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The albedo effect and global warming

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate

The long term trend from albedo is of cooling. Recent satellite measurements of albedo show little to no trend.  

Climate Myth...

It's albedo

"Earth’s Albedo has risen in the past few years, and by doing reconstructions of the past albedo, it appears that there was a significant reduction in Earth’s albedo leading up to a lull in 1997. The most interesting thing here is that the albedo forcings, in watts/sq meter seem to be fairly large. Larger than that of all manmade greenhouse gases combined." (Anthony Watts)

The Unsettled Science of Albedo

“Clouds are very pesky for climate scientists…”

Karen M. Shell, Associate Professor,  College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences,  Oregon State University, writing about cloud feedback for RealClimate

Albedo is a measure of the reflectivity of a surface. The albedo effect when applied to the Earth is a measure of how much of the Sun's energy is reflected back into space. Overall, the Earth's albedo has a cooling effect. (The term ‘albedo’ is derived from the Latin for ‘whiteness’).

The basic principle is analogous to strategies employed by people who live in hot places. Building are finished with white exteriors to keep them cool, because white surfaces reflect the sun’s energy. Black surfaces reflect much less. People wear light colours in summer rather than dark ones for the same reason.

The Earth’s surface is a vast patchwork of colours, ranging from the dazzling white of ice and snow, to the dark surfaces of oceans and forests. Each surface has a specific effect on the Earth’s temperature. Snow and ice reflect a lot of the sun’s energy back into space. The darker oceans absorb energy, which warms the water. Oceans help keep the Earth warm because they absorb a lot of heat (approximately 90%). This warming increases water vapour, which acts as a greenhouse gas and helps to keep temperatures within ranges humans have largely taken for granted for millennia.

A Cloudy Outlook

It isn’t just the Earth’s surface that has a reflective quality. Clouds also reflect sunlight, contributing to the cooling effect of albedo. They also contribute to warming at the same time, because they consist of condensed water vapour, which retains heat.

And if clouds complicate matters, so too do the seasons. Every year, albedo peaks twice. The first peak occurs when the Antarctic sea-ice is at its winter maximum. The second peak, which is larger, occurs when there is snow cover over much of the Northern Hemisphere.

Albedo also changes due to human interaction. Forests have lower albedo than topsoil; deforestation increases albedo. Burning wood and fossil fuels adds black carbon to the atmosphere. Some black carbon settles on the surface of the ice, which reduces albedo.

Albedo and Global Warming

The most significant projected impact on albedo is through future global warming. With the exception of Antarctic sea-ice, recently increasing by 1% a year, nearly all the ice on the planet is melting. As the white surfaces decrease in area, less energy is reflected into space, and the Earth will warm up even more.

The loss of Arctic ice is of particular concern. The ice is disappearing quite fast; not only is albedo decreasing, but the loss triggers a positive feedback. By exposing the ocean surface to sunlight, the water warms up. This melts the ice from underneath, while man-made CO2 in the atmosphere warms the surface. Humidity also increases; water vapour is a powerful greenhouse gas.  More ice therefore melts, which exposes more water, which melts more ice from underneath…

This loop fuels itself, the effect getting more and more pronounced. This is a good example of a positive feedback. Increased water vapour also has another effect, which is to increase the amount of cloud. As mentioned already, clouds can increase albedo (a negative feedback), but also warming (a positive feedback).

Measuring Albedo

The albedo of a surface is measured on a scale from 0 to 1, where 0 is a idealised black surface with no reflection, and 1 represents a white surface that has perfect reflection. 

Taking measurements of something with so many variables and influences is clearly going to be a challenge. Satellite data is constrained by the orbit of the satellite. Clouds can be hard to distinguish from white surfaces.

Indirect measurement may also be problematic. The Earthshine project investigated a phenomenon where light reflected by Earth illuminates the dark side of the moon. By measuring the brightness, the amount of albedo - reflectivity - could be estimated.

The project reported a counter-intuitive finding. The Earth’s albedo was rising, even as the planet was warming. This seems contradictory, as Anthony Watts was quick to note when he voiced his sceptical argument in 2007. If higher albedo was having a cooling effect, how could global warming be taking place?

Tricky Business

Science constantly seeks to improve itself. The first Earthshine paper, Palle (2004), claimed to have discovered a very significant cooling effect through a big increase in global albedo.

The results were problematic.  They flatly contradicted the NASA CERES satellite observations, and the discrepancy became the subject of investigation. In 2004, a new telescope was installed at the Big Bear observatory, where the project was located. It became evident that the original analysis was in inaccurate. Once corrected, the Earthshine project and the satellite measurements were more consistent.

Figure 1: Earth albedo anomalies as measured by earthshine. In black are the albedo anomalies published in 2004 (Palle 2004). In blue are the updated albedo anomalies after improved data analysis, which also include more years of data (Palle 2008).

Over a five-year period, scientists found that albedo did increase slightly. Since 2003 the CERES satellite records shows a very slight reduction.

 

Figure 2: CERES Terra SW TOA flux and MODIS cloud fraction for 30S–30N between March 2000 and February 2010 (Loeb et al. (2012) - PDF)

Global versus Local

There are contradictory assessments of current trends in global albedo, possibly because the changes and effects are small. Research is being conducted into the role of clouds, both as forcings and feedbacks, and the role of albedo in cloud formation.

Recent research indicates that global albedo is fairly constant, and having no material effect on global temperatures. Local effects may be more pronounced. Loss of albedo in the Arctic could heat the water sufficiently to release methane stored in ice crystals called clathrates. (Methane is a greenhouse gas far more potent than CO2).

Loss of albedo in the Arctic will accelerate warming across adjacent permafrost, releasing methane. Melting permafrost may reduce its albedo, another positive feedback that will accelerate warming. Ocean warming from reduced Arctic albedo will also accelerate melting at the edges of the Greenland ice cap, speeding up sea level rise.

Conclusions

Albedo is a subject needing a lot more research. It’s an important feature of our climate, and a complex one. It is not yet possible to make definitive statements about what the future may hold. In fact, it is a good example of the ‘unsettled’ nature of climate change science.

We know the planet is warming, and that human agency is causing it. What we cannot say yet is how climate change is affecting albedo, how it might be affected in the future, and what contribution to climate change - positive or negative - it may make.

Basic rebuttal written by GPWayne

This rebuttal was updated by Kyle Pressler in September 2021 to replace broken links. The updates are a result of our call for help published in May 2021.

Last updated on 23 October 2016 by gpwayne. View Archives

Printable Version  |  Offline PDF Version  |  Link to this page

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Comments 51 to 75 out of 132:

  1. RE: My #48, The missing 5 W/m^2 is probably due to Trenberth having greater than 50% of the atmospheric absorption being emitted up out to space.
  2. RW1 @49, the water vapour feedback, ie, the increased GHE from increased water vapour in the atmosphere as temperatures rise is expected to be the dominant feedback mechanism, therefore your assumption that the difference between the power radiated by the surface and the power radiated from the top of the atmosphere to space can only come through changes in albedo is false. What is more, the relative strength of the GHE of CO2 and water vapour changes with increased temperature. At very low temperatures, there is almost no water vapour in the atmosphere, and hence almost all of the GHE comes from CO2. As the temperature climbs, the water vapour concentration climbs logarithmically. This means the water vapour feedback increases approximately linearly with increasing surface temperature. Meanwhile, the CO2 forcing increases by a constant amount with each doubling of concentration.
  3. Sigh, still trying to use the Trenberth diagram for prediction. The logical consequence of your argument would be that 100% cloud cover of venus would give it a cold surface.
  4. Tom Curtis (RE: 52) "RW1 @49, the water vapour feedback, ie, the increased GHE from increased water vapour in the atmosphere as temperatures rise is expected to be the dominant feedback mechanism, therefore your assumption that the difference between the power radiated by the surface and the power radiated from the top of the atmosphere to space can only come through changes in albedo is false." That is not what I'm claiming. I'm simply saying the enhanced warming effect (the 4.5 amplification factor needed for a 3 C rise vs. the system's measured 1.6) can only really come from a reduced albedo. If the water vapor feedback is not already embodied in the system's measured 1.6 amplification, then why have temperatures remained relatively stable for so long? Why also then doesn't it take more like 1075 W/m^2 at the surface to offset the 239 W/m^2 coming in from the Sun? Yes, there is a slight increase of about 1% in the amplification factor of 1.6 from the additional 3.7 W/m^2 absorbed by the atmosphere, but it's far too small to get the 4.5 needed for a 3 C rise. "What is more, the relative strength of the GHE of CO2 and water vapour changes with increased temperature. At very low temperatures, there is almost no water vapour in the atmosphere, and hence almost all of the GHE comes from CO2. As the temperature climbs, the water vapour concentration climbs logarithmically. This means the water vapour feedback increases approximately linearly with increasing surface temperature. Meanwhile, the CO2 forcing increases by a constant amount with each doubling of concentration." We are only talking about a small 1 C rise from 2xCO2. If, as you say, an additional 3.7 W/m^2 at the surface from 2xCO2 is to become 16.6 W/m^2 largely through water vapor feedback, quantify specifically how the feedback causes this much change while it doesn't for the original 98+% (239 W/m^2) from the Sun.
  5. scaddenp (RE: 53) "Sigh, still trying to use the Trenberth diagram for prediction. The logical consequence of your argument would be that 100% cloud cover of venus would give it a cold surface." No, the logical consequence is that 100% cloud cover on Earth would give it colder surface.
  6. Tom Curtis (RE: 52), "What is more, the relative strength of the GHE of CO2 and water vapour changes with increased temperature. At very low temperatures, there is almost no water vapour in the atmosphere, and hence almost all of the GHE comes from CO2. As the temperature climbs, the water vapour concentration climbs logarithmically. This means the water vapour feedback increases approximately linearly with increasing surface temperature. Meanwhile, the CO2 forcing increases by a constant amount with each doubling of concentration." Furthermore, if water vapor in the system operates in this way - to greatly enhance a small warming through net positive feedback, then why didn't temperatures climb higher and higher during the large El Nino events of 1998 and 2010? In each case, the temperature came back down very quickly:
  7. RW1 - Global warming must be due to decreased albedo? That's your theory? Seriously? Shortwave absorptivity (inverse of albedo) is really not much affected by greenhouse gases. Longwave emissivity is, and the changes there are what drive the temperatures. Note that we can measure albedo; the changes there are fairly minor compared to emission changes. As to your El Nino event issues, keep in mind that a positive feedback is not a runaway feedback (if that is indeed what you are implying, I may have misinterpreted your post) - see the Does positive feedback necessarily mean runaway warming thread. Regarding clouds, I suggest you follow up on the net feedback from clouds thread.
  8. scaddenp (RE: 53), "Sigh, still trying to use the Trenberth diagram for prediction. The logical consequence of your argument would be that 100% cloud cover of venus would give it a cold surface." Also, another logical consequence is that the idea of clouds operating as net positive feedback doesn't make sense. For the feedback to be positive, more clouds would need to block more energy than they reflect away, but as I've shown, that isn't the case. If you want to argue that clouds operate as a positive feedback via reducing clouds, that doesn't fit with the relatively steady (or even slightly increased) albedo.
  9. KR (RE: 57), "RW1 - Global warming must be due to decreased albedo? That's your theory? Seriously?" No, it's not. I mean the 'enhanced' warming outside the system's measured boundary to surface incident energy can only really come from a reduced albedo because COE dictates the atmosphere can't create any energy of its own. You can't simply create the remaining 10.6 W/m^2 out of thin air - it has to come from somewhere. If, as claimed, it's not coming from a reduced albedo (i.e. the Sun) and is within the system's internal boundaries, then it needs to be explained why it doesn't take more like 1075 W/m^2 at the surface for equilibrium (239 W/m^2 in and out). Remember, I agree the physics supports a likelihood of some effect (i.e. some warming) from 2xCO2. I'm mainly disputing the magnitude of 3C predicted by the AGW hypothesis.
  10. KR (RE: 57), "Regarding clouds, I suggest you follow up on the net feedback from clouds thread." Maybe I will.
  11. KR (RE: 57) "As to your El Nino event issues, keep in mind that a positive feedback is not a runaway feedback (if that is indeed what you are implying, I may have misinterpreted your post) - see the Does positive feedback necessarily mean runaway warming thread." Yes, I do understand this; however, positive feedback is also not a temporary effect either. There is no reason why it would not continue to amplify further the remaining amplified change even after the initial forcing subsided. The AGW theory claims an intrinsic rise of 1 C will become 3 C via positive feedback, so most of the change comes from the feedback - not the initial forcing.
  12. RW1 - "Remember, I agree the physics supports a likelihood of some effect (i.e. some warming) from 2xCO2. I'm mainly disputing the magnitude of 3C predicted by the AGW hypothesis." About 1.1C from a doubling of CO2, estimate of about 3C from feedbacks, so this is an issue you have with feedbacks, best addressed on the relevant How sensitive is our climate thread. It's well worth keeping in mind that this is a boundary value issue. Increasing greenhouse gases barely affect incoming radiation at all, but greatly reduce outgoing radiation. Equilibrium isn't reached until the outgoing matches incoming. And that is what drives surface temperature changes.
    Response: Yes, and not just "best" addressed, but "must" be addressed on that other thread or other threads that are more appropriate than this.
  13. I think in general this site does a fantastic job, and fully support it. Though I struggled with this article a little bit, I also thought it was informative, and for the issue of cloud cover albedo, linked to it here

    But, though I know this is an old post (though I don't think that makes it or comments in it have any less value) I have a question on this article as well.  It reads "Overall, the Earth's albedo has a cooling effect."  

    Has a cooling affect relative to what? Doesn't the earth have to have some level of albedo? So the albedo can't cool or heat, but only cool or heat relative to a higher or lower albedo??

    I also wonder, since the myth is supplied by Anthony Watts, who seems to have gotten a lot of fairly central stuff incorrect, if the end of that statement supplied at the outset "the albedo forcings.. seem to be ...larger than that of all manmade greenhouse gases combined."

    Again, doesn't this have to be relative to some baseline, such as a marked and precise change in albedo over a specific time period? It's also unclear from the myth quote whether he is talking about the allleged "decrease in albedo" over some set of years prior to '97 (followed by a "lull," which presumable means no change from the prior year?) or the alleged increase in albedo after '97. And is the statement of total affect even accurate? And again, relative to what (not Watt) specifically?

    Ned, comment 7 above:   Helpful comment.  It also says "So, a change in the earth's albedo can increase or decrease the amount of energy that is absorbed, without necessarily increasing or decreasing the amount of energy that is emitted." 

    I want to make sure I understand this correctly, as I'm also unclear on this as well.  A higher albedo will reflect more radiation away from the surface, which has not affected the amount of energy the surface is emitting, but is affecting the energy absorbed by increasing (in the case of a higher albedo) the amount simply reflected away (like a white shirt) and thus decreasing the amount not reflected, but simply absorbed. Making high (versus low) albedo huge, because much of it then goes back into space, instead of heating the surface it hit, and then adding to overall thermal emittance from that warmed surface.  I botch anything major there?

    (Maybe this is going too far afield, and also showing whatI need to learn about the changing wavelengths, but if it is simply reflected and the wavelengths stay the same, then it won't be much impeded by atsmopheric gg gas absorption and re radiation - but, if it is not reflected, but aborbed (say into warmer water) not only does it heat the surface (or water) but when some of that energy is released as heat, in longer thermal radiation form, more of it is then trapped, and re radiated in all directions, by the gg gases in the atmosphere, then otherwise would have been had it been bounced back originally in its original shorter wavelength (and thus not, or less? gg gas absorbable) and less goes back out into space, yet again.  ?? )

  14. There is alot more happening with the earth then just some global warming that is the least of the worries i carry around in my head, if we are trying to reflect the suns radiation and solar energy then why are we absorbing it with solar panels more then ever in the last 10 years Solar Panels might be a very bad thing if they are worried about how much we are reflecting MAN worry more about how much we are absobing   YOU THINK  :) 

    Response:

    [PS] Please read the comments policy. no all-caps.

    Note your point is discussed here though I havent checked the figures.

  15. JimmyJames @64, yes I do.  Better than that, I quantify.

    In 2012, global primary energy supply was 71,013 terawatt hours, or 2.56 x 10^20 Joules.  Total insolation after albedo was 153218.46 x 10^20 Joules, so total primary energy supply was just 0.0017% of the energy the Earth recieves from the Sun.  Put another way, at 5% efficiency, we would need to cover just 0.033% of the Earth with solar cells to completely power our civilization.  With a maximum albedo loss of 1, that represents a change in albedo of just 0.033% - ie, completely negligible.

    To put that figure in context, that is significantly less than the area currently covered by roads.

    Of course, if it should ever be a problem, we could just cover a compensating area with a high albedo surface (like concrete, or sand) to prevent any net change in albedo.

  16. My apologies.  @65, I failed to account for the roundness of the Earth, so that total insolation should be divided by 4, and the percentage terms multiplied by 4.  That still requires only 0.132% of the Earth's surface to be covered in solar cells to entirely supply human energy needs at 5% efficiency, and a 0.132% change in albedo.  That represents a maximum forcing of 0.45 W/m^2 easily compensated by other means as noted in my final paragraph.

  17. blaisct:

    From here: It is generally a waste of time to do your own calculations.  The albedo of urban areas cannot have changed more that 50%.  The area of urban areas is less than 1% of the Earth's surface.  A 50% change in albedo in such a small area cannot have such a large effect.

    For starters you need to devide incoming solar radiation by 4 and not 2 to account for day/night and the curvature of the Earth. 

    Vacant land converted into farmland has significant (possibly greater) changes in abedo than urban areas and is a much greater part of the Earth's surface.  The melting of Arctic ice causes a greater change in albedo than the rural/urban change does.  We see that reflected in the Arctic increasing in temperature faster than the rest of the Earth.  If urban areas caused 30% of the warming they would all be extremely hot during the day.  This is not observed.  If your calculations were correct than albedo changes would account for all of global warming and that is not what is observed.

    If you look in the just released IPCC report you will undoubtedly find a chapter on albedo change.  See what the scientists say.  An old saying among grad students is "An hour in the library will save you a week in the lab".  See what you can find in the IPCC report and come back here to inform us.

  18. Also in response to blaisct's comment #66 posted over on the Urban Heat Island discussion.

    Blaisct:

    You continue to make poor choices in the numbers and calculations that you are doing. Going over your latest effort by number:

    1. You continue to select an albedo for urban areas that is too low for anthropogenic surfaces, and you have failed to cite a reference for your value. In my comment # 64 on the Urban Heat Island discussion, I gave a reference to several artificial surface materials, all with albedo values that exceed the the value you have chosen. "Urban" areas are a mix of things like grass, roads, houses, etc. You would need to calculate how much of the surface is covered by each type, and work out an albedo for an "urban" area that way. If that is what you have done, you need to show your detailed calcuations on how you arrive at the 0.08 value.

    2. There are no assumptions in the 0.31 albedo value for the earth as a whole. That is based on satellite measurements, and includes reflection from the surface, clouds, clear atmosphere, etc. Note that the only part of the surface reflection that reaches space is the part that makes it back out through the atmosphere and cloud cover. To calculate this in a model (which is what you are trying to do), you need to account for spatial variations (and daily/seasonal cycles) of solar input, surface albedo, cloud cover, and atmospheric conditions.

    3 to 14. You continue to make unreasonable assumptions about the area that is undergoing a surface change, and how it relates to population. There is no reason to think that they are related through a simple proportion.

    15 to 20. You continue to make errors in converting solar output (1367 W/m^2 measured perpendicular to the sun's rays) to an areal average over the surface of the earth. As MIchael Sweet points out, there is a factor of 4 involved, not a factor of 2. I also mentioned this in my earlier comment. If you do not understand why this is the case, then it is difficult to see how you can expect to do any useful calculations. You also need to consider seasonal variations in solar radiation distribution and seasonal albedo.

    21. Converting radiative forcing to global temperature change involves looking at the top-of-atmosphere changes (what is seen from space), not surface changes alone. To properly incorporate surface changes into a calcuation, you need to use a much more complicated model of climate response to surface albedo changes.

    22. You still get a wildy incorrect answer, due to bad data input and bad assumptions.

    I have not bothered to follow the link to the Mark Healey document you mention. If that is the source you are getting your incorrect ideas from, then it is not worth bothering. The result you quote (that albedo changes can account for all the obsvered temperature rise) is completely inconsistent with the science.

    Over at RealClimate, they have recent posted several articles on the just-released IPCC reports. One of those summarizes 6 key results. In that post, they provide the following graph from the IPCC report, which shows the estimated temperature response due to a variety of factors over the last 100 to 150 years. "Land use reflection and irrigation" is the second-last bar on the right. Note that the calculated effect is minor cooling, not warming.

    RealClimate IPCC radiative forcings

    Michael Sweet's suggestion to read the IPCC reports is a good one. I often suggest that people start with the first 1990 report, as this covers a lot of the basic climate science principles in a manner that is easier to understand for the non-expert. In the 1990 report, they mention the Sagan et al paper I linked to in my first comment. Google Scholar can probably help you fnd a free copy.

    https://science.sciencemag.org/content/206/4425/1363.abstract

  19. Also in response to blaisct's comment #66 posted over on the Urban Heat Island discussion. 

     The albedo is relative ... and depends primarily on the wavelength of the light that hits the body. We should therefore always specify a wavelength range for Albedo. Otherwise, strictly speaking, the entire spectrum of the sun is decisive. This relativity to the albedo is particularly important for an element as widespread worldwide as H²O.

    As water vapor, it absorbs (28W / m²) largely only in the long-wave range and lets most of the visible light pass through.

    As liquid water on the surface, it absorbs long-wave and short-wave light very strongly, although as a cloud in the same aggregate state, finely distributed in the atmosphere, it again reflects a high proportion (-47W / m²) of the high-energy, short-wave radiation.

    As solid ice or snow on the surface, it reflects short-wave radiation as well as clouds. On the other hand, in the long-wave range it behaves like a black body and a layer of ice over the open sea isolates the one below
    warmer water and prevents it from emitting its heat radiation to the atmosphere and space which in turn relativizes the ice albedo effect.

    So @bleisct is not that wrong if he ascribes the Earth's albedo a major influence on global temperatures. The atmosphere (and every single component - including CO² molecules) also has an albedo if the solar spectrum is viewed holistically across all wavelength ranges and light refraction and transmission are taken into account as factors. Higher levels of GHG lower earth`s albedo by absorbing ~20% of radiation energy.

    @MA Rodger is right when he remarks that the cloud albedo ingeniously has the strongest albedo and the global albedo(change) is of very minor importance over urban areas.

      With a global mean surface albedo of 13.5% and net shortwave clear-sky flux of 287 Wm−2 at the TOA this results in a global mean clear-sky surface and atmospheric shortwave absorption of 214 and 73 Wm−2, respectively. From the newly-established diagrams of the global energy balance under clear-sky and all-sky conditions, we quantify the cloud radiative effects(CRE) not only at the TOA, but also within the atmosphere and at the surface.

    The cloud-free global energy balance and inferred cloud radiative effects

     Illustration of the magnitudes of the global mean shortwave, longwave and net (shortwave + longwave) cloud radiative effects (CRE) at the Top-of-Atmosphere (TOA), within the atmosphere and at the Earth’s surface, determined as differences between the respective all-sky and clear-sky radiation budgets presented in Fig. 14. Units Wm−2 

    When assessing the earth`s albedo, it`s also helpfull to have a look to the different radiation balances from land and sea and the fact that the cloud albedo is very closely interlinked with latent heat flux of evaporation in the radiation balance. 

    Do not confuse the strongly cooling CRE (-19W / m²) with the warming cloud radiative feedback CRF of ~ + 0.42Wm-2 ° C-1, which is a missing +RF in the above graphic by @Bob Loblaw as is also the radiative forcing of the ice Albedo effect.

    .The energy balance over land and oceans

    The energy balance over land and oceans

    Response:

    [RH] Reduced image size.

  20. The discussion diagrams provided by coolmaster in the preceeding comment are a useful expansion of the traditional "Trenberth" diagram that shows global averages.

    • Clear skies and overcast skies are quite different.
    • Land and sea are quite different.
    • Visible light and IR radiation are quite different.

    Add geographical differences related to latitude, continentality, global circulation patterns, etc. and you see even more variation.

    Complex? Yes.

    Incomprehensible? No.

    This complexity is what general circulation models of the earth-atmosphere system do. Divide the planet up into small areas, model all radaition and other forms of energy transfer, the water cycle, etc. and watch the atmosphere and oceans respond.

    Summary diagrams are summary diagrams - not detailed models.

  21. @Bob Loblaw

    "useful extension"

    They are not only a useful extension of the understanding of climate - but also the basis for recognizing where and how humans intervene (or could intervene) in the climate.
    Fighting the causes of an evil (GHG emissions) is important and right - but is it actually enough? - I would say - NO.                                            After decades of meditation on Mauna Loa Observatory / Hawaii          GHG concentrations are still rising steeply.

    So we urgently need a second, additional strategy that is potent enough to stop further global warming.

    All possibilities that humans could have available are shown in the changing global radiation balances. There you not only find the disturbed carbon cycle, but also the energy flow of the global water cycle.

    When looking at the actual problems (decreasing biodiversity, SLR, droughts, record temperatures, floods, ...) that humans and creation have to suffer with global warming, it is noticeable that they all mainly have to do with the presence or absence of water. The idea of influencing the climate via the water cycle is therefore only logical, more direct and, above all, much faster. (All firefighters in this world nod their heads understandingly)

    Let me now briefly explain this alternative climate protection strategy, which does not care much about the causes (mainly CO² & other warming GHG), but should at least noticeably alleviate the above-mentioned effects and problems of climate change:

    - 3.7mm SLR = 9mm over the land area = 1335km³ of water = 2.7% of the global runoff via the rivers.


    - This volume can be retained by a wide variety of measures before it flows into the oceans and converted into evaporation.


    - 9L / m² corresponds to ~ 1% of the average annual rainfall over land and should therefore create ~ 1% additional clouds over the land mass. Also a multiplication effect arises because there is a high probability that these clouds will in turn rain down again over a (different) area of land.


    - The net effect of the clouds(CRE) is given by Prof. M. Wild (ETH Zurich) as -19W / m².       + 1% additional cloud cover over land (-0.19W / m²) corresponds globally to -0.07W / m²   and is therefore a lot more than the current annual increase in radiative forcing.


    !!! The rise in sea level and the rise in earth temperature would thus (in theory) be stopped. !!!

    In the graphic below I tried to show the simulated additional amount of clouds and water(red numbers) in the radiation balance. I look forward to your criticism and assessment. - Thanks

    all_clear_sky_land_ocean

    Response:

    [RH] Adjusted image size. Please keep your images down to a width of 450px because otherwise it breaks the page formatting.

  22. coolmaster @71,

    There is something like 500,000 cu km of annual global precipitation (and the preceding evaporation) which might suggest the addition of 1,335 cu km evaporation per year is small on a global scale but a big volume in terms of SLR.

    But water doesn't stay so long in the atmosphere with the atmospheric water content just 13,000 cu km suggesting an average residency time of less than 10 days. Thus if the continual addition of 1,335 cu km evaporation per year into the atmosphere were achieved, it would pro rata result in the removal of some 34 cu km from the planet's surface/oceans, reducing sea level by 0.1mm, the equivalent of about ten-day's-worth of today's SLR. And that would be a one-off reduction requiring the evaporation of 1,335 cu km each and every year to maintain.

  23. @ MA Rodger

    "500,000 cu km of annual global precipitation"

    Humans can only influence evaporation over the oceans indirectly (via climate change) by higher temperatures and stronger, drier winds. The amount of precipitation over the sea is therefor also irrelevant because it cannot be held back there.

    Over land, the average rainfall is only 100,000-120,000km³ - approx. 100xSLR. An intensification of the water cycle by at least 1% will also increase cloud formation over land by ~ 1%.

    A share of ~ 8% of the SLR consists of the water that the continents lose every year. Wetlands are drained, glaciers, permafrost areas, groundwater and aquifers are juiced. This promotes the spread of deserts, which are generally characterized by the fact that there are few clouds, little precipitation, little plantgrow(CO² absorption) and little rH. A third of the land area (~ 50 million km²) is already desert and it is spreading rapidly.

    After the last Pacific Northwest heat wave at the latest, it should be common knowledge that drought acts as a temperature driver.

    The year-round retained amount of 1335km³ is mainly used & transpired in spring and summer after it has been stored in soil moisture and groundwater. Assuming that it is largely transpired through plant growth, an additional 4.9-9.8 Gt of CO² are extracted from the atmosphere every year. 
    This climate protection strategy may seem Spanish to one or the other - and that is exactly what it has been - for centuries. Equipped with sufficient global water cooling over land, the earth's temperature will fall - not rise !

    SLR & global warming will remain a problem as long as neurotic, uncreative CO2 budget-oriented people determine the public's climate protection strategies. 

    This is also intended as a criticism and is addressed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and climate science in general.

  24. Coolmaster:

    You seem to be trying to claim that there is some sort of method of controlling climate by increasing evaporation over land, leading to increased cloud cover?

    In #72, you state "The amount of precipitation over the sea is therefor also irrelevant because it cannot be held back there."

    You are wrong. The amounts of precipitation and evaporation over oceans is highly relevant. to global climate. Globally, oceans evaporate much more water than falls back iinto them as precipitation. The difference is the extra precipitation over land - where precipitation greatly exceeds evaporation for global totals.

    The fact that lots and lots of evaporation from oceans is incapable of forcing ever higher and higher atmospheric water vapour and clouds should tell you that things other than evaporation limit both water vapour and cloud cover.

    A 1% increase in evapoartion will not lead to a 1% increase in clouds over land. (Feel free to provide an actual scientific reference for your claim, should you have one.)

    You may wish to read https://skepticalscience.com/water-vapor-greenhouse-gas.htm

     

  25. Bob Loblaw@74

    You seem to be trying to turn the word around in my mouth - you will not succeed. I have never said that precipitation over the seas is irrelevant to the climate - but I claimed that precipitation and evaporation over the sea cannot be held back or manipulated by humans - and that rain will fall into the sea.
    You can stand on the beach or on a boat with a big bucket - but is that handy to hold back 1335 km³ per year - NO.                                        Can you give me a practical, affordable way of enhancing evaporation over the sea ? - NO.                                                                                Do you need proof of this? - I hope NOT.

    Just note that I want to increase evaporation by 0,7W/m² over LAND AREAS with 9L/m² and year. This improves also the energy transport from the land surface to the atmosphere by 6.13KWh/m² in spring and summer when this water will be used as additional artifical irrigation.


    I've posted some graphics(69) that you think will be a useful extension. There the energy transport from the oceans to the land areas is given as 19W / m² - you don't have to give me any tutoring in this regard.

    BL:   ... that things other than evaporation limit both water vapour and cloud cover.


    Are you talking about desertification? 10% of global surface is desert spreading rapidly. Here I've put together some other graphics and links that can give you an idea of what I'm referring to:

    https://climate-protecion-hardware.webnode.com/_files/200000017-9b9cc9b9cd/cloud_graphics.pdf?ph=02adf5ae1c

    ...From the totality of these findings I estimate the cooling radiative forcing resulting from additional evaporation through an improving cloud cover to approx. -0.2W / m² per year over land areas.(or even more due to multiplication effects)
    It is suitable to compensate the current, global, annual radiative forcing of approx. + 0.04-0.05W / m² with ease.

    In theory, this would stop the rise in earth temperature!

    The use of additional "artificial irrigation" and retention measures with an annual, global total volume of 1335km³ = (3.7mm SLR) can reduce the predominantly CO²-related global warming with ~ -0.15W / m² "water cooling" by approx.  -0,07 ° C / year.

    If you take this additional volume from flowing waters and / or bank filtrate instead of using groundwater

    - This also stops the rise in sea levels!

    The global measures and changes in water management required for are
    thus always an excellent regional protection against periods of drought, but at the same time also against heavy rain and floods.

    Assuming that this water volume is completely withdrawn from global runoff and supplied to transpiration through plants or groundwater reservoirs and soil moisture, there is a potential for additional CO² absorption of ~ 4.9 - 9.8Gt / year (C3-C4 plants // 1-2Kg carbon / m³).
    Overall, it can be assumed that biodiversity will benefit from additional amounts of water over land and counteract the extinction of species.

    BL:  A 1% increase in evapoartion will not lead to a 1% increase in clouds over land. (Feel free to provide an actual scientific reference for your claim, should you have one.)

    Aristotle and I (and many others) believe in: What goes up - gets colder - and becomes a cloud - and must come down rapidly as water(~8,5days). A huge part of this additional evaporation will precipitate over a land area again (multiplication effect). 

    The link you sent is of little help. Here, too, the radiation-relevant net effect of clouds and water vapor (CRE = -19W / m²)), which is crucial for my strategy, is missing. You still seem to confuse CRE with the atmospheric feedback of the clouds, which consists in the fact that with increasing temperature less cloud cover, changed lapse rate and optical depth are determined (+ 0.42Wm-2 ° C-1). 

    May be it`s a good idea to work out this topic here together.

    Response:

    [BL] Link activated.

    The web software here does not automatically create links. You can do this when posting a comment by selecting the "insert" tab, selecting the text you want to use for the link, and clicking on the icon that looks like a chain link. Add the URL in the dialog box.

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