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Specific atmospheric water content
Positive feedbacks rely on increased water content in the atmosphere. So, without increasing water amounts in the atmosphere, there is no basis for the severe consequences of CO2 emissions.
From the NCEP reanalysis we learn the following about specific water content for different pressure levels in the atmosphere:
For the shown period we see a general slight decline in specific atmospheric water content although the surface data (1000 mb) shows a slight increase, especially after 1970.
A row of data types are available from the NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis. They write:
“The NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis 1 project is using a state-of-the-art analysis/forecast system to perform data assimilation using past data from 1948 to the present.”
The graph on fig 1 was created using data from:
Link to all data that workd today from ESRL/NOAA:
Writings on NOAA (and Tamino) show “Specific Humidity” as a steady increase from around 1970.
NOAA just describe these data as “Specific Humidity” and Tamino (“Open Mind”) describes:
“One of the interesting graphs is multiple estimates of specific humidity (the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere). In a warming world, specific humidity is expected to increase because a warmer atmophere will naturally hold more water vapor. Because water vapor is also a greenhouse gas (in fact, its the most prominent one in our atmosphere) this leads to one of the expected feedback mechanisms of man-made global warming.”
However, all sources to NOAA/Tamino “Specific Humidity” are strictly limited to Specific humidity data for the surface (1000mb) layer.
Obviously, Climate feedback is not depending simply on humidity at the surface.
Here is a direct comparison of the NCEP specific humidity data from fig 1 for 1000 mb and then the surface data from Dai/hadCruH(Willett-Jones)/Berry. The overall trend is the same and thus it seems that the NCEP data for these years have been confirmed.
Thus, the data chosen by NOAA/Tamino for Specific humidity matches NCEP data, but NOAA only show data after 1970 and most importantly: They only show the surface data resulting in an increasing trend for “Specific Humidity”.
On of the data series used by NOAA, “HadCRUH” is taken from the writing willett-Jones:
“Recent Changes in Surface Humidity: Development of the HadCRUH Dataset”
The Willett-Jones team states for these surface data:
“…the first rigorously homogenized and quality controlled global gridded (5° by 5°) monthly mean anomaly humidity dataset in q and RH suitable for use in climate studies…”
They write: “Suitable for use in climate studies”.
Which climate studies needs surface humidity only?
It appears, that even in recent decades of rapid warming after 1978 there is no general rise in atmospheric water concentration unlike the surface layer.
Thus, the stagnating perhaps even declining water content in the atmosphere do not support that water is contributing to positive feedbacks.
Positive feedbacks – if true – should rely on other mechanisms than increased water content in the atmosphere.
Willet-Jones 2008: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcruh/data/Willettetal2008.pdf
Dai 2005 : http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/adai/papers/Dai_JC06-sfcHumidity.pdf
Last changed: 29th March, 2014 at 01:56:14
Kevin Trenberth to Michael Mann, Oct 12, 2009:
The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.
Kevin Trenberth to Tom Wigley, Oct 14, 2009
How come you do not agree with a statement that says we are no where close to knowing where
energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter. We are not
close to balancing the energy budget. The fact that we can not account for what is
happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as
we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!
“I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”
“We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.” -
Phil Jones to Michael Mann Feb 21, 2005:
The IPCC comes in for a lot of stick.
Leave it to you to delete as appropriate !
PS I'm getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data.
Don't any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act !
Tom Wigley to Phil Jones Sep 27, 2009:
If you look at the attached plot you will see that the
land also shows the 1940s blip (as I'm sure you know).
So, if we could reduce the ocean blip by, say, 0.15 degC,
then this would be significant for the global mean — but
we'd still have to explain the land blip.
I've chosen 0.15 here deliberately. This still leaves an
ocean blip, and i think one needs to have some form of
ocean blip to explain the land blip (via either some common
forcing, or ocean forcing land, or vice versa, or all of
these). When you look at other blips, the land blips are
1.5 to 2 times (roughly) the ocean blips — higher sensitivity
plus thermal inertia effects. My 0.15 adjustment leaves things
consistent with this, so you can see where I am coming from.
Removing ENSO does not affect this.
It would be good to remove at least part of the 1940s blip,
but we are still left with "why the blip".
Let me go further. If you look at NH vs SH and the aerosol
effect (qualitatively or with MAGICC) then with a reduced
ocean blip we get continuous warming in the SH, and a cooling
in the NH — just as one would expect with mainly NH aerosols.
The other interesting thing is (as Foukal et al. note — from
MAGICC) that the 1910-40 warming cannot be solar. The Sun can
get at most 10% of this with Wang et al solar, less with Foukal
solar. So this may well be NADW, as Sarah and I noted in 1987
(and also Schlesinger later). A reduced SST blip in the 1940s
makes the 1910-40 warming larger than the SH (which it
currently is not) — but not really enough.
So ... why was the SH so cold around 1910? Another SST problem?
(SH/NH data also attached.)
This stuff is in a report I am writing for EPRI, so I'd
appreciate any comments you (and Ben) might have.
Tim Osborn to Michael Mann and Ian Macadam , Oct 5, 1999:
Dear Mike and Ian
Keith has asked me to send you a timeseries for the IPCC multi-proxy
reconstruction figure, to replace the one you currently have. The data are
attached to this e-mail. They go from 1402 to 1995, although we usually
stop the series in 1960 because of the recent non-temperature signal that
is superimposed on the tree-ring data that we use. I haven't put a 40-yr
smoothing through them - I thought it best if you were to do this to ensure
the same filter was used for all curves.
> For the record, I do believe that the proxy data do show unusually
>warm conditions in recent decades. I am not sure that this unusual warming
>is so clear in the summer responsive data. I believe that the recent warmth
>was probably matched about 1000 years ago. I do not believe that global
>mean annual temperatures have simply cooled progressively over thousands of
>years as Mike appears to and I contend that that there is strong evidence
>for major changes in climate over the Holocene (not Milankovich) that
>require explanation and that could represent part of the current or future
>background variability of our climate. I think the Venice meeting will be
>a good place to air these isssues.