Wednesday, March 25, 2015

#6 clouds, vapor, Iris Effect - Dissecting Dr Lindzen's intrinsic obtuseness

This is the sixth part of my review of an interview by Alex Epstein with Professor Richard Lindzen on his "Power Hour" program.  I've taken the time and trouble to transcribe much of it in order to focus on Lindzen's bizarre version of reality and to juxtapose it against history and the known science.  

In this installment we consider professor Lindzen's intrinsic obtuseness regarding his pet theory, clouds and "the iris effect" vs. what the science is discovering.

Power Hour: Questioning Climate Science with Dr. Richard Lindzen October 22, 2012 | Alex Epstein
Richard Lindzen joins Alex Epstein to talk about perspectives on climate change:
  • Questions about climate
  • “Balance” in nature
  • The goals of environmentalists
1:45  Alex:  Whenever I read one of his (RL) papers I get almost emotional just by the level of clarity and diligence and utter lack of any kind of appeal to authority.
3:05  Lindzen: What bothers me about this issue is the intrinsic obtuseness of the questions. ...
44:40  Lindzen: Remember the temperature at the equator has been pretty much the same as within a couple degrees for billions of years.  How much more stable do you want it?
~ ~ ~ 
That's not true.  Besides his train of logic is misleading.  

Equatorial heat being relatively stable is the product of evaporation and circulation patterns carrying the heat, (that's always streaming straight down on equatorial waters), out and away from the tropics and dissipating it onto the rest of the globe - it isn't any indication of some preordained global stability.  
~ ~ ~ 

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY RECORD  March 4, 1994  Vol. 19 No. 19
Tropical ocean waters - long thought to have remained unaffected by Earth's past climate changes - may have cooled by 5C (9F) during the last ice age, scientists at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory reported recently.
 The research, reported in the Feb. 4 issue of "Science," indicates 
 that tropical regions play a pivotal and previously underestimated 
 role in regulating Earth's climate.
~ ~ ~
Lonnie Thompson, professor of geological sciences and research scientist with the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University, said that the new cores are the best evidence yet that the tropics were much cooler during the last glacial stage.
~ ~ ~
On top of that, in Lindzen's zeal to oversimplify he never mentions complicating factors that will have major impacts, such as:

Apr. 2, 2013 — One often ignored consequence of global climate change is that the Northern Hemisphere is becoming warmer than the Southern Hemisphere, which could significantly alter tropical precipitation ... full story
45:50  Alex: Alright, it's amazingly stable, but I mean there are many physical properties of things that are stable too,  but they don't have a goal per se.  Like a living being, if it's not evolved to self regulate in that way. 
Lindzen:  No, I mean presumably if they haven't exist the planet wouldn't have survived, so it's a matter of selection.
~ ~ ~
This is a bit obtuse, is the professor really attributing Earth's "survival" to Darwinian selection?  Hmmm, nothing is off limits for his game of confusion, is it?  I wonder how Mars and Venus managed to survive?
47:15  Alex: well then to go back to the idea of feedbacks as a resistance, what are the main driver in the system that tend to put up resistance 
47:30  Lindzen:  You know, the hydrological cycle is the most obvious, if you think about it, it only requires a few percent change in cloud cover or cloud height, or any of these properties to completely counter the effect of doubling CO2. 
~ ~ ~
That's true enough... as far as it goes.  
Thing is, Lindzen is talking hypothetical possibilities and he's avoiding what the observations are showing scientists.  

For a contrast to Lindzen's intrinsic obtuseness, I have a few good examples of "This Is What A Scientist Sounds Like" that explain the theory and observations.  First an article by Steven Sherwood, professor of Physical Meteorology and Atmospheric Climate Dynamics at the University at New South Wales, explaining how this facet of natural feedback operates and what 30 years worth of observations have to tell us about the various hypothetical scenarios and their relative viability.  

I only have room for a couple important paragraphs and encourage you to link to the original fascinating version.

"Humidity Doubles Global Warming" 
By Steven Sherwood | Australian Science | August 2009
"... However, a lot of work (some by this author) has gone into understanding the principles that determine how water vapour is cycled through the atmosphere. This understanding now leaves very little room for hypotheses like those suggested above: the global transport just isn’t affected much by things such as changes in storm height and rain formation.  
Furthermore, we have now observed many natural temperature fluctuations, including seasonal changes in humidity, changes after volcanic eruptions, trends over the past 30 years, and changes during El Niño events. So far, all of these show water vapour changing at more or less the rate we always expected. ..."
~ ~ ~
Over at Dana Nuccitelli also wrote a couple informative posts regarding Lindzen's pet theory:

Dana Nuccitelli, May 8, 2012 
Lindzen's Three Sensitive Achilles' Heels
The problem with Lindzen's argument for low sensitivity is that it contains three separate fundamental flaws:

  • Lindzen has completely neglected all non-GHG influences on the climate.  The second-largest influence (behind CO2) is from human aerosol emissions, which have a cooling effect.  Lindzen seizes on the uncertainty associated with aerosols - the strength of their cooling effect is not well-known; however, the scientific evidence does clearly indicate that they have a cooling effect.  In fact, Lindzen's own sources on the subject conclude that aerosols have a strong cooling effectYet in his argument, he has completely failed to account for this cooling effect.  In short, Lindzen treats the GHG forcing as equivalent to the net radiative forcing (which is what the climate responds to), but the two are not equivalent.
  • 3°C is the equilibrium climate sensitivity - the amount the planet will eventually warm once it reaches a new energy balance.  The planet currently has an energy imbalance (mostly stored as heat in the oceans), so there is still more warming "in the pipeline" from the GHGs we have already emitted.  Lindzen fails to account for this effect.
By themselves, each of these fundamental errors completely invalidates Lindzen's argument.  Taken together, they form a trio of Achilles' Heels which leave us puzzled as to how Lindzen has continued to make this obviously and grossly fundamentally flawed argument for over two decades.
Lindzen also Disproven by Reality...
Lindzen's Cloudy Iris...
- - -
Dana Nuccitelli, May 9, 2012 
~ ~ ~
And here's another climatologist, Gavin Schmidt director of GISS, getting ready to explain what the professor is getting wrong.

Misrepresentation from Lindzen
Gavin Schmidt  |  March 6, 2012
Richard Lindzen is a very special character in the climate debate – very smart, high profile, and with a solid background in atmospheric dynamics. He has, in times past, raised interesting critiques of the mainstream science. None of them, however, have stood the test of time – but exploring the issues was useful.  
More recently though, and especially in his more public outings, he spends most of his time misrepresenting the science and is a master at leading people to believe things that are not true without him ever saying them explicitly. 
However, in his latest excursion at a briefing at the House of Lords Commons in the UK, among the standard Lindzen arguments was the following slide (which appears to be a new addition): ... 
However, this is not in the least bit true: the data are not what he claims, the interpretation is wrong, and the insinuations are spurious. ...  {for the explanation visit}
47:50  Alex:  Are there others of that magnitude?   
Lindzen:  No.  Clouds are certainly and the water cycle are certainly the biggest thing in the system, but it's what defines the Earth, we're a wet planet.  
~ ~ ~ 
Yeah, and the atmosphere is getting wetter.

Changes in precipitation with climate change
Kevin E. Trenberth | Climate Research | Vol.47:123-138, 2011
ABSTRACT: There is a direct influence of global warming on precipitation. Increased heating leads to greater evaporation and thus surface drying, thereby increasing the intensity and duration of drought. However, the water holding capacity of air increases by about 7% per 1°C warming, which leads to increased water vapor in the atmosphere. Hence, storms, whether individual thunderstorms, extratropical rain or snow storms, or tropical cyclones, supplied with increased moisture, produce more intense precipitation events. Such events are observed to be widely occurring, even where total precipitation is decreasing: ‘it never rains but it pours! ...
~ ~ ~
Increase in Atmospheric Moisture Tied to Human Activities
Benjamin Santer, lead author from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Program for Climate Modeling and Intercomparison. “The atmosphere’s water vapor content has increased by about 0.41 kilograms per square meter (kg/m²) per decade since 1988, and natural variability in climate just can’t explain this moisture change. The most plausible explanation is that it’s due to the human-caused increase in greenhouse gases.”
~ ~ ~
Back to the Climate Sensitivity question:

Steven Sherwood 
Refining the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity estimate:

Also see: "Spread in model climate sensitivity traced to atmospheric convective mixing"
    Nature 505, 37–42  (02 January 2014)
~ ~ ~
What is the net feedback from clouds?
48:05 Lindzen: I don't know how much you've taken high school physics or something like that.  But there are, remember I mean water has remarkable, remarkable properties.  It has a heat vaporization, it has a relationship between density and temperature that is not entirely normal so that you know.  At four degrees it is the most dense, you know, and ah, then the density changes.
~ ~ ~ 
Yup, water is important.  Here's a valuable power point slide presentation that offers more details:
Fundamentals of Climate Change (PCC 587): Water Vapor
DAY 2: 9/30/13
48:45  Alex:  Yes, again under the issue of balance it seems that 
Lindzen (cuts in):  Ice floats on water. Normally when things condense they are heavier, or denser.   
Alex:  Are those attributes of water key to it's connection to life. 
Lindzen:  Oh, everything on this planet, between water and CO2 and oxygen you have the story of life.
~ ~ ~
Wow, talk about avoiding the subject.  What does any of that have to do with exploring feedback mechanisms and balances (equilibriums)?

1 Positive
     1.1 Carbon cycle feedbacks
          1.1.1 Arctic methane release
       Methane release from melting permafrost peat bogs
       Methane release from hydrates
          1.1.2 Abrupt increases in atmospheric methane
          1.1.3 Decomposition
          1.1.4 Peat decomposition
          1.1.5 Rainforest drying
          1.1.6 Forest fires
          1.1.7 Desertification
          1.1.8 CO2 in the oceans
          1.1.9 Modelling results
      Implications for climate policy
     1.2 Cloud feedback
     1.3 Gas release
     1.4 Ice-albedo feedback
     1.5 Water vapor feedback
2 Negative
     2.1 Carbon cycle
          2.1.1 Le Chatelier's principle
          2.1.2 Chemical weathering
          2.1.3 Net Primary Productivity
     2.2 Lapse rate
     2.3 Blackbody radiation
49:15  Alex:  I've heard that CO2 is evil. 
50:00  Lindzen:  ...Without CO2 we'd all be dead.  
~ ~ ~
Yeah professor, and with too much CO2 we'd all be just as dead. 
- - -
Is CO2 a pollutant?
- - -
CO2 is plant food
52:00  Alex:  Alright, I have one last question:  How useful is the average global temperature, seems like it would be quite (interrupted by Lindzen's cackling) use. 
Lindzen:  I think you're right.  I think you're absolutely right, I mean, ah, climate change historically over millions and billions of years has been largely a change in the distribution of temperature over the Earth, mainly the equator to pole temperature difference.  
~ ~ ~
Not true.  
The temperature of the planet has seen much fluctuation as illustrated in this graph of just the last half billion years.  These were planet wide fluctuations in temperature, not heat sloshing around the globe.

Though temperatures did hit a wonderful plateau around ten thousand years ago.  Boy, it would have been nice to hang on to that for a while longer.

4.5 Billion Years of the Earth’s Temperature

There's no way around the fundamental fact, atmospheric greenhouse gases played a key roll by regulating how much heat was retained within the planet's biosphere and troposphere.

Does CO2 always correlate with temperature (and if not, why not?)
Dana Nuccitelli | July 7, 2013
Lindzen: I mean during the ice ages the tropics were similar to today.  But, you know the poles were much colder.  During the Eocene the tropics were much similar to today's, but the poles were much warmer. 
~ ~ ~
That matter isn't near as settled as the professor professes.

Tropical sea temperatures in the high-latitude South Pacific during the Eocene
ABSTRACT Sea-surface temperature (SST) estimates of ~30 °C from planktic foraminifera and archaeal membrane lipids in bathyal sediments in the Canterbury Basin, New Zealand, support paleontological evidence for a warm subtropical to tropical climate in the early Eocene high-latitude (55°S) southwest Pacific.
52:55 Lindzen:  And, ah, because the equator is remaining relatively constant, and the poles are changing, in the mean time, the mean temperature changes.  That's a residue of the real climate changes it's not a forcing of the real climate change. 
~ ~ ~
Talk about obtuse, "a residue of the real climate changes".  What's that even mean?  And what are the "real climate changes"?  Where's the heat loss or gain required for ice cap formation and melting come from? 
Lindzen: You know, ah, to focus on that is to ignore the fact that I think most climate change in the Earth's history does not compute to CO2 or solar, or things like that which are global, but had to do with the changes in seasonal cycles, changes in regional patterns and so on. 
~ ~ ~
That's his unsupported personal opinion.  Here's what the evidence says:

Vostok Antarctic ice core records for carbon dioxide concentration (Petit 2000) and temperature change (Barnola 2003).

Besides, now he's sounding like Jim Steele, who believes that local landscapes and cycles are more powerful than global geophysical system they are housed within.  

Likewise not supported by any evidence or logic.

Information from Paleoclimate Archives
~ ~ ~
As for trying to deny the link between CO2 and past extreme climate shifts with their unfortunate cascading consequences, it's pure crazy making.

Another link between CO2 and mass extinctions of species
Mar 22, 2013 by Andrew Glikson

Throughout the Phanerozoic (from 542 million years ago), major mass extinctions of species closely coincided with abrupt rises of atmospheric carbon dioxide and ocean acidity. These increases took place at rates to which many species could not adapt. These events – triggered by asteroid impacts, massive volcanic activity, eruption of methane, ocean anoxia and extreme rates of glaciation (see Figures 1 and 2) – have direct implications for the effects of the current rise of CO2.

Mass extinctions of species in the history of Earth include:
  • the ~580 million years-old (Ma) Acraman impact (South Australia) and Acrytarch (ancient palynomorphs) extinction and radiation
  • Late Devonian (~374 Ma) volcanism, peak global temperatures and mass extinctions
  • the end-Devonian impact cluster associated with mass extinction, which among others destroyed the Kimberley Fitzroy reefs (~360 Ma)
  • the upper Permian (~267 Ma) extinction associated with a warming trend
  • the Permian-Triassic boundary volcanic and asteroid impact events (~ 251 Ma) and peak warming
  • the End-Triassic (201 Ma) opening of the Atlantic Ocean, and massive volcanism
  • an End-Jurassic (~145 Ma) impact cluster and opening of the Indian Ocean
  • the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary (K-T) (~65 Ma) impact cluster, Deccan volcanic activity and mass extinction
  • the pre-Eocene-Oligocene boundary (~34 Ma) impact cluster and a cooling trend, followed by opening of the Drake Passage between Antarctica and South America, formation of the Antarctic ice sheet and minor extinction at ~34 Ma.
Lindzen: And the global mean temperature was just a residue, if you look at the data from which you get global mean temperature, you look at the deviations from the mean of individual stations, they are all over the place.  They range between, you know, plus and minus 2° and then you average them and it looks at if nothing is left.  It's all left, it's all averaged out, and then you blow up the scale and you call that global mean temperature, and you look at it and it's sort of a ouija board in some ways.
~ ~ ~
More obtuse riddles, never any clear descriptions.  But, if anything this is about our ability to measure and interpret temperature readings.  

What the professor is neglecting is that the indicators of a warming planet are not dependent on our ability to accurately measure it.  

There are plenty of non-thermometer indicators of warming: melting mountain and polar glaciers, sea levels are rising, the planet's biology, key life events such a migration, budburst/pollinator timing changes, plant hardiness (frostfree) zones are migrating north and up hill, as are many plant and animal species. 

That we still need to argue this is stupefying.

National Snow and Ice Data Center
- - -
Sea Level Rise
- - -
Bird Migration Patterns Changing Due to Climate Change
- - -
Global Warming Effects on Plants and Animals
- - -
Changes in seasonal temperatures can cause changes in the timing of crop budburst, pollinator life-cycles, or both.
- - -
United States Plant Hardiness Zones, 1990 and 2006
- - -
Early Warning Signs of Global Warming: Plant and Animal Range Shifts

~ ~ ~ 
For those interested in contemplating Lindzen's "ouija board", RealClimate had a good article re taking the planet's temperature:

Does a Global Temperature Exist?
54:15 Alex: So is it right then that from the perspective of human adaptations 
Lindzen (interrupts): ... Let me ask you something.  When you hear, you know, global warming, and global mean temperature anomaly has increased, what sort of numbers come to mind?   
Alex: Ah one degree 
Lindzen: You know we are still talking about tenths of a degree, not 1° 
Alex: Even Fahrenheit? 
Lindzen: No I'm thinking centigrade.  And tell me something and where do you live.
~ ~ ~ 
Averaged over all land and ocean surfaces, temperatures warmed roughly 1.53°F (0.85ºC) from 1880 to 2012
Alex: Southern California 
Lindzen: OK, even in southern California, what's the day, night temperature difference. 
Alex:  Mmmm, 30° 40° maybe. 
Lindzen:  Sometimes.  Would you perceive a degree? 
Alex:  No.   
Lindzen: Yeah, ah, we're talking about something really tiny. 
56:00  Alex:  There's this premise among the alarmists that even one degree, or two degrees is so scary, yet people are continuously adapting to even greater changes in each direction.

~ ~ ~
More deceitful delusions, take a look at the details:

Hey Global Warming – 1 Degree? That’s All You got??

By Michael Kelberer  |  8/8/2012  |  Mother Earth News

"... I get that. One little degree doesn't sound like much - and in the context of day-to-day weather, it's not. What we can and should be getting excited about (and talking about) is what’s behind that one-degree rise: heat energy, and lots of it. It's not just the temperature in Minneapolis that's up a degree today. It's that the temperature of the entire planet is up one degree.
Let’s look at two analogies:
  1. If you're sitting in the sun, and the skin temperature on your arm goes up 5 degrees - no problem, you're tanning. But if your body temperature goes up 5 degrees — you take your fever to the emergency room. Local temperature rise - no problem. All-body temperature rise — big problem.
  1. On a global scale, suppose someone tells you that ocean levels rose one inch — big deal, right? But now lets look at how much water it takes to raise ocean levels one inch. I did the math – it’s about 2,200 cubic miles.  It would take over 10 million years for the Mississippi River, with zero losses to evaporation, to raise ocean levels that one little inch. Small rise on the ruler, BIG rise in the amount of water.
Back to temperature: to raise the temperature of the planet one degree Celsius requires about 5 exaJoules (5 with 18 zeros after it) of energy. That’s the equivalent to the entire energy consumption of the US for 4 million years. Small rise on the thermometer, BIG rise in the amount of energy.
So, yeah. One degree is all Global Warming’s got. But that one degree packs a heck of a punch. Look at the weather this year. And last year. And the year before that. "  (and with some more time it'll be turning into two degrees, and then, ...)
~ ~ ~

One Degree of Warming Having Major Impact, Study Finds
John Roach for National Geographic News | May 14, 2008
"The researchers analyzed published data on 829 physical systems—such as melting glaciers and warming waters—and 28,800 living plant and animal systems stretching back to 1970. 
All of the systems have shown documented changes over the past few decades.  In 95 percent of the physical systems and 90 percent of the living systems, the changes are consistent with the predicted effects of a warming climate, according to the researchers. 
The team then used statistical analyses to compare the trends to global and continental temperature changes and found a strong link.  
"It is very unlikely for there to be any other reason for those linkages, other than the human influence on the temperature," said Cynthia Rosenzweig, a scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and lead author of the study...."

And then there's the melting Arctic ice cap.

Published on Feb 21, 2014
56:15 Lindzen:  You tell that to a farmer and he scratches his head and thinks you're crazy.  He knows the field station will be developing new breeds.   Alex: Yeah, that's great. Lindzen:  Absolutely, I meant you have air conditioners, you have heating systems (laughs)it's just crazy.
Boy, talk about "just crazy" - apparently from the professor's cozy living space, with its air conditioner, refrigerator and his faith in Monsanto, Lindzen can't see what's happening to the world beyond his shuttered windows.  

He doesn't seem to appreciate that his electricity is supplied by power plant's that are also vulnerable to global warming.  Consider, already with what Dr. Lindzen calls an insignificant amount of warming, we've seen forced shut downs due to warming: 

"In the hot, dry summer of 2006, several nuclear plants across Europe stopped operations due to restricted water availability. [4] In August 2012, a nuclear reactor at Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Connecticut shut down after the seawater used for cooling became too warm."
- - -
How Climate Change Puts Our Electricity at Risk (2014)
- - -
Extreme Heat, Drought Show Vulnerability of Nuclear Power Plants
- - -
Worst drought in decades could affect U.S. energy markets | AUGUST 28, 2012


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