Anthony Watts triumphantly crows that physics has stopped working. Once again he shows that he can't tell if something is science or pseudo-science and copies and pastes from another pseudo-science blog (archived here).
He found a denier article about an older paper published three years ago in the Journal of Climate, written by Jonathan Gero and David D. Turner. Anthony is late to the party once again.
The paper was reporting data about downwelling IR radiation from a single instrument at a single site on the U.S. Southern Great Plains. It found that over the 14 year period of observation, there was a drop of downwelling IR radiation over winter, summer and autumn but not spring. They reported that a change in cloudiness in three seasons (all except spring time) meant less outgoing long wave radiation from the surface was being reflected back downwards again.
No bombshell. And clouds are not water vapour.
No, there was no bombshell. Nor a bomb. And clouds are not a greenhouse gas. They aren't any sort of gas. Anthony wrote:
The findings contradict the main tenet of AGW theory which states increasing greenhouse gases including the primary greenhouse gas water vapor and clouds will cause an increase of downwelling longwave infrared “back-radiation.”
Umm, no Anthony. There is no contradiction. You seem to be confusing a single instrument from a single site with the whole world. And I hope that you weren't suggesting that clouds are water vapour - they are primarily liquid and solid water, not gaseous water.
The part of the abstract that confused the deniers was probably this bit:
The AERI data record demonstrates that the downwelling infrared radiance is decreasing over this 14-yr period in the winter, summer, and autumn seasons but it is increasing in the spring; these trends are statistically significant ...
They didn't read any further, so they missed the rest, which was quite important, or it wouldn't have been in the abstract:
...and are primarily due to long-term change in the cloudiness above the site. The AERI data also show many statistically significant trends on annual, seasonal, and diurnal time scales, with different trend signatures identified in the separate scene classifications.
The changes were primarily because of long term change in the cloudiness above the site. Not because of any change in the physical properties of water vapour. Certainly not because a greenhouse gas suddenly stopped being a greenhouse gas. The authors know that, it's Anthony and his denier blogger who are being really foolish. The authors were exploring changes at a single site to better understand detailed changes on a small scale. Not because they thought that the greenhouse effect wasn't real. It is.
Sheesh denier bloggers are dumb. Or maybe they just think that their main audience is dumb as. Probably both.
If anything, the paper is suggestive of climate change in the region. However the authors are cautious in that regard. Notice the last two sentences of the abstract. The denier bloggers copied and pasted them without reading them:
Given the decadal time span of the dataset, effects from natural variability should be considered in drawing broader conclusions. Nevertheless, this dataset has high value owing to the ability to infer possible mechanisms for any trends from the observations themselves and to test the performance of climate models.
About clouds and the greenhouse effect
If you want to learn about how different clouds behave in regard to incoming short wave radiation and outgoing long wave radiation, there's a good article on the NASA website. The impact of clouds is determined by their temperature (top vs bottom of cloud), the albedo (their reflectivity), how high or low they are in the atmosphere and how thick they are (eg, how deep is the cloud, top to bottom). To sum up:
- High thin clouds warm on balance. They let a lot of incoming solar radiation through and absorb long wave radiation from the surface.
- Low clouds cool on balance.
- Thick clouds, like cumulonimbus clouds are about even. The "cloud greenhouse and albedo forcings almost balance, and the overall effect of cumulonimbus clouds is neutral-neither warming nor cooling".
Below are some diagrams from the article to show how different clouds can affect surface temperature. The cream coloured arrows are long wave radiation from the surface and the reddish coloured thin arrows are incoming solar radiation (short wave):
Low clouds - on balance a cooling effect
From the WUWT comments
Let's see how dumb or smart are the commenters at WUWT. Some of them are just as big idiots as Anthony Watts and his HockeySchtick:
sleepingbear dunes says:
August 5, 2014 at 4:24 pmdccowboy says:
How many ways can AGW predictions be proven wrong. Let me count the ways.
This appears to be one of the most significant findings in a long time. Anticipating the criticisms, what are the holes or weaknesses in the study?
August 5, 2014 at 4:25 pmReaders here have seen that jim Steele is just another denier. True to form he says:
There, I’ve dealt with this inconvenient research in the most scientific manner possible.
August 5, 2014 at 4:27 pm
The truth is out there!
pokerguy is impressed that the three and a half year old "not a bombshell" paper was published and says he liked that scientists learn from science:
August 5, 2014 at 4:28 pm
The mere fact that the paper was published strikes me as important as its findings. I’m not a scientist…I’m not even all the bright…so I might well have missed it, but I don’t see any of the usual pro forma obeisances to the CAGW party line. .
I really like this part: “Nevertheless, this dataset has high value owing to the ability to infer possible mechanisms for any trends from the observations themselves and to test the performance of climate models.”
sturgishooper decides there were "more clouds" (the abstract doesn't say) and asks if it's magnetism, cosmic causes or aliens from outer space:
August 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm
More clouds from more condensation nuclei thanks to reduced solar magnetism, or from some other terrestrial or cosmic cause?
Theo Goodwin says:
August 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm
So, AGW becomes ZombieAGW? Or is it AGWZombie? The first ever theory that is living dead.
August 5, 2014 at 4:39 pm
That is difficult to homoogenize away..
Steve Mosher was the first person to point out that it's a single site and gets flack from lots of people among the denier crowd for doing so. Steven Mosher says:
August 5, 2014 at 4:52 pm
August 5, 2014 at 4:59 pm
Steven Mosher says: August 5, 2014 at 4:52 pm One site.
OK Steven, point out a site where IR has increased.
August 5, 2014 at 5:44 pm
Mosh says its just one site. What else could he say? He’s trapped in the corner, there is no way out. He’s a desperate man.
It took quite some time before anyone noticed how old the paper was. Nick Stokes was the first (and only?) one to do so and gets flack from Anthony Watts for it. He says:
August 5, 2014 at 5:01 pm
This is hardly a bombshell. The paper was published in 2011.
But it doesn’t contradict any main tenets. It states explicitly that the result is due to a change in cloudiness. And since they measured cloudiness, that is not speculation.
REPLY: So because it is from 2011 and was only noticed today, that makes it not significant for you? Oh wait, I forgot, nothing fits the racehorse equation for significance except the latest pony scores. ...Show something to counter it, then you’ll have an argument. Otherwise, meh. – Anthony
dmacleo asks for help, but in vain, and says:
August 5, 2014 at 5:38 pm
I’m just an average guy, is this as important as it seems to me or am I readign into it incorrectly?
I'll give him a hand. First, I don't know how "important it seems" to dmacleo. I'll say that it's of minor importance in the wider scheme of things. It was important enough to get published in the Journal of Climate. It was a diligent piece of work. It didn't change science. It provides some insight into changes that can take place at a single location. In this case, a single location as measured by a single instrument in the U.S. Southern Great Plains. This work can inform science more generally and add to the understanding of changes in weather patterns elsewhere in the world.
I'll leave you with this comment from S. Geiger who sums it up fairly well when he/she says:
August 5, 2014 at 8:07 pm
Mosh and Nick. Thanks for keeping things ‘real’, as they say. The findings are interesting, but by no means do they overthrow the current theory, IMO. Certainly shows that (in some areas, at some times) that other ‘knobs’ certainly play an important–and yes sometimes primary–role along with the GHGs. FWIW, I do appreciate papers like this being posted (whether at time of publishing or later), however, in some cases it seems as though the implications are a bit over hyped. Just my own 2 cents.
Gero, P. Jonathan, and David D. Turner. "Long-term trends in downwelling spectral infrared radiance over the US southern Great Plains." Journal of Climate 24, no. 18 (2011): 4831-4843. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2011JCLI4210.1