A misinterpreted claim about a NASA press release, CO2, solar flares, and the thermosphere is making the rounds

I loathe having to write this story because I truly dislike giving any attention to the people who are known as the “slayers” from the “Slaying the Sky Dragon” book. They now operate under the moniker of “Principia Scientific”.

But, somebody has to do it because some really bad mangling of the intent of a NASA press release by the “slayers” group is getting some traction. They have completely misread the NASA study and reinterpreted it for their purpose, claiming in a story titled “New Discovery: NASA Study Proves Carbon Dioxide Cools Atmosphere” :

NASA’s Langley Research Center has collated data proving that “greenhouse gases” actually block up to 95 percent of harmful solar rays from reaching our planet, thus reducing the heating impact of the sun. The data was collected by Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry, (or SABER). SABER monitors infrared emissions from Earth’s upper atmosphere, in particular from carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO), two substances thought to be playing a key role in the energy balance of air above our planet’s surface.

Source:  http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/165971/

The NASA story is  about the thermosphere when it gets hit by solar flares. Here’s the Press release:

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/22mar_saber/

Here’s the relevant part from the press release:

=============================================================

“Carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are natural thermostats,” explains James Russell of Hampton University, SABER’s principal investigator.  “When the upper atmosphere (or ‘thermosphere’) heats up, these molecules try as hard as they can to shed that heat back into space.”

That’s what happened on March 8th when a coronal mass ejection (CME) propelled in our direction by an X5-class solar flare hit Earth’s magnetic field.  (On the “Richter Scale of Solar Flares,” X-class flares are the most powerful kind.)  Energetic particles rained down on the upper atmosphere, depositing their energy where they hit.  The action produced spectacular auroras around the poles and significant1 upper atmospheric heating all around the globe.

“The thermosphere lit up like a Christmas tree,” says Russell.  “It began to glow intensely at infrared wavelengths as the thermostat effect kicked in.”

Solar Storms Dumps Gigawatts (Nitric Oxide Spike, 558px))

A surge of infrared radiation from nitric oxide molecules on March 8-10, 2012, signals the biggest upper-atmospheric heating event in seven years. Credit: SABER/TIMED. See also the CO2 data here: http://science.nasa.gov/media/medialibrary/2012/03/22/both_spikes.jpg

For the three day period, March 8th through 10th, the thermosphere absorbed 26 billion kWh of energy.  Infrared radiation from CO2 and NO, the two most efficient coolants in the thermosphere, re-radiated 95% of that total back into space.

In human terms, this is a lot of energy.  According to the New York City mayor’s office, an average NY household consumes just under 4700 kWh annually. This means the geomagnetic storm dumped enough energy into the atmosphere to power every home in the Big Apple for two years.

“Unfortunately, there’s no practical way to harness this kind of energy,” says Mlynczak.  “It’s so diffuse and out of reach high above Earth’s surface.  Plus, the majority of it has been sent back into space by the action of CO2 and NO.”

===========================================================

The two lines I bolded are what has the “slayers” in a tizzy.

Yes, of course the upper atmosphere is going to deflect and re-radiate the energy of solar storms, that’s why we don’t burn to a cinder when they happen. There’s nothing new here, this is what the upper atmosphere (thermosphere) does. CO2 (and other greenhouse gases – GHG’s) in the lower atmosphere also re-radiates long wave infra red energy (LWIR) as backradiation coming up from the surface of the Earth as it dumps the shortwave solar energy absorbed returns as LWIR (heat) and makes its way to the top of the atmosphere.

earths_energy_balance_589[1]

Source: http://serc.carleton.edu/earthlabs/weather_climate/lab_2.html

I’m writing this for the benefit of some who may have fallen into the trap of thinking the “slayers” interpretation was NASA’s position.

The claim by the “slayers” is the worst form of science misinterpretation I’ve seen in a long time. By itself I would have ignored it, but some of our friends in other blogs have picked up the story, and because of the NASA link, thought it was credible example as the “slayers” framed it.  It isn’t, it is a twisting of the facts in a press release about solar flares and the thermosphere to make it look like the lower atmosphere works the same way. To some extent it does, but the direction of the source of LWIR energy is reversed, and CO2 and other GHG’s impede the transfer of LWIR energy to the top of the atmosphere where it is finally re-radiated into space. Without GHG’s, the lower atmosphere would be very cold. (Updated: For those who doubt this, see  http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/12/what-if-there-was-no-greenhouse-effect/ – Anthony)

Because the “slayers” get as irrational in comments as some of the most strident AGW activists, and because it is late and I don’t want to deal with the angry dialog from some of their members who frequent here I know will happen, but would instead prefer a good night’s sleep, I’m not going to enable comments for this post. Maybe tomorrow.

Comments on now.

Update: if anyone wonders why I don’t take this group seriously, and don’t cover their beliefs here,one look at the sidebar or the Principia website tells the story in one image:

Principia_bogus

If there are any people in the AGW debate that deserve the label “deniers” surely this advertised denial of the existence of the greenhouse effect must qualify.

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126 thoughts on “A misinterpreted claim about a NASA press release, CO2, solar flares, and the thermosphere is making the rounds

  1. Some ‘science denier’ you are, Watts.

    I mean, what’s this all about? Some sort of conspiracy to fool people into thinking you aren’t a ‘science denier’? Nefarious, highly nefarious. I’d better fire up my bots, tighten my tinfoil hat and get Cook and Lew on the horn.

    /sarc

  2. The only comment I have is to criticize:

    When the upper atmosphere (or ‘thermosphere’) heats up, these molecules try as hard as they can to shed that heat back into space.

    As if the molecules can make conscious efforts. Yoda said it best, do or do not, there is no try.

  3. Anthony, I share your slayer pain. And then some. Understanding the difference between the thermosphere and the troposphere, between high level SW albedo and low level LW absorptivity — it doesn’t seem as though it is that difficult, does it? But count on them to leave no counterhypothesis, no matter how absurd, unasserted…

  4. As if the molecules can make conscious efforts. Yoda said it best, do or do not, there is no try.

    Ah, clearly you are not attuned to the Gaia hypothesis, young padawan. After all, molecules do make conscious efforts, at least collectively. Or at least, it seems to so to the pile of molecules typing this reply that they do.

    It could be wrong, of course.

    rgb ;-)

  5. To some extent it does, but the direction of the source of LWIR energy is reversed, and CO2 and other GHG’s impede the transfer of LWIR energy to the top of the atmosphere where it is finally re-radiated into space. Without GHG’s, the lower atmosphere would be very cold.

    This is not the situation being presented. It is not primarily the energy from the surface that is considered in the this discussion. It is what I have been saying for 3 years now and calling the cooling effect of GHGs. It is energy in the atmosphere. Look at your energy diagram. Ignore the radiation from the surface and look at the other items (absorbed by atmosphere, latent heat, sensible heat). This energy eventually gets radiated to space by GHGs. When you increase GHGs you increase the ability of the atmosphere it cools itself in exactly the same manner that GHGs radiate the CME energy.

    This negates some or all of the GHE at current concentrations.

  6. Wise words from E.M. Smith come to mind:

    “It [Clough & Iacono, JGR, 1995] goes on at some great length about how Green House Gases increase the radiative cooling of the Stratosphere. They are throughly convinced that stratospheric cooling is the Evil Twin of tropospheric warming, showing that GHGs are critical to both (so by implication, cooling in the stratosphere endorses warming troposphere). Completely missing the point that the troposphere is dominated by water and convection, so more heat in just means faster transport up.”

    Relating to the following figure:

    Notice how CO2 has a cooling effect right from the lower stratosphere and up into the mesosphere, its peak cooling effect around the stratopause, while ozone has a clear warming effect in the lower stratosphere (and even into the troposphere) but a cooling effect like CO2 in the middle and upper stratosphere.

    So depletion of stratospheric ozone would induce cooling (less warming) in the lower stratosphere (where most of the ozone is to be found). Cooling (enhanced) would also happen with an increase in stratospheric CO2, but here the effect would be stronger the further up the column you go.

    Also worth noting from the diagram is how supremely important H2O is in cooling the troposphere (transporting absorbed heat from the sun up and away from the ground and back out towards space), and at the same time how insignificant CO2 is.

    CO2 does its job in the stratosphere/mesosphere, H2O does its job in the troposphere.

  7. But confusion must happen, we are trying to explain the movements of a planetary system, with significant off planet inputs, in terms of human symbols.
    Confusion must arise.
    Seems we need a better language, or common agreement as to the symbols before we can converse.

    Secondly, after years of the spin, habitual exaggeration via press release by NASA, its almost an instinctive urge to torque their message to the absurd.
    And they have given us so much to work with.

  8. I don’t spend much time on the sky-dragons, but that doesn’t mean they get everything wrong.

    A greenhouse-gas that is able to thermalize absorbed Infra-red radiation is, by definition, able to perform the reverse process, i.e. cool by radiation. No “ifs”, “buts”, or “maybes”, carbon dioxide can and does cool by radiating heat that is transported by convection and latent heat.

    How the combined warming and cooling effects are distributed and integrated over time and distance in the real world is, of course, a far more complicated question.

  9. ‘ This means the geomagnetic storm dumped enough energy into the atmosphere to power every home in the Big Apple for two years.’

    Is that before or after Bloomberg’s soda ban?

  10. I had not seen that energy balance diagram before, though it is no doubt based on Trenberth et al.

    In this diagram, the earth’s surface is heated by “back-radiation” twice as much as the heat from the sun. (98 vs. 47) How is this possible? Where do these numbers come from? What observational evidence is there to support this claim?

  11. Richard M:

    The more GHGs, the higher the thermal re-radiative effect: sure. But the more GHGs, the warmer the lower atmosphere.

    The point is true but not pertinent. It is like saying the burner on your stove releases heat faster when it is glowing red. It does, but it is still red-hot. Our concern here is the stable temperature of the burner, not the rate that the burner loses heat in order to be stable at that temperature.

  12. Well, because of its mention here I visited Principia Scientific website for the first time and spent some time reading a few of the articles. I was greatly perplexed. I found nothing but pretty much sane and well reasoned material uncontaminated by abuse and ad homs. Sure, some views expressed differ from the standard uncritical fare offered as gospel here (like the radiation balance diagram above), but hey, that is what scientific debate is about? I totally fail to see the reason for all the snide and sarcasm levelled here at what seems to me to be valid contribution to the debate. I am disappointed.

  13. “The claim by the “slayers” is the worst form of science misinterpretation I’ve seen in a long time. By itself I would have ignored it, but some of our friends in other blogs have picked up the story, and because of the NASA link, thought it was credible example as the “slayers” framed it. It isn’t, it is a twisting of the facts in a press release about solar flares and the thermosphere to make it look like the lower atmosphere works the same way. To some extent it does, but the direction of the source of LWIR energy is reversed, and CO2 and other GHG’s impede the transfer of LWIR energy to the top of the atmosphere where it is finally re-radiated into space. Without GHG’s, the lower atmosphere would be very cold.”
    ==========================================================

    Sorry, Anthony, but I can not find any trace of misinterpretation. Their reference to NASA press release was correct and they did not talk about the (alleged) back radiation effect at all. The probably did elsewhere, but that had nothing to do with this recent NASA press release.

    The second point is, even if we assume that back radiation has an effect on temperature of the surface, the question is still valid, if the net effect of blocking some solar IR and holding back some IR the Earth surface radiates is warming and not cooling. The fact is, anyway, that in many descriptions of “greenhouse effect” you can find on the web, including the IPCC site, there is no mention of “greenhouse gases” contributing to cooling by blocking some solar IR. This looks like misinterpretation to me.

  14. I saw that yesterday, too. My immediate reaction was: what on earth are they babbling about? Thanks for sussing this out.

  15. So what happened to my post just now? Not even waiting for moderation but just missing? Was it something I said? Or because I gave my full name for the first time here??

    Gabriel van den Bergh

    [Reply: Relax, your comment ended up in the Spam folder. Rescued and posted now. — mod.]

  16. Ron C. says March 29, 2013 at 8:43 am

    What observational evidence is there to support this claim?

    Meteorological observations will support the claim as to reduced temp decline (cooling) at night with a high humidity, but of course the operative gas here will be H2O and not so much the plant food gas …

    .

  17. Gabriel van den Bergh (GabrielHBay) says:
    March 29, 2013 at 8:46 am
    ————
    Gabriel,

    I’m not sure who else you might be referring to as I don’t see any other /sarc tags besides mine, so I’ll assume you were talking to me.

    My sarcasm was not intended to mock the slayers, but rather certain bloggers who hold that Watts is a ‘science denier’. This said, the slayers irritate me because I’ve suffered through discussions with warmists where they assumed I didn’t understand how radiative physics and back radiation works, and unfortunately thanks to the slayers, it wasn’t an unreasonable thing for them to come to the table thinking. I find this personally quite frustrating. But for the record, I’ve got no issue with people taking positions in debates even if they are categorically wrong. That’s fine. It’s just that I wish it were clearer sometimes that there are skeptics who are not slayers; I.E., that I’ve got nothing to do with them. Just my personal perspective.

  18. Showing that schematic with back radiation is just so wrong. It’s just pure nonsense

  19. I suggest those believing in back radiation warming just stand in front of a mirror and enjoy the back radiated heat.

  20. (I’ve posted this before, awhile back; it’s kind of a simple outline splaining the GHG effect and indicating the various aspects of ‘physics’ we may use every day that correlate or demonstrate the various aspects of GHG ‘action’ cited.)

    .
    The 12 easy steps to understanding the physics of the minor, but important, GHG effect.

    1. The ‘motion’ of Electrons and Protons can be affected by externally applied electric and magnetic fields. Computer CRTs are an example with the electron beam forced towards the phosphor-coated screen by a more or less ‘static’ electric field all the while under the back and forth influence of a dynamic magnetic field from the deflection coils (called ‘the yoke’ in the trade).

    2. Conversely, when Electrons or Protons move, they create ‘fields’ and then perhaps (propagated) ‘waves’ as well. Electromagnets and antennas are examples.

    3. Molecules, such as CO2 and H20 are comprised of atoms the components of which are Protons and Electrons (we ignore the Neutron). This is elementary; consult any HS text for a refresh.

    4. Many molecules such as O2 (and even CO2 and H2O) have specific mechanical resonances, at specific frequencies (or wavelengths if one prefers).

    5. These mechanical resonances are like miniature tuning forks. The vibrational modes get a little intricate and differ from molecule to molecule on account of the ‘atomic relationship’ of the member atoms.

    6. During these vibrational modes, certain ‘member’ atoms can move more than others, and some ‘parts’ are electrically charged … referring to 2. above this will create a ‘field’.

    7. Should a particular frequency EM field pass by a resonant molecule, the molecule, like a resonant dipole antenna will ‘pick up’ (the field will induce into the molecule) energy from the passing field .. refer to 1. above.

    8. The actual resonant frequencies of resonant molecules is affected by pressure; this means more collisions between atoms, and sometimes vibrational energy can be absorbed in a collision while sometimes energy is given off. ‘Broadening of spectral lines’ is the basic effect.

    9. Any vibrational modes amount to ‘stored energy’,

    10. Said ‘stored’ energy is also continually being re-radiated (refer to 2. above) in basically all directions (any given molecule will have a given radiation pattern, but in the aggregate among all randomly oriented molecules this yields an ‘omni’ directional pattern).

    11. An increased amplitude ‘Vibrational mode’ (no matter how arrived at) amounts to a ‘higher temperature’ locally.

    12. From insolation (incoming sunlight), to heating of the earth’s surface, some convective heating of the air near the surface (consult a meteorology text; the MAJORITY of the heating of the air is in the boundary layer), to radiation of LWIR from the earth’s surface, some LWIR is captured’ (excites or is EM induced into) various GHG molecules e.g. CO2 and H2O … and that ‘captured’ EM energy is re-radiated in all directions, *including, and this is very important: BACK to earth … some term this ‘back radiation’, perhaps after the close radio term, ‘back-scatter’ (as used in RADAR to identify energy ‘reflected’ or scattered back from a target).

    And so there you have it.

    The 12 easy steps to understanding the minor but important (as to moderating the surface temperature of the earth) GHG effect.

    .

  21. michael hart says:
    March 29, 2013 at 8:35 am
    I don’t spend much time on the sky-dragons, but that doesn’t mean they get everything wrong.

    A greenhouse-gas that is able to thermalize absorbed Infra-red radiation is, by definition, able to perform the reverse process, i.e. cool by radiation. No “ifs”, “buts”, or “maybes”, carbon dioxide can and does cool by radiating heat that is transported by convection and latent heat.
    Yes but not in the same place!
    Absorption of IR from the surface by CO2 causes excitation of specific vibrational energy levels which can either lose energy by radiation or by collisions with neighboring molecules (N2 & O2). In the lower atmosphere the latter dominates so CO2 heats the atmosphere, higher up collisions are less frequent and there is sufficient time for radiation to space, so in the stratosphere CO2 cools. Collisional heating of CO2 is as a result of many very low energy collisions, it does not necessarily follow that the vibrational energy levels are excited even if the same total energy is involved.
    The Thermosphere referred to in the OP is entirely different, the gases are heated from above by UV light which causes very high energy levels to be populated, there are essentially no collisions so all heat loss is by radiation. In the case of the solar flares the absorption of high energy photons results in higher than usual radiation from the emitters CO2, NO etc, this is what NASA measured. This has been known for a long time, and they’re just presenting detailed measurements

  22. @Greg House says: March 29, 2013 at 8:52 am

    I agree. I have read through all of it and find nothing of what Anthony is suggesting.

    Sorry Anthony, not sure what you are getting at here.

  23. My experience with many new alternative scientific websites is that many of them are modeled to be a sociocratic structure, which may start out with the best of intentions, but is going to be highly vulnerable later to the emergence of “thought leaders” who will use intimidation and social pressures to enforce their views. Principia Scientifica is a little overly enthusiastic about its structure.

    If you want to invest your time, talent, and treasures in your theory, then be careful of joining groups that claim to be a “meritocracy.” Investment in a group that claims to give you the opportunity to share and discuss your theory is a good idea, but watch for structures, “minders,” and systems that encourage emerging leaders and authorities who appear to rise from within, but who may not.

    The sociocratic structure claims to allow you to get credit and readership for your work, but you may regret the entanglement that requires when future leadership emerges with the power to reward and punish in front of your peers. It may be better to simply publish and give presentations on the web without being part of a structure at all.

  24. Am I interpreting that image correctly? What exactly is the “back radiation” part? Are you telling me, with this depiction, that “back radiation” is heating the surface? Seriously?

    If that were true, then I could heat my house by placing a candle in between two mirrors. Don’t try this yourself however, as you will likely cause a rift in the space-time continuum and destroy the universe by back radiation.

    Wow, just wow…. do people not even think before drawing such stupidity?

  25. @_Jim says: March 29, 2013 at 10:21 am

    So in your little thought experiment, can you tell us how a cooler molecule (atmosphere), through “back radiation” imparts heating upon the warmer ground (Earth) ?

  26. _Jim says, (March 29, 2013 at 10:21 am): “The 12 easy steps to understanding the physics of the minor, but important, GHG effect. …
    12. From insolation (incoming sunlight), to heating of the earth’s surface, some convective heating of the air near the surface (consult a meteorology text; the MAJORITY of the heating of the air is in the boundary layer), to radiation of LWIR from the earth’s surface, some LWIR is captured’ (excites or is EM induced into) various GHG molecules e.g. CO2 and H2O … and that ‘captured’ EM energy is re-radiated in all directions, *including, and this is very important: BACK to earth … some term this ‘back radiation’, perhaps after the close radio term, ‘back-scatter’ (as used in RADAR to identify energy ‘reflected’ or scattered back from a target).
    And so there you have it.”

    ==========================================================

    No, we do not have it, because your “back radiation warming” has no basis in real science. Note the emphasis on the word warming. And by warming I also mean “slowing down cooling”, in case you are going to argue about linguistics.

  27. Phew.. I am so glad I am not the only one to find the radiation diagram to be BS… Didn’t wanna rock the boat too much so I just alluded to it. I am SO timid.. LOL

  28. Doug Proctor says:
    March 29, 2013 at 8:46 am
    Richard M:
    The more GHGs, the higher the thermal re-radiative effect: sure. But the more GHGs, the warmer the lower atmosphere.

    The point is true but not pertinent. It is like saying the burner on your stove releases heat faster when it is glowing red. It does, but it is still red-hot. Our concern here is the stable temperature of the burner, not the rate that the burner loses heat in order to be stable at that temperature.

    While I generalized to all GHGs the important question is the effect of increases in CO2. When we limit the discussion to CO2 the warming effect at the surface is dominated by water vapor. Hence, an increase in CO2 has a very small effect. Higher up the water vapor condenses out of the atmosphere and CO2 becomes the dominant GHG. Hence, increases at this level are much more important.

    Your example is not relevant. There is no burner and we know the changes to equilibrium we are working with are quite small at both ends. The overall effect could be cooling rather than warming. It all depends on the relative strength of the two processes.

  29. squid2112 says March 29, 2013 at 10:42 am


    So in your little thought experiment, can you tell us how a cooler molecule (atmosphere), through “back radiation” imparts heating upon the warmer ground (Earth) ?

    Did I say warmer? Was that a thought experiment? Can you point point out any fallacious principles in gas molecule ‘action’ at LWIR frequencies involving EM waves or EM energy (The field of “IR Spectroscopy” can provide some much needed insights on the various vibrational modes that gas molecules exhibit, in particular the polar molecules H2O and C02; this makes them ‘act’ like tiny tuning forks or antennas resonant at several frequencies depending on the vibration mode)?

    Can you answer me how a reflector (as in a “parabolic reflector”) behind a feedhorn works? (Hint: The reflector is ‘cold’, i.e., not excited in the classical sense as the feedhorn is; the feedhorn is said to “illuminate” the reflector however.)

    PS. What part about “re-rad” after impingement by LWIR EM energy do you not understand?

    PPS. I’m coming at this from the perspective of antenna engineering/RF engineering involving EM (Electromagnetic) energy; this may involve principles not commonly understood or accepted by most ppl.

    .

  30. Ok, maybe a really “stupid” question but are there any thumbnails of how much energy gets released from the earth when we have all those lighting storms . . . .

    it’s my ‘understanding’ that this feature is what helps make and maintain the “ozone” layer, as well as “lose” energy.

    Technically, wouldn’t this “poke” holes in the greenhouse effect? (qualitatively as well as quantitatively)?

  31. Greg House says March 29, 2013 at 10:45 am

    No, we do not have it, because your “back radiation warming” has no basis in real science.

    Really Greg; you don’t understand how a vibrating CO2 or H2O molecule interact with EM energy at various wavelengths?

    This may be the cause of all your confusion and illiteracy on the subject..

    .

  32. My feeble understanding is that IR radiation, when absorbed by a molecule, causes molecular excitation in the vibrational mode. Thus the excited molecule has some more kinetic energy which it can give up by collision. Not by photonic emission.

  33. Mkelly says: Q: What the heck are you talking about?

    A: 1. Alternative scientific websites; 2. sociocratic structures; 3. meritocracies.

    An example:

    http://principia-scientific.org/14-editor-s-favorites/84-upstarts-lead-peer-to-peer-science-online-where-next.html

    I think there are some fine scientists and good articles there, but find the meritocracy structure to be wide open to future problems. Alternative science is important as WUWT demonstrates, but I have seen several examples of alternative science (or just science groups) that have embraced this structure on the web. I have also found that the leadership does have an ideology that comes out only later in practice, although in theory it allows for a wide diversity of views.

  34. _Jim says:
    March 29, 2013 at 11:02 am ” Greg House says March 29, 2013 at 10:45 am
    No, we do not have it, because your “back radiation warming” has no basis in real science.

    Really Greg; you don’t understand how a vibrating CO2 or H2O molecule interact with EM energy at various wavelengths?”
    =======================================================

    Let me tell you for the like 10th time: radiation is there, but your notion about back radiation warming the source (or slowing down it’s cooling) has no basis in real science. Please, do not obfuscate the matter by shifting to existence of radiation or to what causes it.

  35. Anthony, you write: Without GHG’s, the lower atmosphere would be very cold.

    This is not true because a hypothetical atmosphere of oxygen and nitrogen would warm up via conduction from the surface warmed by the Sun and transported to higher altitudes due to convection. In reality your statement should be obliterated, because Earth is a water planet and H2O is a very potent greenhouse gas.

    REPLY: Water vapor is a GHG, as are other gases. My point stands. – Anthony

  36. For the three day period, March 8th through 10th, the thermosphere absorbed26 billion kWh of energy. …. In human terms, this is a lot of energy. According to the New York City mayor’s office, an average NY household consumes just under 4700 kWh annually. This means the geomagnetic storm dumped enough energy into the atmosphere to power every home in the Big Apple for two years.

    A quick 5 minute search finds – http://www.nyiso.com/public/webdocs/media_room/publications_presentations/Power_Trends/Power_Trends/power_trends_2012_final.pdf
    Power Demands
    Total Usage in 2011 ………………………………………………………………….. 163,330 GWh
    Total Usage in 2010 ……………………………………………………………………163,505 GWh

    I believe GWh is a little bigger than billion kWh, so NASA is a little off in their power comparison.

  37. _Jim says:
    March 29, 2013 at 10:21 am


    13. Most of the radiation that hits the earth hits the oceans, and heats the water first. There are all kinds of consequences of that. You have to actually heat the water surface appreciably before that starts to affect the heat balance of the atmosphere.

    14. Heat on the surface can move horizontally quite a ways before it finally gets back out into space.

    15. If you think it’s simple, you don’t understand it. If you think you understand it, you don’t.

  38. Mkelly: “What on earth are you talking about?”

    The name of the website in the top paragraph, in the last sentence, is an alternative scientific group. So I was addressing some structures adopted by alternative science groups, including “meritocracies” and sociocratic structures. My comment assumes the understanding that that website is an alternative science website, and perhaps this was really not common knowledge. I am sorry about that.

  39. Anthony – for the record – one of the major blogs that linked the original piece was Instapundit. They just linked piece this and issued a retraction and a mea culpa.

  40. So I followed the link above to the earthlabs website, apparently a tool for teaching climate science to high schoolers. The source behind the diagram is a NOAA teaching site:

    http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/atmos/energy_balance.htm

    The diagram is accompanied by a table with the math to show the incoming and outgoing energy balances at all levels, including this bit:

    The atmosphere itself – Energy into the atmosphere is balanced with outgoing energy from atmosphere.
    Incoming energy Outgoing energy
    Units Source Units Source
    +19 Absorbed short wave radiation by gasses in the atmosphere. -9 Long wave radiation emitted to space by clouds.
    +4 Absorbed short wave radiation by clouds. -49 Long wave radiation emitted to space by gasses in atmosphere.
    +104 Absorbed longwave radiation from earth’s surface. -98 Longwave radiation emitted to earth’s surface by gasses in atmosphere.
    +5 From convective currents (rising air warms the atmosphere).
    +24 Condensation/Deposition of water vapor(heat is released into the atmosphere by process).
    +156 -156

    Where is the evidence for these numbers?

  41. Anyone notice that the NASA SOHO real time images of the sun site has been down for several days now?

  42. Anthony, your reply misses the point. Without greenhouse gases (including water vapour, i.e. no water, no oceans) the temperature of the atmosphere could be much higher, because the oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere would warm by conduction (contact with the surface heated by the Sun in daytime). We would have winds because the surface temperature would vary due to different heat capacities making up the surface.

    Since N2 and O2 are not greenhouse gases and thus not capable of radiative transfer of energy to space, the warm N2/O2 gas would rise to higher altitudes and remain there because of buoyancy. Howevre, what actually would happen is immaterial because we do HAVE OCEANS and hence talking about a hypothetical temperature without greenhouse gases is plain stupid.

    REPLY: See http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/12/what-if-there-was-no-greenhouse-effect/ – Anthony

  43. DD More says (March 29, 2013 at 11:31 am): A quick 5 minute search finds – http://www.nyiso.com/public/webdocs/media_room/publications_presentations/Power_Trends/Power_Trends/power_trends_2012_final.pdf
    Power Demands
    Total Usage in 2011 ………………………………………………………………….. 163,330 GWh
    Total Usage in 2010 ……………………………………………………………………163,505 GWh

    I believe GWh is a little bigger than billion kWh, so NASA is a little off in their power comparison.”

    Read the press release carefully: “According to the New York City mayor’s office, an average NY household consumes just under 4700 kWh annually. This means the geomagnetic storm dumped enough energy into the atmosphere to power every home in the Big Apple for two years.”

    I interpret “home” as detached single family housing. According to this

    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36000.html

    New York has about 7.2 million “households” of which about 50.5% are in multi-unit housing, i.e. not “homes”. Assuming (dubiously) that the average “home” uses the same energy as the average “household”, then 7.2 million X 49.5% X 4700 kWh X 2 years = 33.5 billion kWh which is at least in the same ballpark as NASA’s figure of 26 billion, i.e. “good enough for government work”. :-)

  44. Phil. at 10:25 AM:

    Query:

    Manabe and Wetherald’s 1975 paper (http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0469%281975%29032%3C0003%3ATEODTC%3E2.0.CO%3B2) “explains” the stratospheric cooling effect of CO2 as follows:

    “As pointed out above, large cooling occurs in the model stratosphere. This is caused by the increase in the emission from the stratosphere to space resulting from the increase in the concentration of CO2. Since the total amount of CO2 above a given level decreases with increasing altitude, the absorption of the emission from above also decreases correspondingly. This is one reason why the magnitude of the cooling increases with increasing height in the model stratosphere.”

    p. 7. If the described mechanism of cooling in the stratosphere is operative, then why isn’t it also operative at every level of the atmosphere, with the same effect at every level of the atmosphere, since the property giving rise to this effect is true at every level of the atmosphere, namely that the concentration above is less than that below?

    You seem to be saying that it is because collisional warming of adjacent N2 and O2 is the actual mechanism by which CO2 transfers heat absorbed from LWIR from the surface to the troposphere, not re-radiation, until you get to the stratosphere, at which point radiative rather than collisional heat loss predominates. Is that correct?

  45. In the 2nd fig above, if clouds cover 70% of the Earth’s surface, why isn’t the “aborbed by green house gases” figure reduced by 70% ?
    Shouldn’t convective heat transfer, not radiation, should be the primary heat loss mechanism for the majority of the Earth’s surface ?

  46. I don’t understand everyone’s confusion.

    The sun’s radiation causes the surface and sea to heat up, i.e. a surface or sea molecule stores energy.
    Each molecule can lose energy by convection (by far the biggest effect) or by radiating a photon, i.e. it loses energy.
    The photon can get absorbed by a CO2 molecule in the atmosphere, i.e it gains the energy the surface lost. Jim’s mechanism is correct.
    –The CO2 molecule can either re-radiate the photon in any direction, i.e. it scatters the incident photon and thereby cools again, or
    –It transfers the energy by conduction/convection to another nearby molecule, and thereby cools.

    At no time is there more energy than we started out with, except from the sun and an insignificant amount from the earth’s nuclear furnace. At no time can the CO2 warm the surface more than it was previously while the sun is heating it up. At no time is the CO2 molecule able to retain the incident energy and also re-transmit it, as many seem to believe.

    I would say that when the sun goes down, if the CO2 molecule still has its energy (a big if!) it could re-radiate to the cooler surface and thereby warm it slightly, and affect the minimum low surface air temperature that night, but my guess is that it’s insignificant. Of the course the latent heat of water vapour vastly outweighs these effects.

    The GHGE can affect the average of the daytime high and the nightime low surface air temperatures ever so slightly, but it’s insignificant, and a relatively meaningless measure anyway. The energy diagram at the top of this post is clearly incorrect

    Where am I wrong here?

  47. I agree with Boris Winterhalter that the following is wrong.

    Without GHG’s, the lower atmosphere would be very cold.

    We have had this discussion before – Greenhouse gases are what cools the lower atmosphere. Without them, the lower kilometer of the atmosphere would be hotter than 100°C and above that there would be no change in temperature with increasing altitude.

    However, I disagree with Boris that it is stupid to talk about this. In my opinion this is a critical point in understanding how changes in CO2 affect the climate.

    REPLY: See http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/12/what-if-there-was-no-greenhouse-effect/ – Anthony

  48. George Steiner says:
    March 29, 2013 at 11:06 am
    My feeble understanding is that IR radiation, when absorbed by a molecule, causes molecular excitation in the vibrational mode. Thus the excited molecule has some more kinetic energy which it can give up by collision. Not by photonic emission.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The excited molecule can absorb in one of several modes and can give up the additional energy via collision or emission. A flame is nothing more than gases so hot that they emit in the visible spectrum.

  49. @John Francis says:March 29, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Except that you missed the part about if the photon from one molecule hits a molecule of higher thermal energy, it is not absorbed, it is immediately re-emitted and will only be absorbed and re-emitted by a molecule of lesser thermal energy (1st and 2nd laws). Hence also why back radiation (down welling long wave radiation) cannot heat the surface if the surface is warmer than that which is back radiating. .. ergo, no GHE …

  50. Richard M;
    While I generalized to all GHGs the important question is the effect of increases in CO2. When we limit the discussion to CO2 the warming effect at the surface is dominated by water vapor. Hence, an increase in CO2 has a very small effect. Higher up the water vapor condenses out of the atmosphere and CO2 becomes the dominant GHG.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..

    CO2 also has more pronounced effects in deserts, arctic zones, and high latitudes during winter. All for the same reason, there’s less water vapour so the over all greenhouse effect is lower, but CO2 accounts for a more significant percentage of what it left, and has more of an effect when it increases.

    Not that I’m advocating for the effect being catastrophic, or even significant, just extending your point.

  51. John Francis;
    The energy diagram at the top of this post is clearly incorrect
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    It is not as much incorrect as it is over simplified. Incoming SW is not 100 w/m2 for example, it ranges from 0 to over 1300 w/m2 over the course of a day. Of course that is an over simplification too, because the lower range is 0 at all latitudes, but the upper range varies with latitude and season and orbital position (since the orbit is elliptical, not circular). You can’t average it because w/m2 varies with T in degrees K raised to the power of 4. Plus they are showing various processes happening at a given “spot” on the diagram. That is also an over simplification. Radiated energy from the surface for example doesn’t just travel from the surface to the TOA (Top of Atmosphere) at a given w/m2. A photon that escapes could have originated from the earth surface, or ten feet up, or 10,000 feet up or 1 mm below the TOA. We can detect how many w/m2 escape from TOAm but where any given photon originated is impossible to determine.

    I could go on for several more paragraphs as to the deficiencies of this diagram. That said, I haven’t a clue how you could possibly depict the whole process accurately in a 2D drawing that is frozen in time. So it is not so much wrong as it is less right than it could be.

    I highly recommend the series by Ira Glickstein on this site for those who want to get into the detail that would make that drawing half way understandable.

  52. As “GHGs” in the atmosphere transmit IR forward in the direction if came form, they DO NOT act to alter the down or up IR. Only in the upper thin atmosphere is Rayleigh scattering occurring and, there, the CO2 is too thin to accomplish anything.

    Arrhenius’s conjecture of a greenhouse effect by CO2 was and has never been confirmed scientifically. It was adopted by Maurice Strong’s “scientists” who pretended that it was a real thing, with the goal of demonizing CO2, which they knew we could not stop emitting. They depend on a positive feedback mechanism by water vapor, but water vapor and the water cycle comprise a planetary heat engine that forms a huge negative feedback machine.

    The greenhouse effect indeed does not exist as our basic atmospheric temperature is due to gravitational compression which is then altered by ocean cycles and solar activity. It beggars reality that a trace gas could drive our climate in any detectable way, particularly in the face of the water cycle heat engine which carries 85% of incoming solar energy to altitude, away from the surface. Radiation from the surface is a minor component (15%).

  53. @ Ron C:

    “I had not seen that energy balance diagram before, though it is no doubt based on Trenberth et al.”
    Yep, a trenberthian – all thermal. Explains why he’s still thrashing around trying to find the missing heat.
    ALERT: The source of the diagram is given as the following link, but does not appear there:

    http://serc.carleton.edu/earthlabs/weather_climate/lab_2.html

    “In this diagram, the earth’s surface is heated by “back-radiation” twice as much as the heat from the sun. (98 vs. 47) How is this possible? Where do these numbers come from? What observational evidence is there to support this claim?”

    Puzzles me as well. I live in a place where there is often over 600 watts/m2 coming down. “Dry” tropics. Sky is clear most of the time. Not sure of the units being used in the diagram, but applying the ratios, our “47″ is being almost tripled by the “98″ from back radiation?
    If the diagram is correct, how the hell do we manage to live here ?

  54. I feel sorry for the clueless Egyptians who worshiped the sun. Clearly, from the energy balance diagram, they should have worshiped back-radiating gases. We don’t even need the sun. Get rid of it and its measly 47W so we can bask in 98W spontaneously available from our atmosphere. In addition, let’s have some sympathy for the poor Sky Dragon Slayers. Their brains are not advanced enough to grasp this simple atmospheric physics.The surface radiates, the H2O and CO2 absorb and re-radiate to make the surface warmer than it was by 10% (33C). Sky Dragon Slayers? A = 2A. How can we make it simpler for them? It’s a sad situation.

  55. @Martin
    The diagram is on the linked page, but you have to scroll to part B and click on Show me diagram and accounting.
    If you continue to the NOAA source, you will learn that GHGs radiate downwards at twice the rate as upwards, and that evapotranspiration is only 1/4 of the heat transferred by radiation from the surface to the atmosphere.
    I think they are just making stuff up.

  56. squid2112 says:
    March 29, 2013 at 1:20 pm
    @John Francis says:March 29, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Except that you missed the part about if the photon from one molecule hits a molecule of higher thermal energy, it is not absorbed, it is immediately re-emitted and will only be absorbed and re-emitted by a molecule of lesser thermal energy (1st and 2nd laws). Hence also why back radiation (down welling long wave radiation) cannot heat the surface if the surface is warmer than that which is back radiating. .. ergo, no GHE …

    Not true, all that is required is that the energy carried by the photon exactly match the energy difference between the occupied energy level of the receiving molecule and another higher energy level.

  57. Anthony. You got your nickers in a knot and have gone off half cocked. check your coffee. The dragon slayers are good guys. The same as you!

  58. Zeke says:
    March 29, 2013 at 10:26 am

    “My experience with many new alternative scientific websites is that many of them are modeled to be a sociocratic structure, which may start out with the best of intentions, but is going to be highly vulnerable later to the emergence of “thought leaders” who will use intimidation and social pressures to enforce their views. Principia Scientifica is a little overly enthusiastic about its structure…” [etc.]

    *

    Thank you for this, Zeke. I didn’t know about this type at all and you’ve explained it very well. It sounds like there are some nasty traps out there in the making, something we should all be made aware of.

  59. And, BTW, the stuff they are making up is being taught to impressionable youth as scientific truth.

  60. Phil @ March 29, 2013 at 10:25 am
    If (IF) a GHG can thermalize IR at a given location, then it can perform the reverse and cool at the same location. Necessarily so. My original comment already made explicit reference to different physical locations in the wider context of atmospheric heat transport. I was not explicitly dressing the specific case here, just the general misconception that a greenhouse gas cannot cool. If it cannot cool by a given mechanism, then it cannot heat either.

  61. Phil. says: March 29, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    So you are trying to say that thermal energy can flow from a colder object to a warmer object, which violates laws 1 and 2.

  62. @Ron C:
    Thanks for the directions. As it happens I got to the NOAA source by a longer route, and while I am still dubious, the NOAA diagram is better. Helps to explain why those of us who engage in passive climatic design for the tropics emphasise the need to address the later afternoon heat gain, rather than the pre-noon sun angle, and are generally unconcerned about the first 15° of morning sun.

  63. Squid.
    1. That doesn’t violate the first law. 2. The second law applies to populations of molecules, not individual ones (this is not quite true in macromolecules, but true for CO2).

  64. squid2112 says:
    March 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm
    Phil. says: March 29, 2013 at 2:54 pm
    So you are trying to say that thermal energy can flow from a colder object to a warmer object, which violates laws 1 and 2.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    No, he’ trying to explain radiative physics to you which violates neither.

  65. Thanks for overcoming your reluctance Anthony. I think you have done the right thing here.
    Did a quick assessment of responses, tried to avoid double-counting, and a “Cook & Lew” mess :-)
    “Pro-slayers” (conceding they have a point) – 20
    “Anti-slayers” (stronger aversion, less ready to concede validity) – 9
    “Others” ? – the rest. 62 so far. Nothing I could see that was off-topic, no significant flaming, most providing valid information and reasoned argument.
    Not so painful was it.
    A few conclusions:
    - Energy balance diagrams are still more likely to be misleading than informing
    - Averaging thermal balance globally can result in absurdity
    - Even averaging thermal balance diurnally can be misleading (mea culpa)
    - “Slayers” mode of operation is understandable but risky
    I can say, I have learned more, and as a result know there is more that needs to be learned.

  66. squid2112 says:
    March 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Phil. says: March 29, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    So you are trying to say that thermal energy can flow from a colder object to a warmer object, which violates laws 1 and 2.
    ——————
    Golly. Why does the discussion inevitably end up back here every time the slayers come up?
    Better men than me have tried to explain this:

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/07/yes-virginia-cooler-objects-can-make-warmer-objects-even-warmer-still/

    If Dr. Spencer can’t persuade you, I’m unlikely to make any headway either, but I’ll take a crack at it. How about this: if I shine a laser at the Sun, why doesn’t the laser explode? Where do you suppose the energy goes in this case?

  67. It would amuse me if we could agree to bundle the assorted collection of GHE theories and call the bundle The Mosher Effect. It’s difficult to zero in on the essential physics, but it’s whatever water vapor and CO2 do to block, trap, retard or store outgoing IR resulting in the Earth being an average of 33C warmer than it otherwise would be. The Mosher Effect–may it forever be immortal.

  68. Martin Clark says (March 29, 2013 at 4:28 pm): “Nothing I could see that was off-topic, no significant flaming, most providing valid information and reasoned argument. Not so painful was it.”

    Discussions on the so-called “greenhouse” effect tend to be “enthusiastic” and strain the long-suffering moderators’ patience, but generally peter out eventually, e.g.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/02/06/the-r-w-wood-experiment/

    Other topics generate more heat than light, e.g.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/25/a-question-for-dr-michael-mann-would-a-professional-scientist-behave-this-way/

  69. Here’s a question for everyone; I think it’s pertinent:
    Assuming thermal equilibrium, is the sun hotter than it would be otherwise, because of the presence of the planets reflecting some radiation back to the sun? This is not a trivial question, and relates directly to the reality, or otherwise, of the GHGE. Pretend the planets are really enormous.

  70. I forgot to add:
    “Ignoring the nuclear reactors inside the planets”
    And I did not ask “what about a binary star near the sun”. Just a reflector.

  71. “If there are any people in the AGW debate that deserve the label “deniers” surely this advertised denial of the existence of the greenhouse effect must qualify.”

    Anthony, I am a member of that group and proud of it. Sorry if you do not want to hear that the “greenhouse effect has nothing to do with the average temperature of the Earth”, but that is my position and that of other well educated and experienced persons. I have tried rationally to explain this many times here without too many attacks on others.

    Like statements by any group some of what is said is partially correct, fully correct, somewhat wrong or totally wrong.

    Equating the effect described in this case as a “thermostat” is ridiculous and shows a complete misunderstanding of how a thermostat regulates temperature by supplying/not supplying thermal energy, or enabling/disabling the pumping of thermal energy from inside to outside (i.e. an air conditioner). Likely that term was chosen specifically to misrepresent the alleged ability of gases in the atmosphere to “force” the massive thermal capacity of the oceans into “equilibrium” (also a ridiculous misnomer).

    I find it regrettable that you classify me with the derogatory term “denier”, but so be it.

    And Yes, I have read Dr. Spencer’s ”Yes Virginia there is a greenhouse effect”, and I disagree with it on several counts. And none of Willis many explanations of how it (the GHE) works match reality.

    If the Greenhouse Effect exists why did you debunk Al Gore’s demonstration of it ? It should be easy to verify it experimentally, it’s simple physics correct ?

    If I might, I suggest you study up a little bit about how anti-reflection multilayer optical interference coatings (that purple looking film on the front of most camera lenses) work, there are many similarities between those and the layers of the atmosphere, EXCEPT to make more energy (visible light) stay in the lens optical interference is required. If you like I could explain the similarities for you.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  72. KevinK;
    If the Greenhouse Effect exists why did you debunk Al Gore’s demonstration of it ? It should be easy to verify it experimentally, it’s simple physics correct ?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

    Al Gore’s experiment did not and could not produce the results that it did unless it was faked. That is all that Anthony demonstrated. Further, that experiment could not possibly demonstrate the GHE in the first place, which is why they had to fake the results.

  73. Greg House says (March 29, 2013 at 8:52 am): “Sorry, Anthony, but I can not find any trace of misinterpretation.”

    Try reading with your eyes open. Anthony is correct:

    The NASA article refers to upper atmospheric heating by “a coronal mass ejection (CME)”, i.e. “a plasma consisting primarily of electrons and protons”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronal_mass_ejection

    and not shortwave or longwave radiation. The so-called “greenhouse” gasses didn’t “block up to 95 percent of harmful solar rays”; most of the collisional “blocking” was done by the far more abundant non-greenhouse gasses. Far from being a “new discovery”, as the authors claim (perhaps sarcastically) upper atmosphere cooling by so-called “greenhouse” gasses is acknowledged as an integral part of the so-called “greenhouse” effect by by scientists on both sides of the CAGW issue, e.g. here

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/12/what-if-there-was-no-greenhouse-effect/

    Anthony was actually easy on these guys, because the “misinterpretations” don’t stop there. If you scroll down the PSI article

    http://principia-scientific.org/supportnews/latest-news/163-new-discovery-nasa-study-proves-carbon-dioxide-cools-atmosphere.html

    you’ll find “PSI has proved that the numbers fed into computer models by Hansen and others were based on a faulty interpretation of the laws of thermodynamics.” Unfortunately, they haven’t actually proved anything, though if they’re right they could do so with one fairly simple experiment and win a Nobel Prize. WUWT?

    Right after that comes this gem, “PSI also recently uncovered long overlooked evidence from the American Meteorological Society (AMS) that shows it was widely known the GHE was discredited prior to 1951. [2]” If you check footnote 2, you’ll see a reference to Compendium of Meteorology, 1951, page 1016, and this note, ‘The AMS stated that the idea that CO2 could alter the climate “was never widely accepted and was abandoned when it was found that all the long-wave radiation [that would be] absorbed by CO2 is [already] absorbed by water vapor.’ Excuse me? The CO2 “greenhouse” effect is overwelmed by water vapor’s “greenhouse” effect? Their own footnote contradicts them???

    In case there’s any doubt you can download the book here

    http://archive.org/details/compendiumofmete00amer

    and check page 391, where much of the heat on Venus is attributed to “the large greenhouse effect supplied by such an enormous quantity of CO2″. Far from refuting the so-called “greenhouse” effect, their own reference strongly affirms it!

    At one time I suspected the so-called “slayers” were just misguided, but now I’m pretty sure that at least two of them (authors Schreuder and O’Sullivan) are either liars or off-the-chart moonbats. About the only way they could make their article dumber would be to bring up the R W Wood experiment. :-)

  74. KevinK says:
    March 29, 2013 at 7:27 pm
    —————
    While I disagree with you on the science, you’ve otherwise got a point. If posting under this thread implied I approve of the use of the term ‘denier’ in this context, I apologize. This is not in fact my reasoned position, and I can only offer in explanation that I didn’t think the implications through before posting. I understand you were addressing Anthony, but I felt compelled to clarify my position regardless.

    Regards.

  75. John Francis wrote;

    “Here’s a question for everyone; I think it’s pertinent:
    Assuming thermal equilibrium, is the sun hotter than it would be otherwise, because of the presence of the planets reflecting some radiation back to the sun? This is not a trivial question, and relates directly to the reality, or otherwise, of the GHGE. Pretend the planets are really enormous.”

    This echo’s a point I have made before, if the “GHE” causes the Earth to warm up then some of that “extra” energy would make it back to the Sun and thereby warm it (a wee little bit). If this process went on for billions of years it would result in a steadily hotter Sun and Earth. But our expectations are that the Sun will eventually use up its fuel and “go out”. And we did have those nasty little Ice Ages, I don’t think anybody is arguing yet that those did not happen.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  76. nothothere;
    if the “GHE” causes the Earth to warm up then some of that “extra” energy would make it back to the Sun and thereby warm it (a wee little bit). If this process went on for billions of years it would result in a steadily hotter Sun and Earth.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    It never ceases to amaze me that people attempt to refute the GHE by attaching to it a claim that GHE theory does not make, and in fact specifically refutes. The GHE theory specifies a new equilibrium temperature that is higher by a given amount. That and no more. There is no “steadily hotter”. If there was, THAT would violate GHE theory.

  77. Davidmhoffer;

    In most fields of science a statement like; “Further, that experiment could not possibly demonstrate the GHE in the first place,” would mean that the “effect” in question cannot be demostrated and therefore should be assumed to NOT EXIST ; “which is why they had to fake the results”

    Cheers, Kevin.

  78. Anthony

    I have the highest regard for what you have done for Climate Change Skepticism,which was sorely needed when you started. And your efforts every day fill me with admiration.

    However I think your antipathy to the unfortunate strident and frequently insulting tone of some of the slayers (an antipathy which I share) has made you disregard the clear accuracy of the belief that GHGE does not come close to explaining the reality of the current situation (lack of warming). There are many thoughtful and persuasive arguments that the effect just does not exist, except as a third-order effect, at best. Many of us cannot fathom the argument that the earth would be 30-some degrees colder except for GHG. CO2 is clearly beneficial to life on earth.

    Give us some credit, please. We care about this issue, and about the skeptical view.

    I must say though, that your post on this issue, and Tallbloke’s recent efforts concerning Willis’s thought experiment, have an excellent outcome–we can talk about this! This is much better than the previous censorship of the whole topic.

  79. I xompare this to the steel greenhouse proposition. I found it strange that people could accept that proposition and even argue it was correct mathematically and scientifically.

    The planet and newly fitted shell now represent a surface radiating to space at 235 with internal heating of some sort.

    Let’s add a second shell – by the logic proposed this one will heat up like the first and radiate out and in at the same rate,

    But now the inner planet must double again from 470 to 940 to keep the maths right.

    And the new ensemnle now looks like the original – a surface radiating 235 to space so let’s put another shell, then another and so on to infinity.

    That doesn’t sound very likely – yet many defended the original proposition of one shell doubling the energy – if it is true for one then it MUST be true for any number but that leads to an absurd finality.

    And neither does the above diagram seem very likely.

    Who says all solar energy is converted to thermal radiation anyway ?

    What about the enormous quantities of energy converted to mass on a daily basis ??

    47.2% of radiation from a 6000 K source has less heating effect than 97.7% of a 255 K source – if such source comprising less than 40 grams of water and less than a gram of CO2 per cubic metre at 5000m or so in the atmosphere is capable of producing significant radiation.

    Just how does the surface emit more than the initial heating from the Sun ?

    I always thought it was the temperature of an object that produced the radiation.

    At least this doesn’t try to justify quartering insolation as is proposed in other papers.

    342 W/sq metre has much less thermal impact than 1368 W /sq metre.

    I do not believe in the greenhouse effect because I find it difficult to reconcile creating energy from nothing and that a trace gases at low temperatures can provide energy.

  80. KevinK says:
    March 29, 2013 at 8:08 pm
    Davidmhoffer;
    In most fields of science a statement like; “Further, that experiment could not possibly demonstrate the GHE in the first place,” would mean that the “effect” in question cannot be demostrated and therefore should be assumed to NOT EXIST
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    No, it means that the experiment could not possibly demonstrate the GHE. If I throw rocks in the air and they fall back to earth, does that prove birds can’t fly? If I produce a video showing rocks flying, and it turns out the video was faked, does that mean birds can’t fly? The experiment had nothing in common with the GHE in the first place.

  81. Davidmhoffer;

    “The GHE theory specifies a new equilibrium temperature that is higher by a given amount.”

    Yes indeed that is what the THEORY states, and one UNSTATED outcome of that theory is that there will be a slow inexorable increase in the energy flowing from the Earth to the Sun. Note: a body with a higher temperature emits MORE energy. This is the inevitable result of “Net Energy Gains” that occur anywhere in the system, that energy flows elsewhere in the system. We would have been TOAST a long time ago, not just in ten years.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  82. Rosco;
    But now the inner planet must double again from 470 to 940 to keep the maths right.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

    No, it doesn’t. If you’re going to argue with the model and the math, have the decency to read it and understand it in enough detail to know what it ACTUALLY says. You cannot refute a theory by debunking claims that the theory doesn’t actually make.

  83. Rosco;
    I do not believe in the greenhouse effect because I find it difficult to reconcile creating energy from nothing and that a trace gases at low temperatures can provide energy.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

    Then I suggest you do more reading to find out what the claim actually is versus what you seem to think it is.

  84. Anyone care to answer my “planet” question? (Today at 6:41 p.m.)?
    Willis, let’s hear yours. I’m pretty sure what it will be.
    Rememember, the question stated “in equilibrium”. And also remember, that in the thought experiment I did not state the radius of the orbit.

  85. Davidmhoffer;

    “No, it means that the experiment could not possibly demonstrate the GHE.”

    The experiment was specifically designed to DEMONSTRATE the GHE……….

    It was not designed to show that “rocks can fly”, or “birds cannot fly because rocks cannot fly”.

    Jeeze, just somebody design one experiment (not another computer model) that shows the GHE effect, you’ve had 3 decades and tons of money, PROVE IT…………….

    I use many computer modeling tools in my field to predict how my final design will perform, nobody buys a prediction of how a product will work, they buy the PRODUCT.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  86. KevinK
    Yes indeed that is what the THEORY states, and one UNSTATED outcome of that theory is that there will be a slow inexorable increase in the energy flowing from the Earth to the Sun.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I can’t help it if you don’t understand what “equilibrium” means.

    I also can’t help it if you ascribe qualities to the theory that you yourself admit the theory doesn’t claim.

  87. KevinK;
    The experiment was specifically designed to DEMONSTRATE the GHE……….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Then the person who designed the experiment had absolutely no clue what the GHE theory actually is. The LW energy source came from outside the system instead of inside the system, so the whole thing was backwards in the first place. There was no SW energy source at all. The system was surrounded by material opaque to LW which is opposite to what it should have been. I could go on at length but those points alone should give you pause. If you would bother to understand the ACTUAL physics of GHE theory, you would understand that this experiment had NOTHING to do with the GHE in the first place, and debunking it says no more about the GHE than rocks do about the ability of birds to fly.

  88. KevinK;
    Jeeze, just somebody design one experiment (not another computer model) that shows the GHE effect, you’ve had 3 decades and tons of money, PROVE IT…………….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Sigh. One more time, we’ve been through this before:

    1. Venus is warmer than Mercury despite being further from the sun.
    2. Earth is warmer than the Moon, despite being almost exactly the same distance from the sun.
    3. If you want a lab experiment, I’ve referred you in the past to the Heinz Hug experiment which is rather conclusive.

  89. Davidmhoffer;

    Thanks, I fully understand what “equilibrium” means, it’s a nice notion for textbooks, but rarely exists in the “wild”. Don’t need your generous offer of help in that regard, thanks anyway.

    The “theory” has qualities that naturally flow from it without my “acribing” them. A body with a higher equilibrium temperature WILL emit more energy even if the “theory” does not claim responsibilty.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  90. Mark Bofill,

    Mark, no need to apologize, I’ve been swiming upstream most of my life, so being called a “denier” is just another bit of mud on my side. Next rapids I hit will clear that up damn soon.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  91. Anthony,
    Firstly, thank you for allowing comments on this thread. I understand your objection to “Slayer” material, and I have a similar objections. It does not matter if they arrived at the correct answer, their working is wrong. As we all know from high school and college maths, right answer with the wrong working is still an “F”.

    You have written “Without GHG’s, the lower atmosphere would be very cold.”. I understand this is the consensus position, and many CAGW sceptics, including Dr. Spencer accept this. However I will take this opportunity to object and say something suitably controversial -

    - AGW due to emissions of CO2 is a physical impossibility.

    No, Stop! What I am writing is not material presented by any “Slayer” group or known scientist. It is, as far as I am aware, unique*. I am not asking you to accept or endorse my argument. Just that you read it.

    The answer lies not in radiative atmospheric modelling, but in your field of expertise, Meteorology. As you are aware the tropopause can be defined as the altitude above which the atmospheric lapse rate stagnates then reverses. It could be more usefully defined as the upper altitude limit at which the main radiative gas in the atmosphere, H2O, can exist. One of the most notable features of the troposphere below the tropopause is the three main convective cells north and south of the the equator. The Hadley, Ferrel and Polar cells. These are strong convective circulation cells and these only occur in the atmosphere where radiative gases are present.

    So what’s all this about convective circulation? Surely just flux into and out of the atmosphere will do? No. Without radiative gases, air masses heated in the lower troposphere will rise, but they will not descend. Adiabatic cooling on accent is matched by adiabatic heating on decent. If rising air masses were truly adiabatic and could not lose energy and thereby buoyancy by IR radiation to space, then convective circulation below the tropopause would stall.

    Why is convective circulation important? A simple empirical experiment gives the answer. Build two insulated gas columns. Use hot and cold water cooling tubes to introduce and remove heat from the gas columns. Keep the heating tubes at the base of both tubes, but vary the height of cooling between columns. The gas column with cooling at the top always equalises at a lower average temperature.

    Now, go back to the “basic physics” of the “settled science”. Does any of that involve Meteorology and moving air masses? No, it’s turtles all the way down. Their initial modelling involved combining the land, ocean and atmosphere into a single pseudo surface “Thingy”. Much later the atmosphere is treated as a separate body, but without moving gases. Model the moving gases correctly and you will find that radiative gases act to cool the atmosphere at all concentrations above 0.0ppm.

    I hate to say it, but the “slayers” are right. Adding radiative gasses to the atmosphere will not reduce the atmospheres radiative cooling ability. However, their working was wrong, so I am still giving them an “F”.

    But, “Without GHG’s, the lower atmosphere would be very cold.” could get you an “F- see me after class” ;)

    * as to unique, on available circumstantial evidence this is not totally the case. Some AGW “believers” seem to have been aware of this problem for quite some time. The sidelining of any papers on the “high altitude ice clouds cause warming theme” that emerged between 1999 and 2005 is exhibit 1. The actions of Nick Stokes, Joel Shore, Josh Halpern, Jim D and several others in response to the 2010 Makarevia Meteorology paper would be exhibit 2.

    REPLY: See my comment to Steven Wilde below- Anthony

  92. I say “Ach, phoey!” to the radiation graph above. Where is the radiation from the base of the cloud to the surface?

  93. No, moderators that will not work. Of course I have a off-line copy of all that was submitted along with screen shots and transmission times. Just do the right thing.

    REPLY: WordPress has a SPAM filter, your comment was interpreted as such, it is rescued and on display above. Stow your “do the right thing” conspiracy theories, save them for Lew – Anthony

  94. The harm that the Dragon Slayers do is evident from a number of these comments. As a physicist I have an advantage that I as soon as I read any of their papers I immediately realise that I am reading a load of garbage. But others unfortunately do not, and they are misled into believing that there may be some support for stupid theories that run contrary to all the science of the last two centuries. When this nonsense is repeated, as in these postings, it tends to give all sceptics a bad name. It is easy to understand why sceptics are dismissed with the D-word when Sky Dragon tripe is re-gurgitated so freely.

    Ron C. says:
    March 29, 2013 at 8:43 am

    In this diagram, the earth’s surface is heated by “back-radiation” twice as much as the heat from the sun. (98 vs. 47) How is this possible? Where do these numbers come from? What observational evidence is there to support this claim?

    It is based on Kiehl and Trenberth. The level of ‘backradiation’ is monitored by a network of stations around the world. They record a typical level of about 340 W/sq.m coming from the atmosphere day and night. Because the radition is monitored in the infrared beyond 5 microns we know it is from the atmosphere and not the Sun. In any case, there is not much variation between day and night.

    What’s amazing about back-radiation is how many different ways people arrive at the conclusion it doesn’t exist or doesn’t have any effect on the temperature at the earth’s surface

    .

    http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/07/17/the-amazing-case-of-back-radiation/

    John Francis says:
    March 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Here’s a question for everyone; I think it’s pertinent:
    Assuming thermal equilibrium, is the sun hotter than it would be otherwise, because of the presence of the planets reflecting some radiation back to the sun?

    YES!
    It may be interesting for you to work out by how much. The advantage of calculating is that you first need to understand, mathematics focuses your thoughts and permits no hand-waving – and so you enhance your understanding.

    Rosco says:
    March 29, 2013 at 8:33 pm re-the Steel Greenhouse

    Let’s add a second shell – by the logic proposed this one will heat up like the first and radiate out and in at the same rate. But now the inner planet must double again from 470 to 940 to keep the maths right.

    The Steel Greenhouse is a hypothetical scenario and yet it provides a very good model of a simple radiative greenhouse effect. Again I suggest you work through the maths to make sure you understand it. If you do, you will find that adding a 2nd shell will indeed increase the temperature of the planet – but not by double. And yes, adding more and more concentric shells will increase the temperature ad infinitum.
    The problem you have Rosco is ‘conceptual’. That is why you must do the maths to convince yourself that the temperature increases as you add successive shells.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/17/the-steel-greenhouse/

  95. I have been in communication with one of the ”slayers”, Joseph E. Postma, who has not as yet commented on this. His papers have included information about the thermosphere and its temperature and its causes. This ties in with NASA so no problem there. I will wait for his interpretation, he is an astrophysicist, when it comes out.
    Your energy graphic looks similar to the Trenberth AR4 abomination which violates 2nd and 1st laws. You explain how these violations can happen and I might believe in AGW.

    REPLY: I’m really not concerned what they think about it. – Anthony

  96. I do not know if any one mentioned before me posting ,
    Was there a X-5 flare on March 8 ?
    No there was not, it was a year ago,
    Correct me if I am wrong I think some of the comments are a little hotheaded.

  97. The GHE was introduced because of an imagined shortfall in surface heating by the sun. Never mind the measured surface insolarion or the TOA insolation being far higher than that ”advertised” by Trenberth in AR4. His model is a flat earth with no night/day cycles, which is why he divides the insolation by 4 to spread it over the whole planet surface. His surface energy is TOA reduced for albedo and atmospheric absorption to the rediculously low figure of 167W/m2, giving a radiative equilibrium temperature of -49C which is even lower than the -18C chosen as the start point for alarmists, which gives the 33C shortfall which brought in the GHE theory. Reality is somewhat different. Surface input has been measured at the zenith position as ~1000W/m2 which gives an RET of 88C more than enough to warm the planet. Average surface energy is half this at 500W/m2 giving an RET of +33C.
    Arguments that heasured LIR from the atmosphere MUST be back radiation are not valid. So called GHG’s adsorb SIR and emit LIR so that solar heating, not radiated surface energy, is but one source of this the other will be released latent heat from the H2O molucules. Water is the only atmospheric gas able to hold and release heat, heat release comes when clouds form at height when these molecules have cooled adiabatically. Under 2nd law heat can ONLY be transferred from hot to cold so how can this cooler atmospheric heat warm the hotter surface?
    The fact that this GHE science has been around for 200 years does not make it right, or even possible. Think about it, the small volume of GHG’s in the atmosphere need to raise the temperature of the whole atmosphere by 33C, according to the theory. This means that they must be so hot so as to glow in the near UV. Another aspect of the theory that has yet to be shown to happen.
    I have yet to see the ”slayer’s” version of the NASA report so I will not comment on this now.

  98. The steel greenhouse looks like a modified vacuum flask. This does not warm anything inside but delays cooling. Not the same as the GHE theory at all. This claims a heating effect of 33C for the whole atmosphere.

  99. George Steiner says:
    March 29, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Mr. Watts, how much of that 26 billion watts of energy was back radiated?

    Why, at least Half of it of course, didn’t you notice that pulse of energy when it occurred.

  100. davidmhoffer says (March 29, 2013 at 9:37 pm): “I attempted to link to the Heinz Hug experiment on John Daly’s site and discovered it has been suspended. http://www.john-daly.com/cgi-sys/suspendedpage.cgi
    It would be unfortunate to lose all the content that was available on that site. I thought his family was still maintaining it? Does anyone have copies of the content?”

    ===========================================================

    You have to search for the URL “http://www.john-daly.com/artifact.htm” here: http://archive.org/web/web.php . Then a calendar will appear and an earlier version can be chosen.

  101. Sheesh.

    I too have problems with some of the work of some of the slayers but in addition:

    i) Anthony is wrong because even without GHGs the atmosphere would heat via conduction from the ground and would have little means of cooling other than by conduction back to the ground so I don’t see how an absence of GHGs would make it cold.

    ii) Konrad says that there would be no adiabatic descent without GHGs but there is no reason why not because air that has risen adiabatically will still cool adiabatically as it rises because of the declining pressure gradient and if it can cool it will contract and become more dense so that it can indeed descend without GHGs being necessary.


    REPLY:
    I say “Without GHG’s, the lower atmosphere would be very cold.” That includes water vapor, the most potent GHG. From Dr. Roy Spencer’s excellent essay: What If There Was No Greenhouse Effect?

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/12/what-if-there-was-no-greenhouse-effect/

    So, let’s imagine an extremely cold Earth and atmosphere, without any water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane or any other greenhouse gases – and with no surface water to evaporate and create atmospheric water vapor, either. Next, imagine the sun starts to warm the surface of the Earth. As the surface temperature rises, it begins to give off more infrared energy to outer space in response.

    That’s the Earth’s surface. But what would happen to the atmosphere at the same time? The cold air in contact with the warming ground would also begin to warm by thermal conduction. Convective air currents would transport this heat upward, gradually warming the atmosphere from the bottom up. Importantly, this ‘dry convection’ will result in a vertical temperature profile that falls off by 9.8 deg. C for every kilometer rise in altitude, which is the so-called ‘adiabatic lapse rate’. This is because rising warm air parcels cool as they expand at the lower air pressures aloft, and the air that sinks in response to all of that rising air must warm at the same rate by compression.

    Eventually, the surface and lower atmosphere would warm until the rate at which infrared energy is lost by the Earth’s surface to space would equal the rate at which sunlight is absorbed by the surface, and the whole system would settle into a fairly repeatable day-night cycle of the surface heating (and lower atmosphere convecting) during the day, and the surface cooling (and a shallow layer of air in contact with it) during the night.

    The global-average temperature at which this occurs would depend a lot on how reflective the Earth’s surface is to sunlight in our thought experiment. ..it could be anywhere from well below 0 deg F for a partially reflective Earth to about 45 deg. F for a totally black Earth.

    I thought 0F to 45F qualifies, your perception of cold may vary.

    - Anthony

  102. MikeB says (March 30, 2013 at 3:39 am): “The harm that the Dragon Slayers do is evident from a number of these comments. … a load of garbage. … stupid theories…. When this nonsense is repeated, as in these postings, it tends to give all sceptics a bad name.”
    =======================================================

    Other people can only give you a bad name if they prove that you are wrong or if they misrepresent your point. But them giving you a bad name by making their point? This is absurd, sorry.

  103. If adding CO2 truly warms the planet then there is an unexplained paradox. The existence of this paradox is strong evidence that CO2 does not warm the planet, regardless of whichever theory is currently popular. Until this paradox can be fully explained there is no justification for claiming with any certainty that CO2 warms the planet.

    The paradox is of course that as we warm the oceans more CO2 is released to the atmosphere, and as we cool the oceans more CO2 is absorbed by the atmosphere. Given the very small change in solar energy received due to the Milankovitch cycles, this change in CO2 should more than overpower any tendency towards ice age cycles.

    Once we are in an ice age, the reduced CO2 should keep us there forever. Once we are in an interglacial, the increased CO2 should prevent the next ice age. However, this is not what is observed. Thus, since observation does not match our theory, that CO2 causes warming, our theory must be wrong.

    The reason I came to WUWT was the censorship and intolerance displayed at Real Climate towards competing theories. I was very disappointed to see a positing that was apparently attacking a competing theory with comments turned off.

    I have no problem with anyone attacking a competing theory – that is the essence of the scientific method. My disappointment stems from effectively censoring all comments by turning off comments.

    However, I am encouraged to find comments restored and wish to thank our host for restoring my faith in WUWT.

  104. What is ignored in the GHG theory of CO2 is that radiation is not the only means of energy transfer in the atmosphere. In a real greenhouse warming is not a result of radiation, no matter how many scientists promote this false idea.

    In a real greenhouse the warming is created by reducing convection. If you open small windows in the ceiling of a greenhouse it has almost no change on the radiation budget, yet it has a huge effect on temperature.

    Adding CO2 to the atmosphere increases the amount of energy radiated by the atmosphere to space, as well as increasing the energy radiated to the surface. This must reduce the temperature of the atmosphere and increase the temperature of the surface. This increased temperature differential must increase convection, removing the increased energy from the surface and carrying up to the atmosphere where it warms the atmosphere.

    So we have CO2 cooling the atmosphere and warming the surface, and convection cooling the surface and warming the atmosphere. As we increase the amount of CO2, the amount of convection should also increase, reducing the effects of CO2.

    At the same time, the added CO2 is also blocking incoming solar radiation, much of which is IR. The question is this – is the amount of blocked IR incoming for the sun more than the net effects of CO2 and convection on surface temps. If so, then CO2 will have a net cooling, not warming effect on surface temps.

  105. Wow, hehehe, devolving conversation. Interesting. I see Venus interjected here and there, and I see we are also back to the Willis “thought” experiment. And the Dr. Spencer “thought” experiment (cold objects making warmer object warmer still) which is so laughable it is difficult to understand why he would even attempt such a conversation. This posting has turning into “dancing with the stars”.

    Three things, one, the Willis thought experiment is a perfect example that refutes the GHE hypothesis. The Willis thought experiment is complete and utter garbage on many levels, not to mention the total lack of competent mathematics. Second, Venus is another excellent example that refutes GHE and is proof that there is no GHE on Venus, Mars or Earth (or anywhere else in the universe for that matter). And finally, the Spencer thought experiment (Yes Virginia, cold object can make warmer objects warmer still) is an embarrassing display of the application of the physics thermodynamics. I recommend reading ALL of the conversations regarding that topic, as you will find that Spencer’s thought experiment completely fails physics 101.

    Kevin, your spot on! .. Konrad, great writing! ..

    MikeB, your a physicist? you won’t ever be working for me, that is for sure. DavidMHoffer, go back to school…

  106. The importance of the NASA paper is that it recognizes that CO2 does block incoming IR from the sun. Something that is missing in most climate energy diagrams, including the one used in this article above. (carleton)

    Take a look at the energy “cartoon” show in the article. It shows incoming radiation as “absorbed by atmosphere 22.9″. Where is the incoming radiation being shown as “absorbed by GHG”? It doesn’t. The NASA paper now establishes that this is incomplete.

    Instead the cartoon only shows outgoing radiation as “absorbed by Greenhouse gases 104.4″ Now look at this 104.4. It shows that almost all of this 97.7 is back-radiated to the surface and 49.6 is radiated to space. However, 97.7+49.6 = 147.3, not 104.4.

    So, in the process of absorbing energy, not only has GHG somehow managed to reflect almost all the energy back to the surface in violation of physics which requires radiation to have no sense of up or down, it has also managed to create energy also in violation of physics which maintains energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed in form.

    So, if this cartoon is to be used as justification that the “slayers are wrong”, I’d say the evidence is at best weak.

  107. HELP WANTED

    Does anyone know of any experimental data on whether the surface reflects any part of the back radiation which in the energy diagram is shown as a perpendicular downward energy flux.

    Backradiation is omni-directional so it follows that when back radiation ‘hits’ the surface not much of it is interacting in a perpendicular plane, and much of it is interacting at low incidence. Is any of this low incident back radiation just simply reflected by the surface and not absorbed by it?

    Water is an effective LWIR absorber. LWIR gets absorbed by water within microns (very little LWIR penetrates more than 10 microns). But does anyone know whether this hold true where the angle of incident is say less than 10 degrees to the surface? Incoming solar is largely absorbed by water but at low incidents water reflects solar, so too does ice. May the same be so with LWIR?

    The energy diagram shows that of the incoming solar radiation some 6.7% is reflected by the surface. In practice this gives a somewhat misleading impression since 46.1% (ie., 22.9 + 23.2) of incoming solar never reaches the surface. The 6.7% of incoming solar which is reflected comes from the 53.9% that makes it way through the clouds and the atmosphere so the percentage of solar that makes it way through the atmoshere and past the clouds is greater than the 6.7% figure suggests.

    I am pondering upon whether there may be some error in the absorption of LWIR in the energy diagram said to be 97.7 since it may be that some small part of that is simply reflected by the surface.

    Clouds are shown in the energy diagram as high. But what about low lying clouds, and sea mist? Would these in effect re-radiate upwards some of the back radiation so that not all of the 97.7 of back radiation interacts with the surface.

    These possible effects may only be small. However, in a balanced budget, even an error of 1% can make significant differences.

    Anyone got any comments, or better still some experimetal data.

  108. Boris Winterhalter says:
    March 29, 2013 at 12:15 pm
    Since N2 and O2 are not greenhouse gases and thus not capable of radiative transfer of energy to space, the warm N2/O2 gas would rise to higher altitudes and remain there because of buoyancy.
    =================
    I built a kinetic gas model to test this, using the equivalent of perfectly elastic balls in place of molecules. The model result was confirmed independently by other modellers over on Talbloke’s site who independently built their own models.

    In all cases the molecule arranged themselves over time to be nearly isothermal. A result that is consistent with the previous article in WUWT. A result that I found surprising at the time, which is why I tested it.

    What was happening is this. Molecules high in the atmosphere have potential energy. As they fall under the effects of gravity the PE is converted to kinetic energy, raising the temperature of the molecules. However, when molecules collide there is a slight statistical advantage in energetic molecules bounding upwards rather than down, because the atmosphere is slightly less dense above them than below. Over time these two tendancy balance out almost exactly, so that the atmosphere is isothermal without GHG.

    (note: While this seemed at first a remarkeable coincidence, thinking more on the point it does seem consistent with many effects we observe in physics, that somehow the natual word always manages to choose the path of least energy, almost as though it already knows the future.)

    What this result confirms is that the lapse rate results from adding GHG to the atmosphere. This allows some of the molecules to radiate some of their energy to space, reducing the temperature of the atmosphere at altitude, and these molecules having less energy will tend to fall towards the earth (rather than bounce upwards). Their average rate of fall is limited by gravity, and thus the dry air lapse rate is determined (limited) by the force of gravity.

    When the molecules eventually reach the surface they gain energy from the warmer surface and rebound upwards, carrying this energy hgher and higher. Some of this energy is in the form of water vapor that consenses and releases its latent energy. This additional energy warms the atmosphere above the amount that would otherwise be pedicted by the conversion of KE to PE, which is why the moist air lapse rate is less than the dry air lapse rate.

    I did not find confirmation for the explanation given in wikipedia for the lapse rate, that the work done by rising air expanding is what cools it. None of the modellers were able to recreate this, in spite of numerous attempts and many different approaches.

  109. Oh my gosh… having worked through yet another thread ultimately reduced to a “he says – she says” to and fro about backradiation I am even more encouraged in my considered opinion that “if you lay all the physicists in the world end to end they still would not reach a conclusion” about this. (Apologies to the economists to whom this is normally applied)

    ALL admonish all others to learn the physics and do the math but no two of them can agree about the correct physics and math to do. Do you people even listen to yourselves?

    For me, ignorant sceptic and denier and whatever else I am, but with pretty reasonable logic skills (engineering studies and been making a living from application software development, working solo, for 25 years now) the only path is to say that if an explanation does not make intuitive logical sense to me, I care nought for yet another version of the math or physics but want to see replicated experimental evidence.

    Failing that, my own (long and deeply considered) view is as valid as that of any of you guys. I say the AGHE is b***s**t. So there.

    In contrast, the adiabatic lapse rate explanations make perfect logical and intuitive sense. I have considered it thoroughly. So there.

    REPLY:
    but not thoroughly enough to see that you are deluding yourself – Anthony

  110. ****
    DaveG says:
    March 29, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Anthony. You got your nickers in a knot and have gone off half cocked. check your coffee. The dragon slayers are good guys. The same as you!
    ****

    Nope. They don’t understand radiational physics, and so are a liability to correct science.

  111. GabrielHBAy;
    ALL admonish all others to learn the physics and do the math but no two of them can agree about the correct physics and math to do. Do you people even listen to yourselves?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Physicists from both sides of the debate are in general agreement about the GHE. It may not seem so from threads like this because it is difficult to tell who has a real understanding of the physics and who doesn’t. But when you line up say Joel Shore, an ardent warmist with a PhD in physics who is a professor at Purdue, with say Richard Lindzen, an ardent skeptic with a PhD in physics who is a professor at MIT, you’ll find very little daylight between them on this issue. Where they disagree is on the order of magnitude and sign of direct and feedback effects.

    That is what makes this debate so difficult. From this thread, you might conclude that I’m a warmist. I’m not. I’m a skeptic. Find as many actual physicists as you want and you will find that very few of them disagree on the main aspects of the GHE itself.

  112. squid2112

    the Dr. Spencer “thought” experiment (cold objects making warmer object warmer still) which is so laughable

    The Willis thought experiment is complete and utter garbage

    Venus is another excellent example that refutes GHE

    the Spencer thought experiment (Yes Virginia, cold object can make warmer objects warmer still) is an embarrassing display
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Anthony.
    I’m beginning to think that your initial instinct to simply close comments was the right one.

    REPLY: Yeah I think I’ve had enough. This is going nowhere, it is the same tired arguments over and over again from the Slayers – Anthony

    • Comments are closed. I’m taking the weekend off rather than waste time on this circular argument with the Slayers.

      Feel free to be as upset as you wish, and have a happy Easter.

Comments are closed.