Monthly Archives: March 2017

jch helps

Thanks JCH. It is easier for you I think as you have done more work on it but it is a very complicated scenario when one tries to get into it.
Surface emits 169 to space
atmospheric window – a. 40 to space is from the surface
[some infrared radiation from the cloud tops and land-sea surface pass directly to space without intermediate absorption and re-emission. A large gap in the absorption spectrum of water vapor, the main greenhouse gas, is most important in the dynamics of the window. Other gases, especially carbon dioxide and ozone, partly block transmission.]
*b. clouds emit 30 to space  the picture shows 30 from clouds, 40 from the surface overall window of 70.
to add to  239
Sun delivers 341     not absorbed – 102    sw delivered for absorption – 239
I think:     SW – 78,  LW – 97    – Not sure how you get this figure, The sun is very bright and I would have thought would be more shortwave though cold tongue edges of the sun plasma might go out far enough to emit some long wave if it cooled sufficiently. SW might reflect more than LW so may be the major part of reflected light.
The 78 [SW/LW] absorbed by the atmosphere at varying levels does some reheating on its way back out, Makes the atmosphere hotter but technically never reaches the land or ocean.
LW – 97 This seems to be the figure for thermals 17 and latent heat 80. I agree this would be emitted as LW but it would seem that these are energy packets that are transported high up before they emit and hence probably do not contribute much to rewarming. I do not know how you would account for them in terms of the energy going back to the ocean or land. My gut feeling is if they are emitting high enough they should not be counted as reheating the surface although they obviously do lead to reheating of the air locally on the way out and raise the overall temp which probably leads to more uptake and release of energy by CO2 lower down.
Techniucally not part of the 333 back radiation effect though as said contribute to making it happen.
absorbed – 175     [Should be 161 absorbed at surface]
LW to space – (30) [[This is  LW clouds emit 30 to space see above]
and  atmospheric window – a. 40 to space is from the surface
back to surface – 145   [should be 91 if amended figures OK]

lw absorbed 333/145 = 2.3 times         [? 333/91 = 3.7]
Will stop here as I do not think the model is trying to show an energy imbalance at all, just trying to balance input and output as no CO2 increase is postulated.
Thank you for the figures and trying to work it out as well, I am still struggling with it.


angech says:

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Andrew Dodds says:
“”angech I quoted direct numbers for the volcanic vs. solar heat fluxes. Then you come back with a direct lie that I said there was ‘no natural heat effect’. Please correct that.”

Did I misinterprete the line that followed?
“If volcanic heating was non-negligable, you’d expect to see convection cells with upwelling over the mid-ocean ridges, where the majority of volcanic heat enters the oceans. You don’t.”

Leto, “But because this tiny quantity of heat is on the ABC side of the ledger”. Yes, there is an ABC side. There are a lot of non negligible issues which though small may add up to concerns.

Andrew raises an interesting point however re TOA radiative imbalance. The amount of energy coming in is supposed to equal the energy going out. An increase in GHG means there should be a temporary imbalance. Yet if the earth is putting out an extra [Geothermal heat]: 47 TW should there not be a radiative imbalance the other way?
Incoming solar energy: 173,000 TW. Hence Outgoing should equal 173,047 TW. Is this ever taken into account?
I would feel this should make any balancing, as in ECS, much more rapid than what people are actually saying it is. Mosher? ATTP?


The ‘airborne fraction’ (atmospheric increase in CO2 concentration/fossil fuel emissions) . From 1959 to the present, the airborne fraction has averaged 0.55. the terrestrial biosphere and the oceans together have consistently removed 45% of fossil CO2 for the last 45 years.

.”Basically, in equilibrium, the amount of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in the ocean determines the partial pressure of CO2 and, hence, the atmospheric CO2 concentration via Henry’s Law”
This law works both ways.
In other words the partial CO2 pressure determines the DIC as well.
Which is important for this discussion..

The amount of extra CO2 added to the atmosphere by human activity, while significant, and lets say cumulative to some degree, is still a small fraction of the total atmospheric CO2 720 GT and the 137 times greater DIC [136,800 GT of CO2.]
[ we’re dealing with a coupled system, so if you add new material to one of the reservoirs, it will rise in all reservoirs]
Atmospheric CO2 720 GT at 400 PPM, which is 1/182 of the ocean equivalent.
If you increased to 560 ppm  1008 GT, a 25% increase the amount of CO2 in the ocean would have to increase by 2.5% OR  3420 GT.
At 30 GT a year human contribution that would take 100 years and providing that the DIC did stay in solution and not precipitate out in part.
Did a mere 600 GT raise the DIC of the oceans from
120 ppm rise suggests a

. However, there is a more formal way to show this. I recently worked through the ocean carbonate chemistry. It turns out that there is a factor called the Revelle factor, which is simply the ratio of the fractional change in atmospheric CO2, to the fractional change in total Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) in the oceans:

R = \dfrac{\Delta pCO_2/pCO_2}{\Delta DIC/DIC}.

The Revelle factor is about 10, which means that the fractional change in atmospheric CO2 will be about 10 times bigger than the fractional change in DIC. What this tells you straight away is that you can’t change the amount of CO2 in the oceans without also change the amount in the atmosphere; stabilising emissions will not stabilise concentrations.

The residual airborne fraction increases from about 15% for emissions of 100s of GtC (we’ve already emitted 600 GtC) to almost 30% if we were to emit as much as 5000 GtC.

Now, maybe if the fractional change in DIC is small enough, the fractional change in pCO_2 might also be small enough to essentially stabilise concentrations. However, we know the quantities in the various reservoirs, and we’ve already emitted enough CO2 to change the DIC by 1 – 2%, and – hence – the atmospheric CO2 concentration by 10 – 20%. If we stabilise emissions, we could easily change the DIC by a further 1 – 2%. In fact, we have sufficient fossil fuels to change it by more than 10% and, therefore, enough to change the atmospheric concentration by more than 100% (i.e., to, at least, double atmospheric CO2).

There is, however, something I’m slightly glossing over, so will try to clarify a little more. The above is based on an equilibrium calculation. In other words, it is the changes once the system has retained a quasi-steady equilibrium. Our emissions are continually pushing the system out of equilibrium and so the fractional change in atmospheric CO2 is actually greater than what the Revelle factor would suggest. Given what we’ve already emitted, we would expect about 20% of our emissions to remain in the atmosphere, but it’s currently more like 45%. This is because the timescale for ocean invasion is > 100 years, and so the system hasn’t yet had time to return to equilibrium.


hypergeometric says:
“”he internal variability effect?  Is it buried within the albedo effect, or the partial of outgoing longwave with respect to temperature?”

As you imply Internal variability is due to a multitude of factors. Some one off, some repeatable, some cyclical. If we knew enough about the actual causes to model them correctly we could remove some of them from the larger Natural Variability uncertainty range.

Your two examples show why there may not be a paradox to Willard. The atmospheric changes with 2 different GHG both increasing but only one with pure absorptive/ radiative properties, the other, H2O, being unique in that it causes increasing reflectivity with increasing concentration [decreased albedo] means that it is not a simple case of gas absorption emission physics with positive feedbacks but a complex reducing external input as internal energy retention goes up.
It is this dynamic that enables one to propose two Climate sensitivities. One with high variability at a low CO2 level and one with reducing/reduced CS when CO2 levels double.

The insistence that the CS plus positive feedback stays relatively the same at all CO2 levels is not held by most scientists ie people here have argued for some variability of CS with different conditions as a reason for it being hard to pin down, but most assume it must be relatively the same at different levels of increasing CO2. Take away this assumption and the paradox disappears.

Thanks for the link to your site, looks interesting.

Length of time

Victor talks about the length of the data at his linked post. One comment is
” With “at least 17 years” Santer does not say that 17 years is enough, only that less is certainly not enough. So also with Santer you can call out people looking at short-term trends longer than 17 years.”
He then states” Sometimes it is argued that to compute climate trends you need at least 30 years of data, that is not a bad rule of thumb and would avoid a lot of nonsense”
but it is a rule of thumb only.
30 year periods are ideal for claiming global warming, just long enough to see “significant ” trends but too long for anyone to ever claim a “pause”.
So game over. Define a length of time longer than your oppositions argument and you cannot lose.
Pause, what pause?
But using the same logic one could say we need 100 years, what then of global warming?
By the same implacable logic[see  the anti-hiatus of the last 10 years]  the trends are now too short and become statistically insignificant.

angech says:

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Willard says:
” This is essentially the point. It is paradoxical to argue for high sensitivity to internally-driven warming AND low sensitivity to externally-driven warming” .

Yes. The question though is whether Climate Sensitivity to CO2 is restricted to just the known response to CO2 doubling or whether other factors, other GHG such as water vapour are linked in such a way that Climate Sensitivity to CO2 itself is amplified or damped by the effect of the temperature change on the other volatile GHG, water.

The result of that is that one might have a different high or low sensitivity to CO2 doubling depending on the amount of water vapor at a specific temperature. This could possibly* lead to large swings in temperature in a low CO2 [our] world but a much more damped response at higher levels of CO2[and temperature].

*unlikely but removes a paradox.


A question on the nature of clouds and albedo. Does all water vapor reflect SW or does there need to be an aggregate size with a boundary to give refection? The reason is that clouds may be a misnomer for water vapor in general. That is that the albedo effect may be directly correlated with the amount of water molecules in the air. Hence there would be a cloud effect even when there are no clouds. What could be more important is just the humidity level itself which I presume is workable out by the satellites.
I presume this has been investigated but would value your input.


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by Technical Support ?15-08-2014 12:11 PM – edited ?03-08-2016 09:55 AM

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The radiative forcing due to clouds and water vapor

From “The radiative forcing due to clouds and water vapor V. Ramanathan and Anand Inamdar
Center for Atmospheric Sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography,
As the previous chapters have noted, the climate system is forced by a number of factors, e.g., solar impact, the greenhouse effect, etc. For the greenhouse effect, clouds,
water vapor, and CO2 are of the utmost importance. the data needed to understand two fundamental issues in radiative forcing of climate: cloud forcing and atmospheric greenhouse effect. Clouds  reduce  the  absorbed  solar  radiation  by  48  W  m2 while enhancing the greenhouse effect by 30 W m2 and therefore clouds cool the global surface–atmosphere system by 18 W m2 on average. The mean value of C is several times the 4 W m2 heating expected from doubling of CO2 and thus Earth would probably be substantially warmer without clouds.”
I take these authors to be saying that clouds and water vapor should be considered in Radiative Forcing, not ignored. That they give a negative feedback according to the best science has to offer and that this needs to be taken into account in assessing ECS.
How long something resides in the atmosphere is different to how much stuff is residing at any one time in the atmosphere which is the basis on which RF of the atmosphere needs to be assessed.
Just asserting one can ignore it does not mean one can ignore it.