Thursday, April 09, 2015

Beneath Contempt

Steve Koonin has emerged from the woodpile to defend his clowning in the APS POPA process and the Wall Street Journal on Judith Curry's blog.

Alerted by Willard and ATTP, the bunnies crossed their ears and read Koonin's lament, only to see

An even simpler indication of the percentish influence is to note that a 3 C mean global surface temperature increase on a base of 288 K is also about a 1% effect.
This is beneath contempt.  Without greenhouse gases the surface of the earth would be near 255 K on a simple calculation known to all, and indeed, ~255 K is the measured temperature of the Moon's surface.  Arthur Smith had a complete discussion of this on arXiv a while ago. Eli would not be surprised to see such a lights out statement from Willard Tony or the good Biship, indeed it would be a step up in the usual.  However, by rumor, while it is true that the temperature of the surface would go to 3K or so if the sun did blow out, that is not scheduled

But it is all of a piece.  Let the Bunnies look at Dr. Koonin's take on forcing from CO2, which, of course is logarithmic.
An alternative way of seeing the physical smallness of anthropogenic influences is to look at how the long-wave absorptivity of the clear sky increases with CO2 concentration – this is the physical input to GCMs that varies directly. Figure 4 from Harde shows that a doubling from the pre-industrial 280 ppm to 560 ppm increases the absorptivity by about 1% on a base of 82%, or, again a percentish shift. An even simpler indication of the percentish influence is to note that a 3 C mean global surface temperature increase on a base of 288 K is also about a 1% effect.

Eli had some comments about Harde, suffice it to say it doesn't rain much on Harde world, but the radiative transfer stuff is fine.  However, let the bunnies take a look at that figure again.  The low point for CO2 mixing ratio is about 180-200 ppm, last seen at the bottom of ice ages.  It might have been a bit lower in snowball earth, but again Steve "Lights Out" Koonin wants to compare CO2 forcing for 560 ppm to CO2 forcing for 0 ppm, a condition which has never been seen in the 4 billion years or so the Earth has existed.  

ADDED FOR CLARITY: So Eli thought he would help Steve Koonin on the road back to reality by drawing a line between the CO2 absorptivity under ice age conditions and today.  The net effect of the rise from 200 to 280 ppm is smaller than what would be expected in doubling CO2 from 380 to 760 ppm as shown in the Harde graph (Koonin didn't read Harde/the graph correctly It shows a doubling from 380, not 280, but the answer is the same)


Indeed, beneath contempt.


21 comments:

Lars Karlsson said...

I like the continuation to the part you cited too:

"... An even simpler indication of the percentish influence is to note that a 3 C mean global surface temperature increase on a base of 288 K is also about a 1% effect.

The physical smallness of anthropogenic influences, which comes as a surprise to many non-climate expert scientists, has profound implications for climate understanding and modeling. First, it means precision observations are required to see the climate response. Second, it means that natural variations can easily overwhelm human influences, at least on multidecadal scales (witness the current stasis in global mean surface temperature). And finally, because life at the 1% level is rich, the models have to get many small phenomena right to confidently isolate and project the response to anthropogenic effects. Indeed, if the anthropogenic perturbation weren’t small, the detection/attribution discussion would be much more convincing than it is (see, for example, the APS Workshop transcript). Of course, since CO2 is an enduring perturbation to the climate system, at least on the scale of centuries, its effects may eventually grow large enough to clarify the situation."


What an insight! The effect of a doubling of CO2 is small compared to the effect of the bloody sun going out. No sh*t Sherlock!

Lars Karlsson said...

No wonder Judith likes this guy.

andthentheresphysics said...

Lars,
I think you should post your "sun going out comment" on Climate Etc. Brilliant. I might have to steal it.

Eli,
I must admit that I still don't fully understand the graph included in the post. I remember being confused when you first wrote about the Harde paper, and I think I still am.

Lars Karlsson said...

ATTP, you are most welcome to steal it.

andthentheresphysics said...

Eli,
Actually, I was going to add that I think the effective temperature of the Moon is 271K, but that's because the albedo is about 0.1, so it does indeed confirm the basic argument that you're making.

Lars Karlsson said...

" An even simpler indication of the percentish influence is to note that a 3 C mean human body temperature increase on a base of 310 K is also about a 1% effect.

The physical smallness of pathogen infection influences, which comes as a surprise to many non-medical expert scientists, has profound implications for medical diagnosis and treatment. First, it means precision observations are required to see the effects of a fever. Second, it means that normal healthy variations can easily overwhelm influences of infections...."

Kyle Splawn said...

Second, it means that natural variations can easily overwhelm human influences, at least on multidecadal scales (witness the current stasis in global mean surface temperature).

Putting a temporary damper on long-term warming is not what I would call overwhelming the human influances on multidecadal scales. I'd reserve that kind of language for when natural variability causes 20 or so years of cooling instead of somewhat cancelling out the warming for about 10 years.

Koonin seems to be mighty surprised that people are going gaga over very tiny changes to a system, like increasing the overall GHG effect by 1%. I'm not sure he'd be so amused if the atmosphere around him were altered to contain 1% hydrogen cyanide.

Heck, if the air is modified to contain proportionately as much HCN as it did CO2 prior to the Industrial Revolution, ~270ppm or less than one third of one tenth of one percent, we'd all be dead in a matter of minutes.

It seems to me that only shallow thinkers are thrown off into incredulity by the fact that small absolute chances are considered to have important relative consequences.

Victor Venema said...

And finally, because life at the 1% level is rich, the models have to get many small phenomena right to confidently isolate and project the response to anthropogenic effects. Indeed, if the anthropogenic perturbation weren’t small, the detection/attribution discussion would be much more convincing than it is

For the attribution of climate change the 1% is not even used. Attribution is performed by comparing the spatio-temporal patterns of the various possible causes of climate change. A clear difference between an increase in insolation and greenhouse gasses is, for example, that the stratosphere cools when you increase greenhouse gasses.

I am a physicist myself and there was just a call in Nature for physicists and mathematicians to help work on climate problems. That is a great idea, but please collaborate with climate scientists to make sure that you do not make such rookie mistakes and make an embarrassment of yourself and of your field of study.

If climate change did not have policy implications both Koonin and Curry should be smart enough to see themselves how bad their own nonsense is. It is frightening what ideology and personal dislikes can do to a scientist. I hope I will never go down that road.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

Earth's climate does not cycle around absolute zero, it cycles around the freezing point of water, 273 K. We are only 15 K above that. The depths of an ice age are only 5-6 K colder in Ts (mean global annual surface temperature), or about a 2% change on Koonin's favorite scale. A change of 1 K in Ts can move agricultural growing belts by hundreds of miles.

The man simply does not know what he is talking about.

andthentheresphysics said...

Victor,
Indeed and Isaac Held did try to explain this idea to Steve Koonin.
But that's one point. The other one is spatial structure. And these things, again,are implicit in various fingerprinting studies.

And the first point is sort of implicit in studies where people take simple models and just vary the parameters all over the place and see
what they can do.

Where do you expect low-frequency variability to emerge in the coupled climate system? It's going to emerge at high latitudes because, where you have memory on these multidecadal time scales is in the deep ocean. And where is the deep ocean coupled efficiently to the surface? It's in subpolar regions. That's where the ocean is least stratified. The tropics are just too strongly stratified for those time scales. You look at where models predict their lowest-frequency variability.

There was a nice paper by Del Sole looking at the models. And he finds a pattern in all the models that have the largest integral time scale or decorrelation time. They are at high latitudes, especially the northern North Atlantic. This plot doesn't go to the Southern Ocean, but you would see high variability in the Southern Ocean as well.

And that's just the opposite of
what you see in reality. In fact, in a forced response, you expect to see an orthogonal pattern
, more or less, because those are the regions that are coupled strongly to the deep ocean.

You basically have big heat capacity. So, you have the smallest response to the forcing-- so, it shouldn't be that hard to separate internal variability from forced patterns. They tend to have the opposite structures.


My bold. Probably one of the clearest explanations of how fingerprinting works.

Lars Karlsson said...

Earth's radius is 6,371 kilometers. The highest mountain, Mount Everest, is roughly 9 km. That is only 0.14% of Earth's radius. How can we ever hope to accurately measure anything so small? It would require extreme precision measurements.

EliRabett said...

ATTP, what you measure depends on the skin depth of the radiation you measure the brightness temperature with

There is very little new under Steve"lights out" Koonin's cinder of a sun.

http://rabett.blogspot.com/2015/04/beneath-contempt.html

John Palkovic said...

Is the problem denialism, or is it stupidity? I cannot discern a difference. True, the man does not know what he is talking about. What does that say about the quality of opinions published in the WSJ?

The earth's atmosphere masses about 5E18 kg. So a "small" part per million of that is 5E12 kg, which I estimate to be ~ 1E5 aircraft carriers or 2E12 bunnies. Small is relative, it seems. I wonder if Koonin would care to ingest a "physically small" microgram of polonium-210?

EliRabett said...

ATTP: The line Eli drew shows that the change from the ice age to today is smaller than the change from 380 to 760 ppm. The ice age was a rather different time.

As to Harde, he got bollixed the water vapor profile in the atmosphere because he did not account for warm vapor encountering cold air and raining out, thus the water vapor at high altitudes in his model were too large and the role of CO2 downplayed

Russell Seitz said...

There's no apologizing for apologetics-- by now, Steve knows a lot, lot better than this.

Magma said...

Regardless, it's vital to keep in mind that even should ECS prove to be on the high side of 3°C the Earth's mean surface temperature will still be much less than that of the Sun. (One never knows what physically correct but entirely stupid point may be raised next; best to be prepared.)

EliRabett said...

Eli has a hashtag for these things

#Kooninisms

Feel free to tweet

Pinko Punko said...

Russell is like Eli with a goatee.

Unknown said...

As Bob Dylan put it:

And it’s a Harde, and it’s a Harde, it’s a Harde, it’s a Harde
And it’s a Harde rain’s a-gonna fall


toby52

Hank Roberts said...

How can a theoretical physicist get this so wrong?

Is it because theoretically, facts are just distractions?

This reminds me of the nuclear engineer who's convinced himself that CFCs can't bother the ozone layer because there's such a teensy weensy amount of them and besides logic tells him they only move downward not upward.

People who get facts so wrong are peculiarly prone to finding ways to be in charge of human affairs.

Mal Adapted said...

Hank: "People who get facts so wrong are peculiarly prone to finding ways to be in charge of human affairs."

IMHO, that's because there are so few people who get facts right, and those that do find ways to avoid being in charge.

'Until kings are philosophers or philosophers are kings, cities will never cease from ill.' (Plato, duh). Good luck with that 8^(!

I'm just glad I don't have offspring.