Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Darth Data Destroyer

As all good auditors know destroying data is a sin. They should go tell it to Harold Lewis, one of the Princeton Denial Club and Retirement Party. Lewis was interviewed a while ago by the American Physical Society oral history project. Let the dear boy speak for hisself (Tip of the ears to Marco)

Dr. Aaserud: Your papers — correspondence, notes, manuscripts, things of that sort — what's the status of those? That's another thing we're interested in.

Dr. Lewis: Yes. I really don't have them, you know. I've long since either lost in moving or discarded everything that I had. So I have no papers around from JASON, if that's what you mean.

Aaserud: No, generally — both JASON and generally speaking.

Lewis: There are lots of things, but they're scattered in a complicated way. Generally speaking, I throw things away after a few years, so the only things I have are the things that have accumulated over the last few years and are relevant to the things I'm actually doing these days.

Aaserud: That's another thing that the Center is strongly involved in — just saving papers for historical purposes.

Lewis: Yes, I understand. But I have enough trouble keeping up with current papers.

Aaserud: But if for any reason you wanted help or advice on what to keep and how to keep it and where to go and all that, then we'd be happpy to help on that. But for JASON in particular, you don't have anything.

Lewis: No, I don't.
There is shredding going on in Santa Barbara. Data has been destroyed. Where are the auditors when you need them?

Lewis has taken on the challenge of being sillier about climate change then Sarah Palin
I think it behooves us to be careful about how we state the science. I know of nobody who denies that the Earth has been warming for thousands of years without our help (and specifically since the Little Ice Age a few hundred years ago), and is most likely to continue to do so in its own sweet time.
Well, actually most people who have a clue think that without our contributions the surface would be cooling a bit right now due to the Milankovitch cycles which have reached and passed the warm peak. In Science Speak, as Imrie and Imrie put it
Ignoring anthropogenic and other possible sources of variation acting at frequencies higher than one cycle per 19,000 years, this model predicts that the long-term cooling trend which began some 6000 years ago will continue for the next 23,000 years.
There are some nice graphics at the Wikipedia UPDATE: but while chewing the orange ambrosia with Carrot Eater (best Bakersfield Bunny Feed) over this one he pointed out that the global temperature difference between the coldest part of an ice age and the warmest interglacial is about 6 C, for a transition period of ~30,000 years. That means that it takes about 5,000 years to go down 1 C and we are going up 1 C in less than 75 years at the current rate. Rates are kinetics, eternity is thermodynamics. Give me another envelope please, Eli has filled the back of this one.

The point is how RAPID the current (last 100 years or so) warming is, driven by the RAPID increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, something that would NOT happen driven by natural stuff and which Hal kicks down the memory hole.
The important question is how much warming does the future hold,
So Hal, Eli knows what you’re thinking. “Is climate change really happening?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement the bunny kind of lost track himself. But being greenhouse gases are the most powerful forcing we know, and the best science predicts disaster ahead, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
is it good or bad, and if bad is it too much for normal adaptation to handle.
Above 2 oC it's gonna be REALLY bad. Here are some pictures for the hard of learning

The real answer to the first is that no one knows, the real answer to the second is more likely good than bad (people and plants die from cold, not warmth), and the answer to the third is almost certainly not.
Again, the Lindzen Lope. We know that if greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase it is almost certain that global temperatures will increase. That does not mean that we know with certainty, but that's the way to bet heavily. We can predict that if global temperatures increase more than 3 C, there will be major damage (see the above from the IPCC WGII report). Eli would remind Hal that adaptation to changes above 3C involves a lot of die off, and that includes large bipedal mammals.

It gets sillier
And nobody doubts that CO2 in the atmosphere has been increasing for the better part of a century,
Ernst Beck, Willis Eschenbach, a lot of the guys over at Marohasy's now closed for business. In short, your friends.
but the disobedient temperature seems not to care very much. And nobody denies that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, along with other gases like water vapor, but despite the claims of those who are profiting by this craze, no one knows whether the temperature affects the CO2 or vice versa. The weight of the evidence is the former.
The temperatures are tracking the CO2 forcing just fine and we know that both CO2 affects temperature and temperature effects CO2. Add CO2 to the atmosphere and you get a temperature rise. Increase the temperature say by increasing the luminosity of the sun (which has not been happening bucky) and CO2 in the atmosphere will increase as it does after an ice age, but, of course, that becomes a positive feedback, contributing to additional warming.

Remember, denialism kills, costs and confuses.


carrot eater said...

I love it when a sceptic who is trying to sound reasonable starts off with 'nobody doubts that...'. Give me a few minutes, and I'll find you some crank who does, and I'll demonstrate that the idea has a following on WUWT. It may not be a published crank, but that doesn't seem to be much of a requirement on that side.

But I must take objection to this: "Well, actually most people who have a clue think that without our contributions the surface would be cooling a bit right now due to the Milankovitch cycles"

When you say slightly, it would be so slightly so as to be imperceptible on the time scales we're talking about. It isn't just the anthropogenic part that acts at a higher frequency than the orbital; pretty much any forced or unforced contribution does.

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:

Show me an experimental proof that rising CO2 causes warming. Can't can you.

guthrie said...

Hmmm, all these experiments showing that CO2 blocks some wavelengths of IR. THe rest is physics, as they say. Anyone denying this is really really stupid. And you can quote me on that.

EliRabett said...

Markey, after you have read Guthrie's comments, take a look at Eli's post from a few days ago

carrot eater said...

Thanks for the update, Eli. Changes in orbital forcing are slooooow.

luminous beauty said...


Here is a simple experiment you can replicate in your kitchen:

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:
Linky no worky. Also Rabett should look at the Wood experiment I alluded to in comments to your post.

CapitalClimate said...

If you can't copy and paste the link to the experiment, click here.

Patrik said...

That's a strange experiment...
One would think that one vessel would contain air with 280 ppm CO2 and the other one 560 ppm.
Instead the experiment shows one with 280 ppm and one with 1 000 000 ppm.
Please explain how this is a demonstration of how a doubling of CO2 affects our atmosphere.

That CO2 absorbs some radiation shouldn't be alien to most people - but so does all substances to some level, right? Some absorb UV and some absorb IR...

Patrik said...

Excuse me for flooding here but...

According to the IPCC chart on consequences...

If mean global temp rises only ~0.2 C from present temp, then we will see:

Increasing amphibian extinction,
Increased damage from floods and storms,
Increased morbidity and mortality from heatwaves, floods and droughts,

You truly believe in this?

EliRabett said...

Basically this is saying that these effects are already happening.

Talk to Dano, Simon Donner or Jeff Harvey on the extinctions. It is already happening although a bit hard to tear apart the causes (loss of habitat, chemical damage, higher temperatures, etc).

Flood and storm damage is on the emerging list. RPJr will tear you a new one claiming there is no ironclad proof, otoh
Munich Re
and a bunch of other reinsurers think it is already here so what is 0.2C among friends. Dittos on number 3.

If you parse RPJ carefully what he is saying is that the monetary damage does not show an increase after you account for inflation, settlement pattern changes, etc. This weight the evaluation heavily towards the richer parts of the world.

It's the wages of denial

Nosmo said...

Re: frog extinctions:

Elizabeth Kolbert is always worth reading. unfortunately the link is only the abstract.

carrot eater said...

Attribution of specific events is difficult now; it'll still be difficult in 50 years. Along with warming will always be conflation of disease, habitat loss, etc. Everything will just be part of a trend.

Sea level rise will be the only truly unambiguously attributable event, methinks.

Anonymous said...

No patrik, all substances do not absorb IR in the blackbody spectrum.

Please do at least a little bit of homework on the radiative physics of greenhouse gases.

At the very least watch Dave Archer's Heat and Light, Blackbody Radiation and Quantum Mechanics, and What Makes a Greenhouse Gas lectures for non-science majors here:

- Jim Eager

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:

Re Experiment. Of course 100% CO2 is going to retain IR more than air. The point is that while CO2 in natural conditions , and when doubled is a trace gas. The IR energy under those condititions is held momentarily by CO2 before transfer out at other wavelength.

The Wood experiment shows that trapping IR in normal atmospheric conditions has no material effect.

Re Loss of species. I wouldn't trust Dano et al for the time of day.

Re Rising Sea Levels. Apparently that is based on one measurement in Hong Kong. Not a global reality at all.

carrot eater said...

Sea level rise is based on one measurement in Hong Kong?

I know why I don't take you seriously; if you had an ounce of self-awareness you wouldn't take yourself seriously, for saying such absurd things.

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:
Rise of sea levels is 'the greatest lie ever told'
The uncompromising verdict of Dr Mörner is that all this talk about the sea rising is nothing but a colossal scare story, writes Christopher Booker.

But suddenly the graph tilted upwards because the IPCC's favoured experts had drawn on the finding of a single tide-gauge in Hong Kong harbour showing a 2.3mm rise. The entire global sea-level projection was then adjusted upwards by a "corrective factor" of 2.3mm, because, as the IPCC scientists admitted, they "needed to show a trend".

Care to reconsider your position Carrot murderer?

carrot eater said...

oh, so Moerner is indirectly your source. Should have figured. He's gone a bit eccentric, Markey; you should consider reading the actual literature, and not uncritically picking out the few cranks that tell you what you want to hear. It makes you look quite gullible.

Not only is there more than one tide gauge showing a rise, but you've also got satellites.

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:


guthrie said...

"The IR energy under those condititions is held momentarily by CO2 before transfer out at other wavelength."

Thats the whole point. Thats how it works, and your fumbling around doesn't affect it one bit.

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:

But the experiment as shown is setting conditions where the CO2 can't unload its heat, unlike the real world where CO2 is a trace gas, and where any heat absorbed is unloaded instantaneously.

Anonymous said...

The mouse that roared wrote:
"The IR energy under those condititions is held momentarily by CO2 before transfer out at other wavelength."

No, the IR energy is absorbed and converted into virbrational energy, and then almost immediately a new photon is emitted at the SAME wavelength.

But that's not quite the whole point:
That molecule is then immediately able to absorb another photon, meaning it is able to near-continuously absorb photons. It doesn't become "full" and remain full for very long.

And then there's the fact that half of the new photons will be emitted downward, where they will be absorbed again, thus keeping their energy in the atmosphere longer, not as heat, but as electromagnetic and vibrational energy.

But the mouse ignores the even greater likelihood that before emitting a new photon, the excited molecule will collide with another molecule, thereby converting its vibrational energy into kinetic energy and thus warming surrounding molecules through subsequent collisions, including the vastly more abundant non-greenhouse oxygen and nitrogen molecules. Thus CO2 isn't acting as a heat reservoir, it enlists the other 99.9% of the atmosphere for that job.

- Jim Eager

guthrie said...

Any bets that they'll fall back on the laws of thermodynamics next?

Patrik said...

Jim Eager>> I didn't say that all substances absorb IR at a black body spectrum.
I said that all substanses absorb radiation to some level.
Some absorb IR at ~15nm, some absorb IR at almost all wavelengths, some absorb UV...

So: What's so special about CO2?

EliRabett said...

Hopefully Eli has time to get into this tonight. Basically everyone is wrong, in interesting ways, but wrong none-the-less.

Anonymous said...

Patrik, the outgoing blackbody specturm is what's involved in the greenhouse effect.

Please show us where O2 and N2 (98+% of Earth's atmosphere) absorb in that spectrum.

As for what's so special about CO2, I can think of two things:

1 - It does not condense out of the atmosphere at ambient Earth temperature and pressure, while H2O does. That means CO2 can act as both a feedback and a forcing, depending on the circumstances, while H2O can only act as a feedback.

2 - It is the gas that we are busy adding to the atmosphere at the rate of 8+Gt per year, after already increasing it's concentration by ~38%.

- Jim Eager

Patrik said...

Jim Eager>> You are still misreading me and in a way limiting the reasoning around this.
O2 and N2 absorb UV.
CO2 can reasonably only stand for a small fraction of the 290K that we enjoy down here on earth.

And, CO2 does leave the atmosphere, but only after passing the ozone layer going up, or after being recycled in the carbon cycle. However there is this thing called retention time that has caused all the worries, right?
The retention time, however interresting and maybe worrying, we really cannot know very much about it, considering the puny amount of real data we have concerning it.
At best earth based measurements since ~1950 and no real comprehensive sattelite measurements.

If it wasn't for the retention time problem, then nothing would be very special about the CO2 molecule - right?
The amounts we output wouldn't matter very much if the retention time could be proven to be very short, for example.

That being said, there are of course thousands of logical reasons to look for other sources of energy and heating than oil, coal and natural gas, and all the reasons in the world to help developing nations managing their forests in a more clever way.
But the resource management and the effect of CO2 in the atmosphere should be kept apart as much as possible I believe.

guthrie said...

I thought the earth was a greybody, not black, due, IIRC, to all the funky chemistry/ physics going on in the atmosphere.

Mark said...

Priceless nugget: "people and plants die from cold, not warmth"

Oh, so all those people who died in recent summer heat waves died because their A/C was turned up too high? Mind boggling.

Anonymous said...

Jim, I'm not clear if from the following you refer to a 100% CO2 atmosphere, or a normal one, or a doubled CO2 one.

"No, the IR energy is absorbed and converted into virbrational energy, and then almost immediately a new photon is emitted at the SAME wavelength. "

"But that's not quite the whole point:
That molecule is then immediately able to absorb another photon, meaning it is able to near-continuously absorb photons. It doesn't become "full" and remain full for very long."

"....the even greater likelihood that before emitting a new photon, the excited molecule will collide with another molecule, thereby converting its vibrational energy into kinetic energy and thus warming surrounding molecules through subsequent collisions,.."

I'm assuming your comments refer to a normal atmosphere, but the experiment doesn't include a double CO2 atmosphere.

Could you clarify?


Douglas Watts said...

Wow. Lewis uncorks some museum quality, weapons grade argument from personal incredulity.

Reminds me of the last, grizzled stalwarts against plate tectonics.

Douglas Watts said...

By implication, Lewis also deploys the "yes, but extinction is natural" gambit, ie. that if you call massive extinction a "normal adaptation" to climatic changes then even the Permian and Cretaceaus mega-extinctions can be called "normal adaptations."

This device is also known as the exception swallowing the rule.

Mark said...

Markey Mouse, Jim's comments apply to an atmosphere with any level of CO2. Re-emission and collisional de-excitation play important roles in a the current CO2 level atmosphere and would continue to play important roles in an atmosphere with doubled CO2 levels (not sure why you're so fixated with that) or even a pure CO2 atmosphere.

Anonymous said...

Guthrie, Earth's surface is a blackbody, it's the gas atmosphere that is a greybody. The atmosphere absorbs parts of the blackbody spectrum emitted by the surface but radiates itself as a grey body.
- Jim

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:

See here fot the best exposition I have seen.

To summarise, the Photons exit from the atmosphere is merely delayed by an instant, as it is potentially re-routed via the additional CO2. The increased delay is minute because the existing CO2 and H2O divert most of the IR in the CO2 frequency band anyway.

Anyone care to calculate the additional time an average Photon spends in the earths atmosphere as a result of doubling CO2?

Come on you carrot eaters!

Anonymous said...

Patrik, what do you mean by "retention time?"
Do you mean length of time CO2 remains excited after absroption of a photon, or the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere?

If excitation time, it is very, very short, on the scale of nanoseconds.

If CO2 residence time, there is a residence time for any particular molecule, and then, because CO2 is constantly being exchanged among the atmosphere, ocean and biosphere, there is the length of time a higher level of CO2 will persist.

Remember, we are not just adding CO2 to the atmosphere, we are adding carbon to the active carbon cycle*, which means that an elevated atmospheric level will persist for many times longer than the residence time of any particular CO2 molecule, hundreds, even thousands of years verses tens of years.

(*Since fossil carbon has been locked out of the active carbon cycle for millions of years, it is for all practical purpose "new" carbon as far as the active carbon cycle is concerned.)

- Jim Eager

Anonymous said...

Markey, as Mark wrote, my comments apply to any concentration of CO2. In the case of a CO2-only atmosphere CO2 also assumes the role of heat reservoir since all collisions would be between CO2 molecules.

- Jim Eager

Anonymous said...

Markey, sorry, the link won't work for me, but your description does not take into account two things:

1 - photons that are absorbed and then emitted *downward*, where they are certain to be absorbed again.
Some of those photons will then be emitted downward, where they will be absorbed again.
And so on.

2 - when a vibrationally excited moleule relaxes through collision the vibrational energy is converted into kinetic energy. No photon will be emitted, so there is no photon to escape.

That's two mechanisms that prevent emission reaching space, thus retaining additional energy in the system, causing it to warm until escape emission once again reaches equilibrium with incoming energy.

- Jim Eager

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says: Try this link:
C:\Users\Mark\Documents\CO2\Does CO2 trap heat_ Climate Realists Forum.mht

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says: Jim, sticking with the absorbtion of IR which is the main AGW theory' you say:

1 - photons that are absorbed and then emitted *downward*, are re-emitted at a...

But, from foregoing link: As can be seen from the plot CO2 does have a strong response band relevant to this example, but it is very narrow, so the re-emitted by the surface Outgoing Longwave Radiation will soon get below the frequency CO2 can absorb at, and effectively CO2 becomes “transparent” to the cooler OLR. The cooler OLR escapes straight to space.

Anonymous said...

Markey, still no working link at my end, and the quoted portion makes no sense without being able to see the referenced plot (although even then it may or may not make any sense).

- Jim Eager

Anonymous said...

Sorry Jim. Try this

Jim Eager said...

Patrik, Re the UV absorption part of your question:

Earth does not radiate UV. The only UV absorption is of incoming solar UV, and that takes place overwhelmingly in the stratosphere where the UV enters the atmosphere, thus preventing most of it from reaching the troposphere, let alone the surface, thus reducing the input side of Earth's energy budget.

Earth radiates in IR. CO2 (and H2O, CH4, O3, etc) absorbs IR starting at the base of the atmosphere, thus reducing the output side of the energy budget, making average surface temp higher than it would be based on insolation and albedo alone.

Adding more of an absorbing gas to either side of the budget will throw the budget out of equilibrium, no?

Which side of the budget are we currently adding more to?

Jim Eager said...

That works, Markey.

At first glance I see some problems, but I want to read it through before commenting further.

EliRabett said...

Eli has put up another little puzzler, but suffice it to say that there is a lot of wrong here.

Let us start simply by noting mistakes.

1. After a specific CO2 molecule absorbs an IR photon, the probability of direct re-emission is zilch. The reason for this is that collisional de-excitation is much faster (like a few orders of magnitude)than emission so essentially all of the CO2 which absorbs an IR photon, losses it in a few microseconds. The energy is degraded into thermal motion of the molecules

2. CO2 molecules can be vibrationally excited by collision. The proportion of CO2 molecules in the first vibrationally excited level is 2exp(-hcv/kT) where v is the vibrational frequency (~667 cm-1 for the bending mode, which for practical reasons is the only one we have to worry about in the atmosphere) T is the local temperature, h is Planck's constant, c the speed of light in cm/sec (we are using inverse cm here, so to get the frequency multiply by 3x10^10 cm/sec). If you do the arithmetic, it turns out that there is a steady state population of about 5% of the CO2 in the first vibrational level @295K.

3. This is the proportion of vibrationally excited CO2, but any particular vibrationally excited CO2 molecule will loose that energy to collision rapidly (see 1), OTOH, an equal number of other CO2 molecules will gain energy by collision in the same time.

4. Given this and the emission lifetime of CO2 (the time that an isolated CO2 molecule - no collisions - would take on average to emit an IR photon) it is pretty easy to calculate the emission rate from a volume of the atmosphere at temperature T.

5. Eli has figured out what RW was measuring and why it says nothing about the Greenhouse Effect. See the puzzler.

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:

1 RE 4 So can someone let us know the answer?

2 As I would see it, the "greenhouse effect" in this case is merely the time difference between the Photons escaping the atmosphere with and without the extra CO2. That looks like a pretty small number given that CO2 is 0.028% by volume and only 5% is impacted by a Photon in the first place, ie 0.0014% of the Earths atmosphere is involved in this transaction at any one time.

3 I've never seen this worked out before. Isn't that very surprising given that the whole AGW gig depends on it, and huge efforts have been made to provide other derivative calculations and graphics. See the main post for eaxample.

Patrik said...

Thanks for the link, Markey!

I would really like to hear an alternative answer to this from the linked page:
"Let us call this example the tropics, and that is why the tropics are warmer at night than the desert, water vapour.
CO2, makes virtually no difference, even when given the chance to “act” on it’s own."

Other than the possible fact that the CO2 above the desert is very feeble in slowing down escaping heat.

Patrik said...

Sorry for flooding again but:
That geography seems to agree perfectly with the statement that water vapour is the one and only GHG to be counted on.

Patrik said...

Blah, "that geography FAQ" was what I intended to write.
Sorry for littering...

Patrik said...

Anyone care to answer why for instance in Sahara there can differ more than 30 degrees C between night and day - if CO2 in a mixed atmosphere stands for ~30% of the greenhouse effect?

Are there measurements in deserts showing an increase in Tmin since 1950?
If there are, it would be a splendid demonstration of the human added climate forcing.

Jim Eager said...

A lowly bunny's reply to Eli,

1. I did write that there is a "greater likelihood that before emitting a new photon, the excited molecule will collide with another molecule", but I did not put it at zilch. Would it not depend on altitude, and thus the density of the atmosphere and total population of molecules to collide with?

2. I did not mention collisional excitation. Bunny is aware of the phenomena, but needs to learn more about it.

Jim Eager said...

Patrik, First, you lose a point for misattributing the amount of the greenhouse effect caused by CO2, which is somewhere between 9% and 26% max, and is commonly estimated to be ~20%, not 30%.

Sahara surface temperature can differ more than 30 degrees C between night and day because 1) there is so little water vapour in the air column above the Sahara, plus 2) the coldest nights occur when there is no cloud cover.

So, first you remove much or most of the gas that accounts for up to 66% of the greenhouse effect, and then you remove clouds, which boost that to up to somewhere between 66% and 85% max. Is it at all reasonable to then expect a gas that accounts for 20% to make up the loss?

As for measurements in deserts showing an increase in Tmin since 1950, the subset of records of desert stations is what you would want to look at. I would think this would be an obvious metric that would have been looked at. Try searching via google scholar.

EliRabett said...

sorry Jim, Eli didn't mean to be the evil bunny. The point I was trying to make, is this is very similar to the bit about the atmospheric lifetime of CO2 being a few years, which is true enough if taken literally, because there is an interchange with the ocean, but that is an interchange, and the duration of a pulse of CO2 into the atmosphere raising the mixing ratio is a couple of hundred.

In this case the energy from the absorbed IR photon gets degraded into the thermal "ocean" of the atmosphere, the N2 and O2 mostly, that mixing is fast, microseconds.

The emission rate is controlled by thermal excitation through collisions.

Patrik said...

Jim>> Ok, but surely, the 30+ degrees is just about the total greebhouse effect isn't it?
There simply is no more to attribute to anything else..?

Jim Eager said...

Thanks, Eli, that's an easy to grasp analogy.

Jim Eager said...

Patrik, think about what happens on the incoming side of the energy budget ledger at night.

Patrik said...

Jim>> I believe I have thought about that already. ;)

What is important in this case is the fact that the same amount of heat that usually is associated with the greenhouse effect escapes from Sahara pretty much each night.

What needs to be explained is how this can happen if CO2 slows down escaping heat with about 10 degrees.

Sure, there can be some slowing of the escape involved, however it doesn't seem to be very effective or more importantly: not very long lasting.

If heat can escape in just an hour or so from Sahara, how can we even speek of GHG:s as effecting climate?
That is, if we define climate on a scale of 30 years or more.

Another way of putting it:
Why should anyone worry about CO2 trapping heat long term, when it evidently can do no such thing in the Sahara desert?

Patrik said...

Is this discussion over? :)

Hank Roberts said...

> the same amount of heat that usually
> is associated with the greenhouse effect
> escapes from Sahara pretty much each night.
What do you think the temperature would be without the greenhouse effect?

Anonymous said...

Markey asks: Show me the experiment.

Behold! The Great Experiment is happening all around you.

- Pete Dunkelberg (sometimes called Peter Cottontail back in school days)