Friday, December 19, 2014

Wondering Willis Eschenbach looks for sunlight in the Arctic winter - yeah, really!

Anthony Watts posted a press release from AGU14. That's all the "scientific" reporting he's capable of I'd say. The articles he's written himself are science-free, but he has managed a couple of press releases (he didn't have to go to any AGU meeting to copy and paste a press release).

Anyway, one of the press releases was from NASA, which you can read in full here. Or if you prefer, you can read it on the archive of Anthony's blog here. Here's an extract (my emphasis):
NASA satellite instruments have observed a marked increase in solar radiation absorbed in the Arctic since the year 2000 – a trend that aligns with the steady decrease in Arctic sea ice during the same period.
While sea ice is mostly white and reflects the sun’s rays, ocean water is dark and absorbs the sun’s energy at a higher rate. A decline in the region’s albedo – its reflectivity, in effect – has been a key concern among scientists since the summer Arctic sea ice cover began shrinking in recent decades. As more of the sun’s energy is absorbed by the climate system, it enhances ongoing warming in the region, which is more pronounced than anywhere else on the planet.
Since the year 2000, the rate of absorbed solar radiation in the Arctic in June, July and August has increased by five percent, said Norman Loeb, of NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia. The measurement is made by NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments, which fly on multiple satellites.
While a five percent increase may not seem like much, consider that the rate globally has remained essentially flat during that same time. No other region on Earth shows a trend of potential long-term change.
When averaged over the entire Arctic Ocean, the increase in the rate of absorbed solar radiation is about 10 Watts per square meter. This is equivalent to an extra 10-watt light bulb shining continuously over every 10.76 square feet of Arctic Ocean for the entire summer.
Regionally, the increase is even greater, Loeb said. Areas such as the Beaufort Sea, which has experienced the some of the most pronounced decreases in sea-ice coverage, show a 50 watts per square meter increase in the rate of absorbed solar radiation. 

The Arctic Ocean is absorbing more of the sun's energy in recent years as white, reflective sea ice melts and darker ocean waters are exposed. The increased darker surface area during the Arctic summer is responsible for a 5 percent increase in absorbed solar radiation since 2000.
Image Credit: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio/Lori Perkins

Wondering Willis Wonders why they didn't look in winter time

This got perpetual wonderer Willis Eschenbach thinking and he went to his personal store of CERES data to see if he could prove the scientists (who don't know nuffin') wrong. Here is what he said and I quote:
...Now, to start with they’ve done something strange. Rather than look at the changes over the whole year, they’ve only looked at three months of the year, June, July, and August. I disagree strongly with this kind of analysis, for a couple of reasons. The first is because it allows for nearly invisible cherry picking, by simply choosing the months with a particular desired effect. The second is that it makes it hard to determine statistical significance, since there are 12 possible 3-month contiguous chunks that they could choose from … which means that you need to find a much greater effect to claim significance.
So I’m not going to follow that plan. I’m looking at what happens over the whole year, since that’s what really matters. ... 

I read that and then I read it again. I couldn't really believe what I was reading. I wasn't alone. This is what appeared in the comments:

December 17, 2014 at 11:47 pm
Now, to start with they’ve done something strange. Rather than look at the changes over the whole year, they’ve only looked at three months of the year, June, July, and August.
Its dark in the Arctic in winter time. Good luck looking for changes in reflected light in perpetual darkness. 


  1. It's a bit like searching for reflected knowledge or understanding at wuwt?

    1. Yep, too true.

      The other thing being, of course, that you're not going to find much change in the amount of open ocean in the Arctic in winter time in the years since 2000. Maybe later this century, but not for a while yet.

    2. I had that thought too and even said so, which I think I'm going to have to eat. This isn't about that though. The net annual change is what we're after of course, but the press release is all about looking for the distal not proximal causes. Willis won't find it looking at monthly data over the entire year across the entire Arctic, period, because there isn't soot everywhere, it isn't evenly distributed and it only gets things started.

      He's gone and done a reverse cherry-pick which gives me gigglefits every time I think about it.

  2. considering that arctic sea ice is declining through all months and all seasons, what does Willis expect solar absorption data of those months to show other than an increase?


  3. The effect of reduced ice cover on absorbed solar (shortwave) is a no-brainer (except for Willis?) However, the *net* annual change in ocean heat gain is a little trickier since open water also *loses* heat (longwave) more efficiently, so autumn heat loss will increase, partly offsetting SW gain in summer. The thinning winter ice pack also means increased losses in winter, by increasing conduction through the ice. The result is an annual-averaged change in ocean heat that is closer to 1 W/m^2.

    1. PL

      I was wondering (!) about that myself. Thanks for putting some numbers on it but is there by any chance a reference? I have a dim recollection that Gavin Schmidt might have said something about this a year or two back, but I can't find it.

    2. I like 1 W/m^2 a lot better than 10 for the annual number, something that's not exactly clear in the press release. I skimmed a couple papers which might have some useful background:

      Stroeve 2014
      Perovich 2007

      Both Wiley, both open access.

    3. @BBD: The papers I'd start with are

      Tietsche et al. (2011)

      Serreze et al. (2007)

      Kwok and Untersteiner (2011)

      The last one is really about the imbalance of heat fluxes (ocean + atmosphere/radiative) on sea ice mass balance. Not exactly "net ocean heat balance" but, if the upper ocean was much more out of balance on an annual cycle, sea ice would probably disappear faster than it is.

      Also look at Serreze and Barry (2011)

      I haven't read this. Quick look suggests it isn't very quantitative, but might be interesting.

    4. The +10W/m^2 (and +50W/m^2) were only for summer time, not all year around. Or that's how I read it. (If it were all year around we'd be toast!)

    5. PL and Brandon

      Thank you for the links. Much appreciated.

    6. Sou, I guess my original post was simply to point out how I could understand that a careless reading of a paper citing only what's happening in summer could be "cherry picking" or "alarmist", since almost all of the recent excess summer heat gain is being lost in fall/winter for the same reasons (thin/absent ice). The number to watch is the annual average *anomaly* net heat flux (SW+LW+...) which is inferred to be or order ~1 W/m^2 based on sea ice changes but cannot possibly be measured to that accuracy.

      I'm not defending Willis, but true good-faith skeptics might also be confused and suspect "alarmist" cherry-picking.

  4. The press release also contains a classical mistake. It hurts more every time you read such a statement.

    "When averaged over the entire Arctic Ocean, the increase in the rate of absorbed solar radiation is about 10 Watts per square meter. This is equivalent to an extra 10-watt light bulb shining continuously over every 10.76 square feet of Arctic Ocean for the entire summer."

    The efficiency of a light bulb is just a few percent. Thus if you talk about shining, it is a lot more. Even if you do not talk explicitly about shining, people will think about the light, especially when you talk about solar radiation. Thus, please stop using the light bulb analogy.


    1. I take your point, Victor. However what people imagine probably depends on the light bulb they use. My 10W light bulbs put out almost as much light as an old 60W light bulb used to do.

    2. :) Yes, the problem is getting smaller. The old ones were less than 5%, the new ones about 20, maybe a bit more. That is still a factor five off. And this analogy was already used in the time that there were only incandescent light bulbs.

    3. Victor, my DNA encoded inner German engineer greatly appreciated your comment.

    4. My first thought on "light bulb of heat" kinds of analogies is that light bulbs are hot.

      I still occasionally put my hand on the LED bulbs I've installed and wonder at how cool they run.

    5. It does not matter what sort of hypothetical 'globe' one uses as an analogy, or even an electric motor or low temperature heating element. What is important is that a 10 Watt anything dissipates 10 joules per second of energy which all ends up as finally as heat added to the system.
      The confusion comes in because an electrical source of energy has a higher Q or quality than mere broad spectrum radiation. In other words the energy available in an electrical energy source can do far more work than mere low level heat for the exact same power rating or watts.
      A ten watt heating element produces ten watts of heat.
      A ten watt reversible heat engine i.e. air conditioner can pump or move thirty watts of energy from a hot/cold source to a cold/hot sink. Yes folks your 1.5 kW air conditioner can produce up to about 4.5 kW of heating or cooling inside your house. This is dependent on the temperature difference. Obviously as the temperature difference increases the efficiency goes down until the air conditioner fails. This is due to the working fluid parameters.
      This is the trouble with analogies as it is very easy to hijack the analogy by pointing to the intrinsic parameters of the object . Which can then confuse the issue with all sorts of irrelevant red herrings.
      This is why deniers with little or no knowledge of science can expound a myriad of nonsense theories ad infinitum, secure in the knowledge that they are correct. This is delusion 101. Bert

    6. The math would be much quicker. With bulb and ice in a sealed, insulated box with the ice kept above the meltwater, how long would it take? I'm afraid I have no idea what the numbers are :(

    7. Every Aussie knows that the ice in the esky will mostly melt by morning. This can only happen due to heat or energy getting in through the eskies walls.
      Only an idiot will say their esky has not warmed up! I have seen seasoned drinkers denying the warmth of their tinnies.
      Denial is a human trait where we just make up stuff.
      As for simple models of the Arctic I just gave you one.
      We are in deep trouble as the situation is far worse than the worst predictions.
      We have just identified with experimental proof that Dark Energy and Dark Matter is about 96% of the Universe. The numpties would say scientists know nothing.
      My retort is we do not stop asking questions. The numpties are floundering in their total ignorance.
      I find Sou's blog quite entertaining as she demolishes the morons and idiots with surgical precision.
      I put in my whack where I can. Bert

  5. Well Eschenbach's analysis makes no sense whatsoever. But the paper isn't well done either. E's rant about the number of 3 month periods in a year is just dumb as you obviously only need to consider the months with substantive sunlight. That's pretty much from the spring equinox to the fall equinox:

    So in my opinion the paper fails because it excludes a considerable time period where there is significant insolation. But more importantly, that period of time has a completely different albedo due to the change in angle of incidence:

    So the first question I want to know is what happens to absorption with the change in the amount of open water due to the clear decline in ice extent. Logic says this missed days in the study would show less absorption, but I'd rather measure it and know for certain. Seems to me they went to a lot of work and left out what could be significant data.

    E says he has the data, you'd think he would have explored that. Unless he did?

  6. While I agree that in the total sense it is the sum total effect on earth that is important, this paper is only looking at what may be contributing to the sum total, in order to better understand it. Timing (summer - less ice) and impact (more ice melt) will have a flow on to all the other parts of the world affected by the changes in the Arctic. The way I read it is that this is looking not at what happens spread out over a full year in the Arctic (which is another matter), it's what happens over summer that will generate feedbacks affecting the Arctic and elsewhere.

    The point of the analysis is probably best described in this part of the press release:

    Kay and colleagues have also analyzed satellite observations of Arctic clouds during this same 15-year period. Kay’s research shows summer cloud amounts and vertical structure are not being affected by summer sea ice loss. While surprising, the observations show that the bright sea ice surface is not automatically replaced by bright clouds. Indeed, sea ice loss, not clouds, explain the increases in absorbed solar radiation measured by CERES.

    Increasing absorbed solar radiation is causing multiple changes in the sea ice cover, said Walt Meier, a sea ice scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. Two of those changes include the timing of the beginning of the melt season each year and the loss of older, thicker sea ice.

    The onset of the melt season in the high Arctic is now on average seven days earlier than it was in 1982, Meier said. Earlier melting can lead to increased solar radiation absorption. This is one step in a potential feedback cycle of warming leading to melting, melting leading to increased solar radiation absorption, and increased absorption leading to enhanced warming.

    Since 2000, the Arctic has lost 1.4 million square kilometers (541,000 square miles) of older ice that is more than 3 meters thick, which during winter has essentially been replaced by ice that is less than 2 meters thick, according to data provided by Mark Tschudi at the University of Colorado. Once again, Meier said, this trend is a step in a feedback cycle.

    “Having younger and thus thinner ice during winter makes the system more vulnerable to ice loss during the summer melt season,” Meier said.

    Note also that:

    While these CERES measurements could ultimately become another of those signs of dramatic climate change, right now scientists say they have obtained the bare minimum of a data record needed to discern what’s happening over the long term.

    Getting data beyond 15 years will allow scientists to better assess if recent trend falls outside the realm of natural variability, said Jennifer Kay, an atmospheric scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research and Environmental Science at the University of Colorado.

    1. The onset of the melt season in the high Arctic is now on average seven days earlier than it was in 1982, Meier said. Earlier melting can lead to increased solar radiation absorption.

      I would have a whole lot more confidence in that assertion if they had shown results for the same time period.

    2. What results for what same time period, DMH? Are you wanting to look at melt onset? No-one would argue with that statement of Walt Meier's.
      1) Ice is starting to melt earlier.

      The article suggests that clouds aren't replacing ice as a reflector therefore:
      2) A larger area of exposed ocean means more solar radiation absorption.

      In case you are questioning the early onset, this chart has all the years since 1981:

      Remove the average 1981-2010 curve and compare 1981, 82 and other years early in the period with years after 2000.

      The melting onset is clearly happening earlier.

    3. (It does depend on what you regard as the start of the onset. The peak ice period looks to have been earlier in the 1980s, but the melt is faster in more recent years.)

  7. They make claims about the on set of ice melt and what that implies, but their results are for a much later time in the year. If they want to make a claim about what the effect is of an earlier melt season, then they should show measured absorption for the early part of the melt season to back that claim up.

    1. The research was about what is happening over summer - in June, July and August leading up to the minimum ice extent. The ice melt minima is September - which is "a later time of the year". The fact is that in the earlier part of the melt season, the ice extent is still fairly high. It's hard to study the impact of solar radiation on open ocean when much of the ocean isn't open - it's still covered in ice.

      You are trying to read too much into this. Look instead at what they *did* study and what they *did* find and how they interpreted it. If you want to do another piece of research then do it, or read about what other research other people have done that is more to your liking.

      (Why is it that people so often complain that a piece of research isn't studying what they wanted to study? Instead the scientists studied something a bit different. Willis Eschenbach is one who tends to complain about that, too.)

    2. To expand - the ice extent on 1 June is around the same as it is in mid-December. It drops rapidly from early June through to mid-September before expanding rapidly again as the season turns.

    3. because in this instance what hey didn't study is very likely as big as what they did study. If we want to know how much extra energy the arctic absorbs, then the ONLY way to do it is to study the entire period where significant insolation exists to be absorbed. Since they didn't do that, their results are far less informative than they could be. What we can glean about affects in the big picture on a global and annual basis are severely constrained by not having this additional rather significant time period. There's no grounds for not including argued in the paper, and none that I can think of to not include it from a physics perspective (in fact the opposite). So they raise more questions than they answer as a consequence.

    4. You just made that one up, didn't you, DMH. It's called "talking through your hat".

      Are you claiming that less ice leads to less absorption of solar radiation? More ice reflects more solar radiation, not less.

      What the scientists are measuring is the absorption of solar radiation. They are taking measurements to quantify what difference less ice makes over the summer period, when there is a bigger expanse of open ocean. They know if all other things are equal that it makes a difference. They are taking measurements to find out how much difference. They are also looking to see if other things are changing that would exacerbate or offset the difference - like bright clouds. It's slow and careful research and it's too soon to tell the extent to which this is governed by internal variability or global change.

      You don't like it? You are impatient? You ought instead be thankful that someone is watching your back. Take it for what it is, not what it is not.

      I have a feeling that you are arguing for the sake of argument, not because you have a decent argument to put (which you don't - as far as I can see).

      BTW you keep talking about a paper. Is there a paper? All I saw was a press release. If you have a link that would be good.

    5. Sou,

      This has been my project of the day and the learning curve has approached the steepness of a wall. I'll share one plot that I'm somewhat happy with:

      The curves are the net up/down SWR and LWR, with upwelling being the negatively signed values in my sums. I bracketed the JJA summer months for comparison. This plot doesn't show it explicitly, but it's very obvious in the data that LW flux lags SW as would be expected. In short JJA is clearly where most of the action happens, but we already knew that because the people doing the work aren't idiots contrary to popular belief.

      This is data processed through various radiative models with a bunch of infilling and interpolations, documentation with links to the data here:

      I have tried, and failed, to do integrated summertime time series plots for each flux category by year that I'm happy with. I can say LW fluxes are rising, no shocker. Downwelling SW seems to be increasing slightly ... perhaps suggesting less cloud cover? Upwelling SW is decreasing suggesting more absorption. Again, no shocker, but surely mostly what I'm picking up is from open ocean not ice albedo reduction from black carbon.

      I'm not getting anywhere close to the high rates of change quoted in the press release.

    6. "If we want to know how much extra energy the arctic absorbs, then the ONLY way to do it is to study the entire period where significant insolation exists to be absorbed."

      When did this 'law of arctic observations' get established, and did whoever was responsible for it win a prize? Can you direct us to wherever the originator published his work?

    7. You just made that one up, didn't you, DMH. It's called "talking through your hat".

      Do you want to discuss the science or insult me? This is an energy balance study, an are in which I have expertise, though it may have been 20+ years since I applied it.

      Are you claiming that less ice leads to less absorption of solar radiation? More ice reflects more solar radiation, not less.

      Yes it does. More open water though absorbs more at high angles of incidence, and less at low angles of incidence. So who much the area as a total absorbs versus some normal period cannot be quantified without measuring the whole period of significant insolation over both ice and water.

      What the scientists are measuring is the absorption of solar radiation.

      Over a restricted time period which is not representative of the system as a whole.

      They are taking measurements to quantify what difference less ice makes over the summer period, when there is a bigger expanse of open ocean. They know if all other things are equal that it makes a difference. They are taking measurements to find out how much difference. They are also looking to see if other things are changing that would exacerbate or offset the difference - like bright clouds. It's slow and careful research and it's too soon to tell the extent to which this is governed by internal variability or global change.

      And they left out a large time period in which albedo changes of the changing ice versus sea area dominate the system. You can't study traffic on a bridge by only counting the cars during rush hour on days when there is no construction.

      You don't like it? You are impatient? You ought instead be thankful that someone is watching your back. Take it for what it is, not what it is not.

      Huh? Someone is studying an energy balance system and they've done a p*ss poor job of it. Willis critiqued it and did a p*ss poor job of that. None of which has anything to do with watching my back,

      I have a feeling that you are arguing for the sake of argument, not because you have a decent argument to put (which you don't - as far as I can see).

      I've pointed out that there is significant insolation outside the period of study, and absorption of same is affected by both the change in ice area versus water as well as the change in albedo over the course of the year over ice versus water. You can't quantify energy absorbed by any given system without studying these effects along with the ones they cite. I'm making the same point over and over again, I am sorry if what I am explaining isn't making sense to you, but it IS how one goes about studying energy balance in open systems.

      BTW you keep talking about a paper. Is there a paper? All I saw was a press release. If you have a link that would be good.

      I assumed the press release was from a paper. I relied on the claims in the press release to point out the flaws in the claims. As I pointed out, they even go so far as to make claims about a time period for which they didn't collect data. Perhaps the paper (if such actually exists) addresses these issues properly and it is just being poorly explained by press secretaries or something.

      Willis being dead wrong about the study/paper/press release doesn't make the paper right.

    8. DMH - You haven't pointed out flaws in the study. All you've done is say that they didn't report what you are interested in (if you really are interested, which you may or may not be. You seem to be more interested in telling us how the scientist "don't know nuffin'" - which I find a bit D-K of you given the scientists involved).

      The press release wasn't about energy balance, it was about how much solar radiation is being absorbed in the Arctic in summer. If you want to use the results in energy balance research over a year, you have to do what PL did above. If you want to do it over the whole earth, there are other studies that have done that.

      Like I said, you seem to be wanting the report to be about something different to what it was. You want an energy balance study. You are interested in the net flux over a year. Tough. Just take the report for what it is and then either do your own research or read some of the references cited by other people above.

      This was looking at a particular aspect - the change in the rate of solar energy absorbed in the Arctic over the period 2000-2014. That's it. Want more? Do what Brandon has done.

      Or if you're at AGU you can go and listen to Norman Loeb of NASA Langley Research Center give a presentation later today. (It isn't on Virtual Options.) You'll here his speak on this work plus more that they've been doing, which might be more to your liking.

      GC54C-03 Recent Changes in Earth’s Energy Budget As Observed By CERES

      A central objective of the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) is to produce a long-term climate data record of Earth’s radiation budget at the top-of-atmosphere, within-atmosphere and surface together with coincident cloud, aerosol and surface properties. CERES relies on a number of data sources, including broadband CERES radiometers on Terra, Aqua, and Suomi-NPP, high-resolution spectral imagers (MODIS and VIIRS), geostationary visible/infrared imagers, meteorological, aerosol and ozone assimilation data, and snow/sea-ice maps based on microwave radiometer data. The many input data sets are integrated and cross-calibrated to provide a consistent climate data record that accurately captures variations in Earth’s radiation budget and associated cloud, aerosol and surface properties over a range of time and space scales. The CERES datasets are primarily used for climate model evaluation, process studies and climate monitoring.
      This presentation will review some of the ways in which the CERES record along with other datasets have been used to improve our understanding Earth’s energy budget. At the top-of-atmosphere, we will show how Earth’s energy imbalance, a critical indictor of climate change, has varied during the past 15 years relative to what is observed by in-situ observations of ocean heat content by the Argo observing system. We will use these results to place the so-called global warming hiatus into a larger context that takes Earth’s energy budget into account. We will also discuss how recent advances in surface radiation budget estimation by the CERES group is reshaping the debate on why the surface energy budget cannot be closed to better than 15 Wm-2 using state-of-the-art observations. Finally, we will highlight the dramatic changes that have been observed by CERES over the Arctic Ocean, and discuss some of the yet unresolved observational challenges that limit our ability document change in this unique part of the planet.

      Or wait to see if there is a paper on this at some stage, which there may well be.

      Or look up Google Scholar or Web of Science to see what other research has been published on the topic.

    9. DMH, it's standard practice in any science for most studies to be focused on one or a few mechanisms in a given system. With climate that is all but unavoidable since the system is so large and complex. Read any paper on the Arctic (there are 5 upthread, plus what Sou just suggested) and you will find a long list of references to prior work the authors cite as the basis for their present assumptions in the current work.

      The experts behind this press release -- I don't think there's an actual paper involved -- have done their homework. Long ago they asked the same questions you are asking, found answers to them, and are now looking to extend our knowledge by looking in greater detail at an as yet poorly understood mechanism in the Arctic they think may be playing an important part in the overall process.

      What I'm hearing is that you think *we* don't recognize that what goes on in the Arctic is the sum of all inputs and outputs year round, but instead of just saying that and asking your questions you're putting people here on the hook to defend the true experts for something we recognize as perfectly standard, necessary, scientific practice.

      I'd rather you tell me I'm a dope for not thinking of something because I can defend that since I know what I've read and/or thought about. Or, I can and will tell you that I'm a dope for not having asked that question and thank you for raising the point. That's the beginning of a good discussion and an exchange of knowledge.

    10. Brandon, I'm thinking you're looking for a shift in SW at the surface from around 195 W/m^2 to 205 W/M^2 over the 14 year period (JJA) - would that be in the ball park? (I don't know - that's just a rough calculation. It seems to be in the ballpark of what I've read elsewhere, though maybe a tad on the high side of earlier papers - but that's to be expected I suppose.)

    11. Sou, some of the numbers I come up with are tantalizingly close, but something doesn't feel right with my math ... the numbers are acting "weird" which is a technical term that means I don't know what these data all mean or exactly what the hell I'm really looking at.

    12. I see DMH's point here, that really we're most interested in how the *total* annual cycle is disrupted by change in timing of sea ice loss rather than the specifics of one season. I don't think that deserves snark or accusations of bad faith. On the other hand, as other people say, scientists routinely zoom in on one problem at a time, and shouldn't have to solve the entire system before reporting what they know. Other people can then integrate all the facts into a system perspective.

      The big problem here, I think, is "science by press release". In this case it refers, apparently, to a presentation at AGU, not a peer-reviewed paper with all the supporting documentation and cites. The press release should always embed a link to the actual presentation so that people like DMH see the scientists' take on the problem rather than the press office's write-up.

    13. PL, I'll double down on not being exactly happy with that release.

      Sou, PS, I have been looking at LW and SW separately and netted out. What's frustrating me is that I can see them changing but without clear pattern and I don't know why ... so many other factors that CERES may or may not be able to give me. There are clear secular trends however, even over 15 years. Definitely not conclusive, but compelling.

    14. SouDecember 20, 2014 at 1:23 AM
      DMH - You haven't pointed out flaws in the study. All you've done is say that they didn't report what you are interested in

      What they purport to be interested in is the change in energy absorbed due to the loss of sea ice which is what I am interested in. They did not quantify that period of time during which sea ice loss is likely to provide a negative rather than a positive feedback. So, lacking that information, I don't know (and neither do they) what the total change in energy absorption caused by a reduction in sea ice is.

      If you're going to call people like me a D-K for pointing that out, then you'll very quickly find your blog turning into an echo chamber that is just the polar opposite of the echo chamber over at WUWT.

    15. Brandon, you're a much braver person than I to even attempt to try to work out SW at the surface.

    16. DMH you are the one who keeps saying the scientists got it wrong. Yet you keep claiming they were trying to measure something other than what they wrote about and *therefore* they were wrong. (And you seem to be shifting ground there, too). It doesn't follow.

      All they were commenting on was that there has been an increase in solar energy absorbed over the past fourteen years in JJA. They made no comment on the net nor did they discuss feedbacks, except for a single mention of research like this helping to assess potential feedbacks. The only other bit of actual research that was mentioned was about bright clouds.

      I can see you're not alone in being frustrated that they haven't answered all your questions. But to try to say that what they did write about was wrong - well I don't agree. You might not have found it interesting. Maybe no-one else found it interesting apart from the researchers and myself. I don't know.

      I don't agree with PL that there was anything wrong in what they've written or the press release, except I agree it would have been more useful if they linked to the AGU presentation. The press release seemed to be fairly clear and straightforward to me.

      (You can hardly complain about the D-K comment while you've been going on about "the scientists don't know nuffin'".)

    17. (You can hardly complain about the D-K comment while you've been going on about "the scientists don't know nuffin'".)

      I never said any such thing. YOU said that I said that. YOU put those words in my mouth and then YOU called me a D_K for them.

      Goodbye Sou. Welcome to your self made echo chamber.

    18. Probably for the best. Thing is I do recall DMH going on an on about a non-existent paper being an energy balance paper (when it wasn't a paper and it wasn't doing an energy balance) and writing all about where the scientists went wrong, for example:

      "Huh? Someone is studying an energy balance system and they've done a p*ss poor job of it. "

    19. Sou, I didn't say there was anything wrong in the press release: I just argue against "science by press release". In general, a press release should only follow publication of peer-reviewed science, with a link to that science accessible to the public. (That is, at a minimum, if a paper is worthy of a press release, the press-releasing agency should pay the bucks to make it open access.)

      In the present case, NASA was just "advertising" a presentation at AGU. It's interesting, but AGU presentations range from "I just started doing the sums, and would like feedback" to "the paper is in press (or even just published)". Press releases are not appropriate for work that hasn't yet been given the most basic assessment by peer review.

    20. That's a fair point, PL. I agree with you on that.

    21. Sou, that paper confirms what I was beginning to realize before retiring last night ... that I am seriously out of my depth. It is, however a fantastic reference. I don't have to learn it all to learn something, and the data are really neat to play with. Thanks for the tip.

    22. Brandon, after your comments I thought more about it and recalled reading at some other time how tricky it is to try to get the surface flux outside of direct measurement, and there wouldn't be too many direct measuring instruments in the Arctic. Then I found that paper that was right on topic :)

    23. Well Brandon can't figure it all out , and nor can Sou. But lookie here, the IPCC has already figured it all out, for the both of you.. and not only for the Arctic, but has these surface fluxes for the whole globe. See here...
      You can see all that Anthropogenic effect. All that atmospheric effect right there, undisputed numbers, according to the holy bible of the IPCC.
      But then , hang on. we've got this little inconvenient truth about the non-manmade stuff coming from the sun, That little section we have to include as the natural "forcings" from the SUN.
      And what is this number from the sun. Hell, it's 0.12 watts/sq.m. Well, that's probably less than a flashlights worth of energy on 1 sq.m. coming from the SUN !
      I mean , what do the intelligent loons who've concocted these numbers take us for. Do they think that nobody reads this?
      Well yes, they hope this "discrepancy" will not register in the brains of the true believers of AGW .and they'll suck in all this atmospheric , anthropogenic effect hook line and sinker.
      A flashlight's worth of energy from the sun.....obviously they're treating us like mushrooms.

    24. Hey then, you'll really like this one:

      The NET CHANGE from the Sun is now less than zero!

      But Dumbo the Denier (Mack) thinks the chart is showing total absolute solar TSI contribution.

      Dumbo will now say that the IPCC turned off the Sun.

    25. Mack, you are the only person who cannot figure things out. For starters, the chart you showed was not surface fluxes, it was radiative forcing. Next, you are seven years out of date with your AR4 chart. AR5 was released last year. Then, you neglected to say what the chart represents, leaving off the caption and title. In short, it is:

      "Global mean radiative forcings (RF) and their 90% confidence intervals in 2005 for various agents and mechanisms"

      The AR4 document has the longer explanation on page 32.

      Next, you need to learn what radiative forcing is. Since you only have the previous version of the IPCC report, I'll point you to the glossary on page 951:

      Radiative forcing
      Radiative forcing is the change in the net, downward minus upward, irradiance (expressed in W m–2) at the tropopause due to a change in an external driver of climate change, such as, for example, a change in the concentration of carbon dioxide or the output of the Sun. Radiative forcing is computed with all tropospheric properties held fixed at their unperturbed values, and after allowing for stratospheric temperatures, if perturbed, to readjust to radiative-dynamical equilibrium. Radiative forcing is called instantaneous if no change in stratospheric temperature is accounted for. For the purposes of this report, radiative forcing is further defined as the change relative to the year 1750 and, unless otherwise noted, refers to a global and annual average value. Radiative forcing is not to be confused with cloud radiative forcing, a similar terminology for describing an unrelated measure of the impact of clouds on the irradiance at the top of the atmosphere.

      I've posted a link to a HW article on energy balance already, if that's what you are interested in:

    26. And in case Mack missed it - in Everett's comment and mine - his chart is radiative forcing, which shows the *change* re solar and other forcing agents, not the *total* incoming solar radiation.

    27. OK yes that AR4 is 7 yrs "out of date"., so we must use the new improved version. The old AR4 contained figures which were already worked out for you and were in plain sight.. The blatant lunacy of 0.12 watts/sq.m from the sun was just too obvious. ...even intelligent people could see that. Then Sou is trying to tell us that it's just the "change" in radiative forcing. Well, you could fudge that up by saying that the TSI has fallen over the 7 yrs, which it has , but the bullshit really starts when you try and say from these tables that this is a "change" in the "radiative forcing"which also includes all these gases. A change from what to what for these gases? Truth is,all these figures are not a "change" in radiative forcing. They are a net radiative forcing. and the net radiative forcing for the sun is in the vicinity of 342w/sq.m on the Earth's surface..
      The "forcing" from CO2 in the AR4 is 1.66watts/sq.m. and bugger me if it doesn't drop to 0.75watts/sq.m in the AR5, ...7yrs. later. Well yeees , the more and more we pump CO2 into the Earth's atmosphere, the LESS "forcing" from CO2 there is ??? Great news ! but can't these intelligent clowns make up their, methinks they regugitate any tripe their computers will spew out.,and we just take it as gospel.

    28. "The "forcing" from CO2 in the AR4 is 1.66watts/sq.m. and bugger me if it doesn't drop to 0.75watts/sq.m in the AR5"

      Reference please!

      But no, wait, allow me:
      Table 8.2 in Ar5 puts CO2 forcing at 1.82 W m^2 in 2011, 1.66 in 2005.

      Bugger me, the more CO2 we pump into the earth's atmosphere, the LARGER "forcing" from CO2 there is ??? Who knew?

    29. Mack, I don't know if you really don't understand or if you are playing dumb. You are writing about something different to this article. The article is about absorbed SW radiation at the surface in the Arctic in summer. You are writing about the global energy budget. .

      You still have it wrong when you talk about the change in radiative forcing. No, it's not the *change* in radiative forcing. Your AR4 chart *is* radiative forcing, which is itself defined as a *change* in net irradiance.

      Your numbers are wrong too. You wrote that "net radiative forcing for the sun is in the vicinity of 342w/sq.m on the Earth's surface". It's not. That's not the net radiative forcing and it's not at the surface. It is the total incoming solar radiation (not radiative forcing) at the top of atmosphere (not the surface), which is a different measure. Total SW at the surface from solar is around 161 W/m^2 (and at the top of atmosphere it's around 340 W/m^2 and in the troposphere around 185 W/m^2).

      As for your "drop" - you are comparing apples and oranges. The chart you showed is from 1750 to 2005 - 255 years, a much longer period than the chart that Everett showed. Fig 8.20 that Everett showed is from 1980 to 2011, only 31 years. So it shows the effect of all the extra CO2 added to the air over that 31 year period.

      What you should have done is compare your Fig TS-5 from AR4 with Figure 8.17 from AR5. Figure 8.17 shows the radiative forcing from 1750 to 2011, and CO2 is around 1.7 W/m^2 over that longer period. Solar is around 0.05 W/m^2.

      From your AR4 chart, between 1750 and 2005 the solar forcing was around 0.12 W/m^2. That 0.12 W/m^2 is the radiative forcing contribution from solar for the period of the chart - 255 years.

      In Everett's chart it decreased between 1980 and 2011 by a smidgen - over 31 years.

      From the AR5 Figure 8.7, between 1750 and 2011 (261 years), the solar forcing was around 0.05 W/m^2, a slight drop reflecting the lower solar irradiance over the recent solar cycle.

      The "intelligent clowns" know what they are doing. It's you, Mack, who is one very confused denier. (There's nothing wrong with not understanding all this stuff. What is silly of you is to think that the experts "don't know nuffin".)

    30. Crossed with Marco, who was much more succinct than I was :)

    31. "but can't these intelligent clowns make up their"

      That is not how science works Mack. You accept propositions in the light of the evidence that change and evolve as new evidence and understanding become available. You do not "make up your mind" depending on your biases and stick with it whatever information changes. Though you have obviously made up your mind. Perhaps you should reflect who has the more clown like appearance - you or the IPCC who change their position depending on the information available.

      I cannot actually make out what you are trying to say Mack. Something about flashlights? Perhaps if you provided a reference as Marco requests it might become clearer.

    32. I meant to link again to Everett's chart of radiative forcing from 1980 to 2011, in my long-ish comment above. Here it is:

    33. Sou, I was having better luck making sense out of TOA data. It totally makes sense the surface would be more difficult to work out. Again thanks for the citation.

      Mack, knowing what one doesn't know, especially in the form of being aware of one's own limitations, is the best way to actually learn something. It helped me a great deal to try, and fail, in my various analyses to get good results because now when I go read all that goes into getting a sensible answer I have far better basis for understanding what the pros have done.

    34. Well Marco and Jammy dodger I only referenced the IPCC AR4 and AR5 tripe, so there's my reference... work it out from those 2 tables, if you both can share a functioning brain together.
      You've got your numbers all wrong again Sou....Now bear with me for a moment...forget about what you've read and listen....You Trenberth, that the incoming solar radiation at the TOA is about 340w/sq.m.. ..then by means of geometry of the light on a round ball, it translates down to about 161w/sq.m at the Earth's surface.....your figure...there it is in black and white. 161w/sq.m. at the Earth's surface. Think about this 161w/sq.m. it's actually meant to be an average over the surface, so there will be values above and below, but this is about the middle. So we're talking about the sun shining down on 1 sq.m. heating the ground. Being an Aussie you would have a fair idea how hot that ground would get Sou. If you would place a fairly thick 1sq.m metal plate on the ground and paint it black (not necessarily..but just for good measure), how hot do you think it would get? Hot enough to fry eggs on?
      I think so in Oz. Now think of the electrical wattage it requires to heat the element of your stove. hot enough to fry an egg on.... What? you're looking in the 1000's of watts range, eh Sou ...and watts are watts whether electrical or solar. and this is for just a miserable little circular piece of metal atop the stove. So what sort of wattage do you think would be required to heat a 1 sq.m. metal plate hot enough to fry eggs on Sou?
      That's what happens in reality Sou. Burns your feet. Burns your hands on the steering wheel of the car. The reality is that the average solar incoming is 340w/sq.m at the Earth's surface and Trenberth and all the rest have fucked up big time.

    35. If it is the same "Mack" who plagued Deltoid for years, you shouldn't waste your valuable time ... of course, there may be more than one "Mack" on the internet.

    36. MWS, all too many I'm afraid. I speak figuratively of course.

    37. Mack, did nothing sink in? Did you not understand what I and others wrote? It's your brain that has trouble "functioning", not anyone else's here. You may have referenced charts but you don't understand what you referenced. You're unable to interpret them.

      I'll put on my mentor or schoolmarm hat and suggest that next time you are tempted to put your fingers to the keyboard and write nonsense and click "publish", follow links you're offered and read them. Ask questions if you don't understand - if you realise that you don't understand that is. If you are at the limits (or beyond, as in this case) then just read and learn. Don't go showing off your ignorance. We're all embarrassed for you, even though you aren't. (Read Dunning and Kruger.)

      To explain - and using the energy budget chart I linked to before (from the IPCC and Wild12 (Norman Loeb whose work we are meant to be discussing, is a co-author). At the top of the atmosphere, the solar radiation is around 340 W/m^2. About 76 W/m^2 is reflected by clouds before it ever gets to the surface and another 24 is reflected from the surface without being absorbed. That leaves around 240 W/m^2. About 79 W/m^2 is absorbed in the atmosphere before reaching the surface. That leaves about 161 W/m^2 to be absorbed at the surface. (I'm wondering if you're forgetting that half the earth is in darkness at any one time.)

      Now where I am in Australia, about the most solar radiation that we'll ever receive at the surface is somewhere around 1360 W/m^2 at around 3 o'clock in the afternoon in summer. Combined with long wave radiation on a hot day, a bit of corrugated iron can easily get hot enough to fry an egg. At night we get none at all. On a sunny day in February, we'll get around 600 W/m^2 at around 9:30 am, maybe getting up to 1300 W/m^2 at 3:00 pm and dropping back to around 400 W/m^2 at around 6:00 pm, then after the sun sets, there'll be none until the next day.

      It does appear that you understand a little bit about radiation (you know it can cook eggs), but not nearly enough to engage in a discussion on the subject on a climate blog. Or not in the way you are, with your scoffing at people who are experts in the field and at commenters here who know much more about it than you do.

    38. I'll add, that in June on a sunny day, solar radiation at the surface here is lucky to get to 600 W/m^2 at its peak. On an overcast day it may not even reach 100 W/m^2 at its peak.

    39. "... I only referenced the IPCC AR4 and AR5 ..."


      So, on what do you base your statement "drop to 0.75watts/sq.m in the AR5"?

      You cannot just brush off a request for a reference. As far as I can see you have only given one table reference for AR4.

      What is your reference? 3rd request ...

    40. Jammy, he was referring to the chart that Everett put up, which was for a completely different period, only 31 years - 1980 to 2011, compared to Mack's AR4 reference, which was from 1750 to 2005 or 255 years. Big difference.

      Everett's AR5 chart - not equivalent to Mack's:

      Mack's AR4 chart - not equivalent:

      Latest AR5 chart that would be equivalent to Mack's:

    41. MWS, indeed it is the same Mack. He is also the flat earther from some time back on this blog.

      Completely impossible to educate, as he has decided the scientists are wrong and therefore must be wrong (no, not a mistake, I really meant to write that). Hence his inability to provide a direct reference and he thus has to do with a vague and thus incorrect handwaving reference.

    42. Well Sou, you can believe that there's about 324w/sq.m of "backradiation" beating down from the atmosphere all night...(according to Trenberth's looney Earth Energy budget cartoons) keeping you warm. (actually keeping you bloody hot considering you've only got 161 w/sq.m. from the sun during the day), but I'll stick to the real world and ignore climastrologists who've artificially terminated the Earth's atmosphere at the tropopause, Loeb et al 2009, either that they don't want to think much further than the clouds because that's where the climate is...but more likely they don't want to consider the themosphere because it buggers up their nice little "greenhouse" theory completely.

    43. Mack, I can tell you haven't even looked at the page I referred you to. That's because it referred to energy budgets not just the one from Drs Trenberth, John T. Fasullo, and Jeffrey Kiehl from 2009, but also the one from Drs Kiehl and Trenberth from 2007; one from NASA based on Norman Loeb et al (2009) and Trenberth, Fasullo and Kiehl (2009).

      And then there's the energy budget diagram used in AR5, which is the one I was talking about and which wasn't from any of those. It was from the 2012 paper by Martin Wild, Doris Folini, Christoph Schär, Norman Loeb, Ellsworth G. Dutton, and Gert König-Langlo. Not a Kevin Trenberth in sight.

      The fact that you didn't read my previous comment, where I wrote that solar radiation here can reach 1360 Watts/m^2 in mid-summer, quite a bit more than 161 W/m^2, tells me you have a very short attention span, can't digest information and/or don't have the wit to do so.

      The fact that you cannot distinguish between solar radiation at a particular location at a particular time of day with particular weather conditions, and the solar radiation averaged over the whole world, tells me you have no head for numbers. Not even very simple primary school level arithmetic.

      Why you suddenly bring in the "themosphere" (sic) I don't know.

      Finally, the fact that you are a hard-core physics denier tells me there is really no point in responding any further after this. As Marco reminded me, you are a flat earther as well.

      The comments so far will be sufficient to inform any lurkers who might be wanting to find out about radiation; and sufficient to let everyone know what a silly duffer is the person who posts as "Mack".

    44. Oh look, someone else who doesn't understand net flux, and who can't be arsed to look at the observational evidence against his deliberate ignorance. About the coolest thing Willis Eschenbach has ever written about is the SURFAD network:

      That time he actually did some decent analysis and it was more than a bit amusing to watch the WUWT peanut gallery roundly ignoring what one of their own was telling them.

      For giggles I took the annual and monthly mean fluxes for four SURFRAD stations and compared them against the same means for CERES EBAF surface fluxes:

      Trenberth's cartoon holds up rather well to my naive back-of-napkin simple averages.

    45. PS Mack wouldn't understand this, because he can't tell the difference between longwave and shortwave radiation, or the difference between radiation over the entire earth and radiation at any particular place on earth. Anyway, he got me curious about how longwave varies over a day. I found this paper, which measured diurnal variation of longwave radiation at the surface in Brazil, if anyone is interested. Look at Figure 3.

    46. Great work, Brandon. Your lovely charts should convince Mack, but I doubt it. He'll probably argue that the instruments are wonky or something :(

    47. Sou, Thanks, but I agree it won't help. However it might interest for him to realize that his warm comfy home at 21 °C is bombarding his skin with 425 W/m^2 of thermal energy according to S-B with emissivity at unity. Of course, his skin surface temperature at 34 °C puts out 505 W/m^2, so his body contributes a net 80 W/m^2 to the ambient environment. Which is why he doesn't end up looking like a slab of beef on the barbie.

      While I have no moral compunctions about him Darwining himself in the name of science, the potential legal hassles compel me to suggest he limit this experimental protocol to the thought sort:

      1) Strip naked.
      2) Go outside on a 0 °C day.
      3) Try to figure out the difference between 505 and 316 W/m^2 before succumbing to hypothermia.

      That is all.



    Come on, i' God’s name, once more toward our father’s.
    Good Lord, how bright and goodly shines the moon!
    The moon? The sun! It is not moonlight now.
    I say it is the moon that shines so bright.

    I know it is the sun that shines so bright.

    Now, by my mother’s son, and that’s myself,
    It shall be moon, or star, or what I list,
    Or e'er I journey to your father’s house.
    (to servants) Go on, and fetch our horses back again.—
    Evermore crossed and crossed, nothing but crossed!
    (to KATHERINE) Say as he says, or we shall never go.

    Forward, I pray, since we have come so far,
    And be it moon, or sun, or what you please.
    An if you please to call it a rush candle,
    Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me.
    I say it is the moon.
    I know it is the moon.
    Nay, then you lie. It is the blessèd sun.

  9. DMH's comment suggesting "That's pretty much from the spring equinox to the fall equinox" misses the point.

    The object of the study is to look at changes in heat uptake, which is only partially related to insolation. Between the sping equinox and the beginning of June there is very little heat absorbed by the Arctic Ocean, not because of low angle of incidence, but because of the high area of ice, with a very high albedo. It is only one a decent area of ocean is exposed AND the sun reaches a reasonable elevation. Considering the period from the vernal equinox to the end of May is almost (and only almost) as daft as considering the period when there is no sun at all.

    Dec - Feb: too much ice cover and sun too low
    Mar - May: too much ice cover, even though the sun is higher
    Jun - Aug: significant heat uptake
    Sep - Nov: not too much ice cover, but sun too low.

    To correct DMH's statement: "If we want to know how much extra energy the arctic absorbs, then the ONLY way to do it is to study the entire period where ALL conditions permit significant extra energy to be absorbed." Which is exactly what they did.

  10. Bleurgh - editing fail in there. Make that: "It is only when a decent area of ocean is exposed AND the sun reaches a reasonable elevation that there is significant heat uptake".

    That said, I agree with PL's observations about additional losses in autumn, and a full-year average gives a complete picture. One particularly interesting element of that picture is the information supplied by the paper.

  11. My last comment pertains to a previous comment which at the time of writing this comment has suddenly disappeared.


    I think its time for bed....

    1. Sorry about that, FrankD. All I can think of is that your name is the same as a bot or spammer. Google is insistent and all I can do is dash into the spam folder and retrieve it. Does it happen on other blogger accounts (eg Eli's blog?)

  12. "Well Sou, you can believe that there's about 324w/sq.m of "backradiation" beating down from the atmosphere all night"

    belief? there are actual measurements of downwelling infrared taken with pyrgeometers that show the atmosphere does indeed radiate infrared towards the earth's surface. it's as real as sunlight.


  13. I am no fan of Anthony Watts. I have been banned from commenting at his web site.

    It is interesting to analyse how Eschenbach has used diversionary tactics to divert attention from the point made by the AGU press release on reflectivity changes due to decline in the Arctic Sea Ice coverage in the summer, which is a source of global warming feedback.

    The summer season is the most significant for global warming feedback analysis, because that is when the incident solar intensity is greatest, the days are longest and albedo changes are going to have the largest effect on global warming feedback through Arctic Sea Ice decreases. So Eschenbach was wrong to call focus on change in summer reflectivity in the AGU press release cherry picking.

    Of course it is clear from the graphs that Eschenbach analyses, that outside of the summer season, there is little very reflected radiation in the first place, and the change in reflected radiation in the other 9 months of the year going to be close to zero. So what Eschenbach is doing is diluting the decrease in summer reflected radiation, by effectively adding the zero changes in the rest of the year and pointing out that the changes over the course of the year are about a factor of 4 smaller. Any one with a knowledge of the basics physics could have seen that without the elaborate analysis the Eschenbach did. Of course for Eschenbach and Watts, any sort of flim flam is OK if it diverts attention from the point made by the AGU press release that summer Arctic sea ice is declining.


Instead of commenting as "Anonymous", please comment using "Name/URL" and your name, initials or pseudonym or whatever. You can leave the "URL" box blank. This isn't mandatory. You can also sign in using your Google ID, Wordpress ID etc as indicated. NOTE: Some Wordpress users are having trouble signing in. If that's you, try signing in using Name/URL. Details here.

Click here to read the HotWhopper comment policy.