The Spencer Challenge to Slayers/Principia

Principia_bogusDr. Roy Spencer has made a challenge to the Slayers/Principia folks who keep insisting the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist at all. For example, see the front page claim at right from the Principia web page where they claim the greenhouse effect is “bogus”.

My view has always been that it exists. and has been effectively modeled as well as observed/measured (up to a point, so far I don’t know of a full scale measurement being done for the entire vertical column of the atmosphere), but likely isn’t the catastrophic issue portrayed by alarmists due to climate sensitivity likely being low.

Dr. Spencer’s challenge is quite simple and rooted in science; to prove their case, he simply wants them to make a simple model like this one below to demonstrate the absence of a greenhouse effect, while at the same time handling the measured energy budget of the Earth.
simple-model-of-sfc-temp-from-K-T

So far, he’s attracted lots of blowback rhetoric, but no serious takers. I doubt there will be.

Dr. Spencer sums it up pretty well as to why a cogent rebuttal is not likely:

If and when they answer my challenge to provide a quantitative model of surface temperature change, I might change my mind. But they must first provide a time-dependent model like that above which involves energy gain and energy loss terms, which is the only way to compute the temperature of something from theory. Those energy gain and loss terms must be consistent with experimental observations, and (of course) the physical units of the terms must all be consistent.

But I don’t see how they can ever do that, because they will ignore the hundreds of watts of downward emitted IR radiation from the sky, an energy flux which is routinely observed with a variety of instrumentation, and explained with well-established theories of radiative transfer and laboratory evidence of the infrared absorption characteristics of various gases.

And later in comments:

All they have to do is provide an energy budget equation that produces the observed average surface temperature of the Earth, and support the values for the energy fluxes with observational evidence. They have not done this. In fact, they cannot do it because they would need to find an extra 300+ W/m2 of energy somewhere, otherwise they cannot explain observed surface temperatures.

As he says its “put up or shut up” time. Read it all here:

Time for the Slayers to Put Up or Shut Up

I doubt the Slayers/Principia folks will learn anything from Dr. Spencer’s challenge, as they’ve reached almost a cult like status in this belief, and once it reaches that status, minds start closing to the possibility of the central idea being wrong. Most of the belief is predicated on a simple misinterpretation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and how the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere (a misnomer) actually operates, slowing the transfer of Long Wave Infrared from the surface of the Earth to the top of the atmosphere. You’ll see the “a colder object can’t heat a warmer object” argument being bandied about as proof of their belief, but it is a strawman argument that doesn’t represent what actually goes on in the GHG slowing of LWIR transfer to TOA.

In fairness, I’ll borrow a phrase from a skeptic movie title: Not evil, just wrong“.

These folks mean well, but they’ve latched onto an idea that just doesn’t work. Some of the main players, such as Doug Cotton and John O’Sullivan have gotten so entrenched and angry that they have made persona non gratas of themselves here and at some other blogs.

“If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.”

Like Dr. Spencer,  if and when they are able to provide a simple working model of the atmospheric energy balance that matches their theory with observations, I’ll be happy to take another look at the idea here.

In the meantime, it’s just a Sisyphus style table pounding time sink, and one has to know when to step away from the argument until such time something of substance is presented.

44 thoughts on “The Spencer Challenge to Slayers/Principia

  1. Why is there any convection loss to a vacuum?

    REPLY: Why does the sun heat the Earth across the vacuum of space? Surely it isn’t the convection we observe via those spectacular images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory and other means. – Anthony

  2. His model ignores the most fundamental fact, the rotAtion of the earth.

    Didn’t we just recently have a discussion about the temperature of the moon surface. When facing the sun, the temp goes to what, 130 C? When not, it plunges to -140 C ish.

    On Earth, the atmosphere moderates these temp extremes.

  3. Is it possible that the Slayer issue with the Greenhouse Effect is that ON A PRACTICAL LEVEL they are not seeing results sufficient to put the Effect into their so-what-does-this-mean-for-our-lives worldview? A Pragmatism gone to an absurd level?

    It would be like saying Relativity Theory isn’t real FOR PUBLIC OR MILITARY POLICY, without putting in the caveat.

    If there is sufficient CO2 already for the amount of IR being produced, more CO2 has little effect. On a practical level, one might say the Greenhouse Effect doesn’t exist – the “effect” is only an effect, after all, if there is a noticeable difference in the world.

    Is this really all the Slayers are saying: CO2 is not a hanging chad that could determine the course of American history?

  4. Anthony: “Why does the sun heat the Earth across the vacuum of space? Surely it isn’t the convection we observe via those spectacular images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory and other means.”

    Huh? The sun heats the Earth by convection across space?

    REPLY: Um, no. OK I suppose I have to add a /sarc. I forget you slayers don’t get the humor. – Anthony

  5. IRatm warming the always warmer Tsfc is where I get twitchy.

    I would like to see how that happens. I cannot find any explanation anywhere that supports the claim that IR from a cooler source can warm up a body already radiating at a higher temperature.

  6. Nicholas James says:
    May 11, 2013 at 10:32 am

    > His model ignores the most fundamental fact, the rotAtion of the earth.

    Oh come on, how many words have been spent on that? There’s a huge difference between a 24 hour and 28 day rotation rates. There’s a huge difference between an atmosphere with clouds and a hard vacuum.

    While it’s interesting to compare two systems that are slightly different, differences of this magnitude make it very hard to apply what you learn one to the other.

  7. Forgive me if this is a dumb question, but here goes. Spencer says the adiabatic lapse rate exists because of the “greenhouse effect” and “without the greenhouse effect, there would be no decrease in atmospheric temperature with height”.

    If this is so, then it seems to me measuring long term changes in the adiabatic lapse rate would be a direct measure of the sensitivity of the greenhouse effect to CO2. In other words if CO2 is a strong driver of the greenhouse effect, then increasing CO2 would result in an increasing adiabatic lapse rate.

    If so, is this measurable and have any such changes been seen?

  8. Anyone who manages greehhouses would quickly recognize, and say, the earth and it’s atmosphere IS a greenhouse.
    Having learned to manage them, I’m thankful to live in this one that manages itself.

  9. The equation can be simplified by doing energy and mass balances on the polar regions during the three months of darkness. During those periods, there is an inversion in the atmosphere and it is warmer than the surface and will radiate accordingly. I have found a very strong “greenhouse effect” associated with water in the atmosphere. Not so with CO2. http://www.kidswincom.net/CO2OLR.pdf.

  10. Slayers seem to fall into 2 broad categories.

    Most extreme are those who reject even the possibility of back radiation leading to warming as a fundamental violation of the sacred 2nd law of thermodynamics. These are the folks who have fallen at the first hurdle, and are victims of the maxim “a little knowledge is dangerous.”

    They have understood that the 2nd law prohibits heat from flowing from a cooler to a warmer body on its own accord, but have confused the meanings of heat and energy, and that the GH effect is not the same as this alleged heat transfer.

    The second group accept the possibility that back radiation can have this GH effect in theory, but then counter claim that CO2 actually cools the Earth by radiating half the incident IR that falls from the sun back into space, since, the claim that this is greater than the downward welling IR from the Earths surface.

    There have been so many attempts on this blog to engage in a positive fashion with slayers to no avail. If there is any way to make them see the errors of their ways, it lies far beyond the ability of blogs. They would need to be locked in a room with Dr Spencer for 5 days, while he systematically breaks their beliefs down and then proceeds to build up a correct understanding block by block.

    Any takers?

  11. Yes. Second Law of Thermodynamics. Please look at this graph air temperature is dropping while surface temperature is climbing. Later air temperature climbs rapidly while surface temperature is falling. ‘Greenhouse gases’ in the atmosphere are responding to the changing levels of sunlight. Surface response to sunlight levels are slow due to high thermal time constant of solids as opposed to gases.

    These folks mean well, but they’ve latched onto an idea that just doesn’t work.

    Please at least show a link to an explanation that explains clearly why their ‘idea’ doesn’t work.
    Why isn’t this common knowledge? Please do NOT point to MODEL explanations.

    REPLY:
    Sorry, no. The onus is on you. – Anthony

  12. Here’s the comment I just posted over at Roy Spencer’s blog.

    Lets give ‘em two things, Harry [another commenter]. First, by restricting the clear window, the wings on the Co2 radiation bands will intensify radiation at the surface slightly but the result will be more window radiation, not more LW radiation at TOA.
    Second, the more intense surface IR radiation will elevate surface temperatures slightly, enough to raise window radiation to compensate. Its a very small effect, especially when you take convection into account.

    But classic thermodynamics says two things. The lapse rate is specified by g/Cp. But you must specify a temperature to get the complete curve. Some prefer to specify a surface temperature but that leaves the TOA temperature wild since you must follow the lapse rate to get to TOA. Others prefer to specify the TOA temperature to equal the Planck temperature (-18C) then follow the lapse rate down to the surface. This gets mixed up with radiation theory because now one must figure out what altitude to associate with the Planck temperature. But the surface temperature does depend on the mass of the atmosphere, viz:

    Tp/Ts = (Pp/Ps)^((𝛶- 1)/𝛶)

    Where:
    Tp = Planck temperature
    Ts = Surface temperature
    Pp = Planck pressure as defined above
    Ps = Surface pressure

    ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adiabatic_process

    Please note that the surface pressure is simply the mass of atmosphere above a unit of surface area, or 14.7 lb/in².

    The second thing that thermodynamics says is that a spontaneous process operating in a closed system must result in increased entropy. Entropy will reach its maximum when the universe is all at the same temperature, cold and dead.
    To reach this, the earth must radiate to space and any spontaneous process operating on the earth must act to assist this. This requires that the spontaneous process of moist convection must act to cool the earth, therefore, any representation that the water cycle warms the earth is an egregious error, feedbacks from moist convection are necessarily negative (as Roy has clearly shown) and overall climate sensitivities are lower than the Planck sensitivity.

    Greenhouse theory provides at most a minor perturbation to surface temperature which washes out as soon as convection becomes effective, and certainly at altitudes well below those visible to the tlt temperature measurements you (Roy) report.

    So, don’t worry about the greenhouse effect, Roy. You can’t see it.

    ================================================================
    (ADDED BY ANTHONY)

    At his blog Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says:
    May 11, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    Pochas, you are deceiving yourself when you say:

    “But you must specify a temperature to get the complete curve. Some prefer to specify a surface temperature but that leaves the TOA temperature wild since you must follow the lapse rate to get to TOA. Others prefer to specify the TOA temperature to equal the Planck temperature (-18C) then follow the lapse rate down to the surface.”

    But how exactly did you come up with that temperature, and from what altitude? You are cheating by assuming an existing temperature, without explaining from first principles why that temperature is what it is. That’s what GHG gas theory provides…start a simple 1D model at any initial temperature profile and it will converge close to what is observed.

    All you are saying is, start with this observed temperature at some altitude and assume a quasi-adiabatic lapse rate. Well, duh. You have explained nothing.

  13. This is a fantastic topic, and I relish the thought of reading about it in full.

    So far I remain unconvinced that greenhouse effect exists at all, but this is mainly because so far I have heard no good argument for it, and the existence of greenhouse effect needs proof, as is not obvious.

  14. As co-author of the “book not to be mentioned” and one who has followed this three sided debate extensively for a decade, I can reply, if allowed. It was obvious that the Warmongers were wrong from the beginning, what was less obvious is that some of the fundamental flaws were accepted by the group who first smeared as “deniers”. This group is actually two groups, those supporting the GHE with limited warming, and those who realize that a cooler object cannot radiate ‘heat’ to a warmer object.

    In July 2010, Dr Roy (his chosen nom de plume) wrote an article “Yes Virginia, A Cooler Object Can Make a Warmer Object Warmer Still” supporting this flawed concept. I countered with “Rocket Scientists Need NOT APPLY” explaining that if you prove your hypothesis with a flawed experiment, then your hypothesis is AXIOMATICALLY FALSE. This was prior to the controversial unmentionable book, which was published in Nov 2010.

    An more detailed critique of Dr Roy was by Chemical Engineer, Dr Pierre Latour in his “No Virginia, Cooler Objects Cannot Make Warmer Objects Warmer Still” posted at the website that is not to be mentioned. Also that this website is the Joe Postma, MBS Astronomy analysis of the GHE flat, non-rotating, constant insolence model that REQUIRES the magical back-radiation energy to balance. Also posted is the Dr Nasif Nahle experiment to measure any of this mysterious Earth warming energy, along with other articles on the one billionth of second absorption/emission cycle and it’s longer wave length, lower energy emitted photon.

    This is a three sided debate in which two sides will be proven wrong. We are confident in our understanding of first principles. We welcome this long overdue debate.

    “Classical Thermodynamics….is the only physical theory of universal content which I am convinced will never be overthrown” ~ Albert Einstein

  15. So we have someone else declaring ‘settled science’ – as Prof Ivar Giaever said about the APS support of ‘global warming’ “Incontrovertible is not a scientific word. Nothing is incontrovertible in science.”

    To cross post my comment on Roy’s blog – which has not yet received a reply:


    Ian W says:
    May 10, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    “Well, how does the air up there ever cool if not for greenhouse gases?” [quote from one of Roy’s responses to a post]

    Indeed. This is a question that raises another. Given an atmosphere at say 280K of just Oxygen and Nitrogen and no IR from the surface. If CO2 is added to that mixture it will be heated by collisions and start radiating infrared in all directions. I don’t see that term of CO2 cooling the non-radiative troposphere by allowing O2 and N2 to cool. It is only ever shown as CO2 warming O2 and N2 by being excited by infrared from the surface then having a collision before it re-emits.

    So your budget diagram is missing an arrow showing CO2 cooling the troposphere by emitting energy gained from collision with the molecules of the non-radiative gases. Upward radiation being far less likely to be reabsorbed than downward this would lead to cooling – as you agree it does higher in the atmosphere.

    While I must admit the repeated restated arguments are obviously maddeningly irritating especially when one feels there is no logic at all. I am not sure that shutting down scientific debate is the way to go – nobody learns anything. Perhaps for common claimed falsifications such as: the warm body heating a hot body; or, the atmospheric lapse rate being solely due to gravity and so-on; there should be a ‘refutation page’ with the refutation of this common argument. Then instead of getting wound up with someone who perhaps has never been in this debate before and ‘jumping on them’ — which can be quite startling to a someone who thought they were putting forward a logical reasoned scientific argument — they could be referred to the refutation page – with for example: See refutation #42 of that [common argument]. The refutation would of course not be an appeal to authority but would provide a brief refutation with references to reported empirical experiments that failed to falsify the refutation. It may be that you could even allow some level of debate on those refutations if there are several competing views. If there were such a Refutation page then it would be a significant resource, everyone would learn and most importantly nobody is scared out of pointing out the Emperor’s lack of clothes.

    REPLY: Who’s shutting down debate? A solid challenge was made. If the challenge is met with something other than the same thermodynamic sophistry we’ve seen so far, it will get discussed. In the meantime it’s just a time sink of noise. – Anthony

  16. @Joe Postma.

    Joe, don’t forget, you can’t just cobble together a model sans downward emitted IR radiation from the sky and call it done. You have to come up with a working (and that’s they key) model that fully explains the observed surface temperature of the earth without any greenhouse effect present.

    Special second law interpretations don’t count. From my view, any rebuttal that includes the “a colder object can’t heat a warmer object” argument is an automatic disqualification because it isn’t germane to what is actually going on in the atmosphere.

  17. The warmists have frequently used the words:

    The Greenhouse Effect ..”

    to mean “the AGW hypotheses”; or at least to blur the argument so that acceptance of the fact that CO2 has a ‘heat trapping’ effect automatically means that one accepts that dangerous heating is being caused by humans.

    So by now, I believe, there is a sizable group of people for whom the words The Greenhouse Effect doesn’t exist..” are shorthand for saying:

    ..The net heating effect of extra CO2 put out by all human activity is either zero or so negligible as not to be able to be measured, because the theoretical effect would be vanishingly small and the complex, real-life climate contains so many large forcings and feedbacks which act to maintain temperature between quite tight boundaries. As these forcings and feedbacks operate and the temperature swings between these boundaries in different ways at different places, any theoretical human input is lost in the noise..

  18. @Ian W

    “there should be a ‘refutation page’ with the refutation of this common argument. Then instead of getting wound up with someone who perhaps has never been in this debate before and ‘jumping on them’ — which can be quite startling to a someone who thought they were putting forward a logical reasoned scientific argument — they could be referred to the refutation page – with for example: See refutation #42 of that [common argument].”

    Do you mean something like this?

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    [Just kidding, I”ll get me coat, I am am out of this thread :) ]

  19. Joseph E Postma (May 11, 2013 at 10:39 am)
    We have something to put up and are writing a response article for you specifically addressing the request.

    Well…JEP… I’m still waiting. I have been waiting for some time now.

    Joseph E Postma says: May 11, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Anthony: “Why does the sun heat the Earth across the vacuum of space? Surely it isn’t the convection we observe via those spectacular images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory and other means.”

    Huh? The sun heats the Earth by convection across space?

    No, fool, this is why nobody can argue with you. When your f***ed up POV is questioned you simply head into the wacky world of misquote and misdirection. You are far worse than our idiot greens.

    I have an idea JEP. Set a kettle boiling and shove your hand into the ‘steam’. If it hurts then re-examine your view of ‘Greenhouse’ gasses. (children – do not do this at home without consulting a ferkin ADULT (that is not JEP)) .

  20. It seems to me that the slayers etal are trying to use as simple a model of climate as the Global Warming crowd. Neither group are right because climate is a vastly complex system of multiple inputs interacting in an intricate dance. It is the study of this incredibly complex system that we have lost 20+ years on because of the AGW crowd. Energy, research, and money that could have gone into mapping out and finding what actually has an effect on the climate instead go to defend and prop up a single theory while treating any other datum as heretics.

    The sky dragon/Principia crowd are very much in danger of doing the same thing by focusing on a tiny corner of the climate and claiming that is the driver for the whole system. This is the same error embarrassed by the AGW crowd and their computer models focusing on CO2 as the primary driver of climate.

    Climate appears to be an incredibly complex system which we do not understand most of what is going on in it. We have bits and pieces and can see some of the mechanics, but because we don’t know the whole larger scope we fail when we try to make longer term predictions about it.

    You can step back and look at the smaller cycles in the climate and make general predictions but even there they will be subject to reality not what the predictor says. Even with that we don’t know enough to predict when a pattern might change. One of the problems is that we have only been keeping really good records in recent decades. Before that while there are records that stretch back further they are regional and all of that makes the larger patterns difficult to truely anticipate.

    What we need is another 20 or 30 years of good research before we might have a chance of confidence in longer term predictions. Anyone who tells you that they can predict the future of the climate accurately is just guessing. It might be an educated guess but at this time it is just a guess.

  21. Unless I missed it, no one is looking at Willis’ last post. Clearly, the sun heats the surface, it reaches a maximum temperature, and then cools after the sun sets. Factors include apparently water vapor, e.g. altered heat capacity, evapotranspiration, weather (rain). Water vapor needs to be included since coastal Tmax/Tmin differences are much less.

    Several pieces are missing on the diagram. A big arrow of IR going to space. An atmospheric reservoir of (thermal) energy. A smaller IR arrow going from the surface to the atmosphere. An arrow of convection going from the surface to that reservoir (can include heats of water evaporation and condensation in that). Then finally, IR radiation from the atmospheric reservoir going half to space and half back to the surface (or properly adjusted proportions based on data/theory). I haven’t included clouds, but that could be done, which would affect the big incoming solar energy arrow as well as the rest.

    Leaving out the atmospheric reservoir and the partitioning leads to a warped (mis)understanding of the system. And isn’t that a political necessity? Is it lying when you leave out important information?

  22. Start with the most recent global average temp, move back in time only taking only data points with lower temps. You should end up with a log normal curve that correlates with GHG levels.

  23. Atmospheric warming by CO2 was calculated by the activist Stephen H. Schneider
    of Columbia with the groundbreaking value of 3.7 W/m2 per doubling of CO2-content,
    the climate sensitivity. Today, all warming values rest on his calculations.
    Afterwards, his sensitivity calculations were scrutinized by 4 real atmospheric physicists,
    G. Gerlich, Dlugi, G. Kramm and R. Tscheuschner. They all rebutted his calculations
    as faulty, wrong, misleading. The following next step in real climate science would have
    been a rebuttal of their rebuttal by following their arguments and identifying their
    mistakes. Until today, this step is still outstanding…. and instead of it, CO2-warmism
    makes up its own interpretation…and still carries on with the wrong Schneider model
    of climate sensitivity. There are plenty of self-incencing people …. but to get
    to the real bottom of the CO2-matter, the rebuttal of the aforementioned rebuttal has
    to be presented first instead of continuing based on the Schneider activism. JS

  24. [Science Officer] “Captain … sensors are indicating 400 ppm CO2 !”

    [Navigation Officer] “Captain … We have crossed the Critical Desalinization Point !”

    [Medical Officer] “HealthBay … emergency discharge of O2, N, and smartly.”

    [HealthBay] “Aye sir …. emerging discharging of O2, now, proceeding smartingly.”

    [Weapons Officer] “Say … anybody got-a Bic so I can flame up me fag ?”

    [Capitan] “Here … [tosses his Bic to the Nav-O] use mine. What was THAT … emergency discharge of O2 ? NO NO WAIT …”

    Wooooouuuuuuuuusssssshhhhhhhhhhhh

    [Narrator] And for the briefest of brief moments the Good Ship Lucifer became the brightest of bright stars in the Heavens [as the orchestra plays ‘God Shave The Queen’ to the thunderous applause from the Peanut Gallery].

    :D

  25. pochas says:
    May 11, 2013 at 11:15 am
    Here’s the comment I just posted over at Roy Spencer’s blog.

    The second thing that thermodynamics says is that a spontaneous process operating in a closed system must result in increased entropy. Entropy will reach its maximum when the universe is all at the same temperature, cold and dead.
    To reach this, the earth must radiate to space and any spontaneous process operating on the earth must act to assist this. This requires that the spontaneous process of moist convection must act to cool the earth, therefore, any representation that the water cycle warms the earth is an egregious error, feedbacks from moist convection are necessarily negative (as Roy has clearly shown) and overall climate sensitivities are lower than the Planck sensitivity.

    Bringing in entropy is important, another pointer to the failure and non-physicality of the AGW narrative. Spontaneous convection processes involve nonlinear/nonequilibrium pattern dynamics, and these have been described by Matthias Bertram as “exporting entropy”. Here is an excerpt from his PhD thesis:

    “The concepts of self-organization and dissipative structures go back to Schrodinger and Prigogine [1–3]. The spontaneous formation of spatio-temporal patterns can occur when a stationary state far from thermodynamic equilibrium is maintained through the dissipation of energy that is continuously fed into the system. While for closed systems the second law of thermodynamics requires relaxation to a state of maximal entropy, open systems are able to interchange matter and energy with their environment. By taking up energy of higher value (low entropy) and delivering energy of lower value (high entropy) they are able to export entropy, and thus to spontaneously develop structures characterized by a higher degree of order than present in the environment.”

    This concept of “exporting entropy” directly relates to your entropy argument vis-a-vis the Thermodynamics laws. This Bertram quote is mentioned on a previous WUWT thread

    I have always felt that the climate questions cant really be answered without bringing nonlinear / chaotic dynamics into the equation – it would seem that there is a “nonlinear thermodynamic” argument here of some significance.

    I am troubled by the hostility to the “slayers” – it the difference between a weak CO2 greenhouse effect and zero effect one that we are able to resolve and prove as settled science? No. The “slayers” position is originally that of Ferenc Miskolczi, as set out in his original paper It is further developed in this new Miskolczi model.

    The core of this model is basically the Willis Essenbach model of tropical cloud convection and thunderstorms shedding excess heat. Miskolczi’s mathematical formulation of an atmosphere optical depth auto-adjusting to maintain radiation equilibrium is really just “anticipating Willis”.

    If Roy Spencer is asking for a model, here is that model. What Roy Spencer should do if he disagrees with the “Slayers” is refute the original Miskolczi paper point by point. I doubt that this would be easy for him or anyone.

    Here is a key quote from Miskolczi 2007:
    The purpose of this study was to develop relevant theoretical equations for greenhouse studies in bounded semi-transparent planetary atmospheres in radiative equilibrium. In our terms the local radiative equilibrium is a unique instantaneous state of the atmosphere where the upward atmospheric radiation is balanced by the short wave atmospheric absorption and the net exchange of thermal fluxes of non-radiative origin at the boundary. In general, the thermal structure of the atmosphere assures that the absorbed surface upward radiation is equal to the downward atmospheric radiation. It seems that the Earth’s atmosphere maintains the balance between the absorbed short wave and emitted long wave radiation by keeping the total flux optical depth close to the theoretical equilibrium values.

    On local scale the regulatory role of the water vapor is apparent. On global scale, however, there can not be any direct water vapor feedback mechanism, working against the total energy balance requirement of the system. Runaway greenhouse theories contradict to the energy balance equations and therefore, can not work.

  26. I don’t know the “slayers” but I expect that “delta” comes into it, where delta = accepted uncertainty. For example, I state pi = 355/113. Pedants may reply that this equals 3.1415929 and not 3.1415926, but it remains that all of man’s creations have been built to pi values less precise than 355/113, so what’s the difference? I am a “slayer” on 355/113, because the delta of 0.0000003 is simply beneath the threshold of notice. I expect most or all “slayers” similarly hold that future increases of CO2 confer heat increases beneath the threshold of notice. It’s just a scalar question: how much more heat is retained by 1000ppm than 400ppm? The slayers say close to zero, skeptics say 1C-2C, alarmists say 5C-10C. No need to be upset about the slayers, they may even have charming secret handshakes!

  27. It seems to me that there is much ado about nothing with respect to the greenhouse effecf. The actual effect is obviously the product of interaction between the substances making up the atmosphere and the combined effect of their physical properties. It seems pointless to argue over details when, in any event, simple observation shows that the AGW meme is unsustainable. And doing so only opens the door for alarmists to challenge that simple fact.

    Dodgy Geezer, you pegged it when you said that regardless of details, the message is still and always that human forcings are too small to measure or to have causation definitively attributed to them. That fundamental truth will not change as a result of differences of findins or opinion over such details as radiative or adiabatic effects, because it is quite apparent that such differences are immaterial to the total picture.

    I think our message should be that while there may be differences of opiniion regarding some details, these difference DO NOT change the very solid and observationally demonstrable conclusions that (1) man’s activities DO NOT discernibly affect climate, and (2) even if it could be established that they do, no harm is done.

    Whenever skeptics are questioned, the common response should be that regardless of details, AGW is nugatory and must not be the basis of political and exconomic policy decisions. None of those details can disprove this immutable fact, and I don’t really see anyone arguing that they can, so why make an issue of them? We already know the Earth isn’t flat, and debating the exact degree of its oblateness won’t change that basic fact. Such discussions are necessary to refine the science, but it should be made clear that they are a sidebar to the basic message. Otherwise, they’re just an opening for people whose agenda must be resisted and stopped at all cost.

  28. In July 2010, Dr Roy (his chosen nom de plume) wrote an article […]

    Err.. yea. He’s not real. Probably some CIA code name. (Anthony can you allow this one?) … JAO … you are a complete DICK!

  29. A couple of articles well-backed from the area of statistical thermodynamics would be an excellent (and well-reusable) addition to the “colder warming warm” discussion.

    That is: illustrations of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ boxes at the individual (and very small number!) of atom level where the atoms leave trailing indicating velocity. Putting the boxes together. Calculating and demonstrating the -net- energy flow.

    And then showing the instantaneous effect of an atom leaving the ‘cold’ zone for the ‘hot’ zone. (“Cold” warming “hot”).

    This is just not an area of scientific debate. If I recall correctly there are even a couple conclusive direct experiments of the type I’ve outlined that have been performed.

  30. Hoser says:
    May 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Thank you – a far more detailed presentation of the point that was attempting to make on missing energy flows. The missing flows and reservoirs mean that the formula developed is also incomplete and probably incorrect. So if the results of plugging in values to the formula gives the expected outcome, then the formula, the variables and the values plugged into them are almost certainly also incorrect.

    But note – under the new rules your point will not be discussed as you have to develop a fully documented mathematical model of your own not just point out that there appears to be an error/omission in the one proposed. This is my concern about inadvertent shutting down of debate.

    I am sure it is really irritating for Anthony et al to see the same points made repeatedly (and often by the same person); but care needs to be taken not to throw baby out with the bathwater.

    @plain Richard – I note that you snipped my post just before I say: “The refutation would of course not be an appeal to authority but would provide a brief refutation with references to reported empirical experiments that failed to falsify the refutation.” I believe that removes much of SKS as a source. :-)

  31. Well it would be ridiculous to deny that there IS radiative heating, obviously without it the energy from the sun wouldn’t heat the atmosphere, and those nifty parabolic IR heaters you get at Costco wouldn’t work either.

    The problem is that once that energy is converted to thermal, some people still think that vast quantities of radiative energy is still at play. In fact, the CO2 model of ping-pong ball style radiative downwelling and whatever, while it can be shown to actually occur, is too minor of a player to even worry about.

    And I also agree with Dodgy Geezer, most people that I know who say “there is no greenhouse at all” are using that as shorthand for “the effect is not significant enough to cause catastrophe”, or even measurable in a meaningful sense. (Although, yes, there are some who really think it’s zero).

    Once the energy from the sun is measurable as “heat” in the atmosphere or upper ocean layers, the major mechanism moving it around is convective, not radiative. It isn’t until that heat is transported far enough upward to radiate back into space that radiative effects have impact. It really only takes a small amount of logic to comprehend that there is no radiative imbalance, since eventually incoming and outgoing radiation balance out no matter what. If it was even POSSIBLE for this to not be the case we would have no life on this planet, since there have been numerous excursions into CO2 abundance and starvation.

    The major climate driver is water and water vapor. Water vapor stores and moves an immense amount of heat. We don’t actually see this because it is invisible, only appearing once clouds form, but it’s there.

  32. “What Roy Spencer should do if he disagrees with the “Slayers” is refute the original Miskolczi paper point by point. I doubt that this would be easy for him or anyone.”

    It was refuted a few days after it was published at the ClimateAudit forum.
    (In section 3.1 the special power-law case of the Virial theorem is applied to a situation in which it doesn’t apply.)

    But it makes no difference. You can lay down as many challenges as you like. Refute arguments, explain physics, offer thought experiments to try to get it through. This stuff will never die.

    Personally, I don’t mind the occasional slayer thread – it can be entertaining. The thing that bugs me is when they clutter up every other thread, on unrelated topics, so you can’t discuss anything else without getting distracted and sidetracked by their endless obsessive nonsense.

    They’ll be back.

  33. “Back radiation” like “back conduction” as non-forced transfer of heat energy from cold to warm, violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics and as such is not real physics, only imagined physics without real origin. It is truely amazing to see flocks of climate scientists including skeptics believing that the Kiehl-Trenberth heat energy flow describes actual physics. DLR as heat transfer from a cold atmosphere to a warm Earth surface, is fiction and it is not evidenced by instruments reporting readings based on the same fiction. Those who believe that the 2nd law can be circumvented are simply fooling themselves.

    Absence of “back radiation” and “back conduction” does not mean that the rate of heat transfer by radiation or conduction does not depend on the medium of transfer and the temperature gradient. In particular, the presence of IR absorbing/emitting gases in the atmosphere may influence the heat transfer from the Earth surface to outer space, just like insulation can affect the inside temperature of a house. But there is substantial evidence that the effect of doubled CO2 is too small to ever be observed, and there is no evidence to the opposite.

    REPLY:
    Ah there’s that silliness again. I find it amazing that flocks of people such as yourself describe the issue as “bogus” on your main web page, but then come here and claim it exists yet too small to be observed, or that instruments have it all wrong without offering anything of substance to back that up. You probably ought to talk amongst yourselves and get your story straight.

    – Anthony

  34. Nicholas James says:
    May 11, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Why is there any convection loss to a vacuum?

    REPLY: Why does the sun heat the Earth across the vacuum of space? Surely it isn’t the convection we observe via those spectacular images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory and other means. – Anthony

    The diagram is confusing. It does look like convection is conveying energy away from the top of the atmosphere.

    Convection moves heat around within the atmosphere and oceans. Ultimately the only way energy leaves the planet and its atmosphere is by radiation.

    Anyway, Dr. Spencer’s challenge is to explain the temperature of the surface. Convection certainly removes heat from the surface. The trouble is that the heat moves both vertically and, importantly, horizontally poleward in the atmosphere and the ocean. The diagram also ignores the heat loss due to evaporation which is very important in the tropics. So I sneer derisively at the figure of 97 W/m2 for convection in the diagram. Two significant digits, yeah give me a break.

    On the other hand, if you doubt the greenhouse effect, I have a simpler challenge for you. Explain to me how an IR thermometer works. Then explain why it doesn’t read absolute zero when you point it skyward on a cloudless night.

    I, for sure, don’t think we can easily quantify the greenhouse effect. If we want to look at the earth without an atmosphere, we can look at the moon. The subsurface temperature of the moon is approx. 23 deg. C at the equator. http://www.lunarpedia.org/index.php?title=Lunar_Temperature (the subsurface temperature of the moon was actually measured in boreholes by more than one Apollo mission link

    The average ocean surface temperature at the equator doesn’t exceed 30 deg. C. So you could argue that the greenhouse effect is responsible for maybe 7 deg. of warming not the 30 deg. that I have sometimes seen quoted. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_surface_temperature

    The point of this rant is that we are too clueless about the climate to say the things we are saying with the conviction with which we are saying them. That applies to all sides of the debate. Global warming alarmists have damaged the credibility of the environmental movement. http://www.climatescienceinternational.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=788 As Freeman Dyson says:

    I’m not saying the warming doesn’t cause problems, obviously it does. Obviously we should be trying to understand it. I’m saying that the problems are being grossly exaggerated. They take away money and attention from other problems that are much more urgent and important. Poverty, infectious diseases, public education and public health. Not to mention the preservation of living creatures on land and in the oceans.

    By the same token, folks who can’t master basic physics don’t help the skeptical side.

  35. [snip – BBBzzzzzttt! oh no not that crap again, we aren’t talking about Venus. The issue is Earth. Also, fake email address, policy violation – Anthony]

  36. ““Back radiation” like “back conduction” as non-forced transfer of heat energy from cold to warm, violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics”

    No it doesn’t.

    “It is truely amazing to see flocks of climate scientists including skeptics believing that the Kiehl-Trenberth heat energy flow describes actual physics.”

    If you think everyone around you is mad…

    But that of course is the challenge. If you think Kiehl-Trenberth is wrong, provide your own alternative. A quantitative numerical model that we can test, and that avoids all the semantic confusion of terminology.

  37. “My view has always been that it exists. and has been effectively modeled as well as observed/measured (up to a point, so far I don’t know of a full scale measurement being done for the entire vertical column of the atmosphere), but likely isn’t the catastrophic issue portrayed by alarmists due to climate sensitivity likely being low.”

    Absolutely agree !!! So nicely put to explain the skeptical position.

    I think that this passage clearly shows that there is a difference between “skeptics” & those who might be labeled with the “d” word. To lump all skeptics with the later is to not understand the skeptic position & is a dis-service to a serious discuss of the matter.

  38. At his blog Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says:
    May 11, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    “But how exactly did you come up with that temperature [-18 ºC], and from what altitude? ”

    This is the radiating temperature of the earth as seen from space, including an albedo of 0.7.
    T = (0.7 * 1365/( 4 * 5.67E-8))^0.25 = 255 ºK = -18 ºC

    • Well I’ve had my fun today and reached my GHG tipping point for silliness. Since the Principia folks don’t allow comments over at their website (lest somebody refute the Cottonian nonsense on display) I feel I’ve been more than fair in obliging comments here. I simply have better things to do today, like mow the lawn and do household chores. When/if they have something relevant in a sans GHG model that doesn’t rely on thermodynamic sophistry, we’ll consider having a look again.

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