A Graphical Calculus of the TLT Weighting Function

The lower troposphere is a big place and it is difficult to understand what a published temperature really means when viewing NASA GISS or UAH data. This difficulty becomes important as thermometer surface temperature data seemingly diverges from satellite derived TLT.

A burning question is, “what is the implied surface temperature of a given TLT value?”

Here we pursue a graphical approach to derive the median altitude of the TLT weighting function. From this median the average lapse rate can be used to derive an implied surface temperature.


In a previous post we explored the relationship between ocean surface temperature and TLT in absolute (not anomaly) terms. The ocean is substantially warmer in all cases, but to determine whether or not the atmosphere can ever warm the ocean an implied surface temperature would be very useful.



From this you can see that a typical temperature for the tropical ocean would be 300 K  and for the tropical atmosphere 280 K. The average lapse rate is 10 K per kilometer. The implied surface temperature of 280 K TLT is 280+34.4=314 K. The 34.4 is derived by projecting the lapse rate at 10 K  per kilometer down from the median (seemingly also mean) weighting function at 3.44 Km of altitude.

Unfortunately, it is not even close.

The same applies if we try moving 45 degrees north or south to average ocean temperatures of 285 K and TLT of 260 where the implied surface temperature would be 294.4.

Ain’t science a bitch? Maybe there is a mathematical aspect of the weighting function that defies an area under the curve approach. Maybe the graphic is distorted.

The reason we know the implied temperature is wrong is that NOAA has these cooperating ships reporting SST and air temperature in near real time. You can go to the National Data Buoy Center Ship Observations Report and see all the ship data between the most recent 0400 and 0440 hours.

Ship Data

One can treat any given day as a random sample, kind of like a telephone survey. This was 8-20-2015. The data was parsed to lat long, air temp and water temp. All ships with missing data were culled. The data was sorted by latitude.

Air Sea Delta by Latitude

Negative delta values indicate air warmer than ocean. There are definitely places where the air is warmer than the ocean. They appear concentrated in the northern hemisphere mid latitudes, but then again, everything is. That is the bias in ship routes.

The average temperature delta reported on this day was +1.98. This is how we know the -14 for the tropics and the -9 for the mid latitudes implied from TLT is wrong.

Ship Data


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Piltdown Mann and his Hockey Stick

The estimable Michael Mann has continued to defend his infamous “Hockey Stick” with bluster and litigation, even as his data has become increasingly indefensible.

Hockey Stick credit Alan Caruba

Credit Alan Caruba.

When the likes of Wallace Broecker make observations like, “I don’t trust people like that. A lot of the data sets he uses are shitty, you know. They are just not up to what he is trying to do….”, you have a problem. Dr. Broecker is a senior climate scientist at Columbia University. He was an early advocate of human warming from CO2, predicting this role in the 1970’s when Kenneth Watt and institutional science was concerned with global cooling. He is also credited with the concepts of the thermohaline circulation of the oceans and the bipolar see saw.

Atte Korhola writes, “Another example is a study recently published in the prestigious journal Science. Proxies have been included selectively, they have been digested, manipulated, filtered, and combined – for example, data collected from Finland in the past by my own colleagues has even been turned upside down such that the warm periods become cold and vice versa. Normally, this would be considered as a scientific forgery, which has serious consequences.” Dr. Korhola is a professor of Climate Change at the University of Helsinki and an expert in Arctic paleoclimate.

Robert Way writes, “ I’ve personally seen work that is unpublished that challenges every single one of his reconstructions because they all either understate or overstate low-frequency variations. Mann et al stood by after their original HS and let others treat it with the confidence that they themselves couldn’t assign to it. The original hockey stick still used the wrong methods and these methods were defended over and over despite being wrong. He fought like a dog to discredit and argue with those on the other side that his method was not flawed. And in the end he never admitted that the entire method was a mistake. They then let this HS be used in every way possible despite knowing the stats behind it weren’t rock solid.” Robert is a doctoral student in Canadian permafrost and a team member of SkS, a staunchly CAGW website.

The point here is that all the comments above are from people who agree with Michael Mann about the dangers of human CO2.

Piltdown Man was an amazing fabrication of a skull to fit the anthropological preconception that the brain was the driver of human evolution and that the missing link between humans and apes would be an ape with a large brain. The staggering effort to accomplish this fabrication, in itself, speaks to the incredible power of preconception and superstition in the human psyche.

Piltdown Replica Credit Mike Peel

Credit Mike Peel. This image is of a replica of the original skull that was filed and fitted and treated with acids to give the appearance of great antiquity.


Credit not available. Astonishing craftsmanship in its own right. The pieces were from fossil human and fossil Orangutan.

It is now widely believed that humans have a common ancestor with apes, so in the end, the effort was completely unnecessary. The perpetrator(s) remain uncertain, although one Mr. Dawson appears to have had many prior forgeries in his portfolio. It is difficult to believe that one man could accomplish this without at least tacit collusion from other experts with the same agenda.

And so it is with the hockey stick.

Apologies, if any are needed, to the owner of the Twitter handle “Piltdown Mann”.

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The Holocaust (I mean) Pause Never Happened

Ironic that the Carbon cult who would accuse skeptical scientists of believing the moon landing was faked are now furiously adjusting the data to “disappear” the Pause.


Actually, the very word “pause” presumes that warming will resume. Time scales become important in this regard. We live in an ice age. The fifth that we know of in the Planet’s history. The first four ice ages ended and the planet returned to its average temperature, several degrees warmer than today.

Trouble is, we have absolutely no idea why the planet goes into ice ages. We therefore have no idea why they end.

It is reasonable to suspect that whatever mysterious forces push the planet into ice ages might also be at work causing the fibrillation between glacial and interglacial periods within ice ages. Yes, it is reasonable to suspect that the very same mysterious forces may be causing the Pause.

Funny thing about temperature data, you can’t just go back and measure it again. The data were not collected by skeptics. It was proudly collected by the Carbon cult with the full expectation that it would further validate their superstition. To their consternation, it didn’t. Now they are adjusting the data, cooling the past and warming the present to tip the pause out of dead level.hadcrut coolpast warm present


If the can adjust away the pause, what will be next? I play tennis with a likable chap who will tell you with a straight face that the Holocaust never happened…

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Carbon Starved Planet

We owe the title of this book to Ferdinand Engelbeen, who wrote the words in one of many blog discussions some years ago. Ferdinand’s words resonated instantly as a title for the book we had been working on for several years.

We decided to serialize excerpts from the book on this blog. Chapter 1 follows.


Thirteen point seven billion years ago there was a great flash of light, at first there were only quarks and stuff but within a couple minutes there was Hydrogen the primal proton, which begat Helium within another minute. A bit of Lithium and Beryllium were spawned in the next few minutes, but it was ten thousand years before first Boron and Carbon and the rest of the heavier elements were born in the explosions of supernovae.
It may seem like heresy, but this is just our cosmology in scientific clothes. The names might have seemed funny but the concepts would have made perfect sense in ancient Rome or Egypt.
“In the midst of Nun, Atum released his divine energy to create Shu, who begets the other gods of the pantheon.”
So went the cosmology of Heliopolis, inscribed 4500 years ago in Egypt. Let’s just take a look at the similarities. Nun could be either the baryon soup of photons, neutrons, electrons and quarks; or just the unfathomable nothingness that precedes all cosmology. Atum is Hydrogen, and Shu is Helium who eventually begets all the other gods of the pantheon.
The Periodic Table is our pantheon, and Carbon is the sixth elemental being. But Carbon is a very special element. Enormous powers are vested in its ability to cling to itself in a double bond, to catenate into long strings, and to form covalent bonds with many other atoms. An entire branch of chemistry, organic chemistry, is devoted to it and a typical animal is nearly twenty percent Carbon by weight.
Being element six, Carbon is the second lightest of the elements that had to wait ten thousand years to be formed in supernovae. It is the second in line for formation and it can be found in certain meteors that strike the earth. When your body is sixty-five percent water, which is three times heavier than Carbon, and the lesser constituents like Calcium (20), and Phosphorus (15) are more than twice as heavy; being nearly twenty per cent by weight doesn’t really indicate the prevalence of Carbon in your body.
Soot, charcoal, graphite, grapheme, diamond.


These images by Michael Strock show some of the forms Carbon can take. DNA is made possible by Carbon’s ability to form long strings.
So Carbon is the element of life, but more than just as a building block. Carbon is essential in life processes that take place within and between organisms. Carbon dioxide in the air and water is used by photosynthesizing creatures to create the sugars that fuel the machinery of primary productivity. This primary productivity is then consumed by Oxygen burners like us who reverse the process and gain energy by burning sugars, producing Carbon dioxide. Plants do this as well, of course. That is why they go to the trouble of making the sugars, but they produce a wild abundance. This sustainable and ever renewing cycle is the real magic of life on this planet. You could build fantastic creatures by whatever chemistry you like, but if their metabolic processes are a one way street, they will deplete essential resources and die off in wild swings. When other organisms use a reverse metabolism that renews the resource, a balance can be achieved and the wild swings stabilized within an acceptable range.
On our planet Carbon is an arbiter of the cycle. It goes Carbon dioxide to carbohydrate and back again. Call it the cycle of life. We will see that the balance has not always been well maintained and that particularly after extinction events, there have in fact been wild swings before things settled down.


NASA has found Carbon “buckminsterfullerines” many times bigger than our moon. More than half of all naturally occurring chemicals contain Carbon.
The life on our planet has found a way to take this dirty soot and make a different kind of diamond. Not a hard clear rock that will burn in the air to Carbon dioxide, but a complex evolving system with myriad forms that is remarkably and sustainably balanced. A system that hinges between alternating forms of element number six in our cosmology. Carbon is so essential to life that when its availability is reduced, we have a Carbon Starved Planet.

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The Fourth of July and the Gophernator

The fourth of July is a bad day for gophers where we live. While the rest of the United States is busy creating gunpowder explosions in the atmosphere, we celebrate with fuel/air explosions underground. These are not as visually attractive as pyrotechnics but they have practical value and it is deeply satisfying retribution to these rodent terrorists..

Gophernator is a trade mark of a company that makes an appliance that uses a torch handle as a mixing valve, a battery powered igniter, and a ball valve and automatic check valve as redundant features to prevent the explosion from climbing back up the hoses into the tanks and killing the operator and anything else within, say, a hundred yards. This would be an entirely unacceptable win for the gophers.

While laws and association regulations simply could not specifically anticipate such a device, one can be sure that powers that be would find ample general language to prohibit them if they hit the radar. I got mine some time ago just after the company reorganized with the automatic check valve feature following a lawsuit from the heirs of someone who forgot to shut the ball valve.

Initially I blasted with joyous abandon and had succeeded in driving the scurrilous rodents off my two acres. The kill rate is low, particularly for a beginning user, but the satisfaction is enormous, and the surviving gophers definitely leave. I began to get queries from my neighbors, “you been doing some shootin’?”.

It became clear when once friendly neighbors began to look down and spit on the ground that my shock and awe strategy was not going to fly and I was going to have to pick my battles with the rodents. I learned that they hate the taste of 2-4-D on their favorite weeds. I learned to trap them. I tried using a motorized plumber’s snake to find their catacombs. I learned to locate their main tunnels and be sure they were nearby before blasting them. Kill rate way up. Number of blasts way down.

Still, I was developing a reputation as the unibomber. One neighbor called the sheriff to complain of the noises and was told it was hunting season on adjacent fields.

Perhaps I should explain that my reputation was long since tainted by my use of a roofing torch to start mesquite in my barbecue. This is also moderately noisy and produces impressive sparks in the night, but the Fire Marshall ruled that while I was no longer allowed to use it on weeds, there was no regulation to prevent my use as a barbecue starter.

One day I set off the mother of all gopher blasts. My best explanation is that gopher tunnels has somehow tapped methane from a nearby wetland. The earth trembled. Perhaps a quarter of an acre levitated. After I had trundled the rig away a posse of neighbors showed up. The war on gophers is far too important to confess a secret weapon. It was impossible for them to know it was on my property and not on adjacent open fields or vineyards beyond where propane cannon are used for birds. After some arm waving and reference to hunting they left, but not before one neighbor looked at me knowingly and said with masterful understatement, “That was NOOO shotgun!”

So this is why all that remains of my shock and awe joyous blasting takes place during the fusillades of the fourth of July.

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The other 90 (or 95) Percent

We think of ourselves as finely tuned orchestras of cells. We have brain cells to make us smart, liver cells to buffer our indulgences, and immune cells to fight off invaders.

These cells are US. They have our uniquely human DNA. They are rather large cells as cells go, and wherever we go, they go.

Well, we are crusty critters. Our guts and skin are barnacled reefs of bacteria like the micrograph below (credit unavailable).

Gut Bacteria

Turns out between the reefs and the plankton floating in our body fluids only about ten percent of the cells that go where we go are human. The big ones are human. Those bacteria are tiny little guys that rack up big numbers. They might amount to a couple quarts of our total volume.

Do we own them? Do we want to? The other 90 percent of our biome, the microbial dark matter, is small compared to us.

We think of ourselves as denizens of a rational universe that obeys physical laws our brilliant predecessors have discovered. It is an harmonic music of spheres with finely tuned motions we can predict with astonishing accuracy.

Well, there is this problem with “dark” energy and matter that together comprise an unlit 95 percent of the universe. It does not go where we go. We go where it goes. it is very, very…Very large compared to us and our toy music box of understanding.

Between owning merely 10 percent of the cell nuclei in and about our bodies and understanding merely 5 percent of the universe, microbial (and other) dark matter and energy seemingly leave us in Plato’s cave.

The other 90 (or 95) percent gives us crusty critters plenty of food for thought.

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How Big is the Carbon Cycle?

Just google it and you will finds dozens of Carbon cycle illustrations. Most are cartoons, but half a dozen good ones can be filtered out. Mostly they agree in round numbers. The following by the IPCC is clearly the best:



Carbon Cycle IPCC

Most models are focused on human changes to the cycle and these are usually shown in red. The real significance of human changes must be gauged by the size of human Carbon in relation the entire cycle.

The sizes of the fluxes and reservoir sizes is really very uncertain and it is remarkable that there is as much agreement between models as there is. We became interested in using Carbon isotope ratios to constrain the cycle. This has proved very challenging and very illuminating. Perhaps the best measured parameter we have is the decline in 13C heavy Carbon in relation to lighter 12C in the atmosphere. We expected it would be fairly easy to factor (presumably) known isotope ratios of the fluxes and derive the measured slightly less than -.02 per year change. Months later we have not yet succeeded.

When you add up all the yearly fluxes it is clear that over a thousand GtC is in constant motion. A Gt (or a Pg) is the weight of a cubic kilometer of water. That’s a lot of Carbon. Well over 300 GtC cycles in and out of the atmosphere. There is a tendency to think of closely balanced input and output fluxes as net fluxes, but the isotopic fractionations are different for every flux.

Humans currently put about 9 GtC into the atmosphere every year. It is effectively a one way input as it takes a very long time for the Carbon we pull from the ground to be replaced. Microorganisms in the soil put about 60 CtC in the atmosphere every year and this is also effectively a one way input as the yearly return flow is only a small fraction of a Gt.

You can see that human input is less than 3% of the atmospheric cycle and less than 1% of the planetary cycle.

Our work with integrating isotopes shows that current conceptions like the image above are wrong. What are shown as nearly balanced input and output fluxes will need to be far more skewed, and in all likelihood, the Carbon cycle will get bigger.

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