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The Sky Is Falling, Scientists Report

Clouds over the southern Indian Ocean, July 23, 2007. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Ok, maybe not the sky itself… but the clouds. According to recent research by climate scientists in New Zealand, global cloud heights have dropped.

Researchers at The University of Auckland have reported a decreasing trend in average global cloud heights from 2000 to 2010, based on data gathered by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The change over the ten-year span was 30 to 40 meters (about 100 to 130 feet), and was mostly due to fewer clouds at higher altitudes.

It’s suspected that this may be indicative of some sort of atmospheric cooling mechanism in play that could help counteract global warming.

“This is the first time we have been able to accurately measure changes in global cloud height and, while the record is too short to be definitive, it provides just a hint that something quite important might be going on,” said lead researcher Professor Roger Davies.

A steady reduction in cloud heights could help the planet radiate heat into space, thus serving as a negative feedback in the global warming process. The exact cause of the drop in cloud altitude is not yet known, but it could reasonably be resulting from a change in circulation patterns that otherwise form high-altitude clouds.

Rendering of the Terra spacecraft. (NASA)

Cloud heights are just one of the many factors that affect climate, and until now have not been able to be measured globally over a long span of  time.

“Clouds are one of the biggest uncertainties in our ability to predict future climate,” said Davies. “Cloud height is extremely difficult to model and therefore hasn’t been considered in models of future climate. For the first time we have been able to accurately measure the height of clouds on a global basis, and the challenge now will be to incorporate that information into climate models. It will provide a check on how well the models are doing, and may ultimately lead to better ones.”

While Terra data showed yearly variations in global cloud heights, the most extreme caused by El Niño and La Niña events in the Pacific, the overall trend for the years measured was a decrease.

Continuing research will be needed to determine future trends and how they may impact warming.

“If cloud heights come back up in the next ten years we would conclude that they are not slowing climate change,” Davies said. “But if they keep coming down it will be very significant.”

The team’s study was recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Terra is a multi-national, multi-disciplinary mission involving partnerships with the aerospace agencies of Canada and Japan. An important part of NASA’s Science Mission, Terra is helping scientists around the world better understand and protect our home planet.

Read more on the NASA/JPL news release here.

About 

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Really20 February 23, 2012, 5:14 AM

    Global warming is taking its toll. I hope this finally allows the denialists to fall into the shadows of noncredibility where they belong.

    • jtom February 23, 2012, 6:22 AM

      What part of, “The exact cause of the drop in cloud altitude is not yet known,” escapes your comprehension?

      There is a large body of work that indicates changes in the solar magnetic field, through a process involving its interaction with earth’s magnetic field and cosmic rays, affects cloud formation. Clouds can drastically affect Earth’s temps, and if the theory is correct, it would explain the seeming relationship between the solar cycles and earth temps. There’s far more to this than what can be posted in a comment.

      But here’s a question: how do the climate models handle cloud formation and impact on temps? Trick question, they don’t. Scientists didn’t know how to model it, so they just ignored it. Now do still want to believe their predictions of future warming? I guess the answer depends on how much kool aid you’ve consumed.

      • Torbjörn Larsson February 23, 2012, 9:01 AM

        Everything you claim without evidence is rejected by the article.

        – The mechanism is thought to be “a change in circulation patterns”, likely since it is known that CR seeding doesn’t suffice to explain the observed GW forcing.

        – The handling of clouds is present in the climate models, and will be improved by also including clod height which is “extremely difficult to model and therefore hasn’t been considered.”

        Please take your anti-science to denialists sites where you are appreciated. We want to keep focused on what is known and unknown, not trashing science.

        • jtom February 23, 2012, 4:23 PM

          Wow, I didn’t know I had stumbled on a site full of data-denialists with the ethics of Gleick. Did you know that yesterday was the coldest Feb 22, globally, in the last 12 years? Enjoy your kool aid.

    • Torbjörn Larsson February 23, 2012, 9:22 AM

      Tiresome as it is, the crank credibility is already in the drain but they will never shut up.

      Right now it is the Heartland Institute DenialGate fiasco that has stired them up. The origin of the leaked documents are now known to the same (Heartland Institute’s climate program strategy leaked by an unknown informant) or a better degree (remaining documents verified by a known source) than the manufactured ‘ClimatGate’ sources.

      Very satisfyingly, they verify the basis for the tax fraud investigation of Hearthland Institute instigated by John Mashey.

      So scientists and their supporters have poked a political bee nest. Besides the cranks showing up here, it is really risible that a lone crank anonymous donor is feeding the Hearthland Institute in its campaign to disempower good science and good politics based on it.

      The problem with cranks, according to the theory of cranks, is that they are operating on the observable Dunning-Kruger effect. That is, incompetents are incompetent to observe their own lack of competence.*

      As they say on similar situations of stubborn holdouts (for one or other reason) in science, while science and society marsches on they will die with their rejected convictions.

      ——————————
      * The upshot is that they can learn how to learn. I hear a good way to start a crank towards a healthy association with reality is to make him try cooking. That leads to organization and recipe study, as faulty results are immediate and revolting.

      And from simple beginnings like that, the real world is within reach!

      It would be interesting to see a study correlating climate denialists vs non-cranks with their capacity for cooking. =D

    • dalemcgill45 February 27, 2012, 9:05 PM

      I think there is something else going on. The Sun is way, way too hot. Go outside and sit in the Sun. Something is very wrong.

  • James Franklin February 23, 2012, 5:44 AM

    Global change is real, but anthropogenic climate change is a different matter, the so called evidence is sketchy at best and the simple truth is we know so little about how the energy budget of the planet works that making the claims made by the Pro Man Made camp is staggeringly arrogant. Outlandish claims require outlandish evidence, and we do not see any evidence of this nature, only circumstantial assuptions of mans supposed influence, but that is not to say we should not look at better ways to do things and clean up the crap we pump out and dump into the environment, that is only common sense.

    • Torbjörn Larsson February 23, 2012, 8:55 AM

      This isn’t a discussion with camps, we have climate science telling us AGW is observed. The attribution to anthropogenic factors is up to 2 sigma as of last year, see the WISE report by Stott et al.

      That is a better diagnosis on the sick planet than you get at your doctor’s office.

      Please take your anti-science to denialists sites where you are appreciated. We want to keep focused on what is known and unknown, not trashing it.

      • Daniel Beck February 24, 2012, 8:46 AM

        That’s right you Silence the infidel with the contrary opinion or concern. Maybe you should write a letter congress and have this guys freedom of speech censored on public opinion forums like these.

        • Ged Quayle February 27, 2012, 2:52 PM

          Freedom of speech is the freedom to challenge muddle headed wrong thinking. Just like I am doing to you here.

        • Kawarthajon February 27, 2012, 7:19 PM

          No one was suggesting he can’t post here. He is free to post here and he did. TL was just suggesting that he take his nonsense elsewhere if he wanted to be appreciated. It is not appreciated here because it is pseudoscience.

          • Chris Saccoccia February 29, 2012, 12:42 AM

            Man made GLOBAL WARMING… now known as “climate change”, since the even with manipulation of data they couldn’t hide the global temperature decrease. is the DEFINITION of Pseudoscience! All the climate models constructed are done backwards. They already have “come to the conclusion” that climate change is man made… so the models are all set up with variables specifically designed to show this! That’s not science at all! That’s sponsored scientific lies.

            I live in Canada. In February for instance, monday could by 30 degrees and tuesday could be 50 degrees! Such drastic temperature changes can be viewed on a DAILY basis… and there is a VERY good reason for this. It’s called THE SUN! The cycles of heat/radiation on the sun are the ONLY culprit for GLOBAL temperature change! The earth goes through heat waves, all the way down to ice ages and back again. The idea that humans are causing too much C02 is RIDICULOUS! C02 is AIR to plant life. A higher concentration of C02 will simply result in larger plants, who emit more oxygen to keep the balance. C02 is not even really a “Greenhouse gas” (like methane) It has just been grouped among such so the Government can conveniently TAX you on something as arbitrary as breathing and further control every aspect of your lives, through a “personal Carbon allowance”. The goal … siphon tens of billions of dollars from citizens of EVERY nation on the planet to fund a “global climate court” (a global authority which all countries have to abide by) which is the seed planting of a ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT! (funded on the back of fake science to steal YOUR money to have you pay for your OWN slavery.)

            The earth will have many more heat waves and ice ages, long after Man has disappeared…. and the culprit will be the same every time, THE SUN. All these so called “climate scientists” ignore things like when the earth was experience it’s “warming period” from the early 80’s ending in the 90’s so was Mars and the rest of the planets… and I doubt our SUV’s had anything to with the consistent temperature change on other planets.

            The people who believe in Global Warming are the same sheep that believe that “government is good and your protector.” “vaccines are good for you.” “gmo’s don’t have any adverse health affects.” and “everything on CNN is TRUE!.”

            the people like the THOUSANDS of REAL climate scientists who put funding and their careers on the line to tell everybody the TRUTH are the ones who should be listened to. this forum is full of brainwashed fools who view faulty, rigged “climate models” which are created with the pre-drawn conclusion that man is the problem. In this case Man is the problem. But it’s his greed and ignorance, not his C02 that is causing world wide problems.

            WAKE UP!

          • thefalcone February 29, 2012, 6:51 PM

            Chris S, I can understand your frustration with the climate change debate as the media often depicts scientific consensus as a bunch of white haired men in lab coats sitting around a camp fire enjoying a few beers and discussing epigenetics and string theory. Unfortunately this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Scientific consensus only happens when experimentation takes place across multiple disciplines and the expected results match what’s really going on. It has nothing to do with their personal opinions and unfortunately those who do value their own opinion more than reality will often ignore previous studies that offer a more complete description of causality in favor of their own conclusions.

            I think it’s difficult for those outside of scientific circles to understand the difference between a convincing argument and thorough data analysis. For example many people are convinced that there’s a chance a plesiosaur lives in Loch Ness because of convincing arguments while ignoring data that proves Loch Ness didn’t even exist during the time pleiosaurs inhabited the Earth. Yet scientists and enthusiasts still spend time and money analyzing conditions in the loch looking for evidence that pleiosaurus could exist. Anyway, my point is their endeavors are not wrong but are purely self indulgent. What people do in their spare time does not require any more reason than they enjoy doing whatever it is they’re doing.

            Human impact on the biosphere is a more pressing issue not just for scientists but the entire human population. The problem is there are in fact other natural processes contributing to climate change in addition to human activity. The important thing to recognize is that all these other factors are in addition to human activity which means human activity cannot be ruled out while accurately describing the current condition of the biosphere. Since ultimately we’ll never be 100% certain what causes our species demise we can only predict what our biggest threats are.

            We can’t do much about a catastrophic meteor strike especially if we don’t see it coming. Since we actually do have some control over ourselves, doing whatever we can to conserve the resources we have and taking the biosphere into consideration when making energy choices is the only logical choice to make. Data proves human activity is contributing to climate change. What it doesn’t prove is what will happen in the future but it can be used to make predictions.

            I don’t like the predictions scientists are making either but ignorance will do nothing to prove them wrong. The tragic thing is if they do turn out to be right and we are faced with the imminent collapse of the biosphere those in power who share your opinion will once again ask scientists to come back to this very same data to figure out if it is possible to lessen our impact. The answer will still be yes.

          • Chris Saccoccia February 29, 2012, 10:51 PM

            Everything you said although polite and seemingly of sound mind, does not change the fact that the bottom line is: Climate Change on the Earth is a natural process that has been happening for BILLIONS of years. This whole “man made climate change catastophe” crap was conceived by the Club Of Rome, in 1991 immediately before the Rio Earth Summit of 1992…. What did the Club of Rome say about climate change?

            “The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself.”

            Alexander King Co-Founder of the Club of Rome, (premier environmental think-tank and consultants to the United Nations) from his 1991 book The First Global Revolution

            there you have it. Global warming/climate change…. is nothing but a MEANS to UNITE MANKIND (aka global government) by entrenching the idea that man is the enemy of humanity and must be tightly controlled… for the good of the 0.1% of the people at the top of the “pyramid.”

            Here’s a whole list of other very telling quotes from “climate change authority figures” who basically tell you that Climate Change is nothing but a ploy to trick and eventually enslave you.

            http://newworldorderreport.com/News/tabid/266/ID/28/Club-of-Romes-world-government-climate-change-and-depopulation-agenda-exposed.aspx

            Yes, I know it sucks to realize that everything you were taught in high school (from your Rockefeller funded textbooks) is a blatant and deliberate lie in order to try and control your thoughts and actions, and easily facilitate “control measures” on the global population as a whole. But guess what? You are lied to on a daily basis. And it is to further the agenda of a few rich, powerful people who want nothing less than total world domination.

            Cheers.

          • Chris Saccoccia February 29, 2012, 10:51 PM

            Everything you said although polite and seemingly of sound mind, does not change the fact that the bottom line is: Climate Change on the Earth is a natural process that has been happening for BILLIONS of years. This whole “man made climate change catastophe” crap was conceived by the Club Of Rome, in 1991 immediately before the Rio Earth Summit of 1992…. What did the Club of Rome say about climate change?

            “The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself.”

            Alexander King Co-Founder of the Club of Rome, (premier environmental think-tank and consultants to the United Nations) from his 1991 book The First Global Revolution

            there you have it. Global warming/climate change…. is nothing but a MEANS to UNITE MANKIND (aka global government) by entrenching the idea that man is the enemy of humanity and must be tightly controlled… for the good of the 0.1% of the people at the top of the “pyramid.”

            Here’s a whole list of other very telling quotes from “climate change authority figures” who basically tell you that Climate Change is nothing but a ploy to trick and eventually enslave you.

            http://newworldorderreport.com/News/tabid/266/ID/28/Club-of-Romes-world-government-climate-change-and-depopulation-agenda-exposed.aspx

            Yes, I know it sucks to realize that everything you were taught in high school (from your Rockefeller funded textbooks) is a blatant and deliberate lie in order to try and control your thoughts and actions, and easily facilitate “control measures” on the global population as a whole. But guess what? You are lied to on a daily basis. And it is to further the agenda of a few rich, powerful people who want nothing less than total world domination.

            Cheers.

        • Christopher Anyone February 28, 2012, 9:24 PM

          You should be silenced.

    • Chris Foltz February 28, 2012, 2:46 AM

      Climate has been changing for the last 12,000 years ,so what else is new??? How bout all the 3rd world over-breeding planet eaters who have appeared in the last 50 years. Green Revolution = Planet-wide Extinction . Na their not the problem are they? lol

      • Christopher Anyone February 28, 2012, 9:28 PM

        3rd world meaning America? That is where all the gluttonous geo-cheaters and over breeders are. Check yourself, how many kids do you have and how much are the tax payers having to pay for your failure to skeet accurately?

    • Chris Saccoccia February 29, 2012, 12:20 AM

      Very well said. In addition I would just like to add that the article briefly states “While Terra data showed yearly variations in global cloud heights, the most extreme caused by El Niño and La Niña events in the Pacific” Hence, they admit the largest “change” in cloud height was caused by a NATURAL event… yet in the end of the article they bluntly and arrogantly pander to the Pro Man Made group by asserting that if “cloud heights keep coming down it will be the sign of something significant in climate change.” Talk about playing both sides of the fence… The only problem is the their assertion on the “pro man made” side of the fence was pure speculation and had no evidence to back it up… Much like the whole man made climate change theory, in general.

  • Torbjörn Larsson February 23, 2012, 8:50 AM

    Interesting to see one of the feedback mechanisms that lower greenhouse forcing sensitivity. Its magnitude is known to be low (i.e. we are lucky AGW doesn’t warm much faster and more), but the mechanisms are largely unknown.

    • Brad351 February 23, 2012, 9:57 AM

      Debate is an essential part of the scientific method. By denying the opposing view its voice you are no better than a religious fundamentalist. So how about you take YOUR anti-science rantings somewhere else?

    • Brad351 February 23, 2012, 10:10 AM

      Questioning and debate are an essential part of the scientific method. If you are so sure of your position then consistently provide good evidence of your beliefs (as you have done previously). Resorting to what is effectively name-calling demeans both your cause and yourself. Telling others they have no right to comment is significantly more “anti-science” than backing the incorrect side of an argument.

      • Checkers Crossfox February 23, 2012, 4:17 PM

        When a group has no interest in discussing science, and no credibility or capability of discussing science, why would their opinion of scientific matters be wanted or relevant? Would you ask a confectioner who hates tall buildings to sanity-check the designs your engineers are producing?

      • lcrowell February 24, 2012, 12:43 AM

        This is not exactly a scientific debate, which properly involves people working on the same scientific subject. I am not a climatologist, so I can’t really argue the science in that context. What I can say is that I read the AAAS Science magazine which has articles on this subject. I can only then give a second hand report, “AGW looks real.” PERIOD.

        LC

      • Brad351 February 24, 2012, 1:18 AM

        Your assumptions of no credibility or scientific understanding may be incorrect. Science exists to challenge assumptions.

  • Heber Rizzo February 23, 2012, 9:29 AM

    So, global cooling with more low clouds, global warming with less low clouds. Another proof for Svensmark, who explains this without CO2 anthropogenical causes.

    Another blow against warmists, who are trying to explain the reason to no warming since 1998, against all proyections of their models. And that, as Trenberth said, is a travesty.

    • DrFlimmer February 23, 2012, 9:56 AM

      Oh yeah, one record breaker after the next (sort of) in the last decade – but since it has levelled, it is not so bad.
      Are you sure?

      I doubt very much that “levelling” is significant. I think, “still warming with variations” is much more significant!

    • Daniel Beck February 23, 2012, 12:43 PM

      I agree Heber, I think people should stop being so gullible about man made Climate Change (MMCC from here on).

      I know it’s not polite in these circles to talk “Conspiracy theories” but the fact is that the same people who push manmade climate change on us, are the same ones who profit significantly from policy created to combat it (Al Gore and his carbon credits for example).

      However that’s not the main issue, the main issue is that the science being used to push MMCC is not without serious flaws and assumptions. The problem is, this is a complex system, and much of the MMCC science ignores several possible other causes, or minimizes them in favor of the ones man can be blamed for.

      The Fact is, Even when I take my tinfoil hat off and approach this honestly from just the skeptical point of view, I feel like MMCC is too dangerously unproven to be making policy about. For all we know reducing carbon emissions will do more harm to the environment than good.

      I mean after all, it’s what plants need to breath, and what humans exhale. Will humans be taxed for breathing to punish us for polluting?

      Now admittedly, this isn’t my primary area of hobby research or anything, but seeing your comment made me want to chime in.

      • Lights in the Dark February 23, 2012, 4:42 PM

        “For all we know reducing carbon emissions will do more harm to the environment than good.” It’s pretty much agreed upon that this would certainly not be the case.

        • Daniel Beck February 24, 2012, 8:41 AM

          Yeah, I think what I was TRYING to say there wasn’t that reducing carbon emissions would be bad for the environment because we need more carbon or something. I think I was intended to move on into the crazy solutions that could be more harmful to the planet than the problem.

          Like Geoengineering with toxic chemicals, Costly carbon taxes that would give incredible power to very few people and would screw over a lot of people in the world who are not at fault.

          The problem is it’s not the consumers fault that all their suppliers break the rules, and pollute etc. But the consumers will be the ones who pay for it.

          So consider what I said to be just a poorly written attempt to segue into a different consideration.

          And thank you for being polite in your reply unlike the first guy with the attitude problem.

      • IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE February 23, 2012, 6:13 PM

        I mean after all, it’s what plants need to breath [sic], and what humans exhale.

        That’s a common misconception. Higher CO2 levels may boost the growth of some plants, but only if there’s enough water throughout the growing season and the temperature is appropriate for particular plants. Overall, climate change is expected to reduce yields once the temperature rise exceeds 3 °C.

        • Daniel Beck February 24, 2012, 8:37 AM

          Thank you for at least being polite about your apparent disagreement with me.

          I see your point, I know full well the environment would need time to adapt to these changes. I think my primary concern is the idea that this warming (assuming it is happening) is due to human activity, rather than other activity.

          I’m just not convinced humans are doing it, and I deal with a lot of politics and know that the people who are pushing for change are doing everything in their power to make a fortune off of it and are not doing it because they care about the environment.

          I think my primary answer then is that people who support MMCC as so many of you do, is to temper that with a DEMAND for a real solution that DOESN’T violate basic human rights, nor be used as a vehicle for political and financial dominance.

          The issue is not just one of climate and ecology… because the solution COULD BE more dangerous than the problem.

          • Aerandir90 February 29, 2012, 10:15 PM

            ” because the solution COULD BE more dangerous than the problem.”

            Yea, those damn efficient and cleaner cars and reduced-emissions industries are just going to destroy us all. Lets just keep discharging tonnes and tonnes of pollutants..

      • lcrowell February 23, 2012, 6:55 PM

        The half-life of a CO_2 molecule in the atmosphere, or absorbed into the ocean as carbonic acid, is about 700 years. If we release a ton of CO_2 in the atmosphere now, which is close to the per capita American quota in a year, then in 700 years about half of that will have been taken up by plants? In order to increase this rate of carbon absorption by plants we would need a massive global forestation or reforestation program. We humans are doing just the opposite; we are deforesting the planet.

        The thermal changes in various latitudes will mean ecosystems adapted for any latitude will no longer be as healthy. The entire ecological community of organisms can’t pull up stakes and move 500 kilometers north. One result will likely be the unraveling of healthy ecosystems and the replacement of many species of plants with “weeds,” and many animals with invasive species.

        LC

        • Daniel Beck February 24, 2012, 8:33 AM

          Thank you for at least being polite about your apparent disagreement with me.

      • TomVanderveken February 23, 2012, 11:45 PM

        Frankly sir, you have no right to make claims about which you know nothing and basing your view on your feelings is completely unscientific. In light of that, and the ignorance you display in the paragraph “I mean after all, it’s what plants need to breath, and what humans exhale. Will humans be taxed for breathing to punish us for polluting?”, I recommend you educate yourself in these matters by perusing peer-reviewed articles in reputable journals and perhaps by picking up a biology textbook or two.

        I think also you need to be aware of the agenda of those who push in the other direction. Simply put, oil companies, coal miners and big polluters have a lot to lose by emission reduction policies, and profit significantly by nothing at all being done about it.

        In ending, I pose you this: if society lets CO2 increase unabated, and global warming (regardless of its source) is happening, then we would be screwed–firstly because large parts of land become uninhabitable and secondly because the higher temperature would tend to release methane from clathrates, of which there is an enormous quantity. If however, we do something about it and global warming turns out to be false(unlikely), then it’s still okay, because we now have far more efficient vehicles and energy generation methods. If we do something about it and global warming is happening, then rejoice for we have averted disaster.

        I think it would be beneficial to all to view this as an unrivalled opportunity for innovation, rather than a problem–regardless of the cause.

        • Daniel Beck February 24, 2012, 8:31 AM

          “Frankly sir, you have no right to make claims about which you know nothing and basing your view on your feelings is completely unscientific.”

          FRANKLY Jerk, I happen to be an American and have a right to whatever opinion and statement I want to make. But I get it, your an arrogant jerk, lets just get that out of the way. Expressing an opinion based on my own experience is not a crime, nor is it wrong. You could have simply stated that you disagreed and why.

          Other people can do that and I read their replies and find them interesting, whether I agree with them or not.

          But you come out swinging like a savage Fanatic and honestly, you come off like a brainwashed idiot troll that doesn’t actually have a thought of their own.

          Your little Bit of Game Theory logic in an attempt to prove the need for action against global warming is something I happen to know a lot about.

          So what I lack in Climate science knowledge, is made up for the fact that I can see through the prisoners Dilemma and know that arguments formed using that method can be weighted to be undeniable without appearing so from the outside. In this case it;s

          It’s pretty useful for decision making etc, but it isn’t a TRUTH test for logic… It is an aid, nothing more.

          In your example you leave out possibilities that are just as bad or worse than the current status quo.

          What if the solution for Global warming is worse than the problem?

          For example what if Geoengineers decided to spray the atmosphere with aluminum and barium salts in nanoparticulate form to reflect back the solar radiation and help reduce global warming.

          By the type of argument you used, it would be a good thing…

          But can you guess the kinds of effects this dust spraying would have on the biosphere? Do you know how toxic those things can be? That they bioaccumulate?

          The point is, you arrogant jerk is that your so quick to condemn people like me that your not thinking about the OBVIOUS fact that your solution to the problem is to trust the very same people who are CAUSING this problem.

          Now if you read this far, good for you, I won’t reply to you again, because you clearly don’t want discussion or debate or anything of value, except to flex your own Ego as a keyboard eccowarrior. Good day…

          • TomVanderveken February 24, 2012, 11:56 AM

            No need to get testy. Perhaps I should have phrased that more like: your opinion on matters about which you know nothing is worthless to those in the know, but of course you have every right to express it!
            And of course basing your opinions on your own experiences is not a crime at all, but it is no way scientific, nor does it lend any credibility to your opinion.
            I did not suggest any potential solution, and would agree vehemently that geoengineering would be catastrophic; however, doing nothing would also be catastrophic–and that is almost a certainty. Any potential solution is a risk.
            The only bodies that have any sort of real ability to take any action about this is governments, and if I implied that society would reform by themselves, that is not what I meant. And if we cannot trust the governments to do anything, who is left?
            I really do apologise if you found offense with what I wrote, but I’m quite offended in return by your accusations of arrogance and your attacks on my person.

          • dalemcgill45 February 27, 2012, 9:04 PM

            Have you not noticed the geo-engineering that has been going on for well over 10 years now?

          • TomVanderveken February 28, 2012, 12:02 PM

            I meant more of the aerosols/pH balancing the ocean by dumping iron in it/producing sulphur dioxide on purpose type of geoengineering. I am unaware as to whether any of these are being undertaken on a large scale. If you would clarify what you mean by geoengineering and give an example, I would appreciate it.

          • Chris Foltz February 28, 2012, 2:53 AM

            Vanderdickhead. Ah-hahahahahaha clown!!! :)

          • TomVanderveken February 28, 2012, 11:58 AM

            Your maturity is truly inspiring. How is puberty treating you these days?

          • Chris Saccoccia February 29, 2012, 12:59 AM

            “those in the know” LOL what a classic statement. There are THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of extremely experienced and reputable climate scientists that do not agree with man made global warming.

            The fact that you THINK you’re smart for reading “peer reviewed journals” which are all funded by the same people that profit from climate change, without embracing the other side of the argument just goes to show that you are nothing but a brainwashed sheep, without an ounce of critical thinking skills! You’re so ignorant that words on a page with a stamp from “something that looks official” is taken as gospel and you lash out at anybody who thinks differently…. not with intelligent evidence and debate, but with the same establishment rhetoric that all brainwashed zombies spout because they lack the ability to think for them self simply believing what they are told, by the people looking to profit the MOST off of “climate change”.

            Thanks for letting everybody know you’re a good little sheep Tom, now say Bahhh and maybe your masters will give you a treat.

            Newsflash…. the earth stopped warming almost 20 years ago. the hottest day record was almost 100 years ago. The temperature in the same location on earth can vary by 20-30 degrees in less than 24 hours… but we’re supposed to see a change of 1 degree over a 50 year period as something “significant” when the temperature of the planet has ALWAYS been in fluctuation!? First it was Global Warming… when the Earth Stopped warming it was “Climate change”…. how convenient! Not to mention all the wonderfully WRONG “climate models” like the wonderful “hockeystick graph” and the “rising sea level” prediction or the “ice free Arctic in summer”…. oh yeah and the thousands of climategate emails which showed people getting paid to manipulate or disregard “inconvenient” data.

            But no… you won’t mention anything like that, you just pretend because you read a few SPONSORED journals that you’re an authority on the subject. Those are the people that are the MOST ignorant. Because you don’t have one original thought in your head.

            Have a nice day.

        • Chris Foltz February 28, 2012, 2:51 AM

          Go on Google earth & see how the savages are slashing & burning the planet to a cinder. Now that’s THE REAL PROBLEM!!!

    • Lights in the Dark February 23, 2012, 4:54 PM

      Warming has continued since 1998. The models which claim that year as a stop-point for warming don’t take into consideration the accumulation of heat into the oceans. It’s the global energy trend that’s the main issue (hence “global” warming), not just land or atmospheric temperatures — and definitely not just record spikes or lows.

      • Heber Rizzo February 23, 2012, 5:30 PM

        Yeah. And that accumulated heat is… hiding where?
        Don´t tell, I can see it just there, inside flogiston´s den.

    • Sean Leslie February 23, 2012, 5:23 PM

      Svensmark’s work lacks a mechanism for crucial steps, and has been unable to be verified in a repeatable fashion.

    • TomVanderveken February 24, 2012, 12:10 AM

      http://bit.ly/ySg0Qs
      Oho! I can cherry pick too! It seems to show warming since 1999, only one year after 1998! What’s that? I can’t choose 1999 because it’s too low? Well, then you can’t choose 1998 because it’s more of an outlier than 1999 ever was! What you must do is observe the long term trend to gain an accurate understanding of what is going on!

      If I show you this graph: http://i.imgur.com/zAenL.png
      you would say that it is increasing would you not?

      However, let me show you the whole graph: http://i.imgur.com/W5HUj.png
      Ah! It is now patently obvious that it is not increasing!

      This is what you do when you cherry pick data.

    • Christopher Anyone February 28, 2012, 9:36 PM

      You drive an SUV don’t you. Remain ignorant to anything that threatens your geo-cheating ways. Bubble goes, POP! and it will hit you hard when it does.

  • Matjaž Ciglar February 23, 2012, 12:59 PM

    Lower altitudes for clouds formations are caused by insulation layer between lower and higher altitudes.
    And insulation layer is made of CO2, methane as well as water vapour. CO2 and methane are partly contributed by humankind and H2O on other hand is not however extremely large deforested areas contributing to the faster vaporisation. Further more as we know water vapour has much bigger influence on IR insulation than CO2 has.
    Because of insulation layer upper layers are becoming colder and so condensation occurs at lower altitudes.

  • Peristroika February 23, 2012, 3:08 PM

    Some people just feel the need to be contrary. It makes them feel smart. But of course, they’ll deny that.

  • zetetic elench February 23, 2012, 4:23 PM

    there are some interesting theories about incident cosmic rays (and their long term variations) and cloud production. remember seeing alpha particles in a cloud chamber?

  • HeadAroundU February 23, 2012, 5:46 PM

    I’m a denialist too, I deny all the bullcrap anti-science.

  • Heber Rizzo February 23, 2012, 5:52 PM

    Meanwhile, temperature… eppur si muove… downwards.
    Slightly at first… http://bit.ly/AoFrg3
    But a little faster later… http://bit.ly/xyy3nu
    Only thing going up is CO2 levels. Ok, I know, correlation is no causation. But sometimes, I wonder…

    • Sean Leslie February 23, 2012, 6:07 PM

      It’s pretty trivially demonstrable that when dealing with the global average dataset, that you need, at a minimum, 15 years worth of data to establish a clear trend.

      Last time I checked, based on the amount of variation in historic data, there is still a significant amount of cooling required before it could be considered ‘model busting’ in any sense.

      • Heber Rizzo February 23, 2012, 7:30 PM

        Well, let´s see:

        since 1998… mmm…

        that´s 14 years and counting (and getting colder)

        • Sean Leslie February 27, 2012, 5:18 PM

          Nice cherry picking, next time try addressing what I actually said, and all of it.

          Then, while you’re at it, compare what’s happening now to what is already on the record (for example, the general apparent cooling trend between 1940 and 1980) and at least try and understand what I meant by “It has a long way to go yet before it becomes model busting”.

          Finally, you can stop and wonder why the IPCC (for example) use 30 and 50 year baselines when discussing trends and averages.

    • Sean Leslie February 23, 2012, 6:37 PM

      To illustrate my point a little clearer, here’s a chart I prepared two years ago for another forum, for a similar discussion to illstrate the same point.
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/60314130@N07/6923843225/

      That chart is the last 15 points of a 100 point data set that contains a warming trend of 0.6K per 100 years, and a random variation of +/- 1K

    • Olaf2 February 23, 2012, 7:13 PM

      You need to explain more in detail what your chart represents.
      All I see is a number of dots and a line going down.

      What are these data points? Are these data-points only at one single location or is this the average of the complete whole world? What about the data points before your chart starts?

      • Heber Rizzo February 23, 2012, 7:26 PM

        Just HadCRUT global data. It starts from max temp (1998) of modern warm period, of course. Since then, well… you can see.

        • Lights in the Dark February 23, 2012, 9:56 PM

          1998 was a very warm year, due to a strong Pacific El Niño event. That starts your graph at a spike which obviously moves downwards from there. What is the next series? *That* is the real question when discussing climate trends. What you have shows is just one step in the escalator, which has been moving steadily upwards for decades.

        • lcrowell February 24, 2012, 12:44 AM

          From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HadCRUT there is the following:

          From 1989 this work proceeded in conjunction with the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, and their work demonstrated global warming of almost 0.8°C over the last 157 years.[3]

          So the data on these websites you reference is suspect. There are thousands of websites out there which purport to show global cooling or QGW is bogus. Please quote a website that actually works on the science.

          LC

    • TomVanderveken February 23, 2012, 11:17 PM

      http://bit.ly/A85EmE
      Oh what’s that? It’s consistently going up from 1900? Too bad…that’s what you get for cherry picking your data.

  • Will February 25, 2012, 6:45 AM

    It’s always interesting to watch how anything published on UT concerning climatology stirs up the deniers and sucks the trolls out from their lairs. Skepticism is doubt predicated by knowledge, but at least it is open to reason and debate.
    Denial is blind belief justified by ignorance. It is closed to reason.

    But this choice of headline (a repeat of similar ones on several dozen other science web-news sites e.g. Wired Science) is really provocative and feeds straight into ‘Chicken Little’ minds and back out their mouths. I know it is intended to be ironic …… but irony is an intellectual touch that is psychologically beyond the ken of fundamentalists.

    But it instantly drew ant-science venom ……… wow!

    Reading the original paper we find a pretty modest data set and time-series showing a pretty small but nevertheless significant variation in a global phenomenon. It is a new observation and it needs debate and the usual scientific process of theoretical dialectics to figure out cause and effect before it is built into ‘the model’.

    “This is the first time we have been able to accurately measure changes in global cloud height and, while the record is too short to be definitive, it provides just a hint that something quite important might be going on,” said lead researcher Professor Roger Davies.

    There are three conditional statements contained in that one sentence ………. This scientist is a cautious man indeed!

    That it might have implications re planetary heat flux is important but nowhere in the paper or in this article does anyone mention CO2, green house gases, or anthropogenic causes of climate change ………

    It does implicate the (natural) planetary circulation oscillations – La Nina and El Nino, and it does suggest a less secular trend in changing circulation patterns could be at work, and it implies that a continuation of the trend beyond the well known cycles might lead to a modest cooling effect …. but that’s about it!

    It’s a single contribution to the immense body of knowledge that is climatology ……

    I haven’t blogged here for a couple of years, but last time I did it was just to say that though I’m getting real old -I’ve been there and back on climate change, field-teching from the pole to the equator. With Navy, government , uni and as an independent naturalist. I’ve done the simple version of Tindall’s experiments (that every science teacher should be showing their students) in the back yard. I’ve wrestled with the tougher equations of global carbon resource extraction and the gigatonnage of CO2 emitted but also I’ve witnessed the most precise analytical measurements made, and watched the graph paper click by in lockstep with the atmospheric chemistry . Above all I’ve watched the Arctic warm over 50 years and talked to Inuit elders whose personal knowledge of polar climate reached deep into 19th century (let alone their ancestral knowledge from their forefathers). And the huge effect of polar warming changing their world forever is in lock step with that same gigatonnage and clicking graph paper.

    Yes of course.. you freedom-loving, skeptical republicans are at liberty to believe anything, think anything and to say anything …… but quoting your Bill of Rights isn’t doing the science. It’s sad to use it as an excuse for repeating the Big Lie.

    UT is a science site …
    If you grok the science or are amazed by it or have a question then blog about it but if you haven’t done your homework beyond Fox News if you haven’t at least tried to climb the mountain of knowledge and balance even the simplest of the equations of planetary heat budgets don’t bother to opine here that “the evidence is sketchy”,” we know so little” , “the claims (are) staggeringly arrogant”. You really gotta walk the walk before you are qualified to talk that talk !

    Will Hansen

  • Expert82 February 26, 2012, 3:55 PM

    Well, another deficient article. It never states exactly HOW HIGH the clouds are!
    2 miles, 10 miles, or what?

  • Gabriel SkyWatcher February 27, 2012, 4:53 PM

    why don’t you just tell the truth and tell us this is because of planet x aka nibiru aka our twin sun??? and we were lead to believe our sun didnt have a binary star.. well the cats out of the bag!!! the truth is hard to swallow, but everything in this 3d matrix we live in is a diversion until this thing passes.. its was right in front of our face the whole time too.. pull out your mastercard, see it yet?? the x-factor intro? the movie melancholia? the tv show the event(last episode)? they call planet x wormwood in the bible, wonder why they have a telescope called ‘project wormwood’?? why are generation x? those are the only clues we will get folks.. my truth simply crushes the lies about so-called ‘global warming’…time is short.. google nibirufinalupdate.pdf for all of the answers.. or just youtube man2011ism or drgoodgreens.. just remember that nasa stands for ‘Never A Straight Answer! one more thing.. if u need more proof, youtube obamas speech on 9/11/11.. here it is just in case u doubt me more – “Terrible troubles — says the old prophecy — shall come over the earth in the last days; there shall be dreadful throes to usher in the new age, and earthquake which shall destroy the very foundations of earth. The highest things shall be thrown down, the mountains shall tumble into the sea. But in all these catastrophes and convulsions which come upon the universe we are to have no fear.”
    the only clue jason gives us is this “it provides just a hint that something quite important might be going on”. wake up people.. time is short. GOD’s messenger.

    • Olaf2 February 27, 2012, 5:42 PM

      Are you on medication?

      • Gabriel SkyWatcher February 27, 2012, 6:58 PM

        yes, its called truth-serum. and here’s my proof – proof of the winged globe is here my friend: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nfp_t0XjZEY

        God Bless!

        • Olaf2 February 27, 2012, 8:11 PM

          Hahahah, maybe you should at least take some proof that people would take you seriously. Not something that people would laugh at you about.

          I bet that your next proof would be google sky.
          I also bet that you are warning people that Comet Elenin is going to hit us too? Right where the X is marked on Google Earth?

    • magnus.nyborg February 27, 2012, 5:45 PM

      I cannot tell whether you are a troll, a poe or just insanely delusional. i’ll settle for the last option…

      • Gabriel SkyWatcher February 27, 2012, 6:58 PM

        wouldnt that be that pot calling the kettle black? proof of the winged globe is here my friend: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nfp_t0XjZEY

        God Bless!

        • lcrowell February 27, 2012, 7:38 PM

          It does not take much to see that this shape is some masking object meant to block direct exposure of a CCD to the sun. It is either that or direct solar exposure to the CCD is damaging it.

          There is no Nibiru making its way into the solar system. If there were, particularly given the large mass it is believed to have, the orbits of the planets would already be severely perturbed. This would not have escaped the attention of the astronomical community.

          LC

          • Olaf2 February 27, 2012, 8:14 PM

            He is just trolling, he is calling all the domesday claims that no real domesdayer would ever dare to use because that would show that he is a moron.

    • magnus.nyborg February 27, 2012, 8:01 PM

      Promotion of unsubstantiated personal theory, please remove all his post of this dignity.

    • dalemcgill45 February 27, 2012, 9:07 PM

      “man2011ism” you have got to be kidding me.

  • Michael Matalucci February 29, 2012, 12:25 PM

    TEAM HOT vs TEAM NOT

  • MrOTLChamp February 29, 2012, 2:05 PM

    “It’s suspected that this may be indicative of some sort of atmospheric cooling mechanism in play that could help counteract global warming.”

    I’m more than sure that the clouds being lower is a reaction, to the action of the planet cooling. And not a mechanism to cool the planet.

  • MrOTLChamp February 29, 2012, 2:10 PM

    “It’s suspected that this may be indicative of some sort of atmospheric cooling mechanism in play that could help counteract global warming.”

    I’m more than sure that the clouds being lower is a reaction, to the action of the planet cooling. And not a mechanism to cool the planet.

    Funny how the writer of the article made it sound as if the earth was correcting the humans influence on warming. Too funny :)

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