Short Answers to Stupid Questions – Watts Up With That Edition

At the execrable WUWT:

From the paper in question:

The world’s most-viewed “skeptic” blog, ladies and gentleman.


  • Liu, Y., J. R. Key, Z. Liu, X. Wang, and S. J. Vavrus (2012), A cloudier Arctic expected with diminishing sea ice, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L05705, doi:10.1029/2012GL051251.

8 responses to “Short Answers to Stupid Questions – Watts Up With That Edition

  1. I wish they’d written something like “there is a positive feedback between declining sea ice and increased cloud cover” so the illiterate cannot conflate the terms “diminishing” and “negative”.

  2. The willful misreading this time seems to interchange the terms “diminishing” and “negative”. To say there is a positive feedback between diminishing sea ice and cloud cover is irrefutable physics and observationally confirmed.

  3. Well you’re not supposed to read the source. Everybody knows that.

  4. The casual reader will be confused by this post, TB.

    The title of Watts’s post is correct-although-incomplete, correct? (in saying that there’s a negative feedback between amount of sea ice and cloud cover).
    (as Jim said, the paper’s authors seem to be at fault on this, for not saying in its text that the positive feedback was between DECLINE of sea ice and increased cloud cover)

    But does WUWT also tell its readers that there’s a negative feedback in both directions,, i.e. that this increased cloud cover will cause more warming, causing further decrease in sea ice.

    And when there’s a negative feedback in both directions, that acts as a positive feedback driving the system out of whack.
    And for increased clarity, the paper’s authors should have made this “runaway” feedback aspect clear in the title, assuming they had the freedom to do so.

    Am I understanding correctly?

    • The interaction described by the paper is a positive feedback, wherein the original signal is amplified. Reduced sea ice increases cloud cover which further reduces sea ice. The impression Watts is giving to his readers, evident in the comments, is that the clouds are acting as a negative feedback and dampening the response of ice loss.

      There is no reason for a positive feedback to necessarily result in a “runaway” effect, although that’s a common misconception.

    • I think you forget that in the Wattsian Spencer-inspired universe, clouds are a negative feedback. Therefore, his interpretation is ‘correct’ (WUWT being his universe and all that…)

  5. When this item first appeared on the Wattsup site, I submitted a comment about the discrepancy between the headline, and the abstract of the article. The comment never appeared on Wattsup.

    Anthony Watts limits comments which oppose his point of view, especially when the publication would be embarrassing. If too many embarrassing comments are submitted, by a poster, he is banned.

  6. substitute “sea surface temperature” for “sea ice concentration” and you have a compelling argument from Watts against Lindzen’s Iris.

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