Friday, February 25, 2011

L. Carey Plays Carnac

Sometimes analysis of a political position requires a lawyer. L. Carey, who has recently featured over at Only In It For the Gold, did the trick back in November when Ms. Muffet was starting down the Styx

I second what PDA said above about "made for TV" - my 2 cents is that JC has indeed decided to pursue a new career track that is a lot more fun than, you know, actually doing science and teaching, by monetizing her perceived expertise. It works like so:

1. Actual climate scientist makes critical claims about climate science on denier websites and starts making allies with prominent deniers. (Interestingly, scientist makes noises about how she was briefly treated as a "rock star" over her hurricane paper - yearning for a return to the public spotlight, maybe?)

2. Visit semi-prominent 'teach the controversy" website (CoS) and chat up the moderator (KK) with provocative statements that play to his own worldview. 2a - vanish when rational people start asking what the heck you're talking about.

3. Visit prominent "warmist" websites (e.g., Real Climate) and make highly provocative semi-incoherent drive-by comments (making sure not to respond when rational people tell you why your rambling comments are misleading non-sense, but building up your "cred" with deniers by taking on "the keepers of the orthodoxy" - e.g., Gavin). Talk about "peace-making" while selectively criticizing scientists and talking up prominent "citizen-deniers".

4. Start your own blog and proceed to accelerate making statements that are both increasingly outlandish (e.g., high priests of the IPCC, etc.) and/or incoherent. Be sure to pointedly ignore rational comments by those knowledgeable and published in technical climate fields (e.g., Eric Steig and James Annan).

5. Get written up as a "heretic", thereby scoring the bonus of somebody else highlighting the all-important meme of "climate science as a religion". Associate with prominent "there's a lot of uncertainty but I expect it won't be so bad" talking heads, such as RPJ and Revkin.

So far, so good - now the tricky part. Since said scientist is second tier (at best) in her field but has a reputable academic position and has no problem getting published, she must somehow trigger at least the appearance of ostracism, retribution and tyranny at the hands of the "high priests of climate".

6. Accordingly, scientist eventually has to start doing stuff so wacky and out-of-bounds that her academic colleagues are forced to take notice, and she must do whatever it takes to push for a confrontation of "truth" (well, hers anyway) against the vicious culture of "tribalism". For the plan to work, she MUST do whatever it takes to get rebuked, censured, fired, or whatever. This of course demonstrates completely unmerited persecution by the warmist cabal (who must at all costs keep all scientists in their thrall, especially heretic, maverick scientists) -- this, of course, is catnip for deniers everywhere, and especially Faux News. Almost payday now.

7. The brave, truth-telling, heretic, maverick scientist now uses her new-found iconic status with the lipstick on a pitbull crowd to cash in as the "go-to" showpiece "real climate scientist" with a Faux News contract, an eagerly sought participant in numerous "fair and balanced" panels and speaking engagements, hired as a senior fellow with Heritage, AEI, CEI, etc., etc. Followed by the sale of movie rights, an autobiography and a book tour. Voila - from obscure middle class real scientist to famous, well paid climate shill adored by billionaires, corporate behemoths and Tea Partiers alike, in 7 easy steps.

If this is actually the scenario that is underway, then it is pointless to expect JC to start dialing back the rhetoric and trying to make sense. In fact, just the opposite would be true -- to bring such a plan to fruition, she MUST keep getting more and more belligerent, intransigent and just plain nutty, to provoke the essential "persecution" and secure her new-found denier rock star status.

Thoughts regarding this hypothesis?
As PDA points out on Collide a Scape, we are now well into step 6. Having stepped on Keith and MT's territory, Eli now awaits step 7. Anyone wanna bet?


monty said...

Over the past 12 hours I have been at Judith’s place to try and get some answers from her (to no avail). I wrote:

“Dear Judith
I have to say that I’m confused. I confess that I haven’t waded through all 650 or so comments so these questions may well all have been answered before. However, I can’t see where you are coming from. I see nonsensical points from denialists which you don’t repudiate. Does that mean you agree with them? So, can I ask. Do you accept:

1 there is a greenhouse effect
2 that CO2 is a GHG
3 that humans have increased atmospheric CO2 to levels not seen for 650k and more
4 that this MUST have a warming effect
5 that the warming (pattern, rate etc) is consistent with GHG forcing
6 that climate sensitivity is likely to be around 3C
7 that, whatever the flaws of MBH98, there are numerous hockey stick reconstructions developed by numerous (and independent) scientists using numerous proxies (not just treerings)”.

She clearly disagrees with 6 (although won’t say how or why) and 7 (says no proxies are calibrated). Frankly I don’t understand this last point, since we are looking at patterns and rates.

The thread was hijacked by the usual trolls asking the usual questions. My main lesson from this is that she doesn’t like to be pinned down on questions. If she thinks sensitivity is low (which goes against all the palaeo record) then I’d like to see her reasons. All I have is silence from her. She's prepared to answer (and agree with) sceptic posts, but not give me the evidence to show that sensitivity is low. Strange!

Posted also at Tamino's.

Sou said...

The evidence shows the Cary hypothesis is worth consideration. She's still grappling with stage 6 and it looks to be a battle to get any further :)

The difficulty for Curry is that she is not accepted by anyone anymore. She has deliberately tried to make enemies of her professional colleagues. Most deniers still scorn her, going by recent comments on WUWT. (They are happy to use her to beat up Trenberth, Schmidt, Mann and anyone else she attacks but that doesn't mean they support Curry.)

If Faux can't get anyone else they might reluctantly call on her provided they can edit out everything except when she says all her colleagues are frauds. She'll have to totally deny climate science before becoming a darling of the Tea Party.

So far, her 'experiment' has left her with no friends of any note. Although she has picked up Tallbloke and Oliver K Manuel as admirers, for what that's worth.

J Bowers said...

S. Fred used to go with the consensus on global warming. Just saying.

Anonymous said...


Don't hold your breath. She will either ignore you or play the obtuse card or claim that your questions don't make any sense. Any excuse to avoid giving direct, unambiguous answers.

It really annoys me that she remains silent on the utter bullsh1t that many of those in denial or D-Ks post on her site-- that is tacit approval. Even worse she will often encourage them by something like "Interesting point", "good perspective", "thanks for that".

That at least was my experience late last year. And if you push too hard, don't be surprised to receive a veiled threat (or not) from one of the more rabid acolytes. That blog is a cesspool of ignorance and hate, with Judith Curry proudly at the helm egging them on.

Just how many serious and respected scientists frequently post at Climate Etc.? And by that I mean a frequent contributor to forums, rather than dropping by to challenge her slander and misunderstanding of paleo data etc.

What is really creepy about L. Cary's 7 steps is that s/he is probably spot on.


PDA said...

fwiw: it's "Carey," hockeystick breath. this is why I keep my online pseuds to three characters...

Anonymous said...

H/T to Ianash at SheWonk:


Eli and other interested bunnies should read this article. I am a little perplexed by the red line in the HS graph....

Judith Curry:
"I wasn’t criticized in 2003, I was ignored,” Curry says. “It was an idea that was floated, and nobody wanted to hear it at the time. They were on a different wavelength.”


Well of course she was not criticized the, she was actually being reasonable. She is clearly bitter and now determined not to be "ignored", regardless of the costs. Regardless, she is not being criticized so much for her thoughts on uncertainty (OK, except for her ludicrous Italian flag idea), but for he rancour, slander and vitriol.

Many more interesting tidbits in that article.


PS: The Judith of "old":

Now compare that image with the ones in the GIT article. That is one angry person with a chip on their shoulder. And we know that emotion and science do not mix well.

EliRabett said...

Fixed. Apologies to L.

L. Carey said...

Thanks for finding my thoughts of interest, Eli. At this point I am not inclined for my Feb. 2011 self to bet against by Nov. 2010 self. Don't you just love it when a plan looks like its coming together so nicely?

guthrie said...

Hmmm, any way we can encourage her to get to step 6 and 7 as soon as possible? The sooner she is seen as a climate change hack beloved of lunatics the better.

Russell said...

Playing the heretic?

Why isn't she playing the lead in the eponymous London play- the Telegraph loves it !

joe said...

The timing JC's "hide the decline" post and subsequent rabble-rousing closely follows the OIG's response to James Inhofe.


Scrooge said...

What I see is someone that had to dumb down to fit an ideology. The only way to do that is to stop any rational thought and listen to idiot denier points over and over until nonsense becomes fact. Just like what faux news does to the tea party.

Hank Roberts said...

Seems there's a race for the chance at the Fox News position, if this is a fair rendering of the audio track of the video it claims to describe, by Muller of the 'Berkeley EST' project. I can't vouch for the accuracy of the person who typed the transcript, mind you.

In the transcript, Muller's said to claim that "any Berkeley scientist" would present the raw data, not make an effort to clean it up.

That seems like a good way to lose the signal in the noise and increase the uncertainty.

Hmmm. That sounds oddly familiar.

What's Robert Rohde doing with the Muller Curry et al. team, I wonder?

adelady said...

Scrooge - I'm not so sure it's "dumbing down". This little gem popped up on a 'Heresy' post.

curryja | October 30, 2010 at 8:11 am | Reply
Bart, people think I am crazy when i say it is not obvious how the 4 W m-2 actually translates into a surface temperature increase. And then the cite the simple formula which is an algebraic relationship between the net radiative flux at the top of the atmosphere and surface temperature. Not convincing at all.
Then they cite the results of a general circulation model run in perpetual January mode (a month where there is virtually no snow melt because of the asymmetries of the northern and southern hemispheres. I regard this as a basic issue, and whenever I make this point it is used to demonstrate that my brain has become addled by talking to skeptics. "

"Not convincing at all" .... ?!?!! To me, it doesn't indicate either dumb or clever. It shows a complete lack of interest in the hard yakka needed to get on top of the physics. Even I have done my time at Science of Doom - and the last time I did any physics was in 1960s high school.

I might add this was responding to ....
"Bart R | October 30, 2010 at 3:23 am | Reply
I’m always troubled by First Law questions that maybe others see more clearly than I do.
The greenhouse effect produces heat, not temperature rise.
Temperature rise is a result of and proxy for heat production. ... and so on ....."

The whole comment looks to me like a 'teachable' moment. Completely squandered.


Stephen said...

Ironic that the person decrying "tribalism" in science now apparently seems to be determined to either become the leader of a new tribe, or is desperate to get accepted by one of the existing ones.

In the end, she'll probably just end up being voted off the island altogether.

Pinko Punko said...

Judith is fighting to be the outlier in agreement, i.e. "even Judith Curry thinks x"- this subatomic particle has a very temporary, very finite lifetime because one cannot occupy this position for a long time.

monty said...

Judith has finally responded to me(took me a long time to find it) : "you’ve gotten several answers from me. I disagree that sensitivity almost certainly can’t be less than 2C. This does not mean that I think it is less than 2C. Put a bound around 0-10C, then i am prepared to put a likely confidence on that range. I do not think there is any convincing evidence to support a hockey stick shape for global temperature anomalies of the past 1000-2000 years, with any kind of confidence".

She thinks sensitivity is low....I wonder what her evidence is.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Ah, I see Judy has chosen "Not Even Wrong" for $100. Saying climate sensitivity is between 0 and 10 is equivalent to saying we have no information. This is of course pure bullshit. And she is careful to say that she doesn't necessarily think S is below 2, but she also is careful not to say what she thinks it is. Adopting such an unfalsifiable position is clear Sophistry. Ferchrissake, such a response couldn't even pass a frigging Turing test. Despite my low expectations, Judy continues to disappoint.

Dammit, Judy, there are worse things than being wrong. Being vague is one of them.

Sou said...

Monty, what I read into Curry's response is that climate sensitivity is not within her area of expertise and neither is historical global temperature. (Anyone who looks at her bio knows this already.)

Given that is the case, why does she spend so much time pontificating on these topics? If she's not prepared to investigate these subject areas herself and refer you to the literature, she should just say, "I don't know, ask an expert" and be done with it. There is any number of people who do have expertise in these topics.

susan said...

Now we have the upcoming BEST study, even as we speak being touted by deniers as the definitive data mashup, financed by Koch et al., propped by by "real" climate scientist Curry, supported by Singer and Happer as well as some people seeking warm fuzzy approval around the edges and perhaps some elder statesmen who don't notice what's under their noses? While the rest of this is sad, depressing, and all the rest, BEST is even more destructive. Any suggestions as to how to make it obvious what is going on there before it becomes state of the art support for denial pending the climate collapse they are promoting?

Susan Anderson

susan said...

Ah, I see other mention, BEST = Berkeley EST

Anonymous said...

Monty, wow, bet you were not expecting that !

OMG. Another beauty for Curry quotes:

"I disagree that sensitivity almost certainly can’t be less than 2C. This does not mean that I think it is less than 2C. Put a bound around 0-10C, then i am prepared to put a likely confidence on that range. I do not think there is any convincing evidence to support a hockey stick shape for global temperature anomalies of the past 1000-2000 years, with any kind of confidence."

This sophistry will make James Annan's blood boil, not to mention that of others too.


Tenney Naumer said...

Do we have any clinical psychologists out there that can analyse curryja's ramblings? I think there is ongoing mental degeneration -- I don't think any other theory can fit all the data points.

Sou said...

It's hard to believe Curry is serious when she says she thinks that climate sensitivity of 10 degrees C is likely. If that were the case, she would be alarmed rather than trying to stop actions to reduce carbon emissions. (Unless she wants every living thing on earth killed off.)

susan said...

honest and deluded or dishonest and successful? I tried for months to make excuses for her, but I'm done. Carey nailed it.

susan said...

BTW, new gem in recent DotEarth post: Andy Revkin calls himself a "recovering denier". Assumptions underlying this are stark; can only assume he was so startled by hack he lost his mind and believed them, without thinking about how people talk on his own blog and considering how out of context quotes were. Sorry, a little OT, but that's my chosen battleground and I get discouraged.

Pinko Punko said...

Master class. This is how you troll. Once you have a bead on tone or language you can sidestep substance. Process and not data.

curryja | February 26, 2011 at 11:50 am | Reply

yes, there is a certain (low) class of climate blogs, which are identified by their use of the term “denier chum.”

Sou said...

@Pinko Punko - Lol, good to see Curry gets around the traps. Pity she doesn't take the messages to heart.

Anonymous said...

Here is another example of denialists using graphics and data to mislead. This myth got so out of hand that Revkin at DotEarth had to bring in Alley to set the record straight ((no pun intended). Maybe someone can post this link at Judith's place?

As always, Peter does an excellent job-- and these are the folks who Curry has elected to make her bed with.....


[From SheWonk]

Pinko Punko said...

Reading several hundred to a thousand comments at Climate Etc. reminded me of Conservapedia's Annotated Liberal Style. Here is our take on it. See if you can recognize the style of argumentation displayed.

monty said...

Yes, I'm amazed that she thinks it possible that sensitivity could be so small. How does she explain Maunder, Pinatubo, LGM and earlier climate change in response to the forcings given low sensitivity. I also had a go at some people for simultaneously arguing for a global MWP AND low sensitivity....the level of ignorance was amazing. It seesm that sceptics are able to hold several mutually contradictory messages at the same time. I honestly can't see what Jusith is doing....does she not realise that her scientific credibility is really on the line here?

Lazar said...


Andy Revkin calls himself a "recovering denier"

Have you got a link for that, or can you remember the title? Thanks.

Sou said...

In the space of about 24 hours Curry has gone from 0 to +10 degrees C for 'likely' climate sensitivity to +1 to +6 degrees C for 'likely' sensitivity.

Just how long has Curry been 'researching' this topic of climate and climate sensitivity?  Her strong pronouncements on 'uncertainty' 'certainly' apply to her own opinions :)

(And her 'likely' upper limits should compel immediate and drastic action to curb emissions.)

monty said...

Glad to see that she is now addressing the issue. It took me ages to get her to answer the question.

Horatio Algeranon said...

Shoutout at the O Curry Corral

David B. Benson said...

Won't bet on that, Eli.

Brian said...

As an alternative to a Fox paycheck, Curry could be looking to share the Roger Pielke Jr/Bjorn Lomborg spotlight as a supposed non-denier third way. Who knows, though.

Steve Bloom said...

Muller was Rohde's PhD advisor, although the latter has always been a straight shooter as far as I know.

Andy's "recovering denier" remark was just days ago, but unfortunately DotEarth comments aren't searchable. He was referring not to the usual sort of denial, but to his own former denial that the "deficit model" of science journalism/communication (i.e. the idea that people will understand the climate problem if they have enough information) wasn't working. Of course Andy is a certain variety of the usual sort of denier, a category that includes Kloor and maybe Curry, which is people who seem to be incapable of believing that reality would do something so unpleasant to them. Well, it hasn't yet.

My experience with Judy and sensitivity was when I pointed out (on a CaS thread maybe 18 months ago) that paleo evidence, in particular the mid-Pliocene (350-400 ppm CO2, +2-3C temps), precludes real-world (Earth system) sensitivity anything like 2C. She pointed me to Knutti & Hegerl (2008) as a refutation, which was simply put a lie. That's the last time I tried to interact with her.

I should mention for those who don't know that there's a trick or two involved with discussions of sensitivity: First, the sensitivity usually discussed is the Charney sensitivity, which is missing major feedbacks (e.g. ice and permafrost melt) but until very recently was the only one the models could do. As has become very obvious of late, the Charney sensitivity can't exist in the real world since the missing feedbacks kick in long before the climate can reach equilibrium.

Similarly, while Earth system sensitivity based on paleo data is at least something that can happen in the real world, an equilibrium state based on it is not what we're going to get since we're imposing a fast CO2 transient on the climate system relative to how long it takes the climate to reach equilibrium. The PETM, the only really big and fast carbon excursion in the paleo record, is a bit of a guide, but data is a little sparse since it was so long ago and it was still significantly milder than what we're in the process of imposing on the climate.

Finally, there's the risk that with enough of a push things will go off the rails due to a transition to a climate state with higher sensitivity, e.g. from runaway ice/permafrost melt. See Hansen's recent work for the gory details.

I should add that as a practical matter an Earth system sensitivity of ~5-6C based on the Pliocene pretty much precludes Judy's beloved low Charney sensitivity.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Ah, I see Judy has backtracked on her sensitivity range. This could actually be the first sign of intellegent thought I've seen from her. After all, from a policy point of view, it is the high end of the range that drives what we need to do. A 10 degree per doubling sensitivity would imply that we could render the planet virtually uninhabitable by the end of the century if we didn't put the brakes on CO2 now. A range of 1 to 6 is much more manageable, albeit still suggests serious immediate action.

The speed of Judy's reversal tends to make me wonder whether somebody had a word with her.

Sou said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sou said...

OT - pop over to RC and read the letter Hughes wrote back to Gavin Schmidt saying he won't sue :D. (Thought I'd better be more circumspect.)

Tom said...

Freeman effin' Dyson. Now shut up and go away.

susan said...

Lazar/Steve Bloom,

"recovering denier" was in the text of the article.

"Then I raised my hand and counted myself as a “recovering denialist,” noting that, while that word, and harsher variants, has mainly been used to label a wide array of critics of climate science, there’s been plenty of denial to go around.

"I noted that environmental campaigners were in denial for much of the 2000’s over prospects for passing comprehensive climate bill."

sorry about the delay in responding. I come to RabettRun to relax, as the humor and POV are a comfort and relief after watching people buy nonsense everywhere.

Flavius Collium said...

[really tired warning]
Dear Homos, Lagomorphs and Murinas, I'm still warning you as your partially extracultural consultant, don't assign too much to malice which can be laziness, incompetence or anything.

We don't have nearly as much corporate propaganda to consumers in Europe, yet we have really a lot of trouble getting some basic environmental laws to pass or people to care about common things.

I think Pielke Jr and Kloor and Revkin actually do have *some* point when they say that scientists tend to think giving knowledge would solve problems.
Of course, people don't really think like that, and the standard shtick goes that knowledge is not sufficient but it's certainly necessary!

But I still sense great elements in the bigger narrative that are potentially wasteful and frustrating if they are not recognized - a boogeyman is being inflated and fought, because it's easy to fall for that emotionally. All the children's bedtime stories have clean cut baddies. Once the story reaches the point where the bad guy is disposed of, everyone can live happily ever after.

I'd estimate you need to remove 80% of the disinformation and then concentrate on irresponsible policy and just stop paying attention to the crackpots. You can't get rid of corporate disinformation entirely, but it'd be a waste of effort to concentrate too much only on it.

There are so many stupid decisions done for other reasons too. Hell, even if everyone knows and tries their best, laws that come out of the process are really weird and lead to companies and people doing crazy things.

But bear in mind this:
I don't think anybody at Copenhagen brought the Climategate posturing. I've heard from people that were there on the spot. It was a mostly US and UK phenomena. Heard that some Saudi rep tried to peddle that but nobody listens to them there anyway...

Flavius Collium said...

bought, not brought the posturing.

DeNihilist said...

Hey Prof. Bunny,

I find it hard to keep up with you, but I have asked a couple of questions to you on JC's latest threads, but you seem to have done gone down your bunny hole again. Or maybe you don't want to answer, fair enough. But if you could answer at least this one, I would much appreciate it.

DeNihilist | February 26, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Reply
Dr.Rabbitt, you have left me confused here. – {This limits the concentration of water vapor (and clouds) with altitude. If the surface warms, more water will vaporize. That is the feedback from any process that warms the surface}

I know that I am missing something, but if there is a limit on vapour and clouds, then does this not also limit the amount of surface water that can vapourize?

Thanx Dr. Bunny

Steve Bloom said...

FC, just to note that part of what Revkin et al. miss is the message inherent in the failure of the media to treat AGW as the existential threat it is. The front page of the NYTimes is probaly as good a proxy as any for what the U.S. media establishment thinks is important, and AGW is way, way down on the list. The readership very much understands that message and reacts (well, mostly fails to react) appropriately. This is where the vast bulk of the information deficit lies, not in the content of the articles. Obviously the media is capable of treating AGW appropriately as happened with WWII and the Cold War, and to a lesser extent with things like the build-up to the Iraq War (in which the Times infamously acted as a willing conduit for misinformation), and there's a very interesting discussion to be had about this, but it says a lot about Revkin et al. that they're entirely MIA on this subject. Of course the European media has the same fundamental problem, just a bit less extreme.

That said, I don't want to minimize the responsibility of the Revkins of the world to face the problem squarely and do the best job they can. That Revkin bases his view of the problem on advice from the likes of Pielke Jr. and John Christy rather than Ray Pierrehumbert and Jim Hansen (both of whom have made specific efforts to educate him) is just plain depressing. Fortunately there are plenty of journalists (Stephen Leahy e.g.) who don't have this problem, but I have the impression that they become rare indeed once one gets into the ranks of the editors who make decisions on such things as article placement.

susan said...

I blame "virtual" reality. People are so dependent on their entertainment, and kids are so addicted to constant access, that the idea of silence, a book made of paper, or anything that does not require oodles of energy, no matter how inexpensive, is considered mildly obscene. These are ready-made victims for a disinformation campaign that says they need not do anything except consume. None of us are exempt from the primary idea that the earth and our fellow humans are there to be exploited for our comfort.

It's easy to understand the need to justify one's existence, but waste and exploitation have always been at the center of our polity. It's just getting more obvious.

Steve Bloom said...

DeNihilist, hotter air => more water vapor per the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, IIRC 7% per degree C. Trenberth has a paper with the details. There's no practical upper limit on this. This does not mean clouds will necessarily do anything other than get soggier, what they will do otherwise as warming advances being an area of intense study. Regardless, the concentration of water vapor is greatest at sea level and decreses with altitude until it virtually vanishes at the tropopause. Clouds depend on the availability of water vapor and so behave in a broadly consistent manner, as with e.g. the progression from low-altitude high-WV cumulus to high-altitude low-WV cirrus.

EliRabett said...

Thanks Steve. Eli's comment was in reply to a statement about it being only the radiative properties of water vapor. . .

Eli Rabett | February 26, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Reply

No it is also about the thermodynamical properties of water molecules, principally that they can vaporize and condense as a function of temperature and also that there is a hell of a lot of liquid water lying around.

Large amounts of heat energy are absorbed when water evaporates and given off when it condenses (aka latent heat). Since the temperature decreases with altitude, water vaporized at the surface carries energy into the atmosphere where it condenses (aka rain drops) this releases the energy. This limits the concentration of water vapor (and clouds) with altitude. If the surface warms, more water will vaporize. That is the feedback from any process that warms the surface.

Is that the answer you were asking about De?

David B. Benson said...

Not this Carnac:

Holly Stick said...

Can I put it into really simple terms, Eli and Steve, and see if this is right?

Water vaporizes at the surface then rises until it is so cold that it has to turn into precipitation. There is no limit to how much water can be vaporized at the surface, but there is a limit to how much water will stay in clouds as they get higher and colder.

So as more water evaporates, you will get more rain, but the rain will not necessarily fall in the same place as the evaporation took place, since clouds are moved by wind. So you could have evaporation and perhaps drought in one area leading to heavier rain in the next area and evaporation and drought further on again. (I live in Calgary. Pretty often it rains in BC as the clouds are pushed over the mountains, then we get a dry windy chinook.)

DeNihilist said...

Thanx for that Dr. Bunny and Steve and Holly. I will read the replies more carefully tonight. Really, much appreciated.

Holly Stick said...

Pictures always help:

Anonymous said...

HollyStick. When you say:

"There is no limit to how much water can be vaporized at the surface, "

I do not really agree with you. Water evaporates given that there is enough energy available to change phase (latent heat). That is, I object to your "There is no limit". The limit is the amount of energy that can be used to evaporate the water. That means that you can not dissociate this from other energy fluxes.

But the rest is OK for me.


Steve Bloom said...

Possibly HS meant that there's no limit to the water available to be evaporated, which is true. As mentioned above, the global average amount of WV is determined by global average air temp, there of course being much local variation in both.

Holly Stick said...

I was responding to what Denihilist wrote above:

"...I know that I am missing something, but if there is a limit on vapour and clouds, then does this not also limit the amount of surface water that can vapourize?..."

That is, I understood Eli to say water that has vaporized is limited by becoming colder as it rises until it becomes precipitation; but that this does not limit how much more surface water can be vaporized.

As Minnie points out, the surface temperature limits how much water would be vaporized.

But then, since the already vaporized water might block the sun and cause cooling at the surface it might cause less water to be vaporized down below, until the wind blew the clouds away and let the sun shine again.

It's been cold and snowing or cloudy all day today; no sun and no evaporization here. Sigh.

EliRabett said...

Holly, you are starting to confuse water vapor and condensed water droplets, aka clouds, something that always happens.

Holly Stick said...

Yes, I sure am.

Holly Stick said...

OK, so when it's water vapour it acts as a GHG and makes it even warmer at the surface, but if it condenses into a cloud it blocks the sun and makes it cooler?

David B. Benson said...

Holly Stick --- Low clouds cool more than warm the surface; high clouds (cirrus) the reverse.

Deep Climate said...

Well, still, even 1-6C as the "likely" range, means estimated probability for this range is somewhere between 67 and 90%. And presumably the chances/risk of > 6C is equal to that for < 1C.

Meanwhile, AFAIK, most serious scholars of this issue are looking at something like 2-4C, with a higher level of confidence.

Holly Stick said...

David, I am begining to see why clouds are such a problem for climate scientists.

EliRabett said...

>6 is higher. Paleoclimate and volcanic stuff shows that the lower bound is a lot stronger.

DeNihilist said...

Dr. Rabbitt says - {Large amounts of heat energy are absorbed when water evaporates and given off when it condenses (aka latent heat). Since the temperature decreases with altitude, water vaporized at the surface carries energy into the atmosphere where it condenses (aka rain drops) this releases the energy.}

Now you have probably been asked this a hundred and one times, but here goes anyway....

So as the planet, on average heats up, some of the extra energy will be used to vapourize water (basically entangling itself within the vapour?). As this vapour rises it takes this extra energy to a higher area of the atmosphere along the way shedding bits. But the majority gets ejected when the vapour phase changes back to liquid at a higher altitude then where it was co-joined. So far so good?

So then is it reasonable to ask, is this transport of energy by vapour not by-passing a lot of the CO2 radiative "trap"? And when the majority is shed from the phase change, is not this extra energy now above the critical layer of CO2 "trapping"? (I know that trap is the wrong word) So could this process be a negative forcing and actually cool the average earth temp a bit?

And to be way out there, is there no washing out of CO2 from rainfall? I know that in my high effeciency hot water boilers, I have to use a condensate nuetralizer because the liquid that the condensation process within the boiler heat exchanger produces can be quite acidic as low as 4. I have been told that this liquid is carbonic acid, made from the washing out of CO2 from the combustion process. So can there be a washing out of CO2 from the now larger amounts of rainfall that we expect to get from the rising energy profile?

Or am I all wet? :)

Marion Delgado said...

Holly Stick:

Clouds are a source of uncertainty / affect confidence in global circ/climate models, but I wouldn't say they're much of a problem. David Benson stated what is known about types of clouds and warming.

Lindzen and others have claimed "clouds" (net of all types as atmosphere warms) act as a negative feedback, but there's no evidence that that's so, or that it's significant. (Evidence is it's net positive. Even if it's net negative, that it's not showing negative means the negative would not be important).

Andrew Dessler, who's debated Lindzen (and if my memory serves me, once was going to debate someone on the radio but they didn't show up, so it ended up being more informative than a debate), wrote about this at RealClimate:

Roy Spencer actually said clouds cause the ENSO. They're certainly part of the ocean-atmosphere cycle, but that's a very fringe idea.

Lindzen's iris didn't pan out, and Spencer's "clouds cause ENSO" has no support from research or other scientists. The "galactic cosmic rays produce more clouds cyclically and that's what's causing warming" theory was simply unfounded.

Just my way of saying it's climate scientists who are searching for something to throw at anthropogenic global warming who seem to have trouble with clouds. And anti-science skeptics. The 90% of climate scientists who aren't them neither ignore clouds in their models or presentations nor give cloud reactions undue weight.

David B. Benson said...

DeNihilist --- All wet, I fear.

DeNihilist said...

Merci David. Sure isn't the first time.


chek said...

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said... "The speed of Judy's reversal tends to make me wonder whether somebody had a word with her".

Surely you don't mean one of her doubt merchandising sponsors which she assures us are not relevant to the current (ahem...) "debate"?