Climate science doesn’t necessarily pay very well. Even Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, doesn’t get paid anything for doing that job. (You may have heard allegations in the blogosphere that he makes huge fortunes on the side, but after an outside audit by KPMG showed that he didn’t, the Daily Telegraph issued an apology.)
I don’t get paid anything for doing climate work either, and unlike Pachauri I don’t have a sympathetic employer willing to give me a leave or a secondment. So following up ‘Pot Lid’ is going to take some time. In this post I want to outline three papers I am working on.
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1. A very short paper with the working title ‘Do Oceans Warm or Cool the Earth?’
It will do the simple gas law calculation that now appears in section 7 of the ‘Pot Lid’ essay, but in a little more formal and detailed fashion. I am seriously considering making this my first submission to a peer-reviewed journal, as it is so exquisitely simple.
(If you are arriving at this post from some random location on the Web, and haven’t read ‘Pot Lid’ yet, let me give you the context: As astonishing as it might sound, water vapor exerts a negative feedback on temperatures. It never could warm the Earth, notwithstanding fifty years of increasing alarm on the subject. See ‘Pot Lid’ for the arguments, I won’t repeat them here.)
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2. A fairly lengthy paper with the working title ‘Miskolczi’s Radiation Anomaly: Where Does the Energy Go?’.
The point of this paper is to explain the significance of two findings in Miskolczi’s 2007 paper. The first is that the energy radiated from the Earth and intercepted by the atmosphere (known by climatologists as AA for short), is exactly equal to the energy radiated downward from the atmosphere and intercepted by the Earth (known as ED). Miskolczi claims it is equal at all latitudes, and all altitudes. Or almost equal. The 2007 paper used data from Kiehl and Trenberth (1997), and in that data set there was a lingering 7-8 percent difference, with AA being slightly higher than ED. Miskolczi puts the theoretical difference at more like 3-4 percent. In the most recent CERES data, the gap has reportedly been closed to something like Miskolczi’s value, and the two quantities now agree to within the measurement error.
What is so very important about Miskolczi’s observation is that AA = ED limits the possibilities for a positive water vapor feedback. At the poles, AA = ED = 100 W, or nearly so. In the tropics, AA = ED = 400 W. But in the tropics, there is an additional large contribution from convection, and from evaporation (latent heat). The total energy being transferred from the Earth to the atmosphere is actually much more than 400 W in the tropics, but the additional non-radiated energy all manages to just escape to space. It is not reflected in the relationship between AA and ED. That equilibrium appears to still be strictly radiation-based.
The fact that AA and ED are equal, or nearly equal, means that if the atmosphere is to take up additional water vapor, two things must happen. First, the atmospheric “window” must close to provide additional energy for evaporation. There is no margin of available energy to be had by closing the gap between AA and ED. So the energy that radiates through the atmosphere without interception, straight to space, must be reduced, and all that unused energy diverted to evaporation. Otherwise it is impossible for the atmosphere to take up additional water vapor.
Second, all the energy diverted from the “window” and put into the atmosphere by evaporation must then radiate away from the top of the troposphere. But here we run into a very big obstacle. Miskolczi identified a second empirical rule, that SU (the total energy radiating upward from the Earth) must equal 2 x EU (the total energy radiating upward from the atmosphere). Gains in EU must come from evaporation (since AA = ED), but such gains are strictly limited to half the gain in SU. There is a limit on evaporation that is not modeled in GCM’s.
Miskolczi’s observation means this isn’t enough evaporation to complete the causal chain and close the atmospheric “window”. It’s about 60 percent of the amount estimated by the IPCC.
Miskolczi concluded (for reasons going far beyond my little summary here) that water vapor feedback has to be negative, and when NASA objected to him publishing his findings, he resigned and published anyway. For this the world should thank him, and eventually will if I have anything to say about it.
The paper will look in detail at AA = ED and SU = 2EU, as well as Miskolczi’s various other findings, the response to Miskolczi by official channels and by the blogosphere, and how this all fits with my argument in ‘Pot Lid’.
(Dec 25 — I have edited this post, which I think only got a handful of readers anyway, to reflect a somewhat deeper understanding of Miskolczi’s findings that I have developed since November 14th. Merry Christmas.)
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3. A medium-sized paper with the working title ‘The IPCC is Missing a Work Forcing’.
This is an interesting sidebar, not as important as the first two papers I have listed, but worth writing about.
In addition to the two most important greenhouse gases (CO2 and methane), there are numerous minor ones. The IPCC 2007 assessment listed nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, and a dozen chlorofluorocarbons that are present in the atmosphere in low concentrations, and estimated the contribution of each one to the overall warming trend. CO2 contributes on the order of 1.66 W/m2, and methane contributes 0.48 W/m2. (Compare these to the figures I cited above for AA and ED, which are in the hundreds of Watts.) These various trace gases typically contribute a few mW/m2 apiece. The very smallest item on the 2007 IPCC list is C2F6, which contributes just 0.0008 W/m2.
The IPCC 2007 assessment also dealt with several small and/or temporary negative forcings, such as the reflection of sunlight by various aerosols and volcanic dust. If we are listing all the forcings, however large or small, and positive or negative, then there should be a section that deals with the work done in lifting the atmosphere. It is simple physics. Whatever energy goes into lifting the air cannot also go into warming it.
This is not a large number, admittedly. I estimate that between 1979 and 1998, given average global warming of 0.3 C, there was an increase in the atmosphere’s average ‘scale height’ of 0.1 percent, or 7 to 8 meters. The atmosphere weighs about 10.3 tonnes per square meter. To lift that weight 7 or 8 meters over the span of 19 years requires about 0.0013 W/m2. Again, keep in mind that’s a negative forcing, not a positive contribution to warming. We subtract it from the list the IPCC already has.
A contribution of 0.0013 W/m2 sounds pretty trivial, but it’s not. What is not immediately obvious from this calculation is that the heat from the forcings listed above is absorbed by the land, the oceans, and the atmosphere. Given that the oceans weigh a thousand times as much as the atmosphere, that 1.66 W/m2 from CO2 has to be spread around a lot more than 10.3 tonnes/m2. Meanwhile the entire work forcing goes directly into the atmosphere. So it has far greater importance to the overall picture (perhaps 20 times, or 50 times, hard to say exactly) than it might first appear.
The IPCC ought to list this term. There should be an ongoing effort to track the rise of the atmosphere on a regional basis, to produce graphs of the changing distribution of air density with height. Even if you believe the IPCC forecast is 100 percent correct, the question of a work term deserves as much attention as sulfur hexafluoride in the literature. But of course, as I explained in ‘Pot Lid,’ no one measures air density. There aren’t any suitable sensors that can fit on a radiosonde. Instead, for a variety of purposes meteorologists and climatologists assume hydrostatic equilibrium. Which means, absurdly, that the Earth’s atmosphere is officially warming but not officially rising.
To put it another way, the IPCC forecast is that the average temperature at sea level will be 3 C or 1 percent higher in another century or so. That 1 percent rise is viewed as a catastrophe so horrible that according to some writers we would be better off abandoning air travel, abolishing coal-fired electrical generation, putting oil company executives on trial for crimes against humanity, and imposing a ‘carbon dictatorship’. By one estimate we are spending about $5 billion per year on climate research. At the 2009 Copenhagen conference, proposals were made to spend $100 billion per year for the next decade on various schemes to mitigate or prevent warming.
Meanwhile, the 1 percent rise in temperature must logically lead to a 1 percent rise in scale height. The consequences of this surge of density into the upper troposphere are completely unknown. There is nothing being done: no research, no suitable sensors, no funding, no papers, no conferences, not even idle remarks in the blogosphere. Scientifically it is a non-subject. Why? Read ‘Pot Lid’.
The point of bringing out a paper pressing for the IPCC to track the work forcing is to attack the confusion and contradiction inherent in the mainstream model from another angle. It isn’t as important as ‘Pot Lid’. I would not want readers to start with this paper. But it adds to the case that something has gone very wrong with climate science.
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These are the climate papers I plan to bring out in the coming months. (I hope it is months, and not years, but that depends on how other projects go.) If you are interested in knowing the current state of my research on these topics, please write me at declineeffect (at) gmail.com