Where I Point Out To NASA That The Troposphere Isn’t Warming As Fast As It Should and They Warn Me About Profanities!



NASA Climate Change have an account on Facebook where they regularly update their followers with the latest news and research re. the ‘climate crisis’. Today they posted this article about a new pat on the back accuracy study, with this caption:

Study: NASA’s estimate of Earth’s long-term temperature rise in recent decades is accurate to within less than a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, providing confidence that past and future research is correctly capturing rising surface temperatures.

It’s not that I mean to wind up climate experts, but, following Paul’s post, I thought I should just dutifully mention that other global temperature dataset, derived via state of the art satellites designed and put into space by NASA, which unfortunately does anything but confirm that the earth is warming in accordance with climate model predictions. This seemed to upset the little man or woman hiding behind the NASA Facebook account:

Screenshot_2019-05-24 NASA Climate Change - Posts (2)

This was their sharp reply:

Screenshot_2019-05-24 NASA Climate Change - Posts

Somewhat irritated myself by such a ridiculous response, I then left this comment:

Screenshot_2019-05-24 NASA Climate Change - Posts (3)

I think this just proves that NASA are not interested in any scientific debate about the causes of the increase in global surface temperature which their thermometers ‘accurate to within a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit’ so lovingly and precisely reveal. Quite obviously, they will threaten to censor any comments they feel which are not ‘on topic’, i.e. comments which call into question the anthropogenic global warming dogma.


  1. Well done – a little jab into one of the big CO2 Alarm beasts pushing absurd claims about their skills as part of their campaigning to promote alarms out of thin air. Who knows, maybe one or more of their Facebook operators will get pause for thought, as well as a bollocking from higher-ups for letting your comments appear at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just a point to consider. Amplified tropical tropospheric warming is expected for any warming, not simply for greenhouse gas-driven warming. Hence, if the tropical troposphere is indeed warming more slowly than expected, it doesn’t specifically challenge our understanding of anthropogenically-driven warming. What it may indicate is weaker water vapour feedback and, hence, weaker lapse rate feedback (which is what would produce the tropospheric hot spot). It turns out that if you combine these two effects, the result is that we would expect slightly more surface warming, rather than slightly less. In other words, if the tropical troposphere is indeed warming more slowly than expected, it indicates a slight higher, rather than lower, climate sensitivity. You can read more detail about this in Steven Sherwood’s contribution here.


  3. Welcome back Ken and thanks for pointing out this link, which I’d seen before but forgotten about. I’ll read through it again when I get the time.


  4. Ken is making a point I seem to remember Richard Lindzen making way back. And that would be a first for me (though not necessarily for Ken). There is something mysterious not hanging together here.


  5. I think the important point is not about the hotspot but the warming rate of the bulk troposphere. There is a very large gap between the data and the climate model predictions. Whether the lack of a hot spot is going to result in more of less warming at the surface is less important. Generally, at the surface in the tropics data shows less warming than models too but not by as big a factor. For those who think Cristy’s data is an outlier, Real Climate shows much the same thing even though their baselining period is much longer and so the differences are somewhat smaller.

    It is certainly true too that the IPCC has chosen to not show this data while highlighting global mean surface temperature vs. models. Even that didn’t look too good in AR5 and they scaled down their short term predicted range from the model range.

    The nitpicks from ATTP about Cristy and his report are kind of secondary. Whether the models are “falsified” or not is likewise irrelevant. They clearly get the patterns of warming and precipitation for example wrong by a lot. Those patterns are the value added of these models over energy balance methods which also do a good job of matching global mean surface temperature. The truncation errors in climate models are much larger than the small changes in energy fluxes being sought. This implies that skill is due to cancellation of errors for the outputs related to those involved in tuning.

    What continues to be surprising is how easily the climate science community continues to rely on these models for all kinds of predictions and inferences about how the climate works. This has become almost something of a mass delusion in which negative results are usually not published and even when they are, they are not discussed much.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. DPY,

    What continues to be surprising is how easily the climate science community continues to rely on these models for all kinds of predictions and inferences about how the climate works.

    Would you rather they were just guessing?


  7. Well, ATTP, As I’ve said many times, I wish scientists would focus on theoretical concepts and on ways to assess and control numerical error in dynamical system simulations. There is some outlier work by Wang at MIT for example that is excellent, but its dwarfed by the millions of papers about running the model and trying to find something significant in the output (p hacking warning). This observation applies to lots of fields of science.

    All eddy resolving chaotic time accurate simulations have a very serious problem in that classical methods to control numerical error fail. If you can’t control numerical error, all tuning exercises are not applicable when the grinding is changed for example. There is plenty of work to do here even though its higher risk research because the problems are hard.

    I would point to Lindzen’s iris hypothesis as an example of new theoretical ideas. The response to this idea is a classical example of dysfunctional science.

    Another way to advance is to combine simpler computational models with theoretical hypotheses, This can sometimes be done for example to leverage 2D simulations into 3D situations.

    What is currently being done with models is often little better than “guessing.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I do find it amazing that people still waste time with the genre of “rapid response” to any publication of skeptical scientists. ATTP’s post on this is an example. If there is a problem with the data, which I doubt (since Real Climate shows much the same thing), one could make a contribution by analyzing it in a different way. Generating more world salad is not a contribution.


  9. I saw this and thought it was a fake NASA site and comments seem to close shortly after I suggested that. It was badly written and the responses from NASA were child like! 😳🍃


  10. Ken, in response to your comment @25 May 11.17am, I have commented on Paul’s thread https://cliscep.com/2019/05/23/climate-models-have-been-predicting-too-much-warming/#comment-37732.

    I paste my comment below:

    For me, the central issue here is whether, according to the models, accelerated warming in the tropical troposphere is a unique signature of GHG warming. If it is, and the warming is significantly less than predicted by the climate models, does this then ‘falsify’ – i.e. invalidate – the models as tools for projecting future GHG-induced warming? Christy addresses the first question:

    “Almost all of the models show such a warming, and none show it when extra greenhouse gas forcing is not included. Figure 6 shows the warming trends from 102 climate models, and the average trend is 0.44C per decade.This is quite fast: over 40 years, it amounts to almost 2C, although some models have slower warming and some faster. However, the real-world warming is much lower; around one third of the model average.”

    This makes it quite clear that a unique signature of GHG-induced warming according to the models is accelerated warming in the tropical troposphere. No matter then the objections of Ken on my post who points out that Mears and Sherwood have said that accelerated tropical tropospheric warming relative to the surface will happen with any surface warming, also that its absence does not violate the laws of physics or necessarily imply that GHG induced warming is not happening. We are talking here about the climate models. They do uniquely predict accelerated warming in the tropical troposphere due to the accumulation of GHGs.

    So, to address the second point, if this accelerated warming is not happening, and indeed it appears not to be happening – despite the protestations of some scientists that the balloon data and satellite data are not sufficiently accurate to demonstrate this – then the model projections of tropospheric warming are falsified. To argue, as Richard Betts has done, on Twitter, against Jonathon Jones, that because they fail in one region of the atmosphere doesn’t mean they are ‘wrong’ is plain silly. A vital, key prediction of the models is just not happening, which implies that the models have something very wrong in their basic architecture and that therefore they are not to be relied upon as tools for estimating future GHG warming. That is science and that is the scientific method. Until climate modellers can demonstrate that their models perform reasonably well in all areas of the real world, then we cannot be expected to have faith in their overall estimates of future GHG-induced surface warming (which is where we all live, as NASA points out to me, bot 30-40,000 feet up in the air).


  11. Jaime,

    This makes it quite clear that a unique signature of GHG-induced warming according to the models is accelerated warming in the tropical troposphere.

    It’s very clearly not a unique signature of GHG-induced warming. It’s very simply a consequence of extra water vapour condensing in the troposphere and heating that region. This should happen whatever is causing the warming.

    As far as the models are wrong argument, yes they could well be getting this wrong. However, there are a couple of things to bear in mind. There are papers that suggest that we are indeed seeing amplified warming in the tropical troposphere (I linked to articles that discuss these in my most recent post) so it’s not clear that the discrepancy is as large as suggested. Also, we’re pretty confident that warmer air will hold more water vapour and that this should lead to enhanced condensation in the troposphere. It would be extremely surprising if warming in the tropical troposphere were not enhanced in some way (the moist adiabat is clearly different to the dry adiabat, for example). Also, all models are wrong at some level, so what is the significance of this discrepancy? As already pointed out, there are two competing factors (water vapour feedback and lapse rate feedback). If the amplified warming in the tropical troposphere is much smaller than we expect that that would seem to indicate a slightly higher climate sensitivity, rather than lower.

    A final point about models. If this discrepancy does hold up, then the models have still told us something. They might be wrong about this, but they’re still useful.


  12. Here is an interesting Isaac Held post that discusses this. It also points out that climate sensitivity would likely be higher, rather than lower, if warming in the tropical troposphere is slower than expected. It also says (which I hadn’t appreciated)

    A failure of the upper troposphere to warm as much as anticpated by this simple argument would signal a destabilization of the tropics — rising parcels would experience a larger density difference with their environment, creating more intense vertical accelerations — affecting all tropical phenomena involving deep convection. I like to refer to warming following the moist adiabat as the most “conservative” possible — having the least impact on tropical meteorology.


  13. Ken,

    It’s very clearly not a unique signature of GHG-induced warming. It’s very simply a consequence of extra water vapour condensing in the troposphere and heating that region. This should happen whatever is causing the warming.

    You misread my comment . . . . . “according to the models”. The models with GHG-forcings predict a tropospheric tropical hotspot. They don’t predict this in the absence of GHG-forcing. Therefore they have failed in this one vital area. therefore they cannot be relied upon and the only sense in which they are ‘useful’ is as tools for inspiring policy based not upon sound science.

    If this were not bad enough, that they simply failed to predict the correct amount of warming in the troposphere. They also comprehensively failed to capture the character of the warming which has taken place. It is also highly doubtful that models have accurately simulated the character and magnitude of another key component of GHG-forcing – stratospheric cooling. All in all, they’ve failed quite abysmally to model the actual changes in the vertical structure of the atmosphere since measurements began.


  14. The person writing on the face page has the little red book and will not ‘debate’. Don’t confuse me with difficult facts, my mind is made up, that’s the rule.

    Your comment was agreeably slightly off-topic, and drive-by linking is also a trolling method – dropping a link is quick, reading and commenting is time-consuming.

    OTOH, the answer was evasive, banal, didn’t address the issue at all. Hiding behind the rulebook by copy-pasting it is the cheapest figleaf she/he could find. Don’t blame him/her. He/she was tasked to do this difficult thing and instructed not to spend time on it.


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