2011: Where’s the Warming?

2011 is not off to a very global warming year.  For starters the average temperature of the Earth so far this year is right at the average for the past 30 years.  There is no really warm spot on the Earth either.  The Arctic is the only region that is running at +0.82 °C for the year so far.  The rest of the Earth is pretty close to average or running a negative anomaly.

That is not a weather versus climate question either.  If global warming is happening, then there should be some place on the Earth that is warmer than it should be.  That is because warmth is a form of energy and it does not disappear.  If the Earth is warming up, then that energy cannot just disappear.  The entire concept behind global warming is that extra CO2 in the atmosphere is causing extra energy to accumulate.  So the question is, where’s the warming?

If the Earth is supposed to reach that 3 °C warming by 2100 it better get moving because at the current rate of warming, it isn’t going to get close.  This can be shown in many, many ways.  The simplest one and most rewarding is simply going by the global temperature trend for the past decade.  Depending on which source of data and the exact range I choose it is possible to get a rate of warming that is between -0.04 and 0.02 °C/decade.  That high rate of warming will take until about 3500 A.D. for the Earth to warm up by 3 °C.  Of course being off target by 1685% is not unreasonable.

I have been getting emails from people that have lived around the world over the past month telling me stories about snow falling much later in the year that usual.  I can’t really argue with that because I have been seeing that myself.  It is almost Memorial day and the nearby mountain is still snow covered.  That is a very rare event for this time of year.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

Boise, Idaho in mid-May.

It isn’t just where I live.

Here is the temperature anomaly by week for the contiguous USA.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

End of April 2011

The Inconvenient Skeptic

Beginning of May 2011

The Inconvient Skeptic

Early/Mid May 2011

The Inconvenient Skeptic

Mid/late May 2011

3 of the 4 past weeks have shown significantly low temperatures for this time of year.

What if this cooling persists?   The past 10 years have already shown a remarkable lack of global warming.  Now if anything the current trend is slightly negative.  Of course that would be natural and normal behavior for the Earth’s climate.  It has always been through these short term (50 year) swings in temperature.  The current warming period seems to have peaked and all indicators are that another short term cooling period is in the works.

It will be interesting to see how cooling is worked into part of the dangers of CO2.

Posted in Anomaly and Climate by inconvenientskeptic on May 25th, 2011 at 3:28 pm.


This post has 7 comments

  1. The solar cycle minimum should have an effect. I don’t know how far behind temperatures lag.

    F10.7 had been low for years, ramped up a little and has now plunged again to values like 2009.

    Leif Svaalgard has even put “Welcome to Solar Max” on his F10.7 graph.


  2. inconvenientskeptic May 25th 2011

    The solar activity has been low and that could be related to the lack of current warming.

  3. Richard111 May 26th 2011

    Miserable year here in Pembrokeshire so far. Wife says the garden is behaving like its autumn already!
    Been trying to learn about “backradiation”. You’d think there would be thousands of papers describing the physics of how this works. Can’t find one. My layman studies tell me warming, increased energy input, via “backradiation” is impossible because all radiation is temperature dependant. If a body is radiating at a specific IR frequency it CANNOT absorb at that frequency. Look up blackbody radiation equilibrium.

  4. inconvenientskeptic May 26th 2011

    Backradiation is a silly term used to explain half of the radiative heat transfer system between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere.

    I have 3 articles that might be useful to you. They are the ones here:




  5. Richard111 May 26th 2011

    Thanks John. I have re-read your 3 articles again and have no problem understanding what you say. I am trying to look deeper into the physics. Assume a 1 square metre surface at 15C (288.15K) will be radiating at 391W/m^2. Wein’s Law tells us the peak IR will be close to 10 microns. Therefore that 1 square metre will be radiating from a bit below 10 microns (how much?) to quite a bit beyond 50 microns. Radiation at 2.7 and 4.3 microns will be (in my view) absent. Radiation at 15 microns will most certainly be there. CO2 in the atmosphere above our 1 square metre will be absorbing that 15 micron radiation. If we take the total radiation from our 1 square metre to be 100%, what percentage of that energy is radiated in the 15 micron band?

    Of that absorbed energy how much is thermalised? What is left will be radiated isotropicaly by the CO2 molecules. So half that remaining energy will return to the surface. But this returning radiation is from a VOLUME of the above atmosphere. Temperature up that volume is reducing with altitude. Through a vertical distance of 2,500 metres it is simple to calculate that the total number of CO2 molecules above our 1 square metre amounts to an equivalent density of just 1 millimetre of (solid) CO2. And the temperature gradient of the CO2 will be approximately 15C at the surface to 1C at 2,500 metres altitude.

    How do you calculate the effective radiative temperature of that block of the atmosphere? Also Wein’s Law tells us peak radiation at 15 microns equates to a radiation temperature of -80C.

    It is evident some 15 micron radiation from the atmosphere will arrive at the surface. How much? See above. Since those 15 micron photons are impacting a surface that is already radiating away from the hugely more massive surface (speaking at molecular level) those photons will be absorbed and radiated out again because the heat store just below the molecular surface is at a higher energy potential.

    Hope some of that makes sense. :-)

  6. inconvenientskeptic May 26th 2011

    I meant to write an article about this, but never did.

    Basically all energy absorbed is converted into heat, but once the co2 molecule warms up, it either releases the energy as a photon or other molecules gain energy through collisions.

    At atmospheric conditions, collisions dominate. The key point is only a fixed amount of energy can be converted into warmth. Co2 absorbed energy cannot both cause warming and then transfer to cause additional warming. One or the other, not both.

    That is the simple answer.

  7. Richard111 May 27th 2011

    We are in agreement here. But how to put some numerical values to these effects? I never really absorbed much in the field of math.
    Nasif Nalhe has written some interesting stuff:


    That’s a 9 page pdf. Worth a read I think.

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