A Tale of Two Altitudes: how stratospheric temperature is de-coupled from the surface temperatures

On the battle between Arrhenius and Ångström.

Story submitted by John Kehr, The Inconvenient Skeptic

Any serious discussion about the Theory of Global Warming will eventually include the absorption band argument that started more than 100 years ago between Arrhenius and Ångström.  One of the arguments presented by Ångström was that the main CO2 absorption band is between 14-16 micron and that band is also absorbed by water vapor (which is correct).  The counter to this by Arrhenius was that it didn’t matter in the upper atmosphere where there was no water vapor.  Of course none of this matters because radiative heat transfer is only 20% of the energy transferred to the atmosphere, but that is generally ignored by both sides of the argument.

At the time there was no way to measure the temperature in the upper atmosphere so there was no way to determine what was going on there, but of course now there are many ways to measure the temperature there.  When I started looking at the annual temperature behavior of the stratosphere and the top of the troposphere I found something very interesting that is as usual, bad for the warmists.

Here is the average daily temperature of the troposphere (at ~4.2 km) and the stratosphere (41 km).

The Inconvenient Skeptic

What makes this so interesting is that they are completely out of phase with each other.

The tropospheric temperature is matched to the natural global temperature cycle.  This is highly dependent on the geography of the Earth’s surface.  The stratospheric temperature is not in phase at all with the surface temperature.  It is however in phase with the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.  The distance the Earth is from the Sun determines how much energy the Earth gets from the Sun.  Here is the stratospheric temperature and the solar constant over the course of the year.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

While I would not say that the upper atmospheric temperature is completely independent, it is mostly independent of the of the lower atmosphere.  The cooling in the stratosphere each spring is exactly what would be expected based on the changing solar constant.  The warming that takes place in July is likely caused by the peak atmospheric temperatures in the NH that take place during the summer months.  That warming stops in October, but by that point the increasing solar iconstant warms the stratosphere.

What determines the stratospheric temperature is absolutely critical to understanding why it has been cooling over the past 60 years (which is about how long it’s temperature has been measured).  If the stratosphere’s temperature is primarily dictated by the incoming solar energy then the argument made by Arrhenius is meaningless.  That is because the increase in CO2 would never have an impact on the temperature there, simply because so little of the energy needed to warm the stratosphere comes from the Earth’s surface.

Based on the scientific data, the stratosphere is mostly influenced by the solar constant (basically the distance from the Sun for this discussion).  There appears to be some influence from the lower atmosphere, but it is clearly marginal.  This is not really a surprise since the energy transfer mechanisms are very limited above 12km.  The low atmospheric density results in low vertical mixing rates which only leaves radiative transfer which is a poor method for heat transfer when low absolute temperatures are involved.

When the temperature of the stratosphere and the troposphere are compared for the period from 2003-2011 it is also interesting to note that the peak stratospheric temperature was lowest of the whole period in early 2009.  This also matches the period of minimal solar activity over the entire period of time.  All of these pieces together clearly demonstrate the importance of the solar constant on the stratospheric temperature.  This also means that any impact by atmospheric CO2 levels on the stratospheric temperatures is very limited.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

Total Solar Insolation

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83 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Altitudes: how stratospheric temperature is de-coupled from the surface temperatures

  1. OT but looks like Cryosphere today is down. Dont post if not relevant or important, just that it could be related to icy issues lately. BTW in central South America now 11 degrees daytime latitude 23 sea level. It freezing for April. Check with pal at MeteoSUL Brazil

  2. John, it almost looks as if there is cross impact between the two altitudes – can they really be so independent of each other?

  3. Heh: It looks as if there is NO cross impact between the two altitudes. That’s what I get for trying to type around a cat.

  4. Does extinction range in the troposphere of the IR in the frequency range of interest have anything to do with this? For example, if it is greater than the depth of the troposphere quite a bit of IR would pass through it unimpeded. That would reduce lag time as the IR wends its way though this region, and it is said that the heating is the result of this lag time. This is all related to CO2 density (molecules per unit volume) at high altitude.

  5. Knut Angstrom, son of Anders Jonas Angstrom, was the nemesis of Arrhenius. He challenged Svante immediately on the “absorptive powers of CO2″ when released in 1896. Due to the ‘horse-and-buggy’ peer review it took a while for universal rejection. See, US Monthly Weather Review, June 1901. page 268….

    http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/mwr/029/mwr-29-06-0268.pdf

    Interestingly Svante was quoted as “knowing his work was correct from balloon temperature readings”. This would have been from manned observations in hot air balloons. In 1900 Svante was on the founding committee for the Nobel Prize. In 1903 he helped give himself a Nobel Prize in Chemistyr. In 1922 Svante was a founding member of the “State Institute for Racial Biology” and was worshipped by the Nazi for his Arian superiority beliefs. Curious choice for the biology diversity poster boy.

  6. I’d like to see, as well as the temperatures,

    1) the heat content (including mass x heat capacity)
    2) the heat flux

    I am guessing at those plots and would like to verify my speculation.

    I guess I am asking about relative size of the two regions.

  7. Jeez. do a search on the primary literature describing the importance of C02 and the stratosphere. That’s probably asking too much so start here

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/a-saturated-gassy-argument-part-ii/

    after that you go look through all the work done in the 50s. A good portion of it was funded by DOD. understanding why people were wrong about the saturated gas argument was vital for saving the lives of american pilots.

  8. Paul Westhaver:

    Both tiny compared to oceanic heat capacity. But the effect of the changing solar constant on the oceans is hidden by the ocean’s ability to play shuffle and hide with the energy.

  9. Since both Arrhenius and Ångström were Swedes, let me give you some shocking – but not too unexpected – news from environment and media in Sweden.
    In a new survey by the University of Gothenburg it was revealed that 41% of Swedish journalists support the Environmental Party the Greens (who otherwise received ca 7.5% in the last election). Together with the Social Democrats and the Left Party (formerly the Communists) they form the so called red-green bloc in parliament with ca 45% of votes in the election, but having 71% support among Swedish journalists!
    If we go to the figures for the government controlled “public service” radio & TV figures get even worse. The Greens have 52% support among national TV journalists, and 54% support among national radio journalists – a party of barely 7% population support have *their own majority* in both cases (and national radio/TV are the heaviest in opinion making!). The red-greens together have more than 80% (!) support in national radio/TV – almost double their election result.
    No wonder Swedes are showered with environmentalist and climate propaganda on a daily, hourly basis. (I suspect the tendency is similar in other countries. It seems BBC is total junk, and so is Australian media.)

    –Ahrvid Engholm

  10. Does anyone really believe that the oceans and atmosphere DO NOT moderate the heating the solar radiation can cause during the day and thus actually protect us ?

    I can’t see any other conclusion to be drawn from a few simple facts – the Sun clearly could heat the Earth’s surface to over 120 degrees C – the lunar daytime temperature proves that.

    But it doesn’t – even climate scientists acknowledge this by acknowledging the higher albedo of Earth due to the atmosphere and clouds.

    How does reducing the heating effect of the solar radiation below its proven capabilities when the Sun is illuminating the Earth equate with a greenhouse effect?

    Isn’t it an artifact of averaging which tries to equate 2 different power fluxes as if they give equal effect in equal time – after all the REAL solar insolation is 4 times the power of Earth’s radiating power, not a quarter spread over the whole globe all the time.

  11. How would John deal with this observation ? :

    “The NRL SSI produces an ozone response that is in phase with the
    solar cycle in TSI throughout the stratosphere and lower mesosphere, whereas the
    SORCE SSI produces an out-of-phase response in the uppermost stratosphere and lower mesosphere.”

    from here:

    http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/12/7039/2012/acpd-12-7039-2012.pdf

    On that basis the temperature of the stratosphere would NOT be determined primarily by the solar constant but rather the varying mix of wavelengths respecially UV with perhaps a component from variable particle types from he sun.

    There is also evidence that the stratosphere stopped cooling in the late 90s so I am puzzled as to why John thinks it reached its coolest in 2009.

    I think John is observing seasonal effects but not longer term multidecadal to centennial effects and so he may be comparing apples to pears as far as climate change is concerned.

    However, I concur that CO2 is an irrelevance.

  12. The argument that “radiative heat transfer is only 20% of the energy transferred to the atmosphere” is irrelevant due to the fact that essentially 100% of all energy leaving the surface of Earth has to be radiated to space (from the ground, from clouds, and from CO2 and water vapor at mid to upper troposphere). The stratosphere is not a player in this balance, and the anti-correlation is irrelevant. The way the energy gets to the upper atmosphere is by itself not important. The long wave radiation absorption of CO2 in the mid to upper troposphere, where water vapor becomes much smaller, is important. The greater the amount of CO2 at these altitudes, the higher the final average level of outgoing radiation, and thus the larger the greenhouse effect, if that was the only issue. Of course, CO2 alone has only a modest effect per doubling, and the water vapor is still important in two ways. The first is that what water vapor effect there is depends mainly on concentration in the mid to upper troposphere. It has not been found to increase when CO2 increases, so no positive feedback. Also clouds changing seem to be a negative feedback, thus CO2 effects are small. Arrhenius almost had it right, but the weak effect and negative feedback make the point moot.

  13. My statements may not be as clear as I intended, so I will be more specific: When I said “the higher the final average level of outgoing radiation, and thus the larger the greenhouse effect” I was referring to higher altitude, not higher intensity.

  14. The stratosphere’s temperature is driven by absorption of UV by ozone. The surface temperature is driven by sunlight being absorbed by the ground, but is lagged because of the effective thermal heat capacity of the oceans.

    Angstrom’s work effectively killed the Arrhenius theory for 50 years until Manabe developed the convective-radiative model, which is not affected by saturation, is not determined by back-radiation, and which for some strange reason everyone ignores. Arrhenius’s old theory – which everyone discusses instead – was already debunked by around 1900.

    The cooling of the stratosphere is expected because the (badly named) ‘greenhouse effect’ between two altitudes is equal to the lapse rate times the difference in heights, and as the lapse rate in the stratosphere is negative, you get cooling instead of warming. Whether that is the actual cause of the cooling I don’t know – that would be confirming the consequent.

  15. Mosher,
    The “amplified” greenhouse effect ain’t happening. Sorry, it just ain’t.

    BTW, this was also known since since at least 1964, but Raypierre seems to have forgotten.

    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/sm6401.pdf

    Please explain a) why the tropical troposphere is not warming as GCM’s predict and b) how the surface can warm at a faster rate than the troposphere based on greenhouse “theory”.

    You have a propensity for doing drive-by posts, then disappear into the sunset.

  16. Being that the troposhere is warmest in June, I’m assuming this comparison is done somewhere in the northern hemisphere ??

    Or is it a global average.. which would mean that it is highly biased toward the NH?

    Sorry, just a bit puzzled..

    If it is NH data.. what do SH graphs look like ??

  17. Keep in mind that each hemisphere of the entire stratosphere has a different cycle. The stratosphere in the SH will be the main contributor to the peak warmth that takes place in January. The NH will be the warm spot in July.

    It is the July period that really shows the disconnect. While the troposphere is warmest in July, very little of that energy makes it to the stratosphere.

    The mid-point appears to be at the altitude of 15-20km, but it is hard to tell if the temperature gradient there is due to decreasing oxygen absorption of UV of transfer from the lower atmosphere.

    The energy content of the stratosphere is tiny in comparison to the ocean, but the timing does indicate that there is little heat transfer between the stratosphere and the troposphere. That in turn weakens the argument that the upper atmosphere can cause surface warming, which was always a weak theory anyway.

    What this means for stratospheric cooling is also interesting. More on that in the future.

  18. Also of interst would be to know what happens to the height of the tropopause when the troposhere increases temperature. It may be that the tropopause gets significantly higher, thus the air in the stratosphere above gets cooler at a specified height. I can put the concept a quick sketch form if you want.

  19. “the higher the final average level of outgoing radiation, and thus the larger the greenhouse effect” I was referring to higher altitude, not higher intensity.”

    I don’t think that can be right unless that higher altitude is a result of greater atmospheric mass or higher solar input.

    If the higher average level (effectively an expansion of the atmosphere) is simply caused by more energy held in the atmosphere without greater atmospheric mass then the expansion will result in cooling to offset any temperature effect from that increase in energy content.

    PV = nRT

    So, no greater greenhouse effect from a simple rise in heights. You need more mass and more solar input to increase the greenhouse effect.

    The relevance to this thread being that the temperature of the stratosphere is critical for the height of the tropopause. That height can be increased EITHER by warming below or cooling above and that height determines the climate zone distribution in the troposphere.

    Thus IF a more active sun actually COOLS the stratosphere we get exactly the same observed climate consequences as are currently inferred from a warming of the troposphere caused by an increase in GHGs.

    The evidence is that the late 20th century cooling of the stratosphere was solar induced and not CO2 induced which is the only explanation for the cessation of stratospheric cooling in the late 90s DESPITE a continuing rise in CO2 quantities.

    I see that John takes stratospheric temperatures at 41Km which is below the reverse sign ozone effect from 45Km upward.
    I think it is that effect at the higher levels especially above the poles which causes overall stratospheric cooling on multidecadal and centennial timescales when the sun is more active.

    John’s short term seasonal analysis does not show those longer term trends so his reference to the past 60 years is misplaced in my opinion.

  20. “I don’t think that can be right unless that higher altitude is a result of greater atmospheric mass or higher solar input.”
    You can’t see as far into a more opaque atmosphere. If the atmosphere becomes more opaque to IR, the lowest altitude from which radiation can escape to space rises.

  21. Steve Mosher, I think the “saturated gas” model is poorly explained by those expounding it and the confusion deliberately played up by the Warmistas.

    An optical thickness of a translucent sunbstance (such as CO2 in a very narrow frequency range) required to reduce the intensity of those frequencies by 50% may be Th, but add another Th of optical thickness (say another similar plane of glass) would only reduce the Total amount of incoming radiation by 25% because it would have absorbed 50% of the penetrating 50%.

    Clearly there is no shut-off to this affair; it is like Zeno’s arrow. In fact, this behavior represents a logarithmic function.

    Another point I’d like to raise is that the atmospheric CO2 is not a 50% mirror, reflecting 50% of that self-same radiation back to Earth. Some of the energy absorbed will be given up by physical collision with other molecles and they will give off energy in other ways, at different wavelengths.

  22. Robert of Ottawa says:
    April 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm
    “Another point I’d like to raise is that the atmospheric CO2 is not a 50% mirror, reflecting 50% of that self-same radiation back to Earth. Some of the energy absorbed will be given up by physical collision with other molecles and they will give off energy in other ways, at different wavelengths.”

    In local thermal equilibrium thermalization and dethermalization happen to equal amounts. (Kirchhoff’s Law I think)

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/05/co2-heats-the-atmosphere-a-counter-view/

  23. Stephen Wilde says:
    April 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    There is also evidence that the stratosphere stopped cooling in the late 90s so I am puzzled as to why John thinks it reached its coolest in 2009.

    I think you misread what John said. He said:

    When the temperature of the stratosphere and the troposphere are compared for the period from 2003-2011 it is also interesting to note that the peak stratospheric temperature was lowest of the whole period in early 2009.

    He said 2009 was the lowest of the 2003-2011 period.

  24. @ juanslayton

    “How convenient”….[H/T Dana Carvey]….current NOAA Library post start at 1914….

    http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/mwr/data_rescue_monthly_weather_review.html

    Volume 1 thru Volume 101 covers 1873 to 1973, but is a large file, contact library.reference@noaa.gov or Stanley.Elswick@noaa.gov for assistance. If found, please post corrected link. I will scan my hardcopy and email to Anthony. Every page of this historical record very interesting reading by HONEST weather observers from across this great nation.

  25. Leonard Weinstein says:
    April 30, 2012 at 2:52 pm
    The argument that “radiative heat transfer is only 20% of the energy transferred to the atmosphere” is irrelevant due to the fact that essentially 100% of all energy leaving the surface of Earth has to be radiated to space (from the ground, from clouds, and from CO2 and water vapor at mid to upper troposphere). The stratosphere is not a player in this balance, and the anti-correlation is irrelevant. The way the energy gets to the upper atmosphere is by itself not important.

    Well actually it is important. The wavelength of IR from latent heat from cloud formation or droplets freezing into ice in not in the CO2 absorption range. So 80% of the heat energy is convected to the tropopause and released as latent heat of freezing or condensation and goes straight past CO2. So yes at that point it will radiate out – but it has not been available to be absorbed and re-emitted’ by CO2.

  26. Inconvenient Skeptic

    In terms of yearly, seasonal variations – the stratospheric temperature swings are driven by insolation.

    Nine years (as you present) is not, however, long enough to look at climate trends. Over the longer term the data [http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/vr0101.pdf, http://www.atmosphere.mpg.de/enid/20c.html, also http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/11/the-sky-is-falling/%5D shows the stratosphere has cooled as the troposphere has warmed – a fingerprint of GHG increases. Insolation changes would affect stratospheric and tropospheric temperatures in the same direction, while GHG increases will warm the troposphere while cooling the stratosphere (which is what we observe).

  27. Faux Science Slayer says:
    April 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    FSS, they’re all still there individually, they have changed the filenames for some inexplicable reason adding a zero in the filename (to match the directory name) and a suffix of ‘a’ or ‘b’ after the page number. I cannot see the difference between the ‘a’ and the ‘b’ suffix files. They are also the same size.

  28. John, could you direct me to where I could download the text files for Figures 1-3?
    I would also like to know if you have a stratosphere diurnal cycle temperature data?

  29. Thank you BL ! For a moment i thought a former “Wiki” rearranger was re-employeed. I found this link three years ago when researching my “Strange Tale of the Green House Gas Gang” article. This article describes an outlaw gang of gas molecules that has outlived all of my predictions on escaping the Truth Posse. Amazing what some folks think that just a few atoms can do.

  30. It’s odd KR. The only way to show the stratosphere cooling is to include the total of 30+ years of satellite data, with the first 1/2 (now less) dominated by effects of two large volcanoes followed by two step changes in temperature drops. It is NOT a linear trend in concert with CO2, nor does it verify any such “fingerprint” of AGW. RC may be food for useful idiots, but any interested honest person can look up the data.

    The stratosphere has been warming since at least 1995 or so, exactly opposite climate model predictions. Your link to RealClimate is complete nonsense. This is just laughable as the tropical troposphere (hotspot) hasn’t warmed as advertised like we’ve been told would happen for the last 20+ years beginning with Hansen in 1989. Did you already forget Santer 08 and getting gobsmacked by McIntyre & McKitrick, albeit after 18 months of obfuscation and stalling by Santer, then being rejected by “peer review” (pal protection) because MM exposed the deception of S08.

    Point out the error in this paper which clearly shows stratospheric warming for over 15 years and counting. Spencer and Christy have long ago smacked down Fu et al claiming the MSU MT was contaminated by “cooling” of the stratosphere (which isn’t happening) so don’t don’t bother resurrecting that.

    https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/sola/5/0/5_0_53/_pdf

    Before the internet we were force fed the lies and unscrupulous scientists went unchallenged. Now it isn’t so easy to fool the public, but there will always be those who think bandwagon mentality is science.

    Maybe you can answer the question of why the tropical tropospheric hot spot is missing, which as in Santer 05 (Gavin Schmidt co-author) clearly states is a prerequisite for AGW. That is why when Douglass 07 was published RC and the rest had to circle the wagons, isolate it, trash it and S08 was trotted out. Damn these people are dishonest.

  31. CO2 is supposed to be a long-term component, though at 0.15 to 0.30C/decade. The last 15 years of global temperatures, outside of the Arctic, have been essentially static. The comments re CO2 sensitivity for the stratosphere or troposphere require temperature changes for CO2 sensitivity beyond that of even the CAGW narrative to show up.

    The TOA SI and tropospheric and stratospheric temperature changes may or may not be important in the CAGW dispute, but here, for the time period under discussion, they are neither sufficient nor necessary to debunk CAGW.

    A TSI variation vs atmospheric (component) variation would be more to the point. I expect there would be some linear relationship with unexplained sinusoidal or non-linear component that would represent energy redistribution from the oceans and non-oceanic heat sinks. Some of that non-oceanic portion might be CO2. Or not.

    If I weren’t born in the Age of Abacus, I’d so it. Sorry.

    Interesting, but not YET convincing.

  32. The stratosphere has been cooling due to the destruction of ozone via an increased solar wind. Irradiance/TSI/UV absorbed by ozone should be separated from long term destruction of these molecules by the solar wind. The Earth’s own geomagnetism as you might guess has a significant impact on the destruction of ozone hence stratospheric temperature.

  33. AKA the solar wind is repelled, in a sense, by the geomagnetic field. The solar wind destroys ozone molecules, so geomagnetism is key. Ozone is indirectly the most powerful climate impacter in existence.

    The movement/weakening of the north directional pole+rope field vector has lead to a whole host of trouble in the arctic starting via ozone flow depletion.

    The entire arctic circulation regime has been f**ked up, the dipole anomaly in recent decades, destruction of the beaufort gyre, etc. It all starts with magnetism.

  34. Twice daily weather balloon measurements can be found at http://weather.uwyo.edu/upperair/sounding.html

    As a general rule, the WARMER the Troposphere, the higher and colder the Tropopause and the COLDER the Stratosphere.

    In polar regions (Lat > 55Deg) the Troposphere is cooler, but the Tropopause lower and warmer, and the stratosphere warmer, than in tropical regions (Lat <35Deg).

    Furthermore the Tropopause and Stratosphere are not stable. An extreme example is Inuvik, Canada, 64N, on 8th April 2011. Here the Tropopause dropped 3km in 12hours, the temperature of about a fifth of the atmosphere increasing significantly – at 10km this increase was about 20DegC. Nor is this variability confined to polar latitudes – see Guam 7/8Sep2011.

    It is clear from satellite measured spectra that emissions in the wavenumber 630-710 band (the really active CO2 band) are mostly being emitted from ABOVE the Tropopause. Emissions from the Troposphere in this band are mostly absorbed by the overlying gas. (This is also confirmed by calculation. )

    I therefore think:
    1. Emissions from CO2 to Space (in the most active band) are more intense in polar regions, because the atmospheric temperatures are warmer.
    2. The very variable Stratosphere/tropopause will considerably modulate these emissions.
    3. Measurement of Radiative Forcing (defined by the IPCC as being the imbalance at the Tropopause) will be impossible due to the inconsistent height and temperature of the Tropopause.
    4. An increase of CO2 increases the average height of emission at opaque frequencies. In the main band there will therefore be an increase in temperature and therefore emissions and a strong cooling of the Stratosphere, which may well balance or more the imbalance below the Tropopause (ie it is unclear that the planet as a whole viewed from Space will be in debit.)

  35. DR – My apologies, I was reading the wrong section: The Liu and Weng reanalysis show a slight warming. However, given that there are several re-analyses of those channels, and that:

    “…the disagreement between the channel 25 analyses between 1985 and 1989 (note in particular the abrupt decrease in 1989 in the Liu and Weng data) appears to be associated with a reported radiometric error (of order 0.5 K) on the SSU instrument on the NOAA-9 satellite, considered in other analyses.”

    I would have to consider the Liu Weng analysis tentative at this time, especially given the cooling trend seen in other stratospheric channels. See Fig. 7 of Siedel et al 2011 (http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/Seidel_WIRES_Jul2011.pdf).

    “…severe difficulties using SSU data in reanalyses have been identified, so reanalyses are not currently a reliable source of temperature trends in the middle to upper stratosphere.” (emphasis added)

    The base channel data indicates stratospheric cooling.

  36. @Ahrvid Engholm

    We are both OT, but you make an important point about the green-left control of the media.
    It confirms my own experience in German-speaking countries.

    A further problem is that only Europeans with an exceptionally good grasp of idiomatic English have access to alternative information from skeptical blogs such as WUWT, so what gets into the media goes uncontested.

    Europe is wrecking itself with green-left nonsense and there is no easy way to counteract this in the popular mind. You can’t just say to people: here’s a link to WUWT or CA or wherever, go and judge for yourself.

  37. Interesting post. Btw, that’s “its” not “it’s” (paragraph seven). Anthony is prone to that mistake.

    [except of course Anthony didn't write this article ! ~ac]

  38. Stephen Wilde, 3:27 pm:
    I used to think the way you did on the density issue, for radiation to space, but due to arguments from others, was convinced that was incorrect. As long as the density is high enough for the lapse rate to continue dropping temperature (up to the tropopause), it is only the partial pressure of absorbing and radiating gases that determine the radiation to space. The thermal storage is not a factor. Also, while the temperature of the stratosphere has a negative lapse rate down to the tropopause, its effect on the location of the tropopause is not the main driver of the location of where emission to space occurs. The tropopause occurs because convective mixing has dropped below the level needed to maintain enough energy transport by convection, and decreased radiation is occurring because the partial pressure of radiating gases is low. Thus essentially all outgoing long wave radiation that came from the surface has occurred by the tropopause.

    Ian W. 4:43 pm:
    All of the energy leaves the atmosphere as radiation. I stated some is emitted directly from clouds to space, and some directly from the ground to space, but the rest has to be radiated from water vapor, CO2, and other trace greenhouse gases. Most of the water vapor is condensed into the stratus and cirrus clouds, and this makes the atmosphere above the cirrus clouds very low on absolute water vapor. The lower the temperature, the more CO2 becomes important. There is no significant condensation close to the tropopause, so final radiation to space, of the energy not radiated from the ground or clouds, is radiated by water vapor and CO2, with CO2 becoming a major factor at the higher altitudes. Adding more CO2 raises the average level of that portion of outgoing radiation. The temperature is not too low for the bands of absorption and radiation of CO2.

  39. Of course none of this matters because radiative heat transfer is only 20% of the energy transferred to the atmosphere
    ———–
    This statement is so imprecise it could mean anything.

  40. Here is the average daily temperature of the troposphere (at ~4.2 km) and the stratosphere (41 km).
    ———-
    An average over what? Again lack of precision. Is this global, northern hemisphere, USA, above your house?

  41. DR says:
    April 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm
    Maybe you can answer the question of why the tropical tropospheric hot spot is missing, which as in Santer 05 (Gavin Schmidt co-author) clearly states is a prerequisite for AGW.
    =========
    As energy is convected upwards in the tropics during the day, the N2/O2 in the atmosphere cannot radiate this energy to space. Normally this energy would be carried towards the poles, where it would eventually be conducted back to the ground, providing a net warming of the planet.

    However, before this can happen the energy is conducted to the CO2 molecules in the atmosphere, raising their temperature. This causes the CO2 molecules to radiate this energy as IR. 1/2 of it is radiated out into space, 1/2 towards the ground. This results in a net reduction in the energy that would have been convected towards the poles by the N2/O2, resulting in a net cooling of the planet.

    What has been ignored in the CO2 radiative model is that CO2 is very effective at REMOVING energy from the atmosphere. Energy that would have otherwise through the process of convection and conduction have been transported from the equator to the poles. This is why there is no tropical hot spot. The CO2 in the atmosphere radiates it away to space.

  42. If the stratosphere’s temperature is primarily dictated by the incoming solar energy then the argument made by Arrhenius is meaningless.
    ———
    Straw man argument warning.

    The stratosphere extends over considerable height. So Arrhrenius referring to processes in the lower stratosphere does not have a bearing on those processes higher in the stratosphere which determine its average temperature.

    If memory serves the temperature profile of the stratosphere is determined by solar UV absorption.

  43. The argument is made time and time again that CO2 warms the planet by reducing outgoing radiation, requiring an increase in surface temperatures to restore the radiative balance. This ignores the effect to conduction and convection.

    As the surface warms at the equator in daytime, energy is conducted to the N2/O2 molecules at the surface. This is energy that in the absence of N2/O2 would have been radiated back to space. The N2/O2 are non radiating, so the net effect must be a reduction in the radiation to space.

    This reduction in outgoing radiation by N2/O2 is no different than the reduction in outgoing radiation by CO2 that is predicted to cause global warming. If CO2 warms the planet by reducing outgoing radiation, then so must O2/N2.

    The energy in the N2/O2 will either be radiated to space by conduction to CO2, reducing the net temperature of the planet, or be returned by convection/conduction to the nighttime and polar regions of the surface, warming the surface. This return of energy to the surface by N2/O2 is no different than the return of CO2 via back radiation.

    Thus we see that N2/O2 via the process of conduction and convection provides the same mechanism to move energy and increase the surface temperatures as predicted for CO2.

  44. Phil says:
    April 30, 2012 at 7:28 pm
    It all starts with magnetism.

    Exactly what Leif’s diagrams were showing the other day. The warming in the arctic correlates with the movement of the north magnetic pole TOWARDS the north geographic pole. While at the same time the cooling in the antarctic correlates with the movement of the south magnetic pole AWAY from the south geographic pole.

    We know that the solar wind enters the atmosphere at the magnetic poles. This is a massive amount of energy entering the atmosphere in the form of charged particles. It will of necessity affect atmospheric chemistry such as ozone production, cloud seeding (particle clumping) rates, etc. Completely ignored by climate science and the climate models in their obsession with CO2.

  45. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0273117783902065

    Abstract
    The dissipation of solar wind energy makes an important contribution to the energy budget of the earth’s upper atmosphere. Heating and momentum transfer by this energy source generate a permanent disturbance zone in the polar region which is characterized by an increase in the temperature and pressure, strong vertical and horizontal winds, and significant changes in the density structure.

  46. Highly interesting. The divergence between tropospheric and stratospheric temperature has great significance for interpreting volcanic cooling. I have demonstrated that volcanic cooling does not exist even though the stratosphere cools measurably about two years after an eruption. As far as I can tell, that cooling never reaches ground level despite all the temperature graphs coming out of IPCC. Seeing that the two temperatures are almost completely decoupled explains why. But how about that Pinatubo cooling that Roy Spencer shows on his web site? Very simple. He does not understand his own data. That cooling is just a La Nina cooling mislabeled as Pinatubo cooling. All so-called volcanic cooling incidents within the last century are La Nina cooling incidents that have been wrongly appropriated as volcanic cooling. It depends on the relative timing of the eruption with respect to a La Nina. If a La Nina follows an eruption it is appropriated for that volcano. On the other hand, if an El Nino follows an eruption we get a warm peak, no cooling, and a conundrum the vulcanologists cannot understand. This is what happened to El Chichon who got gipped out of its cooling because it picked a bad time to erupt.

  47. I don’t have a lot of confidence here but the cooling of the stratosphere happens when the sun is over the equator heading south. This will induce maximum convective activity over the ITCZ. According to Lindzen (google Lindzen iris effect) this causes a reduction of high altitude cirrus which removes the warming effect.

    Warming of the troposphere is understood to be due to land masses being concentrated in the northern hemisphere.

  48. @KR
    You are still playing the “long term trend” game, as is the paper you linked to in Figure 9. Figure 3 clearly supports what I said even after the authors threw in questionable data sources such as STAR. The stratosphere has NOT been cooling since 1995, period.

    The stratosphere is greatly affected by volcanic activity, not CO2 which doesn’t even have the heat capacity to hold that much heat.

    http://notrickszone.com/2010/12/19/study-shows-half-of-warming-since-1980-due-to-clean-skies/

    The tropical troposphere is NOT warming as advertised in all of the 30 years of available data, so instead of acknowledging this inconvenient truth, the prognosticators of AGW prefer to look for some other source of data supporting the “theory”, such as winds or other obscure unproven measurement system.

  49. ferd berple says:
    May 1, 2012 at 6:52 am
    ferd,
    Who is saying “CO2 warms the planet by reducing outgoing radiation, requiring an increase in surface temperatures to restore the radiative balance.”? There is a reduction in radiation heat transfer from the surface to space due to CO2 (and clouds and water vapor, etc.), and conduction and convection and evaporation followed by condensation at latitude, but in the end, the final radiation to space is equal to the input (assuming steady state with no storage). All the CO2 and others do is raise the location of outgoing radiation, and the lapse rate does the rest.

  50. The N2/O2 argument is real, the IPCC must treat these gases as having no overall ‘warming’ effect on the surface, which is so laughably wrong. We live in a collision dominated atmosphere. This is an issue of air pressure, atmospheric circulation, and the oceans thermal capacity/inertia. Our atmosphere’s altitude based thermal profile determined by air pressure and chemical composition to an extent.

    Stratospheric temperature, in the long run, is solely determined by OZONE, ozone absorbs a considerable portion of intense solar shortwave radiation within it’s spectral bounds, heating up considerably, and conducting this heat to surrounding molecules. The more upper atmospheric ozone, the warmer the stratosphere.

    So only two things can modulate the stratospheric temperature over time. Variations in the solar wind, and variations in the mechanism that repels the solar wind..the Earth’s geomagnetic field.

    If you deplete ozone in the upper atmosphere, not only does more shortwave radiation enter the troposphere, but the biggie involves alterations to atmospheric circulatory mechanisms..the big guns. Ozone is a big player in the mechanism dominating kinetic flow variations such as the AO/NAO/AAO and the Hadley Cells. So with these circulation changes comes a change in global winds/terrestrial angular momentum, ENSO, cloud cover/ice cover, hence oceanic heat content, convection, etc.

    So it should NOT be a surprise to ANYONE that there is a strong climactic correlation between climate and the solar wind+geomagnetism. Neither should it come as a surprise that what we know as the ‘AMO’, or ‘PDO’ tend to follow cycles incident to the solar magnetic Hale Cycle. Nor should it come as a surprise that ENSO is a lagged response product to variations in the solar wind, with the lag resulting from the internal system’s vast thermal inertia. The AO/NAO/AAO, ENSO, and solar wind show decadal scale correlations for a reason. Many people forget about the Earth’s own magnetic field when correlating climate to the solar wind..big error. Repairing this error, and allowing for the Solar Magnetic Rope (Hale) Cycle, the correlation is perfect.

  51. Phil says:
    May 1, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Stratospheric temperature, in the long run, is solely determined by OZONE, ozone absorbs a considerable portion of intense solar shortwave radiation within it’s spectral bounds, heating up considerably, and conducting this heat to surrounding molecules. The more upper atmospheric ozone, the warmer the stratosphere.

    No it’s determined by Oxygen which absorbs UV and at sufficiently short wavelengths dissociates to form O atoms which can then form O3. That O3 can then absorb longer wavelength UV, however that ozone photodissociates so it doesn’t ‘heat up considerably’. O3, like CO2 in the stratosphere does cool the stratosphere by radiating to outer space (see e.g. Clough & Iacono, JGR, vol 100), it only warms the lower stratosphere (~100mbar).

  52. Huh? First of all we’re talking about long term variation in stratospheric molecular temperature, not what sets the ‘average’, if you’d like to call it that.

    In no way whatsoever does O3 cool the stratospheric molecular temperature, that is physically impossible unless collision does not exist.

    [snip. Your image file came across as several pages of nonsense text and numbers. Please try again. ~dbs, mod.]

    O3 contains spectral absorption potential greater than that of O2 however both are weak stellar IR emitters.

    Variation occurs via the solar wind modulation of the O3 count/formation process.

  53. To clarify, we’re discussing what determines temperature variation in the stratosphere, not the ‘average’ temperature, if there ever were such a thing.

    What IR value O2 can absorb from sister molecules is meager compared to the process of diffusion.

  54. Hopefully my multiple posts above have not wreaked havoc, apologies for the unusual image file. I’ve followed up with the ‘O3 basics’ PDF.

  55. steve s,
    Only when employing the “long term trend” meme can warmists cling to the stratosphere cooling fairytale with respect to CO2, which is what they claim after the fact is the AGW fingerprint when the truth is from the beginning of the greenhouse scare (Hansen 1988) it is the troposphere that should warm significantly faster than the surface. Without that, any reference to stratospheric “cooling”, is just psychobabble.

    I certainly bought into the whole greenhouse scare story back then and kept watching for greenhouse to take effect. After nearly 1/4 century after Hansen’s Congressional testimony, none of it has come to pass.

  56. The SH has more ocean surface than the NH. When the Solar Constant is highest the SH is receiving most of the solar radiation. The ocean surface is aborbing more of this radiation so that the troposhere is not getting as much heat. This causes the divergence between the stratosphere temp and the troposphere temp.

  57. What I just said makes no sense. Sory about that. When the Solar Constant is highest the NH receives the most solar radiation.

  58. What I should of said is “when the Solar Constant is highest the NH receives the most radiation, But since the NH has more land mass than the SH and this land mass is covered in snow at that time, more of this radiation is reflected into space and doesn’t warm the troposphere. This causes the divergence in temperatures between the troposphere and the stratosphere.

  59. The solar constant is highest during the NH winter, but the differing emission properties of land/water result in a higher surface temperature during the NH summer in the face of 100W/m^2 less solar radiation. The stratospheric temperature feels relatively little effect from surface IR emission because the temperature of the molecular atmosphere has very little to due with longwave radiation, and more to do with pressure/conduction, and the resulting thermalization. Since it is conduction yet again on both levels the Ozone in the stratosphere is vital.

    So again we get back into the whole solar wind+magnetism modulation of Ozone thing that I mentioned earlier..and that the other Phil misinterpreted.

    I shall regurgitate..Ozone warms the stratosphere.

  60. “Ozone warms the stratosphere.”

    Which is exactly why it is so significant that recent data shows a reverse in the ozone quantity trends above and below 45Km in response to solar variability.

    If the temperature of the stratosphere below 45km actually follows the ozone trend above 45km then we can get the right sign of stratospheric response to solar changes to produce the observed air circulation changes in the troposphere.

    Otherwise our observations make no sense in real world physics as I have explained several times previously.

  61. DR“You are still playing the “long term trend” game…

    We are talking about climate, are we not? Which involves long time periods? Just checking…

  62. Gases are (whatever gas) very, very, very poor absorbers and emitters. In practice they can emit heat radiation only when temperature is well over 600C.

  63. correct me if I’m mistaken (I have not looked lately) but I believe the north polar O3 count and trend has diverged from that of the south pole. The ‘ozone hole’ being attributed to man is another example of ignorance of solar variability.

  64. Phil says:
    May 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm
    Huh? First of all we’re talking about long term variation in stratospheric molecular temperature, not what sets the ‘average’, if you’d like to call it that.

    In no way whatsoever does O3 cool the stratospheric molecular temperature, that is physically impossible unless collision does not exist.

    Really, perhaps you should have read the paper I cited.
    O3 warms the lower stratosphere at altitudes below ~26km and cools the stratosphere above that. According to Clough it’s responsible for ~18% of upper stratospheric cooling.

    As I pointed out above O3 cannot be heated by UV since it will photodissociate, the resulting O atoms and excited O2 could transfer heat to other molecules though.

  65. The reason the sun heats the stratrosphere is that O2 absorbs UVC. O2 is ionized, creating O3 which also absorbs UVB. As UVB is narrow compared to UVC, I expect O3 plays a smaller role.

    Since solar UV varies more than total solar output, does that mean UV variation affects only the stratrosphere or also surface temperatures?

  66. As a physicist, I can tell right now that you are having trouble deciphering between mass-based molecular temperature and massless non-thermal temperature (radiation).

    The chemical response of O3 could not be any more meaningless in the grand scheme.

    The same errors resonate through the scientific field, regarding this mythical ‘greenhouse effect’ of 33C, it has nothing to due with radiation. I realize that I am straying off topic but I must say that our current understanding of the physical climate system is so poor its humiliating.

  67. Phil says:
    May 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm
    As a physicist, I can tell right now that you are having trouble deciphering between mass-based molecular temperature and massless non-thermal temperature (radiation).

    The chemical response of O3 could not be any more meaningless in the grand scheme.

    Not at all, the Ozone layer is created as a result of the absorption of UV and the photodissociation of the O2 leading to the formation of O3 and subsequently absorbing UV itself, the chemical response of O3 is critical to the temperature distribution of the stratosphere. Your ignorance of the processes occurring in the stratosphere is unfortunate, you describe O3 absorbing UV, becoming heated as a result, and conducting heat to neighboring molecules, an impossibility since the O3 doesn’t survive the absorption. You also proclaim that O3 can’t cool the stratosphere whereas the radiational cooling of the upper stratosphere by O3 is well known and accounts for ~18% of the cooling. It seems that there are a lot of things which you don’t know about the stratosphere. Your mind-reading ability is no better since I have no “trouble deciphering between mass-based molecular temperature and massless non-thermal temperature (radiation)”. As a physicist it would behoove you to learn something about the physical chemistry of gases before pontificating about the stratosphere.

  68. So now you’re putting words into my mouth? Lovely, this is a joke. O2 does not absorb LW radiation, O3’s presence, absorbing LW in the lower stratosphere where it is concentrated explains the cooling until TOS. O2 is transparent to LW radiation.

    From the TOS level upward, molecular temperature increases as stellar radiation is diminished closer to the surface decreasing. The concentration of O3 determines stratospheric temperature, air pressure does not change as a whole.

  69. The argument you cite cannot explain why the large majority of of the atmosphere is colder than 255K, it is nonsense. Increasing the O3 ppm in the lower stratosphere cannot cool the upper stratosphere unless you violate the law of Conservation of Energy. Do you know why this is true?

    You are full of nonsense.

  70. In case my two responses above are not clear, I take issue with your claiming that O3 COOLS the mid and upper stratosphere, not how and why it exists.

    1). Your argument that ozone cools the mid and upper atmosphere is physically impossible via the conservation of energy. Same goes for CO2 theory, the level of ‘radiation’ at TOA does not change in the long run, the time it takes for the average photon to leave/escape the planetary system is reduced by a few milliseconds at best per doubling CO2, but no significant effect can be expected above the equilibrium threshold. If we pretend CO2 theory is correct, the only place a radiative gain will manifest is below the equilibrium altitude.

    The presence of ozone concentrated in the lower stratosphere keeps not only that area warmer, but also the levels above it, O2 is transparent to LW IR but knowing that O3 isn’t you can now understand why TOS is so cold.

    The average molecule collides/conducts with other hundreds of times every several seconds.

    As long as we continue to butcher the underlying physics, the more embarrassing the upcoming global temperature drop will be for the field of climate science.

  71. Phil says:
    May 5, 2012 at 10:15 pm
    As long as we continue to butcher the underlying physics, the more embarrassing the upcoming global temperature drop will be for the field of climate science.

    I suggest that you stop butchering the physics then, you really don’t have a clue. Read Clough and Iacono and learn something!

  72. Phil says:
    May 5, 2012 at 6:50 pm
    So now you’re putting words into my mouth? Lovely, this is a joke. O2 does not absorb LW radiation, O3′s presence, absorbing LW in the lower stratosphere where it is concentrated explains the cooling until TOS. O2 is transparent to LW radiation.

    Try reading what I wrote:
    “Not at all, the Ozone layer is created as a result of the absorption of UV and the photodissociation of the O2 leading to the formation of O3 and subsequently absorbing UV itself, the chemical response of O3 is critical to the temperature distribution of the stratosphere. Your ignorance of the processes occurring in the stratosphere is unfortunate, you describe O3 absorbing UV, becoming heated as a result, and conducting heat to neighboring molecules, an impossibility since the O3 doesn’t survive the absorption.

    In case you’ve forgotten you said: “ozone absorbs a considerable portion of intense solar shortwave radiation within it’s spectral bounds, heating up considerably, and conducting this heat to surrounding molecules.”

    So I’m not “putting words in your mouth”, I can only suppose that your grasp of the physics is so weak that you don’t know that UV is ” intense solar shortwave radiation”.

    Cooling by O3 in the upper stratosphere is caused by vibrationally excited O3 being formed by the reaction of O + O2 and then emitting IR which is lost to space.

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