By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
July Summary Part III; Models and Observations: Two weeks ago TWTW reviewed Richard Lindzen’s new paper summarizing what we know with reasonable certainty, what we suspect, and what we know is incorrect about climate change, the greenhouse effect, temperature trends, climate modeling, ocean chemistry, and sea level rise. Key parts included:
1) The climate system is never in equilibrium.
2) The core of the system consists of two turbulent fluids interacting with each other and unevenly heated by the sun, which results in transport of heat from the equator towards the poles (meridional) creating ocean cycles that may take 1,000 years to complete.
3) The two most important substances in the greenhouse effect are water vapor and clouds, which are not fully understood and are not stable.
4) A vital component of the atmosphere is water in its liquid, solid, and vapor phases and the changes in phases have immense dynamic consequences.
5) Doubling carbon dioxide, (CO2), creates a 2% disturbance to the normal flow of energy into the system and out of the system, which is similar to the disturbance created by changes in clouds and other natural features.
6) Temperatures in the tropics have been extremely stable. It is the temperature differences between the tropics and polar regions that is extremely important. Calculations such as global average temperature largely ignore this important difference.
Last week, TWTW used the work of William van Wijngaarden and William Happer (W & H) to summarize what we know with reasonable certainty, what we suspect, and what we know is incorrect about the greenhouse effect. Both the gentlemen are experts in Atomic, Molecular, and Optical physics (AMO), which is far from simple physics, but is necessary to understand how greenhouse gases interfere (delay) the radiation of energy from the surface into space – how the earth loses its heat every day, mainly at night.
1) There is no general understanding sufficient to develop elegant equations.
2) The optical depth or optical thickness of the atmosphere (transparency) changes as altitude changes. The depth is measured in terms of a natural logarithm and, in this instance, relates to distance a photon of a particular frequency can travel before it is absorbed by an appropriate molecule (one that absorbs and re-emits photons of that frequency).
3) Unlike other natural greenhouse gases, water vapor, the dominant greenhouse gas, is not well distributed in the atmosphere, its irregular. [SEPP Comment: It is variability during the daytime, the formation of clouds from H2O, etc., all combine to make it impossible to do theoretical computational "climate" dynamics with any value at all. Because H2O is known to be “all over the map" the Charney Report recognized a decent calculation was impossible. So, it went down the erroneous path of ignoring H2O and assumed a CO2 value; and then coming back in later with a "feedback" argument to try to account for H2O. It didn’t work then, now, or into the future.]
4) There is a logarithmic relationship between greenhouse gases and temperature.
5) “Saturation” means that adding more molecules causes little change in Earth’s radiation to space. The very narrow range in which Methane (CH4) can absorb and emit photons is already saturated by water vapor (H2O), the dominant greenhouse gas, below the tropopause, where the atmosphere is thick. Thus, adding methane has little effect on temperatures because its influence is mostly where the atmosphere is thin, transparent.
6) Their (W & H) calculations show that a doubling of CO2 will increase temperatures by no more than 1.5 ⁰ C.
Based on Nakamura’s discussion, he is a stronger advocate of the Thermohaline circulation than Lindzen, particularly in the cold southward flowing water on the bottom of the Atlantic. In his discussion on this phenomena, Nakamura states Professor Lindzen may disagree, asking how do you know?
As presented in the September 28, 2019, TWTW, Australian reporter Tony Thomas, who has followed the climate issue for years, reviews the book, emphasizing that the certainty claimed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its followers is hollow.
Among other important changing phenomena, the climate system is largely made up of two fluids in dynamic motion, the ocean, and the atmosphere, and we simply do not know enough about fluid dynamics to make long-term predictions about the interactions of these fluids. According to Nakamura the climate models are useful tools for academic purposes, but useless for prediction. As quoted by Thomas, Nakamura writes:
“These models completely lack some critically important climate processes and feedbacks and represent some other critically important climate processes and feedbacks in grossly distorted manners to the extent that makes these models totally useless for any meaningful climate prediction.
“I myself used to use climate simulation models for scientific studies, not for predictions, and learned about their problems and limitations in the process.”
Nakamura and his colleagues tried to repair the errors:
“…so, I know the workings of these models very well. For better or worse I have more or less lost interest in the climate science and am not thrilled to spend so much of my time and energy in this kind of writing beyond the point that satisfies my own sense of obligation to the US and Japanese taxpayers who financially supported my higher education and spontaneous and free research activity. So please expect this to be the only writing of this sort coming from me.
“I am confident that some honest and courageous, true climate scientists will continue to publicly point out the fraudulent claims made by the mainstream climate science community in English. I regret to say this, but I am also confident that docile and/or incompetent Japanese climate researchers will remain silent until the ’mainstream climate science community’ changes its tone, if ever.”
Thomas writes some of the gross model simplifications are:
• Ignorance about large and small-scale ocean dynamics.
• A complete lack of meaningful representations of aerosol changes that generate clouds.
• Lack of understanding of drivers of ice-albedo (reflectivity) feedbacks: “Without a reasonably accurate representation, it is impossible to make any meaningful predictions of climate variations and changes in the middle and high latitudes and thus the entire planet.”
• Inability to deal with water vapor elements.
• Arbitrary “tunings” (fudges) of key parameters that are not understood.
As Richard Lindzen has stated for years, the models fail to capture changes in clouds including changing cloud area and that the sizes of clouds are too small for grid scale modeling.
Nakamura’s work reinforces what many, including Lindzen, have stated. But it is refreshing to see that a modeler who spent years trying to model the climate system recognizes how unsuccessful this 40 plus year effort has been.
To the above, one can quote from the beginning of the English appendix of Nakamura’s book:
“Before pointing out a few of the serious flaws in climate simulation models, in defense of those climate researchers who use climate simulation models for various meaningful scientific projects, I want to emphasize here that climate simulation models are fine tools to study the climate system, so long as the users are aware of the limitations of the models and exercise caution in designing experiments and interpreting their output. In this sense, experiments to study the response of simplified climate systems, such as those generated by the ‘state-of-the-art’ climate simulation models, to major increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases are also interesting and meaningful academic projects that are certainly worth pursuing. So long as the results of such projects are presented with disclaimers that unambiguously state the extent to which the results can be compared with the real world, I would not have any problem with such projects. The models just become useless pieces of junk or worse (worse, in a sense that they can produce gravely misleading output) only when they are used for climate forecasting.
“All climate simulation models have many details that become fatal flaws when they are used as climate forecasting tools, especially for mid- to long-term (several years and longer) climate variations and changes. These models completely lack some of critically important climate processes and feedbacks, and represent some other critically important climate processes and feedbacks in grossly distorted manners to the extent that makes these models totally useless for any meaningful climate prediction. It means that they are also completely useless for assessing the effects of the past atmospheric carbon dioxide increase on the climate. I myself used to use climate simulation models for scientific studies, not for predictions, and learned about their problems and limitations in the process. I, with help of some of my former colleagues, even modified some details of these models in attempts to improve them by making some of grossly simplified expressions of physical processes in the models less grossly simplified, based on physical theories. So, I know the internal workings of these models very well. I find it rather bewildering that so many climate researchers, many of whom are only ‘so-called climate researchers’ in my not-so-humble opinion, appear to firmly believe in the validity of using these models for climate forecasting. I have observed that many of those climate researchers who firmly believe in the global warming hypothesis view the climate system in a grotesquely simplified fashion: many of them view the climate system as a horizontally homogeneous (no variations in the north-south and east-west directions) or zonally homogeneous (no variations in the east-west direction) system whose dynamics are dominated by the radiative-chemical-convective processes, smooth vertical-north-south motions in the atmosphere, and stationary oceans, and completely neglect the geophysical fluid dynamics, an extremely important and strong factor in the maintenance of the climate and generation of climate variations and changes. So, in their view, those climate simulation models that have ostensible 3 D flows in the atmosphere and oceans may be more than good enough for making climate predictions. They are not good enough. Incidentally, I never liked the term, ‘model validation’, often used by most climate researchers to refer to the action of assessing the extent to which the model output resembles the reality. They should use a more honest term such as ‘model assessment’ rather than the disingenuous term, ‘model validation’, and evaluate the model performance in an objective and scientific manner rather than trying to construct narratives that justify the use of these models for climate predictions. [Boldface in original]
“The most obvious and egregious problem is the treatment of incoming solar energy — it is treated as a constant, that is, as a ‘never changing quantity’. It should not require an expert to explain how absurd this is if ‘climate forecasting’ is the aim of the model use. It has been only several decades since we acquired an ability to accurately monitor the incoming solar energy. In these several decades only, it has varied by 1 to 2 Watts per square meters. Is it reasonable to assume that it will not vary any more than that in the next hundred years or longer for forecasting purposes? I would say ‘No’.
“One can stop here and proclaim that we can never predict climate changes because of our inability to predict changes in the incoming solar energy. Nevertheless, for the sake of providing some useful pieces of information that can help countervail rampantly bold and absurd claims such as ‘We can correctly predict climate changes that are attributable only to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide to assess the human impact on the climate’, I will describe two problematic aspects of climate simulation models below. I also hear somewhat less bold claims such as ‘These models can correctly predict at least the sense or direction of climate changes that are attributable only to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.’ I want to point out a simple fact that it is impossible to correctly predict even the sense or direction of the change of a system when the prediction tool lacks and/ or grossly distorts important nonlinear processes, feedbacks in particular, that are present in the actual system.” [Boldface added.]