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Lindzen Illusion #7: The Anti-Galileo

Posted on 13 May 2011 by dana1981

Richard Lindzen is one of the most prominent and widely-referenced climate scientist "skeptics".  After all, there is a scientific consensus about anthropogenic global warming, so there are few climate scientist "skeptics" to choose from.  Lindzen has researched climate science for four decades, since the field really began to grow and develop in the early 1970s, has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers, works at a prominent academic institution (MIT), and has been a "contrarian" for most of his career. 

So his combination of expertise and "skepticism" make Lindzen an appealing figure to "skeptics".  He's even been compared to Galileo quite frequently.  But there's one major difference between Galileo and Lindzen: Galileo was right

Galileo's positions were based on and supported by scientific evidence.  Other scientists at the time also recognized that Galileo was right and supported by the evidence.  In this post we will see that Lindzen, on the other hand, has a history of consistently being wrong on climate issues, and his positions are contradicted by the scientific evidence and observational data.

Lindzen's Evolution

In his 1989 MIT Tech Talk, Lindzen summarized his many climate contrarian positions at the time:

  1. Earth hasn't warmed as much as expected
  2. the surface temperature record is wrong
  3. global warming is not a concern
  4. climate sensitivity is low
  5. the water vapor feedback is negative
  6. the cloud feedback is negative
  7. global warming is just due to internal variability
  8. water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas

Over the years, Lindzen's views have evolved somewhat, and some of these positions have fallen by the wayside.  Let's examine how his 1989 positions compare to his current views, and how they stack up against the observational data.  You would think a scientist's views would match observational reality, but as we will soon see, that's simply not the case for Lindzen.

Earth hasn't warmed as much as expected - this remains one of Lindzen's favorite arguments, which he makes in media articles on an annual basis to this day.  But as we saw in Lindzen Illusion #1, there is simply no truth to this argument.  When we consider all factors, including aerosol cooling and ocean thermal inertia, both of which Lindzen neglects in making this argument, we see that the planet has warmed almost exactly as much as climate models expect.

The surface temperature record is wrong - as we saw in Lindzen Illusion #2, in 1989, Lindzen didn't even put the GISTEMP observed warming trend (0.5 to 0.7°C since 1880) within his range of possible warming trends (-0.2 to +0.4°C since 1880).  As we now know, and as Lindzen would now admit, James Hansen and GISTEMP were right, and Lindzen was wrong.  The surface temperature record was and is accurate.

Global warming is not a concern - this argument is of course fundamental to global warming "skepticism", and thus one which Lindzen continues to subscribe to.  However, it's based on a conglomeration of Lindzen's many other incorrect arguments, and as shown in Lindzen Illusion #3, his arguments against taking action to reduce GHG emissions are based on logical fallacies and a lack of understanding of economics.

Climate sensitivity is low - this continues to be Lindzen's bread and butter argument, but as illustrated in Lindzen Illusion #2, temperature projections using low sensitivity simply don't match the observed warming trend.  Additionally, Lindzen Illusion #1 showed that the warming we've seen so far is inconsistent with low climate sensitivity.  Lindzen Illusion #4 demonstrated that nothing credible we've seen so far suggests sensitivity is nearly as low as Lindzen claims.  His low sensitivity argument seems to be based on little more than his own fundamentally flawed paper.

The water vapor feedback is negative - as we saw in Lindzen Illusion #4, Lindzen argued that water vapor could be a negative feedback due to a drying of the upper atmosphere until the mid-1990s, but had begun to reverse this position by the end of the decade.  Indeed, recent observational evidence has been consistent with the climate model projection of a strongly positive water vapor feedback.

The cloud feedback is negative - Lindzen Illusion #4 also discussed that Lindzen continues to believe the cloud feedback is strongly negative.  However, his "infrared iris" hypothesis has not withstood the test of time, and numerous recent studies have been inconsistent with a strongly negative cloud feedback.

Global warming is just due to internal variability - Lindzen continues to argue that internal variability may account for most of the global warming over the past century.  However, Lindzen Illusion #5 revealed this argument's Achilles heel: the oceans (including the deep layers) are warming too.  If the surface warming were simply due to heat moving around the internal climate system, from oceans to air, then the oceans would be cooling.  Moreover, we saw that Lindzen's argument was based on a misrepresentation of other climate scientists' work.

Water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas - although Lindzen no longer downplays the role of CO2 in the greenhouse effect, he continues to downplay its role as a global temperature driver, and many "skeptics" still argue that water vapor is a far more important greenhouse gas than CO2.  However, as highlighted in Lindzen Illusion #6, two recent NASA GISS studies demonstrated that CO2 plays a far larger role in the greenhouse effect than Lindzen claimed in 1989, and more importantly, is "the principal control knob that governs the temperature of Earth".

In short, of Lindzen's eight 1989 arguments listed above, he has effectively admitted that he was wrong on three points (temperature record accuracy, water vapor feedback, importance of CO2 as a greenhouse gas), but continues to make the other five.  However, none of these remaining five arguments mesh with observational reality.  But a useful question comes to mind, given the frequency with which "skeptic" arguments contradict each other: are these surviving arguments contradictory or self-consistent?

Lindzen's Consistently Cloudy Vision

Lindzen's surviving arguments are: Earth hasn't warmed as much as expected, global warming is not a concern, climate sensitivity is low, the cloud feedback is negative, global warming is just due to internal variability.  And indeed, we can create a consistent depiction of the climate system with these arguments.  

A strongly negative cloud feedback would allow for a low climate sensitivity, which would explain how the large anthropogenic GHG radiative forcing could have a small impact on global temperatures.  If the anthropogenic influence were overestimated, then Earth wouldn't have warmed as much as expected.  But if GHGs aren't driving global warming, there must be another cause.  Lindzen explains the warming through the natural internal variability of the climate system (although as Swanson et al. (2009) note, a climate system with larger internal variability will also tend to be more sensitive to external forcings).  And if the warming is just natural variability, it will soon reverse itself, and thus is of no concern.

So Lindzen does present a mostly coherent, consistent alternative hypothesis to the anthropogenic global warming theory.  There's only one problem: as discussed above, every single one of these arguments is inconsistent with the observational evidence.  You may have also noticed that every single one of Lindzen's positions have underestimated or downplayed anthropogenic global warming, which suggests they may be based on contrarianism rather than scientific evidence.

Lindzen has constructed a house of cards, with his incorrect conclusion (global warming is of no concern) sitting atop a series of incorrect beliefs which are each contradicted by the observational evidence.  Indeed, when asked by then-Senator Al Gore why he believed water vapor and clouds generate a negative feedback in a 1991 Congressional hearing (Page 71), Lindzen responded:

"as far as we can tell every model predicting an excess of 2 degrees [sensitivity to doubled CO2] is predicting more [warming] than we already have seen."

In short, Lindzen's "no concern" argument is based on his "low sensitivity" argument, which is based on his "clouds are a large negative feedback" argument, which is based on his "Earth hasn't warmed as much as expected argument.  It's just one huge chain of wrong arguments based on other wrong arguments, finally leading to a very wrong conclusion.

With this history of being wrong, the comparisons to Galileo seem wholly inappropriate.  There is of course nothing wrong with being occasionally mistaken in science.  The problem arises when a scientist is consistently wrong and fails to learn from the corrections advanced by other scientists or by nature, especially when we're asked to believe that he is right and virtually every other scientific expert is wrong. 

Galileo was not a contrarian who was purely motivated to contradict Catholic beliefs.  Galileo's key feature is that his conclusions were dictated by the scientific evidence.  If anything, Lindzen is the anti-Galileo, as his conclusions seem to be based on pure contrarianism instead of scientific evidence.  Indeed, this seems to be a common feature among self-proclaimed global warming "skeptics", which is likely why Lindzen is held in such high regard despite his dismal climate record.

NOTE: clicking John Cook's snazzy Lindzen Illusions button at the top of the post will take you to our comprehensive Lindzen page (short URL http://sks.to/lindzen), with tabs for Lindzen's quotes, articles, arguments, our Lindzen blog posts, and relevant external links.  It's identical in format to the Monckton Myths page

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 116:

  1. If Lintzen's last name wasn't MIT, who would pay attention to him?

    Your background is probably not meteorology.

    Regardless of you opinions on so called 'climate change', you will find from numerous citations in journals and textbooks that Lindzen's research has greatly advanced meteorology and the understanding of the atmosphere.
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  2. ClimateWatcher @50,

    Look, you clearly believe that AGW is non issue. However, the facts and data simply do not agree with you. Thus, attempts to misrepresent the facts and data to support that belief may work well on internet blogs or 'skeptical" sites, but some of your content @50 won't pass muster here.

    Perhaps your impressions are misguided. If so, please then be willing to listen and learn from not necessarily what people say here, but the peer-reviewed scientific literature that has withstood the test of time is saying.

    I'll let Dana and others point out the obvious problems with some of your claims.
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  3. 50, ClimateWatcher,

    Your diatribe would have been more effective if you didn't try to deconstruct every single aspect of climate science. Do you really believe that Lindzen has it all right, and everyone else has it all wrong?

    1. The earth hasn't warmed...

    You completely and totally missed the point. Go back and re-read the post, several times.

    3. global warming is not a concern
    And we know that humans and all the other species of life on earth evolved through all the glacial/stadial changes.
    Humans, yes. 6 billion of them, no. Civilization, no. Modern, technological civilization, definitely not.

    This is about the most pathetic argument you could muster.

    4. climate sensitivity is low
    Well, the lower warming rate from 1. indicates this to be true.

    But nobody can be sure.
    Your understanding of this issue is abysmal. Please study more. Start here, but there is a whole, whole lot more to this than what is posted on that page (and certainly more than your minimalist treatment of the subject).

    5. the water vapor feedback is negative
    There are reasons to believe this to be so.
    Yes, but not good reasons. Just reasons you can throw around with people who don't understand the issues, so they get lost in your misrepresentation of the details, and pretty much the fabrication of your own personal brand of climate science.

    6. the cloud feedback is negative

    Try reading Dessler.
    I have a difficult time with any theory predicting any change in cloudiness.
    Yes, you seem to have a difficult time with all of climate theory.

    7. global warming is just due to internal variability
    ...pretty much all attribution is a fairy tale.
    That's just plain making stuff up. Simply saying it doesn't make it true.
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  4. ClimateWatcher,

    "Lindzen's research has greatly advanced meteorology and the understanding of the atmosphere."

    That may be true, but it certainly doesn't seem to apply to his foray into climate research. And it does not make him infallible as some 'skeptics' would believe-- just look at the findings from the "Lindzen Illusions series", and his thorough (and multiple) debunkings of some of his work in the scientific literature. His insistence on repeating debunked myths, some for over 20 years now, and thereby misleading policy makers (and you) is simply bad science.

    Denial is a very strong trait in humans, and we are very apt about convincing/deluding ourselves that there is not a problem, even when we are already in the midst of experiencing that problem. Lindzen is free to do that, but I find it despicable that he uses (abuses?) his credentials and authority to delude, misinform and mislead others on such an important issue.

    But I thought appealing to authority, as you seem to be doing, is something that 'skeptics' accuse those who understand AGW to be a legitimate concern of?
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  5. Albatross #52 -
    "I'll let Dana and others point out the obvious problems with some of your claims."
    I'm not really interested, honestly. He clearly didn't read the article, which contains all the necessary info to refute his arguments, so why waste the time?
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  6. Oh dear ClimateWatcher; that’s really poor. It’s tedious to go through your full set of weak logic but a couple of things stand out:

    5. water vapour feedback is negative:

    Your “argument”: ”there are reasons to believe this is so”

    But we’ve just seen higher up in the thread that you’ve completely misrepresented the science on this. You provided one flawed analysis to support your point, and are now ignoring the multitude of data that completely opposes your assertion, as if you didn't happen to notice it. The evidence indicates rather strongly that the water vapour feedback is positive. If your evidence doesn’t support your “argument”, what’s the point of attempting to maintain the “argument”? Why bother entering the debate at all, if you're simply going to ignore the information you receive that would allow you to come to a reasonably informed decision??

    1. earth hasn’t warmed as much as expected/4. climate sensitivity is low

    The climate sensitivity is defined as the Earth surface temperature response at equilibrium in response to a doubling of atmospheric [CO2]. We know that one cannot assess climate sensitivity from the earth temperature evolution during a short period (Kirk-Davidoff, ex-Lindzen lab, who Chris G mentions in post @ 14, recently published a paper that reinforces that climate sensitivity is underestimated when using short-term analyses). Lindzen's own flawed analyses have shown the mess you can get into trying to assess climate sensitivity by analysis of short term relationships between temperature fluctuations and TOA outward radiation.

    If we consider more appropriate time periods that allow the Earth to come closer towards the equilibrium response, the warming is certainly as much as expected. We've warmed by around 0.8-0.9 oC since the middle of the 19th century, while [CO2] has risen from around 286 ppm then to 389 ppm now.

    A climate sensitivity of 2 oC should then give an equilibrium warming of:

    ln(389/286)*2/ln(2) = 0.86 oC

    We know that we haven’t had the full warming from this enhancement of greenhouse gases, since it takes the earth many decades to come to equilibrium with the current forcing resulting from raised greenhouse gases. Likewise we know that a significant part of the warming from this enhancement of greenhouse gas levels has been offset by manmade atmospheric aerosols. On the other hand some of the warming is due to non-CO2 sources (man-made methane, nitrous oxides, tropospheric ozone, black carbon). Non greenhouse gas contributions to this warming (solar, volcanic) are known to be small. Overall, it’s rather unlikely, given the warming since the mid-19th century, that climate sensitivity is less than 2 oC. This is expanded on in more detail in Knutti and Hegerl (2008), in Murphy et al. (2009), in Lean and Rind (2008), in Hansen et al (2005).
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  7. 48 Camburn

    Well done rather than defend your point from post 39, you grab the wuwt branch and swing off in another direction. A professionally executed "skeptical" argumentation technique (aka "quick, change tghe subject") often used to mice quickly away from a point if view which can't be defended. Yup. That really worked.
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  8. Dana @55,

    "I'm not really interested, honestly. He clearly didn't read the article, which contains all the necessary info to refute his arguments, so why waste the time?"

    No worries, I understand. I was wanting to allow you to have the first rebuttal, being the author of the piece and all.

    From what I have read with Hansen, the observed rate of warming in GISTEMP for 1980-2010 is comparable/in agreement with the values reported in the IPCC. I found this statement (wikipedia, sorry, I'm in a rush):

    "A temperature rise of about 0.2 °C per decade is projected for the next two decades for all SRES scenarios."

    From Hansen et al. (2010):
    "On the contrary, we conclude that there has been no reduction in the global warming trend of 0.15°C–0.20°C per decade that began in the late 1970s."

    And from RealClimate for 1984-2010:
    "For the GISTEMP and HadCRUT3, the trends are 0.19+/-0.05 and 0.18+/-0.04ºC/dec (note that the GISTEMP met-station index has 0.23+/-0.06ºC/dec and has 2010 as a clear record high)."

    And, point 1 @50 is not a score for Lindzen, as you know:



    [Source]
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  9. #58, Albatross:

    The IPCC fourth predicts the best estimate for the "low scenario" to be 1.8 K per century.

    Since 1979, GISS, which is of course the high outlier among temperature data sets, indicates a trend of 1.6 K per century.

    Note the 0.52 temperature trend.

    Multiply by 100 for a century and divide by the 32 years of the trend and get the 1.6.

    According to the IPCC definitions, global warming is occurring at a rate less than the best estimate for the 'low scenario'.

    This rate, we should observe, is not necessarily abnormal, given that a similar period of warming occurred from 1910 through 1945:

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    Response:

    [dana1981] You are incorrect.  The warming trend is well within the range of IPCC model projections.

  10. Do you really believe that Lindzen has it all right, and everyone else has it all wrong?

    You will note, I only gave credit to Lindzen for #1.
    On most of the other issues, I took exception or made nuance about the statements at least attributed to Lindzen.

    1. The earth hasn't warmed...
    You completely and totally missed the point. Go back and re-read the post, several times.


    OK, but that won't change the fact that warming is taking place at a rate lower than the IPCC best estimate for the "low scenario".

    4. climate sensitivity is low
    Well, the lower warming rate from 1. indicates this to be true. But nobody can be sure.
    Your understanding of this issue is abysmal. Please study more. Start here, but there is a whole, whole lot more to this than what is posted on that page (and certainly more than your minimalist treatment of the subject).


    You didn't bother to look at the images.

    What is earth's albedo? Is it the 33% used in the GISS model?
    Is it 31% cited by Trenberth's first paper? Is it the 29.8% in Trenberths recent paper? How might it have varied over the centuries?

    What is the outgoing energy from earth? Is it the 232 W/m^2 and rising as measured by satellites? Is it the
    230 W/m^2 and falling as modeled by Hansen's GISS model? Is it the 235 W/m^2 assessed by Trenberth's first paper? Is it the 238 W/m^2 assessed by Trenberth's second paper?

    These differences are more than two times larger than the estimated forcing from a doubling of CO2.

    If one can't answer what earth's energy budget is, then one cannot even say if there is a surplus or deficit.
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  11. CW... I'm not sure how you can deem ANY of the data sets as an "outlier." They're pretty much all saying the same thing.

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  12. 56. Chris - the problem with "the warming is in the pipeline" is that were this the case, one might expect an accelerating temperature increase. Instead, what we find from the CRU data is a decelerating temperature increase. Decelerating to an actual cooling trend since 2001. (see CRU graphic above)
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  13. 61. What is the time period of reference? and are the RSS & UAH LT? or are they MT?
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  14. Actually Rob @61, if there is an outlier, stats analysis by Tamino has shown the outlier is the Christy and Spencer's problem plagued "skeptic" UAH satellite product, see also here.
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  15. CW #60 -
    "OK, but that won't change the fact that warming is taking place at a rate lower than the IPCC best estimate for the "low scenario".
    You misspelled the word "fiction".
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  16. There is another comparison between models and observations, the models are doing just fine thanks....but this line of argument is all just a red herring anyway.



    Solid blue and red lines are trends from GISS and HadCRU data, dashed lines are IPCC projections included in the TAR.

    [Source]

    This is the proper way to compare the models and projections. Looking at rates from ~1980-2010, and comparing those with rates of warming predicted for the various SRES scenarios beyond 2000 is not comparing apples to apples.

    Anyhow, Dana has addressed Lindzen's claim in his post here, what is being presented here by so-called 'skeptics' are red herrings. This is a no win for Lindzen, but rather than accept that fact, loyal 'skeptics' have to do their best to obfuscate the truth.
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  17. CW @ 62... Go to woodfortrees and plot it yourself.

    Albatross... I remember Tamino's post now.
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  18. Here are all the trends plotted. Again, pretty much same basic picture. Heck, pick the one you like best. It's going to be difficult to change and fundamental conclusions about the science based on which data set you use.
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  19. CW @59,

    "This rate, we should observe, is not necessarily abnormal, given that a similar period of warming occurred from 1910 through 1945"

    Another red herring, not to mention a well used disingenuous argument designed to confuse lay people. Not surprisingly this red herring has been addressed here at SkS.

    Keep trotting out the myths and we'll keep refuting them. Really, engaing in this behaviour only further harms the already tarnished reputation of the 'skeptics'. And it is not helping Lindzen's already weak case either.
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  20. CW @ 62: the problem with "the warming is in the pipeline" is that were this the case, one might expect an accelerating temperature increase.

    One "might", but one would be quite wrong.

    Two reasons:

    1. The temperature response to an instantaneous forcing resulting from (say) a slug of enhanced CO2 looks somewhat like a hyperbolic rise towards a maximum (or more strictly, a superposition of several "hyperbolic" rises with characteristic relaxation times). Any "warming in the pipeline" would manifest as a decelerating temperature increase under these circumstances. Of course, the anthropogenic greenhouse forcing is being continually supplemented by continual emissions, and so the temperature response (averaged over rather longer periods than you would likely prefer to consider) is approximately linear.

    2. "Warming in the pipeline" is dominated by the slower response elements of the climate system (especially heat uptake into the ocean). These accrue over a long period and so again their contribution will be apparent as a slowly increasing temperature contribution with a decelerating trend.

    Of course, this is much better assessed using a rather more quantitative modelling as illustrated, for example, the figure in Albatross's post @ 66.

    Note that the existence of "warming in the pipeline" is not in doubt. It's a fundamental property of the response to enhanced radiative forcing from whatever source, and only requires that we're observing the system at a period that is shortish on the timescale of the relevant response times of the climate system.
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  21. 61. This graph is pretty good.

    It shows that GISS is the high outlier.

    And it shows that all the temperature data set indicate a trend lower than the 1.8 C per century rate that IPCC identifies as the best estimate for the "Low Scenario".

    The only addition would be to add the MSU Middle Troposphere which indicate warming trends less than even the 1.1 C per century that IPCC indicates as the lowest possible.
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  22. 65. See chart in 61.
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  23. 64. That's fine - lets throw out the Hi and Low and average the remaining.
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  24. CW @ 71... "It shows that GISS is the high outlier."

    I think you need to revisit the definition of "outlier." In statistics that would be a point that lies "very much" higher or lower than other point. Each of these data sets are well within reasonable range of each other.
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  25. CW... Again, please view the trends I plotted at 68.
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  26. CW @71,

    "And it shows that all the temperature data set indicate a trend lower than the 1.8 C per century rate that IPCC identifies as the best estimate for the "Low Scenario"."

    As you have been informed, you are not comparing apples to apples. Also, continuing to repeat a falsehood doesn't make it true.

    If you are going to insist on citing the IPCC or attributing stuff to them, then please link directly to where they made that statement, or quote them verbatim, with a link to the relevant section or chapter of AR4. But again, apples to apples please, see Dana's embedded graphic at #59.

    Regardless, you cannot escape the fact the devastating graphic and observations by Hansen shown at #58. Lindzen is the clear outlier.
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  27. One thing is pointedly clear. The realiability of the underlying data concering the h20 vapor is in need of improvement.

    All the papers cited verify this. You can pick and choose which paper you want to consider credible as to their determination.

    But you can not argue that the results have such large error bars that a credible value is achieved.

    Lindzen has very valid points, based on how he interprets the data. Just as others have very valid points as to how they interpret the data.

    We have had a flat to declining temp trend since 2001. OHC since 2003 has been dropping.

    The sun was in a very very strong maxima for the past 40 years, setting records that can be measured. It appears to have peaked in that cycle in the early 2000's. The climatic response of OHC and surface temp show this.

    The critical issue of AGW will be solved in the next 10-15 years. Either the hypothosis will prevail, or re-examination of it will have to be done.
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    Response:

    [DB] "We have had a flat to declining temp trend since 2001."

    Umm, you're forgetting that the "Aughts" were the warmest decade on record, with 2010 leading the way as the warmest year on record.  Despite a quiescent sun (deep solar minimum).  That is indeed perfectly clear.

  28. DB:
    Yes, we are in a sunspot cycle, But as far as a deep solar minimum?......not even close.

    Yes, if you look only at sunspots. However, there is a lottttt more going on in the sun than just spots.

    2010 was only close to a warm year using GISS data. Other data sources are not nearly as close.

    The decade of 2001-2010 was warm, but on a climatic basis was certainly not out of the ordinary.

    Some folks who post here see things as black and white. The actual science is not nearly as black and white if you read papers with an open mind.

    I guess I don't like the tone concerning Lindzen, just as I would not like the tone concerning Hansen if the same were done to him. Both have made errors, but neither one is a climate idiot.
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    Response:

    [DB] "Yes, we are in a sunspot cycle,  But as far as a deep solar minimum?......not even close."

    Sunspots show this:

    Solar

    "Yes, if you look only at sunspots.  However, there is a lottttt more going on in the sun than just spots."

    Uh-huh; how about TSI vs temperature:

    TSI

    "2010 was only close to a warm year using GISS data.  Other data sources are not nearly as close."

    Per the UK Met Office:

    With a mean temperature of 14.50 °C, 2010 becomes the second warmest year on record, after 1998. The record is maintained by the Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit at UEA.

    Earlier this month, in the US, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and NOAA's National Climatic Data Center announced that the past year is either warmest or equal-warmest on their respective records.

    So HADCru, GISS and NASA say you're wrong.

    Met

    "The decade of 2001-2010 was warm, but on a climatic basis was certainly not out of the ordinary."

    Over the ten years from 2001 to 2010, global temperatures have averaged 0.46°C above the 1961-1990 average, and are the highest ever recorded for a 10-year period since the beginning of instrumental climate records.

    And per Phil Jones:

    Speaking about the figures, Professor Phil Jones, Director of Research at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia said: "The warmest 10 years in all three datasets are the same and have all occurred since 1998. The last 10 years 2001-2010 were warmer than the previous 10 years (1991-2000) by 0.2 °C."

    "The actual science is not nearly as black and white if you read papers with an open mind."

    Ignoring the crass insinuations you make, and the equally crass responses that spring to mind unbidden, having an open mind doesn't mean letting your brain fall out.  The true skeptic challenges his own ideologies and presumptions before challenging others'.

  29. Camburn... Neither is a complete idiot but one of them is blatantly obfuscating the science.

    How can anyone claim to believe that climate sensitivity is low (as low as Lindzen claims) when all the other research on that issue turns up directly contradictory evidence?
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  30. ...And not just a minor contradictory evidence. In some cases wildly contradictory evidence. I mean, Lindzen is not just claiming low sensitivity, he's claiming sensitivity lower than any other research... without providing any solid research or evidence for the claim!
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  31. Rob:
    Yes, he is claiming sensativity lower than other research. But that does not make him wrong, nor does it make him right, as all research at this point is subject to correction.

    I know there was a thread about h2o vapor etc. The following highlights the ongoing research....two different conclusions.
    A 2004 report by Minschwaner and Dessler noted an RH decrease, whereas studies by Soden et al in 2005 and Gettlesman et al in 2007 reported a maintenance of MT RH – the issue is not settled. To the extent that the water vapor increases in the MT have not kept pace with temperature increases, the potential for MT warming is diminished.

    This is extremely important in climate, yet still up in the air per se.

    There are just a lot of important things that have not been ironed out yet.
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  32. To the moderator:
    Please remove this after you have told me how to find a link to my previous posts.

    I was just reading a paper about two climate models, and the descriptions of the models were dynamic and slab.

    I want to post the paper to the thread where I was lamblasted for using the word slab to describe a model.

    Thank you in advance.
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    Response:

    [DB] AFAICT, your first usage of the word "slab" occurred here.

  33. Camburn - being consistently wrong doesn't necessarily make a person an idiot, and I never suggested otherwise. In fact I think Lindzen is a very smart guy. But the fact is that he's been consistently wrong. All I did was point out that reality.
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  34. Camburn #81 - it's 2011. There has been a lot of research on the water vapor feedback since 2007, which I referenced in LI #4. The water vapor feedback is positive.
    0 0
  35. Climatewatcher #60

    Your points are valid ones. [- snipped-]

    Strangely enough, I speculated on the accuracy of the Earth's albedo measurement some many threads ago.

    A 1% error in measurement of the roughly 100W/sq.m reflected is 1W/sq.m - greater than the proposed warming imbalance of 0.9W/sq.m which is now probably reduced by Hansen to 0.5-0.6W/sq.m

    "Is it the 29.8% in Trenberths recent paper" - could you point me to that paper?
    0 0
  36. dana1981@84:
    Yes, Dressler, but his paper doesn't agree with observed trends and if you incorporate the error bars, once again, nothing is certain.

    I found this to be a good analysis of the current understanding:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wcc.80/abstract


    3. In addition to better routine observations, underpinning reference observations are required to allow analysts to calibrate the data and unambiguously extract the true climate signal from the inevitable nonclimatic influences inherent in the routine observations.
    0 0
    Response:

    [dana1981] Firstly, his name is Dessler.  Secondly, your claim about his error bars is nonsense.  Thirdly, even though I only quoted Dessler's, I referenced a number of studies.  Fourthly, your reference pertains to the tropical troposphere 'hot spot', not the water vapor feedback.

  37. All cranks like to compare themselves to Galileo. There’s a book out there arguing the Moon was intelligently designed by time-travelling humans – the authors compare themselves to Galileo too.
    0 0
  38. Camburn... The problem is that Lindzen is claiming lower sensitivity with very little to no evidence to back it up. In the meantime there are a wide range of other studies that come to a range f results but none of those authors are touting their results as a definitive answer the way Lindzen does.

    Lindzen is taking aim and firing a gun at the rest of the scientists when he has no bullets while the rest of scientists are busy making real bullets and lack the weapons to fire them.
    0 0
  39. CW. You are aware that the Satellite Data (RSS & UAH) doesn't cover the poles, which have been shown to be warming much faster than the rest of the planet. HadCru also suffers from a lack of coverage. GISS is actually the most accurate because it relies on the greatest number of weather stations covering the greatest portion of the globe.
    0 0
  40. 85. Ken

    Trenberth 97

    Trenberth 2009

    NOAA satellite measurements of OLR

    And you can plot GISS values for the various models on the GISS site for modeled albedo and OLR.

    Since we don't know the budget, we can't know sensitivity to changes.

    That could mean that 'global warming' is a huge problem that has somehow been masked. Or it could mean that climate is completely INsensitive to changes in CO2 ( at least in the range experienced so far ).

    Trenberth knows this.

    Hansen knows this.

    You may have read his recent paper in which, despite claiming to know the budget, he dedicates discussion to the albedo problem ( reflection has varying angles which can't be captured by single satellite vantage. )

    We may not know albedo precisely enough for a century.

    So anyone saying global warming is a huge problem or not a problem at all is not doing so on the basis of knowledge of the energy budget, because we don't know the energy budget.
    0 0
  41. 89. Marcus:

    CW. You are aware that the Satellite Data (RSS & UAH) doesn't cover the poles, which have been shown to be warming much faster than the rest of the planet. HadCru also suffers from a lack of coverage. GISS is actually the most accurate because it relies on the greatest number of weather stations covering the greatest portion of the globe.


    MSU data does cover the poles ( the NOAA satellites are 'Polar Orbiters' ). The RSS analysis does exclude Antarctica because of its high elevation, but the MSU data provides superior global coverage to surface or sea surface measurements.

    Further, the GISS data does not differ because of number of stations included but rather the huge smoothing radius that GISS employs ( 1200 kilometers ). This allows GISS to induce data where none actually exists ( polar regions and Africa ).

    The GISS indicates a higher trend than CRU because of this.

    In the early twentieth century warming, GISS indicated a lower trend than CRU.

    By assuming data where none exists, GISS is more variable than CRU,

    That is why comparing data sets Surface versus Sea Surface versus MSU lower versus MSU middle gives us more confidence.

    Among these data sets, GISS is the highest, UAH middle is the lowest.

    Throwing both of these data sets out and averaging the remainder is probably a reasonable measure of temperature trend.
    0 0
  42. "Since we don't know the budget, we can't know sensitivity to changes.

    That could mean that 'global warming' is a huge problem that has somehow been masked. Or it could mean that climate is completely INsensitive to changes in CO2 ( at least in the range experienced so far )."

    No, it does not mean that sensitivity is *unbounded*. And, what masking are you talking about? It's been pointed out numerous times that temperature trends are following model ensemble predictions, within the error bounds given for them.

    "Trenberth knows this.

    Hansen knows this."

    They'd both say you're lying about what they know.
    0 0
  43. "MSU data does cover the poles ( the NOAA satellites are 'Polar Orbiters' ). The RSS analysis does exclude Antarctica because of its high elevation, but the MSU data provides superior global coverage to surface or sea surface measurements."

    RSS cuts off at 82.5 degrees north and south, and it's not because of the altitude of Antarctica. From the RSS site itself, which I trust to be more accurate than CW's misrepresentation:

    "We do not provide monthly means poleward of 82.5 degrees due to difficulties in merging measurements in these regions, and because these regions are not sampled by all central fields of view."

    UAH attempts to extend their reconstruction further north and south but not to the poles. I'm too lazy to look up their exact cutoff latitude.

    "Further, the GISS data does not differ because of number of stations included but rather the huge smoothing radius that GISS employs ( 1200 kilometers ). This allows GISS to induce data where none actually exists ( polar regions and Africa )."

    Teleconnections are real ... the analysis done by the Anthony Watts et al paper that was just published depends on the reality of this, too ...
    0 0
  44. Also ...

    "the NOAA satellites are 'Polar Orbiters'"

    They don't actually pass directly over the poles, just near them.
    0 0
  45. ClimateWatcher at 02:38 AM on 15 May, 2011
    (and Camburn at 12:29 PM on 14 May, 2011)
    (and multiple posts by Ken Lambert)

    Your post contains an essential illogic CW, and illustrates a rather tremulous approach to scientific knowledge if I may say so. Scientists are generally brave chaps and lasses since they are willing to embrace uncertainty honestly.

    Science delves from certainty into uncertainty as it advances. Scientific investigation into sub levels of areas that are reasonably well established, identifies interesting realms of uncertainty (this is where scientists love to play, since novel discoveries are made in these realms). However novel uncertainties in sub-levels of a discipline don't drive out areas of certainties above them. Scientists rather bravely roll up their sleeves and get stuck into novel uncertainties; it takes a certain style of armchair cynicism to sit on the sideline, wait for these sub-levels of uncertainty to pop-up.....and then attempt the pretence that these sub-level uncertainties negate our essential knowledge.

    Camburn's example (see 12:29 PM on 14 May, 2011)

    We know with rather high certainty that increased tropospheric temperatures result in enhanced water vapour concentrations. This provides a positive feedback to warming from enhanced radiative forcing. A large body of careful research has established that empirical observation (one that Lindzen was at pains to negate at a time when this was an area of high uncertainty, empirically-speaking).

    We can now think about sub-levels of this water vapour feedback. How strong is it? Camburn points out that some studies support the conclusion that water vapour concentrations increase to maintain roughly constant relative humidity (RH), whereas one study he's found indicates that RH might decrease somewhat in a warming atmosphere. However, that's relative humidity. All of the data are in agreement that the specific humidity (SH) increases (more or less as models predict). the uncertainty about the precise nature of the water vapour response in a warming world, doesn't negate the higher certainty that the water vapour concentrations do increase as the upper troposphere warms.

    ClimateWatcher's example (02:38 AM on 15 May, 2011)

    A similar approach. We have known for over a century that CO2 is the dominant independentally-variable greenhouse gas, and there is a very large body of evidence that the earth surface responds to enhanced [CO2] with a temperature rise between around 1.4-4.5 oC at equilibrium per doubling of [CO2]. Attribution of the contributions to 20th century global warming rather strongly supports the likelihood that the climate sensitivity is at least 2 oC per doubling. Monitoring of sea level rise and ocean heat content, together with measurement of surface temperature, and the increase of atmospheric temperature and water vapour, along with other evidence, indicates with very little room for doubt that the Earth is currently in radiative imbalanace (absorbing around 0.75 Wm-2 excess solar energy averaged over the solar cycle, as Ken Lambert has informed us elsewhere in reference to a recent summary by Hansen).

    Scientists have rolled up their sleeves and entered the hugely difficult area of attempting to account for the components of the energy balance; they've attempted to apportion sea level rise into its mass and thermal components; to measure incoming and outgoing energy at the TOA; to measure the enhancement of thermal energy in the surface and deep oceans.... There is lots of uncertainty in these sub-disciplines of climate thermodynamics. But this uncertainty does not negate the higher level certainty about the nature of the radiative imbalance, its source and its likely consequences

    ClimateWatcher comments on these sub-level uncertainties and concludes the stunning non-sequiter that since "....we dont know the albedo precisely...", and "...don't know the budget....", that we don't know whether "....global warming is a huge problem..." or whether "...climate is completely INsensitive to changes in CO2..."
    0 0
  46. Chris@95,

    Thanks for your thoughtful post Chris.
    0 0
  47. Good point chris. You very clearly highlighted the difference between the scientific and the naive approach to the study of "natural philosophy", as once was called.
    0 0
  48. 95 - so you don't know how much energy is coming in and you don't know how much energy is going out,

    but you know what the result is?
    0 0
  49. "but you know what the result is?" - we can see what the result is!
    0 0
  50. 99. Is it due to decreased albedo?
    0 0

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