Monckton and the Engineer Judge

Christopher Monckton has a new post at WattsUpWithThat claiming that climate sensitivity is about 1.2°K, not the IPCC’s 3.3°K. So what? Monckton has many articles at WUWT, and lots of people have claimed a lower sensitivity of this order.

I’m signalling the article here, and encouraging the scientifically literate to comment, for two reasons.

(1) The article makes a truly important claim, summarised at the end thus:

To refute it, they would have to show […] that it is justifiable to assume that […] 255.4 K of emission temperature generates no feedback at all, while the next 8 K of warming suddenly causes 24 K of feedback, as if by magic.

but is too technical for me (or many others, I imagine) to be able to judge its validity

(2) Most of the comments so far completely miss the non-scientific point of the article. A case “People of California v. British Petroleum plc et al.” is being heard this week before a rather unusual judge. Judge Alsup took a BSc. in engineering before studying law in order to work for the civil rights movement. Monckton has a paper outlining his claim about lower climate sensitivity currently under review. He and his co-authors have filed their paper before the court, which means that it is now publicly available. As a result, it is no longer bound by the normal rules of confidentiality applying to papers under review, and Monckton has therefore revealed the abstract and the contents of the paper in his article.

It is therefore possible to conduct open public peer review here and at WUWT alongside the confidential sort which is being conducted at the “leading climatological journal” to which the paper has been submitted.

If the judge accepts the submission of Monckton’s paper before the court, the claims in the paper will presumably count as evidence for the defence, and it will be open to the plaintiffs to call expert witnesses to counter them.

Popcorn time.

23 thoughts on “Monckton and the Engineer Judge

  1. While I was writing the above, peer review began in earnest at WUWT, with many excellent comments, and many excellent replies from Monckton. I was talking in the article above about the first couple of dozen replies, some of which were probably written in haste. There are not many comments though on the possible repercussions of the filing of the paper in the California court case.

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  2. (1) The article makes a truly important claim, summarised at the end thus:

    To refute it, they would have to show […] that it is justifiable to assume that […] 255.4 K of emission temperature generates no feedback at all, while the next 8 K of warming suddenly causes 24 K of feedback, as if by magic.

    This isn’t important, it’s confused. 255K is the effective radiative temperature of the planet. Given an albedo of about 0.3 and given the current solar insolation, energy equilibrium would require us emitting – into space – as much energy per square metre per second as a 255 K blackbody. If there is no atmosphere (or no radiatively active gases on the atmosphere) then all this energy would be radiated from the surface. If there is an atmosphere with radiatively active gases, then some will be radiated from within the atmosphere. Given that the temperature in the atmosphere decreases with altitude, this means that the surface will be warmer than it would be in the absence of this atmosphere. This is what we call the greenhouse effect and, in pre-industrial times, it warmed the surface by about 33K (or, alternatively, increase the surface temperature so that it emitted as much as a 288K blackbody). We now added enough GHGs to have warmed the surface by about an extra 1K.

    However, we are still emitting – into space – the same amount of energy per square metre per second as a 255K blackbody. This doesn’t depend on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. What does depend on the GHGs in the atmosphere is where this emissions comes from, and their presence acts to increase the surface temperature, without – when in equilibrium – changing the effective radiative temperature (255 K).

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  3. ATTP
    Thanks for your comment. I hope it will generate an intelligent debate, and I will mercilessly censor remarks which simply insult sceptical opinions like yours. The Monckton article doesn’t mention black body radiation. As I understand it, he is arguing 1) that all the temperature rise due to the sun’s radiation needs to be treated in the same fashion, and not simply the recent increased heating due to increased greenhouse gasses and 2) the hyperbolic nature of the relation between climate sensitivity and feedback means that most of the future wa rming will be due to greenhouse gasses and very little due to hard-to-predict feedbacks. Have I got that right, and do you agree?

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  4. Geoff,

    As I understand it, he is arguing 1) that all the temperature rise due to the sun’s radiation needs to be treated in the same fashion, and not simply the recent increased heating due to increased greenhouse gasses

    It is treated the same way. The source of all the energy is still the Sun. The GHGs acts to enhance the surface temperature. In their absence, it would be essentially 255K (or, the surface would emit the same amount of energy as a 255K blackbody). If you add GHGs they prevent the surface from radiating directly to space and, consequently, the surface temperature rises.

    and 2) the hyperbolic nature of the relation between climate sensitivity and feedback means that most of the future wa rming will be due to greenhouse gasses and very little due to hard-to-predict feedbacks. Have I got that right, and do you agree?

    No, it’s almost certain that feedbacks will amplify the GHG-driven warming in future. In fact, it’s very hard to see how feedbacks cannot operate. We know there are factors that respond to changes in temperature (water vapour, lapse rate, clouds, etc). It’s very unlikely that they would simply cancel each other out.

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  5. Brad Keyes says:20 Mar 18:08:40

    Thanks for (ahem) keeping it civil, guys. Good questions and answers so far.

    HA HA HA With only Geoff and Ken Rice responding. (after reading Monckington @WUWT), Let me start . That article truly shows that ‘academic meteorology’ is but arrogant incompetence bordering on if not including, clinical insanity! Why else would anyone claiming ‘science’ also claim that EMR power flux is a form of “heat energy” (an aggregation of power in mass over time); both latent and sensible heat. Perhaps more after shopping for kitten food.

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  6. attp says “No, it’s almost certain that feedbacks will amplify the GHG-driven warming in future. In fact, it’s very hard to see how feedbacks cannot operate. We know there are factors that respond to changes in temperature (water vapour, lapse rate, clouds, etc). It’s very unlikely that they would simply cancel each other out.”

    why will this be the case ? these feedbacks are currently in operation , where is the runaway amplification ?

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  7. No, it’s almost certain that feedbacks will amplify the GHG-driven warming in future. In fact, it’s very hard to see how feedbacks cannot operate. We know there are factors that respond to changes in temperature (water vapour, lapse rate, clouds, etc). It’s very unlikely that they would simply cancel each other out.

    That’s climate science, on the one hand we don’t know, but it’s almost certain and they are very unlikely

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  8. Most grateful for this thread. The central point our paper makes is that, since a temperature feedback response is a feedback response to a temperature, the 255.4 K emission temperature of the Earth must itself induce quite a large feedback response, One cannot, as climatology has hitherto done, assume that the emission temperature induces no temperature feedback response, and yet that suddenly the next 8 K of temperature, driven by forcings from the presence of the naturally-occurring, non-condensing greenhouse gases, induces a large temperature feedback response.

    Climatology has hitherto failed to realize that the emission temperature induces a feedback response because it uses a simplified form of the zero-dimensional-model equation that does not contain a term for the emission temperature. Therefore, at present climatology assumes that it must explain the 32 K difference between emission temperature and the natural temperature as it stood in 1850 by imagining that the approximately 8 K of directly-forced temperature caused by the presence of the pre-industrial non-condensing greenhouse gases induces a 24 K temperature feedback response.

    The correct position is that about 23.4 K of the 32 K is feedback response to emission temperature itself, and that only about 0.7 K is feedback response to the greenhouse-driven direct warming. Therefore, official climatology has hitherto assumed that the pre-industrial feedback fraction is an order of magnitude greater than it is, and it has also assumed that that much-overstated feedback fraction applies also in the present (see e.g. Lacis et al., 2010).

    The true pre-industrial feedback fraction is not 0.75, as imagined in Lacis (2010): it is 1 – (255.4 + 8) / 287.6, or 0.084.

    We can derive an industrial-era feedback fraction by noting that in IPCC (2013, fig. SPM.5) the mid-range estimate of total net anthropogenic forcing to 2011 is 2.29 Watts per square meter. Divide that by 3.2 to allow for the current value of the Planck sensitivity parameter, and the direct warming before taking account of feedbacks is 0.72 K. However, from 1850-2011, according to HadCRUT4, there was 0.76 K warming. So, given that all feedbacks included in the equilibrium-sensitivity calculation olperate on timescales of years at most, 0.76 K is effectively the equilibrium warming to date. Then the industrial-era feedback fraction is 1 – 0.72 / 0.76, or 0.052. This is quite close to the pre-industrial value.

    But we have not allowed for the slow pace of ocean overturning, However, we know that the pre-industrial feedback fraction is a genuine equilibrium fraction, ocean overturning having already taken place long since the greenhouse gases first appeared. Therefore, there is no reason to suspect that today’s feedback fraction is more than about double the 0.05 derived above. In that event, Charney sensitivity to doubled CO2 is not 3.3 K, the CMIP models’ central estimate, but just 1.2 K.

    That’s a rather breathless account, but it gives the general idea of our result. The central point is worth restating. You can’t assume that there is no feedback response to emission temperature of 255.4 K and yet that, as if by magic, there is a large feedback response to the next 8 K of temperature. Both these temperatures induce feedback responses, of 23.4 K and 0.7 K respectively (or thereby).

    The feedbacks cannot distinguish between emission temperature and the additional greenhouse-driven temperature and decide that they will only induce responses to the latter. Temperature is temperature, so that not only the greenhouse warming of 8 K but also the emission temperature of 255.4 K induces a feedback response.

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  9. man in a barrel says: 20 Mar 18:23:49

    “That’s climate science, on the one hand we don’t know, but it’s almost certain and they are very unlikely”

    That is the part that exhibits likely insanity! Climate Clowns exhibit:
    1) No ability to calculate Earth’s atmospheric mass from sea-level pressure! (incompetence)
    2) No ability to distinguish EMR flux (W/m²) from energy (Joules)! (incompetence)
    3) Insistence that mass spontaneously emits EMR flux proportional to K^4! (insanity)
    While 1,2 can be done with sufficient ‘learning’; 3 has never been observed nor measured by anyone, ever!
    I could go on ’till the cows come home; but CAGW believers are dining on beef brisket; rather than our red-beans and rice of those that can do rather than only teach (academia)!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Alan Kindall: I trust commensurate; but will commiserate on your huge effort to teach anything to anyone in these times. There is no longer “backing out from Witt’s end”! 🙂

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  11. I have now received my Chinese Famili Ultrasonic Cleaner FM8000WW. So Wonderful! Quickly dispatches crud from last years old beer cans. At the same time driving Kitten Shadow completely nutz.
    Are we having fun yet? I lovesoves my kitten!

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  12. Many thanks to MONCKTON OF BRENCHLEY (21 Mar 18 at 12:31 am) for the clarification. The problem for someone like me with basic mathematical competence but no specialised knowledge is that I can work out what the equations are saying and follow the logic of the argument (though I couldn’t reproduce it without risking saying something silly) but I can’t be sure there’s not some giant flaw in the reasoning or basic presuppositions. If no-one here or at WUWT points out some basic flaw, then I work on a kind of reverse consensus principle and assume it’s OK. It’s not scientific, but it’s the best I can do.

    In ATTP’s reply (20 Mar 18 at 7:38 am) on the other hand, I see only a simple assertion in the first sentence that the base temperature of 255°K is treated in the same way as any rise due to GHGs. The rest of his first paragraph seems to be basic truisms, and the second paragraph truisms and a non sequitur. In answer to his last sentence: “It’s very unlikely that they would simply cancel each other out,” I remember a bar chart from an IPCC report that treated feedbacks as linear and additive and did indeed suggest that they might cancel each other out, and might even result in an overall negative feedback.

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  13. One cannot, as climatology has hitherto done, assume that the emission temperature induces no temperature feedback response, and yet that suddenly the next 8 K of temperature, driven by forcings from the presence of the naturally-occurring, non-condensing greenhouse gases, induces a large temperature feedback response.

    Except this is not what is assumed. The 255K is the temperature of a blackbody that emits the same amount of energy (per square metre per second) as we do into space, given current albedo and solar insolation. This is still the case, even with the greenhouse effect (if you observe the Earth from space then it will appear to have an effective temperature of 255K).

    If there is no atmosphere (and, hence, no greenhouse gases) then all this energy will be radiated directly to space from the surface. Therefore the surface will have an effective temperature of 255K. With an atmosphere with greenhouse gases, it can’t all be radiated from the surface; some is radiated from within the atmosphere. Consequently, the surface is warmer than it would otherwise be; the greenhouse effect.

    The point is that you can’t break it up into 255K plus 8K of CO2-driven warming and ~24K of feedback to this CO2-driven warming. In a sense the input is unchanged (the Sun). All that’s happening is that greenhouse gases cause some of the energy that is radiated to space to be radiated from within the atmosphere, causing the surface to be warmer.

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  14. and Then There’s Physics says: 1Mar18:18:55 –This is Ken Rice a Reader of Astronomy and Public Relations Director at the Institute for Astronomy, within the School of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh (UK).

    (if you observe the Earth from space then it will appear to have an effective temperature of 255K). If there is no atmosphere (and, hence, no greenhouse gases) then all this energy will be radiated directly to space from the surface. Therefore the surface will have an effective temperature of 255K.

    But this Earth has a non-transparent atmosphere, and never had such, if you would bother to measure! So at what pressure\temperature altitude above sea level does Earth’s atmosphere appear opaque from space? Is that not 40kPa\255K? Why do you claim a lower altitude sea level as “some radiating surface”? Why is lower atmosphere not at elevated temperature as demanded by the gas Laws under gravitational compression?

    All that’s happening is that greenhouse gases cause some of the energy that is radiated to space to be radiated from within the atmosphere, causing the surface to be warmer.

    What concerted SCAMing drivel having no observational\measurable evidence whatsoever!

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  15. Geoff Chambers says: 21 Mar18:16:50

    Ron Clutz has a link to the evidence offered by Happer, Koonin and Lindzen for Judge Alsup’s Climate Tutorial in the California court case
    https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/climate-tutorial-for-judge-alsup/

    This submission will likely un-impress the 9th Circuit! If the Oil companies have sufficient resources (and they do), to proceed to a ruling y SCOT-US. This CAGW-SCAM will be retired to the dust-bin!

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  16. Three points that I’d be pleased if Ken could address while he’s here.

    1. I’m assuming that the positive feedbacks referred to are mainly as a result of the extra water vapour in the atmosphere, thus the theory is:

    >CO2 -> more heat -> more water vapour -> more heat -> more water vapour ->more heat … In electronics this feedback would be catastrophic, actually in all instances this feedback would be catastrophic, yet I’m told that the climate science community doesn’t believe there will be runaway global warming, but not why. Do you know Ken?

    2. If the Earth was so fragile it’s not plausible that this positive feedback hasn’t happened before. Now that we’ve got the climate science community to agree that there was a MWP, a Roman Warming Period a Minoan Warm Period (on what. seems a 1000 year cycle) could someone explain to me why we didn’t see the catastrophes in the records after these temperature rises.

    3. Why is it assumed that the water vapour will not cause clouds and an increase in the cryosphere? When have been eagerly informed that the recent ice and snow are a direct result of global warming, and I can but agree, it makes sense. Ultimately we appear to have a self-repairing mechanism for positive feedbacks else we none of us would be here now.

    Finally we’ll await the Monckton et al paper and the responses from the scientific community with anticipation. Personally I can’t believe that the whole climate science community could have missed such a fundamental mistake, or as we used to say when I was in the research labs an FFCU. (Fundamental Fucking Cock Up, in the 70s people would spend month designing and testing an electric circuit only to find it was available on a chip, no search engines then and you had to go through reams of paper to find if the chip was available) Say what you like there are some real smart cookies in climate science and it’s difficult to see how they’ve overlooked this. Having said that Lord Monckton does make a good point, there are always feedbacks in action at all temperatures in a system prone to feedbacks and it seems unlikely that we’d be here today if the Earth’s response was so fragile.

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  17. geronimo,

    In electronics this feedback would be catastrophic, actually in all instances this feedback would be catastrophic, yet I’m told that the climate science community doesn’t believe there will be runaway global warming, but not why. Do you know Ken?

    In climate science, the feedbacks are typically taken to be water vapour, lapse rate, and clouds. However, there is also the Planck response which is essentially a strongly negative feedback and is why we don’t undergo runaway. It is negative and has a larger magnitude than the sum of all the other feedbacks. For example, the Planck response is about -3.2W/m^2/K, while the sum of the other feedbacks is around 2W/m^2/K. If, for example, we double atmospheric CO2, then that would produce a change in forcing a around 3.7W/m^2. If the surface then warmed be about 3K, then it would return to equilibrium (3.7W/m^2 + 2W/m^2/K * 3 – 3.2W/m^2/K*3 ~ 0).

    Now that we’ve got the climate science community to agree that there was a MWP, a Roman Warming Period a Minoan Warm Period (on what. seems a 1000 year cycle) could someone explain to me why we didn’t see the catastrophes in the records after these temperature rises.

    Define catastrophe. Past climate changes are consistent with how sensitive we expect our climate to be to external perturbations.

    I’m not clear as to what you’re asking in 3.

    Personally I can’t believe that the whole climate science community could have missed such a fundamental mistake, or as we used to say when I was in the research labs an FFCU.

    Indeed, because it is not a fundamental mistake, and hence they haven’t missed it.

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  18. Indeed, because it is not a fundamental mistake, and hence they haven’t missed it. No fundamental mistake only gross incompetence of all “regulated” academic dweebs! The ‘regulated’, armed American milita (folk) shall never accept such gross incompetence from the idiot self appointed academic!

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  19. Thanks Ken. I’ve asked the question about runaway feedback many times and not got the answer from any of the distinguished scientist I asked. I wonder why? It’s the Planck response, I’ll take a look at that.

    “Define catastrophe.”

    Forgive me Ken, I thought that if we could not contain the temperature at a rise of 1.5 to 2C it was going to be disastrous for us. Now you have me, because I don’t see any cause for alarm in a warming climate I’m trying to understand why others, particularly climate scientists, do. I’d assumed that as the climate science community were calling for mitigation they’d have something worth mitigating in mind, i.e. a catastrophe. So I will pluck one out of the air. Vickie Pope of the Met Office forecast that if the Greenland Ice Cap melted it would cause a sea rise of 6-7M. To the normal Joe that sounds pretty catastrophic, and I know Richard Betts is worried about it as we’ve corresponded on it. But droughts, floods, even wars are forecast if we can’t cap at 2C, so they sound catastrophic too. If you get my drift.

    “I’m not clear as to what you’re asking in 3.”

    You’re not alone there. I’ll re-phrase it to see if I can make myself clearer.

    The major positive feedback factor is water vapour caused by warming oceans. So are clouds. Clouds are a negative feedback factor, so if water vapour increases why wouldn’t clouds? I guess the question is are we sufficiently knowledgeable about cloud formation to know that the water vapour in the atmosphere will have a stronger positive feedback effect than the clouds’ negative feedback effect.

    “Indeed, because it is not a fundamental mistake, and hence they haven’t missed it.”

    Although sceptical I’d prefer to see the paper in full and the rebuttals rather than dismiss it out of hand. You know, like Feynman says, “Just in case.”

    Thanks for engaging.

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  20. geronimo,

    Clouds are a negative feedback factor

    This isn’t quite correct. The net effect of clouds (compared to there being no clouds) is to cool. However, clouds can both cool (via low-level clouds reflecting solar radiation back into space) and heat (via high-level clouds trapping outgoing longwavelength flux). Whether clouds are a positive, or negative, feedback depends on how clouds change due to some change in temperature and whether or not the effect of the change is to produce more additional cooling, than heating, or vice versa. Currently, it is regarded as quite likely that the cloud feedback if positive.

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  21. ATTP would be more accurate if he wrote ‘Currently it is regarded by those wishing to preserve the consensus narrative that it is quite likely that the cloud feedback is positive.’ Because we don’t know. ATTP doesn’t know. Skeptics don’t know. I don’t know.

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