The New Pause Pauses

By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley| Sept. 3, 2022

The New Pause has paused. As in July, so in August, there has been a zero trend in global warming for 7 years 11 months according to the UAH satellite lower-troposphere dataset –

For completeness, here is the whole dataset since it went live in December 1978 –

Woe, woe and thrice woe! [Britain has had Mediterranean weather, and we like it, which is why we holiday there: I am about to give a piano recital in Malta]. Lake Mead is drying up!! [through over-extraction, not global warming]. The whole of Europe, including the customarily rain-sodden United Kingdom, is in the worst drought evaaah!!! [since the medieval warm period]. Rivers are running dry!!!! [nothing new there: it’s called summer]. Temperatures are higher than climate scientists ever done thunk!!!!! [warming is little more than a third of the originally-predicted rate]. To keep the lights on in London during a recent heatwave, the British grid authority had to pay more than $11,300 per MWh to Putin’s profit!!!!!! [compared with $30 per MWh at the coal-fired power stations wastefully and needlessly torn down to “Save The Planet”]. And it’s all because global heating!!!!!!! [actually weather]. And it’s a mast year for oaks!!!!!!!! [such heavy crops of acorns occur every few years]. Even the trees are alarmed!!!!!!!!! [Nope].

The Grand Master’s Oak at Harrietsham, Kent, is laden with acorns in this mast year

It’s not global warming. It’s regional weather, resulting chiefly from the prolonged la Niña that has contributed in no small part to the New Pause in global warming over the past eight years, and from a sudden southerly airflow from the Sahara.

The Marxstream media uncritically blamed global warming for the drought, just as a few years ago they blamed it for the floods. Come on, comrades – it’s one or the other but not both. In reality, floods are more likely than droughts when the weather warms, because more water is evaporated from the ocean by the warmer weather, whereupon, by the Clausius-Clapeyron relation, the capacity of the atmospheric space to carry water vapor increases with temperature, moistening the air. As far back as 1981 it was already being reported (Nicholson et al.) that the Sahara had shrunk by 300,000 km2 as moister air allowed desert margins to bloom in areas where humans had not been able to settle in living memory.

Another reason for lingering floods and droughts is that the very tall offshore windmills now being installed at crippling expense to taxpayers in subsidies grossly interfere with the laminar flow of the wind at altitudes now exceeding that of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral, Britain’s tallest, slowing both high-pressure and low-pressure systems down and leading to more prolonged and intense weather of all kinds.

What, then, is the simplest possible demonstration that global warming was, is and will continue to be small, slow, harmless and net-beneficial? Anything complicated will either baffle the 99% of the population uncomfortable with equations or allow the usual suspects to make it look more complicated still, just to make the bafflement certain.

As the repeated long Pauses suggest, despite the continuing perturbation by anthropogenic greenhouse gases the climate is in near-perfect thermostasis, or temperature equilibrium. The chief sensitivity-relevant direct forcings by noncondensing greenhouse gases and the chief indirect or feedback forcings, particularly by additional water vapor in the air, operate on timescales of hours, days or years at most. Even IPCC admits this.

Therefore, we may obtain a simple, first-order estimate of the likely rate of global warming by assuming that because all sensitivity-relevant forcings act on timescales of years at most there is little or no unrealized global warming in the pipeline as a result of our past sins of emission. On that assumption (which will be qualified later) such further warming as we can expect will chiefly arise not from the influence of our past sins of emission but from our future emissions.

Assuming solar irradiance of 1363.5 W m–2, mean surface albedo 0.29, mean surface emissivity 0.94 and the Stefan-Boltzmann constant 5.6704 x 10–8 W m–2 K–4, the emission or sunshine temperature that would obtain near the surface if there were no greenhouse gases in the air at the outset would be 259.58 K by the Stefan-Boltzmann equation. That is the naïve method favoured by climatologists, who exclude both the fact that albedo would be half of the current 0.29 if there were no greenhouse gases (for there would be no clouds) and the somewhat countervailing fact of Hölder’s inequalities between integrals, which climatologists too often neglect.

Based on the changes in greenhouse-gas concentrations in Meinshausen (2017) and the formulae for greenhouse-gas forcings in IPCC (2007, table 6.2), directly-forced warming by naturally-occurring noncondensing greenhouse gases to 1850 was 7.52 K.

In 1850, the 267.1 K reference temperature (before allowing for feedback response) was the sum of 259.58 and 7.52 K. However, the HadCRUT5 observed temperature at the equilibrium in 1850 (there would be no trend in global-warming trend thereafter for 80 years) was 287.5 K. Therefore, in 1850 the system-gain factor – the ratio of equilibrium temperature after feedback response to reference temperature before it – was 287.5 / 267.1, or 1.0764.

Compare the system-gain factors in 1850 and today. There has been 1.04 K HadCRUT5 warming since 1850. The anthropogenic forcing since 1850 was 3.23 W m–2 (NOAA AGGI). The period reference sensitivity was then the product of that period anthropogenic forcing and the Planck parameter 0.3 K W–1 m2: i.e., 0.97 K.

Therefore, today’s reference temperature (the temperature before accounting for feedback response) is 267.1 + 0.97 = 268.07 K, and the current equilibrium temperature is 287.5 + 1.04 = 288.54 K. The current system-gain factor is then 288.54 / 268.07, or 1.0764, just as it was in 1850. Nonlinearity bores, take note: on the basis of mainstream, midrange data, it is possible that nonlinearity in feedback response over time in the industrial era is zero.

Now, it may be argued that no allowance has been made for the delay in the realization of warming caused by the vast heat capacity and slow overturning of the oceans. However, the delay is to a large extent already allowed for in IPCC’s estimates that the principal forcings and feedbacks are short-acting – over periods of years at most. Indeed, the principal feedback – the water-vapor feedback – has a timescale of hours only.

Furthermore, the ocean, like any heat-sink, acts as a buffer. It delays the return of warming to the atmosphere from the mixed layer, so that any warming in the pipeline will be distributed harmlessly over centuries to millennia.

To first order, then, feedbacks in the industrial era are not growing stronger with temperature. The Le Chatellier principle applies: there are checks and balances – such as Eschenbach earlier tropical afternoon convection with warming, or the growth of Antarctic ice extent, ditto – that tend to keep the climate near-perfectly thermostatic.

Therefore, even if anthropogenic greenhouse-gas forcing were to continue to increase in a near-perfect straight line over the next 78 years at the rate of about 0.033 Watts per square meter per year that has prevailed over the past three decades (NOAA AGGI), the reference temperature in 2100 would be today’s 268.07 K plus (78 x 0.033 x 0.3) = 268.85 K. Applying the so-far constant system-gain factor 1.0764 gives equilibrium temperature of 289.4 K for 2100.

The bottom line is that we can perhaps expect as little as 289.4 – 288.5 = 0.9 K more warming in the rest of this century to 2100. Not exactly planet-threatening. And that is on the basis of midrange, mainstream data suggesting that – very much as one might expect a priori of a system bounded by the atmosphere and the ocean – in the presence of very small direct warming the system-gain factor, the measure of the potency of all the feedback processes acting on the climate system, has not changed and will not change in the industrial era.

Climatology gets its elementary control theory wrong in neglecting the fact – which, though it annoys certain trolls infesting the comments section, is nonetheless objectively true – that the feedback processes subsisting at any moment must perforce respond equally to each Kelvin of the reference temperature then obtaining. Feedbacks do not respond solely to that tiny fraction of reference temperature directly forced by greenhouse gases.

Climatology’s error has many serious consequences. Not the least of these is the notion that one may usefully express individual feedback strengths in Watts per square meter per Kelvin of the change in reference temperature that is reference sensitivity rather than of the absolute reference temperature, which is the sum of emission temperature and all natural and anthropogenic reference sensitivities.

There are two problems with climatologists’ approach. The first is that, like it or not, feedback processes respond to the entire reference temperature. The second is that for calculus to succeed it is necessary to know the equation either of the absolute system-gain factor, whereupon differential calculus will yield its first derivative, or of the first derivative itself, whereupon integral calculus will yield the original equation.

However, the form of the potentially relevant equations is unknown and unknowable. Worse, the underlying data informing the potentially relevant equations are neither known nor knowable to anything like a sufficient precision to provide any legitimate scientific basis whatsoever for making the various profitably exaggerated global-warming predictions spewed out by the computer models of climate.

Pat Frank, in one of the most important papers ever published in global-warming climatology, demonstrated that fact definitively in 2019 after Professor Karl Wunsch had reviewed it and had not been able to find any error in it sufficient to prevent publication. The paper has stood unrefuted in the scientific literature since then, though online there have been some spectacularly half-baked attempts to overthrow it, chiefly on the part of climate Communists but even, in one or two unfortunate instances, on the part of skeptics unfamiliar with the fact that they are unfamiliar with the relevant math.

Dr Frank’s admirable paper, which was rejected 13 times by the climate-Communist gatekeepers of the once-learned journals before it met an honest and competent reviewer, proves that the published uncertainty in a single one of the thousands of input variables informing the general-circulation models – the low-cloud fraction – is so large that, when that uncertainty is propagated over this century, any predicted global warming or cooling of less than 15 K compared with the present is mere guesswork. Dr Frank’s paper formally proves that result using standard and well-established statistical methods.

By a different method, we may likewise demonstrate the incompetence of the general-circulation models to predict global warming. We begin with table 7.10 of IPCC (2021).

The table lists the principal sensitivity-relevant temperature feedbacks. IPCC, thanks to climatology’s asinine error of physics, denominates feedback strengths λ (here in purple) in Watts per square meter per Kelvin of reference sensitivity, rather than of reference temperature.

Such a choice might be pardonable if, as is often the case in electronics, the perturbation signal were a very large fraction of the entire input signal. Today, however, the perturbation signal is minuscule: it is just 7.5 + 0.97 = 8.47 K in 268.07 K, or 3% of the input signal.

Derivation of ECS via the differential system-gain factor is in red, while derivation of ECS based on IPCC’s data but via the absolute system-gain factor is in green. The two methods, of course, both show identical values of ECS. However, there are several problems with IPCC’s method, as the derivations therefrom show.

Problem 1: Though at midrange the +2.06 W m–2 sum of the individual feedback strengths and the Planck parameter p,expressed by IPCC as though it were a “feedback” in W m–2 K–1, is equal to the published –1.16 W m–2 K–1 net feedback strength, its lower and upper bounds do not sum to the published totals. No doubt there are good reasons, but the discrepancy adds to the already enormous uncertainty in the interval of feedback strengths.

Problem 2: The Planck parameter  stands part of the reference frame for derivation of equilibrium temperatures: it should, therefore, more properly be expressed in K W–1 m2 of reference temperature.  is the first derivative of the Stefan-Boltzmann equation with respect to absolute surface temperature (288 K today) and top-of-atmosphere radiative flux density (242 W m–2 today): P = 298 / (4 x 242) = 0.3 K W–1 m2, close enough to the reciprocal of IPCC’s current midrange p= 3.22 W m–2 K–1.

Problem 3: The Planck parameter is known to a far lesser uncertainty than the ±6.5% imagined by IPCC, for it is derived from a ratio of absolute quantities whose values are well constrained. Take today’s surface temperature as 288 ± 2 K, and the top-of-atmosphere net forcing as 242 ± 2 W m–2.  Then the Planck parameter , using IPCC’s reciprocal form,falls on 3.36 [3.31, 3.41] W m–2 K–1, an interval of less than ±1.5%, and not IPCC’s ±6.5%. Rectifying that error would correct one of the many daftnesses evident in the table, by which it appears that, on the absolute basis, smaller feedback strengths engender larger ECS values.

Problem 4: Until IPCC (2021), it had long been thought that the CO2 forcing was known to within ±10%. It was thus thought to be reasonably constrained. However, though Andrews (2012), based on 15 then models, concluded that the midrange CO2 forcing was 3.45 W m–2, IPCC now says it is 3.93 W m–2, an increase of 14%, well outside what had been thought to be the interval of doubled-CO2 forcing. If the uncertainty in the CO2 forcing is as large as IPCC’s increase compared with previous reports implies, a fortiori the uncertainty in the strength of the feedback forcing is greater.

Problem 5: IPCC shows the cloud feedback as positive. However, the primary effect of the increased cloud cover that is to be expected with warming – i.e., an increase in the Earth’s albedo – is of course a cooling effect, more than enough to overwhelm the warming effect of clouds inhibiting radiation to space at night.

Problem 6: The absolute total feedback strengths implicit in IPCC’s ECS interval actually decline as its estimate of ECS increases. The reason is that the absolute feedback strengths are a great deal smaller than the grossly uncertain and hence meaningless differential feedback strengths, and are accordingly smaller in relation to the Planck parameter than the differential feedback strengths.

Problem 7: The checksum lower-bound and midrange values of ECS derived from IPCC’s feedback strengths by the standard control-theoretic method confirm its stated lower-bound 2 K and midrange 3 K. The method shown is accordingly a fair representation of IPCC’s method. However, the upper-bound value 11.5 K thus calculated in the table is more than double IPCC’s stated 5 K value. The reason is that the shape of the response curve of ECS in the presence of feedback is rectangular-hyperbolic, so that, at imagined closed-loop gain factors (feedback responses as fractions of ECS) exceeding 0.5, runaway warming would be expected. But runaway warming does not arise, or we should certainly have noticed by now. Instead, there has been a succession of long Pauses with brief bursts of el Niño-driven warming in between. These Pauses, then, provide readily-comprehensible evidence that the runaway warming confidently predicted by the climate Communists is simply not occurring. Hence the shrieks of the Kremlin’s shills in comments.

Problem 8: The runaway global warming arising from the rectangular-hyperbolicity of the response curve combined with IPCC’s excessive estimate of feedback strength at the upper bound renders ECS unconstrainable by models. For instance, the upper-bound estimate, far too large to be credible, elevates the implicit closed-loop gain factor hC = 1 – 1 / AC to 0.83, implying that five-sixths of ECS is forced by feedbacks, and only one-sixth by reference sensitivity directly forced by the noncondensing greenhouse gases. In an essentially thermostatic system, any such conclusion is so inherently implausible as to be nonsense.

Problem 9: The interval of the system-gain factor as derived on the differential basis is 2.7762 [1.8783, 5.8824], but that interval is meaningless. When deriving the uncertainty in feedback strength and thus in the system-gain factor, it is necessary to do the sums on the basis that the Sun is shining and that, therefore, feedbacks respond to the entire input signal and not just to any perturbation therein. Climatology’s method does not take explicit account of the fact that feedbacks respond to the entire reference temperature. The interval of the absolute system-gain factor implicit in IPCC’s table takes that fact into account. It is 1.0781 [1.0822, 1.0872].

Problem 10: Very small changes in the total feedback strength and hence in the system-gain factor would deliver the very large ECS interval imagined by IPCC. The bounds differ from the midrange estimates by little more than 0.5%: yet they would be enough to generate the absurdly elevated and absurdly broad 3.4 [2.2, 11.5] K interval of ECS implicit in IPCC’s overwrought data for feedback strengths. However, given the uncertainties in the data and the propagation of those uncertainties over time, climatologists cannot constrain the bounds either of the feedback strength or of the system-gain factor anything like as tightly as within 0.5%. This is one of the most serious problems with the GCMs’ global-warming predictions. It would have been spotted decades ago if it had not been for climatology’s error of physics.

Consider the minuscule interval of IPCC’s implicitly-predicted absolute system-gain factor (the entire interval is only about 1% of the midrange estimate) in the light of the very large (±15 K) ECS uncertainty envelope given in Dr Frank’s paper, and it becomes all too evident that, whatever other purposes the general-circulation models may have, they are of no value whatsoever in attempting to constrain ECS. In this respect, they are costly guesswork machines that could be inexpensively replaced with a set of dice without any significant loss of rigor.

These numerous problems cannot be brushed aside by maintaining that one can do feedback calculations by the differential just as well as by the absolute method. As we have seen, doing those calculations by the differential method has the effect of concealing many of the problems briefly described above. IPCC’s method, then, provides no satisfactory basis for the decision of scientifically-illiterate governments panicked by fear of Rufmord (reputational death) at the hands of climate Communists to commit the economic and political hara-kiri that is now occurring.

Eventually the Marxstream media will realize that they can no longer get away with concealing the fact that the root cause of the surge in Siberian gas and Chinese lithium-carbonate prices, and of the consequent dangerous spike in Western energy prices, was the careless abandonment of the free market in energy and the foolish and wasteful closure of the West’s coal-fired power stations, which generated power at just $30 per MWh. Europe is now fatally dependent upon Siberian gas, a costly strategic error.

It is clear both from dozens of papers on climate sensitivity and from discussions with climatologists on both sides of the debate, and with the Kremlin’s witting, unwitting or witless shills here, that they had not realized that any feedback processes extant at a given moment must respond to the entire input signal, and not just to any perturbation thereof.

Had they known that, they would not have dreamed of trying to make predictions based on the differential rather than absolute feedback strengths. They would have realized that, because their very small uncertainties in feedback strength would, if real, lead to very large and consequently unconstrainable changes in equilibrium sensitivity, attempting to diagnose feedbacks at all from the models is necessarily doomed to failure.

That begs the question what is the soundest method of deriving climate sensitivities? We favor the corrected energy-budget method, of which the very simple but quite robust version earlier in this column showed that, on business as usual, we can expect only 0.9 K further global warming all the way to 2100. A more sophisticated version generates much the same result. Midrange equilibrium doubled-CO2 sensitivity is just 3.45 x 0.3 x 1.0764 = 1.1 K. Hardly life-threatening, now, is it?