Source: Global Warming
by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.
There was a very clever paper published in Science this past week by Lacis, Schmidt, Rind, and Ruedy that uses the GISS climate model (ModelE) in an attempt to prove that carbon dioxide is the main driver of the climate system.
This paper admits that its goal is to counter the oft-quoted claim that water vapor is the main greenhouse gas in our atmosphere. (They provide a 1991 Lindzen reference as an example of that claim).
Through a series of computations and arguments, the authors claim that is actually the CO2, not water vapor, that sustains the warmth of our climate system.
I suspect this paper will result in as many opinions in the skeptic community as there are skeptics giving opinions. But unless one is very careful in reading this paper and knows exactly what the authors are talking about, it is easy to get distracted by superfluous details and miss the main point.
For instance, their table comparing the atmospheres of the Earth, Venus, and Mars does nothing to refute the importance of water vapor to the Earth’s average temperature. While they show that the atmosphere of Mars is very thin, they fail to point out the Martian atmosphere actually has more CO2 than our atmosphere does.
I do not have a problem with the authors’ calculations or their climate model experiment per se. There is not much new here, and their model run produces about what I would expect. It is an interesting exercise that has value by itself.
It is instead their line of reasoning I object to — what they claim their model results mean in terms of causation– in their obvious attempt to relegate the role of water vapor in the atmosphere to that of a passive component that merely responds to the warming effect of CO2…the real driver (they claim) of the climate system. (more…)