Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Open Letter to Benny Peiser re Meeting with Royal Society and Climate Sensitivity.

Dr Peiser.
The meeting between GWPF representatives and  Royal Society nominated  Scientists has been eagerly anticipated by those interested in the "Climate Wars"
You state that the propsed agenda is as follows:

1. The science of global warming, with special reference to (a) the climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide and (b) the extent of natural variability;

2. The conduct and professional standards of those involved in the relevant scientific inquiry and official advisory process.

I urge you to reconsider this agenda for the following reasons.
First  Item #2 is likely to degenerate into  useless argument and recrimination .It will merely produce inherently unprovable opinions which  in any case cast no light on the underlying scientific questions involved.The topic is of obvious interest but should be treated in a different forum from a discussion of the science itself.

As to Item #1  -  The question is framed within the context of the IPCC-  Met office Establishment Science  modelling approach to Climate Forecasting.This assumes that this approach is valid and that "climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide" is a meaningful notion.There is in fact no consistent empirical  relationship over time between global temperature and CO2.We can assume that ,over the oceans , temperature drives CO2 content since colder waters dissolve more CO2 but eg on an annual basis as temperatures rise CO2 levels fall as plants grow and absorb CO2. If ,like the IPCC and the Met office you irrationally wish to assume for modelling purposes that CO2 is the main climate driver  then it is possible to pick  time frames to produce any relationship you want.For example the ice core data  shows clearly that for the Holocene from the Climate Optimum   to the Little Ice Age Co2 can be regarded as an Ice House Gas. In any event unless the extent of natural variability is known with some precision it is not possible to estimate the climate sensitivity to CO2 even if such a concept makes any sense.
But the situation is more basic than the obvious structural deficiences of the specific  IPCC models . The modelling approach is simply inherently incapable of dealing with a system as complex as climate because it is not possible to define the initial parameters  of the many variables or to structure the model  with sufficient precision  to  iterate the multiple processes forward with any measurable accuracy.Even if the model was successful for some reasonable period of time you would not know whether it represented reality and could be used for prediction or simply was the sum of compensating errors.
The question that should be raised with the RS representatives is that of   the basic uselessness of all the IPCC modelling and all the impact studies based on these models.
 Clearly the better way of  forecasting climate is to run power spectrum and wavelet analysis of the best temperature and all possible driver time series to look for correlations and quasi cyclic periodicities at various frequencies.When this is done  reasonable projections can be made. These can be regarded as educated guesses based on the scientific judgement of the maker. If this does not seem scientific or rigorous enough then call them Bayesian inferences to impress the non scientist  but they are the best we can do now.At this time the Milankovic cycles are well established as are a 60 year and less certainly a millenial solar cycle. Based on these cycles and the current solar data it is reasonable to infer that the earth entered a cooling trend in about 2003 which will likely last for another 20 years  and possibly for several hundred years beyond that.It is also reasonable to conclude ,without even knowing the exact mechanisms involved ,that " solar activity"  is the main driver and that the cosmic ray count and or the 10 Be flux is the most useful proxy for measuring this variable.For links to the data and  papers on which these propositions are based see the relevant posts on starting with  "Climate Forecasting Basics for Britains Seven Alarmist Scientists and for UK Politicians."
Best Regards Norman Page.


  1. If you believe that planetary surface temperatures are all to do with radiative forcing rather than non-radiative heat transfers, then you are implicitly agreeing with IPCC authors (and Dr Roy Spencer) that a column of air in the troposphere would have been isothermal but for the assumed greenhouse effect. You are believing this because you are believing the 19th century simplification of the Second Law of Thermodynamics which said heat only transfers from hot to cold - a "law" which is indeed true for all radiation, but only strictly true in a horizontal plane for non-radiative heat transfer by conduction.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics in its modern form explains a process in which thermodynamic equilibrium "spontaneously evolves" and that thermodynamic equilibrium will be the state of greatest accessible entropy.

    Now, thermodynamic equilibrium is not just about temperature, which is determined by the mean kinetic energy of molecules, and nothing else. Pressure, for example, does not control temperature. Thermodynamic equilibrium is a state in which total accessible energy (including potential energy) is homogeneous, because if it were not homogeneous, then work could be done and so entropy could still increase.

    When such a state of thermodynamic equilibrium evolves in a vertical plane in any solid, liquid or gas, molecules at the top of a column will have more gravitational potential energy (PE), and so they must have less kinetic energy (KE), and so a lower temperature, than molecules at the bottom of the column. This state evolves spontaneously as molecules interchange PE and KE in free flight between collisions, and then share the adjusted KE during the next collision.

    This postulate was put forward by the brilliant physicist Loschmidt in the 19th century, but has been swept under the carpet by those advocating that radiative forcing is necessary to explain the observed surface temperatures. Radiative forcing could never explain the mean temperature of the Venus surface, or that at the base of the troposphere of Uranus - or that at the surface of Earth.

    The gravitationally induced temperature gradient in every planetary troposphere is fully sufficient to explain all planetary surface temperatures. All the weak attempts to disprove it, such as a thought experiment with a wire outside a cylinder of gas, are flawed, simply because they neglect the temperature gradient in the wire itself, or other similar oversights.

    The gravity effect is a reality and the dispute is not an acceptable disagreement.

    The issue is easy to resolve with a straight forward, correct understanding of the implications of the spontaneous process described in statements of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    Hence radiative forcing is not what causes the warming, and so carbon dioxide has nothing to do with what is just natural climate change.

  2. "When such a state of thermodynamic equilibrium evolves in a vertical plane in any solid, liquid or gas,..."

    And how do we get a state of thermodynamic equilibrium on a rotating sphere with a 24-hour cycle of night and day? With convection? With the water cycle with latent heat exchanges during phase change from solid to liquid to gas and in reverse? With turbulence? With heat sinks in the form a world ocean occupying two-thirds of the surface of the globe?

    Unfortunately, while thermodynamic equilibrium is a sound concept for pedagogical purposes, it's not of much practical use in modeling the atmosphere because, while the atmosphere everywhere is changing state in the direction of equilibrium, the continuous variations in energy entering the system at any point on the surface ensures that a state of thermodynamic equilibrium is never reached.

    Thermodynamic equilibrium seems to me to be an oxymoron, its useful for teaching physics.

  3. "The meeting between GWPF representatives and Royal Society nominated Scientists"

    - and as such, the terms and agenda have NOTHING to do with you.