Tuesday, March 27, 2012

At Least We Now Know Why This Guy Spins Spurious Physics!

William Happer, a "professor of physics at Princeton" is in the op-ed pages of one of his favorite journals again - The Wall Street Journal ('Global Warming Models Are Wrong Again', today, p. A13). The problem is that his jabber hasn't made it into a recognized, peer -reviewed journal as he once again dredges up red herrings, and nonsense about climate change and whether in fact global warming models are "real".

A key giveaway, however, is that he's attached to the conservative George C. Marshall Institute, e.g.


from which we discern his specialty area is not in climate science but "a specialist in modern optics, optical and radiofrequency spectroscopy of atoms and molecules, and spin-polarized atoms and nuclei. " Interesting, but not a climate scientist like Michael Mann.

Readers ought to note that the Marshall site has also provided an outlet for other spurious climate science articles-papers, most notably a joint 2003 effort by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas. Baliunas and Soon's misuse of statistics may be found at: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=0007A664-3534-1F03-BA6A80A84189EEDF

I tracked Baliunas' illustrious history since 1993 on Google, and evidently she's written for a lot of other conservative-right wing rags masquerading as peer-reviewed scientific papers, including Capitalism Magazine and National Review. A Greenpeace document on her, available on the web, also ties her to the Global Warming Coalition, a front group of "scientists" for the fossil fuel industry. (Note Happer's "Energy research" connections as well!)

As for Soon and Baliunas, their methodology was terrible, and any proper referee versed at all in statistics would've tossed most of their analyses out in a heartbeat. Especially their choice of one of using 50-year data periods, increments when the IPCC scientists had already disclosed anthropogenic warming appears at 30 -year levels. In effect, Baliunas and Soon employed what we call a 'selective effects filter' to cull the data they preferred not to have to deal with.

In many ways, Happer is just as bad if not worse, for example claiming global temperatures have changed almost not at all in the past ten years. He refers to "monthly values of the global temperature anomaly of the lower atmosphere" coupled with some Univ. of Alabama data that supposedly shows the temperature for the lower atmosphere in February was at -0.12C or "slightly less than the average since the satellite record of temperature began."

What's wrong with this portrayal? Just about everything. First, neither Happer nor his illustrious sources of data takes into account that global dimming effects are still ongoing and alter ambient Rayleigh scattering in concert with standard gray atmosphere models for radiative transport.

Aside: Dimming arising from burning coal, oil and wood,whether in coal-fired power stations, in autos or cooking fires, produces not only invisible carbon dioxide (the principal greenhouse gas responsible forglobal warming) but also tiny airborne particles of soot, ash, sulphur compounds and other pollutants. This visible air pollution reflects sunlight back into space, preventing it reaching the surface. But the pollution also changes the optical properties of clouds, most often in the lower atmosphere. Because the particles seed the formation of water droplets, polluted clouds contain a larger number of droplets than unpolluted clouds. Recent research shows that this makes them more reflective than they would otherwise be, again reflecting the Sun's rays back into space, via a spurious albedo effect.

Had Happer taken into account the nascent effects of particulates as well as aerosols in the lower atmophere he'd not be so flat out amazed at a "global temperature anomaly" peculiar to the lower atmosphere. One mechanism to be reckoned in, applicable to these particulates in plane-parallel (stratified) atmospheres, is Rayleigh scattering in concert with standard gray atmosphere radiative transport. An equation of transfer that applies is: -dI/dt (1/k rho) = I – J

Where k is a mass scattering coefficient, rho is the molecular density (e.g. in cloud cover) and J is the vector source function for a specific intensity I. If the correct Stokes parameters (I, Q, U, V) which describe degree of polarization are included, and the right incidence angle of radiation occurs, we can expect the propagation or radiant energy from the S. hemisphere to the north very effectively.

But.....one can't forget or omit diffusive reflection and re-transmission of radiation, say arising from particulates . Chandrasekhar in Radiative Transfer, (Dover Publications) shows that for angles of incidence in the range : 0.5 < i < 0.8 radian, diffusive reflection allows the radiation reflected normal to the incidence direction to actually have higher intensity than the original. (E.g. for optical depths 1.0 < < 2.0).

In effect, if conditions in the lower atmosphere incorporate such optical depths (and angles of incidence for scattering, diffusive reflection), on account of increased presence of particulates, aerosols, we will expect to find an "anomaly" say in the temperature. The most alarming aspect of global dimming in this regard - as made public by global dimming researchers (e.g. Dr Peter Cox) is that it has obviously deceived many into underestimating the true power of the greenhouse effect, including the role of CO2. In effect, as disclosed by Happer's babble, the extra energy being trapped in the Earth's atmosphere by the extra carbon dioxide (CO2) has been concealed because he's being misdirected by what is really ongoing spurious diffusive reflection and scattering from the particulates responsible for dimming!

Hence, his finding of "lack of any statistically significant warming over a decade" is fully expected if one hasn't properly reckoned the presence of dimming particulates, their scattering, re-reflection (and hence false albedo effects) into global warming models! Must we spell everything out for these bozos?

Happer and his pals (including all the copycat denier blogs and media echoing his WSJ article like so many duplicate gasbags)also need to avail themselves of the Eos Transactions paper ('Can Earth’s Albedo and Surface Temperature Increase Together’ in Vol. 87, No. 4, Jan. 24, 2006, p. 37 ) from more than five years ago, blaring a five alarm warning about false albedo readings in the lower atmosphere and how it would mislead if researchers were sloppy or careless. The authors pointedly noted evidence that Earth’s albedo increased from 2000 to 2004 but that this had NOT led to a reversal in global warming. They also remarked on apparent temperature anomalies and divergence between differing altitudes but pointed to the differences between clouds at those altitudes. The authors cited (to then) the most up to date cloud data from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP). The data – from a range of meteorological satellites covering the entire Earth- disclosed the most likely reason for the anomaly was primarily in the redistribution of the clouds. As the authors observed:

"whereas low clouds have decreased during the most recent years, high clouds have increased to a larger extent leading to both an increase in cloud amount AND an increased trapping of infrared radiation.”

In other words, temperature "anomaly" solved, in conjunction with factoring in the global dimming contributions.

Incredibly, this nitwit also repeats the wacko canard that CO2 is not a pollutant! According to Hapless (ibid.):

"CO2 is not a pollutant. Life on Earth flourished for hundreds of millions of years at much higher CO2 levels than we see today."

But not factoring in that the primary contributors were over-active vulcanism, as opposed to 800 million CO2 -spewing mechanical vehicles which in just one year churn out more gigatons of CO2 (35- 40) than the ancient volcanoes did in 1,000 years. Currently, the anthropogenic CO2 emission rate is 135 times greater than the 0.26 gigatons per year emission rate for volcanoes. Even at the height of volcanic activity for one year in the Jurassic, amounting to maybe 2 gigatons of CO2, that is 17.5 times less than the world's autos are pouring out now. But what do you expect from a fossil-fuel committed "energy researcher"?

Nor is one statement made by Happer on the key central point: ALL Greenhouse gases' (including CO2 and methane) ability to absorb heat in the form of solar infrared radiation is directly contingent on the molecular vibrations undergone by the particular gas molecule which allows it to absorb and re-emit incident radiation. It is THIS property which confers the capacity to warm our atmosphere if present beyond a certain limiting concentration. And it is the aforementioned CO2 spewing vehicles that create the effect, hence making THEIR effluent a definite pollutant!

Meanwhile, Happer's obscuring of the role of global warming in the recent meteorological anomalies we've seen (such as the very warm winter, and early Spring) are dealt with effectively at real climate:


Lastly, Happer has the chutzpah to quote the great physicist Richard Feynman on how "new laws" of science are uncovered, starting with a guess and then testing the consequences of our guesses against reality to make new predictions which must then be confirmed. But all of this standard global warming theory has already done, including prediction of a more rapid melting of ice caps and glaciers, which we're actually seing first hand, e.g.


The preceding ought to get even the most blinkered global warming denier's attention! In addition, standard anthropogenic warming theory has also predicted ex post facto (see Gale Christianson's 'Greenhouse') that there has never been an ice age when the CO2 concentration exceeded 200 parts per million- and ice core analyses have validated this. In addition, predictions have been validated that for every 2 ppm increase in CO2 there is a corresponding 2 W/m^2 increase in solar insolation. Lastly, the most frightening forecast of all is that the runaway greenhouse effect will be initiated when CO2 concentrations likely exceed 500 ppm.

Do we wait for that threshold to occur, when it will be too late to do anything? Or....do we use reason, our intellects and good science to adopt the precautionary principle and begin to take action now for our own welfare and that of future generations? We can either extol paid thinktank hacks like Happer, or we can pay attention to real climate scientists for whom this issue transcends petty politics and op-eds published in reactionary capitalist op-ed pages!

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