Analysis Of Climate Models Show Albedo Not The Number One Arctic Amplifier After All! Albedo Was Hyped

Correction: A reader has pointed out that the paper is an analysis of some models which shows albedo, often claimed by alarmists as the primary Arctic climate driving factor, is not the number one Arctic amplifier after all, as skeptics have long maintained. The paper itself says nothing about the integrity of models, and thus the title above has been changed.

On model integrity, climate models have been compared to observations, see here and here. The results speak for themselves.

==============================

Spiegel here reports on a paper appearing in Nature titled: Arctic amplification dominated by temperature feedbacks in contemporary climate models - by Felix Pithan and Thorsten Mauritsen of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg.

Hat-tip: DirkH

Climate science often claims that nowhere is the climate changing faster than in the Arctic. Scientists have often attributed these changes to albedo effects. But the new study finds that amplification can also occur without changes in albedo. Spiegel writes that the authors, based on an analysis of models, found the largest contribution to Arctic amplification comes from a temperature feedback, where at lower latitudes warmed air rises faster and more easily than it does in the Arctic. As the surface warms, more energy is radiated back to space in low latitudes than in the Arctic. Thus polar air radiates less heat out into space than tropical air does.

In a nutshell, the two authors have found that the primary amplification factor is the “stolidness” of Arctic air, and less so albedo. In the Arctic warmed air tends to remain more at the surface and heat does not escape as readily.

Spiegel writes:

To balance out the radiation budget at an ambient temperature of 30°C, an increase of 0.16° is enough. However at minus 30°C, an increase of 0.31 °C would be needed, i.e. almost double, which gives Pithan und Mauritsen cause for thought. According to their calculations the lower start temperature in the Arctic is an important reason for the more rapid temperature increase in the Arctic compared to the tropics.”

They found that the surface albedo feedback is only the second main contributor to Arctic amplification, and that other contributions are substantially smaller or even oppose Arctic amplification.

This casts many of the assumptions made in earlier climate models deep into doubt. It’s back to the drawing board (again) for the modelers.

For a science that is more than 95% certain, we sure do see quite a steady stream of surprises with each passing day.

UPDATE: As reader Kurt points out, the claims made by the authors are based on “model simulations”. And we know that over 97% (114/117) of the models have completely missed the barn since 2000.  So if models cannot tell us the temperature, what could they possibly say about the mechanisms driving climate?

 

44 responses to “Analysis Of Climate Models Show Albedo Not The Number One Arctic Amplifier After All! Albedo Was Hyped”

  1. R2Dtoo

    A question- did they answer it? A temp of -30ºC would occur primarily in winter when there there is no albedo- ???? Maybe it doesn’t matter, but….doI remember that most arctic warming occurs in winter. A second question would relate to the role of advection in distributing surface heat. The abstract doesn’t address these questions. I would appreciate any discussion from someone who purchases the whole paper.

  2. Anthony Watts

    If this is true, it might explain why the little islands of humanity (and heat) in the Arctic affect thermometers near these places more.

  3. Mindert Eiting

    ”den schnelleren Temperaturanstieg an den Polen”. So this also applies at Antarctica. Does Antarctica do what the authors say? They statistically analysed their models, i.e. made-up data.

  4. Kurt in Switzerland

    This doesn’t seem all that surprising.

    Consider the following:

    The arctic is cooler than the tropics (thus the temperature differential to space is lower, thus the rate of heat transfer, e.g., due to radiation / convection, would be lower).

    Hadley Cells, which carry moist air tens of thousands of feet vertically on a daily basis, are a tropical phenomenon.

    The documented history of melt events in the arctic suggests that this is a natural, repetitive process, not a “Canary in a Coal Mine” tipping point. Besides, the high and low points on the ice extent sine curve are at the equinoxes (not at the solstices), due to thermal lag in the earth’s climate system, so the argument for a spiraling effect due to reduced albedo is actually not a robust one.

    BTW, the background for the paper was produced by running models (as opposed to actually taking measurements). So take conclusions with a grain of salt (though the overall argument seems intuitively correct).

    Kurt in Switzerland

  5. William Connolley

    You haven’t understood the paper. What the paper discusses are the mechanisms for Arctic amplification, as seen in climate models. The models the paper discusses are largely the same as the ones used before. So its not possible for these results to falsify the models, because these results are based on taking the model results at face value.

    What you’re missing is the distinction between *understanding* the model results, and the construction of the models.

    So “This casts many of the assumptions made in earlier climate models deep into doubt” is entirely wrong. The assumptions made in building the models aren’t challenged at all by this study. What this illustrates is the way the models are so complicated, it can be hard to know exactly why they do things.

    FWIW, the idea that ice-albedo feedback isn’t the full answer has been known for some time; e.g. http://mustelid.blogspot.co.uk/2005/07/harry-potter-and-polar-amplification.html discusses V A Alexeev et al, Climate Dynamics (2005) , which actually sounds distinctly similar to the new Nature paper.

    1. DirkH

      Winston, if there are such blatant unknowns in the models, and the models are iterative models of a complex chaotic nonlinear system, then how can the IPCC be 95% sure of its projections to the year 2100? Shouldn’t these blatant errors amplify step after step and send the model off the rails within 10 days of model time?

  6. William Connolley

    > Wrong assumptions with right answers still means faulty models

    There is no suggestion from the paper in Nature that the assumptions in the models are wrong, or that the models are wrong. The Nature paper presents a new analysis of the models, and that analysis suggests that “the surface albedo feedback… [which] is often cited as the main contributor… is the second main contributor to Arctic amplification”.

    > what Spiegel writes

    I can find nothing in the English translation of the Spiegel article which supports your assertion. I can see how a rather hasty (and from your point of view, hopeful) reading of the article, or the Nature paper, might suggest that.

    I hope you can understand the point I’m trying to make: this doesn’t challenge the assumptions, or the results, of the models at all. It makes no suggestions that the models are in errors. It merely presents a new analysis of the model results.

  7. William Connolley

    [I wrote this before, but it seems to have vanished. Please forgive me if I repeat myself.]

    > Wrong assumptions with right answers still means faulty models

    There is no suggestion from the paper in Nature that the assumptions
    in the models are wrong, or that the models are wrong. The Nature
    paper presents a new analysis of the models, and that analysis
    suggests that “the surface albedo feedback… [which] is often cited
    as the main contributor… is the second main contributor to Arctic
    amplification”.

    > what Spiegel writes

    I can find nothing in the English translation of the Spiegel article
    which supports your assertion. I can see how a rather hasty (and from
    your point of view, hopeful) reading of the article, or the Nature
    paper, might suggest that.

    I hope you can understand the point I’m trying to make: this doesn’t
    challenge the assumptions, or the results, of the models at all. It
    makes no suggestions that the models are in error. It merely presents
    a new analysis of the model results.

  8. William Connolley

    > Winston

    Are you deliberately mis-spelling my name? That would be impolite. Do let me know, and I’ll be rude in return, if so. Also, I have at least one comment lost in moderation. Could you check your queue?

    > So we should just accept what they put out?

    Certainly not.

    > all the more reason to distrust them.

    Why? This has been true, and known to be true, for decades. I’m not saying anything new.

    > It sounds like the analysis of the models indicates that factors have been misweighted

    Unfortunately, “it sounds like” just isn’t a good way to analyse things like this; you have to have some kind of understanding of what is going on.

    I think you’re still not understanding what the paper is about. There is, as far as I can see, no suggestion that anything has been mis-weighted, at least insofar as the model results are concerned. They are suggesting that people have mis-reported what the most important feedbacks are. Perhaps this:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/02/03/new-paper-arctic-amplification-of-temperature-not-primarily-due-to-albedo-changes-climate-models-need-to-be-reworked/#comment-1557835

    might help?

    1. Mindert Eiting

      William, do you realize that this is Pierre’s domain? He is the host and we are guests. It happens quite often that my comments are in moderation, which may have to do with the old fashioned browser I use. We may assume that Pierre does not have a team of moderators and does not have the time to dig out the input box at any moment you wish. In Dutch we have the proverb that ‘the landlord is as he trusts his guests’ which should be in this case that ‘the guest is as he trusts his landlord’. My dictionary gives ‘ill doers are ill deemers’ as the best translation.

    2. DirkH

      “Are you deliberately mis-spelling my name? That would be impolite. Do let me know, and I’ll be rude in return, if so.”

      A famous (has his own wikipedia page and is therefore in his own mind a historically important person!) Green party member and censor who announces that he might be rude in return!

      That must be the most polite Maoist in history! Quick, somebody write it into his wikipedia page! This is a historic first! A polite Maoist! LMAO!

      1. Kurt in Switzerland

        … so where does the Winston bit come in?
        (sounds like more than a mere mis-spelling).

        Churchill? How does that fit?

        And now he’s a Maoist?

        Kurt in Switzerland

        1. DirkH

          A certain Winston Smith.
          Naah, we’re not mean enough to compare him with Churchill; he’s got no actual body count that would justify that.

          1. Kurt in Switzerland

            ah hah!

            Winston Smith from the Ministry of Truth (Orwell’s 1984). Ouch.
            Now it all makes sense. No wonder the “mis-spelling” got under his skin.

            Kurt in Switzerland

        2. DirkH

          German Greens are Maoist. I presume the copycat orgs in other countries as well. Kretschmann, Trittin, Fischer all spent the 70ies in Maoist K-Gruppen, then infiltrated and took over the Green party and transformed it into a Maoist party. Purged all non-leftist elements. Greens changed from an enviro party to a hard left org within 2 years.

      2. William Connolley

        > A polite Maoist!

        No need to suspect you of politeness, clearly.

  9. John F. Hultquist
  10. William Connolley

    > A reader has pointed out that

    Well, you’ve updated yourself, that’s good. I notice though that you can’t quite bring yourself to give me credit by name.

    > as skeptics have long maintained

    That’s dishonest though. All the “skeptics” do is chant “there is no GW! There is no Arctic amp!” Not a single one of you ever said “albedo [sic] isn’t the major driver of Arctic amp”.

    1. Ed Caryl

      “All skeptics do is chant ‘there is no GW’”.
      You must know that isn’t true. We all know about the both the early 20th Century warming as well as the late 20th Century warming. We even acknowledge that CO2 is a (small) factor in the late 20th Century warming. The argument is over how large a factor it was, and why it stopped 15 or so years ago. The first period of warming indicates that there might be some doubt about the second period. Many things could drive the warming besides CO2.
      “There is no Arctic amp” and albedo doesn’t drive it?.
      Of course albedo drives it.
      http://notrickszone.com/2012/08/27/arctic-ice-loss-temperature-or-soot/

    2. DirkH

      “That’s dishonest though. All the “skeptics” do is chant “there is no GW! There is no Arctic amp!””

      Well, there has indeed been no GW for 17 years and counting, you got that one right. Hey I have an idea. Write it into the wikipedia, will ya? TIA.

  11. Juraj V

    I would suggest scientist try to understand a reason of substantial warming of Arctic between 1900-1945 first. They will be much closer to the reason of the late 20th century warming then. Not speaking about the GIPS2 core jagged line.

  12. William Connolley

    > Kurt in Switzerland 4. Februar 2014 at 19:43
    > William Connolley 4. Februar 2014 at 15:48 Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    > William Connolley 4. Februar 2014 at 17:54 Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Um. Another little hint?

    1. Jimbo

      Arctic amplification means that 2013 September Arctic sea ice was up 50% on September 2012. That’s Arctic amplification.

      1. Jimbo

        Did I mention volume was also up ~50%? That’s Arctic amplification.

  13. William Connolley

    > Given his work at Wiki, it suits him very well.

    Oh, it *is* a deliberate attempt to be rude. How very civilised of you. And you are aware that WS is essentially the “hero” of 1984, insofar as there is one?

    > Arctic sea ice was up 50% on September 2012. That’s Arctic amplification

    No, that’s grotesque stupidity on your part: the inability to tell interannual variation from long-term trends.

    EC> Of course albedo drives it.

    You and PG need to get your story straight. PG claims that “albedo… is not the number one Arctic amplifier after all, as skeptics have long maintained”. talking to you lot is like trying to nail jelly to the wall.

    1. Ed Caryl

      Albedo change due to black carbon and dust isn’t the same, and doesn’t have the same action as albedo change due to ice and snow cover change. The big recent change is the increase in BC and dust from Asia. This is beginning to subside because China and Russia are beginning to abate their emissions. The summer of 2012 was the inter annual variation.

  14. Harry

    Daer William,

    Since you have been banned from your endless work on the disinformation of Wiki, you have been looking for other sites/blogs to do your zealous misinformation act. By now, you must be the most celebrated warmist misinformist ever.

    Congratulations!

    Wherever you appear, I sense that the place is worthwile for you to visit and troll around. In other words, you increase the value of Pierre’s blog by regularly coming here and bore everyone with your silly visions. It proves the value of the points Pierre makes on this blog.

    The more you are infuriated, the more I laugh.

    1. DirkH

      “Since you have been banned from your endless work on the disinformation of Wiki, ”

      He only got a slap on the wrist and a timeout. The wikipedia nomenklatura sticks together.

  15. Harry

    Dear William,

    I just did a Scopus search for your name. Not a single peer reviewed paper came up. So I would suggest that you keep a low voice in any scientific debate, since you have not the flimsiest proof of being a scientist. Until proven otherwise, you are not a scientist. Not even on climate, which is in my humble perception, nothing of being science.

    The only thing that is hot in climate science is models. I love models!!

    They can tell you anything you want, whenever you need. 100% score with models.

    Unfortunately, I have to deal with observations, measurement. AArrh!

    I am having belly aches with laughing at you, silly.

    1. PeteB
  16. Harry

    Dear William,

    And for my information:
    Have you really spend so much time and effort on trying to monitor all climate related entries on Wiki?

    If true, that must have taken you thousands of hours to do so?

    Are you so desperate that this is the only thing you can think of as being the purpose of your life? Really?

    If so, I pity you and wish you a better future than your current, miserable life.

  17. William Connolley

    > I just did a Scopus search for your name. Not a single peer reviewed paper came up

    So, you’ve just proved that you’re incompetent. Quite possibly you’re too stupid to spell my name properly.

    If you want high-impact, then there’s Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/293/5536/1777.short If you want first author, then there’s http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/(SICI)1097-0088(199612)16:12%3C1333::AID-JOC96%3E3.0.CO;2-6/abstract

    There are plenty more.

    > banned

    Dunno what you’re talking about guv. And, I suspect, neither do you.

    > you increase the value of Pierre’s blog

    In this case, I certainly do, because he was wise enough to listen to me and accept the correction to his article.

  18. Harry

    Dear William,

    I did indeed make a mistake in my Scopus search. I apologize. Sorry for that.
    But the rest of my remarks are still valid.
    Start shouting at that.
    hours to spend

    Greetings,
    Harry, still laughing his b***

    1. PeteB

      You can lead a Harry to science
      but you can’t make him think

  19. Harry

    The dumber you are PeteB,
    the more you qualify as Climate Scientist.

    What I was and still am wondering about,
    is how a person such as William, cares to follow numerous blogs
    for climate related discussions. And when he finds some comments that do
    not fit within his rather limited view, tries to eradicate them. Mostly, this end up in shouting sessions as has been demonstrated by my provocative remarks above.

    Why, for heavens sake, would William care about remarks made by an unknown commenter by the name of Harry on Pierre’s blog?

    I was only teasing him and was to my surprise very succesful. William has been sitting behind his computer spouting with rage, as one can read from his reaction. And, mysteriously, both times you came up to defend William. Coincidence?

    Both of your entities, unite and get a life.

    I am still having the hickups as for your reactions.

    Greetings, Harry

  20. Harry

    PeteB
    The dumber you are,
    the more you qualify as Climate Scientist

  21. Visiting Physicist

    There are a couple of Wikipedia entries that William overlooked altering, and these two are all we need to completely debunk the greenhouse conjecture using the valid physics therein. But I’m not going to point them out here.