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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Anthony Watts has found another insignificant paper on climate sensitivity

Sou | 2:05 PM Go to the first of 24 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts has found an insignificant and wrong paper on climate sensitivity. He thinks it's significant because it claims that climate sensitivity is only 0.43°C. But what would he know?

It wasn't really Anthony Watts who found the paper. It was one of Anthony's blogging denier mates, "hockeyschtick", who he turns to when he needs to fill a space at WUWT. (WUWT article is archived here.)

This insignificant and wrong paper is in some new (insignificant?) journal that calls itself "Open Journal of Atmospheric and Climate Change" and so far (since May 2014) has published two issues with a total of eleven papers. It has one "paper in press", which is the one that Anthony Watts likes.

The paper in press is by Hermann Harde, who says he hails from Experimental Physics and Materials Science, Helmut-Schmidt-University, Hamburg. I checked - here and archived here. It looks as if he's not a full time academic there, he's listed as "ehemalige", which Google translates as "former" and might be the same as "adjunct". It could mean he is allowed to keep his association with the university, but is no longer employed there. Perhaps someone who is familiar with universities in Germany can explain.

Anthony Watts says the paper:

"looks to be well researched, empirically based, and a potential blockbuster for dimming the alarmism that has been so prevalent over climate sensitivity. With a climate sensitivity of just 0.43°C, it takes the air out of the alarmism balloon."

But what would he know? In fact, the paper is only partly empirical but mostly based on Hermann's model. It's definitely not a blockbuster. It doesn't go near any balloons, let alone take air from them.

Here's the abstract:
We present an advanced two-layer climate model, especially appropriate to calculate the influence of an increasing CO2-concentration and a varying solar activity on global warming. The model describes the atmosphere and the ground as two layers acting simultaneously as absorbers and Planck radiators, and it includes additional heat transfer between these layers due to convection and evaporation. The model considers all relevant feedback processes caused by changes of water vapour, lapse-rate, surface albedo or convection and evaporation. In particular, the influence of clouds with a thermally or solar induced feedback is investigated in some detail. The short- and long-wave absorptivities of the most important greenhouse gases water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and ozone are derived from line-by-line calculations based on the HITRAN08-databasis and are integrated in the model.

And the punchline:
Simulations including an increased solar activity over the last century give a CO2 initiated warming of 0.2 °C and a solar influence of 0.54 °C over this period, corresponding to a CO2 climate sensitivity of 0.6 °C (doubling of CO2) and a solar sensitivity of 0.5 °C (0.1 % increase of the solar constant).

Yep, one thing you'll notice is that this person thinks that different forcings have different sensitivities. Solar forcing is different to CO2 forcing in his "model". His "HITRAN08-databasis" I think refers to the HITRAN molecular spectroscopic database 2008 edition.

Now Anthony Watts claims that Hermann Harde is a "renowned professor of physics and expert on spectroscopy". Seems he's been trying to branch out into climate science. I think he has a bit more learning to do before he will be accepted by anyone but the Anthony Watts of the world.

Professor Harde explains his approach as follows, with some interesting terminology:
In contrast to the RF-concept and the extremely complex AOGCMs here we present an advanced twolayer climate model, especially appropriate to calculate the influence of increasing CO2 concentrations on global warming as well as the impact of solar variations on the climate. The model describes the atmosphere and the ground as two layers acting simultaneously as absorbers and Planck radiators, and it includes additional heat transfer between these layers due to convection and evaporation. At equilibrium both, the atmosphere as well as the ground, release as much power as they suck up from the sun and the neighbouring layer. An external perturbation, e.g., caused by variations of the solar activity or the GH-gases then forces the system to come to a new equilibrium with new temperature distributions for the Earth and the atmosphere.

He drew a picture of his two-layer model in case you're interested. As he said, it consists of the "ground" and the atmosphere and lots of arrows going every which way, which are discussed in the text:

Figure 9. Two-layer climate model of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere
Source: Hermann Harde 2014

The paper is fifty pages long and is full of equations for all sorts of things. It looks as if Hermann attempted a repeat of Svante Arrhenius or maybe Guy Callendar but got lost somewhere along the way. He does include one of Kevin Trenberth's energy budget diagrams.

Eli Rabett came across Hermann's work three and a half years ago, with the same "finding" and using some of the same passages as in this new "paper".  At the time Eli Rabett figured the mistake was in averaging over the atmosphere, writing:
The problem is that there are only two levels. The greenhouse effect is driven by the increase in the height of the atmosphere from which radiation that can be absorbed or emitted by CO2 can reach space. This cannot be captured in a two level model, which, of necessity has to crudely average over a lot of parameters. Of course some of the devil is in the details, such as how much water vapor, clouds, etc is in the second level.

Professor Eli Rabett had much less to go on when he wrote his article.  This much longer paper suggests that's probably not it, or not all of it. In this paper Professor Hermann Harde has sliced and diced all sorts of different ways. He explains:
The model includes short- (sw) and long-wave (lw) scattering processes at the atmosphere and at clouds, in particular it considers multiple scattering and reflection between the surface and clouds. It also includes the common feedback processes like water vapour, lapse rate and albedo feedback, but additionally takes into account temperature dependent sensible and latent heat fluxes as well as a temperature induced and solar induced cloud cover feedback.

There's more. Hermann did calculations for 228 sub-layers (up to 86 km in height) and three climate zones:
Since the concentration of the GH-gases and the atmospheric pressure are changing with temperature and altitude, these calculations are performed for up to 228 sub-layers from ground to 86 km height and additionally for three climate zones, the tropics, mid-latitudes and high-latitudes. Finally, to determine, how these absorptivities change with the CO2 concentration, all these calculations, for the sub-layers and climate zones, are repeated for 14 different concentrations from 0-770 ppm at otherwise same conditions. 

I'm thinking it could be Hermann's reliance on some rather iffy papers about solar forcing combined with assumptions about clouds combined with a lack of understanding of climate and energy budgets.

I'm not going to try to analyse the paper or look for how and where he went wrong. If anyone wants to, here's the link to it again. Hermann took a lot of time and effort to prepare it. It would have paid him to talk to a climate scientist somewhere along the way to figure out how he could get such different results to anyone who knows anything about climate. As it stands, it reads as if he is just another denier looking to minimise the impact of burning fossil fuels, and working backwards from that point.

From the WUWT comments

WUWT readers are not at all particular. Most of them wouldn't know the difference between hockeyschticks and hockey sticks. One or two read the paper and were not all that impressed.

Henry Galt
October 14, 2014 at 3:45 am
Slowly, slowly the co2 CS consensus creeps toward 0.000K. The consensus creeps on the other hand just shriek louder with every drop.

hunter is, I think, referring to Anthony Watts' new "journal". This is a different new "journal".
October 14, 2014 at 3:56 am
Is this the new publication that was discussed here recently?
Let’s see if the paper gets the wide audience it deserves. 

Schrodinger's Cat read the WUWT article at least, and recognises the paper as an attempt to reject known science:
October 14, 2014 at 4:11 am
My first impressions are that it is good to see a spectroscopy expert involved, it appears to be thorough and it doesn’t appear to contain the usual warmist caveats, so it may be refreshingly objective. As many of us suspected, the system responds to warming by increasing convection and other negative feedbacks.
It is also good to see that solar effects are not dismissed out of hand. I doubt if the warmists will welcome this significant contribution to their knowledge and understanding. 
tonyM also recognises the paper for what it is, but knows as little about the new "journal" as I do.
October 14, 2014 at 4:18 am
Wow, just wow. Speechless that it has been allowed to be published!

Joe Born has a question about the treatment of clouds:
October 14, 2014 at 4:46 am
Can someone equipped to understand such things tell us lesser lights how the author arrives at the parameterization by which he (I assume, necessarily) deals with clouds? 

dam1953 can't think beyond money
October 14, 2014 at 4:56 am
Get ready. The warmists, and those who support the agenda expecting future financial reward, will soon pull all stops as they see control and money evaporate.

Richard M
October 14, 2014 at 6:43 am
Still waiting for Mosher to tell us why this can’t be true ….

Chip Javert
October 14, 2014 at 10:53 am
Ok; for the (roughly) 2 millionth time here at WUWT:
Global warming alarmism is … a massive deception… a scientific fraud.

Russ R. wonders why the paper is even being considered at WUWT.
October 14, 2014 at 7:57 am
“We present an advanced two-layer climate model…”
Sorry, but I thought we were supposed to be skeptical of model results…

Rud Istvan didn't like the paper much
October 14, 2014 at 9:32 am
I went and read the entire paper. On the plus side, Table 5 inputs are well founded, and using them innthe absence of feedbacks produces either sensitivity of 1.11 or 1.2 depending on assumptions. Those are the cannonical values, and show that the GHG radiative transfer calculations by layer agree with other much simpler calculations of the zero feedback sensitivity to CO2 doubling.
But the lower feedback sensitivity results from two rather clear conceptual errors.
With respect to water vapor feedback, an incorrect saturation assumtion is made that effectively negated any positive water vapor feedback. The error is two fold. Even saturated layers still reradiate in all directions, so that some of all the absorbed wavelengths will reach the next higher layer, contrary to the explicit assumption made. Second, the number of layers saturated increases (optical depth, ‘top of fog’ rises. That is the classical no feedback mistaken physics.
And cloud feedback is taken to be strongly negative. The derivation is wrong, since it isnot linear as assumed, and the ISCCP observational value is for Cc 66%, not Cc zero. As used in the paper for example equation 77.
 and Curry are quite persuasive. As mathematically intense as this model is, it is not persuasive.

Stephen Rasey
October 14, 2014 at 12:04 pm
According to this, if you reduce the CO2 level to zero, average temps drop only 2 deg C. That seems far too little. What water partial pressure does he propose when CO2 is at zero? Are there no changes in ice caps and albedo?
Or is it that as the CO2 drops, water vapor drops causing a faster drop in albedo via fewer clouds?


  1. Does anyone know if Scientific Online is a reputable journal or not? I found these sentences in the "About" strange. They are poorly worded, at least in English.

    "Meanwhile SOP proofreads and edits every article with full meticulousness. Obviously all above is capital required. Thus you may need to pay a little number of money to make SOP better. Of course we can’t make a fortune out of it. And under affluent circumstance, SOP will publish your articles for free. "

    1. Lol. For most of the editors I'd say English is probably a second or third language or maybe fourth language. The paper by Hermann Harde has some odd expressions, too. He's German.

      The journal's owners/editors might consider co-opting the services of someone who is more fluent in English if they want their journal to succeed and be recognised throughout the scientific world. And they might also consider putting together a portfolio of people qualified to review the papers they publish. And maybe set a word limit.

    2. Scientific Online is on Beall's list of predatory Open Access publishers.

    3. Marco, thanks for that.

      I thought there was a list of journals around somewhere.

      I would like to be good and read the whole paper and judge for myself, but I do not have enough time.

    4. "Obviously all above is capital required. Thus you may need to pay a little number of money to make SOP better."

      It seems like the editors at Scientific Online are also in the Nigerian 419 business. Same style, same wording, ...

    5. One way of telling whether a journal is a respectable one is to look up the h-indices of the editors. If someone has a h-index of 20 it means they have 20 publications which each have at least 20 citations. I'd say something over twenty would be an indication that someone is reasonably well respected in their field (although it varies from one field to another).

      Editors need to be experts in their field with a broad knowledge of the subject and plenty of experience in academic publishing, so that they are able to identify suitable referees and also make a judgement about the paper based on their reports. If you start a new journal without recruiting some top researchers for the editorial board, the journal is unlikely to do well.

    6. It's quite surprising how widespread and insidious fake journals have become.


      "The editorial staff in China was unwilling to integrate the scholars on the Editorial Board into the decision-making process regarding the review, acceptance, and publication of articles."

    8. Online publishing is becoming a joke. I receive that least 2 requests/week to either submit a manuscript or (even worse) be on the editorial board of some online journal often completely unrelated to my area of interest. My last exposure to an online journal (one that is not predatory) showed me that its not difficult to publish questionable work. The bottom line is that online publishing is often more about the money paid to have a paper published that the quality of the paper. Unfortunately that those that have established a respectable reputation seem to charge the most!

    9. I just told a predatory publisher that there's no way in hell I will publish with them, since they a) hide their location (no, you do not live in suit #140 of a small one-story building - and that phone number has the wrong area code), and b) asked me to publish on fundamental research on plants in a journal that has nothing to do with plants! - apart from the fact I don't do research on plants, not even close.

      The predatory publishers are really bad, and I can't understand why so many scientists fall for them.

    10. Marco, that's not surprising that they are a predatory publisher. Just read their FAQ. They can't even proofread their own website. It's rather poor English.

      Also their Service address is 498 W. Alton St., Nashville, IL 62263, UNITED STATES

      It’s a single family home in a residential area in Nashville Illinois. It shares the same address as a Chinese company which sells anticorrosive paint.

      Directions - Fangdai Wen - SINA COVA - 498 W Alton St , nashville, IL, 62263

      Nothing suspicious about that publisher at all. *grin*

  2. Did not take long for Watts to dump Lewis & Curry (2014) down the memory hole. There was no way that an ECS with a 5 – 95% confidence interval of 1.1–4.1K was ever going to be politically acceptable to that group of science deniers. Too close to the IPCC range and still required carbon mitigation.

  3. Authors of papers finding absurdly low ECS values should ask themselves how their results fit with known paleoclimate variability. When their results fail this sanity check, they should go back to their methodology with a properly sceptical and self-critical attitude.

    It's why they *don't* that mystifies me.

  4. "Ehemalige" just means former employee. That does not tell us any more than that he worked there once. Maybe because he is listed on their homepage you could translate it as: alumni. It does not automatically carry the right to use that affiliation, but if (part of) the work was done while he was still there, it may be reasonable to mention this as affiliation.

  5. But I thought Anthony didn't trust models? Hmmm I wonder why this one is different?


    Same Hermann Harde? Same subject?

    1. Yes. I referenced that in my article above.

  7. It seems likely that if you have a potentially breakthrough paper with merit, you would try to publish it in a prominent journal.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. It wasn't me that removed the comment, Harry. Jammy (the author) did that himself, probably after he saw I got the message :)

    2. Ah, I didn't notice the difference in the "removed" message. Thanks for the link Jammy, I was waiting for them to post the video.

  9. Heh heh. It's gratifying to see that my question to Eli prompted the blog entry that anonymous @12:35 AM links to above.

    I see also that raypierre himself popped up in the comments section, referring to his Physics Today article, which is, I believe, a real masterpiece. Speaking as a fellow physical scientist, I think that Ray is pretty much God, only smarter*. Also a wonderful person to talk to if you ever get a chance.

    *That's hyperbole, but still.


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