Frostbite Falls

Guest post by E.M.Smith

Temperature Inversion

Temperature Inversion 

Original Image

The Event

We’ve recently had some very cold days in International Falls.

This posting:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/21/new-record-cold-tempertures-in-minnesota/

has a nice write up of the -46 F new record cold. ( That’s -43.33 C – still damn cold.) This is not just another “oh a record” posting. I’m asking “what does this mean about the magnitude and time scale of CO2 action?” and finding it means “not much” and “very short term”. But first, the data:

RECORD EVENT REPORT

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN

518 PM CST FRI JAN 21 2011

…RECORD LOW TEMPERATURE SET AT INTERNATIONAL FALLS MN…

A RECORD LOW TEMPERATURE OF -46 DEGREES WAS SET AT INTERNATIONAL

FALLS MN TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF -41 SET IN 1954.

Last night set a “daily record” too, but not a new “all time record”.

Here is a monthly chart so you can see if anything “interesting” happens on that scale:

Monthly Chart for International Falls January 2011Monthly Chart for International Falls January 2011 

And here is a ‘close up’ on that week in particular:

International Falls week ending 22 January 2011

International Falls week ending 22 January 2011 

The Meaning

OK, so what does this mean? Typically it means that there was a temperature inversion on a cold clear night. (I was watching The Weather Channel when they reminded me of this with a brief coverage of how this particular cold record happened). Normally, temperature decreases with altitude, during an inversion the temperature is coldest at the surface and warmer at altitude. (The “D-C” segment in the diagram up top. It is showing how air from the ‘normal’ “A-B” segment, if descended, would result in an inversion).

General Inversion Wiki

Under certain conditions, the normal vertical temperature gradient is inverted such that the air is colder near the surface of the Earth. This can occur when, for example, a warmer, less dense air mass moves over a cooler, denser air mass. This type of inversion occurs in the vicinity of warm fronts, and also in areas of oceanic upwelling such as along the California coast. With sufficient humidity in the cooler layer, fog is typically present below the inversion cap. An inversion is also produced whenever radiation from the surface of the earth exceeds the amount of radiation received from the sun, which commonly occurs at night, or during the winter when the angle of the sun is very low in the sky. This effect is virtually confined to land regions as the ocean retains heat far longer. In the polar regions during winter, inversions are nearly always present over land.

That bit about relative IR rates is the key bit, from my point of view.

The Weather Channel also pointed out that the conditions needed were:

1) Clear sky. (i.e. no cloud layer blocking IR).

2) Still air. (i.e. no turbulent processes mixing the air and a lack of convective processes).

3) Dry air. (i.e. the water vapor content had to be taken out of the air for the IR to be free to leave).

So what does that LEAVE in the air? CO2.

Now think about this for a minute. If you have ANY of: Convection, barometric driven mixing, clouds, water vapor, water droplets; then IR does not dominate. With them all removed, and with the CO2 left in place, we have the full “CO2 Forcing” in effect (but unobscured by other drivers).

And what did we get? A New All Time Record Low.

I’d like to turn this into a whole lot more, but to me it’s clear and done at this point and any “more” is “less” clear.

CO2 is completely swamped by ANY of [ convection, wind, water vapor, clouds / water drops ] and when seen acting on its own can do nothing to prevent record lows from IR radiation from the surface.

There are sidebars and sidelights, but the crux of it is just that. CO2 is a wimp, and can be ignored. Water kicks sand in its face and clouds pee in its beer while the wind gives it a wedgie.

Sidebar on timing:

Look at the daily cycles. The IR cooling process happens in less than a day. From the 20th to the 21st things plunge. Why did it not happen on the 12th to 13th? Because IR was busy being beat up by the other processes. And when they are out of the way? Overnight a plunge to “way cold” that leaves CO2 “speechless”.

This means that the IR process is measured in HOURS, not days, weeks, months, and certainly not “30 year trends”. It’s over and done in HOURS. Trying to measure it with an annual average is folly of the worst sort. Trying to do so when there is clear evidence that it is irrelevant in the context of water and wind is lunacy. Doing it while completely ignoring clouds, humidity, and winds, as the “Annual Global Average Temperature” does is a bastard cross of folly with lunacy. “Just say no.”

Sidebar on Water and Wind

The Weather Channel put up two graphics. I don’t know if they were “typical” or actual data from the location, and I can only describe them here (i.e. I don’t have links… yet…)

One showed ‘normal conditions’ with it -40 F at altitude and something like -8 F at the surface, the other showed the inversion with it being -43 F at the surface (last night) and something like -15 F at 5000 feet. They then went into the above referenced discussion of the importance of ‘still air’ and low humidity to allow radiative cooling of the surface.

This made one thing very clear to me: Much of the “surface temperature” we measure is in fact measuring how much “vertical mixing” has happened (or not). We can get 30 F range based on how much vertical mix is going on? And nobody is taking that into account in the “Global Average Temperature”?

Where are the data on vertical mixing rates globally? Do we even have a clue how they change over time? Over 60 year PDO cycles? We’ve got 3 orders of magnitude “more there there” in the vertical mixing range than in the 1/100 C variations they are panicked over in “Global Warming” and it is being ignored?

Now look at that daily data again. Yes, there is wind moving things down from Canada, but it’s not the lateral displacement that is dominant here, it’s the vertical displacement. The lateral is taking several days to work, the vertical is much faster. There are “microbursts” that can down an airliner (over 2000 fpm downdrafts) and the distance we are talking about is 5000 feet. I make that 2.5 minutes time scale.

I’ve noted for a couple of years now that ever since the sun went quiet, the vertical atmospheric ‘thickness’ got compressed to thinner, and the PDO flipped: that the winds were more “bursty” and with more “vertical component” (in comments on various threads, many at WUWT). Now I think we have “why it matters”. Just ask the folks in Frostbite Falls…

Now, as that thinner colder layer gets colder (as has happened up North) we get more water vapor turned into ice crystals (all that snow on the ground as well as the ice in noctilucent clouds) and with more GCR (cosmic rays) making more condensation, if it’s more COLD condensation as ice, we get that “clear cold dry” air.

Conclusion

So, in the end, it’s all about what happens to the water, what happens to the wind, and what drives the clouds.

And even just ONE clear, dry, cold night with CO2 doing all it can but resulting in a record low EVER for that location pretty much says there is not a thing of importance being done by CO2. That even just one day away is drastically different says that the CO2 is not the “driver” here, it isn’t even in the passenger seat…

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149 thoughts on “Frostbite Falls

  1. When I’m in a casual conversation with a “luke-warmer” I try to explain the difference
    between a night in the desert and in the tropics.
    The the CO2 blanket -in the the dry desert- not worth a thing. You freeze.
    90% humidity in the tropics are balmy day’n night.

  2. “That bit about relative IR rates is the key bit, from my point of view.”
    Actually, it simply says “radiation” — which would include visible radiation. If that is your “key bit”, then you clearly missed a big chunk of the energy balance involved here.
    “CO2 is a wimp, and can be ignored.”
    Just because an effect is small does not necessarily mean it can be ignored. How about you pay me just 0.1% interest on my money each day? Heck, even 0.01% per day would be better than I can get at any bank right now. Similarly, CO2 provides only a small part of the total back radiation. But a small change in that 300+W/m^2 IR would lead to noticeable changes in climate.
    Clearly CO2 has SOME effect on climate. And even 1 or 2 W/m^2 has a noticeble effect on global temperature.
    “This means that the IR process is measured in HOURS, not days, weeks, months, and certainly not “30 year trends”. It’s over and done in HOURS. ”
    Couldn’t you just as easily say” IR affects things in just hours. If you change CO2 and change IR balance, the effects would be SEEN in just hours.
    “CO2 is completely swamped by ANY of [ convection, wind, water vapor, clouds / water drops ]”
    Yep, weather is much more affected by any of those in the short term. But overall, those affects will average out to produce climate. And even a small change in any of them will change climate.

  3. The warnest temperatures always occur where there is the least amount of green house gases. That is arid regions.
    Also we should be more interested in the heat content of the atmosphere as apposed to temperature..

  4. Mick says: January 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm
    I’ve lived and worked many years in desert countries and can confirm it gets cold very quickly after sunset. In those days, during the 1970s, I wasn’t aware of AGW and accepted the nightly temperature drop as unremarkable. In Namibia I was startled many times at night by rocks cracking off pieces as the outer shell cooled faster than the inner.
    We need some current real time reports from a few desert countries that will show there is no “CO2 signature” in the so called greenhouse effect.

  5. The obvious reply from a warmist would be, “Just think how cold it would have been without all of that CO2!”
    You can’t argue with a tautology. No matter what occurs it is “consistent” with their theory.

  6. It is obvious to anyone that CO2 forcing is inconsequential. Any effect it may have on climate or weather is so minor, that it should relegate its proponents to the status. of hysterical charlatans. This hoax has gone beyond its usefulness to both politicians and grant vampires.
    I suspect that the next villains will be soot, methane (man’s contribution is so negligeble that it would be hard to define), metals, or even flush toilets. The nut cases will never stop. The problem with soot, of course, is that it is almost entirely produced in the Third World. And the enemy is the First World economies. This should be interesting.

  7. It’s that wee eensie weensie little bit of mythical CO2 “forcing” they’re trying us on with EA Smith. You know the ‘SIGNAL’ amongst the “noise”.
    Excellent logical observations like yours just knock the whole CO2 theory on the head, but the computer says naaaa.

  8. “CO2 is completely swamped by ANY of [ convection, wind, water vapor, clouds / water drops ] and when seen acting on its own can do nothing to prevent record lows from IR radiation from the surface.”
    I’d be surprised if there are there any climate boffins who would contend that convection et al do not have the potential to effect local/regional weather to a much greater degree than CO2. That seems like a given in any informed discussion of the subject that should go without saying.
    The problem is we’re still left with the fact CO2 is still there and it still adds a surface forcing. So the record cold would have been a bit colder had anthropogenic CO2 been absent. That also should go without saying.
    I don’t see how this changes the debate at all.

  9. Sure, weather isn’t climate.
    I get that. But minus 46 degrees Fahrenheit, by five degrees a record, does suggest there isn’t a warming trend this Winter for the North American continent.
    Back to the drawing board for AGW.
    The warmists will come out of the box, again, with some explanation — they always do. But everytime AGW’s do, it gets harder to rationalize their previous erroneous prognostications.
    Time is running out on the warmists!

  10. David J. Ameling says:
    January 23, 2011 at 9:58 pm
    “The warnest temperatures always occur where there is the least amount of green house gases. That is arid regions.”
    Yes but that’s also true for the coldest temperatures. Clear dry air allows the surface to heat faster during the day and cool faster at night.

  11. You cannot fight religion with logic. It will only put you on the Black-List.
    The feminists at the University of Oslo wanted to ban logic. Logic was too troublesome.

  12. An additional point is that the CO2 IR response is 80% masked by water vapour, so over most of the world it is even more insignificant. When it is dry air and the CO2 is the main GHG like deserts and ice-fields it still can’t step up to the plate.

  13. Oh come on, you are talking about a weather event, and CO2 is all about climate, at least in their minds. Weather is not climate, thus this should not have been posted.

  14. Tim Folkerts says:
    January 23, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    How about you pay me just 0.1% interest on my money each day? Heck, even 0.01% per day would be better than I can get at any bank right now. Similarly, CO2 provides only a small part of the total back radiation. But a small change in that 300+W/m^2 IR would lead to noticeable changes in climate.

    I’ll be happy to give you 0.1% on your money (CO2), heck, I’ll be happy to give you 1%. But just remember, there will be fees and charges ( water, wind, clouds).
    The most important paragraph in E Ms excellent essay is..

    This means that the IR process is measured in HOURS, not days, weeks, months, and certainly not “30 year trends”. It’s over and done in HOURS. Trying to measure it with an annual average is folly of the worst sort. Trying to do so when there is clear evidence that it is irrelevant in the context of water and wind is lunacy. Doing it while completely ignoring clouds, humidity, and winds, as the “Annual Global Average Temperature” does is a bastard cross of folly with lunacy. “Just say no.”

    Trying to attain high rates of interest when the related fees and charges will rob you blind is lunacy. Claiming 0.1% per day is substantial over a term of a year (or 5 or 10 or 30) while completely ignoring fees and charges is a bastard cross of folly with lunacy. “Just say no.”

  15. Mick says:
    January 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm
    “The the CO2 blanket -in the the dry desert- not worth a thing. You freeze.
    90% humidity in the tropics are balmy day’n night.”
    Of course you tested your hypothesis by removing the CO2 from the dry desert air and noting there was no difference.
    Oh wait… maybe you didn’t.

  16. Dave Springer says:
    January 23, 2011 at 10:39 pm (Edit)
    I don’t see how this changes the debate at all.
    #######
    it doesn’t, dave!
    EM. The AGW argument amounts to this.
    Existing Atmosphere = effective radiating altitude of X.
    Existing Atmosphere + More C02 = effective radiating altitude of X+e
    That is, when you add more C02 to the existing atmosphere the it becomes more opaque THAN IT WOULD BE WITHOUT THAT C02. That raises the altitude at which
    the atmosphere becomes transparent. which raises the altitude at which energy escapes via radiation.
    its about the delta in temp, not the temperature. So that -46 would have been colder with less C02. Warmer with more ;colder with less. Note the absence of any absolute number. C02 doesnt make it warm. it makes it warmer than it would have been with out it.
    When you raise the effective radiating altitude the heat takes longer to escape. That gives you a surface warmer than it would have been otherwise. not warm, warmer than it would have been otherwise.
    here is A bad metaphor. my blanket is colder than my skin, but it makes me warmer by delaying the transport of energy. warmer than I would be without it. A thicker blanket keeps me warmer. A nice shiny super thin space blanket keeps me very warm because it reradiates 80% of my IR back to me. But eventually, of course, i freeze.
    the question is how much warmer?

  17. Co2’s a good conductor, also in radiation throughput (can’t hold on to it). Need someone in spectometry or possibly quantum mechanics for details for it has to do with whether the molecule has a permanent magnetic moment or not. H20 does and co2 doesn’t I believe it is. Bottom line, as E.M. showed, h2o’s the big mama of warmth in this typeof situation. Co2 might even speed the loss, have read that somewhere.

  18. Just because an effect is small does not necessarily mean it can be ignored. How about you pay me just 0.1% interest on my money each day? Heck, even 0.01% per day would be better than I can get at any bank right now. Similarly, CO2 provides only a small part of the total back radiation. But a small change in that 300+W/m^2 IR would lead to noticeable changes in climate.
    Clearly CO2 has SOME effect on climate. And even 1 or 2 W/m^2 has a noticeble effect on global temperature.

    So far the change due to CO2 is not measurable. Yes, there would be a measurable change between NO CO2 and todays’ level but most of the impact from CO2 is already realized. Any additional is just not going to make any measurable difference. The impact from CO2 is logarithmic. So imagine rather than paying you a percentage in interest, I pay you in a fixed amount. The first 10ppm has some impact. The next 10ppm has less impact. The next 10ppm has even less impact. Each 10ppm I add has less impact than the 10ppm I added before.
    Water vapor is a much greater impacting greenhouse gas. The earth’s atmosphere is already nearly opaque to the frequencies absorbed by CO2 because water vapor absorbs those same frequencies and there is much more of it. Imagine you have very thick black drapes across a window. Now draw a very light shear curtain across in front of those drapes. It isn’t going to make any measurable amount of difference. Yes, in theory it will make a difference but you will not be able to measure it.

  19. I’m sorry but I don’t accept your argument.
    If you apply a small, steady, worldwide, forcing to natural variability you will (over time) get a small averaged temperature increase – no matter how much the natural phenomena individually dominate the forcing. I’m afraid this is a straw man.

  20. says that the CO2 is not the “driver” here, it isn’t even in the passenger seat…
    Hmmm. What if it is the glitch in the GPS that sends you down that dead-end road?
    CO2 is a factor in the IR budget. As Steve Mosher above says – it is warmer with CO2 than it would be without it. It is just that there is disagreement to the extent of its contribution.
    I’m no subscriber to the AGW theory, but I feel this is a poor contribution to the sceptics’ cause.

  21. There’s a fatal flaw in your logic. CO2 is the global warming gas, it likes warm, so when it saw the cold coming it scuttled off somewhere else, simples;)

  22. pat says:
    January 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm
    I suspect that the next villains will be soot
    […] The problem with soot, of course, is that it is almost entirely produced in the Third World. And the enemy is the First World economies. This should be interesting.
    I am sure soot is a major player on sunlit snow. This is why NH springtime snow cover is diminishing while it is pretty stable otherwise. Also, if soot forcing (and of course UHI) is taken into account (its efficacy is high), there’s not much room left for CO2 sensitivity.
    And there’s an even more serious problem with soot: it is completely removed from the atmosphere in a week or two by precipitation, so as soon as soot emissions are stopped, nothing is left in the “pipeline”. Also, it is not prohibitively expensive to decrease soot emissions, one just needs more perfect combustion & proper filters. It is a proven technology. To make a long story short, stop burning biomass, especially dung for cooking, use natural gas instead. Burn coal in power plants (with proper handling of smoke), not at home. Reap grass. Collect dead wood in forests and burn it in a controlled manner. Do not use small diesel engines, install filters on large ones.
    There’s also a collateral advantage in decreasing soot emissions. Soot in air (unlike carbon dioxide) is dangerous to human health.

  23. Here we go on radiation again and Steven Mosher, I see the point of what AGW proponents point out on increased opacity and the raising of the height at which unimpeded passage to space occurs. But there is an equal (or close) effect that makes co2 be the molecule that increases loss of heat that is already within the atmosphere. The more co2 the faster the atmosphere will lose it’s heat.
    It goes like this. If the atmosphere is warmer than it should at a moment, in other words the conditions are right for the atmosphere to lose heat, it can only do that quickly if it’s heat (in N2 & O2) is passed to a molecule which can radiate. Reverse thermalization.
    From everything physicists have said and I have read says this is always occurring. If the conditions say the atmosphere should get warmer, that is a hot ground and cool air, the thermalization will be occurring as AGW science tells us every day. If the ground is cold and the air is warmer the opposite is occurring, reverse thermalization. Warm n2 & o2 can’t get rid of their heat alone easily and excite the vibration mode of h2o or co2 and they will radiate. But from I have read h2o has a permanent magnetic moment (maybe it was electronic moment) and h2o hangs on to its excitation much tighter where co2 doesn’t have such permanent moment and must very instantly radiate. Only ~½ goes to space but still the more co2 you have the faster co2 can help the atmosphere cool to space.
    Aren’t you well aware of this opposite aspect? This is not exactly what Dr. Vonk was speaking of month’s ago but very related.

  24. Steven Mosher says:
    January 24, 2011 at 12:07 am
    EM. The AGW argument amounts to this.
    Existing Atmosphere = effective radiating altitude of X.
    Existing Atmosphere + More C02 = effective radiating altitude of X+e
    That is, when you add more C02 to the existing atmosphere the it becomes more opaque THAN IT WOULD BE WITHOUT THAT C02. That raises the altitude at which
    the atmosphere becomes transparent. which raises the altitude at which energy escapes via radiation.
    its about the delta in temp, not the temperature. So that -46 would have been colder with less C02. Warmer with more ;colder with less. Note the absence of any absolute number. C02 doesnt make it warm. it makes it warmer than it would have been with out it.
    When you raise the effective rSteven Mosher diating altitude the heat takes longer to escape. That gives you a surface warmer than it would have been otherwise. not warm, warmer than it would have been otherwise.

    —————–
    Steven Mosher,
    I believe Lindzen discusses what the greenhouse effect is wrt ( Lindzen’s term of )”the characteristic emission level, τ=1″ of the atmosphere. It is some more precise in Lindzen’s paper [ https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~wsoon/ArmstrongGreenSoon08-Anatomy-d/Lindzen07-EnE-warm-lindz07.pdf ] than your discussion. I take it to be a major conclusion of Lindzen that there are serious attribution issues for CO2 increases causing so called (my words) ‘observed heating at the earth surface’.
    Regards,
    John

  25. Wow, my lost first comment just reappeared. Thought it was long gone. Well, the second one’s on the same thought and written better anyway. Don’t you hate it when you make a few housekeepping changes and everything seems to go bonkers.

  26. Thanks Anthony.
    Normally these kind of posting are way above my pay grade…..but, this one I understand.

  27. Hi
    A very interesting post, the subject “temperature inversion” is something with which I am familiar, but it appears to work the other way to what is described in your post, in my particular case.
    I live out in the country in the UK, at the bottom of a shallow valley. on either side at the top of the valley is open high ground. Where I live is in described in local terminology as a “frost pocket”.
    Firstly what happens on a “normal” frosty night i.e. no temperature inversion process.
    Every time there is an anticyclone, (still air conditions), with clear sky, as the temperature falls at night, the cold air runs down the valley sides from the open common above and collects at the bottom of our valley. I have seen the oak trees in our wood at the bottom of the valley, which were in new leaf in May, totally burnt off up to 15 feet from the ground, with an exactly horizontal line marking the junction between the frost and the non frost night time low.
    Our neighbour lives 25-30 feet (vertical height) up the slope and although I might get -2 or -3 deg C frost, the same night he does NOT record a frost at all. (+1 – +2 deg C).
    Now the rare temperature inversion, Once or twice a year, when the cold air runs down into our valley, instead of it displacing the warmer air at the bottom of the valley, it slides over it, trapping the warm air under the colder blanket. If our oil CH boiler is running, after a short time we start to choke and eyes water from the fumes from the exhaust gases, although it exhausts through a roof chimney. This is because the hot exhaust fumes cannot penetrate the cold layer above, they collect as a noxious cloud at ground level. The effect lasts maybe an hour or two, then the balance changes, (I suppose due to the extra heat from the flue gases, the trapping layer disappears and we can breathe again).
    Its fun living in a frost pocket, gardening presents particular challenges! I always fall about laughing when a talking head on the TV gardening program exhorts us to start planting for hot dry drought conditions!
    regards
    Patrick

  28. This post has some of the most woefully flawed logic I think I’ve ever seen. It gets cold at night, so therefore CO2 is not a greenhouse gas? Wow. Get on to Nature with that one.

  29. To Dave Springer and others:
    The point is that this was colder than 1954, when CO2 levels were lower and we hadn’t started climbing the hockey stick curve. How does that happen unless CO2 is doing… very little?
    I think it is because CO2 levels, if they are significant, are not actually uniform across the globe. In fact we rely on temperature readings from all over the place (in weather stations of varying quality) but a single point reading of CO2 at Mauna Loa in Hawaii. I wonder how relevant that is, especially when it is considered alongside global average temperature, which is a derived measurement obtained with lots and lots of errors.
    On average, it isn’t Christmas Day, but that doesn’t mean to say that Christmas has stopped happening.

  30. If say there was much less or much more co2 in the atmosphere under the same inversion conditions would there be any effect on night time air temperature?

  31. E.M. Smith,
    The air is far more denser in the cold as water molecules(humidity) is not a factor in the atmospheric density.
    Add in centrifugal force from planetary rotation which helps force the heat energy away from the planet’s surface.

  32. “I take it to be a major conclusion of Lindzen that there are serious attribution issues for CO2 increases causing so called (my words) ‘observed heating at the earth surface’.”
    Actually No. Lindzen, Christy, Spencer, Monckton, Willis, would ALL say that
    all other things being equal more c02 means more warming. That’s just first
    order physics.
    It get’s much more complicated when you look at “all other things” but first
    order physics says more c02 = warmer than less C02.
    This is actually a proposition that is good for skeptics to accept becase all the
    STRONG skeptical arguments have to do with the “all other things being equal”
    When you argue that to a first order more C02 means a cooler earth, then you
    have severe problems explaining things.
    So, for example, you could agree as Lindzen does, that more c02 causes more warming, BUT THAT the addition warming is small and thus attributing the OBSERVED warming SOLELY to C02 is not possible yet.
    Another simple way to look at it is this.
    C02 can never cause warming.
    C02 causes warming, but the effect is too small to measure, yet.
    C02 causes some of the warming we have seen and so does internal variability
    C02 causes most of the warming we have seen, more than internal variability has.
    Nobody with any credibility argues #1. They cant.
    Some people argue #2 and they explain that the ups and downs of climate
    are due to other factors, but they admit that over time if more C02 is added,
    that the ‘ups’ will get higher. Some people argue number three. the climate goes up and down, but adding C02 over time will cause a significant rise and we may
    have already seen some of this in the 20th cnetury. And finally warmists, who dont deny the ups and downs but who see the increase in the “up” as being driven by
    human factors ( like more than half of the “up”)

  33. wayne says:
    January 24, 2011 at 1:49 am (Edit)
    Here we go on radiation again and Steven Mosher, I see the point of what AGW proponents point out on increased opacity and the raising of the height at which unimpeded passage to space occurs. But there is an equal (or close) effect that makes co2 be the molecule that increases loss of heat that is already within the atmosphere. The more co2 the faster the atmosphere will lose it’s heat.
    #####
    sorry wayne. I’ve seen no published physics that establishes that. No experiments that establish it and its totally at odds with the observational record. It makes the past less understandable no more understandable. It makes a hash of our understanding of how other planets operate.
    Back to Science of doom class for you.

  34. Easy out for the warmists: CO2 affects the average global temperature over decades and centuries, not local temperatures over a day or two. But I agree with you: why not? Why doesn’t the almighty CO2 prevent local record low temps? It’s either a warm insulating blanket or it’s not.

  35. I too am skeptical of the CO2 contribution to warming the Earth. Yes, Earth’s atmosphere does provide a “comfort blanket” of about 33C above the black-body temperature of 255K. And, yes, CO2 is a powerful absorber of IR energy in the bands you mentioned above (although I think the 15 micron band is more important here, because it’s closer to the terrestrial thermal radiation peak).
    But the question should be: how much warming effect does CO2 _alone_ have on terrestrial warming? It seems from the article above that CO2 doesn’t work unless there is water vapor to ‘assist’.
    We have an ideal planetary “CO2 greenhouse laboratory” in place on the planet Mars, whose atmosphere is 95% CO2 (with no other GHG’s to complicate the analysis), to observe how much warming is due to CO2 alone.
    Finding: Virtually no warming due to CO2 is observed.
    The Martian atmosphere is much thinner, only 1% of Earth, but because it’s almost pure CO2 the actual concentration of CO2 is about 30 times greater per unit surface area than on Earth.
    Yet the mean surface temperature is the same as the black body temperature, ~210 K, according to NASA’s “Mars Fact Sheet”:
    http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/marsfact.html
    Black-body temperature: Mars 210.1 K Earth 255 K
    Average temperature: Mars ~210 K Earth 288 K
    Conclusion: Even though CO2 is a powerful absorber of 15 micron radiation, in isolation its contribution to “greenhouse warming” is negligible.
    Whenever I bring this up, someone invariably mentions that “pressure broadening” may play a role here. Pressure broadening refers to the apparent thickening of aborption lines under high pressure. But is there really any _conclusive_ evidence or experiment that proves that this effect actually produces warming, without any help from other feedback mechanisms?
    And, getting back to Mars, why is it that CO2 doesn’t produce a lot of warming?

  36. E. M. Smith claims
    ———-
    Lots of stuff about thermal inversions, clear skys no wind, yada, yada…
    ———-
    except there is a problem. According to this there was cloud and snow.
    http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KINL/2011/1/21/DailyHistory.html?
    Can you have snow if there is a thermal inversion ?
    I became suspicious and decided to check because EM claimed, without providing evidence, that a thermal inversion based on radiation imbalance was involved, even though there is no evidence of a thermal inversion or that such a thermal inversion, if present, was not caused by some other mechanism.
    It also appears that Yahoo is attributing this particular cold snap to cold winds blowing out if Canada.

  37. This is an excellent post and it demonstrates many of the failings behind the AGW theory, not least that the land based global temperature data set is measuring the wrong metric such that there is no evidence whatsoever that the heat content of the atmosphere is actually increasing.
    The AGW crowd often argue that one cannot conduct a real physical experiment to show the effect of CO2, and yet nature has already done the experiment. For example, the temperature inversion on this frosty night. Another example would be night time temperatures in arid/desert area. And further, not least in the geological time frame, there are periods when the earth was cold yet CO2 levels were high, times when the earth was hot and CO2 levels quite low, times when CO2 levels were falling yet temperatures increased, and times when CO2 levels were increasing and yet temperatures cooled. Put all of this together and one can see that in the real world, CO2 has no significant impact and does not control temperatures.
    I also consider that there is a time period in all of this which is not fully thought through. CO2 cannot heat the atmosphere, the earth or the oceans. At most, it acts as an impediment to the loss of heat from the ground and oceans. It simply delays heat loss. As the photons seek to find there way into space, they can no longer take a straight path. Some of them hit a CO2 molecule and this bounces them in a different direction possibly down back towards the earth where at some time they hit another CO2 molecule and that bounces them in another direction possibly back up to space where upon some of them will collide with a CO2 molecule bouncing them in a different direction etc. All that is happening is that instead of a straight line exit, there is a zigzag course which takes longer for the photon to travel before eventually it finds its way out to space.
    If that is so, the question is whether the surface that has received the energy from the sun during the course of the day can sufficiently dissipate all that energy during the course of the night, or does the presence of increasing levels of CO2 mean that it can’t?
    The process that I described above happens both day and night, but there is a different energy budget between day time and night time, the effect of which is that during the day, the earth receives more energy from the sun than it can dissipate back to space such that it warms up during the day. At night, the earth is not receiving any energy from the sun and has an opportunity to dump the heat back into space. There is sufficient time during the night to mean that the next day starts off with the same energy balance as did the previous day.
    We know that whatever be the effect of CO2 in isolation, it does not significantly impede the night time dumping back of heat into space. This can be seen by night time temperatures in arid/desert areas. It can also be seen over the oceans. Over deserts, the night time temperatures quickly fall away and reach a low supported by the heat capacity/retention of the sands and rocks. The night time air temperature over the ocean is the same temperature as the ocean itself. The oceans have much more heat capacity and it is heat being radiated from the oceans during the night that keeps the air above them warm during the night and at the same temperature as the ocean below.
    CO2 in isolation is inconsequential. Further, the wavelength of the back radiation is such that it cannot in any event penetrate the ocean to any significant degree (the penetration is measured in microns whereas the energy for sun penetrates to 10s of metres) which means that it incapable of heating the oceans and if CO2 cannot heat the oceans (which represent about 99% of the heat capacity of the earth, ignoring the core/mantle), it cannot cause global warming.
    Tim Folkerts says: January 23, 2011 at 9:58 pm
    “Just because an effect is small does not necessarily mean it can be ignored.” The answer, to that observation is that an increase in something that is negligible still remains negligible.

  38. Stevo says:
    January 24, 2011 at 2:01 am
    This post has some of the most woefully flawed logic I think I’ve ever seen. It gets cold at night, so therefore CO2 is not a greenhouse gas? Wow. Get on to Nature with that one.
    ———-
    Well spotted. Actually it set the record at 2am.
    Must be a huge amount of IR back radiation at that time with no sun about.

  39. Steven Mosher says:
    January 24, 2011 at 2:35 am
    Another simple way to look at it is this.
    C02 can never cause warming.
    C02 causes warming, but the effect is too small to measure, yet.
    C02 causes some of the warming we have seen and so does internal variability
    C02 causes most of the warming we have seen, more than internal variability has.”
    Steven Mosher, you left off the most important one of all. 4 is the AGW position. You left off the CAGW position. The C being catastrophic, as in the world will end if we do not move to global transfer of wealth now. You left off that position, without which probably none of us would be either posting or reading here.
    In regard to the post I think E.M. is postulating another means for the extra energy of CO2 to be used up in accelerating a convection process of moving energy, such as the potential that some of the energy increase from CO2 is used to speed the hydrologic cycle as opposed to increasing temperature.

  40. BTW Mr Mosher, I am not saying that all the energy is used in other ways then increased temperature. I am saying that there are indications and observations that the feedbacks may be neutral or even negative and the temperature increase from a doubling of CO2 is quite possibly beneficial when the KNOWN aerial fertilization effect of increased CO2 is taken into account.
    The surface record minus ESNO cycles, (1940 ish peak to 2000 peak) is not indicative of a disaster, especially when considering that most of the increase in temperature is at night.
    Also BTW did not Spencer do an article on UHI, showing that it can and does take effect even in “growing” rural areas?

  41. @Tim Folkerts:
    Perhaps you missed that the cold parts of the cycle happen at night when it’s very low on visible ‘radiation’ and all you’ve got to work with is IR. The IR retention of CO2 is doing nearly nothing different now than back when the prior record was set. All the major variation comes from the other factors (wind, water, clouds).
    The fact that we have nearly NO accounting for that in the “Global Average Temperature” means that attributing changes in it to CO2 while ignoring the humidity ranges and the wind changes is simply a big fat error.
    I note in passing you make a near-religious leap of faith to “everything will average out” and it simply must show up in climate. Try this instead: A 4th power function will drive cooling to the limit inside hours and then you are done. We see this happen every clear cold still night. Processes driven by decadal scale drivers (like solar variation, GCR variation, volcanic variation, ocean cycles and the attendent humidity changes) will stay out of the average range for the duration of those decadal scale events.
    @Stephen Rasey:
    Gotta Luv It! I think I feel a new mascot coming on…
    @David Springer:
    It changes the understanding by pointing out the dominance of the non-CO2 factors. That on any given day we get 10’s of degrees change from things that are NOT in the drivers list for AGW Global Average Temperature, yet are clearly demonstrated. When GAT is constructed, it is done from temperatures alone. Not temperatures adjusted for wind, vertical mixing rates, humidity, cloud cover. They are IGNORED in that calculation. So here we have a clear demonstration that they amount to tens of degrees of “Forcing” and that CO2 accumulated over the years could do nothing to hold the temperature above that of the prior occasion. We’re ignoring the $100 bills we’re spending and saying that the pennies will make up for it. You can’t do that.
    You could ALMOST make a case for saying that if we had measured all the wind, clouds, humidity, etc. and they where known to be the same that then any residual belonged to CO2 (though that is still a logical error as there could be an unobserved factor); but we don’t use those things at all in calculating the temperature change. It is simply assumed that the other things do not change. Yet we know that they do…
    So this puts a bit of ‘sizing’ on things. It says “look, we got 10 F to -45 F, 55 F range, in one day then back up 40 F to about -5 F in one day all from the things that are being ignored” so we can now their size is in the 10s F range. It says “With CO2 up from 2xx to 3xx we’ve got no impact on the degree of record lows, it’s just not having any warming effect”. And it puts some timing on things. The IR heat loss proceeds to completion in a matter of hours. (Not surprising when you remember it is a 4th power function. That is going to have an incredible increase in heat loss during the hot times, but also an incredible dampening on lower bound when things cool.) It shows that even a single night window of time with [ clouds, water vapor, wind ] out of the picture and all that lovely heat is GONE. Not in a “pipeline”. Not slowly buiding up anywhere. Without water vapor holding the heat in, it leaves, and does so before sun rise. Even with greatly increased CO2. If the heat was ‘building up over months’ it could only happen if something ELSE was holding it in, as the CO2 didn’t.
    CO2 was invarient over the time period. Something else causes the variation. And if that variation lets you drop to below any prior temperature, then it is dominating CO2 even if the CO2 were slowing the IR loss. Slowing an 8 hour process to an 8.2 hour process just doesn’t change the outcome during the night.
    @Brad:
    But they keep telling us that climate is the 30 year average of weather! (When it isn’t, but that’s another posting…) so weather IS suitable for posting! 😉
    But seriously, it is important as it demonstrates the actual time scale of IR heat loss. Dramatic in one day. This was NOT a wind driven event. It was not a snowfall event. It was an IR event. And the IR left Dodge..
    @TimC:
    It isn’t an argument so much as an observation.
    And no, a small thing can not dominate large things just by being patient. What this observation amounts to is, metaphorically, this:
    There is a heat bucket into which we pour heat from the sun each day. The clouds, water vapor, and winds keep a 10 Gallon Per Minute hole plugged. We are also plugging a 1/1000 GPM hole with CO2. It’s a 100 gallon bucket. So one night the 10 GPM hole is left open and the darned thing drains dry in 10 hours. That 1/1000 GPM hole just doesn’t matter. (As every year has a few nights with the big holes opened).
    The “excess heat” just can’t “build up”. Ever.
    In less picturesque speach: You’ve got a 4th power function driving the IR losses and that is a terrible task master. Only if the IR is seriously blocked by the other things can you hold the heat in (and we are not paying attention to them when NASA calculates a GAT, so we don’t know how much ‘warming’ is from them, but we can see that CO2 alone is not holding the heat in).
    jorgekafkazar says:
    Doesn’t it have to be daytime for CO2 to do its full magic?

    It blocks the same part of the same IR window to the same degree at all times. During the day, more heat is delivered from the sun, so there is more to leak out, and we warm up (until convection sets in taking that heat to altitude and dumping it).
    Also the IR radiation function is a 4 th power function, so as things get hotter, the IR leaves hotter*hotter*hotter*hotter faster… 😉
    but frankly, it’s convection that dominates, not IR, in moving heat to altitude.
    Dermot O’Logical says:
    CO2 is a factor in the IR budget. As Steve Mosher above says – it is warmer with CO2 than it would be without it. It is just that there is disagreement to the extent of its contribution.

    The point of the observation is that it is vanishingly small and far far smaller than the other things that are ignored. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1/1000 or 1/10000 when we are ignoring the 1000000 scale events. It’s less than noise, it’s irrelevant noise.
    Further, the issue of TIMING is very important. All the “global warming EOL as we know it” is based on the heat accumulating. But this shows that it leaves in hours. It doesn’t have a nice big heat battery being charged. Just clouds, water, and winds messing with the thermometers and the heat transfer rates.
    It’s not that CO2 has no impact on IR, it is that IR in total happens way too fast and water vapor is way more important, so any Global Average Temperature calculation that ignores global athmospheric water vapor is like calculating the incremental impact on your lifespan from 1 gm of butter added to your lifetime diet and ignoring the heart attack in progress.
    @IanM: Darn, I mssed that! 😉
    @Stevo:
    You missunderstand the points. It’s not that CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas, it’s that it is of no importance compared to the ones we are ignoring and that when they are out of the way, we get a very cold day even colder than the last time they were out of the way (i.e. the increase in CO2 had no observable impact). So it may well be a greenhouse gas, but is way lost in the noise, or worse. It just isn’t registring an effect.
    It’s putting a OBSERVATIONAL size and speed on things. Something horridly missing in the “toy world” modeling process.

  42. Stevo

    This post has some of the most woefully flawed logic I think I’ve ever seen. It gets cold at night, so therefore CO2 is not a greenhouse gas? Wow. Get on to Nature with that one.

    I believe it’s customary to read the post on which you’re commenting.

  43. @Tim Folkerts: “Yep, weather is much more affected by any of those in the short term. But overall, those affects will average out to produce climate. And even a small change in any of them will change climate.”

    Are you purposefully avoiding the obvious conclusion by omitting the key word “significant”? Yes, we can agree that an insignificant factor will have an insignificant impact on weather. Given that climate IS the average of all weather, then why can it not be said that whatever is insignificant to weather in general can ultimately only be insignificant to climate as well?

    @Mick: The the CO2 blanket -in the the dry desert- not worth a thing. You freeze. 90% humidity in the tropics are balmy day’n night.

    Thanks, that’s a ‘keeper’! Water vapor is reported to be responsible for as much as 95% of the overall so-called “green house effect” but the average person needs an A-B example like yours to bring the point home and it’s a very good one IMO.

  44. @Steven Mosher:
    You continue to think I don’t understand what is claimed. I do. I reject it as based on false assumptions and repeating it does not improve those assumptions.
    I care about OBSERVATIONS much more. And what was observed?
    The surface is not warmer.
    The “altitude of radiation” doesn’t matter at all and it isn’t CO2 that changes it. It’s water vapor and clouds that matter. (During this cold event the surface was doing the radiating at 0 AGL altitude… your CO2 didn’t move it an inch.)
    Convection dominates where the heat is dumped during the day (I’ve a posting up on that where they MEASURED the timing and distance, again an ‘under a day’ rate). So staring at IR all the time is just causing you to not notice all the vertical mixing that’s the real issue.
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/does-convection-dominate/
    that looks at this paper:
    http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/31/68/93/PDF/angeo-19-1001-2001.pdf
    Or put more simply: That -46 would have been 5 F with more water in the air as it visibly was on other days that week. And constant stressing that it’s a “warmer” not an absolute temperature does not help your case. I heard you the last 100000 times. Look, the land got COLDER than ever before with more CO2 than in recorded history. WHY? Because it’s the water vapor and clouds that matter, not the CO2. And it doesn’t matter if it would have been -44.9 or -44.8 or -44.7 from the CO2 as the “other stuff” is swinging the -44 into a -20 or even a -10.
    And I’m quite happy with the idea that it might take longer for heat to escape. You seem to think I don’t “get that”. News Flash: Your presumption of ignorance is wrong.
    My point is that the timing is measurable. It took hours. Increase that from 7 hours to 7.001 hours and it just does not matter. Without the water vapor in the way and without clouds in the way, it proceeds to substantial completion before the sun rises. (I’d hope we can agree that -46 F is substantial completion of the cooling and that -50F was not ‘otherwise in the cards’… as that is really not warming…)
    So the question is NOT “how much warmer”. The questions are:
    1) Why are we ignoring water vapor and assuming it is constant when it isn’t?
    2) Why are we pretending the heat budget is being balanced on the order of 30 years when we see it being balanced on the order of a day?
    3) Why are we ignoring cloud cover and assuming it is constant when it isn’t?
    4) Why are we ignoring the daily convective processes that are critically imporant to the altitude at which serface heat is dumped each day (vis said paper) ?
    5) WHY are we counting our pennys and ignoring the $Million Credit Cards the family is loading up each day?
    Steve, that I think your points are not the right ones does not mean I don’t understand them. I do. I just reject them as being the wrong questions to ask and the wrong places to look for an answer.
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/ignore-the-day-at-your-peril/

  45. I’ve already commented on E.M.’s blog, so I won’t repeat what I said there here.
    I’d just point out to the warmists posting here that what E.M. has done is provided a giant “Dig Here” sign. There must have been occasions when the same dry air / no wind conditions occurred in the same place, but yet despite the rise in CO2 levels, the record was set now, not in times previous, which should have been the case if CO2 has a measurable effect on temperatures.
    Other posters have also pointed out that those same conditions arise in deserts (including Antarctica) on a regular basis. Why, with the 10’s of billions spent on climate research, have no monitoring stations been placed in these locations. It’s all very well demonstrating CO2’s warming effect in the perfect conditions of a lab, or do some calculations that show it on paper, but there has been no demonstration of that effect in real world conditions, and all the arm waving isn’t going to change that.
    The corollary to a thesis being unfalsifiable and untestable is that it is unproveable.

  46. http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-lags-temperature.htm
    Well, the most important aspect to CO2 is whether it leads or lags climate….not weather. If it lags, but eventually intitially contributes to ice age recovery with a decided exponentially dampened effect as levels rise, then much ado about nothing.
    Science 22 July 2005; Vol. 309. no. 5734, p. 532; DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5734.532n
    There is actually a lot of published, and ignored, studies on this subject it would seem.
    This is where I am stuck frankly, because if CO2 lags…….well

  47. Excellent post sir !!!
    “CO2 is a wimp, and can be ignored. Water kicks sand in its face and clouds pee in its beer while the wind gives it a wedgie.”
    That is a keeper !!!

  48. In one fell swoop E.M.Smith demonstrates with an observed, documented event from real life – as opposed to computer models – that it is nonsense to fixate on just CO2 as the main and only culprit of GW, never mind if its AGW or cAGW.
    My gut reaction, for a good long time now, has been: ‘wot – no clouds?’ when reading about the dire consequences of adding CO2.
    Thanks to this post by E.M.Smith, and those by Willis, shouldn’t it be clear that leaving clouds, H2O, winds, out of the equation will not describe what is really going on?

  49. LazyTeenager says:
    I became suspicious and decided to check because EM claimed, without providing evidence, that a thermal inversion based on radiation imbalance was involved,

    Perhaps you missed the part where I stated that this was based on The Weather Channel reporting the conditions and mechanism?
    “I was watching The Weather Channel when they reminded me of this with a brief coverage of how this particular cold record happened.”
    and
    “The Weather Channel put up two graphics. I don’t know if they were ‘typical’ or actual data from the location, and I can only describe them here (i.e. I don’t have links… yet…)”
    “One showed ‘normal conditions’ with it -40 F at altitude and something like -8 F at the surface, the other showed the inversion with it being -43 F at the surface (last night) and something like -15 F at 5000 feet. They then went into the above referenced discussion of the importance of ‘still air’ and low humidity to allow radiative cooling of the surface.”
    So please read a bit more carefully before asserting I’ve said something without citation when it is right in front of you.

    It also appears that Yahoo is attributing this particular cold snap to cold winds blowing out if Canada.

    Don’t know what winds you are getting out of Yahoo, but look at the daily chart up top on the night when we hit -46 F. Look at the “windspeed” line. Notice that it reads ZERO over the word “Friday” when the record is set. That is the time when the air is still and the process happens. So good luck with that whole “winds blowing it in” thing with a measured ZERO at the time…
    I suspect that the error you are embracing is the usual CAGW one of extending your time horizon further than justified and dragging in exogenous events / time / places. So could this overall “cold snap” (usually measured over many days) be drifting down from Canada? Sure. Was it being driven in by winds at the time I’m talking about? Nope. Documented.
    Per your question on snow, I’ll leave that for others. There is a 24 hour average in any one day, and the cold period of inversion did not last the entire 24, so unless we’ve got some ‘by the hour’ data on snowfall, I’m just not seeing anything worth discussing. My best estimate would be that you are dragging in events from later in the day when the winds picked up (and the temperatures too… also looks like the barometric pressure dropped. must have been that Canadian air being blown in to warm things up by 30 degrees F 😉

  50. The Weather Channel also pointed out that the conditions needed were:
    1) Clear sky. (i.e. no cloud layer blocking IR).
    2) Still air. (i.e. no turbulent processes mixing the air and a lack of convective processes).
    3) Dry air. (i.e. the water vapor content had to be taken out of the air for the IR to be free to leave).

    For serious cold at these latitudes, you also need snow cover. That blanket keeps ground heat in and offers up very little thermal mass to radiate/conduct at night.
    Altitude and thin air helps too.
    Dry air is important two ways – less water vapor to block IR, and less latent heat released by frost formation. By the time the dewpoint gets down to -20 or so there’s not enough frost forming to slow things down much.
    My low temp here in New Hampshire this AM was -10°F, I think that’s the second lowest I’ve recorded. See http://home.comcast.net/~ewerme/wx/current.htm , and that was recorded without calm winds. Pretty amazing. The NWS forecast had called for -23°F and that was achieved NW of here, e.g. KLEB (Lebanon).
    Sure would like one of them Rossi devices right about now!

  51. Is there any study, comparing the tmin with tmax? Because per GH theory, tmin at night should be affected most. Of course, one has to pick a proper rural station, since tmin is affected by UHI as well.

  52. Re “CO2 as insulating blanket”
    Using descriptions at complete odds with what is actual amount is AGWScience in a nutshell here, just how many holes are there in that blanket which are not CO2?

  53. @Viv Evans:
    Glad I could be of some assistance. IMHO, it’s very easy to get all wound up in a hypothetical toy world, even festoon it with a lot of mathematical analysis, and forget that sometimes you must simply look at what is happening and ask questions.
    PhilJourdan says: I appreciate articles such as these that explain the issues down to a layman’s understanding. Thanks Willis!
    I’ll take that as a very high complement indeed. Someone tell Willis he’s got competition 😉

  54. Juraj V. says:
    January 24, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Is there any study, comparing the tmin with tmax? Because per GH theory, tmin at night should be affected most. Of course, one has to pick a proper rural station, since tmin is affected by UHI as well.

    I happened to have this study handy after reading E Ms article at Chiefios. You can have it 🙂
    http://www.john-daly.com/barker/index.htm

  55. Baa Humbug,
    Another gem from the late, great John Daly’s website! Thanks for posting.
    The last sentence in the Conclusion: “It is interesting to note that a 0.6% increase in the solar output would correspond to about 0.6°C increase in global temperatures using the Stefan-Boltzmann law and a solar radiance of 1,390 W/m2.”
    The increase in solar irradiance correlates well with the *mild* 0.7° warming over the past century.

  56. Today is the anniversary of the record cold drop in the U.S. during 24 hours. At Browning Montana in 1916 the temp. dropped 100 degrees from +44 to -56.

  57. thank Adonai for the UHI effect. It only got down to -4F in Newton MA last night according to my Vantage VUE.

  58. I find myself very much in agreement with what E M Smith has said in this post and in his subsequent comments.
    Dave Springer says:
    January 23, 2011 at 10:39 pm
    “CO2 is completely swamped by ANY of [ convection, wind, water vapor, clouds / water drops ] and when seen acting on its own can do nothing to prevent record lows from IR radiation from the surface.”
    I’d be surprised if there are there any climate boffins who would contend that convection et al do not have the potential to effect local/regional weather to a much greater degree than CO2. That seems like a given in any informed discussion of the subject that should go without saying.
    The problem is we’re still left with the fact CO2 is still there and it still adds a surface forcing. So the record cold would have been a bit colder had anthropogenic CO2 been absent. That also should go without saying.
    I don’t see how this changes the debate at all.
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Had there been less CO2 in the atmosphere, it would not have been colder that night. It would merely have taken slightly less time (and this may be measured in seconds, if not minutes) for the record cold to have been reached.
    I think that some people fail to appreciate that occasionally nature allows us a rare glimpse to see what real and practical effect CO2 has when acting in isolation, ie., when “convection, wind, water vapor, clouds / water drops” etc are not masking what effect CO2 really has. When these other factors are removed, one can see that the real effect of CO2 is in fact inconsequential. I am not saying that it has no effect at all, merely that in isolation its effect is insignificant and for all practical purposes one can say that it is so ineffective that it can be ignored.
    I also consider that people fail to realize that the effect observed in the example cited by E M Smith (ie., the extent to which CO2 is hindering heat loss) is happening every night at every location of the planet but the only reason we do not see this rapid heat loss is that almost always the other factors (ie., “convection, wind, water vapor, clouds / water drops”) are in play such that these other factors (and not the presence of CO2) prevent the remarkable heat loss. If it were not for these other factors, almost always being in play, we would be freezing no matter whether CO2 levels were doubled or tripled or quadrupled since the real effect of CO2 is negligible and is dwarfed by other processes.
    None of this should be that surprising since back radiation does not heat, it merely slows down heat loss, and it does not, in practical terms, matter whether a photon takes a direct route to space involving a distance of say 20 to 30 km or whether it collides with CO2 molecules on its way such that it gets bounced around and ends up having to do a trip of a 100,000 km or 1,000,000 km. Given the speed at which photons travel and given the low concentration of CO2, there is ample time at night for all the heat energy to escape back to space (if it were not for the other factors that almost always are in play). As E M Smith observes, it does not matter whether CO2 in the atmosphere delays the time taken for the heat to be lost by 1 second, 1 minute, 10 minutes or 1 hour, The bottom line is that irrespective of the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, during the night, there is sufficient time for all the heat to find its way back out into space and would do so but for the other factors in play.
    I would like to thank E M Smith for this very good and important post.

  59. But without the CO2 driven global warming, the temperature at Ind. Falls would have been -57F. That’s 5 degrees celsius of warming!!!! SUFFER YOU MINNESOTANS… SUFFER GLOBAL WARMING!!
    /sarc off (number picked for easy math… it’s early, give me a break)

  60. Actual measurements of downwelling ‘backradiation’ would seem to support E M Smith in regards to the importance of CO2 versus H2O.
    Canada
    Evans and Puckring 2005, measured at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario (44oN, 78oW) – [note-geographically similar to northern Minnesota]. From their Table 3a:
    Winter
    H20 94 to 125 W m-2
    CO2 31 to 35 W m-2
    Note that in Winter, with lower atmospheric moisture, the H2O contribution is about 3x that of CO2.
    Summer
    H20 178 to 256 W m-2
    CO2 10.5 W m-2
    In Summer, with higher atmospheric moisture, the H20 value went up and the CO2 backradiation went DOWN SIGNIFICANTLY.
    Antarctica
    But the current E M Smith article is for very low temperatures and very low moisture. So lets look at similar downwelling backradiation measurements in Antarctica, as reported by Spectral and Broadband Longwave Downwelling Radiative Fluxes, Cloud Radiative Forcing and Fractional Cloud Cover over the South Pole_TownEtAl_2005.pdf
    They find that – “Water vapor contributes approximately two thirds of the LDFclear regardless of season while CO2 contributes about one-third. The actual ratio of H2O/ CO2 LDFclear is in the range 2.1–2.3 throughout the year. This constancy is surprising because precipitable water vapor (PWV) decreases significantly from summer to winter, but atmospheric CO2 concentration remains constant as the atmospheric temperatures drop dramatically.”
    From their Table 7 (units are W m-2)
    Winter
    H2O 48
    CO2 23
    Summer
    H2O 83
    CO2 35
    In both papers, the measured backradiation from ‘all other GHG’ was significantly less than the CO2 values, so CO2 plus H2O accounted for 90 to 95% of the totals.
    And lastly in relation to the Kiehl and Trenberth 1997 diagram that shows 324 W m-2 ‘backradiation’ from Greenhouse gasses. The measured values listed above for CO2 are only about 30 W -m2 (no more than about 10% of K&T). To get from 30 up to 320 takes a heck of a lot of water. Or as noted by E M Smith –
    “CO2 is a wimp, and can be ignored. Water kicks sand in its face and clouds pee in its beer while the wind gives it a wedgie.”

  61. Good post – it makes reasonable logic sense to me.
    If others want to shoot it down (and show ‘it was CO2 wot dun it, Guv!’) then I suggest they provide a detailed explanation of the actual Observations given – without computer models (;))- and preferably in as astute manner as performed by the venerable E M Smith.
    I’m sure myself and others here will be happy to read such explanation(s) and thereafter decide which theory fits the OBSERVED data best!

  62. Steven Mosher says: (January 24, 2011 at 2:35 am)
    “Another simple way to look at it is this.
    C02 can never cause warming.
    C02 causes warming, but the effect is too small to measure, yet.
    C02 causes some of the warming we have seen and so does internal variability
    C02 causes most of the warming we have seen, more than internal variability has.”
    The bottom line is are we willing to accept the redistribution of trillions of dollars by self appointed guardians of humanity just in case #4 may be correct.
    Now, as Milankovitch cycles return us to a long period of glaciation (and they will), I am hoping that #4 is correct and advocate a policy that we should do nothing to stop it. After all, warmer is truly better for humanity and we should do everything (or nothing in this case) to make it so.

  63. *****
    Now think about this for a minute. If you have ANY of: Convection, barometric driven mixing, clouds, water vapor, water droplets; then IR does not dominate. With them all removed, and with the CO2 left in place, we have the full “CO2 Forcing” in effect (but unobscured by other drivers).
    *****
    That’s true, but most areas under this bitter cold seem to have ice-fog forming near the surface, so there’s some latent-heat release due to condensation & freezing of water vapor.

  64. It seems that the Minnesota cold has reached the east: -25 F this morning in western New Hampshire, predicted high today of 5 F. The good news is that my car started this morning (left outside all night)…

  65. To EM: thanks for your go-around but I’m sorry that I still believe your actual argument/observation is fallacious.
    On your bucket example, don’t forget that for eons before you opened the new 1/1000 GPM leak the bucket (perhaps we should better say reservoir) was effectively in balance – the effect of all natural variations, however large in themselves, had always cancelled out to zero. (Of course were long-term fluctuations such as the ice ages during the quaternary, but the system remained stable and convergent overall, during all of these).
    Then you open the *new* 1/1000 GPM leak – CO2, entirely man-made as from the industrial revolution (this was your analogy!). 1 gallon will be lost every 1.44 days; 1 ton every 323 days and so on. Slowly it will all drain away unless you also argue that natural fluctuations somehow also compensate for the leak. I don’t think that was your argument (although I personally think it is likely that the system has a regulator – it has proved very stable otherwise none of us would be here to worry about it); your argument/observation was that the leak was so trivial compared with natural phenomena that it could just be ignored.
    I didn’t actually suggest that excess heat would just build up – I said the forcing (the lessening in IR reflected radiation suggested as produced by the extra CO2) would produce “a small averaged temperature increase”. That is because its effect on temperature is logarithmic, for which a fourth power is just a walk in the park: the log of even the exponential function produces only a straight line slope.

  66. “So the record cold would have been a bit colder had anthropogenic CO2 been absent. ”
    I doubt this is a proveable statement.

  67. >> Steven Mosher says:
    January 24, 2011 at 2:39 am
    sorry wayne. I’ve seen no published physics that establishes that. No experiments that establish it and its totally at odds with the observational record. It makes the past less understandable no more understandable. It makes a hash of our understanding of how other planets operate.
    Back to Science of doom class for you. <<
    Wayne brings up an interesting point which I don't remember hearing before.
    A CO2 molecule absorbs at certain wavelengths to reach a higher energy state and then reradiates. Among the numerous CO2 absorptions and reradiations, some of the energy goes downward, – hence the 'greenhouse' effect.
    Can CO2 molecules also be pushed to a higher energy state via collisions with N2 and O2 molecules and then radiate that energy, some of which would go upwards? If so, wouldn't adding CO2 drain additional heat from the atmosphere via this process?

  68. When you live in Iowa, those perfectly clear night when the stars are gorgeous and bright is when you need to pull your thermal underwear tight. Then, put extra wood on the fire, plug in the oil pan heater on the car, set all of the faucets to drip, and make sure all unused flues are closed. Dogs do their business in record time and the cats don’t move all night while sleeping on the registers. Yep, those clear winter nights are killers. School gets cancelled on account of cold, not snow.

  69. CO2 is a wimp, and can be ignored. Water kicks sand in its face and clouds pee in its beer while the wind gives it a wedgie.

    Wonderful posting…. relished your responses… anyone who wants a realistic perspective should also take a look at the glorious Ignore The Day At Your Peril posting by E. M. Smith
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/ignore-the-day-at-your-peril/
    [Anthony: That is meant to be a BIG HINT :-)]
    THANK YOU E. M. SMITH

  70. Tim Folkerts says: “Similarly, CO2 provides only a small part of the total back radiation. But a small change in that 300+W/m^2 IR would lead to noticeable changes in climate.”
    Tim, I have a question for you, or for anyone who knows the answer. I have seen the number 300 W/m^2 IR in many publications. I have asked, and been told, that it is the average amount of heat hitting the surface of the earth, taking into account that the earth is a sphere. Since it is an average, and hopefully not just a number pulled out of a hat, it is probably based on some sort of averaging formula. My question is: What is the plus/minus error on the 300 W/m^2? What is the standard deviation on this number?
    Tim Folkerts says: “Clearly CO2 has SOME effect on climate. And even 1 or 2 W/m^2 has a noticeable effect on global temperature”
    My concern is that the number 300 is a nice big round number. It isn’t 293 or 307, it is just 300. Yet even a 1 or 2 W/m^2 has a noticeable effect on global temperature. Now, it could be that the carefully calculated number actually is 300, but in that case wouldn’t it be written as 300.0 to show that a calculation was done with a standard deviation down in the tenth’s of W/m^2? Written as 300, I could easily be forgiven for asking if the standard deviation is 100, though 50 would actually be reasonable also.

  71. The white pine forests of Minnesota were wiped out from 1850 to 1910 and had about 3.5 million acres (5000 square miles) or about 100 Minneapolis heat-islands worth of heat trapping giant pine trees. Deer like to winter-yard in large pine stands because they are warmer. The winter-warming effect of these pine forests probably far exceeded any warming effect of CO2.
    Has anyone ever looked at how removal of these white pine forests affected the historical temperature record? The white pine forest range covered a very large area, Northeast US to Minnesota and quite a distance south. Not many trees remain … perhaps 1%. Turn-of-the-century winter temps look awfully cold, was that because so many trees were removed leaving a blank white landscape (some of the old pictures of cutover forests are unbelievable)? Logging went far beyond run of the mill land-use issue, it was a wholesale reordering of the environment imo. How much warmer would winter temperatures in many areas of the country been a century ago if the forests were not cut?

  72. @Tom_R

    Wayne brings up an interesting point which I don’t remember hearing before.
    A CO2 molecule absorbs at certain wavelengths to reach a higher energy state and then reradiates. Among the numerous CO2 absorptions and reradiations, some of the energy goes downward, – hence the ‘greenhouse’ effect.
    Can CO2 molecules also be pushed to a higher energy state via collisions with N2 and O2 molecules and then radiate that energy, some of which would go upwards? If so, wouldn’t adding CO2 drain additional heat from the atmosphere via this process?

    That’s the so-called “line broadening” effect that I mentioned in my post about Mars above: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/23/frostbite-falls/#comment-581784
    The AGW camp uses that argument to mitigate the observed lack of CO2 warming on Mars. They say it’s the collisions with non-GHG gas molecules that explains why Earth is warmed by CO2, but not on Mars.
    But as you pointed out, that argument works both ways. I’m inclined to believe that CO2, in effect, acts as a “thermal conductor” from the ground to upper atmosphere.
    In the case of Mars, this belief is reinforced by actual observation (i.e., not the output of some modeling experiment). That’s why Mars is important as a “greenhouse gas laboratory”.

  73. Joe Bastardi tweets:
    Did you know International falls has 6 record lows in the past 3 jans? The station history is over a hundred yrs old. Next tweet,the math….. They should have a record every 3 winters. 6 in 3 winters is 6 times normal frequency. Unheard of: it happening in 3 winters in a row!…… 1909 though had 5 records, so for a single year, that is the benchmark
    http://twitter.com/BigJoeBastardi

  74. There are two statements in the thread essay that look similar but have different meanings. First :-
    “If you have ANY of: Convection, barometric driven mixing, clouds, water vapor, water droplets; then IR does not dominate.”
    And then :-
    “CO2 is a wimp, and can be ignored. Water kicks sand in its face and clouds pee in its beer while the wind gives it a wedgie.”
    The first statement is true, the second false.
    Just because other factors dominate the CO2 effect does not mean it is ignorable.
    Its effect may be small compared with the influence of water vapour, convection and clouds, but compare the rate and depth of the temperature drop on the Moon and the Earth.
    When ther is REALLY nothing to provide back-radiation and the surface thermal energy drops as fast as possible the temperature fall far faster and further.

  75. The statement CO2 is not in the passenger seat, it is not even in the car! Correct me if i am wrong but since CO2 needs IR to heat up goes on to when the sun goes down, CO2 loses its IR so no more heating of the air. No SUN = No WARM. I get so tired of reading that CO2 is a heat trapping gas, it can not trap heat only radiate it. Cloud cover at night keeps the warm in no clouds warm radiates to space. IMO

  76. Tim Folkerts says:
    January 23, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    “CO2 is a wimp, and can be ignored.”
    Just because an effect is small does not necessarily mean it can be ignored. How about you pay me just 0.1% interest on my money each day? Heck, even 0.01% per day would be better than I can get at any bank right now. Similarly, CO2 provides only a small part of the total back radiation. But a small change in that 300+W/m^2 IR would lead to noticeable changes in climate.
    Clearly CO2 has SOME effect on climate. And even 1 or 2 W/m^2 has a noticeble effect on global temperature.

    Obviously you do not understand the relationship between interest paid at the bank and the measure of CO2 in our atmosphere. There is none. Interest rate is a RATE, a change per time period. The measure of CO2 in our atmosphere is a static measure of the content of CO2.
    You missed the whole point of the posting. The effect of CO2 on heat retention is so small, it might as well not be there.
    Yes, CO2 has ‘some’ effect on the climate. So does my spitting on the sidewalk. But it doesn’t mean anything.

  77. Izen,
    The only reason CO2 is not ignored is the enormous amount of money perpetuating the “carbon” scare.

  78. Steve Mosher says
    ‘It get’s much more complicated when you look at “all other things” but first
    order physics says more c02 = warmer than less C02.’
    Steve, I have great respect for your views on these matters . But I think that there is a basic fallacy here that permeates so many of these discussions. That is the (invalid) global averaging of chaotic, non-linear phenomena. Just because Co2 absorbs radiation does not necessarily mean that its effect is to raise the temperature. Co2 is much more uniformly distributed than water. Its effect may not be (probably is not) ‘first order’. So first order physics may not give the right answer.

  79. EM is right!
    The time constant is in hours not 30 year periods.
    When you’re hot you’re hot and when you’re not you’re not.
    (apologies to the late Jerry Reed)

  80. @-Tom_R says:
    “Can CO2 molecules also be pushed to a higher energy state via collisions with N2 and O2 molecules and then radiate that energy, some of which would go upwards? If so, wouldn’t adding CO2 drain additional heat from the atmosphere via this process?”
    But it is the CO2 absorbing IR that then warms the N2 and O2. The CO2 converts photon energy into thermal energy and transfers that thermal energy to the bulk of the atmosphere. Any thermal energy that N2 or O2 transfer back to CO2 is then much more likely to be radiated as a photon, in a random direction, but the source of that thermal energy is the CO2 in the first place.

  81. >> John Day says:
    January 24, 2011 at 7:34 am
    That’s the so-called “line broadening” effect that I mentioned in my post about Mars above: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/23/frostbite-falls/#comment-581784 <<
    I think they are two different effects.
    The pressure broadening is caused by a change in the central wavelength of the absorption/reradiation band due to collisions. Thermal doppler broadening would have a similar effect, and the two are possible conflated.
    What Wayne described was a transfer of energy from a collision with an O2 or N2 molecule which would put the CO2 molecule into an excited state, just as if it had absorbed an IR photon.

  82. Tom_R says:
    January 24, 2011 at 7:10 am

    >> Steven Mosher says:
    January 24, 2011 at 2:39 am
    sorry wayne. I’ve seen no published physics that establishes that. No experiments that establish it and its totally at odds with the observational record. It makes the past less understandable no more understandable. It makes a hash of our understanding of how other planets operate.
    Back to Science of doom class for you. <<

    Wayne brings up an interesting point which I don’t remember hearing before.
    A CO2 molecule absorbs at certain wavelengths to reach a higher energy state and then reradiates. Among the numerous CO2 absorptions and reradiations, some of the energy goes downward, – hence the ‘greenhouse’ effect.
    Can CO2 molecules also be pushed to a higher energy state via collisions with N2 and O2 molecules and then radiate that energy, some of which would go upwards? If so, wouldn’t adding CO2 drain additional heat from the atmosphere via this process?

    ——
    Thanks for being a little curious Tom_R, that makes you a mind of science no matter what anyone tells you!
    Maybe doom to Steven. That was given for the true science of the matter, notice how Steven’s quickly squelched the conversation away from science, be wary. Certain true science is blasphemy of the church to some, even here at wuwt.
    That’s a real effect and you can find a bit more on infrared spectroscopy and it is also quantized, so gets a bit in quantum mechanics. I just can’t seem to remember how much energy therefore specific temperature is required and how prevalent it’s effect, and there is an equilibrium meaning the process can go both ways, give energy or take it.
    I’ll see if I can look back up more info on it later and will post it back here tonight.
    A starters to learn more might be here:
    CO2 heats the atmosphere…a counter view

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


    This reads “a vibrationally excited CO2 molecule CO2* collides with an N2 molecule and relaxes to a lower vibrational energy state CO2 while the N2 molecule increases its velocity to N2^ “. We use a different symbol * and ^ for the excited states to differentiate the energy modes – vibrational (*) for CO2 and translational (^) for N2 . In other words, there is transfer between vibrational and translational degrees of freedom in the process (2). This process in non equilibrium conditions is sometimes called thermalization.
    The microscopical process (2) is described by time symmetrical equations . All mechanical and electromagnetical interactions are governed by equations invariant under time reversal . This is not true for electroweak interactions but they play no role in the process (2).
    Again in simple words, it means that if the process (2) happens then the time symmetrical process, namely CO2 + N2^ → CO2* + N2 , happens too .
    ….

    Right there at the last statement is what I termed reverse thermalization.
    Some people don’t even want this science information to see the light of day!
    I for one want a discussion and to learn more for this is seems key to E.M. Smith’s article. That is why I posted the comment in the first place!

  83. >> TimC says:
    January 24, 2011 at 6:51 am
    Then you open the *new* 1/1000 GPM leak – CO2, entirely man-made as from the industrial revolution (this was your analogy!). 1 gallon will be lost every 1.44 days; 1 ton every 323 days and so on. Slowly it will all drain away unless you also argue that natural fluctuations somehow also compensate for the leak. <<
    You're missing his primary point. Based on the observation, the metaphorical bucket emptied in a matter of hours. The CO2 'hole' did not affect the final result, it only makes the heat loss take a few seconds longer each night.

  84. My only awareness of International Falls is when I have been making my annual pilgrimage to Orlando – usually in the spring or autumn (that’s ‘fall’ to you, Anthony). Slightly obsessed with The Weather Channel, as I’m basking in 75-85F heat, I’m amazed to see the temperature in International Falls as -20, -30F or some such. I point this out to my wife, with the comment: ‘Who on earth would LIVE in International Falls..?’
    Now I know..!!
    Big respect….

  85. This is exactly what I have been theorizing for a while:
    That the effect of the total Global Warming factor could be assesed in watching the daily heat loss over the course of a day in different areas that have different CO2 concentrations and also different water concentrations, and that by looking at these minute data points we can dial in the effect of, say, 300ppm of CO2 vs 400ppm of CO2, since there are areas that have that difference currently.
    We hear of long term testing, we hear of some seasonal, but I haven’t heard of various daily testing of points that progress through a day where there is a high CO2 concentration and a low CO2 concentration. It seems to me to be a logical way to figure out the differences between the GHE due to various factors.
    This post makes a similar comment. I am curious if anybody here has seen any studies to that affect?
    (On a side note, in Alaska I went to school in -44 weather in shorts, just to say I did it. -44 is cold…)

  86. @Tom_R

    I think they are two different effects.
    The pressure broadening is caused by a change in the central wavelength of the absorption/reradiation band due to collisions. Thermal doppler broadening would have a similar effect, and the two are possible conflated.
    What Wayne described was a transfer of energy from a collision with an O2 or N2 molecule which would put the CO2 molecule into an excited state, just as if it had absorbed an IR photon.

    How do you distinguish a “line broadening” collision from a “transfer of energy” collision?
    If the absorption of an IR photon by a CO2 molecule somehow increases the “temperature”of that molecule, then thermodynamically that means the molecule is moving faster (i.e has higher momentum and kinetic energy) and its new speed can be calculated from the temperature alone:
    v=sqrt(2kT/m), where m=mass k=Boltzmann const T=temperature
    If this speedy CO2 molecule then bumps into another molecule, it transfers some of its momentum and energy to that molecule. Doesn’t make any difference whether it is another CO2 or N2/O2. Does it?
    These collisions tend to redistribute the speeds and cause line thickening too.
    What I don’t see is how this necessarily enables the CO2 warming on Earth, but disables it on Mars. I’m not denying the possibility. I would just like to see a conclusive experiment (not a model) that proves this.

  87. What do you mean? It should have been -51F at International Falls that night instead of -46F, since CO2 warms the polar regions more than tropics.

  88. Great post E.M.
    Practical observation of a natures testing laboratory trumps a “synthetic” model world any day.
    I watch this sort of relationship on a daily basis and it is a trivially obvious conclusion to those of us who live in high altitude arid regions were water vapor levels frequently drop to very low levels.
    Winds and water vapor are the 600 lb gorillas in the room, CO2 is the infant squalling in the corner.
    For those that want to watch this happen in real time just watch this web link on a low humidity night with no winds. (there is also a metric version of the page for those who prefer metric measurements)
    http://www.eol.ucar.edu/cgi-bin/weather.cgi?site=fl&period=5-minute&fields=tdry&fields=rh&fields=cpres0&fields=wspd&fields=wdir&fields=raina&units=english
    Larry

  89. Tom_R says: January 24, 2011 at 7:10 am
    A CO2 molecule absorbs at certain wavelengths to reach a higher energy state and then reradiates. Among the numerous CO2 absorptions and reradiations, some of the energy goes downward, – hence the ‘greenhouse’ effect. Can CO2 molecules also be pushed to a higher energy state via collisions with N2 and O2 molecules and then radiate that energy, some of which would go upwards? If so, wouldn’t adding CO2 drain additional heat from the atmosphere via this process?

    My perspective is that Radiated Heat is a doubled edge sword i.e. it can cut both ways… and it is an issue most of us are very familiar with if we have a car… when a car is absorbing strong sunlight the temperature inside the car becomes higher than the air outside… this is the greenhouse effect as the hot air cannot escape from the car unless we open the windows. However, even with the windows closed the car is still radiating heat away… you will know this if you have even jumped into your leather drivers seat in your shorts… the leather seat is even hotter than the air in the car… so my guess is that all the plastic trim inside the car would start melting unless the car was radiating heat away on those lovely sunny days.
    So far this car analogy is pretty much standard AGW greenhouse climate science… and lets image walking through a very large open field on this bright sunny cloudless day… it feels warm in the sunshine… now lets image walking through this field with 300 cars parked in it… we can probably feel some of that extra radiated heat as we pass by one of those parked cars… but overall the parked cars have very little effect on the average temperature of this large field… and increasing the number of parked cars to 400 doesn’t really do much either… especially as our field is so big it can hold up to 1,000,000 parked cars.
    OK so far?
    Now lets think about what can happen on a clear, cloudless night… those 400 parked cars start cooling down when the sun goes down… they keep on radiating heat during the night… and the air inside those becomes cooler… and the temperature inside the car is cooler than the outside air temperature before dawn… this is why you end up scrapping ice off your windshield even when there hasn’t been a frost. Now imagine walking through that field just before dawn sing your flashlight… perhaps you can feel the colder air you walk close by one of the parked cars… you might even see those frosted windshields… but overall the average temperature of the field isn’t cooled that much by those 400 parked cars.
    Conclusion.
    Heat Radiation is a double edged sword in AGW climate terms… CO2 could cause heating during the day… CO2 could cause cooling at night… these effects might even balance out… who knows… but either way the impact of CO2 is trivial because it is only 0.039% of the atmosphere CO2… it you think otherwise try getting drunk on beer that only contains 0.039% alcohol 🙂

  90. One more thing, Tom, read very carefully:
    If thermalization and it’s reverse, being a process under time reversal and equipartition, is such a very weak effect… then also CO2 heating the atmosphere is also an equally very weak effect and proven by the science! But if it is as I have read a very strong effect, 90+% of energy transfer being by this effect and radiation a mere 10% or so, what does that mean to you? If it’s strong, the Co2 cools just as strongly also.
    To me, there is no hidden amount of warming by co2 underneath every temperature reading as Steven Mosher has stated above. If it’s minus 46 ºF now then it would have been minus 48 ºF if that poisonous CO2 was not present, I don’t buy that, by the real science. In fact, it seems it is exactly the opposite and CO2 does not “TRAP” heat, in fact it really makes it flow better, faster.
    Oh, I’ve done it now! Shut the doors and turn off the lights… the creatures from the cellars of the Church of AGW will soon be upon us all reading this!
    ( Getting real tired of the games with the words, hiding the truth, and the whole truth never really being spoken. Especially here at wuwt this is supposed to be a science site, the truth of the science involved being open and all of it. This is one exact subject seems to be particularly sensitive to some. )

  91. @ Tim C
    E M Smith actually said “There is a heat bucket into which we pour heat from the sun each day. The clouds, water vapor, and winds keep a 10 Gallon Per Minute hole plugged. We are also plugging a 1/1000 GPM hole with CO2. It’s a 100 gallon bucket. So one night the 10 GPM hole is left open and the darned thing drains dry in 10 hours. That 1/1000 GPM hole just doesn’t matter. (As every year has a few nights with the big holes opened).”
    The 1/1000 GPM leak is plugged by the CO2, the CO2 isn’t represented by leaking, like you suggest. (What he forgot to add is every night an elephant drinks the water that doesn’t leak out, but on those nights the 10GPM leak is unplugged, the elephant gets cold as well as thirsty!)
    @ E.M.Smith
    I like your post, a great example of the relative value in warming of CO2, H2O in all it’s forms, and convection. Thanks for that, chiefio.

  92. Here is the Skew T chart for International Falls for the morning of the 21th taken at 6:00 AM local time. It shows the temperature increasing from surface to 700 mb (Approx 10,000 feet). The temperature stayed relatively steady at -8 to -10 from there to near the 250 mb level, which is likely the thermopause.
    Note: For readers unfamilar with these charts the right line is the air temperature and the left is the dew point temperature

  93. Pbjosh,
    “We hear of long term testing, we hear of some seasonal, but I haven’t heard of various daily testing of points that progress through a day where there is a high CO2 concentration and a low CO2 concentration.”
    Good point. I don’t think there is a big enough difference in co2 levels from place to place, although there is the annual cycle, but even that doesn’t amount to much. My suggestion is to construct three transparent tubes that go from the surface to the stratosphere. One contains normal air, the second contains air with co2 at pre-industrial levels, and the third contains air with double the pre-industrial level. The downwelling radiation can be measured and that would at least give a good approximation to the forcing.

  94. This is science.
    Observe the system with variables held constant to observe the effect of the variable in question. Result? Other variables dominate. Simple and elegant.
    An experimental result that leads to other questions, observations, and experiments.
    Well done EM!

  95. Weather isn’t Climate
    I keep hearing (& reading) this, but I don’t quite understand – what, exactly, IS “Climate” if not Weather over Time? They ARE related, aren’t they? If the weather in a particular location is almost always warm and dry, then wouldn’t the climate of that location be “warm and dry”?
    Just trying to get a handle on this…
    ————
    @kwik:
    The feminists at the University of Oslo wanted to ban logic. Logic was too troublesome.
    Sadly, in today’s world, it’s hard to tell if you’re joking when you say something like that. If the moderators will indulge me – if this is, indeed, true, (as opposed to hyperbole or sarcasm) I would love a link to a reference!

  96. Sorry, but I don’t find this article very convincing. Simply replace the words CO2 and temperature with sealevel and waves/tides and one can make a similar story to “prove” that there is no sea level rise…
    Of course the effect of CO2 is probably (very) small, but with short term fluctuations caused by other more important variables, one can’t prove or disprove the effect of CO2.

  97. James F. Evans says:
    January 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm
    The warmists will come out of the box, again, with some explanation — they always do. But everytime AGW’s do, it gets harder to rationalize their previous erroneous prognostications.

  98. James F. Evans says:
    January 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm
    The warmists will come out of the box, again, with some explanation — they always do. But everytime AGW’s do, it gets harder to rationalize their previous erroneous prognostications.
    This sounds so much like the old Communist Party of the Soviet Union. They would do a 180° turn on some aspect of doctrine and the fellow travelers in fellow Parties would obediently make the same abrupt turn and act as if nothing had changed.
    IanM

  99. Tony says: January 24, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Totally agree with the concept: Weather is Climate
    Do not be fooled into thinking otherwise…
    The Team need to separate Climate from reality… then the The Team can peddle their AGW Belief System based upon bogus metrics like the Global Average Temperature, Global Temperature Anomaly and Global Average Energy Budget… these metrics cannot in reality actually be measured… but more importantly these average metrics cannot be challenged by mere mortals because there is no single point on this earth where you can validate these metrics… you either believe them or you are in denial.
    My personal view is that the word Climate can only be used to describe typical patterns of weather… for example: Mediterranean Climate defines land areas that typically experience warm, wet Winters and hot, dry Summers… that’s it… it’s not rocket science… in fact it’s not science at all… it’s just describing typical weather patterns…. so don’t be fooled – just remember: Weather is Climate and Climate Science is an oxymoron.

  100. A temperature inversion is the only occasion when ‘back-radiation’ from GHG gases could possibly operate because radiation or any other form of heat transfer can only move from a warmer body to a colder body, despite what Science of Doom claims. (I am not disputing that humid air can reduce heat loss.) And yet EM Smith’s article appears to show that even in these circumstances CO2 has a minuscule effect.

  101. Berényi Péter says:
    >I am sure soot is a major player on sunlit snow.
    It used to be even more important. NH is much less sooty than it was, in my view.
    >Also, if soot forcing (and of course UHI) is taken into account (its efficacy is high), there’s not much room left for CO2 sensitivity.
    Concur completely.
    >And there’s an even more serious problem with soot: it is completely removed from the atmosphere in a week or two by precipitation, so as soon as soot emissions are stopped, nothing is left in the “pipeline”.
    E-eh, well, not so fast. Advances in measurement technology show that PM 0.01-0.02 range particles are very plentiful and do last for a long time – they just weren’t measurable before. And they heat phenomenally efficiently per kg. Many times more than large particles. They are produced by combustion processes that appear very clean when rating their PM2.5 output measuring using light scattering (which has a lower detection limit of 0.1 micrometers).
    >Also, it is not prohibitively expensive to decrease soot emissions, one just needs more perfect combustion & proper filters.
    Agreed, and often filters are not necessary, just better combustion. Particles are not the natural emissions of the fuel (inherent), they are a product of the combustor. There is much confusion between PM emitted from stacks that is the result of the fans blowing ash up the pipe and PM from actual combustion. Natural draft stoves and furnaces are not a major (proportionate) source of particles above PM1.0 (i.e. from the combustion). It is when fans get involved that the PM starts to be larger, and it is not Black Carbon (BC) it is largely OC and ash.
    This don’t agree with the advice: “…stop burning biomass, especially dung for cooking, use natural gas instead. Burn coal in power plants (with proper handling of smoke), not at home.”
    The latest generation of biomass stoves are extremely clean. Also check what Austria is researchgin on biomass pellet furnaces. Amazing. The cleanest coal burning devices on the planet are domestic stoves (i.e. GTZ 7.5 brown coal burner in Mongolia) and emit less PM and CO than domestic natural gas burners. Strange, eh? Advances in combustion technology are not all on the large end of the spectrum.
    >…Do not use small diesel engines, install filters on large ones.
    Clean diesel engines are now shown to produce huge quantities of tiny BC PM unless catalytic converters are added. New technologies (like the aethalometers from Clarkson Univ) are able rate these emissions now. Very interesting and high tech field.
    >There’s also a collateral advantage in decreasing soot emissions. Soot in air (unlike carbon dioxide) is dangerous to human health.
    Agreed again. Hillary’s clean cooking stove initiative and its closely associated UN Global Alliance for clean cooking is putting $100m on the line to dramatically improve the lot of the (mostly) women who are affected by cooking stove emissions (1.6m die per year from such emissions). However make no bets on which fuel and technologies will turn out to be cleanest. There is a lot emerging from intensive investigations into clean burning stoves. See http://www.bioenergylists.org/ for updates and discussions.
    Thanks for bring domestic BC to the WUWT table.

  102. Agw will latch onto the “inversion” thing and say this is due to co2 warming. Actually, I don’t believe inv is the mechanism in terms of vertical movement. The cold air mass from the north wedges like a plow under the lighter warm air at the line of the front and the latter rises up the wedge sliding on the interface. The relative motion of the two air masses has a larger horizontal component than the verical. The rest of your analysis re co2 effect seems sound.

  103. E.M. is completely right. Every record cold, or just cold, proves that the heat made off into space. It’s gone. CO2 didn’t hold it back. It doesn’t accumulate. The only place where heat could accumulate is the oceans; never the atmosphere. So it all boils down to OHC. And ARGO shows no heat is building up there at the moment; so i wonder, why doesn’t the increased CO2 concentrations have an effect?
    The only explanation is that the AGW theory is bunkum (not the radiative properties of CO2, but AGW as a Global Warming theory).

  104. Steven Mosher says:
    January 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm
    There is a debate about AGW, you guys should consider joining it.

    That is the type of argument used by various vicars and priests when they were trying to indoctrinate me at school… their arguments didn’t make past my first principles filter… neither does the AGW belief system.

  105. Steven Mosher says:
    January 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm
    There is a debate about AGW, you guys should consider joining it.

    Not so much a debate… more like a sermon… and unfortunately the flock isn’t hanging round to hear the rest of the sermon… they have flocked off… or are they flocked off… they might even want to say it…

  106. What is funny is that this effect of water vapor on the radiant temperature of the sky is well known and documented by the solar energy folks.
    The effective radiant temperature of the sky as seen from ground level is dominated by the local dew point temperature. Low dew point very low radiant temperature of the sky, high dew point or haze and clouds and the sky appears much warmer in the infrared.
    http://www.ceen.unomaha.edu/solar/documents/SOL_29.pdf
    http://www.aceee.org/proceedings-paper/ss06/panel03/paper12
    http://books.google.com/books?id=Lx1BclFf7QIC&pg=PA157&lpg=PA157&dq=radiant+temperature+of+the+sky&source=bl&ots=194pTaSahm&sig=8HNCGpwumDWDRYwi9xKEfz_akw4&hl=en&ei=TvA9TbztB4KC8gaDndj4Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCMQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=radiant%20temperature%20of%20the%20sky&f=false
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6X3W-46T39FM-G&_user=10&_coverDate=05%2F31%2F1989&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1618367121&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=0dc7ff690b6e2849b6137c4f78ffa557&searchtype=a
    http://books.google.com/books?id=oaS-OpEjPtUC&pg=PA62&lpg=PA62&dq=radiant+temperature+of+the+sky&source=bl&ots=N7oUfTWN_E&sig=lyc5M6t4CMNHiJr-x65iwF8I-ns&hl=en&ei=TvA9TbztB4KC8gaDndj4Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CD0Q6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=radiant%20temperature%20of%20the%20sky&f=false
    I have an IR thermometer that is capable of reading well below zero in the IR and on a clear night with no haze the IR temperature of the sky is off scale low. If there is any haze (halo around the moon) and the thermometer will give an on scale reading of the sky temperature. If there is any detectable clouds their radiant temperature approximates the dew point temperature at the cloud base altitude.
    Taking a long walk on a clear sky low humidity night and measuring radiant temperatures of surfaces with an IR thermometer is an eye opening experience.
    Even outdoors survival experts know that the clear open sky is very cold and you are much warmer in a survival situation if you can place any physical surface between you and most of the sky.
    Larry

  107. @richard verney:
    Thank you! You have rephrased the point eloquently. It is a joy to see that the idea has been grasped so well.
    @TimC:
    If you want to broaden this out to a millenium time scale, as your comment seems to indicate, then we leave this example and move to a very different paradigm. On that time scale, we see what looks like 2 stable limit points. One, the depths of an Ice Age Glacial. The other, the peak of an Interglacial. BOTH have remarkably consistent “limit temperatures” for their peaks when compared to”peer events” in history. (All warming stops at a similar peak to now. All cooling stops at a similar very cold temperature.) Note, too, that these happen with little respect for CO2. Prior ice age glacials have happened at much higher CO2 levels and interglacials have happened with much lower. The “fit” of CO2 to glacial / interglacial is nearly none, and it is trailing by several hundred years when it does track, not leading.
    At that point, things move to speculation. I would speculate that during the interglacial side of things we reach a moisture upper limit in the air. It’s as humid and tropical / rainy as it can get. (Vis Queensland, Sri Lanka, Colombia, et. al.) In the depths of a glacial, the air is as dry as it can get (don’t have a pointer to hand, but there is clear correlation of glacials with higher levels of desertification).
    We also have a gigantic quantity of water doing 2 phase changes (steam on one end, ice on the other) right at those hysteresis end points of the cycle.
    So the problem for your position is that “all in balance” assumption. It isn’t. It wasn’t. It never has been. It is a water driven system with high hysteresis between two limiting end points. With an orbital “kicker” flicking the light switch. That the switch has just been flicked from “interglacial” to “glacial” is not in doubt (we know where we are in the Milankovitch cycle and we know it’s been ‘down hill’ for 6000 years or so). What isn’t known is when the polar ice STOPS melting in the summer and we plunge into that long cold phase. (Our interglacial only happens when summer melt of the arctic ice happens.)
    So there IS a ‘tipping point’, but only to the downside from here. We’ve already bounced off the upper limit. AND there is a tipping point to the upside, but only when at the bottom of an Ice Age Glacial. And they are both ‘water driven’ not CO2 driven.
    So, take that bucket example again. In our present condition, the water cycle is limiting the dump of heat to space. So much so that we melt the north polar ice sheet (or Chicago would be under a mile of ice). It doesn’t matter of you open that a bit more, or not. We’ve hit the limit. (I’d even go so far as to suggest that we might be able to get back to where we were during the Roman Optimum if we were very very lucky. Ralize that DOES include higher ocean levels and Ostia Antica being a coastal city again… so you can still play “disaster games 101” with it 😉 but that scenario has to deal with our present status of 6000 years past orbital mechanics “best ice melt” position…. So the “leak” (CO2 part) is not tipping a balance, it is fighting a giant spigot being slowly turned in the opposite direction…
    And note that the log effect of CO2 is in the direction such that “more is less”. It’s pretty much got all the mojo it’s going to get and another doubling will do darned near squat in additional effect. Now, take that water spigot and turn it just a smidge and you’ve erased it all…
    @Dave in Delaware:
    Thanks, I needed that! 😉
    @Smokey:
    Nice observation… very nice.
    @Charles Higley:
    Dad grew up in Iowa. We’ve visited in winter. The “homestead” was a farm near Boone. No electricity when he was a kid. No oil either. “We talked”… Why I live in California (The Land Of Fruits & Nuts 😉 now “Warm is good” …
    @Scott:
    The impact of the biosphere changes are very large, and ignored. Trees and other plants also “self regulate” to cooler in the summer (evaporation from the leaves). So removal of them causes all sorts of temperature grief. We than assume that we can compensate for this by putting the thermometer in a Stevenson Screen over the airport tarmac and that ought to be comparable to “in the forest”…

  108. >> John Day says:
    January 24, 2011 at 9:09 am
    If the absorption of an IR photon by a CO2 molecule somehow increases the “temperature”of that molecule, then thermodynamically that means the molecule is moving faster (i.e has higher momentum and kinetic energy) and its new speed can be calculated from the temperature alone: <<
    The absorption of an IR photon doesn't increase the temperature of the CO2 molecule. It changes the molecule to a more energetic vibration state. Wayne's suggestion was that the CO2 molecules could transfer the vibrational energy to N2 and O2 molecules as translational linetic energy and thus heat the air, and that this process would also work in reverse, taking kinetic energy out of the air.
    Broadening is different. An isolated CO2 molecule will only absorb at specific wavelengths, with a small range around each wavelength created due to the uncertainty principal. Pressure broadening changes the wavelength each CO2 molecule would absorb if it were in isolation, and the aggregate collection of molecules presents a broader, shallower absorption profile.

  109. @Wayne:
    I’d not looked at the “how” (why I call it an observation rather than a thesis). The “reverse thermalization” looks like it addresses the ‘how” part.
    One bit I hesitate to mention (as it’s a bit of a wander into speculation) is the fact that the surface gets way cold, yet up at 5000 – 10,000 feet it’s stays warm. Somehow the IR is just booking it out of town from surfaces. Is that “CO2” doing the radiating? Or do we need to think about the radiative spectra of every single object on the surface? Is THAT in the models?
    So I could see a case where IR is leaving the surface, and then gets stopped up at the 5000 – 20,000 foot kind of ranges (only to go where? When?). But this leaves us with 2 problems.
    1) The Satellites are looking at that part of the air. Could the discrepancy between satellites and ground temps be a proxy for ‘change in average clear dry nights’? Or “surace vs at altitude IR flux”?
    2) The surface record is not a suitable proxy for total air mass heat content as we would have an example of a load of heat leaving the surface but not the air mass. Whoops. How do we then use any surface temperatures for a heat proxy when we’ve got the heat not leaving with record low surface temps?
    Your ‘reverse thermalization’ is important to both processes, but is ignored.
    Basically, this speculation leads to “we don’t really know at all what’s happening” and that is disquieting…
    @pbjosh:
    See that paper in the comment above about daily cycling of the tropospheric heat into the stratosphere. It has the method all layed out (even if not exactly the study you are looking to find). They look at what happens over time when the water composition is more stable. You could also look at what happens as the composition changes just by choosing different days. Don’t know if there is enough data in the paper to make that analysis… (maybe I need to re-read it too ;=_
    @Flask:
    You are most welcome! Like the elephant methaphore… I’m fond of elephants… have to find a way to work that into a methaphorical posting some day 😉
    @Dave in Canmore & Wayne:
    Thanks, glad you liked it. I was always trained to observe first, speculate second, then test test test. (Then return to observe…) Never really “got it” on the New Post Normal of “Speculate First, put it in a computer model, vary the model, pronounce ‘Truth’ in our time.”
    Or, put more bluntly: To me, a model is a great thing to ‘inform our ignorance’ but rather useless for saying what is really happening.
    I’d make that process: Observe. Speculate. Make a model. Compare model to observations. Say “Oh Shiooot”, model is wrong here, must have that speculation wrong. Tweek model. Observe more, run new model. Say “Oh Shiooot”…
    But along the way it give you new ideas about things you have missed that could be subject to more observation, speculation, and testing.
    But the model never, ever, ever tells you the “Truth” nor does it let you “test” anything but the model. At best it can tell you to suspect something and send you back to more observation and speculation and testing in the real world.
    (So if your model says “Tropospheric hot spot” it is fine to look for one. Find it or not, that does not mean your model is right and certainly does not mean that the speculation embodied in the model is “Truth”. It only tells you that you have found a physical thing of interest that MAY be the product of the model / speculated process… so back to testing…)
    For the inevitable folks who will take this to be evidence of computer illiteracy or some such other muddle headed leap: I say this after having managed a Cray Supercomputer center who’s major purpose was to do computer simulations and modeling. We used a variet of codes to model fluid flow under variations of temperature, pressure, etc. They help a great deal in designing plastic injection dies that are ‘right first time’, but their biggest value was in training the insight of the Engineers as to what could be modeled and what could not. We still had some ‘blown moulds’ where the dies in the real world did things the model didn’t predict, but after a few the engineers learned what to avoid. We had “informed our ignorance”…
    Or: It’s fine that the model said 300 F injection temp, but we still got a weld line. Try 320 … (or a different injection point or…)
    This was ONE fluid in ONE phase in a highly well characterized environment.
    I shudder at what it would take to correctly model snow, rain, air, IR, transpiration, GCRs, clouds, lighting, etc…. and ever hope to get anything right. But it could certainly ‘inform a lot of ignorance’…

  110. Tony says:
    Weather isn’t Climate
    I keep hearing (& reading) this, but I don’t quite understand – what, exactly, IS “Climate” if not Weather over Time? They ARE related, aren’t they? If the weather in a particular location is almost always warm and dry, then wouldn’t the climate of that location be “warm and dry”?
    Just trying to get a handle on this…

    Well, this is one of my great complaints about “Climate Science” and a large part of why I put it in quotes. Climate as I learned it was a geologic scale process. It was defined by things like latitude, altitude, distance from water, landforms (i.e. rain shadow behind a mountain range). Things that don’t change until the land changes. Things with a time scale of thousands to millions of years.
    Along come Hansen and friends and they define it as “30 year average of weather”. Why? Because they had 30 years of weather data with enough spatial coverage to be of interest.
    Now, to me, that’s, er, “an issue”.
    Why?
    Because the Sahara has been a “desert climate” for thousands of years (though not always!) and the Mediterranean has been a Mediterranean climate for 10s of thousands of years and Brazil has been Tropical and Canada Arboreal for millions of years in the first case and about 10,000 in the second.
    Things in Canada and the Sahara change with the position of the planet (our old friend Milankovich). Brazil is full of frost sensitive species that would be extinct if it froze even once. It hasn’t.
    So “what is climate?” is one of those key little ignored assumptions that I think the “climate scientists” have got very wrong. There are 60 year known weather cycles (PDO for example). There are 180 (ish) year known solar cycles that MAY have significant impact on weather for decades. There is even a 1500 year cycle of weather (Bond Events in the interglacials, D-O events during the glacials) that are unexplained… but do not turn the Mojave into a swamp nor British Columbia into a giant sand trap.
    So, IMHO, if you are looking at any scale less than millenial, you ARE looking at weather, and “the 30 year average of weather” is ’30 year weather averages’ and the “climate scientists” are just being very poor weathermen. They ought to leave it to the professional Meteorologists who have a much better handle on things.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Köppen_climate_classification
    is a reasonable place to start (though you have to watch out for the AGW PC Bias in all things wiki).
    @Malaga View:
    Your case also is reasonable, at least as used in the ‘less than 1000s of years’ scale.
    @hotrod (Larry L):
    Wonderful links, and observations. Now I’ve got another day going into the past… 😉

  111. Thought experiment:
    In the complete absence of greenhouse gases, how would the atmosphere lose heat?
    It cannot radiate, except for tiny amounts in the UV region, so it wouldn’t lose much to space.
    It cannot lose much to the surface through conduction, as dry air is a good insulator, and convection causes heat to tend to rise rather than fall.
    It gets gradually heated by the surface at the times and places that the surface is warmer.
    Therefore what’s to stop the atmosphere from gradually warming towards the highest surface temperature?

  112. Steven Mosher says:
    January 24, 2011 at 2:35 am
    “I take it to be a major conclusion of Lindzen that there are serious attribution issues for CO2 increases causing so called (my words) ‘observed heating at the earth surface’.”
    Actually No. Lindzen, Christy, Spencer, Monckton, Willis, would ALL say that
    all other things being equal more c02 means more warming. That’s just first
    order physics.

    Actually yes. One of the many attribution problems that CAGW has is that the palaeoclimate evidence refutes, flatly and finally, and hypothesis of CO2 being a dominant – or even significant minor – driver of global temperatures. See the CO2 / temperature plots below:
    (1)
    http://img801.imageshack.us/img801/289/logwarmingpaleoclimate.png
    (2)
    http://img404.imageshack.us/i/tempandco2geologictime.png
    And before you phone a friend (e.g. Granny Foster, Eli Rabbet etc.) to prepare a special pleading response “its the dim sun” or “everything was different – including physics – all those years ago” or “God created the earth in 4004 BC I dont believe all this palaeontology”, these arguments are weak excuses; most of the data above come from the Phanerozoic, only a percent or less solar increase. Has the solar output fluctuated in a complex way such as to exactly convert the apparently chaotic relationship between CO2 and temperature, into a coincidentally linear one showing – hey presto! CAGW? Hardly Occam’s razor.
    The plot (1) shows a flat horizontal regression between measured CO2 and palaeo temp. The only thing it suggests is the possibility that about 200 ppm CO2 represents the lower limit of a wide range of CO2 concentration compatible with a temperature-stable climate. This is BTW consistent with the saturation hypothesis for CO2 absorption saturation by Miskolczi and others. The logical conclusion is that it is a good thing that we are pushing CO2 levels higher, away from this dangerously low threshold.

  113. hotrod (Larry L) says: January 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm
    Taking a long walk on a clear sky low humidity night and measuring radiant temperatures of surfaces with an IR thermometer is an eye opening experience.

    I would like to read more about this eye opening experience. PLEASE! 🙂

  114. @Tom_R
    > The absorption of an IR photon doesn’t increase the temperature
    > of the CO2 molecule. It changes the molecule to a more energetic vibration state.
    The more energetic vibration states still represent kinetic energy and thus mean higher temperatures. That’s how microwave ovens work: microwaves cause molecules with large dipole moments (“water”) to vibrate faster. Result: your food gets hotter. Same thing is supposed to happen to the CO2 molecules (but on Mars it can’t be detected at all. Also hard to detect on Earth in the dry deserts. That’s the issue.)
    > Wayne’s suggestion was that the CO2 molecules could transfer the vibrational
    > energy to N2 and O2 molecules as translational linetic energy and thus heat
    > the air, and that this process would also work in reverse, taking kinetic
    > energy out of the air.
    I think the Equipartition Theorem is applicable to that situation:
    http://wapedia.mobi/en/Equipartition_theorem
    > Broadening is different. An isolated CO2 molecule will only absorb at specific
    > wavelengths, with a small range around each wavelength created due to the
    > uncertainty principal. Pressure broadening changes the wavelength each CO2
    > molecule would absorb if it were in isolation…
    How is a “pressure broadening” collision different from a “transfer of energy” collision?
    I claim they are one and the same (from the “point of view” of the molecule). They are not different because molecules have no concept of “pressure”. That’s a “macro” concept.
    What you are suggesting is that molecules are somehow aware of pressure and shift their wavelengths in response. (Perhaps they keep tiny barometers in their pockets?)
    That may be how it looks through a spectrometer, but at the molecular level the only thing molecules are “aware of” are collisions with other molecules. That causes the velocity distribution to spread out and makes the lines look thicker.
    Doppler shift spreads the lines too and can be detected because the molecules are moving in different directions with respect to the spectrometer. But the molecules themselves are not aware of this motion. (I.e. you can’t hear the Doppler shift of a train whistle if you’re riding on the train).

  115. @EM: I don’t need to move to a new paradigm, thank you. I need only point to the system remaining stable and convergent (albeit oscillating between the different limit points) through the regular ~100ky cycles of recent glaciations in the quaternary. If it wasn’t stable none of us would be here today to worry over it.
    Your argument was that CO2 is “completely swamped” by convection, wind, water vapor, clouds water drops (all daily phenomena – essentially weather – at separate locations); CO2 “is a wimp and can be ignored”. I say that this is just too simplistic: on a decadal or centennial timeframe CO2 is having measurable effect. But within a century or so I expect mankind will have the technology to sequester CO2, so be able to set atmospheric CO2 levels to whatever level within reason the politicians can agree on. (I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as 600-800 ppm, for the earth really to blossom….)

  116. “CO2 is a wimp, and can be ignored. Water kicks sand in its face and clouds pee in its beer while the wind gives it a wedgie.”
    Thank you for giving me my laugh of the day.
    Priceless.

  117. @hotrod (Larry L):
    Wonderful links, and observations. Now I’ve got another day going into the past… 😉

    I thought you might find those interesting. I bet some interesting experiments could be developed with a proper black body radiator of low heat capacity or IR heat sensor, measuring the hemispherical radiant temperature of the sky under different humidity conditions. If we can characterize the changes due to humidity changes we might be able to show in real experimental behavior exactly how the heat budget to the sky varies with humidity. Subtract that contribution from the “theoretical” CO2 contribution and see if the sums add up right.

    Malaga View says:
    January 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm
    hotrod (Larry L) says: January 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm
    Taking a long walk on a clear sky low humidity night and measuring radiant temperatures of surfaces with an IR thermometer is an eye opening experience.
    I would like to read more about this eye opening experience. PLEASE! 🙂

    When I get home I will see if I can find the notes I made shortly after I got that IR thermometer. I spent a couple nights going outside every hour or so, measuring the IR surface temperature of all sorts of surfaces. You could actually measure the IR cooling of the windshields of cars compared to other surfaces. They were often several degrees F cooler than the ambient temperature.
    I work a swing shift so will not be able to respond in until much later this evening.
    Bottom line, is I think the issue people need to get their heads around, is that from the view point of the ground the night sky is a very cold surface and it suffers a significant IR energy transfer to the sky, regardless of the air temperature, and unless winds and advection actively warm surfaces by passing warmer air over them, they will chill over night much colder than the still outside air temperature. This is where the heat budget should be calculated not based on air temperature but the actual IR imbalance of surfaces that radiate to the sky.
    This radiant cooling is well studied by solar energy folks, as they actively use it to chill water for some purposes (sustainable air conditioning systems using solar cooling etc.) and also because they discovered that their flat plate solar collectors become pretty good heat radiators to the sky at night, and would freeze water in the water loop collectors even though outside air temps were several degrees above freezing.
    This radiant cooling of the land surface (which was heated by the suns energy during the day) raises the question about how useful tropospheric air temps are when calculating the heat balance at IR frequencies. Near surface air temperature might not be too useful to calculate the radiant heat balance, if the actual energy loss is occurring by IR energy transfer from surfaces directly to the cold sky.
    Larry

  118. Here is another interesting link that basically says as a first approximation, the equilibrium temperature of a thin metal plate exposed to the sky in low wind conditions will tend to reach a value about half way between the local air temperature and the local dew point temperature. This is based on 2 years of testing in a real world experiment to characterize so called “white plate” temperatures using IR cooling by radiation to the night sky.
    http://www.plumbingengineer.com/jan_09/solar.php
    same info in pdf
    http://www.solarlogicllc.com/Articles/pe01_2009%20extracted.pdf
    Here we have a very highly correlated relationship between surface temperatures and humidity (local dew point) and cloudiness, that I think shows quite well that IR heat loss to the sky is entirely dominated by humidity levels.
    We also in the previous links I posted have test results for radiant temperatures of the sky from the view point of the ground decades ago which might be a large enough time interval to characterize what if any change recent increasing CO2 levels has made in the apparent radiant temperature of the sky at night.
    This is a good place for the AGW advocates to actually do some experimental observations that could either prove or falsify their assertion that CO2 is the primary driver to earths thermal equilibrium temperature.
    Let them validate their model assumptions by running their model calculations to predict what the equilibrium temperature of a surface exposed to the night sky should be based on local air temperature and local dew point for our current CO2 levels then go out an actually measure the same results and see if their “prediction” matches the real world. Better yet do it double blind and two different groups perform the experiments, with the experimental group not knowing anything about the models projections for their experiments.
    Repeat every 10 years and see if changes track with the CO2 changes or remain coupled closely to the humidity.
    Larry

  119. >> John Day says:
    January 24, 2011 at 3:22 pm
    The more energetic vibration states still represent kinetic energy and thus mean higher temperatures. That’s how microwave ovens work: microwaves cause molecules with large dipole moments (“water”) to vibrate faster. Result: your food gets hotter. Same thing is supposed to happen to the CO2 molecules (but on Mars it can’t be detected at all. Also hard to detect on Earth in the dry deserts. That’s the issue.) <> How is a “pressure broadening” collision different from a “transfer of energy” collision? <<
    In Wayne's reverse thermalization, the entire energy of the transition is transferred from N2 to CO2. Pressure broadening only makes a small change in the energy of a photon absorbed or radiated.
    I do agree that it has been overblown as an excuse as to why Mars shows no greenhouse effect. From what I've read of pressure broadening, it's more significant the shorter the wavelength.

  120. >> John Day says:
    January 24, 2011 at 3:22 pm
    The more energetic vibration states still represent kinetic energy and thus mean higher temperatures. That’s how microwave ovens work: microwaves cause molecules with large dipole moments (“water”) to vibrate faster. Result: your food gets hotter. Same thing is supposed to happen to the CO2 molecules (but on Mars it can’t be detected at all. Also hard to detect on Earth in the dry deserts. That’s the issue.) <<
    Oops, the first part of my response got lost in the last comment.
    You're right. I was thinking more in terms of atomic absorption (electron energy levels) rather than molecular absorption. According to your reference of equpartition of energy, the vibrational states add to the total kinetic energy of the system, and thus ARE part of the temperature.

  121. scott says:
    January 24, 2011 at 7:32 am
    _________________________________________
    When Columbus first step foot on an island in the Western Hemisphere, there was less forestation in NA and SA than now. Between the Mississipi and the Appalachian mountain ranges, there was a very large agrarian society of Native Americans that had deforested a considerable amount of what we see today. Disease had traveled faster than the western movement of Anglo-Europeans and when pioneers had finally arrived, they were greeted by vast mature forests after the collapse of said native agrarian society.
    The same is true for the Amazon basin. The estimate of how extensive the deforestation of the societies, and re-forestation after the collapse of this agrarian society is staggering.
    The White Pine acreage of the upper midwest is nothing compared to the re-forestation of said areas, not to mention that the white pine’s natural habitat isn’t deforested as we speak.
    Basically the same thing is well documented for Central America.
    The Northeast of America also had a fairly large agrarian society.
    It is estimated that there are more trees in the Americas than prior to Anglo-European’s arrival.
    Yes, I’m formerly from Minnesoooooota, and the White Pines are beautiful, and I wish there were thousands of acres of these giants, but let’s not confuse a love for a monarch of the forest with eco-hyperism and faux Egalitarianism between man and nature.
    The God created earth is not so fragile.

  122. Tom_R:
    Hey, Tom. Didn’t even get to participate today in the discussion I started last night. Before I read all of these comments and possibly have my thoughts sidetracked I should clarify my thoughts in this area.
    Having spent over a year now trying to decipher the science behind AGW, I agree with many that there is much being ignored and not considered in the science of the atmosphere. This is not a test in a lab bottle.
    I thing that has influenced me is Dr. Miskolczi’s paper. He makes no claims as to the cause or to the which effects his discover might apply but you can’t ignore one parameter that his paper did hone down: the LW opacity (optical thickness) of the total atmosphere over all latitudes and seasons and over a sixty-one year period as a whole is a constant.
    What would that imply for he says little? Only that evidently just co2 concentrations seem to have absolutely no effect and that is on the atmosphere as a whole, all latitudes and altitudes across seasons, considered only as a complete system. To me that means that the stratosphere may cool below normal and therefore the troposphere must increase, or vice versa, but that imbalance vertically would have a limit to maintain the constant optical thickness. I think we are seeing that right now with the UV collapse.
    That brings me to the thermalization occurring within the atmosphere. I have yet to pin down it’s role into this interplay of the layers but sure seems it has *some* role. That was my queue to try to get more information on this subject another might hold.
    I keep looking. It’s there somewhere but most hides behind pay-walls and that is frustrating having to go to blogs to get current science.
    Anyway, now I’ll read all of this and will probably comment back if warranted.

  123. E.M. Smith says:
    So, IMHO, if you are looking at any scale less than millenial, you ARE looking at weather, and “the 30 year average of weather” is ’30 year weather averages’ and the “climate scientists” are just being very poor weathermen. They ought to leave it to the professional Meteorologists who have a much better handle on things.

    How so true! The redefinition of ‘climate’ is the true travesty. That was a great comment, all of it.
    Every blog as yours and wuwt should have a tab called “Deemed True” and put your comments about climate under that tab.
    No, I’m real serious about that tab. Every now and then things are posted or commented on that are so fundamental and held by the vast majority to be a true statement and these jewels should be cataloged. Blogs would then have a way for some very critical core information to be permanent and quickly reviewed or referenced and not just lost in the flow of the hundreds of posts after posts after posts.

  124. WOW!
    This post certainly generated a lot of interest.
    On the issue of IR guns, I have done the same as hotrod Larry – I purchased the gun to check for “hot spots” on horses to detect injuries but have used it to check for heat loss in houses, and to check surface temperatures as Larry has – and detect what does and does not store heat. Most informative.
    But the most important thing in Mr Smith’s article that resonated with me was the differentiation between horizontal and vertical distances. The International space station orbits at 208 to 285 miles above the earth. The distance from International Falls to Minneapolis is 294 miles. It’s a five hour drive. You can look up and see the space station go by. But you can’t see Minneapolis from International Falls. From 30,000 feet you can see pollution plumes that extend hundreds of miles, from the space station you can see smoke from forest fires or sand from sand storms that span thousands of miles. Looking up from a point on the earth, you just see stars or you don’t, you have no understanding of the scope.
    “Dave Springer says:
    January 23, 2011 at 10:39 pm (Edit)
    I don’t see how this changes the debate at all.”
    Dave – as a pilot, you have to know that if you compare vertical sensitivity to horizontal sensitivity, there is a huge difference and you must see it on your instruments when you fly. And this is why all those two dimensional climate models don’t work so well as the problem is multi-dimensional and we don’t even know how to quantify all the variables … which is what I see in the posts in response to Mr Smith’s post … and many other posts on WUWT lately. It is becoming clear that as we learn more and more about climate that we actually “know” less and less.
    And that is as it should be. The more we know, the more we know that we know less.

  125. John Day,
    You seem to understand my question. Somehow broadening got into the discussion but don’t think either Doppler or pressure would fundamentally affect this effect other than the broadening itself. I think I need to go to the library to ferret out some of this info. For instance, since it is also quantized, broadening always present of course, at what temperatures do you get a certain level of energy flux with co2 at a certain temperature (energy/area) much as thermal conductivity is only on the radiative side. I can find nothing on this deeper level. Not sure if it has every really been measured in an experiment.
    Dr. Vonk …. are you there? He seems to know more on this particular subject than any other physicist I have come across. I was accolading his last two posts on WUWT on thermalization while most others were absolutely tearing them apart. Some people have such short insight and the ability to overlook (temporarily) minor misstatements to still get the fine essence from the words.

  126. Ok I am home and can devote some time to digging up old info.
    This topic first came to my attention 40 years ago when I took a winter survival course. Our instructor had us spend a night out in the mountains near Evergreen Colorado wearing only street cloths a light jacket and the survival gear we could fit in a very small fanny pack. One of his lessons was get under shelter and out of the view of the open sky.
    Believe me at 3:00 in the morning with temperatures in the high 20’s F you can tell the difference in the radiant temperature of the clear sky and the radiant temperature of a pine tree that blocks most of your view of the sky.
    Now years later, I bought an IR thermometer for automotive purposes (checking tire temperatures) looking for cold header pipes to find a cylinder not firing etc.
    It is a Master Cool model 52224-b, rated as having a useful range on the IR sensor from -76 deg F to 1200 deg F (-60 C to 648 C).
    It has a viewing angle of 15:1 (3.8 degrees).
    I decided to verify the radiant cooling from the clear sky by taking some temperatures and got the following results:
    (Note there is a dependence on emissivity of the surface and the IR reading so I have included the generic setting of E=.95 I used for most of these measurements, unless I had a reliable value for some other emissivity for the surface)
    ===================
    weather conditions
    outside temp per Rocky Mountain Metro airport (BJC) weather report :
    39.2 deg F (dewpoint 15.8 deg F)
    I live about 2 miles from the airport, in an apartment complex on the 3rd floor which has an open breeze way through the building, in this breezeway my thermometer read
    (hallway) = 42.6 deg F (E=0.95)
    Breezeway floor (concrete open to the air on both sides) 37.1 deg F (E=0.95)
    pavement north side of building = 20.6 deg F (E=0.95)
    snow near swimming pool = 15.1 deg F (E=0.95) <– open view of sky of about 170 degrees .
    surface of snow on grass = 10.4 deg F (E=0.95)
    sidewalk surface in the open space = 10.9 deg F to 6.6 deg F (E=0.95)
    hood of parked car (cold soaked had not run in days) 12.8 deg F (E=0.95)
    windshield of cars
    2.6 deg F (E=0.95), -3.4 deg F (E=0.84)
    Early in the morning I remeasured some of the following temperatures:
    0:750
    Temperature 39.2 deg F
    Pavement north side of building 16.8 to 14.6 deg F
    When the IR thermometer was pointed at the clear northern night sky it instantly showed off scale low which for this thermometer is -76 deg F.
    I had expected the sky to be cold but not that cold, so I contacted a friend who is a thermal control engineer for an aerospace company, and they use an empirical formula to estimate the effective temperature of the sky for their calculations of heat load on the pad.
    It is:
    Tsky = 0.04114 x ( Tair deg R) ^1.5
    Tsky = effective absolute temperature of the sky
    Tair = absolute temperature of the air in Rankin (this formula is not in Metric units)
    I have not done a carefully controlled series of measurements, these were just dash out and take some readings temps, as at the time it was simply a curiosity question.
    Using the above rule of thumb calculation, you come up with the following approximate values for the effective sky temperature under various conditions.
    Effective sky temperature vs air temperature
    (calculated radiant temperature of the sky in typical conditions)
    air temperature sky radiant temperature
    120 deg F 114 deg F
    100 deg F 85 deg F
    80 deg F 56 deg F
    60 deg F 28 deg F
    40 deg F 0 deg F
    20 deg F -27 deg F
    0 deg F -54 deg F
    -20 deg F -80 deg F
    I will leave it to the math wizards to convert this relationship to Kelvin temperatures.
    I also found another paper that gives another relation for sky temperature/emissivity.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V50-497T2FY-GY&_user=10&_coverDate=12%2F31%2F1982&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1618705469&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=bbcef1e0ac613a3af09999a7f76744a6&searchtype=a

    The thermal radiance of clear skies
    article
    Paul Berdahla and Richard Fromberg
    Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, U.S.A.
    Received 28 July 1981;
    accepted 18 January 1982.
    Available online 7 August 2003.
    Abstract
    Measurements of the longwave radiance of the sky were made during the summer of 1979 at Tucson, Arizona; Gaithersburg, Maryland; and St. Louis, Missouri. The global longwave radiation (wavelengths greater than 3 μm) was monitored with a pyrgeometer and the distribution of this radiation in several spectral bands at five different zenith angles was monitored with a spectral radiometer. This paper presents results for the global sky radiation during clear sky conditions. The spectral radiometer was used to calibrate the pyrgeometer and to detect the presence of clouds. The results can most appropriately be summarized in terms of the correlation between the global sky emissivity epsilon (Porson) sky and surface dewpoint temperature Tdp(°C). The global sky emissivity is defined as the ratio of sky radiance to σTa4, where Ta is the absolute air temperature near the ground, and σ is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant. Based on 2945 night-time measurements in all three cities we find
    epsilon (Porson) sky=0.741 +0.0062Tdp
    with a standard error of estimate of 0.031. A similar relationship with almost identical coefficients holds during daylight hours.
    This work was supported by the Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Renewable Energy, Office of Solar Heat Technologies, Passive and Hybrid Solar Energy Division of the U.S. Department of Energy, under Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48.

    The current outside temp is 29.3 F
    Pavement temperature in IR (E=95) on the north side of the building is 4.3 deg F.
    North sky is off scale low (clear sky no haze or clouds)
    The face of the building across the parking lot is 10.7 deg F
    The grass surface is at -7.5 deg F.
    And some wonder why we think site conditions are important for weather enclosures!
    Larry
    Larry

  127. The IPCC report is a political document not a science paper, hence the political recognition by the Nobel panel. It is important that CO2 is the main climate problem because water vapour, convection and wind cannot be controlled and cannot be taxed. CO2 emissions, on the other hand, can be used to tax us back to the stone age and prevent us from doing all those things we like doing. I am beginning to think that climate science belongs to the same group as those other robust sciences like astrology, psychology and Scientology.

  128. http://www.urbanclimate.net/matzarakis/papers/IziomonMayerMatzarakisJASTP2003.pdf

    Downward atmospheric longwave irradiance under clear and
    cloudy skies: Measurement and parameterization
    M.G. Iziomona;∗, H. Mayerb, A. Matzarakisb
    aDepartment of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax NS B3H 3JS, Canada
    bMeteorological Institute, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
    Received 22 July 2002; received in revised form 14 May 2003; accepted 15 July 2003
    Abstract
    This paper evaluates models for the estimation of downward longwave atmospheric irradiance at a lowland location and a mountain location under clear and cloudy skies. The multiyear (1992–1995) data sets utilized for the study were recorded
    in southwest Germany during the REgio KLIma Projekt (REKLIP). Annual mean of downward atmospheric irradiance I↓
    ranged from 315 to 328 W m−2 at the lowland site and from 282 to 290 W m−2 at the mountain site. Inter-annual variability
    of I↓ at the sites was less than 2%. Six existing downward longwave clear-sky irradiance models were assessed in this study.
    In addition, this study proposes a new parameterization for estimating downward longwave clear-sky irradiance at the surface.
    The new parameterization, which is validated with data from the Oklahoma-based U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program, performed better than the other six models. It produced estimates, which agree with
    measurements more closely (within 5% for lowland and 7% for mountain locations). The incorporation of quadratic cloud terms in the parameterization allows for the estimation of I↓ under variable sky conditions.
    c 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Seems to be a fair amount of study data out there if you know the key words to google for.
    Larry

  129. phlogiston says:
    Brass monkeys in Boston right now.

    Um, I think you meant “neutered brass monkeys” 😉
    @Hotrod Larry:
    I have to get one of those… love the way you can demonstrate that “air temperature” is at best a polite fiction and at worst highly misleading for what is happening to IR from actual surfaces.
    I’ve taken more ice off more windshields than I care to think about (often with no ice elsewhere around) and propose the “Windshield Ice” metric for measuring the effect. One could calibrate the number of ‘windshield increments” lower any serface was… so a really cold surface would be 2 WS while a modest cooling might only get 1/2 WS 😉

  130. hotrod ( Larry L ) says: January 24, 2011 at 11:15 pm
    Ok I am home and can devote some time to digging up old info.

    Amazed… thank you very much.

  131. @wayne
    > Somehow broadening got into the discussion …
    Broadening is crucial because it allows the warmists to mitigate the negative finding of CO2 warming on Mars.
    AFAIK, there is no compelling proof that “pressure broadening”, by itself, would explain why it would “enable” CO2 warming. For example, the NASA GISS folks (Lacis et al.) recently acknowledged in their “CO2 is the control knob” that CO2 warming is surprisingly absent in the CO2-rich Martian atmosphere (where it is 30x more abundant per unit area than Earth). All they could say was that this was due to the absence of “pressure broadening” on Mars, as if it were some kind of conjecture yet to be proved.
    > since it is also quantized, broadening always present of course, ..
    A small amount of quantization noise may be present, but it is probably not the main artifact here. I think there are two major components to this broadening effect:
    1) Some of it, dependent on the quality of the instrument, is internally generated by the response function of the spectrometer. This produces a “point spread” (convolution of response function with signal) which makes lines look thicker than they really are. For example, stars are zero-width points, yet they seem to have a measurable “disk” to the the Airy response of the scope. Or why an unmodulated CW carrier signal seems to have a measurable band-width on most radio receivers, when actually its true bandwidth is virtually zero (disregarding any tiny bit of AC hum and other noise modulating the signal slightly)
    2) The other part of it is external, related to the uncertainty of precisely determining the frequency of the spectral lines (which in reality are zero-width points, like stars). This is caused by Doppler shift and also truncated spectra caused by re-absorption (analogous to changing FFT length in Fourier analysis).
    > Dr. Vonk …. are you there? He seems to know more on this
    > particular subject than any other physicist I have come across.
    Yes, I would love to hear his take on all of this, from a real subject-matter expert.
    😐

  132. @Hotrod Larry:
    I have to get one of those… love the way you can demonstrate that “air temperature” is at best a polite fiction and at worst highly misleading for what is happening to IR from actual surfaces.
    I’ve taken more ice off more windshields than I care to think about (often with no ice elsewhere around) and propose the “Windshield Ice” metric for measuring the effect. One could calibrate the number of ‘windshield increments” lower any serface was… so a really cold surface would be 2 WS while a modest cooling might only get 1/2 WS 😉

    Yes I was surprised by how many surfaces cool to significantly lower temperatures than the air does after sundown. Glass is a high emissivity surface in the IR band with an emissivity of about 0.92 which explains why it cools so much below ambient temperature. Concrete is also a high emissivity surface at IR, (E=0.92-0.97) as is asphalt (E=0.95). This explains why bridges get a film of water/ice on a cold night even though air temps are above freezing.
    Now what is more interesting, is that ice has an emissivity of 0.97. It is almost a perfect black body radiator of IR. Even a very thin coat of ice or snow (E=0.80) will radiate large amounts of IR to a clear open sky at night, water is slightly higher in emissivity emissivity (E=0.98) (cough arctic cough).
    Seems to me that having ice cover in the arctic during the winter season is probably irrelevant to radiant cooling. With the low atmospheric humidity levels at arctic temperatures, the relatively warm water surface or ice cover is radiating to an apparent sky temperature of something like -100 deg F in the heart of the winter if there are no clouds.
    It also comes in handy for cooking. Want perfect pop corn, heat the oil to 410 deg F then drop in the corn, want your oat meal to be just hot enough to eat right out of the microwave? Heat until its IR temp is about 150 deg F, and it is ready to eat without scalding your mouth. 😉
    One more study to ponder that I found this morning:
    http://langley.atmos.colostate.edu/courses/at652/2010/Stephens_Jackson_Wittmeyer_JClim_1996.pdf
    Larry

  133. @John Day
    AFAIK, there is no compelling proof that “pressure broadening”, by itself, would explain why it would “enable” CO2 warming. For example, the NASA GISS folks (Lacis et al.) recently acknowledged in their “CO2 is the control knob” that CO2 warming is surprisingly absent in the CO2-rich Martian atmosphere (where it is 30x more abundant per unit area than Earth). All they could say was that this was due to the absence of “pressure broadening” on Mars, as if it were some kind of conjecture yet to be proved.
    Yes, I agree. The warmists keep trying to prove that co2 warms by trapping thermal heat on one side of the argument but I personally have moved on past that to absolutely no effect at all when the climate system is studied from afar, from space. My major was chemistry up to the last year and you study endothermic reactions that truly trap heat thermally into the bonds. That energy is gone forever without a reverse reaction occurring and will never express itself as heat again. But in physics all of the laws and relationships mainly are symmetrical. The warmist side have so brainwashed most people that everyone is now discussing on one-sided processes without nary a mention of the opposite side of the relationship. Warms yes but it also equally cools.
    There are effects from co2 locally and that was my point. co2 in a couple of band groups does absorb IR well but that also means co2 in these bands also, and equally, emit radiation the these bands. If the atmosphere were viewed as blood then co2 is like a blood thinner on the radiative side in those spectral bands. That is why International Falls is setting low records. E.M. is correct to bring up inversions and did a good job on the subject but there have always been inversions in winter, so why the new lows? Just natural variation?
    We seem to have two effects both who have their signatures overlaid in the temperature records. One is UHI and the removal of higher altitude and rural station. This shows mainly the low temperatures to be elevated across the decades. But I feel this is masking the effect I mentioned (the radiative thinning so to speak) that would show the atmosphere temperatures having higher highs and lower lows. We can only see this lower lows signature in a small percentage of the stations because they keep removing all but those with high UHI signatures also. And the thermalization between co2 and the other gases, both ways mind you, is the only explanation I’ve been able to find.
    But I keep looking. To me co2 has NO effect, OVERALL, on this globes temperature. Just locally redistribution and most of it vertically, again, both ways.
    Wish I could write more fluidly but you should still see my point.

  134. I spent a very cold winter in Duluth, MN back in 1974/5 and I do not miss the very cold temperatures that ON AVERAGE occur during most of the winter- nor the super cold nights that occur occasionally when the conditions are just right (a -3 to -6 sigma event- the lack of wind, moisture and clouds, etc. that Anthony discussed in this post). The Jesuits at the college I was attending in Duluth tried their best to train my brain to look at any question with an open mind. I have found “Watts Up With That” is a GREAT site to gain some insight into the assumptions of the models used to estimate the effects of various inputs (CO2, IR, wind, etc. etc.) on the outputs (AVG Temp, etc.). I have to admit it has been close to 35 years since I have spent any time looking into our attempts to understand short term weather events let alone the complexities of the climate system. I was thrilled to see Anthony’s post as it covered a specific weather event for me (and it reminded me why I prefer to live in the foothills of CA- it’s been in the upper 60’s recently with loads of sun which was great for my 6.12 Kw PV system) and how that relates to the significance of the different inputs to a weather event. I would be interested in knowing what a climate model(s) would predict the low temperature to have been with CO2 levels at what they were in the late 1800’s and double what they are today (in MN) that way I could get a better understanding of the significance of CO2 vs their other factors that effect temperature (it is OK with me if the estimates are done on the high temperature for that day too).
    It has been a long time since I first read “The Environmental Handbook Prepared For the First National Environmental Teach-In, edited by Garret De Bell- http://www.amazon.com/Environmental-Handbook-Prepared-First-National/dp/B000RUO3R4 which touched on the role that CO2 has on our climate system and the dangers of increasing it’s concentration in the atmosphere. I am a bit surprised that our measurement capabilities haven’t progressed as much as I would of expected over the last 40 years. I would of thought that our measurement systems would of progressed to the point that we could have accurate data for temperature, wind, CO2 (as that’s what the we were concerned about) at a majority of the stations throughout the globe. Specifically Veronica’s “….In fact we rely on temperature readings from all over the place (in weather stations of varying quality) but a single point reading of CO2 at Mauna Loa in Hawaii. I wonder how relevant that is, especially when it is considered alongside global average temperature, which is a derived measurement obtained with lots and lots of errors.” point comes to mind.

  135. Mark Miller,
    It’s probably a good thing on balance that everyone relies on MLO’s CO2 record.
    Can you imagine what would happen if CO2 sensors were scattered all over?
    NEWS FLASH …Dateline Los Angeles…
    LAX has just reported a CO2 spike of 1,760 ppm! Commenting on this alarming poisonous gas reading is NASA/GISS climate expert Dr Gavin Schmidt…

  136. Just to add a little data to what I have already reported.
    Current temp 31.9 deg F dew point 27 deg F
    Overcast with light snow.
    Pavement north side of building (22:30 local time) 29.4 deg F
    sky temp ranges from 0.0 deg F to 2.2 deg F
    So even with overcast and snow, the sky temp is about 32 deg F colder than the air temp.
    Larry

  137. “Dave in Delaware says:
    January 24, 2011 at 6:06 am
    They find that – “Water vapor contributes approximately two thirds of the LDFclear regardless of season while CO2 contributes about one-third. The actual ratio of H2O/ CO2 LDFclear is in the range 2.1–2.3 throughout the year. This constancy is surprising because precipitable water vapor (PWV) decreases significantly from summer to winter, but atmospheric CO2 concentration remains constant as the atmospheric temperatures drop dramatically.”
    As we know, radiation depends on the fourth power of the absolute temperature. And 300 K to the 4th power is about 3 times as much as 230 K to the 4th power. So while the “atmospheric CO2 concentration remains constant as the atmospheric temperatures drop dramatically”, is it possible that at very low temperatures, there are way fewer photons at the 15 micron wavelength to allow CO2 to act as effectively act as a greenhouse gas?

  138. Here is another data point in the IR temperature of the sky issue.
    Last night we had a cold front slide into the Denver Metro area. Temperatures were in the low 30’s early in the morning then started falling like a rock around 6:00 am local time. Currently it is 8.2 deg F here just west of the Denver Metro area, with light snow and solid overcast.
    I took my IR thermometer out and the north sky (cloud covered) is showing an IR temperature of -19 deg F, with snow temps on the ground at -3 deg F. It is still day light (3:40 pm local), it will be interesting to watch how the sky temp changes as the sun sets.
    Forecast is for lows well below zero F. in the -4 to -9 deg F range.
    NCAR foot hills lab is showing a temperature of 8.6 deg F dew point of 3.6 deg F at this time. They are very near the same altitude I live at and usually are very consistent with my local readings.
    Larry

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