Recently I’ve begun another attempt. And part of the process has entailed getting hold of figures for Earth’s energy budget, to use as a target to aim for – how I want my model to work. Here’s a famous one from 1997:
And here’s another one from the same guy (Trenberth) in 2009:
And here’s an even more recent one in Nature from 2012:
The interesting thing is that the numbers have been changing quite a lot over just 15 years. In 1997 the incoming solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere was believed to be 342 Watts/m². But by 2009, this had fallen to 341 Watts/m². And in 2012 it was down to 340.2 Watts/m². And reflected solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere had also fallen from 107 Watts/m² in 1997, to 102 Watts/m² in 2009, and 100 Watts/m² in 2012.
At the same time the estimated long wave back radiation from the atmosphere had risen from 324 Watts/m² in 1997, to 333 Watts/m² in 2009, and 345.6 ±9 Watts/m² in 2012. And estimated latent heating of the atmosphere had risen from 78 Watts/m² in 1997 to 88 ±10 Watts/m², an increase of over 10%.
These are quite large variations. And also now include quite large error margins. And since the radiative forcing due to rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere seems to be estimated to be about 3.4 Watts/m², it would seem that this could easily get lost in among all the changes in estimates of other forcings (e.g. the 21.6 Watts/m² change in back radiation). The 2012 paper seems to recognise this:
The net energy balance is the sum of individual fluxes. The current uncertainty in this net surface energy balance is large, and amounts to approximately 17 Wm–2. This uncertainty is an order of magnitude larger than the changes to the net surface fluxes associated with increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Or as Jo Nova put it:
This paper rattles the whole table of key numbers, with empirical results. It puts core numbers into a new perspective, numbers like the 3.7 Watts per square meter that a doubling of CO2 is supposed to add to the surface budget.
The models are hunting for imbalances and build-ups in planetary energy. But according to the observations, the longwave (infra-red) energy coming onto the earth’s surface, the infamous back radiation, is 10 – 17 W/m² higher than in the famous Trenberth diagram from 1997. So the models are trying to explain tiny residual imbalances, but the uncertainties and unknowns are larger than the target. The argument that “only the forcing from CO2 can fill the gap in the models” is not just argument from ignorance rhetorically, but factually too.
Another major implications is that water is churning up and falling out of the sky faster than the experts thought. The Earth’s evaporative cooler is lifting more water, taking more heat, and dumping that heat in the atmosphere. At the top of the atmosphere heat is radiating off the planet to offset the radiation coming in. On the water planet, it really is all about water.
Or maybe “expert” climate scientists aren’t really experts at all.