2011-09-20 21:07:07Watts touting peer-reviewed cloud paper - I don't think it means what he thinks it means
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
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Paper

 

Watts take:

This new paper by Richard P. Allan of the University of Reading discovers via a combination of satellite observations and models that the cooling effect of clouds far outweighs the long-wave or “greenhouse” warming effect. While Dessler and Trenberth(among others) claim clouds have an overall positive feedback warming effect upon climate due to the long-wave back-radiation, this new paper shows that clouds have a large net cooling effect by blocking incoming solar radiation and increasing radiative cooling outside the tropics. This is key, because since clouds offer a negative feedback as shown by this paper and Spencer and Braswell plus Lindzen and Choi, it throws a huge monkey wrench in climate model machinery that predict catastrophic levels of positive feedback enhanced global warming due to increased CO2.

The cooling effect is found to be -21 Watts per meter squared, more than 17 times the posited warming effect from a doubling of CO2 concentrations which is calculated to be ~ 1.2 Watts per meter squared.  This -21 w/m2 figure from Richard P. Allan is in good agreement with Spencer and Braswell. Here’s the paper abstract, links to the full paper (which I located on the author’s website) follow.

My prediction:  Someone will show up in the comments point out Watts misreading.  Watts will update his post.  Many, many, many readers will still believe that clouds cool the climate system 17x over.

 

If not, we'll need to post something.  Contact the author or something.

 

2011-09-20 21:33:36My two cents
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
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Taking a quick look at Allan's paper: I don't see that Watts is wildly off on his interpretation of what Allan is saying. He might be exaggerating or over-emphasizing somewhere, but I don't see that he is "perverting" the message of the paper.

See any other reactions?

2011-09-20 21:39:25
grypo

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He 's confusing the impact of clouds and the change in clouds due to feedbacks from a changing climate.  Watts' error to me, appears to be quite large.  Basically, forcing v feedback mistake.  

2011-09-20 21:41:14
grypo

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This is shown as he takes the forcing number from the paper and puts it into a doubling of CO2 equation.

2011-09-20 21:51:57
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
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He might be saying gray is black, but he's not saying black is white. That's an improvement, for WUWT.

2011-09-20 21:53:23
Riccardo

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192.84.150.209

He's completely off, 21 W/m2 is the overall net effects of clouds. He also does not understand what a feedback is.

2011-09-20 21:55:29
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.104.94

I would hold off on writing up anything until some professionals have weighed in. Remember how we got whipsawed on the paper by Dessler.

2011-09-20 22:01:53
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
192.84.150.209

It's so obviously wrong that it will not get any traction, a rebuttal won't be necessary.

2011-09-20 22:11:49
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
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Riccardo,

Is the paper wrong, or Watts' interpretation?

and how?

2011-09-20 22:41:11
MarkR
Mark Richardson
m.t.richardson2@gmail...
192.171.166.133

The paper looks fine on first look. It's just that Watts is too uninformed about climate science to understand the difference between current values and feedbacks. I'm just going to try and find Richard and see his reaction

2011-09-20 22:49:00
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
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Bart Verheggen has spotted and alerted Watts of the error.  We'll see.

2011-09-20 22:51:27
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
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Neal, it's Watt's interpretation as per my first comment

2011-09-20 22:51:31
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.22.246

>>>It's so obviously wrong that it will not get any traction, a rebuttal won't be necessary.

Never overesitimate the intelligence knowledge of the layman.  Sad but oh so observable...

 

The claim is completely ludicrous.  If there was a net change of ~21 W/m^2 over the course of the timeframe that CO2 rose to its levels we would expect to see absurd levels of cooling.  BUT, is this obvious to someone who knows nothing about climate sensitivity or the magnitudes of variation in forcing caused by certain phenomena?  The solar cycle for example is measureable, that's a forcing change of <0.25 W/m^2.  I don't think though that people fully comprehend these numbers enough to do such a comparison, we're talking two orders of magnitude here.

[Edit - perhaps more to the point, if there was a net response of -21 W/m^2 as a feedback then we would STILL have experienced terrible cooling.  We wouldn't have come out of the last interglacial, most likely.]

2011-09-20 23:07:00
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.22.246

Watts may want to have a looksy at Figure 7.

2011-09-20 23:14:30
MarkR
Mark Richardson
m.t.richardson2@gmail...
192.171.166.133

Richard tutted, shook his head, said something like 'idiots' under his breath (didn't catch it exactly) and used the word 'ridiculous' at least once. He didn't bother to read the comments, but I imagine he'd be happy with:

"I just looked at Richard Allen’s CV. He is A List Climate Science."

but not so happy with the next sentence:

"Methinks the Team would prefer to be having root canal treatment without anaesthetic about now."

 

Watts is just a bit thick when it comes to climate science. Even after years of 'reporting' on it he makes very basic errors.

2011-09-20 23:53:51
rustneversleeps
George Morrison
george.morrison2@sympatico...
198.96.178.33

Might want to ask Pielke how this squares with "First, I have worked with Anthony and he is devoted to the highest level of scientific robustness."

2011-09-20 23:59:56
MarkR
Mark Richardson
m.t.richardson2@gmail...
192.171.166.133

Incidentally, the approach they might take is to turn it into a feedback. Which doesn't work, because over such large scales it's not linear, but here's what I predict someone like Eschenbach might do:

 

Cloud change = 21 W m-2

Cloud effect at 0 C = 0

Current mean temperature = ~14 C

Therefore feedback from clouds = 21/14 = 1.5 W m-2 K-1 NEGATIVE. Which would bring global warming from doubled CO2 to around the 1 C mark.

 

 

Of course, it's not linear and so that's a stupid thing to do, but I suspect Eschenbach or someone at WUWT will try it. You could do a similarly retarded thing for albedo feedback and get a warming feedback 12 W m-2, whilst the IPCC figure hovers around 0.2...

2011-09-21 00:05:57
Paul D

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I notice Watts has an iPhone app or a link to one on his site.

2011-09-21 00:17:03
rustneversleeps
George Morrison
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198.96.178.33

I suspect that Watts will want to "disappear" that post, or the most incriminating parts thereof. Might want to grab some screen shots for posterity/thoroughness.

2011-09-21 00:17:21
MarkR
Mark Richardson
m.t.richardson2@gmail...
192.171.166.133

Roy Spencer has commented with a correction. Will Watts fix or retract?

2011-09-21 00:32:59A couple of thoughts...
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

If Ben at "Wotts Up with That" catches this one, all of you can post your comments there. 

An alternative would be to create a new SkS series, "Watts said What?" for rapid responses to his posts like this one. If you can catch Watts with his pants down, go for it!

2011-09-21 05:51:54
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.26.176

[never mind]

2011-09-21 07:44:09
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
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John... I think that's a really good idea for a series.  It could be a very simple, as it comes out, series.  "Watts said what?"

The posts wouldn't have to be long.  Just a nugget of his post and then a quick response as to where he's getting the science blatantly wrong.  Eventually it would build up into a long list of "warts for Watts."  (That can be our internal title for it.)

2011-09-21 08:29:13
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Bart has a good blog post on the isssue.

2011-09-21 08:31:23
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Here's a good one....

 

Steven Mosher says:

Richard Allan says:
September 20, 2011 at 9:27 am (Edit)
I was surprised that this paper was mis-interpreted as suggesting negative cloud feedback. This is a basic error by the author of the post that has been highlighted by many contributors including Roy Spencer.

########

it is also fascinating because of what we dont see. usually you will see a whole crew of commeters pounce on the word “model”. This time they didnt.

They didnt because they thought the paper supported spencer. But it was on an entirely different topic. That misunderstanding kinda silenced the usual “models are bad” crew.

BTW I was glad to see Roy and Bart come here to correct the misunderstanding. And thank you for coming here as well.

REPLY: Thanks Mosh, I’ve responded to Dr. Allan also, and provided an update. I ask viewers to note how WUWT handles criticism from a science professional, versus say, some award winning Australian websites. -Anthony

2011-09-21 08:33:54
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
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Tee-hee :)

2011-09-21 08:38:58
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
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His update shows that he still just doesn't understand what he's done wrong.  His entire post would need to change.  Is he that obtuse?

2011-09-21 09:01:52
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.26.176

I would consider it a very sketchy conclusion that the cloud response to ENSO is indicative of cloud response to temperature only, as ENSO is driven by changes in the trade winds so you have some very important changes in atmospheric dynamics during.

2011-09-21 10:59:48
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125

"I ask viewers to note how WUWT handles criticism from a science professional, versus say, some award winning Australian websites."

WUWT handles criticism by either not understanding it, or just refusing to change most of the corrected text.  Can't argue with him on this point - that's certainly not how we handle criticism.

2011-09-21 11:38:09
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.194.26.176

>>>Can't argue with him on this point - that's certainly not how we handle criticism.

Hence award-winning ;-)