23, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS


With respect I do not see how you can reasonably claim to speak for everyone, or indeed even for most.

Oct 23, 2012 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed


But I have asked people not to keep posting the same comments on every thread.

Oct 23, 2012 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBishop Hill

I agree, it does seem important. Also, when I look at the Mauna Loa CO2 time series, there is a quite noticeable kink in data at the time of Pinatubo.

On the same thread The Bishop links to, one person has made this comment:

Paul S (Comment #105176),

"I should add to this comment that I specifically mentioned CMIP3-era models because many CMIP5 models now contain carbon cycle and other biogeochemical feedback systems which should be major sources of non-linearity."

I sat up when I read that comment.

What on earth did the models do before CMIP5?

Oct 23, 2012 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Reading the post from Paul_K it seems to me that the "climate scientists" mentioned in the article have behaved in a criminally underhanded manner. I do not understand how such actions can go unpunished, especially because of the billions of taxpayer money already spent in vain (pun not intended).

Oct 23, 2012 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlbert Stienstra

If atmospheric CO2 doubles then there will be more energy adsorbed as it flows down towards the surface so reducing surface heating. Present observations show a level to slightly falling temperature with a rising atmospheric CO2 content.

Oct 23, 2012 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

John Marshall,

Conventional (?) climate science says that you are wrong as outgoing radiation red-shifts toward the absorption frequencies of CO2. But sunshine includes those frequencies and therefore absorption occurs to both incoming and outgoing photons equally. As Earth receives radiation as a disc and transmits as a sphere then it follows that CO2 cools. The reverse logic to that comes from the application of black body radiation calculations.

If you were to be right then Stephan-Boltzman has been applied incorrectly. Evidence is suggesting that may be the case. Remember that when temps were falling that the scare was Global Cooling. The theory reversed when the trend did likewise.

Oct 23, 2012 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

The problem BH faces is that 'consensus' protagonists attack contrary opinion, diverting attention from the topic. However, in this case, the topic is divergence of observation from prediction and it's the duty of every professional to wonder why.

It’s easy to prove the black body Earth IR emission and 'back radiation' modelling assumptions wrong. However, to admit so is very difficult for those whose careers have been based on adherence to the party line. One way out is an amnesty, like the South African 'Truth and Reconciliation' process. I look forward to the time when Sir Paul Nurse, for example, admits in public that the RS got it very wrong.

Oct 23, 2012 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

God, I wish I knew why this was important. Would some kind soul care to translate into plain English what the quote from Lucia's site signifies?

Oct 23, 2012 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Larkin

I look forward to the time when Sir Paul Nurse, for example, admits in public that the RS got it very wrong.

Oct 23, 2012 at 3:19 PM | AlecM

........I'll put the kettle on then.

Oct 23, 2012 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurfew

Paul_K's article is excellent. Credit should to where it is due! :)

I suspect my big teal "guest post" box doesn't show in feeds? It was worth a try! (I need to find a way to get that pulled into feeds somehow so people reading there notice.)

AlecM Oddly, I was unaware you or anyone else has ever been banned for any issue having to do with belief or non-believe in "back radiation". Moreover, as far as I am aware, I have never banned anyone posting under the name of "AlecM".

I'll refrain from saying more since this post doesn't seem to be about 'back radiation' or about my moderation practices.

Oct 23, 2012 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterLucia

Curfew: to claim a 'consensus', key people have made serious mistakes. Others, like Nurse, who do not have the depth of physics to understand these mistakes have foolishly accepted their claims.

These people have talked themselves into a trap. Once you see detail, it’s easy to see why they are so defensive. Most real GHE is because surface IR emission is restricted, not that black body emission is absorbed by GHGs. The models have failed. The earth is cooling. Nurse/RS must accept the inevitable.

Oct 23, 2012 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Lucia; I posted under a different name - moderated out apparently.

Oct 23, 2012 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Michael Larkin,

You have my sympathy! I tried to get my head around this post, and the subsequent arguments in the comments below, and have been rather unsuccessful - perhaps I have earned a 'C' so far.

The main issue is the empirical measurement of sensitivity: measure the amount of radiation coming in to the earth, and going out, over a period of time where they are changing, and simultaneously monitor surface (or tropospheric) temperatures. If outgoing radiation only goes up a bit when temperatures go up a lot, sensitivity is high and vice versa. Models, of course, predict high sensitivity. Here the Pinatubo eruption provides a way to test that based on actual experimental data, and a number of papers suggest that the analysis shows sensitivity must be much lower. The claim in Paul K's post is that the inconsistency with models gets rather soft-pedalled by some consensus-upholders e.g. Wigley.

This goes back to Nic Lewis's nice analysis on Climate Etc of how one of those papers got transmogrified in the IPCC AR4. Willis Eschenbach at WUWT also has a number of relevant posts about the way temperatures changes after volcanic eruptions. Paul K's text near the sentence "This match suggests that a climate sensitivity of around 1.5 C is compatible with the observed data assuming maximum attributable temperature response." makes - using different language - similar points to those Willis has made in the past, I think.

Oct 23, 2012 at 5:40 PM | Registered CommenterJeremy Harvey

Lucia, AlecM changes his name whenever he has irritated enough people with the constant posting of the same rants about Prevost or Pointing or whoever this week's proof that IR can't warm things is dervined from.

Oct 23, 2012 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta

I do want people to know that very few (<3) are <I>intentionally moderated at my site and a few people have been temporarily moderated. This just means their posts are held in moderation. For example the single entity "Andrew aka (Fitzcarraldo, andrea,Annabelle Torres,Marie deschamps,Albert,Laura Gonzales,Rebecca, Fulton, and Albert)" was moderated in all it's sock-puppet manifestations.

But the spam rules and hacking protection automoderate for lots of things: using throwaway email addresses, using IPs listed on stopspam forum, using fake referrers when posting comments and so on. (I know some rules are draconian. On the other hand, Jo Nova did get hacked. And my access logs show evidence of prolonged attacks. So, I feel the need for caution.)

If someone who thinks they would like to comment finds themselves moderated or blocked, they should consider letting me know preferably when they are blocked or moderated not long after. I can find out why they were blocked if I know quickly. Otherwise... not. Some spam/hack protection rules I will not lift-- but others I can.

BH: apologies for the OT onto the topic of my moderation.

Oct 23, 2012 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterLucia

Alec, I just don't see Nurse, the RS or the other establishment bodies that have nailed their colours to the wall rushing to admit having been so wrong.

Oct 23, 2012 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurfew


Moreover, as far as I am aware, I have never banned anyone posting under the name of "AlecM".

It could be one of about ten names, according to the latest studies. There again, none of these monikers has admitted, that we know of, to being the same underlying personage as any other, although a singular source for at least some of them is taken by many close observers to be self-evident.

Thank you for publishing this important study of a central matter in the IPCC's account of climate doom, Lucia, as well as steering clear of unproductive fringes. Mount Pinatubo's unique contribution to the atmosphere during the satellite era deserves the most careful evaluation.

Oct 23, 2012 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Spencer Wigley Sodun and very probably Forster and Gregory all calculated a low sensititvity to a doubling of co2. But only one of them had the guts to publish it. Where does this put Dessler then? Isnt he informed by the others and cant just do the same math? Dessler seems to be a little left outside here!
Isnt he considered to be a full member by "The team" yet. Just a hangarond still? We know he failed to nail Spencer but the effort was very eggresive.Doesnt that make him qualify? Hwo many breaches of scientific methods has he to do to get full membership ands asvance form beeing just a "prospect"? He seems to be close to the president if "the team" mr Trenberth. So its hard to understand why he shouldent be a full member allready? Does he have to have an editor fired first?

Oct 23, 2012 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterSlabadang


Isnt he considered to be a full member by "The team" yet

No he is a groupie. The sort that the BBC allowed to be molested just like they have done with real science.

Oct 23, 2012 at 9:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen richards

Which is why I am eagerly awaiting the next major volcanic eruption. There will be lots of inconvenient measurements of volcanic aerosol effects. Showing what many of us already know - the aerosol forcings in the climate models are a factor of 2 to 3 too high, which makes the CO2 forcings too high by a similar factor, as a high aerosol (cooling) forcing is used to counter the high CO2 forcing and bring the models nearer to reality.

If the aerosol forcing has to be reduced, then the CO2 forcing has also to be reduced.

Oct 24, 2012 at 8:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Bradley

Jeremy Harvey,

Thanks for your post. I'm pleased to tell you that it helped me grasp what the central issue is.

Oct 24, 2012 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Larkin

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