Thursday, August 16, 2007

Clouds, Water Vapor, Not Accounted For In Climate Models

The role that water vapor, and the formation and dissipation of clouds in the Earth's atmosphere play a crucial role in climate and of course weather, prediction. However, this complex process is not well understood, or accounted for in the computer models used to predict future climate change. More and more scientists are coming forth in agreement, as the following article documents.

There is more on this subject here on my blog. Search for Lindzen, Roy Spencer, Gray, Bryson, among many notable climate scientists who agree that we just don't know enough about the role of water vapor and clouds to accurately model the climate.


A Cloudy Mystery
By Alan Caruba Commentary from the National Anxiety Center August 16, 2007

There's a reason why one should be extremely wary of the computer models that are cited by the endless doomsday predictions of Al Gore, the UN's International Panel on Climate Change, and all the other advocates of "global warming. " The reason is clouds. Computer models simply cannot provide for the constant variability of clouds, so they ignore them.

In a July issue of The Economist an article called "Grey-Sky thinking" was subtitled, "Without understanding clouds, understanding the climate is hard. And clouds are the least understood part of the atmosphere. " Since the increasingly rabid claims of Earth's destruction from rising temperatures depend on computer modeling, how can they be regarded as accurate if they must largely exempt or deliberately manipulate the impact of clouds? How can you make predictions, whether it's a week or a decade from now, if you haven't a clue why clouds do what they do?

Tim Garrett, a research meteorologist at the University of Utah, with refreshing candor has said, "We really do not know what's going on. There are so many basic unanswered questions on how they (clouds) work." And that is never mentioned in the great "global warming" debate, one we are continuously told is "decided" and upon which there is a vast scientific "consensus. "This is particularly significant because clouds act to both cool and warm the Earth. It is widely believed that high clouds can reflect solar radiation away from the planet, but they can also serve to trap heat in the atmosphere.

New studies, however, have given some cause to reconsider this. Moreover, cloud droplets can last for less than a second while whole clouds can live out their lives in minutes or days. There is no way to integrate such massive, constant change into a computer model that divides the world into boxes up to sixty miles on a side, so they mostly do not. This is why there are two new missions by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration involving highly sophisticated devices to measure and study the actions of clouds. This is also why, up to now, the computer models on which "global warming" claims have been made have actually been tweaked, adjusted, manipulated -- take your choice of terms -- to factor in the mystery of clouds.

How wide is the computer modeling gap when it comes to predicting the weather? The Economist reported that, "In a recent paper in Climate Dynamics, Mark Webb of Britain's Hadley Centre for Climate Change and his colleagues reported that clouds account for 66% of the differences between members of one important group of models and for 85% of them in another group." Clouds simply defy the logarithms of computer modelers.

In short, "Too much still remains unknown about the physical mechanisms that determine cloud behavior," said The Economist. Here's a useful scientific definition of the weather: "atmospheric conditions at a given time and a particular location." Drive a few miles in any direction and the weather is likely to be different. Stay put and it will change soon enough. My other favorite definition is "chaos."

In an August 2002 article, "The Trouble with the Weather", the European Space Agency noted that, "Forecasting the weather remains notoriously difficult because the atmosphere is not easy to predict, being affected by such factors as air pressure and temperature, air movements, the distribution of water in its various states (clouds) in the atmosphere, and static electricity stored in the air."

"Clouds are that 800-pound gorilla," says research meteorologist, Gerald Mace, also of the University of Utah, referring to the critical role they play in the weather on any portion of planet Earth. That gorilla, however, is never mentioned by the "global warming" propagandists. Neither clouds, nor volcanoes, nor the most important factor, the Sun, is credited as responsible for either the climate or the weather. Instead, we are constantly told that "human activity" is the single cause. Unmentioned, too, is the fact that water vapor constitutes 95% of all greenhouse gases. Environmentalists insist that carbon dioxide plays a major role. It is well to keep in mind, however, that CO2 is the gas that is vital to the growth of all vegetation on Earth.

Nor do global warming advocates remind people that the Earth is at the end of the interglacial period between Ice Ages which suggests another one is due any day now. Indeed, the only global warming that is occurring has been happening since the end of the last mini-Ice Age in the 1800s. It is a natural response and is not a dramatic rise of four to ten degrees. It doesn't even represent one-half a degree increase.

Following the publication of the results of new study in the journal of the American Geophysical Union revealing that the absence of clouds actually had a cooling affect-the opposite of widely held opinion on the role of clouds-Dr. Roy Spencer of the Earth System Science Center noted that, "To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent. The big question that no one can answer right now is whether this enhanced cooling mechanism applies to global warming.

"If leading meteorologists remain largely ignorant of why clouds do what they do, why would we pay any attention to those with a financial or ideological incentive to propagate "global warming" claims? There is, however, a difference between being ignorant and being stupid. Believing the "global warming" lies is stupid.
(Alan Caruba writes "Warning Signs," a weekly column posted at the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. The views expressed are those of the writer.)

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