2011-02-18 04:10:50Intermediate Rebuttal for the "missing hot spot"


Hi all,

 I can't remember whether I've posted in these forums or not. I lurk a bit, and I of course read Skeptical Science frequently. I recently wrote a post on the issue of the "hot spot", and a recent work-around in assessing upper tropospheric temperature trends: http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/tropical-tropospheric-temperature-instrumental-and-proxy-trends/

 John offered to use this for an intermediate rebuttal. I was hoping to get some feedback on ways I could clean it up, trim it down, or otherwise improve it.


2011-02-18 05:31:05


Even for an intermediate-level article, the language is too academic and high-falutin. Please tone it down by a factor of 2.

Also, one of your points seems to be cast in the form of: "The lack of a hotspot is not a problem for the greenhouse-effect explanation of warming; it's a PROBLEM for our understanding of atmospheric physics generally." This would be received as music to the ears of the deniers! Better to put it somewhat differently: The lack of an apparent hotspot is a DISCREPANCY between our general understanding of the atmosphere and the current observations; and the likelihood is that we will eventually sort out this discrepancy. It has no specific implication for the validity of the greenhouse effect at all.

The difference between these two presentations may not be obvious to you. As I see it, the 2nd presentation says: "There are some difficulties, and we expect they'll be sorted out eventually; the answer may be interesting or may be just something dumb that someone forgot; in any case there is no particular liability on the GHE." The 1st presentation says: "There is a fundamental misunderstanding of atmospheric physics going on, and we don't know what we're talking about. But believe us about the GHE anyway."


2011-02-18 07:02:34comments
Dana Nuccitelli

One comment I have is that you immediately launch into a discussion of the stratosphere - which is important and unlike the 'hot spot' actually is an anthropogenic fingerprint - but you never specifically say the hot spot is there regardless of the cause of warming.  It's shown in the figures, but not discussed in the text.  So I would revise the beginning to say that:

1) The 'hot spot' is there for a sufficiently large solar forcing, or for any forcing that causes sufficient surface warming.  So the hot spot isn't an anthropogenic fingerprint.

2) Conversely, the cooling stratosphere (and higher layers of the atmosphere) is an anthropogenic fingerprint, and it is observed.

I was just reading in the NIPCC report, they had a section on "fingerprints", and the only one they talked about was the "hot spot".  And it's not even an anthropogenic fingerprint!  So it's worthwhile to point out that the "skeptics" are ignoring the real fingerprints and focusing on the 'hot spot' which is not specifically anthropogenic.  In fact I'd even reference the NIPCC report here (I can provide the link if you'd like).  In fact the error you discuss at the end of Part 1 is in the NIPCC report.  Where you say "Climate “skeptics” apparently became convinced that the “hot spot” in Figure 9.1c was the fingerprint of anthropogenic warming the IPCC was referring to..." you could reference the NIPCC report.

The post will also have to be substantially shorter to be an intermediate rebuttal.  Also on your first figures, the vertical axis isn't labeled.  If you can't get a label on there, you can just explain in the caption that it's atmospheric height, and the top is the stratosphere.

2011-02-18 07:05:14MarkR
Dana Nuccitelli
Also MarkR was working on a very similar blog post discussed here (which could be made into a rebuttal).  Maybe you could combine efforts, or maybe his could be the basic version.
2011-02-18 08:19:58Rebuttal
John Cook

Actually, after I offered to make TB's post the intermediate rebuttal and change mine to the basic, I realized there was a basic rebuttal in the works. So how about we keep mine as intermediate and make TB's the Advanced Rebuttal?
2011-02-18 09:13:54MM
Dana Nuccitelli

Well Mark's was actually intended as a Monckton Myth, but I think it could be converted into a basic rebuttal pretty easily.  I think he may have forgotten he was working on it though.  We should contact him about it...

Good idea to make TB's the advanced version though, I think.

2011-02-18 15:38:29Done
John Cook


I've gone ahead and made TB's blog post the advanced rebuttal:


TB, it's under your name so you're welcome to edit it as you see fit based on comments here or whatever you deem needs changing. I've added a green box credit at the bottom linking to your original blog post - feel free to edit that text also.

Once you're happy with the SkS version - are you okay with us reposting it as a blog post? I'd like to add at the top of the blog post also the words "Guest post by Things Break" linking to your blog, always like to send link kudos and traffic when we can.

2011-02-19 04:26:14


Thanks for the feedback, all.

 It sounds like there's a consensus that I need to emphasize that the hot spot should appear in response to an increase of whatever forcing. I agree! I swore I had included something like that, but I must have removed in one of my revisions accidentally.


Any links to places this claim shows up (dana mentioned NIPCC, I believe Monckton has done it, and I think David Evans has as well)  would be great.


@John, I'd be thrilled for it to be a blog post as well.

2011-02-19 06:47:32quotes
Dana Nuccitelli


"the models predict that if and only if Man is the cause of warming, the tropical upper air, six miles above the ground, should warm up to thrice as fast as the surface, but this tropical upper-troposphere “hot-spot” has not been observed in 50 years of measurement by balloon-mounted radiosondes, sondes dropped from high-flying aircraft, or satellites."

NIPCC Report, Section 3.4:

"Climate models all predict that, if GHG is driving climate change, there will be a unique fingerprint in the form of a warming trend increasing with altitude in the tropical troposphere, the region of the atmosphere up to about 15 kilometers. (See Figure 3.4.1.) Climate changes due to solar variability or other known natural factors will not yield this pattern"

Pretty amazing that any climate scientists would sign onto a document with such blatantly false statements.  I guarantee you that Lindzen and Spencer know this statement is wrong.

2011-02-20 20:51:07
Ari Jokimäki


Reference section could use links to the papers.

"[T]he similarity between the trends of SST and the SST threshold for convection in Fig. 1 is consistent..."

Here it is not clear where "Fig. 1" points as figures are not numbered.

2011-02-23 02:44:31




Thanks for the very helpful suggestions. I have tried to make the natural/solar response issue more explicit, I have added links to the references (PDFs/full versions when possible), added the Monckton claim and NIPCC repetition, and edited the language Ari referred to.


Thanks for all your help! 

2011-02-23 17:31:39
Glenn Tamblyn



I am currently working on the advanced rebuttal for the 'the tropoosphere hasn't warmed'. This has some material relevent to the hotspot question. Hope to post a draft early next week. (if work and the world will get off my back)