Climate Models

New Scientific Paper Rebuts Contrarian Cloud Claims


New Scientific Paper Rebuts Contrarian Cloud Claims


Clouds only amplify climate change, says a Texas A&M University professor in a study that rebuts recent claims that clouds are actually the root cause of climate change.
    Andrew Dessler, a Texas A&M atmospheric sciences professor considered one of the nation’s experts on climate variations, says years of data support the mainstream and long-held view that clouds are primarily acting as a so-called feedback that amplifies warming from human activity.  His work is published today in the American Geophysical Union’s peer-reveiwed journal Geophysical Research Letters.
    Dessler studied El Nino and La Nina cycles over the past 10 years and calculated the Earth’s “energy budget” over this time. El Nino and La Nina are times of the year when waters in the central Pacific Ocean tend to get warmer or colder, and these changes have a huge impact on much of the world’s weather systems for months.
    Dessler found that clouds played a very small role in initiating these climate variations — in agreement with mainstream climate science and in direct opposition to these previous claims.
 “The bottom line is that clouds have not replaced humans as the cause of the recent warming the Earth is experiencing,” Dessler explains.
    Texas is currently in one of the worst droughts in the state’s history, and most scientists believe it is a direct result of La Nina conditions that have lingered in the Pacific Ocean for many months.
    Dessler added that, “Over a century, however, clouds can indeed play an important role amplifying climate change.”
“I hope my analysis puts an end to this claim that clouds are causing climate change,” he adds.  
Contact: Andy Dessler at (979) 862-1427 or or Keith Randall, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4644 or

COLLEGE STATION, Sept. 6, 2011


For a discussion of one of the fallacious contrarian papers refuted by Dessler, see paper #2 by Spencer et al HERE, in the essay The Contrarians? that discusses contrarians / deniers / faux skeptics in depth.

For a summary of mainstream climate science click HERE.

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Here is the published paper:

Cloud variations and the Earth's energy budget

Key Points

  • Clouds are not causing climate change
  • Observations are not in disagreement with models on this point
  • Previous work on this is flawed

Author: Andrew E. Dessler

The question of whether clouds are the cause of surface temperature changes, rather than acting as a feedback in response to those temperature changes, is explored using data obtained between 2000 and 2010. An energy budget calculation shows that the energy trapped by clouds accounts for little of the observed climate variations. And observations of the lagged response of top-of-atmosphere (TOA) energy fluxes to surface temperature variations are not evidence that clouds are causing climate change.


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Here is a list of other posts on this topic compiled by Prof. Scott Mandia, whose own post is a real gem:

Andrew Dessler’s New Paper Debunks Both Roy Spencer And Richard Lindzen - Skeptical Science

Latest Research Shows That Clouds Do NOT Cause Global Warming - Greg Laden

Editor-in-chief resigns as a new paper identifies errors in “fundamentally flawed” climate paper - Brian Angliss

Roy Spencer Persecuted By Own Data - Barry Bickmore

The Eternal Return or: The Unbearable Wrongness of Spencer and Braswell - The Policy Lass

Science Stunner: Editor of Journal that Published Flawed Denier Bunk Apologizes, Resigns, Slams Spencer for Exaggerations – Joe Romm

Journal editor resigns over ‘flawed’ paper co-authored by climate sceptic - Leo Hickman

Journal editor resigns over ‘problematic’ climate paper - Richard Black

Journal Editor Resigns After Publishing Flawed Climate Study Touted By Forbes, Fox - Jocelyn Fong

Editor who published controversial climate paper resigns, blasts media - John Timmer

Paper Disputing Basic Science of Climate Change is “Fundamentally Flawed,”
Editor Resigns, Apologizes
 - Peter Gleick

Spencer & Braswell and the Review Process - John Nielsen-Gammon

Remote Sensing Editor Resigns Over Spencer/Braswell Paper - Barry Bickmore

Dessler shows that clouds aren’t causing climate change, refuting Spencer and Braswell - Tim Lambert

A Reality Check on Clouds and Climate - Andrew Revkin

Climate Change ‘Sceptics’ Exploit Weaknesses in Journal Review Processes - Bob Ward

Spencer and Braswell fundamentally flawed, journal editor resigns - Bart Verheggen

Climate Skeptic Science: Approach with Caution – Peter Sinclair

Spencer/Braswell: This is not New. This is the Way it’s Done. – Peter Sinclair

Bombshell: Journal Editor Resigns over Flawed Spencer paper – Peter Sinclair

Why Questionable “Science” Gets Published, Pounced On in the Media, Retracted, Causes Resignations…Rinse and Repeat – Chris Mooney

GRL doi:10.1029/2011GL049236 Andy Dessler does not like Spencer and Braswell very
– Eli Rabett

Eli predicts that Roy’s Tuesday is not going to be much better than his Friday - Eli Rabett

Wagner Apologized - Eli Rabett

Holy editor resignation, Batman! - William M. Connelly

On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance - Greg Laden

Climate noise amplification - Jason Thibeault

Bad Week for Roy “Wrong-Way” Spencer – Peter Sinclair

New Research Examines Role of Clouds in Climate Change - Scientific American

Roy Spencer Responds With More Shoddy Statistics and Excuses - Barry Bickmore


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Cloud picture at the top from Wikipedia



Dash, J. (2011). New Scientific Paper Rebuts Contrarian Cloud Claims. Retrieved from


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