The cloudy, warming Earth

By Phil Plait | June 11, 2010 7:07 am

NASA just released an interesting picture of our home planet, taken from the GOES satellite:

goes_earth_20100530

[Click to massively englobenate.]

This image is in the infrared, and maps out the heat emitted from Earth. Brighter spots are giving off more IR — like the desert region in southwest South America, and the westernmost tip of Africa peaking over on the right — and darker spots show areas where less IR is emitted.

You might think that these dark spots are cooler, but you have to be careful here. The dark areas are actually cool high clouds. But they also trap the heat of the Earth — they don’t heat up themselves, but prevent the heat below them from escaping. High clouds like this are in reality warming us up slightly, even though they themselves are cold!

Interestingly, the low clouds in the image are white, as is open ocean. That means that the Earth is good at radiating away heat from its surface whether or not low clouds are present. Low clouds let the heat right through! So the type of cloud present affects the way the Earth’s temperature is maintained.

One lesson to be learned here — and it’s a good one — is that figuring out how the planet heats up and cools off is very complicated. A corollary of this is that when someone (a politician, say, or a demagogue) starts railing about scientists who are struggling with this information, they are almost certainly oversimplifying the case. Yeah, this stuff is hard. But that’s precisely why I tend to side with the majority of scientists who devote their lives to looking at this data, and not some talking head on TV whose only job is to confuse the issue even further.

[Note: I'll have another post on this very topic coming very soon. Stay Tuned.]

Image credit: Rob Simmon, GOES Project Science Office, NASA


Related posts:

- Climate denial crock of the week
- Climate change followup
- Deniers abuse power to attack climate scientists
- Dramatic glacial retreat caught by NASA satellite


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, NASA, Pretty pictures

Comments (59)

  1. I always come back to the idea you expressed in that last sentence:

    These guys do this for a living. No one can out-talk me on CDOs and mortgage backed securities because that’s my job. Anyone who wants to deny evolution or climate change had better be an expert if he doesn’t want to be summarily ignored (I’m looking at Senator Inhofe, whose only area of expertise is guano insanity).

    Argument from authority? Not the same thing at all. I defer to astronomers on astronomy, not astrologers. I defer to biologists on evolution, not theologists. And I defer to climate scientists on climate change, not keyboard jockeys and political hacks.

  2. Peptron

    What? Are you suggesting that “A mom”(TM) should turn to “experts” when it comes to performing open heart surgery on her child? EVEN if she was good at the game “Operation”?

  3. A mom always knows what’s best for her children.

    Just because some “doctor” thinks he’s qualified to tell her what to do with her OWN CHILD doesn’t mean it’s true.

    A degree doesn’t magically mean someone has all the answers, people. Ugh.

    /crazy_person

  4. Jason

    In that case shouldn’t all children be turned over to government licensed care facilities from the moment of birth so properly credentialed experts can take charge of ever facet of their life and ensure the highest quality citizen is raised?

  5. Steve Huntwork

    Trust but verify!

    Phile, care to explain why you have shown a standard GOES weather image as a negative, instead of how we view these images on TV every day? The data is the same, but cold cloud tops are usually shown as white.

    Were you trying to manipulate us in some way?

    Wow, you have shown that clouds at an altitude of 7 to 13 miles high are much colder than the ground. Amazing!

    Next time, simply show the GOES satellite images like we see them every day. People are not as stupid as you think they are.

  6. Steve Huntwork

    Just for fun, since you are concerned about green house gases, you can even watch GOES satellite images of them every day.

    Google for any GOES water vapor image website, or use this one if you are too lazy to look:

    http://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/GOES/globalwv.html

  7. Blondin

    Someone has to stand up these EXPERTS!

  8. Steve Huntwork

    Flightaware.com

    On the left side of the website, locate the Private Flight Tracker section.

    Track this aircraft: N719P

    For the next two hours, you can see our aircraft as it photographs the gulf oil slick at 0.5 meter resolution. We have been averaging two flights and covering almost 2,000 square miles each day.

    As they are flying to a specific location, this is where the major focus is being placed today.

    This retired weather satellite expert is now developing multi-spectral imaging cameras. This oil spill is only one of the applications that I work with every day.

  9. Steve Huntwork

    Wish that I could share the actual images taken each day, but the data is huge. But when you are imaging 2,000 square miles at 0.5 meter resolution each day, the data is more than even the internet can handle.

    That is why our aircraft have not relocated to Pensicola, because the hard drives must be hand delivered and processes at the command center.

  10. Pi-needles

    @ 5. Steve Huntwork : People are not as stupid as you think they are.

    No, sadly, they are often stupider! ;-)

  11. magetoo

    Phile, care to explain why you have shown a standard GOES weather image as a negative, instead of how we view these images on TV every day? The data is the same, but cold cloud tops are usually shown as white.

    Were you trying to manipulate us in some way?

    As far as I can see, it is taken as is from the NASA page linked in the first paragraph.

    Assuming bad faith seems more than just a little weird when it’s that easy to check, to be honest.

  12. Steve Huntwork

    “Assuming bad faith seems more than just a little weird when it’s that easy to check, to be honest”

    I just found it rather interesting that GOES images which we view every day on TV during the evening weather forcasts, were shown as negatives. We see these GOES IR images every darn day.

    I guess the “very cold to warm” temperature scale rather insulted me, since GOES IR temperatures are calibrated to within +/- 2 degrees Centigrade.

    Anyway, hope some of you pay attention to the flights of N719P each day. It will show you where the daily priority has been placed on the tracking the gulf oil spill.

    Looks like Pascagoula is the primary target this morning.

    Every evening, the satellite images are analyzed and the next day’s target is assigned. Our aircraft is then dispatched to that region to obtain highly detailed multi-spectral images.

  13. Daniel

    All well and good to trust a scientist more than James Inhofe.

    I just wish that reports in the mainstream press (and here) would at least recognize that climate science is really complicated stuff and that there are serious scientists (Lindzen and Christy come to mind off the top of my head) that, at the very least, doubt that climate change isn’t more (please, I’m not saying “solely”) attributable to non-human causes. And certainly, it gives me reason to pause when someone, whether it’s a politician or a climate scientist (they’re human and not immune to having a political agenda), says that a drastic reorganization of the world economy is necessary to stave off catastrophe.

    Note, this is all coming from a layman, whose science education ended with introductory physics and astronomy (which I have long since forgotten). Still, why am I wrong to not blindly accept “consensus” whether it’s coming from scientists or anyone else.

  14. Re: Steve Huntwork,

    The Goes images I see on my local TV weather are the visible images. Does your local station show both visible and IR or only IR.

    If you look on the NOAA GOES pages you’ll see that the IR images superficially look like negative versions of the visible images. Of course if you compare the images carefully you’ll see they aren’t actually negative/positive. There just happens to be a lot of common shapes between the IR and visible images.

  15. Steve Huntwork

    Interesting: After mapping Pascagoula, they are now heading for Pensicola.

    I was wondering why the returned to the airport after just taking off this morning. Something interesting must have been noticed around Pascagoula and the mission had to be altered.

    Live planet monitoring is almost an astronomer’s dream.

  16. Steve Huntwork

    Paul Hutch:

    “The Goes images I see on my local TV weather are the visible images. Does your local station show both visible and IR or only IR.”

    Actually no, since the images you see on your local TV weather will be from the GOES IR. Otherwise, in the morning, you could not see a film loop from the previous hours since it would be dark.

    GOES visible images are amazing to view in the morning or evening because the shadows give you an almost 3D perspective of the cloud heights.

    Unless your local TV station is VERY UNUSUAL, you have been viewing GOES IR (10 micron) images almost every day.

  17. Nick

    Not sure where from or why Phil is getting criticism for posting standard images.

    I’m an atmospheric science grad student, and I see both dark as cold and dark as warm in different IR products (some use color enhancements, too). Why choosing one over another would be evidence of foul play is beyond me.

  18. Messier Tidy Upper

    Nice image. :-)

    Milky Earth all swirling clouds.
    Unrecognisable in this cool heat form’s light.
    Looking almost like a crystal ball
    Or a polished black granite snow globe.
    Surreal art and science fused.

    As I noted in the BA blog thread linked below (#122) I did find the “Climate crock” video clips linked :

    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=029130BFDC78FA33

    (& that I first found about from here via the BA the other week) interesting and informative and they have changed my views on that issue somewhat.

    I started out as a believer in the Greenhouse effect back way in the 1980′s, I was convinced otherwise by, among other things, reading skeptic Ian Plimer’s book the other year and now ..

    Well I’m still not so sure about Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming but I have to admit the case for Anthropogenic Global Warming does seem compellingly convincing.

    Problem is the politics of (C?)AGW and the proposed solutions (eg. legislating carbon taxes and in Oz the Emission Trading Scheme) get in the way and lead to a highly polarised and lingering political debate where the actual science is almost irrelevant.

    There are political and economic realities that will probably prevent adequate action anytime in the next few years and that probably rule out any effective international agreements from being reached. So I’m afraid that – regardless of the science – the political debate here is, currently, already lost as far as the CAGW lobby are concerned. :-(

    @ The Black Cat & jfb 131 & 132 here :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/06/07/senator-kay-bailey-hutchison-r-tex-disses-private-space/#comment-273990

    Whoah, that is one mind___ you’ve given me there! :-O

    You two have turned upside down the way I look at the US political system which I used to think – *wrongly* as I now gather – was a lot like my own nation’s parliamentary democracy but just with a more (not *less* as the case turns out to be!) powerful “chief.” I’ve said it there but I’ll say it again here too thanks for your explanation.

    Although I’m still struggling to get my head around how very different (& to my way of thinking very messed up!) the US political system really is.

    I’ll also admit I’m human and don’t know everything and I’ll confess I’m sometimes guilty of posting while “tired & emotional” (& sometimes while having the odd alcohoic beverage) too. :-(

    - Messier Tidy Upper a.k.a. StevoR.

    PS. How *do* you do the suprised /shocked :-0 :0 O-0 emoticon here? (Puzzled)

  19. Matthew Hui

    @Paul Hutch:
    Weathermen utilize GOES IR imagery. The colors are typically inverted, because it’s much easier to compare with visible imagery that way. (Simplification, actually, a colorization is usually applied to make it easier to see how cold different cloud tops are. Water usually ends up a medium to dark gray though, which does match what you’d think you’d normally see in black and white visual photography).

  20. dcsohl

    Steve, your hostility to Phil in your opening salvo was rather incredible. Rather than being insulted, maybe you should consider that looking at the same data in a different way can sometimes bring new insight. Did Phil or NASA release anything that was actually misleading? Just because it’s not what you’re used to doesn’t make it wrong.

  21. Steve Huntwork

    All Phil has to do is fix the image and provide a calibrated temperature scale.

    Nope, there is no way possible that people were being “manipulated” with a GOES satellite image.

  22. Utakata

    dcsohl @ 18…

    Steve only hostile to Phile, who is trying to manipulate us and treats us all as stupid…but I really don’t know who this Phile is.

    Phil, on the otherhand is trying to show us something interesting…with a follow-up later, so we can have an intelligent debate and draw our own conclusions. Perhaps even change Phil’s mind on a few things if we have the right facts together when we disagree. Just saying…

  23. Gary

    The high clouds don’t really “trap” the heat energy. Rather than letting it pass through unimpeded, they re-radiate it in all directions (most of which is effectively downward) so that the heat stays in the atmosphere a little longer than the situation with no clouds. To call it “trapping” is misleading as people tend to think of that as a permanent condition. The heat energy is constantly moving but we just can’t see it in motion without special equipment and over time.

  24. Steve Huntwork

    Phil, on the otherhand is trying to show us something interesting…with a follow-up later, so we can have an intelligent debate and draw our own conclusions. Perhaps even change Phil’s mind on a few things if we have the right facts together when we disagree.

    COOL!

  25. MaDeR

    @Steve Huntwork:
    Care to show how Phil manipulates by presenting this image? For now I seen from you only innuendo and insinuations here. Like this:

    >All Phil has to do is fix the image
    What is needed to fix? Or, in other words, what is wrong with this image?

    > and provide a calibrated temperature scale.
    Do you claim that this temperature scale is “uncalibrated” (whatever that means) and how do you know it?

  26. Brian

    @Steve Huntwork

    You are directing your anger and conspiracy theories in the wrong direction. It is your evil local news director which is manipulating the images.

    Unfortunately he has manipulate reality because everyone knows that clouds aren’t black.

  27. Steve Huntwork

    Phil, on the otherhand is trying to show us something interesting…with a follow-up later, so we can have an intelligent debate and draw our own conclusions. Perhaps even change Phil’s mind on a few things if we have the right facts together when we disagree.

    COOL!

    I am not hostile to Phil in any way, and when it comes to honest Astronomy, he is the authority that I respect the most.

    Phil has been abusing the concepts of the scientific and skeptical methods to support his political agenda. When that is detected, I simply recognize and make a note of it.

    Today was a simple but almost perfect example: Why show the negative of a standard GOES IR weather image to imply a hot Earth? The data is exactly the same, but he chose this specific image for a reason.

    Why?

    “Did Phil or NASA release anything that was actually misleading? Just because it’s not what you’re used to doesn’t make it wrong.”

    Again, why?

    Yes, I think that I could make a legal case in a court of law, that the data was presented in a manipulative and deceptive manner to influence the average citizen.

    Phil, as an astronomer, has nothing but my respect. However, when he crosses into my subject of knowledge, I will call him out on it.

    ……………….

    MaDeR Says:

    “Do you claim that this temperature scale is “uncalibrated” (whatever that means) and how do you know it?”

    That is too ignorant to even reply to.

  28. Pi-needles

    @5. Steve Huntwork:

    Phile, care to explain why you have shown a standard GOES weather image as a negative, instead of how we view these images on TV every day? .. Were you trying to manipulate us in some way?

    Dr Phil Plait did NOT manipulate this photo himself Steve – he just brought it to our attention & blogged about it.

    It is presented to us “as is” from the source provided – the NASA Earth Observatory “Image of the Day” – as everyone can tell from the GOES link provided. They headlined it “Clouds and Global Warming” which is a straightforward unsubtle tag. I guess you could accuse the BA of some slight poetic license in this posts title. That’s all he’s changed. That & adding his own written commentry and explanation about it as you’d expect him to do on his own blog. They also provide references and cites there along with more info and links.

    I can’t see any conspiracy theory or secret twisting there and am puzzled at how you apparently can. :roll:

  29. Steve Huntwork

    Phil can simply alter the image above and show both the positive and negative images side by side.

    Not that difficult to do, but it would prove my point.

    One of those images would be so common that nobody would even notice it.

    ….

    Ph-needles:

    I fully agree with you!

    “Dr Phil Plait did NOT manipulate this photo himself Steve – he just brought it to our attention & blogged about it. ”

    I never even implied that Phil had manipulated the image data. However, I was challenging his choice of data sources.

    TRUST BUT VERIFY!

    And if something does not look right, simply ask why they are trying to manipulate you by showing you an “alternative view” of a standard satellite image seen almost every single day on the TV weather news.

    ….

    “That means that the Earth is good at radiating away heat from its surface whether or not low clouds are present. Low clouds let the heat right through! So the type of cloud present affects the way the Earth’s temperature is maintained.”

    I was trying to keep things very simple where anyone could see the obvious. I did not want to get into the false statment about low clouds letting heat right through. As an astronomer, Phil KNOWS better.

    No wonder ASTROLOGY is getting popular. At least Astrology is honest in it’s deception.

  30. Utakata

    So Steve Huntwork @ 27, you are claiming not to be hostile to Phil who you are also claiming to “abusing the concepts of the scientific and skeptical methods to support his political agenda” (I didn’t know Phil was running for office). And presenting data in a “manipulative and deceptive manner to influence the average citizen” (though it didn’t change my mind…and it certainly didn’t yours). Sounds like you’re hostile to me. Or is that too *ignorant of me to even reply to?

    *Note: The fact you scoffed at MaDeR’s question without giving a reasonable answer suggests to me you have your own issues with scientific and skeptical methods. /shrug

  31. Pi-needles

    *Ph needles* eh?? Shall I take that as that an acid coment? ;-)

    BTW. Let’s compare :

    Steve Huntwork @ # 29 :

    I never even implied that Phil had manipulated the image data.

    with

    Steve Huntwork @ # 5 :

    Phile, care to explain why you have shown a standard GOES weather image as a negative, instead of how we view these images on TV every day? The data is the same, but cold cloud tops are usually shown as white.

    Were you trying to manipulate us in some way?

    Wow, you have shown that clouds at an altitude of 7 to 13 miles high are much colder than the ground. Amazing! Next time, simply show the GOES satellite images like we see them every day.

    (Emphasis added.)

    Hmm .. Nope, no implications cast or even personal accusations appearing to be directed at the BA there! :roll:

    I was challenging his choice of data sources.

    So are you saying NASA is playing some sort of nefarious game then?

    Specifically, are you accusing or implying manipulation by :

    Rob Simmon based on data from the GOES Project Science Office. Caption by Holli Riebeek.

    [&/or] Clement, A.C., Burgman, R., Norris, J.R. (2009, July 24) Observational and model evidence for positive low-level cloud feedback. Science, 325 (5939), 460-464.
    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2007). Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis Summary for Policymakers. A Report of Working Group 1 to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
    Riebeek, H. (2010, June 3). Global Warming. NASA’s Earth Observatory. Accessed June 8, 2010.
    Soden, B. J. and Held, I.M. (2006, July). An assessment of climate feedbacks in coupled ocean-atmosphere models. Journal of Climate, 19: 3354-3360.

    then?

    What evidence or reasons do you offer us to say we should NOT trust – or need to “verify” : Rob Simmon, A.C. Clement, R. Burgman, J.R. Norris, H. Riebeek, B. J. Soden, and I.M. Held?

  32. Steve Huntwork

    Phil chose what images to post today…

    “I never even implied that Phil had manipulated the image data.”

    Just a poor choice of an image to support his topic today.

    …………

    “Note: The fact you scoffed at MaDeR’s question without giving a reasonable answer suggests to me you have your own issues with scientific and skeptical methods. /shrug”

    ……….

    Under the image at the top, showing the GOES IR image of the EARTH, there is a temperature scale. Can you see that scale?

    What does it say?

    “Very cold, Cold, Cool, Warm, Hot”

    I count 5 terms used to classify the temperature of the Earth on that Image.

    Now, MaDeR stated the following:

    “Do you claim that this temperature scale is “uncalibrated” (whatever that means) and how do you know it?”

    …………..

    Ok, I give up, can you explain to me how:

    “Very cold, Cold, Cool, Warm, Hot”

    was a calibrated temperature scale?

    ……………..

    People, if is this your concept of honest science, then I would seriously suggest Voodo for you.

    The temperature on Mars as measured by the Spirit rover today was:

    “kinda warm, but could have been better”

  33. JT

    Steve Huntwork:”Phil can simply alter the image above and show both the positive and negative images side by side.”

    Well, yes, he could, but why should he go to the trouble of creating a negative image (hot = white makes this the positive) just because you don’t like the way it looks?

  34. Steve Huntwork

    Phil, as an astronomer has nothing but my respect. I will continue to say that over and over again.

    When he posts stupid statments (from other sources) without doing a simple reality check, then I will challenge him on that. If he publishes a statement from another source, he can not plead ignorant when that statement has been pointed out to him.

    I expect more from Phil, simply because I have respected him so much over the years

  35. Pi-needles

    So do the scientists at NASA who brought you that image along with so many others & so much information, whose names they – & I – have cited there; *they* need a reality check do they Steve Huntwork? Really? :roll:

    I will agree with you though on one thing: it would’ve been good to have the temperature numbers (at least along *with* if not necessarily instead *of*) the “Very cold, Cold, Cool, Warm, Hot” relative scale bar.

    Even if the significance to a non-climatologist would be about the same. My guess is that it was an attempt to simplify it and help ordinary people understand it better but, yes, including actual numbers might have helped there. Perhaps you /me /anybody could contact them via email or whatever and get those temperature numbers from them? I expect it’s available somewhere. In fact I’ve just contacted them about this & asked. ;-)

  36. Steve Huntwork

    JT Says:

    What, no comment about “Very cold, Cold, Cool, Warm, Hot” being a calibrated temperature scale?

    Deception is what I was talking about, and if Phil is not trying to deceive, then posting a dual image of the exact same GOES IR images above should be very simple.

    ………..

    Today, I have shared my real name and the ability to track our aircraft in real time each and every day. I was trying to share something with my fellow astronomers with information that they may care about.

    Watch that aircraft (N719P) on flightaware.com twice a day, and you can see where the most important areas are being focused upon. Actually, other than this blog, that information has not been shared with anyone else.

    Multi-spectral image analysis is what I have been doing since 1978. I kinda know what I am doing.

    When I challenge Phil, it is out of professional respect. I would expect the exact same thing from him.

    Can I repeat that once again? I expect the same thing from him!

  37. Steve Huntwork

    Pi-needles:

    If you know the emissivity of the target in the IR spectrum, then it is rather easy to identify it’s temperature.

    For satellites around Earth, the lava flows and gypson formations at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico have been used as the official calibration targets. Those geological formations are highly instrumented at multiple wavelengths, so what the satellite views with it’s camera is rather well known.

    Check it out with Google Earth – those white and black targets are rather obvious from space.

    I know, because I helped calibrate the GOES (and other) satellite images!

  38. The Other Ian

    Steve, I’ll agree with you that the temperature scale is unfortunate. This image was clearly formatted for PR and not for presentation of actual data. But what I can’t fathom is why you’re insisting it makes any difference at all whether the image is a negative or not. I’ve looked at it both ways, and I can’t see how one image is more honest that the other. If you want to win people over to your point, then you really need to explain that.

  39. Steve Huntwork

    Simple:

    Show two children both this (white as hot) and a (black as hot) GOES image of the Earth and listen to what they have to say.

    The normal (black as hot) is what they see every single day on their TV news weather.

    Asked them about this specific (white as hot) image and see if they react in any way. Not sure about you, but I know exactly what their first comments would be.

    You can not understand why that is considered deception? The data is absolutly the same, but when presented in an unusual way, people can and will be manipulated.

    Ok, let me try an example:

    Let us allow BP to present the amount of oil in the Gulf as a percentage of the total volume of water on the Earth. That percentage, when presented this way would be very decepted, even if honest.

    Oh, and to get very fancy, they can present their numbers in relation to how much the Earth has NOT been damaged by this oil.

    Personally, I am rather busy with much more important subjects at the moment.

  40. shawmutt

    @Steve #27

    “Why show the negative of a standard GOES IR weather image to imply a hot Earth?”

    Wow, dude, you didn’t actually read the blog article did you? Did the title of this article get you all hot and bothered and you felt compelled to reply? You know, replying to posts while hot under the collar usually results in foot in mouth disease.

  41. Brody

    There’s some seriously crazy people that read this blog (or at least that respond reflexively to it)…

  42. The Other Ian

    Show two children both this (white as hot) and a (black as hot) GOES image of the Earth and listen to what they have to say.

    While I don’t have any children handy, I imagine they would say “That one looks like the images on TV and that one looks different!”

    The normal (black as hot) is what they see every single day on their TV news weather.

    Yes. So what? The point of this image isn’t to look unusual or be dramatic. It’s to demonstrate the difference in heat radiation in areas with high cloud cover. It demonstrates that equally well regardless of whether it’s a positive, negative, or colormap image, as would any other GOES image that includes areas with high cloud cover. It’s an issue that has no actual bearing on how the point — high clouds trap heat — is perceived.

    You can not understand why that is considered deception? The data is absolutly the same, but when presented in an unusual way, people can and will be manipulated.

    Ok, let me try an example:

    Let us allow BP to present the amount of oil in the Gulf as a percentage of the total volume of water on the Earth. That percentage, when presented this way would be very decepted, even if honest.

    Oh, and to get very fancy, they can present their numbers in relation to how much the Earth has NOT been damaged by this oil.

    Allow me to present an analogy that I think is closer. The 8 o’clock news comes on, and some prankster has turned the camera upside down. As a result, the news anchor’s face is broadcast upside down to millions of homes. Is it amusing? Yes. Distracting? Possibly. Is the newscaster relaying the news in a deceptive manner? I don’t think so, but maybe you disagree.

  43. Steve in Dublin

    Steve Huntwork, several times with words to the same effect:

    Phil, as an astronomer has nothing but my respect. I will continue to say that over and over again.

    According to Steve, Phil is allowed to post on, oh, let’s see: astronomy (I guess that’s the only really safe one, though), evolution, vaccinations, homeopathy, global warming… WAIT! Stop right there! People, do an advanced Google search on the BA site for Steve Huntwork, and you will see he’s been hopping all over Phil with the moral high ground bit ever since ‘Climategate’ broke.

    16 posts out of 42 so far! That has to be some kinda record for here. Stop feeding the troll, folks.

  44. Jon Hanford

    43. Steve in Dublin:

    Thanks for the heads up. I was beginning to wonder.

  45. turt1es

    Steve,

    If NASA were wishing to deceive as suggested, don’t you think the scale would have favored warmer conditions? The provided scaled spans from Very Cold to Hot. What about Very Hot? And why is the middle value Cool?

    NASA isn’t trying to fool anyone. You’re confirmation bias is fooling you. You’re finding fault where you expect to, because you likely don’t buy into anthropogenic climate change; you expect that those who oppose you do so from ignorance, incompetence, or nefarious intent.

  46. Messier Tidy Upper

    @41. Brody Says:

    There’s some seriously crazy people that read this blog (or at least that respond reflexively to it)…

    Ah yes, mental illness or being “neurotypically challenged” ;-) is a very common thing, I’m a bit like that myself and I think actual *sanity* is probably far rarer than is generally thought. Heck, we all have our moments, some of us just have more moments than others!

    Still it keeps folks entertained and keeps the world interesting doesn’t it!? ;-)

  47. Dee Niah

    “This image is in the infrared, and maps out the heat emitted from Earth.”

    So Phile, er sorry Phil, you admit that the map is in INFRARED, and not how we see images ON THE WEATHER CHANNEL. There fore you MUST have manipulated the image!

    ” Brighter spots are giving off more IR — like the desert region in southwest South America, and the westernmost tip of Africa peaking over on the right — and darker spots show areas where less IR is emitted.”

    Ah yes, but if you actually showed the areas that were in infracool then you’d see that CAGW or AGW or GW or climate change does not exist, and if it did humans wouldn’t be the cause, and if they were, then we can’t do anything about it. Besides there is no evidence for CAGW/AGW/GW or CC or that CO2 is a GHG or that there ever was a person called Svante Arrhenius. Science? Whats that? Move along, nothing to see here!

  48. Gary Ansorge

    Satire (like medicine) should be left to the experts,,,

    Gary 7

  49. Podex Monckey

    49. Gary Ansorge Said:

    “Satire (like medicine) should be left to the experts,,,”

    Another alarmist attempt to keep satire in the ivory towered realms of those so called experts, I see!

    It is quite obvious to all who aren’t fettered to their alarmist ideology that you can be qualified in the classics and yet put forward Nobel prize winning peer reviewed satire without being an expert!

  50. Steve Huntwork

    Phil was not responsible for the image posted on the NASA website, but his choice of images to use is.

    As “Steve in Dublin” has noted, I do and will challenge Phil when his posts are rather shaky. Honest and accurate science is the only thing that I request. The last time that I protested, was when a satellite was able to “measure” a 20 cubic mile change of mass on a contenent larger than the United States. Nobody else questioned this?

    I have been working with satellite images of the Earth since 1972 and have studied millions of images since then.

    What bothered me about this images was rather simple:

    It was so unusual from how GOES images are normally presented, that I could not recognize the spectral band until I studied it a little longer. That is when I realized that the temperature grey scale had been inverted.

    Now why had NASA shown a standard GOES image with an invented grey scale?

    TITLE: “Clouds and Global Warming”

    I find it rather curious that nobody else realized that something was different with this image and had not commented about it.

    Despite the insults, I will continue to ask why, when something looks strange or unusual.

    Why would Phil feel insulted by my efforts to keep his postings simple, so that anyone can understand?

  51. Steve Huntwork

    “It’s an issue that has no actual bearing on how the point — high clouds trap heat — is perceived.”

    That was the deception that I was warning about, and “The Other Ian Says:” fell for it.

    Can anyone else explain to us why that concept was absolutly false?

    “The Other Ian Says:” looked at that image and assumed that the high clouds were blocking the IR temperature being radiated from the ground. And from this NASA website, that concept was being implied with the image they used.

    In reality, what the GOES IR image was measuring was the cloud surface temperate at it’s altitude. Most meteorologists us the GOES IR temperatures to identify the altitude of the cloud tops.

  52. JJ

    Steve (52) – “In reality, what the GOES IR image was measuring was the cloud surface temperate at it’s altitude. Most meteorologists us the GOES IR temperatures to identify the altitude of the cloud tops.”

    I’m confused. IR is IR. The cloud tops would appear to be the same temperature as the ground if the clouds didn’t act on them…right?

  53. Steve Huntwork

    JJ:

    “I’m confused. IR is IR. The cloud tops would appear to be the same temperature as the ground if the clouds didn’t act on them…right?”

    Think about this for a moment…

    How could clouds over 40,000 feet in altitude, with a temperature around -40 C, have the same IR signature as the ground.

    No wonder I get so darn frustrated. Astronomers should know better.

    Please review the topic about “black body radiation” and how Astronomers can measure the temperature of remote objects (like Stars) by studying their IR temperature signatures.

  54. llewelly

    JJ Says:
    June 15th, 2010 at 10:37 pm :

    I’m confused. IR is IR. The cloud tops would appear to be the same temperature as the ground if the clouds didn’t act on them…right?

    Higher altitude clouds are cooler (up to the tropopause) because there is less heat trapping atmosphere above them. Water vapor which rises to a given altitude rapidly cools to match the ambient temperature at that altitude. Thus, cloud top temperatures are a good proxy for cloud top altitudes.

  55. llewelly

    Steve Huntwork Says:
    June 14th, 2010 at 7:34 pm :

    Now why had NASA shown a standard GOES image with an invented grey scale?

    That’s explained in the link Phil gave:

    This image, acquired by the GOES satellite on May 30, 2010, shows thermal energy in the Western Hemisphere. The areas that are warmest and therefore emitting the most thermal energy are white and pale gray. The desert lining the Pacific coast of South America is a bright white strip in the lower center of the globe. The coldest regions emitting the least amount of thermal energy are dark gray and black. These dark spots on the globe are high clouds.

    Clouds emit energy in proportion to their temperature. Low, warm clouds emit more thermal energy than high, cold clouds. This image illustrates that low clouds emit about the same amount of thermal energy as Earth’s surface does. This is most clearly seen over the Pacific Ocean. The water is nearly white, while the low marine clouds are pale gray, only slightly cooler. This means that a world without low clouds loses about the same amount of energy to space as a world with low clouds.

    In other words, the color coding was chosen to inform.

    If go here you’ll see NASA color-coding the same data (IR channel 4) 7 different ways. Are they trying to deceive and manipulate you 7 different ways, one for each of the deadly sins? No. Each color coding has a specific meteorlogical use, highlighting the features important to that use.

  56. llewelly

    51. Steve Huntwork Says:
    June 14th, 2010 at 7:34 pm :

    I find it rather curious that nobody else realized that something was different with this image and had not commented about it.

    That’s right, we’re all in on the conspiracy. Can’t wait for my check to arrive.

  57. The Other Ian

    Steve:

    How could clouds over 40,000 feet in altitude, with a temperature around -40 C, have the same IR signature as the ground.

    The blackbody radiation from the clouds is not important here, except in the fact that there is less of it than there is from the surface. The radiation from the surface is what is important. Where the clouds are, the IR from the surface is reduced. Why? Because the clouds are blocking the IR from the surface and preventing it from being radiated out into space. In other words, they’re trapping heat.

    Look at it another way. Imagine for a moment that the entire planet were covered in these high, dark clouds. This would reduce the brightness of the planet as a whole, and therefore also the capacity for radiative cooling, would it not?

    Please review the topic about “black body radiation” and how Astronomers can measure the temperature of remote objects (like Stars) by studying their IR temperature signatures.

    You first. You’re the one neglecting absorption.

  58. The Other Ian

    One more thing, Steve. I think I’ve figured out what the problem is here. The scale on the map, which dubiously ranges from “very cold” to “hot”, has tricked you into thinking that this is a temperature map. Although it can be used as one, that is not really its purpose. Stop viewing it as a temperature map, and start viewing it as a radiated energy map instead. You seem to be rejecting the idea that it can be used as the latter, but in reality it is both.

    Yes, the darkness of the clouds can be used to estimate their temperature and altitude. It also signifies that the IR from the surface is blocked, because if it were not blocked, then we would be able to see it through the clouds. As a result, the clouds would appear at least as bright as the surface, even if they were themselves cooler than the surface.

    That is all this image is meant to illustrate.

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