Radiosondes vs models

Finally, I want to show the status of the “direct” predictions and measurements of the temperature and to mention two graphs from Climate Audit.

This chart, taken from RealClimate.ORG, shows the overall warming expected from the doubling of CO2 concentrations from 280 ppm before the industrial revolution to 560 ppm expected around the year 2100 (assuming business-as-usual, i.e. a pretty constant rate of CO2 emissions in the future), as predicted by the GISS model E, dominated by the greenhouse effect.

Look in the middle of the picture, above the equator. You see the dark red “hot spot” over there. At the height (y-axis) corresponding to the pressure of 200 hPa, you are in the middle of the dark red cloud where the total warming should be not only higher than 3 °C (between 3 °C and 14.6 °C) but much higher than that, probably around 5 °C or so. This figure (5 °C) is roughly 1.5 times the surface warming (around 3 °C according to the IPCC’s central figure and around 1.8 °C according to the picture above) – a classical feature of the greenhouse models.

Now, in 50 years, we add about 100 ppm of CO2 and we should therefore induce more than 1/3 of the effect of the CO2 doubling. So in 50 years, the place above the equator where the pressure is 200 hPa should heat up by more than 5 °C / 3 = more than 1.5 °C. (The CO2 emissions in this 50-year period were actually closer to the “earlier” emissions that should have a higher warming impact, because of the logarithmic slowdown: so my figure is probably an underestimate.) Does this significant warming actually occur in reality?
This is the actual graph of this tropospheric temperature record as measured by the Hadley Center’s radiosondes (balloons). The net warming during the last 50 years is at most of order 0.2 °C and probably much smaller than that: Steve McIntyre calculated that since the beginning of the “satellite era” in 1979, the balloon trend has been actually negative (cooling). At any rate, it is very close to zero – and it is certainly much smaller than the 1.5 °C of warming predicted by the greenhouse models, as explained in the previous paragraph.

And yes, March 2008, the most recent month they have released, was the HadAT2 200 hPa tropical radiosondes’ coolest month at least since the late 1950s (since January 1958) – one that was only matched by 1 month in the early 1970s, namely January 1972 (both Jan 1972 and Mar 2008 had -1.4 °C in the column, check the link in this paragraph).

This place above the equator is the most natural place where the temperature should be measured if your aim is to verify the greenhouse theory of the climate – simply because the signal is predicted to be maximized in this region. And the observations are smaller than the predictions by an order of magnitude or more.

Now, one order of magnitude is not a detail. If you accept that it is fair to compare economics and climatology because their “typical” predictions are comparably inaccurate (and I think that it is fair), the order-of-magnitude discrepancy between the theory and the observations is similar to a prediction by a group of economists who use their “consensus models” to forecast that the GDP will grow (or drop) by 40% a year – because of some effect – but the reality is only 4%. It’s a pretty bad prediction, even in the fuzzy context of economics, isn’t it?

Now, I want to emphasize that we must be a priori very open-minded because there can exist problems both with the observations as well as with the models. On the other hand, when you look at the weather balloons and the radiosondes they carry (see the picture on the left side), it is not too easy to imagine that there is some serious problem with them. These radiosondes measure the temperature (and the wind speed/direction) by thermometers and transmit the resulting numbers to the terrestrial radio receivers; see the Wikipedia text about radiosondes.

Try to think hard and invent an explanation why such a simple system would be sending warming trends that are 10 times smaller than the “real” ones (predicted by the models). I don’t know of such an explanation. But once you find one, you should be ready to solve 1 or 2 similar puzzles – namely why the completely different satellite methodologies also lead to the same negligible warming trend if the “real” trend prescribed by the IPCC should be approximately 10 times faster.

I think it is sensible to expect an explanation what’s wrong with the balloon and satellite numbers before someone’s presentation of certain numbers from some computer games has a chance to be considered as “reality” by sane people.

Good luck. Before you find your ingenious method to solve these key puzzles, I will continue to think that the IPCC predictions have pretty much been falsified because the order-of-magnitude discrepancy we observe is pretty much the most serious discrepancy that we could a priori expect and if that were not enough for falsification, nothing would be enough. The qualitative agreement in one quantity of minor importance (related to winds) is not enough to confirm your models if more important predictions (temperature) fail.

Now, the balloon data may be very non-uniform and the “local noise” in them can be high. But it is fair to say that if the actual (accurate) thermometers can’t demonstrate any significant warming trend over there, the “life on Earth” probably won’t die because of such a warming either. A deadly fever is usually strong enough to be visible by thermometers, especially by the most accurate ones created for this purpose. 😉

So think hard but try to imagine that your assumptions could be incorrect, after all.