Climate Update!!! Earth’s Atmosphere Holding More Water…… Or Something…..

One of the things the nutters like to babble about are the so-called feedbacks.  Proclaiming that as the globe warms, there’ll be more moisture in the air.  Water, as we all know is the main GHG.  So, the story goes that the more moisture in the air the even hotter we’ll get! 

So, it is true that we’re having more moisture in the air?  Well, let’s look at some things.  Here’s precipitation…….


Well, it seems to be raining less, but as one looks, it also seems to be less than a while back, but, more than nearer time frame, with no appreciable change.  But, let’s look at the brass tacks.  


Well, okay, that’s relative humidity.  What we’re looking for is specific humidity…..


And, just for completeness, here’s the air temps…..


A note of caution.  Technology and the way we view data from certain machinery changes over time.  On time series such as these, I don’t put much weight in data much prior to 1980 or so, unless it is thoroughly vetted.

Note, the above graphs, except for the precipitation were all for 300mb.  Here’s for 500mb, specific humidity.


700 …..


1000 mb


Okay, nearer to the surface there may be more water vapor, but, not up in the air.  Ahh, well, so much for another climate myth. 

Source for the graphs.

For a conversion from millibars to other forms of elevation go here.

For a brief discussion of specific humidity and relative humidity……

Specific humidity is the ratio of water vapor to dry air in a particular mass, and is sometimes referred to as humidity ratio. Specific humidity is expressed as a ratio of mass of water vapor,  m_v , per unit mass of dry air  m_a . This quantity is also known as the water vapor “mixing ratio”.

[S]specific humidity is also defined as the ratio of water vapor to the total mass of the system (dry air plus water vapor).  For example, the ASHRAE 2009 Handbook, Ch1,1.2, (9a) defines specific humidity as “the ratio of the mass of water vapor to total mass of the moist air sample”.


Relative humidity (RH) (expressed as a percent) also measures water vapor, but RELATIVE to the temperature of the air. In other words, it is a measure of the actual amount of water vapor in the air compared to the total amount of vapor that can exist in the air at its current temperature. Warm air can possess more water vapor (moisture) than cold air, so with the same amount of absolute/specific humidity, air will have a HIGHER relative humidity if the air is cooler, and a LOWER relative humidity if the air is warmer. What we “feel” outside is the actual amount of moisture (absolute humidity) in the air.

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16 Responses to Climate Update!!! Earth’s Atmosphere Holding More Water…… Or Something…..

  1. DirkH says:

    Climate models, is there anything they can’t do wrong.

    Nice time series, bookmarked.

    Somebody had the foolish idea to try and MEASURE positive water vapor feedback and these are his results.
    “A clear prediction of the CO2AGW theory is that positive water vapor feedback should occur AND that the radiating top layer of the troposphere that radiates most of the IR to space should rise.
    Both predictions can be tested, have been tested, and fail:”
    “It is now time for the CO2AGW scientists to accept this failure, come up with a new theory, and make new predictions.”

  2. Lars P. says:

    Thanks for the many interesting posts James!

    Speaking of climate myth and looking closer at the theory, I saw some very interesting posts at Claes Johnson’s blog as he is looking at the basis of the greenhouse theory:
    “The scientific evidence behind CO2 alarmism consists of OLR spectra produced by a combination of modeling and measurement (Modtran/Hitran/IRIS) predicting a radiative forcing of 3.7 W/m2 by doubling the concentration of atmospheric CO2 from a preindustrial level of 300 ppm to 600 ppm (with 390 ppm the present level) with an estimated warming effect of 1 C. ”

    Whereas I saw the number lately being revised down
    “The hallowed forcing due to a doubling of CO2 was 3.7Wm^-2 is being lowered to 3.44Wm-2.”

    So maybe it could be interesting to have a closer look how valid are the basis calculations and asumptions?

  3. David Appell says:

    Okay, nearer to the surface there may be more water vapor, but, not up in the air.

    So: there is more water vapor near the surface.

  4. kim2ooo says:

    Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings and commented:

  5. paullitely says:

    What is left out here is what happens to water vapor when it disappears. Most of it stays close to the surface. It becomes precipitation, OR, it becomes clouds. Water vapor that condenses into water droplets releasing heat, a negative feedback, because heated air holds more water vapor. Some of the droplets combine to precipitate, and may make it to the surface before being evaporated again by higher temperatures another negative feedback because evaporation absorbs heat, reducing the capacity of air to contain water vapor. However, if the condensed water becomes LOW CLOUDS, then these clouds absorb and re-radiate heat from land and water surfaces, becoming stable. This cloud (suspended water droplets) greenhouse effect keeps substantial surface radiation from escaping into space at night, but clouds are even more effective at reflecting the sun’s radiation during the day. The cooling reflective effect of clouds seem to dominate. Henrik Svensmark’s model for Solar Magnetic Fields (closely follows sunspot numbers) affecting low cloud formation on Earth is being reinforced by other researchers. Read Summary by Anthony Watts .We may finally have a model for the biggest driver of Earthly Temperatures. Forecasting effectively means forecasting Solar Cycles, overriding water vapor or water droplet greenhouse feedback. Full article by Fangqun Yu and Gan Luo is here:
    It is essentially informative to read Dr. Roy Spencer, where he pointed out the powerful influence of a slight change in cloud cover in his 2010 book intro of The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the World’s Top Climate Scientists. He writes:

    “The most obvious way for warming to be caused naturally is for small, natural fluctuations in the circulation patterns of the atmosphere and ocean to result in a 1% or 2% decrease in global cloud cover. Clouds are the Earth’s sunshade, and if cloud cover changes for any reason, you have global warming — or global cooling.”

    • suyts says:

      paullitely, thanks for the comment, and welcome. Sorry about the wait in moderation. And, also, thanks for the jog down memory lane! It’s been a while since I’ve given the air/moisture content much thought.

      • paullitely says:

        You’re welcome. The July 2014 meeting of the international climate change convention in Las Vegas resulted in several very informative videos with the latest science. Here is a link to the selection of their videos . . Yes I know the heartland organization has been beat up because it does not comply with conventional global warming positions. It has been accused of being sponsored by big oil big coal and big industry but none of that is true. Instead it is supported by freethinking individuals policymakers and scientists. Their sterling credentials and their multitude of voices from various disciplines make for perhaps the most authoritative and credible place to get information to check the facts and science being put forward my global warming climate model for promoters. These men and women are not putting spin on the science. They should be given as much exposure in the media as global warming climate model promoters, but the media has a bias so far. However that is beginning to change quickly, as it becomes obvious the earth is cooling in spite of rising carbon dioxide levels. The next two years of weather should be convincing for all except the most diehard adherants to global warming climate models. They are becoming the “deniers”, as their political and economic positions erode. Science may redeem itself in the eyes of the public as it becomes very obvious that politicians and big industry were the beneficiaries of the global warming promotion. Especially persons like Al Gore a large stakeholder in Kleiner Perkins who sells alternative energy products and services worldwide. How embarrassing it will be for the Pulitzer Prize committee who prides itself on recognizing real and constructive science vs fraud. However the Academy award should actually be enhanced for such a credible performance based on fiction. Al Gore should keep that one. Australia just repealed its multitude of carbon tax laws this July 2014, after just two years. Al Gore was there on TV and supported the repeal with Big Coal steel and aluminum producers. Yes, he was, because the taxes were endangering his alternative energy and clean manufacturing business. Now they don’t pay carbon taxes but they have to clean up their emissions that huge expense. Thank you again Al Gore for making your self-interest appear to be our self-interest.

    • paullitely says:

      It should be noted that at any time approximately 65% of the earth’s surface is covered by clouds. (From an iccc-9 presentation). Because it is operating in the middle of its range a small variation by natural forces could produce a significant temperature effect, but limited by the inherent negative feedback.

  6. paullitely says:

    La Ninas have been dominant in the last 10 years. This means ocean cooling has occurred in the oceans near the equator. Cooler oceans = less atmospheric water vapor. Less water vapor means less precipitation. This ocean cooling is known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation that happens naturally, reversing about every ten years. Part of this extended cycle has moved a large warm “Bubble” into the gulf of Alaska, accounting for the melting arctic ice despite global temperatures falling for over ten years. This warm water bubble is causing the “Polar Vortex” effect, with cold arctic air falling into central and eastern North America. Again, to understand this and the other powerful natural cycles that control the earths weather and climate, instead of humans, go see the videos from July 2014 International Climate Change Conference #9 with the latest science and observations. Here is the link: . With the dramatic cooling that has just begun, we will wish that humans can control the weather because cold weather kills and starves. History bears this out dramatically.

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