Sense and sensitivity

By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

Reed Coray’s post here on Boxing Day, commenting on my post of 6 December, questions whether the IPCC and science textbooks are right that without any greenhouse gases the Earth’s surface temperature would be 33 Kelvin cooler than today’s 288 K. He says the temperature might be only 9 K cooler.

The textbook surface temperature of 255 K in the absence of any greenhouse effect is subject to three admittedly artificial assumptions: that solar output remains constant at about 1362 Watts per square meter, taking no account of the early-faint-Sun paradox; that the Earth’s emissivity is unity, though it is actually a little less; and that today’s Earth’s albedo or reflectance of 0.3 would remain unchanged, even in the absence of the clouds that are its chief cause.

These three assumptions are justifiable provided that the objective is solely to determine the warming effect of the presence as opposed to absence of greenhouse gases. They would not be justifiable if the objective were to determine the true surface temperature of the naked lithosphere at the dawn of the Earth. My post of 6 December addressed only the first objective. The second objective was irrelevant to my purpose, which was to determine a value for the system climate sensitivity – the amount of warming in response to the entire existing greenhouse effect.

Since Mr. Coray makes rather heavy weather of a simple calculation, here is how it is done. According to recent satellite measurements, 1362 Watts per square meter of total solar irradiance arrives at the top of the atmosphere. Since the Earth presents a disk to this insolation but is actually a sphere, this value is divided by 4 (the ratio of the surface area of a disk to that of a sphere), giving 340.5 Watts per square meter, and is also reduced by 30% to allow for the fraction harmlessly reflected to space, giving a characteristic-emission flux of 238.4 Watts per square meter.

The fundamental equation of radiative transfer, one of the few proven results in climatological physics, states that the radiative flux absorbed by (and accordingly emitted by) the characteristic-emission surface of an astronomical body is equal to the product of three parameters: the emissivity of that surface (here, as usual, taken as unity), the Stefan-Boltzmann constant (0.0000000567), and the fourth power of temperature. Accordingly, under  the three assumptions stated earlier, the Earth’s characteristic-emission temperature is 254.6 K, or about 33.4 K cooler than today’s 288 K. It’s as simple as that.

The “characteristic-emission” surface of an astronomical body is defined as that surface at which the incoming and outgoing fluxes of solar radiation are identical. In the absence of greenhouse gases, the actual rocky surface of the Earth would be its characteristic-emission surface. As greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere and cause warming, the altitude of the characteristic-emission surface rises.

The characteristic-emission surface is now approximately 5 km above the Earth’s surface, its altitude varying inversely with latitude: but its temperature, by definition, remains 254.6 K or thereby. At least over the next few centuries, the atmospheric temperature lapse-rate (its decline with altitude) will remain near-constant at about 6.5 K per km, so that the temperature of the Earth’s surface will rise as greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere, even though the temperature of the characteristic-emission surface will remain invariant.

It is for this reason that Kiehl & Trenberth, in their iconic papers of 1997 and 2008 on the Earth’s radiation budget, are wrong to assume that (subject only to the effects of thermal convection and evapo-transpiration) there is a strict Stefan-Boltzmann relation between temperature and incident irradiance at the Earth’s surface. If they were right in this assumption, climate sensitivity would be little more than one-fifth of what they would like us to believe it is.

So, how do we determine the system sensitivity from the 33.4 K of “global warming” caused by the presence (as opposed to the total absence) of all the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere? We go to Table 3 of Kiehl & Trenberth (1997), which tells us that the total radiative forcing from the top five greenhouse gases (H2O, CO2, CH4, N2O and stratospheric O3) is 101[86, 125] Watts per square meter. Divide 33.4 K by this interval of forcings. The resultant system sensitivity parameter, after just about all temperature feedbacks since the dawn of the Earth have acted, is 0.33[0.27, 0.39] Kelvin per Watt per square meter.

Multiply this system sensitivity parameter by 3.7 Watts per square meter, which is the IPCC’s value for the radiative forcing from a doubling of the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere (obtained not by measurement but by inter-comparison between three radiative-transfer models: see Myhre et al., 1998). The system sensitivity emerges. It is just 1.2[1.0, 1.4] K per CO2 doubling, not the 3.3[2.0, 4.5] K imagined by the IPCC.

Observe that this result is near-identical to the textbook sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 concentration where temperature feedbacks are absent or sum to zero. From this circumstance, it is legitimate to deduce that temperature feedbacks may well in fact sum to zero or thereby, as measurements by Lindzen & Choi (2009, 2011) and Spencer & Braswell (2010. 2011) have compellingly demonstrated.

Therefore, the IPCC’s assumption that strongly net-positive feedbacks approximately triple the pre-feedback climate sensitivity appears to be incorrect. And, if Mr. Coray were right to say that the warming caused by all of the greenhouse gases is just 9 K rather than 33 K, then the system sensitivity would of course be still lower than the 1.2 K we have determined above.

This simple method of determining the system climate sensitivity is quite robust. It depends upon just three parameters: the textbook value of 33.4 K for the “global warming” that arises from the presence as opposed to the absence of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; Kiehl & Trenberth’s value of around 101 Watts per square meter for the total radiative forcing from the top five greenhouse gases (taking all other greenhouse gases into account would actually lower the system sensitivity still further); and the IPCC’s own current value of 3.7 Watts per square meter for the radiative forcing from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration.

However, it is necessary also to demonstrate that the climate sensitivity of the industrial era since 1750 is similar to the system sensitivity – i.e., that there exist no special conditions today that constitute a significant departure from the happily low system sensitivity that has prevailed, on average, since the first wisps of the Earth’s atmosphere formed.

Thanks to the recent bombshell result of the Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Center in the US (Blasing, 2011), the industrial-era sensitivity may now be as simply and as robustly demonstrated as the system sensitivity. Dr. Blasing has estimated that manmade forcings from all greenhouse gases since 1750 are as much as 3.1 Watts per square meter, from which we must deduct 1.1 Watts per square meter to allow for manmade negative radiative forcings, notably including the soot and other particulate aerosols that act as little parasols sheltering us from the Sun.

The net manmade forcing since 1750, therefore, is about 2 Watts per square meter. According to Hansen (1984), there had been 0.5 K of “global warming” since 1750, and there has been another 0.3 K of warming since 1984, making 0.8 K in all. We can check this by calculating the least-squares linear-regression trend on the Central England Temperature Record since 1750, which shows 0.9 K of warming. So 0.8 K warming since 1750 is in the right ballpark.

The IPCC says that we caused between half and all of the warming since 1750 – i.e. 0.6[0.4, 0.8] K. Divide this interval by the net industrial-era anthropogenic forcing of 2 Watts per square meter, and multiply by 3.7 Watts per square meter as before, and the industrial-era sensitivity is 1.1[0.7, 1.5] K, which neatly and remarkably embraces the system sensitivity of 1.2[1.0, 1.4] K. So the industrial-era sensitivity is near-identical to the low and harmless system sensitivity.

Will the IPCC take any notice of fundamental results such as these that are at odds with its core assumption of a climate sensitivity thrice what we have here shown it to be? I have seen the first draft of the chapter on climate sensitivity and, as in previous reports, the IPCC either sneeringly dismisses or altogether ignores the growing body of data, results and papers pointing to low sensitivity. It confines its analysis only to those results that confirm its prejudice in favor of very high sensitivity.

In Durban I had the chance to discuss the indications of low climate sensitivity with influential delegates from the US and other key nations. I asked one senior US delegate whether his officials had told him – for instance – that sea level has been rising over the past eight years at a rate equivalent to just 2 inches per century. He had not been told, and was furious that he had been misled into thinking that sea level was rising at a dangerous rate.

Having gained his attention, I outlined the grounds for suspecting low climate sensitivity and asked him whether he had been told that there was a growing body of credible and robust evidence that climate sensitivity is small, harmless, and even beneficial. He had not been told that either. Now he and other delegates are beginning to ask the right questions. If the IPCC adheres to its present draft and fails to deal with arguments such as that which I have sketched here, the nations of the world will no longer heed it. It must fairly consider both sides of the sensitivity question, or die.


newest oldest most voted
Notify of

If they choose ego over reason, then, like all bad science before them, they certainly do need to die… However, if science history teaches us anything, it is that bad ideas do NOT go gentle into that good night…

So many people are just so misinformed about climate change or global warming. Because of this lack of information, people would make wrong conclusions.


Do these theories take into account the earth emits heat ? We know that only a few 10s of Kms down, the earth gets very hot, and it get hotter the deeper you go. At the mantle boundary, the temperature is upto 400C. The deepest mine in the world – TauTona gold mine, which is 3.4km deep, is at 55 degrees C. So if the earth gets hotter the deeper you go, obviously, the earth MUST be radiating some heat at the surface. Even in Antarctica, you only need to go down a few hundred metres to get to a constant warm +ve temperature. So it seems pretty obvious that even before the atmosphere starts it`s GH effect, there earth iteself has residual heat. Also, this heat will add to the warming from the GH effect.

John Blake

Subtle in detection, “climate sensitivity” indeed seems subject to rudimentary mathematical derivation. Kudos to Lord Monckton, whose syllogistic chain seems irrefutable. Bleating and squeaking, AGW catastrophists confront physical science principles that dismiss their central tenets root-and-branch.

You are making a difference. Even of just one or two people at a time – eventually the knowledge of the truth will spread exponentially. It sounds as if you met some open-minded delegates in Durban.nvcvvr Thank you, sir.

Oops, the band-aid on one of my fingers hit a button without my realizing. That is not code after Durban!

Excellent post, Lord Monckton. I only wish I could present this to people deluded by the warmist lie and not have them dismiss your piece out of hand with ad hom attacks against you. We need to get you a pseudonym, methinks, LOL.

Lew Skannen

Great work Lord Monckton.
I am surprised at the response you received from the US delegate to Durban. I am under the impression that most people there know it is a scam and are happy to go with it for a number of reasons. If this guy was genuinely surprised, genuinely angry and genuine in his desire to get to the truth then there is a glimmer of hope.
I would not expect such a reaction from any Australian delegates and definitely not from any delegates from third world countries.

Leon Brozyna

A Marital Drama
The Players
Wife …….. climate skeptics
Husband … IPCC
The Scene
Husband painting the guest room floor (AR5). Wife tries to caution husband to be careful. Husband dismisses wife’s concerns (what does she know anyway?). So intent on proving he’s right that he paints himself into the far corner, clear across the room from the door.
Were it but that innocent …


Interesting presentation. However, I shudder when I see this notion of a characteristic altitude for emissions. Note, I first saw this in one of hansen’s early rantings. Under clear skies, one has the surface radiating a continuum and an atmosphere that absorbs some of the power, and reradiates a portion of that absorbed spectrum based upon the temperature(s) where the absorption / emission took place. Under cloudy skies with significant cloud cover, one essentially has the characteristic black body continuum emission coming from the cloud tops and emitting at the temperature of the cloud top.
Stefan’s law relates to black body continuum emissions as it is the integration over all wavelengths and in all directions outward from a surface at a particular temperature. Atmospheric gases will absorb and radiate in characteristic line spectrums of the various components. This is where the simplest useful information really has to come from radiative transfer details and there really isn’t such a thing as a charateristic altitude for emissions because we no longer are dealing with a blackbody continuum at a single temperature for a small area.
Without considering that cloud cover can vary in both extent and in the reflectivity of those clouds, one is missing the boat. When it comes to Hansen and friends, their high sensitivity comes from their very dubious assumptions that (like lower atmospheric temperatures) having higher atmospheric temperatures will reduce the amount of cloud cover and hence a lower albedo. That means that we’ve got about 62% cloud cover and that must be the maximum we could possibly have based upon temperature variations (a relative maximum).
As for the various estimates of sensitivity, I think even those are a little bit high.

Since this whole mess has very little to do with science, either good or bad, and much to do with a whole host of political agendas. I hold out no hope for a rational resolution. The best we can hope for is the rejection of this foolishness likely for the wrong reasons.


This needs to be called in to Hawaii, we did not send enough envoys there for fear of the carbon footprint.

PS per 2010 CODATA, Stefan Boltzman Constant = 5.670 373 x 10^-8 W m^-2 K^-4
Standard uncertainty = 0.000 021 x 10-8 W m^-2 K^-4


Thanks for the clarification, Lord Monckton.

anna v

bohol says:
December 28, 2011 at 8:07 pm

So many people are just so misinformed about climate change or global warming. Because of this lack of information, people would make wrong conclusions.

The it is not random misinformation. It is a planned and targeted one with ulterior economic and political motives. Economic with all those CO2 and alternative energy bubbles, and political pushing for a global government/control.

Theo Goodwin

This little essay is a simple and clear account of how the magnitude of the Greenhouse Effect is calculated and it includes Lord Monckton’s reasons for believing that climate sensitivity has the low value of 1.2 K. This essay should clarify these matters for many people who have not had the time or interest to slog through longer articles. Thank you, Lord Monckton.

A nice post that generates a couple of thoughts
1. The earth rotates and on average receives no radiation for 12 hours per day.
2. Assuming albedo is not really science.
3. The radiation can be measured. A simple experiment, measure the surface temp at noon on a clear day, mid summer, in the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere and the equator. This can be expanded and then plotted. Here in the tropics at noon you almost cannot walk on the sand at noon but mid summer in the uk you can.

Robert of Ottawa

OK OK I have a problem with this entire discussion, m’lord 🙂
Before we discuss the effect of a “GHG” in the atmosphere, how about answering the question: “What is the surface atmospheric temperature of an Earth with an atmospheric mass of ‘1’, composed of Nitrogen”?


The faint sun paradox assumes an atmospheric pressure of 1 bar over the course of the life of Earth’s atmosphere. That probably isn’t true. Some background:
Then we have such things as the Azolla event that pulled Earth’s CO2 from over 3000ppm to around 650ppm in about 1 million years.
We know that all of the limestone, chalk, marble, alabaster, coal, and shale is carbon removed from Earth’s atmosphere. If all of the CO2 locked up in those materials just in the land deposits (not counting the sea deposits) we would have an atmosphere of about 35 bar. Earth’s surface would be much warmer. Oh, and then there’s this:
No, I don’t think the IPCC has it right. The point of the IPCC results is to create fear of CO2 that enables UNFCCC policy recommendations. That is it’s one and only purpose in this world. It was designed to justify actions under the Rio Declaration. It is a group designed from the outset to reach a certain conclusion. That conclusion is that “it is plausible that a rise in CO2 emissions could result in a change in climate (scientific uncertainty surrounding the AMOUNT of change notwithstanding) and that it is plausible that this climate change COULD be harmful to the environment (again, uncertainty surrounding the extent of the harm notwithstanding)”. That, coupled with the “Precautionary Principle”, which reverses the logic of the burden of proof forces anyone wishing to block UNFCCC action to “prove” that CO2 *can’t* change climate and that the change *can’t* damage the environment. It is impossible to prove a negative. The Precautionary Principle is a perversion of logic. You can not prove that something can’t happen, you can, at best, only prove that you have found no evidence OF it happening.
The entire thing is a masterpiece of Orwellian logic.

This is probably a naive question, but can’t we figure the Earth’s temperature minus greenhouse gasses by looking at the Moon?


Should some one be able to confront the “Team” and the IPCC authors and work groups with these conclusions, plus the fact that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, what will be their response? — ‘You are wrong’ – no reason given? ‘Statistics say otherwise’ – when statistics are not involved?
It would be interesting to see. Not to mention the stupid attempt to re-write climate history of the MWP and the LIA.

Doug in Seattle

Given the evidence of past actions of the IPCC, I do not for a moment think they will go quietly into the night. Should they be forced by the science to acknowledge a sensitivity as low as Lord Monckton suggests, I expect they will find a way to make that look scary like they have the “accelerated” sea level rise, or the “acidification” of seawater.


Whenever people talk about the average temperature that Earth would have with or without GHGs or clouds, it always suprises me that, no matter what temperature they think it would be, they never include in their calculations the FACT that the Earth rotates, and that different parts of the Earth have different resistance to temperature change (it takes a different ammount of Jules for that part of the surface to increase its temperature by 1 degree). Although it seems irrelevant, it is not. I will explain.
With the same Sun and the same Earth composition, the average temperature would be higher if the Earth rotated faster. Why? Because a faster rotation would mean shorter days and nights, and that would mean lower temperature differences between day and night. Even if the average temperature was momentarily the same, the Earth’s radiation to space would be not. An Earth with an average temperature T in which there are little variations of temperature from place to place, emits less radiation to space than an Earth with the same average temperature T but with big variations of temperature from place to place. This is because emissivity is a factor of T^4. So, because in this scenario the Earth would emit less radiation to space, there would be a radiative imbalance, and the Earth would warm up, ending up with a higher average T.
The average temperature of the Moon is so low, not just because of not having GHGs and having a high albedo, but also because its days and nights last 14 terrestrial days, and there is no water, and both things lead to huge differences of temperature between the day side and the night side, which means that it radiates far more than it would if its temperature was uniform, and if it radiates a lot more, it is a lot colder in average for a radiative imbalance of 0. So if Earth had no GHGs, you can be sure that its average temperature would be quite higher than the Moon’s, just because of the water in the surface and a higher rotation speed causing smaller temperature differences from place to place.
So, when you want to calculate what is a Stable Earth’s Average Surface Temperature, (that is, without any radiative imbalances as a whole), with or without GHGs, IT DOES MATTER how the Earth’s surface temperature is distributed. You need to account for it or the number you arrive to will be meaningless. For the same Earth’s average surface temperature, emisivity varies with different temperature distributions in the surface, while the sun’s input is rather stable.


Reed Coray’s post demonstrates yet another approach to the question of cloud feedback, and the growing body of evidence that it is negative. As the earth heats up, clouds increase to cool the climate. As the earth cools, clouds decrease to warm the climate.
As a result we have an exceptionally stable climate, that varies less that 1 part in 300 K per century. In contrast, daily and seasonal temperatures vary more than 10 parts in 300 K or more over much of the earth. In other words, climate is so stable that daily and seasonal fluctuations are more than ten times greater than century long fluctuations.


The current GHG AGW argument assumes that an earth with zero atmosphere would have the same average temperature with a pure N2 atmosphere at 1 bar, and would have the same surface temperature as an earth with a pure N2 atmosphere and 10,000 bar of surface pressure.
Rubbish. It is utter nonsense.
An earth with a 100 bar atmosphere would emit the same radiation at the top of atmosphere as an earth with a 1 bar atmosphere. The amount is exactly equal to the incoming radiation, which is provided by the sun.
Thus the top of the atmosphere will be the same temperature in all cases, regardless of how thick the atmosphere is. On an earth with no atmosphere, the surface it the top of atmosphere.
However, except on an earth with no atmosphere, the bottom of the atmosphere would not be the same temperate as the top, because the atmosphere is gravitationally and thermally bound to the planet, according to the lapse rate.
The earth with the thicker N2 atmosphere will be warmer (on average) at the surface than the earth with the thinner atmosphere, which will be warmer still at the surface than the earth with no atmosphere.
If this was not true, then the lapse rate for an atmosphere without GHG would have to be zero.

Beat me to it!
Christopher, study that paper. Here’s a crucial quote: “only a sizable increase of total atmospheric mass can bring about a significant and sustained warming. However, human-induced gaseous emissions are extremely unlikely to produce such a mass increase. Hence, there is no anthropogenic forcing to global climate.” (my emphasis).
And about that 33K figure:
“According to Eq. (2), our atmosphere boosts Earth’s surface temperature not by 18K—33K as currently assumed, but by 133K!”
Paradigm smasher.

Paul Westhaver

Lord Monckton,
During my training in university I had the occasion to do many calculations in heat transfer so I am reasonably familiar with your manipulations. My job and the needs of my family prevent me from digging in on your work but I must say that your work in sensitivity is what attracts my interest, that and the whole signal to noise ratio issue.
Part of my career caused me to participate in the modeling of an enclosed building (a nuclear reactor containment building) for its thermal and physical properties of the gases within. We needed to demonstrate the leak rate of gases as the building went through a pressurization cycle. The Nuclear regulation body required us to meet specific leak rate restrictions and demonstrate them as met.
The problem of modeling the containment building required the installation of several humidity sensors, pressure gauges, thermometers, strain gauges, flow meters etc and to perform accurate gas sampling for constituents.
This was just one building with top-of-the-line sensors.
We passed. But I recall the difficulty involved in ensuring the gauges and meters were all calibrated and then calculating the expected error in the leak rate. We could measure the inflow of gas but had to calculate the outflow based on the internal physical properties of the building. The out flow was calculated. it was tough.
Based on that experience I know that it is impossible to determine with any confidence the planetary values for the thermodynamic variables. I know that you know this. I am curious about your calculated error estimates. (how much noise is in that signal you need to see?)
Also, I am interested in your model. I imagine the earth as a series of concentric spheres (more or less) constituted by gaseous layers, thermally variant based on latitudinal boundaries.
with an earth or water minimum sphere. I see a possibility of big errors based on my assumptions. Just thinking.

Bob Fernley-Jones

I’m rather surprised that the concept of a characteristic or average emission temperature of any rotating planet or moon, either with or without an atmosphere, let alone oceans, is still debated. There are so many things that are non-linear and troublesome about it that it in my view it is all nonsense to declare an average (linear) temperature!
Here follow just three issues, keeping it short:
1) The incoming radiation from the sun treated conceptually as received over a disc, should NOT then be linearly averaged over the ~spherical surface area. There is a huge variation in the global power per unit surface area involved. For instance at 45 degrees latitude, at high zenith, (for a year average), it is ~41% less than at the equator, and it diminishes with great rapidity at higher latitudes assuming no change in reflectance. However, reflectivity tends to increase also, per Lambert’s cosine law*. (Oh, and BTW, very much more so over water, which is not mentioned by the alarmist’s Arctic melting feedback scary stuff) Keep in mind also that the surface absorptive/emissive power is proportional to the fourth power of temperature of the surface, (per Stefan-Boltzmann & Kirchhoff’s law), and also linearly to albedo/reflectance. Also, at low latitudes the ratio of surface area presentation to high zenith insolation is very much higher than at higher latitudes. Thus the bulk of the Earth’s energy absorbed from the sun is somewhat near the equator, although with advective atmospheric and ocean circulations on Earth, it is spread around, unlike on otherwise similar airless bodies. Thus, regardless of any greenhouse effect, the surface temperatures on Earth would be expected to be more uniform than on say the moon, which is precisely what is observed, simply because of fluid circulations.
2) An important factor in surface temperatures and their distributions on any lifeless planet or moon, especially if airless, is its rotation speed and the characteristics of its regolith, (soil and stuff), which include its regional thermal conductivities, specific heats, albedos, and presence or absence of evaporative content.
3) The earth rotates once every 24 hours, and receives at any moment of time over that rotation interval of 180 degrees, insolation from the Sun spread over that momentary hemisphere. However, at that time, there is a powerful hotspot just under the high zenith that will result in great local warming, particularly into the tropical seas, but only momentarily. Also momentarily there will also be higher than average heat loss from that hotspot. Meanwhile, the Earth is an oblate spheroid, and emits radiation not only from the illuminated side, but also from the dark side.
There is other stuff, but will that do for now?
* Here is an easy to follow description of Lambert’s Cosine Law as considered in optics. (Some physicists like to make it seem more complicated):

BTW, Christopher, good work with your button-holing and piercing of the wall of disinformation around the US delegates. Hell hath no Fury like a Believer who discovers he’s been suckered.


Anyone know where the 288K number comes from? Is it measured with special instruments or is it just a statistical estimate based on worldwide air temperature data?

When 6,000 ppm of CO2 on Mars will start exhibit a single degree of warming above the black body 310K, wake me up.
Nobody_never_dared _to_assume, that ALL the warming since 1750 has been caused by additional CO2. Even the exaggerated and artificial-positive-feedback driven climate models show reasonable warming since 1960 only.
Seriously, where exactly is the winter warming in polar regions, which should warm by far most?
Arctic is exactly as “warm” as in 1940s. Sensitivity = zero.
These are three autumn months in my region. It has not warm a bit. Has CO2 took a months off? Sensitivity = zero.
At the very end
Until we can physically explain every single up and down in there reconstruction, all debates about sensitivity are useless, since we do not know much about the underlying natural variability.

Mike McMillan

The characteristic-emission surface is a new concept to me. If it is at 5km, that makes about 75,000 more square miles of disk to receive sunlight, and 300,000 more sq miles of radiative surface. Does that have any effect on the calculations?

Bob F-J;
For non-stop evidence of the factors you depict, examine the ‘Diurnal Bulge’, the travelling wave of atmospheric expansion that ‘tracks’ the sun around the tropics at about the 2 pm position.


ggm says:
December 28, 2011 at 8:24 pm
“Do these theories take into account the earth emits heat ?”
That is a strange question. Pour boiling water into a Thermos flask, screw on the lid and place on a table. Is the outer surface of the flask hot?
The soil under your feet acts a a very effective layer of insulation and prevents the internal heat escaping. Sit on sand in a desert at night and you’ll soon freeze. That’s how night stills for collecting moisture work.
Volcanoes are the route by which the internal heat reaches the surface. Did you study any Sciences at school or elsewhere?
Frank Lee MeiDere says:
December 28, 2011 at 10:41 pm
“but can’t we figure the Earth’s temperature minus greenhouse gasses (sic) by looking at the Moon?”
The moon has no atmosphere at all. In the absence of Carbon Dioxide, there would still be a blanket of Nitrogen, Oxygen, Water Vapour and other trace gases surrounding Earth. As life on this planet is Carbon based, absence of Carbon Dioxide would mean absence of life.

Frank Lee MeiDere says: December 28, 2011 at 10:41 pm “but can’t we figure the Earth’s temperature minus greenhouse gasses (sic) by looking at the Moon?” The moon has no atmosphere at all. In the absence of Carbon Dioxide, there would still be a blanket of Nitrogen, Oxygen, Water Vapour and other trace gases surrounding Earth. As life on this planet is Carbon based, absence of Carbon Dioxide would mean absence of life.
Yes, I’d heard rumours that the Moon was somewhat lacking in atmosphere. I was under the impression we were talking about the effect of ALL greenhouse gasses, not just CO2. I also thought we were talking strictly about temperature, not whether or not life could exist. So if we remove CO2 from the equation, but there is still an effect upon temperature by the remaining gasses, that would mean they were, in turn, greenhouse gasses. So then we remove another greenhouse gas, and another. If any gas is left that does NOT affect the temperature, then it can remain in the equation, since it is effectively zero. It struck me that a short form of doing this is to look at a body that is within our orbit, and which has no gasses to complicate the matter.
As I said, it may be a naive question, but your answer doesn’t even come close to answering it.
And while we’re at it, I don’t see anything all that silly about ggm’s question regarding the internal heat of the Earth, either. If you fill a Thermos with boiling water, the outside may not be hot to the touch, but that heat is going somewhere. If we place the Thermos in a refrigerator, a tiny person living on the surface of it might well freeze to death, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t heat coming off it.
When questions are asked, you have the choice of either responding to them, which means giving the best answer you can, or ignoring them. Trying to prove your supposed superiority with comments such as, “Did you study any Sciences at school or elsewhere?” is juvenile, and frankly, I’m sick of seeing such childish displays to honest enquiries.


HankHenry says:
December 29, 2011 at 12:37 am
“Anyone know where the 288K number comes from?”
A child could find an answer. What are you?


The pressure of atmospheric gases are more important than the composition of the mix of atmospheric gases, the hypothetical temperature differences between these gases are small, if there was the same amount of CO2 as water vapor in the atmosphere and CO2 behaved as clouds do, keeping the planet warm at night and cool during the day then where’s the problem?
If we had two equal glasses of water with a temperature of 1°C in each glass and poured both into an empty jug, what would the temperature of the water in the jug be? the answer is 1°C, Not 2°C.
So 1°C + 1°C = 1°C See how that works!
If CO2 in the atmosphere had a hypothetical temperature of X°C and we doubled the quantity by an equal amount, what would the hypothetical temperature of X°C be? Um… well.. er.. Feed backs, um… sensitivity… localized… um.. the climate… think of the polar bears!


Brian H says:
December 29, 2011 at 12:11 am
Beat me to it!

Thanks for posting it again, I think it’s pretty important. Paradigm smasher, indeed. I thought it might get lost in the noise. The papers about the atmospheric pressure is important, too, in my opinion. People assume for some reason that we have had a constant atmospheric pressure since the beginning of time when we have direct physical evidence that this can’t be true. Earth probably started out with an atmosphere much like Venus’ and we can see enough carbon stored in various carbonates that has been removed from the atmosphere to see that this was probably true at some point. The atmosphere during the time of the dinosaurs was probably 4 to 5 times today’s atmospheric pressure.


Skannen> Australian science is third world believe me!

Lord Beaverbrook

It would be interesting to read Blasing,2011. Has it achieved publication yet?

crosspatch says:
December 29, 2011 at 1:23 am

The atmosphere during the time of the dinosaurs was probably 4 to 5 times today’s atmospheric pressure.

Yes, I was the one who resurrected/linked to that article by Levenspiel It makes sense of lots of other things, too.


Reed Coray’s post was quite correct to point out the load of rubbish that must be swallowed if you are expected to believe in the IPCC presented greenhouse theory.
How often have we read that in the absence of the ‘greenhouse gases’ the Earth surface temperature would be 33K lower?
It would, if these impossible things happened!
1. No extra radiation whatsoever got to the Earth surface
2. The Earth surface albedo jumped from 0.12 to 0.3
3. The albedo of the extra surface bound radiation infra red radiation instead of being almost zero also becomes 0.3.
Reed Coray uses IPCC accepted values to show that the greenhouse theory as presented has no internal logic
Unfortunately the original Monckton presentation did not point out how absurd these “impossible conditions are”.
Some sceptics want to appear more “reasonable” and so unfortunately accept nonsense as a condition.
Its a good job that IPCC science does not want us to accept that ;
1. Water can flow uphill
2. An exploding grenade can spontaneously reassemble
3. Gravity is a repulsive forge
4. Heat can flow spontaneously from a colder to a hotter surface

P.S. read the afternote at the end of that linked article. He’d been trying for a decade to get the paper reviewed and published.

I am grateful for the many interesting comments on the simple derivation of low system and industrial-era climate sensitivities, and should like to reply to a few correspondents.
Brian H cites the work of Dr. Nikolov’s team, posted above mine. In correspondence with Dr. Nikolov I have said that zonal calculations of temperature, when adjusted for the surface area of each zone and the sun’s azimuth angle and then summed, seem to yield a mean global temperature near-identical to that which a single application of the fundamental equation of radiative transfer determines. In short, the Holder inequality is in this instance very small. Dr. Nikolov has replied that one should also perform longitudinal calculations to allow for the time of day or night: however, these calculations would not change the result significantly. Therefore, I have suggested to him that he may like to get his very low value for the Earth’s characteristic-emission temperature peer-reviewed and accepted by the scientific community before he proceeds further with his theory. For the time being, my conclusion is that the Earth’s characteristic-emission temperature is 255 K, not the 155 K he finds, and that accordingly the warming caused by the presence as opposed to absence of all greenhouse gases is 33 K, not 133 K.
CBA suggests one should take the temperature of the cloud tops into account when determining the characteristic-emission temperature. However, the characteristic-emission altitude is well above nearly all cloud tops, whose significant influence on the Earth’s albedo must nevertheless be taken into account.
Grey Lensman says the Earth receives no radiation at night; the radiation can be measured; and the albedo should not be assumed to be 0.3. However, as my post explained, the division of satellite-measured total solar irradiation by 4 allows for the nightside; the characteristic-emission radiation is, therefore, simply one-fourth of the measured top-of-atmosphere total solar irradiation, reduced by 30% to allow for albedo; and the albedo is not an assumption but is measured by a large number of authorities.
Robert of Ottawa asks what the surface temperature of the Earth with an all-nitrogen atmosphere would be. In the absence of any greenhouse gases, the answer is 255 K or thereby.
Frank Lee MeiDere asks whether we can gauge the Earth’s temperature in the absence of greenhouse gases by studying the Moon. However, the objective is to obtain a characteristic-emission temperature for the Earth after allowing for the three assumptions mentioned in my posting (which do not apply to the Moon), so as to determine how much warmer the Earth is in response to the presence as opposed to absence of all greenhouse gases. Looking at the Moon is of little help, since it has no atmosphere at all. Also, its albedo is somewhat less than that of the naked terrestrial (or Martian) lithospheres.
Paul Westhaver asks about uncertainty in measurement, and Hank Henry asks how today’s mean surface temperature of 288 K is derived. Surface temperature is measured continuously by two generally reliable separate satellite systems and also by surface temperature stations of variable quality. The results are similar, and 288 K is probably within a degree or two of the true mean surface temperature. The characteristic-emission radiative flux is simply one-fourth of the satellite-measured total top-of-atmosphere solar irradiance, with an uncertainty of perhaps a couple of Watts per square meter. The CO2 radiative forcing is probably an exaggeration, according to the mathematician who did much of the initial spectral-line-by-spectral-line radiative-transfer calculations: however, if it is indeed exaggerated then climate sensitivity is still lower than the 1.2 K I have determined.
Finally, Bob Fernley-Jones asks whether there is really such a thing as a characteristic-emission temperature. As my post explained, this is a matter of definition. Corresponding to every point on the Earth’s surface there is some altitude directly above it at which the incoming and outgoing radiative fluxes are identical. Connecting these altitudes generates a rather imperfectly spherical characteristic-emission surface, but the departure from true sphericality is insufficient to alter the calculations significantly. The name “characteristic-emission level” is attributable to the formidable Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT, to whom I am most grateful for his patient answers to my many questions about this and other subjects. Without brave men like him, who have had the courage to stick to the science where many climatologists were profiting by perverting science in the service of extremist politics, the truth that is now emerging would still be hidden. And that truth, as my post demonstrates, is that climate sensitivity is low enough to be harmless.

Disko Troop

I entirely agree with you Mr Frank Lee MeiDere . That kind of childish response by Perry to honest questions is what we expect from Romm and his ilk. This is why we come to WUWT to be informed and perhaps to disseminate some truth to the world outside the blogosphere.

Paul in UK

I agree with Nylo – this is a point I have occasionally raised before, but never seen anyone pick up on it, does anyone; IPCC/computer models, warmers, sceptics, Monckton, take this into account? I am not an expert, but as Nylo points out, because radiation depends on T to power 4, then it is not sensible to use average temperature, a heat distributing atmosphere (with or without ghg’s), ocean and faster spin rate will distribute heat, reduce the temperature range and cause an increase in the average temperature.
For example, if we had a disc not spinning in relation to a Sun, the hot side, facing the Sun, all at say 300K, the cold side in shadow all at 100K we would say the average temperature is 200K it will be emitting radiation proportional to 300^4 plus 100^4 = 8200E6. Now let’s make it a perfect conductor so both sides are the same temperature, at equilibrium each side now emitting half of the above value so it’s temperature is 253K, i.e. on average it is now 53K warmer.
So when we say 33K warming due to ghg’s, presumably some of that increase in the average temperature is actually down to the spin rate of the Earth, the oceans and the atmosphere distributing heat around and reducing the temperature range. I’d like to know roughly how much this amounts to; 0.1K? 10K? 30K? I have not had the patience or necessary data to calculate it out, e.g. a representative grid of all the temperatures at a representative instant in time, but then it gets more complicated if you have to use different emissivities for each point too e.g. for snow, forest, sea, rock, desert, etc.

anna v

Maybe a look at black body radiation to see how climate scientists estimate earth temperatures will help those having problems with the cooling of the earth. The article derives the temperature of a planet using some assumptions to be:
−18.8 °C.
This is the temperature of the Earth if it radiated as a perfect black body in the infrared, ignoring greenhouse effects , and assuming an unchanging albedo.

the 15C ( 288K) comes from the complicated averaging of measurements over the last decades and getting an average earth temperature. The difference is attributed to the existence of the atmosphere and the green house effect.
BTW I think that the very concept of “average earth temperature” as others have also commented, is questionable since energy loss through black body radiation is not linear but goes as T^4 and the earth both in time and space is completely variable.

Stephen Wilde

That is a good synopsis as far as the atmosphere is concerned.
Could it be extended to include the oceanic response to more GHGs?
As I see it the response of that 70% of the surface that is water covered could actually make the system response negative so as to remove all or most of the theoretical warming effect from a CO2 doubling.
The surface air pressure distribution might shift an unmeasurable fraction but we would never notice it.


Frank Lee MeiDere says:
December 29, 2011 at 1:31 am
I do sympathise with your remarks about how some commentators answer (or not) questions.
“When questions are asked, you have the choice of either responding to them, which means giving the best answer you can, or ignoring them. Trying to prove your supposed superiority with comments such as, “Did you study any Sciences at school or elsewhere?” is juvenile, and frankly, I’m sick of seeing such childish displays to honest enquiries.”
So let me answer ggm’s very pertinent question.
ggm says:
December 28, 2011 at 8:24 pm
“Do these theories take into account the earth emits heat ?”
Geothermal heating, averaged over the surface of the Earth, amounts to about 0.08 Watt/m2 This is very small compared to the solar radiation absorbed into the Earth’s climate system ( 240 Watt/m2 ). In terms of climate therefore, geothermal heating can be considered to be insignificant.

The whole argument is garbage. Firstly, we have day and night with very different incident solar radiation. If you calculate even just two separate temperatures for day and night (using SBL) and average the temperatures (rather than averaging the radiation) you obviously get a very different much lower result from 255 deg.K because the average of the fourth roots is very different from the fourth root of the average.
But, even if we work with the 255 deg.K figure it must be considered to be a value for the whole Earth plus atmosphere system as seen from space. That is the only (approximate) blackbody involved. The surface/atmosphere interface is merely an internal interface. If you were to apply SBL at the surface, then you would need to deduct a similar calculation for radiation from the atmosphere back to teh surface. (This is standard physics which the IPCC ignores.)
In fact diffusion (conduction) ensures very close thermal equilibrium between the surface and the first 1mm of the air (see Wikipedia “Heat Transfer”) and so the net radiation is in fact very close to zero and oscillates in direction (up or down) depending upon which is temporarily the warmer.
So, in fact the 255 deg.K would be a weighted mean of the Earth+atmosphere system, perhaps at about 5 km altitude. If so, the lapse rate (say 6.5 deg/km) would explain 32.5 degrees difference. There is absolutely nothing caused by any back radiation warming because, as Prof Claes Johnson has now proved, radiation with frequencies below a cut-off frequency = kT/h (k=Boltzmann’s const, H=Planck’s const T=absolute temperature of surface) is not converted to thermal energy at all.
In fact I believe the figure should be much lower than 255 deg.K and the weighted mean altitude somewhat higher. But the whole real world situation is far more complex because of storage of thermal energy (in the land surfaces, oceans and atmosphere) from day to night. Even the surface plus atmosphere is not a true blackbody because of this storage of thermal energy which seeps out the back “trap door” and thence underground. A proper model should integrate over the 24 hour cycle and also take into account rates of conduction/convection in the land surfaces and oceans.
But the whole exercise of modelling is pointless now that we know back radiation does no warming. Monckton needs to catch up with this critical fact. Maybe he could read