Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kevin Trenberth's microwaves are disgusting...

Sou | 6:23 PM Go to the first of 3 comments. Add a comment

Manfred, over at WUWT, says a microwave grill is disgusting:
February 19, 2014 at 8:23 pm (excerpt)
The microwave grill is in one disgusting league with the Hiroshima bomb analogy.

I've never seen a microwave grill. I used to have a combined microwave/grill oven, but it wasn't the microwaves that did the grilling.  The oven didn't really grill either.  It was a pseudo-grill.  One might argue the process was analogous to a grill but not really.  It was nothing like a barbecue grill :D

Does Manfred do any cooking I wonder? Maybe, given his comment, Manfred is a vegetarian who has never cooked with a microwave oven.

Anyway, what Manfred was complaining about was an analogy made by Kevin Trenberth to describe how much the earth is warming.  Kevin Trenberth was reported by Roger Pielke Sr as saying (archived here):
You can add up how much of that heat there is and over a six month period it’s equivalent to running a very small microwave over every square foot at full power for about ½ hour

Roger, with a lot of repetition, said that Dr Trenberth said the above "in the discussion on added heat during droughts that is due to the increase of atmospheric CO2".  I couldn't get the broadcast to work, so I can't vouch for whether that's what Dr Trenberth said or the context.  But that's not the main point of this article.  My point is that Roger Pielke Sr feld so strongly about this analogy that he wrote an article for Anthony Watts pseudo-science blog trying to dispute it.

Roger wrote that it was "scientifically wrong for several reasons".  Let's look at his reasons:
First, the reduction of long wave radiation emitted to Space due to the added CO2 occurs over the six month time period, not in a short duration burst. Clearly, a short ½ burst of such heat would have a very different effect than when this heat is distributed across a six month time period.

I think he meant to write "a short ½ hour burst".  And he'd be correct.  It would have a very different effect.  But I don't see that as a reason to complain about the analogy.  Dr Trenberth was wanting to help people understand how much energy is being retained on earth because of global warming.  His analogy would work for many people.

Roger's next objection was as follows:
Second, the effect of long wave radiative flux divergence on surface temperatures from added CO2 (or other greenhouse gas including water vapor) is much larger at night. This is because during daylight, most of the time, vertical turbulent mixing dominates. The atmospheric boundary layer is typically much deeper during the daytime, so that added heat from the increase of CO2 is distributed through a much deeper depth. While the effect on nighttime minimum temperatures can be significant as we showed in our paper

This was a chance for Roger to give a plug to a paper he co-authored.  It seems to me to have little to no relevance to the analogy made by Dr Trenberth.  Roger complained that: "Kevin did not properly inform the audience how the added heat would be processed differently during the day and night."  Was the audience all agog waiting for an explanation of how the "added heat was processed"?  It looks to me as if Roger has missed the point and is making a mountain out of a molehill and is barking up the wrong tree - to use a bunch of analogies :)

Roger's used his third complaint in the same manner, to plug another paper he co-authored.  This paper was about the biological effect of doubling atmospheric CO2.  The authors modelled (Horror of horrors! Oh My! How could they?) the impact on central grasslands of the USA.  Again, I don't see the direct relevance.  Roger seemed to think it was relevant, however.  He wrote:
The ½ hour of added heat from the microwave forcing that Kevin presented, when properly input over the entire growing season would only result in a trivial effect on maximum temperature (ie. The hottest part of the day)!

Interesting that in complaining about the analogy Roger himself used the analogy.  That doesn't seem very logical to me.  Nor is it terribly relevant to the point Dr Trenberth was reportedly making, which was simply to help people visualise how much extra energy is being retained on earth by the added CO2.

From the WUWT comments

Roger's article dropped like the proverbial lead ballon at WUWT (to use another analogy).  Even sillier than Roger's complaints was the reaction at WUWT (archived here):

Pamela Gray doesn't see the point of Roger's article and says:
February 19, 2014 at 7:46 pm
So basically, in spite of a poor analogy, all this is supposed to show up at night, and a bit during the day, and in large scale weather patterns. Sorry. I just don’t see it. And I don’t buy it. It seems to me that the two of them are arguing over the size of the cooties on a gnat’s head.

Firey says irrelevantly:
February 19, 2014 at 8:04 pm
Oh, I thought it was hiding in the deep ocean.

Truthseeker says:
February 19, 2014 at 8:10 pm
Stick with the stuff that matters – land use and weather event mitigation choices. Talking about the disputed effect of trace gases in a free flowing atmosphere is arguing about the insignificant with regard to the pointless.

rgbatduke says that heat magically disappears out of the system (excerpt - as usual, the batty duke has much, much more to say than this:
February 19, 2014 at 8:17 pm
There is little point to an analogy such as this one. Suppose one DID run a microwave oven for half an hour on every square foot of the planet. Is there anyone who thinks that any of that additional heat would still be around in, say, six months? Exponential decay back to the running not-exactly equilibrium is the only thing that would be observed, with a time constant of at most hours.

Rud Istvan (who has been favoured by Judith Curry) says that Roger Senior should keep Roger Junior in line:
February 19, 2014 at 8:27 pm
The stupid burns. See rgbatduke lest you cannot grok for yourselves.
RP sr, how did you not counsel JR into not getting into such a situation.
Debating with morons cannot end well. Never did, never will.

And how's this for radiating a convective mess from the mountains to the oceans - from jmorpuss who says:
February 19, 2014 at 10:07 pm
@ Hysteria
The pause lines are were the atmosphere stops working up and down (convection) and air moves north south (conduction) these pause lines are electromagnetic field lines and create a closed system NO greenhouse effect without this process. As man digs away the crust we speed up the natural radiative decay process created by the 6000k core. Winds at the surface are created by the interaction of aerosols positive ions (high pressure system) working in the down direction and electrons negative ions (low pressure system) working in the up direction . There is a scattering from mountain ranges and land mass both in the atmosphere and oceans because of rotation.

Eastman, Joseph L., Michael B. Coughenour, and Roger A. Pielke. "The regional effects of CO2 and landscape change using a coupled plant and meteorological model." Global Change Biology 7, no. 7 (2001): 797-815. DOI: 10.1046/j.1354-1013.2001.00411.x

McNider, R. T., G. J. Steeneveld, A. A. M. Holtslag, R. A. Pielke, S. Mackaro, A. Pour‐Biazar, J. Walters, U. Nair, and J. Christy. "Response and sensitivity of the nocturnal boundary layer over land to added longwave radiative forcing." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (1984–2012) 117, no. D14 (2012).  doi:10.1029/2012JD017578


  1. I have mentioned before that deniers never get the concept of the earth's energy budget, and that no matter how you try and simplify it with analogies, they still never get it. To do so would require something that deniers severely lack, comprehension.

    What they don't and will never understand, is that as Hansen said in his book, a sustained positive imbalance of only a few watts per square meters WILL, given enough time, melt all the ice on the planet.

    But again, it's the rapidity of the changes that is the most challenging.

    ""Some of the human-induced changes are occurring 100 times faster than they occur in nature," Trenberth says. "And this is one of the things that worries me more than climate change itself. It's actually the rate of change that's most worrying."

    Ecosystems are not prepared for this jolt. And neither, he argues, are many human endeavors, built around assumptions about how hot it's going to be, how much it's going to rain on our croplands, and how high the seas will rise."

    But of course, your average denier when confronted with the facts, will automatically go into 'denier mode' and start listening to their Morton's daemon. They become incensed, 'You're all just a bunch of ideologically crazed alarmists', they will scream. But they have now been doing this for so long now, that the rest of the population just go, ho hum, not again. It's probably why some of them go onto science based sites and scream with all their might, but never get any traction. Their moment in the sun was a few years ago, but they never got the memo that the rest of the world has already moved on. They just end up being a pathetic shadow of their former selves. Doesn't stop them though. They are obsessed with their ideology and with missionary zeal will continue with their proselytising. Quite sad really, to have such zealotry for such a baseless ideology.

  2. After some time, the broadcast suddenly started working for me.


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