# Whole lotta watts added to the atmosphere

I loved the way James Russell described CO2 molecules as “natural thermostats”

Solar Storm Dumps Gigawatts into Earth’s Upper Atmosphere

A recent flurry of eruptions on the sun did more than spark pretty auroras around the poles.  NASA-funded researchers say the solar storms of March 8th through 10th dumped enough energy in Earth’s upper atmosphere to power every residence in New York City for two years.

“This was the biggest dose of heat we’ve received from a solar storm since 2005,” says Martin Mlynczak of NASA Langley Research Center.  “It was a big event, and shows how solar activity can directly affect our planet.”

Earth’s atmosphere lights up at infrared wavelengths during the solar storms of March 8-10, 2010. A ScienceCast video explains the physics of this phenomenon. Play it!

Mlynczak is the associate principal investigator for the SABER instrument onboard NASA’s TIMED satellite.  SABER monitors infrared emissions from Earth’s upper atmosphere, in particular from carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO), two substances that play a key role in the energy balance of air hundreds of km above our planet’s surface.

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

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

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

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

A surge of infrared radiation from nitric oxide molecules on March 8-10, 2012, signals the biggest upper-atmospheric heating event in seven years. Credit: SABER/TIMED. See also the CO2 data.

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

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

During the heating impulse, the thermosphere puffed up like a marshmallow held over a campfire, temporarily increasing the drag on low-orbiting satellites.  This is both good and bad.  On the one hand, extra drag helps clear space junk out of Earth orbit.  On the other hand, it decreases the lifetime of useful satellites by bringing them closer to the day of re-entry.

The storm is over now, but Russell and Mlynczak expect more to come.

“We’re just emerging from a deep solar minimum,” says Russell.  “The solar cycle is gaining strength with a maximum expected in 2013.”

More sunspots flinging more CMEs toward Earth adds up to more opportunities for SABER to study the heating effect of solar storms.

“This is a new frontier in the sun-Earth connection,” says Mlynczak, and the data we’re collecting are unprecedented.”

Stay tuned to Science@NASA for updates from the top of the atmosphere. Author:Dr. Tony Phillips|

## 116 thoughts on “Whole lotta watts added to the atmosphere”

1. Paul Westhaver says:

You mean the sun heats up the earth? Hard to believe. All this time I thought it was the farting cows.

So it seems like solar events influence terrestrial weather. I wonder if Mars is also experiencing a dose of warm weather this week too?

2. Pkatt says:

Oh my goodness, actual observation of an event … and an admission that an active sun does indeed effect the heat in our atmosphere. What? Co2 did something beneficial?? Oh the scandal!!! .. /sarc off.

I sense the return of credible science in our future.

3. Baa Humbug says:

I’m glad to hear from NASA that CO2 is a coolant in the thermosphere. One day I also hope to hear that CO2 is a coolant in the lower atmosphere, which it almost certainly is.
I’m also glad to hear that the thermosphere expands when heated, as does the lower atmosphere when it is heated by solar insolation.

4. Rod says:

“Infrared radiation from CO2 and NO, the two most efficient coolants in the thermosphere, re-radiated 95% of that total back into space”
What, no 50% radiated down to heat the lower atmosphere?

5. Alec Rawls says:

Is NASA hiding the 10.7 cm decline? At the 3.34 mark of the video they show the a graph of the 10.7 cm radio flux data updated to January 9th, when the radio flux was spiking upwards:

But the CME occurred on March 8th and NASA had updated its 10.7cm graph on March 6th, as can be seen in this WUWT post:

(That’s a Dec. 6th 2011 post, so I guess the graphics are based on a script that automatically brings up the latest update. )

The question is why, if NASA updated its graphic on the 6th, does this NASA vid, made sometime after the 8th, not use the update? Is it because the update shows the collapse of the 10.7cm numbers?

6. I wander if he looked at the sun lately.
The sunspots have all but disappeared.
And apparently the CO2 is actually COOLING the atmosphere rather than heating it.
Maybe Mann needs to have a chat with this guy…

7. Rujholla says:

Did I just hear NASA saying that the more CO2 in the atmosphere the more it acts as a negative feedback to the greenhouse effect?

8. DirkH says:

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

Quick, somebody from the team shut him up, he’s hurting the cause… /sarc
Glad to hear this simple and clear statement.

9. Otter says:

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

He’ll never be hired by the IPCC. The nerve of him, telling the truth!

10. Otter says:

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

He’ll never be hired by the IPCC. The nerve of him, telling the truth!

(possible 2nd posting of this, sorry, first one vanished)

11. Peter says:

My god, don’t let the alarmists get ahold of the idea that CO2 can cause cooling, or in the decades to come they will be telling us we need to reduce to prevent global cooling.

12. richard says:

So Hans Shreuder , I love my co2, is right !!

13. cal says:

One of the great unanswered questions is whether the nett effect of increased CO2 is warming or cooling? I know the “jury is out” but we still have a chance to appeal!

The warming effect of CO2 is due to the fact that the layer radiating into space increases in altitude as the concentration of CO2 increases. The public message is that, since the temperature drops with increasing altitude, less energy is radiated within the CO2 energy band and therefore the surface temperature has to rise in order to radiate more energy at all other wavelengths to compensate.

However the altitude that CO2 radiates into space straddles the tropopause (where temperatures do not increase with altitude). So (all things being equal) an increase in concentration will incease the energy radiated to space in the centre of the band whilst reducing the energy only in the exteme upper and lower frequencies within the 14-18 micron band.

Of course in the realms of earth climate all things are never equal. The possibility is that the tropopause has actually inceased in altitude as CO2 concentrations have increased. Given a constant lapse rate that means that the temperature of the tropopause would have decreased and the standard description of CO2 warming would be justified.

But has it?

I know that climate scientists are not keen on measuring anything in case it undermines their models but this would be a very good thing to know given that, in the absence of a cooling tropopause, an increase in CO2 would lead to increased radiation loss and a cooling surface.

If one looks carefully at the paleo data this is what the temperature/CO2 relationship seems to suggest. If the effect of CO2 was warming one would expect to see temperature increases when the CO2 concentrations were high and cooling trends when concentrations were low. In fact the opposite is the case. In every one of the last six cycles (that is 12 increases/decreases) the warming has been during periods of low CO2 and the cooling has been during periods of high CO2.

My personal view (and it can only be a guess in the same way that the climate scientists are guessing) is that the various CO2 effects pretty much cancell each other out, but I would not be surprised if the theoretical 0.7C increase per doubling was found to be true.

But I have this nagging concern: maybe the cooling effect wins out. If this is the case then my my big worry would be that we would need to reduce CO2 to avoid global cooling. But, given the way science has been misused and abused by the climate science fraternity, the credibility of such a new revelation would be nil. How would one convince the public that the new scare was real this time?

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

How come the CO2 and NO didn’t re-radiate half of the energy downwards?

Enquiring minds would like to know…

15. CMEs that emanate out of the sun, are linked to it by combination of electric current and magnetic field

moving through heliosphere as shown by this NASA animation

If the swirling concentration of electro & magnetic energy (often referred to as magnetic cloud or magnetic rope) doesn’t hit a magnetosphere it progresses to the far reaches of the heliosphere and disperses along the heliopause.
If it does hit a magnetosphere, a reconnection ensues, part of it is short-circuited and some of the energy is discharged.
http://www.igpp.ucla.edu/public/THEMIS/SCI/Pubs/Nuggets/reconnection/262351main_reconnect.mpg
Since the ‘magnetic rope’ is connected to the source, i.e. the sun, the short circuit effect is fed back to the solar surface (CME solar feedback) as an electro-magnetic energy shock-wave of great intensity (analogous to a short circuiting effect on any source of electric current).
Two gas giants (Jupiter and Saturn)have huge magnetospheres many hundreds times of the Earth’s (Jupiter’s magnetosphere extends to ~ 5AU), so the reconnection events are that more powerful and far more frequent.
Certain configurations of Jupiter and Saturn’s orbital locations will envelop larger or smaller extant of the heliosphere, thus changes in the volume of the electro-magnetic interaction space will result in modulating intensity of ‘CME solar feedback’ in the time domain. The feedback effect can be sufficiently strong to regulate behaviour of the weak-ish sun’s magnetic polar field, which is widely accepted to be a precursor of the following sunspot cycle.
Proposed result of the above spatio-temporal modulation can be expressed in numerical form as an equation where planetary orbital parameters modulate strength and polarity of the solar dipole:
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC2.htm
The above equation shows that there is high correlation between observed data and numerical interpretation of above postulated hypothesis.
Sunspots (as the solar activity in general) in the origin and the consequence are essentially of the electro and magnetic nature, where the gravitational effects are negligible. Thus the role of gravitation force is limited and only important as far as it moves two major magnetospheres along the planetary orbits.
Content of this post is available on my website as:
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CMEfeedback.htm
so for future reference you can record the link or just google “CMEfeedback”.
Thank you for your attention. m. a. vukcevic

16. Otter says:

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

I suspect he’ll never be hired by the IPCC, they don’t need people who tell the truth.

17. Katherine says:

A surge of infrared radiation from nitric oxide molecules on March 8-10, 2012, signals the biggest upper-atmospheric heating event in seven years.

Waiting for Lief’s comment that the increase in IR radiation is nothing significant.

18. Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings and commented:
“Carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are natural thermostats,”

19. polistra says:

Moving the magnetic field creates heat in the core through hysteresis. Other than that, there’s no point in even tabulating this energy, because it’s not a useful input.

It’s like offering a uranium drink to a person and then saying “What’s wrong with you? This is a great High-Energy Shot! Drink it and work out!”

20. Gail Combs says:

“….nitric oxide are [is] natural thermostats,”…

Looks like that is another “Boogeyman” chemical (Ozone depletion and Acid Rain) caused by burning fossil fuels OR biomass. We emit far too much of these nitrogen oxides during combustion proceses, particularly from vehicles….Nitrogen oxides can also be formed when biomass is burnt and during lightning.

And then we come right back to plants.

Biological nitrogen fixation is an essential natural process that supports life on this planet. Higher plants and animals obtain nitrogen ultimately from nitrogen-fixing organisms or from nitrogen fertilizers (including nitrogen compounds formed during lightning strikes). Available soil nitrogen, which originates from decomposing plant residues and microorganisms, is normally deficient for intensive crop production….

Concerns about the cost and supply of fossil-based energy were major reasons for the expansion of BNF research in the 1970s. Environmental quality and sustainability are equally compelling concerns in the 1990s.

Nitrogen fixation occurs both biologically and non-biologically. Asymbiotic and symbiotic biological systems fix an estimated 100-175 million metric tons of nitrogen annually (Burns and Hardy, 1975), and this probably has not changed substantially during the last century. Non-biological nitrogen fixation occurs through the effects of lightning, and in industry primarily by the Haber-Bosch process, which requires high levels of fossil fuel. Worldwide, lightning may fix 10 million metric tons of nitrogen a year, a value that probably has not changed over time. Industrial fixation for fertilizer nitrogen has increased from 3.5 million tons in 1950 to 80 million tons in 1989 (Figure 1) (Hardy, 1993) in response to the needs of high-yielding crops….
http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=9288&page=6

The warmist/eco-nuts must really hate plants, they keep trying to rob them of the essentials.

21. beng says:

If the solar storm dumps energy into the thermosphere or even stratosphere, there’s no way that can get “down” to the surface.

22. NO is a diatomic molecule, hence must have a very different absorption spectrum than the GHG gases we normally deal with. I tried to find something about it on the web, but wasn’t successful. I did find http://www.heliosat3.de/e-learning/remote-sensing/Lec7.pdf which is a very good introduction and reference, but no mention of NO. It does mention CO which may be similar to NO. (The lecture does have references to rotational energy and dipole moments, which N2 and O2 don’t have.)

Any pointers? I’ll write James Russell. and invite him to explain here.

23. richard verney says:

tallbloke says:
March 23, 2012 at 2:49 am
///////////////////////////////
Absolutely. I endorse that.

On NASA’s own figures, only 5% of the energy received was effectively absorbed by the atmosphere and/or radiated downwards as DWLWIR.

At the very least, this suggests that in the upper atmosphere CO2 does not work as the warmists portray CO2 worlks in the lower atmosphere.

Surely this cannot be a matter of the oft laudeted ‘basic physics’ of the CO2 molecule? The basic physics of the molecule remain the same no matter at what altitude the molecule may reside.

The exact workings require further study and explanation.

24. Looks like that the GOES the Xray flare monitoring has a problem

25. Mike M says:

Yet another nail in the CAGW coffin and a BIG ONE! If CO2 can be detected to re-radiate enormous spikes of heat from a flare then it must be doing the same thing all the time at normal levels of solar radiation.

It seems to say that CO2 is an agent that STABILIZES earth’s temperature by helping to keep in some of the heat trying to get out and repel some of the heat trying to get in.

26. Mike M says:

richard verney says:…. At the very least, this suggests that in the upper atmosphere CO2 does not work as the warmists portray CO2 worlks in the lower atmosphere.

Well no, I’d say it works exactly the same – IN REVERSE.

27. jack morrow says:

vukcevic says @3:47
Maybe the reason the aurora lights up so fast is it similar to an electric current where when you turn on a switch to a light bulb it comes on almost instantly. Just like a tube filled with marbles, if you add an extra marble at one end , a marble at the other end will pop out.

28. Peter Pan says:

Actually solar storm added some energy into Earth’s Upper Atmosphere, but the TSI at same period is dropping.

So the net effect on the Earth climate will be cooling.

29. Vukcevic just said: “…Looks like that the GOES the Xray flare monitoring has a problem”

Hey – remember, that is GOES-15 which is still (I think) in “Safe-Hold-Mode” due to a command error. While it is there, it isn’t doing much of anything till the controllers get it recovered. Till that time, the plot will stay blank & we will have to rely on GOES-13 info till then.

Jeff

31. John F. Hultquist says:

Waiting for Lief’s (sic) comment that the increase in IR radiation is nothing significant.

The title says this: “Whole lotta watts added to the atmosphere”

From the scientist we have this: says Mlynczak. “It’s so diffuse and out of reach high above Earth’s surface. Plus, the majority of it has been sent back into space by the action of CO2 and NO.”

majority = 95% So 5% did not immediately go back to space. Where did it go? Is it gone now? If not, why not? It seems to me these are the sorts of issues Leif might help with.

32. John F. Hultquist says:

Sorry all.
@ 6:50 I should have had this at the top

Katherine says: at 3:34 am Says this:

33. vukcevic says on March 23, 2012 at 2:50 am

CMEs that emanate out of the sun, are linked to it by combination of electric current and magnetic field …

Could you elucidate when it was that moving electric particles (e.g. protons and electrons) in ‘free space’ (outside of a conductor) become classified as ‘electric current’?

Where is the ‘return current’ that must exist if this is truly an electric current, as according to Kirchhoff’s current law?

This law is also called Kirchhoff’s first law, Kirchhoff’s point rule, Kirchhoff’s junction rule (or nodal rule), and Kirchhoff’s first rule.

The principle of conservation of electric charge implies that:
– At any node (junction) in an electrical circuit, the sum of currents flowing into that node is equal to the sum of currents flowing out of that node, or:
– The algebraic sum of currents in a network of conductors meeting at a point is zero.

.

34. richard says:

add this to the cooling effect of moisture/clouds in the daytime, of course slow cooling at night and the net is closing in on co2 acting as a coolant as well as moisture – as suggested by Hans Shreuder- “I love my co2”

35. tallbloke says on March 23, 2012 at 2:49 am:

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

How come the CO2 and NO didn’t re-radiate half of the energy downwards?

They did (that which was ‘intercepted’ anyway); are you overlooking other factors, such as discrete (wavelength) absorption/re-radiation bands, and the fact that those molecules don’t comprise 100% of the atmosphere?

You’re not also denying the applied field of IR Spectroscopy, are you?

.

36. Steve Keohane says:

cal says: March 23, 2012 at 2:45 am
I have to agree that the jury is out on just what CO2 does. Disregarding the time lag in the ice cores, and what we think we know about how it acts, it has always seemed as logical to me to argue that high CO2 causes the temperature to crash at every CO2 peak; as it does to argue that it causes temperature increase.

37. Rob Crawford says:

“My god, don’t let the alarmists get ahold of the idea that CO2 can cause cooling, or in the decades to come they will be telling us we need to reduce to prevent global cooling.”

AGAIN?!

38. vukcevic says on March 23, 2012 at 5:56 am:

Looks like that the GOES the Xray flare monitoring has a problem

vukcevic, it would help if you would also monitor the operational status of the platforms/sensors whose ‘data’ you are observing:

Overall GOES satellite status: http://www.oso.noaa.gov/goesstatus/

. Goes-East (13) .. up
. Goes-West (15) . down (all systems)

Then drill-down to the individual ‘sensor status’ e.g. that for Goes-East where you will find:
http://www.oso.noaa.gov/goesstatus/spacecraftStatusSummary.asp?spacecraft=13

SEM – Space Environment Monitor – – YELLOW [In standby or OFF]
SXI – – Solar X-Ray Imager – – – – – – – – YELLOW [In standby or OFF]

.

39. Scientists using REAL data from REAL measurements. How refreshing.

40. Richard M says:

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

Well, what do you know. Exactly what I have been saying for the last couple of years. And, it’s all the atmosphere, not just the thermosphere.

The reason it is not 50% is obvious once you look at the structure of the atmosphere. While each CO2 molecule radiates away energy in a random direction, the path length before the energy is reabsorbed is shorter for radiation heading towards the surface. This is because of the higher density at lower elevations. Hence, once you look at the energy flow probabilistically, you see a net flux of energy towards space. Only very close to the surface does 50% of the energy head downward.

So, there is a GHE close to the surface where energy gets reabsorbed by the surface. However, the higher you go the higher the percentage of radiation that is lost to space. A natural cooling effect. You add more CO2 and you enhance the ability of the atmosphere to cool itself while at the same time enhancing the GHE. Which one wins? IMO, the GHE wins at low concentrations of GHGs, but at concentrations we find on Earth (due to partial saturation of the GHE), it is probably a wash.

41. Richard M says:

A little while ago I did some brainstorming over at the air vent. During that period it appeared to me that GHGs really do operate as thermostats. You have two effects occurring in any local area of the atmosphere. You have net radiation being absorbed and partially thermalized AND you have radiation being emitted.

If the local space gets warmer than “normal”, the excess energy gets radiated faster due to T^4. This cools the local space. OTOH, if the space starts to get too cold, the emittance drops off and the thermalization becomes the stronger effect. This warms the local space. The net result is that the atmosphere tends to find a “normal” temperature. That “normal” temperature creates a lapse rate (based on the IGL) and we end up with a surface temperature higher than it would be otherwise.

More GHGs in any local space just makes it more efficient at maintaining the “normal” temperature.

42. mkelly says:

_Jim says:
March 23, 2012 at 7:04 am
vukcevic says on March 23, 2012 at 2:50 am

CMEs that emanate out of the sun, are linked to it by combination of electric current and magnetic field …

Could you elucidate when it was that moving electric particles (e.g. protons and electrons) in ‘free space’ (outside of a conductor) become classified as ‘electric current’?

Where is the ‘return current’ that must exist if this is truly an electric current, as according to Kirchhoff’s current law?

Jim are you saying that a DC circuit has two way flow (return current)?

43. I think Anthony really enjoyed writing that headline – Whole lotta Watts added to the atmosphere.
If I was good at Photoshop shop I would paste a lotta head shots of Anthony up there in the atmosphere.

44. Latitude says:

cal says:
March 23, 2012 at 2:45 am
In fact the opposite is the case. In every one of the last six cycles (that is 12 increases/decreases) the warming has been during periods of low CO2 and the cooling has been during periods of high CO2.
===================================
ain’t that something……….LOL
That’s my take on it too cal

45. Phil says:

Wait…do I have this right? If not please correct me.

1 Kw = 1000w, and 1kwh = 1000w/hr. So, 26,000,000,000 kwh over 2yrs (~17,520hrs) = 455,520,000,000,000kw, which = 455,520,000,000,000,000w.

95% re-emitted leaves us with 22,776,000,000,000,000w.

There are ~ 120,000,000,000,000 sq/m on Earth, so globally… isn’t that 189.8W/m^2 that is NOT re-emitted to space? Where does that excess 5% go? 189.8W/m^2 is huge

Even if only 1% of the absorbed energy makes it to the surface, that is, 1.898W/m^2…more than the total RF of CO2 increase since 1750 which is ~1.6W/m^2, with error boundaries of course.

Am I missing something? How can this amount of energy be ignored by climate science?

46. 26 billion kWh dropped into the ocean would not raise its temperature 0.01K. In fact, presumably all the power plants that provide energy to New York City for two years (sarcasm intended) dump all of that energy times 3 or 4 (efficiency) into the local environment in that time and it doesn’t measurably affect the temperature.

It’s important to put things into perspective. The Earth is $6.4 \times 10^6$ meters in radius. Its surface area is $4 \pi \times 6.4^2 \times 10^12 \approx 5 \times 10^14$ square meters. The depth of its atmosphere (just the part thick enough to actually breath, sort of) is roughly 10,000 meters, although you’d probably die of hypoxia at the top of that, giving one a volume of order of $10^20$ cubic meters. Into this you drop $2.6 \times 10^12 \times 3600$ or $\sim 10^16$ joules, or around 0.0001 joule of energy per cubic meter of air. And then 95% of it was immediately reradiated/reflected.

A year or so ago I thought about whether magnetic induction — basically eddy currents — from the Sun’s magnetic field could be responsible for part of the observed differential warming of the Earth during times where the Sun is magnetically active. After all, at one point in time this process was thought to have provided enough energy to have fused metallic asteroids during the early accretion process of the solar system. Although the field involved was very weak, the Earth is (as noted) rather large, so a back-of-the-envelope estimate of the total energy involved yielded a satisfyingly large number of joules — until you consider the volume being heated. Suddenly the effect is utterly ignorable.

So in spite of the emphasis, this sort of thing isn’t even as much as a drop in the bucket of Earth’s energy balance. If it were sustained for a very long time, maybe. If it has additional nonlinear effects (e.g. altering the albedo of the upper atmosphere by increasing its ionization) maybe. But as far as direct heating is concerned, the ionosphere is already enormously hot, but it is also enormously diffuse. I doubt that there was any effect at all on the actual stratosphere or troposphere.

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47. Latitude says:

Steve Keohane says:
March 23, 2012 at 7:13 am
I have to agree that the jury is out on just what CO2 does. Disregarding the time lag in the ice cores, and what we think we know about how it acts, it has always seemed as logical to me to argue that high CO2 causes the temperature to crash at every CO2 peak; as it does to argue that it causes temperature increase.
===========================================
Steve, that would explain something that’s not explained right now…..
….why didn’t temps follow the usual peak…..flat line…..while CO2 levels kept going up

48. Phil says:

edit: oops, this right? 26,000,000,000kwh over ~ 72hrs = 1,872,000,000,000kwh total, which = 1,872,000,000,000,000w. 5% of that is 93,600,000,000,000w, over Earth’s ~120,000,000,000,000sq/m surface is 0.78W/m^2.

Makes more sense, it’s still huge

49. Phil says:

But themolecular density of the body being heated should be taken into account too I believe, the volume of Earth’s atmosphere in the troposphere makes up a large majority if I recall correctly. There is less substance to actually intercept the photons traveling through the upper atmosphere, while the surface/oceans/lower atmosphere are more likely to do so.

50. Am I missing something? How can this amount of energy be ignored by climate science?

Watt-HOURS are a measure of energy, not power. 1 W-hour = 3600 joules. The article says that the 26 billion KW-hours is the TOTAL energy delivered over some unknown amount of time. By your own argument, if it were delivered over 180 seconds (three minutes) it would be a surplus of roughly 1 watt/meter squared over that time. (That is consistent with my estimate of one Joule per square meter, or 0.0001 joules per cubic meter in the entire 10 km high air column). But it wasn’t — it was delivered over a much, much longer time. The averaged power delivery over that time was doubtless milli- to microwatts per square meter, distributed (as noted) over a VOLUME much, much larger still.

The problem is that the Earth is really big. Terajoules vanish without a trace, utterly negligible. That’s why solar energy is feasible — a tiny, tiny fraction of the Earth’s surface could provide ten times 100% of the per-capita energy consumption of the world’s most affluent citizens to every person on earth IF we can convert it at reasonable efficiency with inexpensive (per watt) surfaces and store/buffer it in at high energy density in inexpensive (per watt per unit volume) energy storage devices. Both are purely technical problems and almost certainly have technologically and economically feasible solutions that are being aggressively pursued.

That, in turn, is why Carbon Trading is really stupid, even if the CAGW enthusiasts are completely correct. If we do nothing, in a decade or at most two PV energy generation will be rapidly overtaking all other forms of energy generation — to eliminate them if the storage problem is solved, and to supplement them with daytime power if not. And if fusion is worked out in the meantime, and/or e.g. liquid salt thorium reactors (more or less nuclear-proliferation and meltdown proof), so much more, so much the faster.

IMO CAGW is not particularly plausible, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. Not even the CAGW enthusiasts seriously claim disaster in the next 30 years, and by then the production of CO_2 will be going down of its own accord.

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51. edit: oops, this right? 26,000,000,000kwh over ~ 72hrs = 1,872,000,000,000kwh total, which = 1,872,000,000,000,000w. 5% of that is 93,600,000,000,000w, over Earth’s ~120,000,000,000,000sq/m surface is 0.78W/m^2.

Makes more sense, it’s still huge

No, no, no. See the above, kwh. It is already energy. You need to divide by the time to make power, and divide again to make intensity and multiply by 0.05 to get some measure of “downwelling”. Which is “zero” to as many digits as you are likely going to want to write.

rgb

52. Phil says:

The atmosphere doesn’t absorb most of the downard emitted energy from CO2 (from the CME) before it reaches the surface, most of the atmosphere is IR transparent so much of it will hit the surface, ~0.78W/m^2 if the 5% that was not re-emitted actually hits the surface (as it should).

So, how much total net energy is truly contained in the ocean-surface-atmosphere system, and at what thermal threshold? Kinetic theshold? Electric? Does it take energy to maintain a perturbation against gravity? Is convective overturning the substitution of/for gravity, or is it a perturbation against gravity? What is gravity? Does it take additional energy to re-route atmospheric circulation?

If doubling Co2 = ~3.7W/m^2 of RF increase, how can that be expected to manifest thermally if it’s surface warming in a minute fashion? The surface heats up over 40C in sunshine, and it is conduction from the surface that result in most of the thermal attainement/retainement w/ a small portion of that being radiative (backradiation) which may heat the atmosphere between the warmer surface and cooer upper atmosphere, but does not warm the surface and barely slows it’s cooling, if at all. When conduction is taken out of the equation the remaining value for backradiation is exeedingly small, and adding 1.6W/m^2 of LW re-emission through the largely IR-transparent atmosphere turns out to be almost meaningless against the surface’s thermal retainement via conduction/diffusion.

So if CO2 emits 95% of the energy it absorbed in the upper atmosphere back out to space

53. Phil says:

Did I mis-interpret the article? I was under the impression that, example, 10Kwh = 10Kw over 1 hr.

I do not believe you can weight the IR-transparent atmosphere at all, not only is the density at the upper levels much less, but the photons that are emitted downward should pass freely through most of the atmosphere and reach the surface, which is what warms the atmosphere. Of course GHG molecules such as H2O, CO2, etc, may absorb a small fraction of it an re-emit it.

54. Richard M says:

The bigger issue with CMEs may very well be the electroscavenging. Destruction of cloud forming particles could lead to a lowering of the albedo that would generate a much greater warming effect than the numbers provided.

55. Phil says:

Oh, so 26,000,000,000 kwh (KW x H)? So if 1kw = 1000w, a 1000W bulb will use 10kwh in 10hrs?

56. Yes, I also would like to see an explanation of why CO2 in the upper atmosphere supposedly acts differently (95% radiatied back out) than CO2 in the lower troposphere (uniform omni-directional radiation)

57. Phil says:

kk total of 26,000,000,000kw = 26,000,000,000,000w, which 5% of it is 1,300,000,000,000w, which = 0.01W/m^2. That makes much more sense.

58. _Jim says: March 23, 2012 at 7:04 am
……………..
Hi again Jim
Plasma (charged particles) electric currents are ‘magnetic field aligned’ currents, and considerably more complex than electric currents in a wire, I assume you have looked at the link:

To understand what is going there you can find more details here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkeland_current
There are number of misconceptions regarding Birkeland currents, so when Dr. Svalgaard appears on the scene, if you ask, he may direct you to an authoritative article.

59. jack morrow says: March 23, 2012 at 6:24 am
…..
I wouldn’t think so, there is a limit to the plasma currents velocity. I am inclined to think it is a shockwave. The propagation of shock waves in a magnetic flux ropes or tubes is complex matter, but to be honest I don’t sufficiently understand the Brinkley–Kirkwood theory on which these things are based. You can google ‘Brinkley–Kirkwood theory’ and see how you get on.

60. Gail Combs says:

Fred N. says:
March 23, 2012 at 10:02 am

Yes, I also would like to see an explanation of why CO2 in the upper atmosphere supposedly acts differently (95% radiatied back out) than CO2 in the lower troposphere (uniform omni-directional radiation)
_________________________
I am not a physicist so I may be wrong (Please correct) but this is my take on it.

There are two factors. The first is the curve of the earth. Close to the earth, the surface can be treated as flat, so if the CO2 is reradiating in all directions, a fairly large angle will strike at least a glancing blow. It is not 180 degrees but very close to the earth it could be approximated as approaching 180 degrees or 1/2 the radiation. As you move further and further from the surface that angle is going to be come smaller because of the earth’s curve. (think a cone shape)

The second and more important reason is how often reradiation from the CO2 escapes into space. In the upper atmosphere where the space between atoms/molecules are “large” the change of the radiation escaping is much much greater. Also if the radiation is back towards earth there is a darn good chance it will be captured and reradiated back towards space. So you are talking about chance, probability and N factorial (the number of atoms hit) where the chance of it heading to space is counted up for each time the radiation encounters an atom/molecule during its trip down towards earth. Think one of those old pinball machines where the radiation has to get past each obstacle (atom/molecule) as the paddler play Wack-a-mole with a good chance of knocking the ball/energy back up/sideways)

Also remember because the atmosphere is less dense headed up than it is headed down it tips the probability towards escape.

N! = N factorial: http://factorielle.free.fr/index_en.html

61. Brian H says:

The calc. that sez it could power all the residences in NYC for 2 yrs. just shows how trivial the human heat contribution to the atmosphere is.

62. “in spite of the emphasis, this sort of thing isn’t even as much as a drop in the bucket of Earth’s energy balance. If it were sustained for a very long time, maybe.”

It is sustained for a very long time… presumably it’s constant… with major events currently being recorded every few years and not that much less energetic flows all the time as the graph with the article shows: http://science.nasa.gov/media/medialibrary/2012/03/22/both_spikes.jpg.

Over time this amount of energy must accumulate within the Earth system. What is the total amount of energy shown in the graph? (The area under the line in the graph?).

63. mkelly says:

What was it up there that got “hot” and needed the assistance of CO2 to emit IR back into space to cool down? Is any of that stuff down here that heats up and cannot emit and needs CO2 to cool down?

64. Phil says:
March 23, 2012 at 10:08 am

> kk total of 26,000,000,000kw = 26,000,000,000,000w, which 5% of it is
> 1,300,000,000,000w, which = 0.01W/m^2. That makes much more sense.

You’re still completely messing up the units. (That’s okay, a lot of high school physics teachers don’t realize teaching dimensional analysis is important.)

26,000,000,000kWh over three days (3 days × 24 hours/day = 72 hours). Assuming steady “brightness”, that’s 26,000,000,000kWh ÷ 72 h = 361,000,000 kW during the 3 days the “light” was on. 5% of that is 18,000,000 kW

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth says the surface area is 510,072,000 km₂, so dividing by that yields 18/510 W/m₂ or 0.0353 W/m₂.

So, not a very bright light after all. I won’t do the math, but http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110308121849AA7xu4v claims a full Moon offers 0.025 W/m₂ – so the energy is more than we get from (I assume) the full Moon when it’s directly overhead! http://home.earthlink.net/~kitathome/LunarLight/moonlight_gallery/technique/moonbright.htm offers interesting but mostly irrelevant comments on lunar illumination.

65. Oops – replace all m₂ with m² Can’t read my own guide page….

66. Edim says:

Only from the evidence (if accurate) that the atmosphere (in average) is cooled exclusively by radiation (100%, 64% of incoming solar), but on the other hand, warmed multi-modally by the following:

– latent heat flux from the surface: 23% (of incoming solar),
– directly absorbed solar by atmosphere/clouds: 19%,
– absorbed surface radiation: 15%, and
– sensible heat flux from the surface: 7%,

can be concluded (on the face of it) that atmospheric CO2 (if anything significant) cools the atmosphere.

67. AJB says:

Has anyone noticed what’s happened to Arctic mean temp since all this kicked off?
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

Probably unconnected (and sure it spikes up and down like a yo-yo) but does seem a bit odd given the equinox switch around.

68. Paul Bahlin says:

Wouldn’t the difference of net (vertical) radiation be due to the exponential that results from continually splitting flux. I know I’m leaving a lot to be desired semantically here. But if you assume, as a very crude model, multiple layers of opaque gasses that absorb unidirectionally and then re-emit isotropically, each downward ‘hit’ at a layer results in a 50% split (in the vertical component). Half continues on down. Half gets reversed.

Downward flux from a hot and very high source would be constantly converted by conversions from the unidirectional source to isotropic result. There would always be a bias (even without density change) that would make it very hard to reach the surface. Once you factor in a density profile to considerations of the probabalistic nature of the collisions at a given level it seems like most would get out and never be seen at the surface (most likely collision is downward).

Isn’t the reverse also true, i.e. it’s hard for energy in a CO2 band to get out when the energy source is the surface? And the likely corollary is that it doesn’t take a massive amount of opacity at a given altitude to cause a bias because of the nature of the path lengths and multiple conversions applied to the radiation ‘leak’.

69. jack morrow says:

Vukcevic says @ 10:41
I believe the explanation is more simple than the Brinkly -Kirkwood theory. The Brinkly -Kirkwood was more about explosive shock waves from bombs and such I thought. It may be the result of a proton circuit that is present and when the extra plasma excites the magnetic fields the electrons latch on to the protons and either jump along them or something else similar. I know that the protons are there and they are sometimes called a black aurora. I am not one that is highly educated in this field. I really respect your work and enjoy trying to figure out all your information and graphs.

70. beng says:

***
Ric Werme says:
March 23, 2012 at 5:17 am

NO is a diatomic molecule, hence must have a very different absorption spectrum than the GHG gases we normally deal with.
***

Methinks they meant NO2. UV really high up can disassociate both N2 & O2, so there’d be a few NOX molecules.

71. kramer says:

“Carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are natural thermostats,

If CO2 can trap heat in the air, can’t it also block heat from entering the atmosphere?

And does anybody know what units this CO2 equation is in:
Delta T = 5.2(LN(C/Co))

F, K, or C?

72. _Jim says:
March 23, 2012 at 7:04 am

vukcevic says on March 23, 2012 at 2:50 am

CMEs that emanate out of the sun, are linked to it by combination of electric current and magnetic field …

Could you elucidate when it was that moving electric particles (e.g. protons and electrons) in ‘free space’ (outside of a conductor) become classified as ‘electric current’?

Where is the ‘return current’ that must exist if this is truly an electric current, as according to Kirchhoff’s current law?

This law is also called Kirchhoff’s first law, Kirchhoff’s point rule, Kirchhoff’s junction rule (or nodal rule), and Kirchhoff’s first rule.

The principle of conservation of electric charge implies that:
– At any node (junction) in an electrical circuit, the sum of currents flowing into that node is equal to the sum of currents flowing out of that node, or:
– The algebraic sum of currents in a network of conductors meeting at a point is zero.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirchhoff's_circuit_laws

.
Glad you asked no one seems to have a problem with current flow reversing from peak to neg peak in 50/60 cycle AC power.

The return flow is in the other half of the 22 year hale cycle, as the sun and the planets speed through the galaxy the acceleration (on long time scales from passing close to other stars, or through concentrations of galactic magnet field variations) causes the speed up of slowing of the sun more(?) than the planets so there is a pulsing or ringing of the past perturbations of the Z axis (as we see it from earth) as the planets gain and recede from the forward momentum of the sun.

Visualize this as the brim of a sombrero on the head of a bronc rider on a crow hopping horse.
The induction strength and period as well as the polarity of the induced magnet fields shifting balance between the polarity shifts of the solar wind and magnetic sun spot activity, as the long 22 year cycle length modulates the relation ship of the forward momentum and magnetic induction phases through a full cycle.

So the short answer as to where the return flow is; in the other half of the Hale cycles, looking at the solar wind on short instantaneous time periods you see the out flow of the solar wind, as a non returning dc pulse coming out along its equatorial to upper latitudes where the sun spot long term “butterfly patterns” show the areas of weakest containment of the the suns internal fields as they burst out and carry ions to become the current that is the solar wind.

Basic homopolar generator process, (rotating ferrous conductor in a magnet field) will induce a voltage based on the mass, speed, and strength of magnetic field that peaks when the magnetic flux peaks, and looses angular momentum and sheds magnetic fields from its internal containment out through sun spots and CMEs, produces the pulses in the solar wind. The return magnetic flux enters the sun through the poles just like the energy enters the earths atmosphere, (producing the effects this thread is about) at the poles. The Ulysses satellite made polar passes over the sun and recorded much stronger and more active magnetic activity there.

Because the whole solar system in gravitationally, magnetically, and tidally settled into a fairly stable harmonic set of orbital dynamics over the past 4.8+ billion years we only notice the variations in the normal patterns, of the back ground level of magnetic field strength and see the effects of the very small fluctuation as the small instability of the sun.

When I look at the three elemental particles the electron, proton, and neutron, and realize only two are ions with charge and both will respond to the electromagnetic flux changes in that instability, the neutrons in the ball of plasma that is the sun, on the other hand MAY only respond to the gravitational and tidal forces, there by are able to slosh around in the center of the sun, contained by the total mass of the suns self gravitation. This process could affect the fusion rate some giving the feedback seen in the short (sonic tidal waves seen on the surface of the sun – to the long term churning of the convection currents ebb and flow of the Hale cycle periods).

I think the question is not whether the movement of the sun about the SSBC is doing anything, but should we not also consider the interactions of the Z-axis modulation, enough to see that the J/S conjunctions every almost 20 years progress around in three cycles to be in the same place relative to the center of the Galaxy, does the z-axis component of the solar system flux surges accountable to extra electromagnet drive from the outer planets helping to conduct more total flux thru the system? So the angular momentum component of the system acceleration (as well as the forward motion momentum distribution shifting) increased mostly for the outer planets currently between the sun and the center of the Galaxy?

^Is the same mechanism that makes induction type electric motors run and you use them all the time, so it must be workable?

This I think gives rise to the ~60 year cycles seen in the climate records

73. Gary Pearse says:

Ric Werme says:
March 23, 2012 at 11:17 am

” says the surface area is 510,072,000 km₂, so dividing by that yields 18/510 W/m₂ or 0.0353 W/m₂.”
Divide by another 1000

74. jack morrow says: March 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm
………
As far as I understood it, Brinkly –Kirkwood theory ,which as you correctly point out is best known for atmospheric explosions aplications, is valid for plasma too (ideal gas) and I believe for any fluid.
Here is a direct reference to the plasma shock waves: Cluster (of satellites) senses many different physical processes, including the shockwave generated when the solar wind slams into the Earth.
http://www.sunearthplan.net/4/21/Plasma-shock-waves
Or more expert: When the plasma temperature is so high, as the plasma becomes collision-free (this would be valid for CMEs rem. vukcevic), another type of shock wave appears. In a collision-free shock wave, gyromotions of electrons around the magnetic field lines cause the shock formation instead of collisions in a collision-dominant plasma or neutral gas. etc, etc..
From my daughter’s project I am aware that ‘apparently’ nano-diamonds are formed in space from free carbon atoms compressed under impact of galactic shock waves created by supernova explosions. (I’m rambling too much, time to stop)

75. Hi Jim
If you understood the Richard Holle’s post, here is a graphic illustration I made few years back, which in essence if not in precise details agree what he wrote, this is how I see the events, with magnetic reversals etc.etc..
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/Synthesis.htm
The idea is based and totally compatible what is in practice happening and actually measured by engineers near a radio or TV-transmitter’s antenna.
In here I assume gravity has a role as much as it moves Jupiter and Saturn around the orbits and no more.
Final product:
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NFC7a.htm
extrapolation of calculations made in 2003 shows that there is something to it, even I didn’t think it would come off, but surprisingly it did (see enlarged section for 2000-2020)

76. Gail Combs says:

vukcevic says:
March 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm
…. From my daughter’s project I am aware that ‘apparently’ nano-diamonds are formed in space from free carbon atoms compressed under impact of galactic shock waves created by supernova explosions. (I’m rambling too much, time to stop)
___________________
Darn it Vukcevic, now you will have to get her to write up an article for WUWT and post it if she is allowed to.

77. phlogiston says:

tallbloke says:
March 23, 2012 at 2:49 am

How come the CO2 and NO didn’t re-radiate half of the energy downwards?

At the surface of a sphere there is slightly more up than down (if up means away from the center).
CO2 and NO re-radiation would be 50% if the earth was flat.
This small difference might be important in terms of the net effect of CO2 and NO.

78. Gary Pearse says:
March 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Ric Werme says:
March 23, 2012 at 11:17 am

> ” says the surface area is 510,072,000 km₂, so dividing by that yields 18/510 W/m₂ or 0.0353 W/m₂.”
> Divide by another 1000
Using more complete context:

5% of that is 18,000,000 kW

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth says the surface area is 510,072,000 km², so dividing by that yields 18/510 W/m² or 0.0353 W/m².

And rewriting the way I should have:

 18,000,000 kW
----------- ---
510,072,000 km²

Note that the kilos cancel, leaving units of W/m².

79. vukcevic says:
March 23, 2012 at 12:19 am
It affects the Eart’s outer core 3000km below the surface, where the magnetic field is generated.
Vuk, this is total nonsense [as you have been told too many times to remember].

Ric Werme says:
March 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm
It is hard to deal with too many zeroes. The energy input quoted by NASA is only a 500,000th of the regular TSI input we get. So, is not anything to speak of.

80. AJB says:
March 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm
Wait there’s more: For reasons not fully understood by scientists, the weeks around the vernal equinox are prone to Northern Lights.
This is an effect discovered 250 years ago [for aurorae], and its cause is still debated [somewhat]. There are several different mechanisms in play. The most important one [accounting for 70% of the variation] is actually sort of the opposite: instead of more at the equinoxes, there are fewer at the solstices. This effect depends on the angle between the solar wind direction and the Earth’s magnetic axis: activity is smallest when that angle is smallest [at the solstices] and largest when that angle is 90 degrees [at equinoxes]. There are a few other [smaller] effects that actually to maximize at the equinoxes. A feeling for the controversies that to this day still swirl around the old problem can be gotten from: http://www.leif.org/research/Semiannual-Comment.pdf [mostly from scientists not up to snuff about the historical data].

81. Brian H says:

pwl says:
March 23, 2012 at 10:59 am

“in spite of the emphasis, this sort of thing isn’t even as much as a drop in the bucket of Earth’s energy balance. If it were sustained for a very long time, maybe.”

It is sustained for a very long time… presumably it’s constant… with major events currently being recorded every few years and not that much less energetic flows all the time as the graph with the article shows: http://science.nasa.gov/media/medialibrary/2012/03/22/both_spikes.jpg.

Over time this amount of energy must accumulate within the Earth system. What is the total amount of energy shown in the graph? (The area under the line in the graph?).

Not as much as you think. The vertical scale is powers of 10. One digit down means 1/10 the level. 2 digits means 1/100 the level. Each little tick down cuts the level by about 3/8.

82. Phil. says:

Gail Combs says:
March 23, 2012 at 5:05 am
“….nitric oxide are [is] natural thermostats,”…

Looks like that is another “Boogeyman” chemical (Ozone depletion and Acid Rain) caused by burning fossil fuels OR biomass. We emit far too much of these nitrogen oxides during combustion proceses, particularly from vehicles….Nitrogen oxides can also be formed when biomass is burnt and during lightning.

And then we come right back to plants.

Not in the thermosphere where NO is produced by the reaction of N atoms and O2.

83. Mike Wryley says:

As a clarification, is the 26 TWh over and above the normal day TSI ?

Also Robert Brown, when talking about delivered electricity costs, it is instructive to remember that the fuel cost of 10 cent/kwh electricity derived from coal is in the .9 cent range, therefore even if the coal was FREE, the bill would still be 9.1 cents/ kwh. While the “fuel” for a PV plant may be free, the capital costs, maintenance and distribution costs all tend to be higher per MW than coal fired plants, and then there’s that pesky drop in efficiency after 10 or 20 years.

From jack morrow on March 23, 2012 at 6:24 am:

Maybe the reason the aurora lights up so fast is it similar to an electric current where when you turn on a switch to a light bulb it comes on almost instantly. Just like a tube filled with marbles, if you add an extra marble at one end , a marble at the other end will pop out.

Actually a light bulb lights up so fast because the resistance of cold tungsten is near zero. This results in a high inrush current of around 10 to 20x normal. Once the filament heats up to glowing, the resistance increases greatly. Switches can have a separate incandescent rating, aka tungsten or lighting load rating, generally a switch at 120V AC is good for only 1/4 of a 100% resistive load (current draw stays the same). It’s discussed here and here.

So the bulb lights up so fast because for a brief bit there’s enough watts flowing that the filament would quickly vaporize if it kept going.

85. Robert Bissett says:

—-
Alec Rawls says
March 22 ,2012, 11:43pm
“Is NASA hiding the 10.7 cm decline?”
—-
No need to wait for NASA. You can get daily 10.7cm flux reading
http://www.spaceweather.ca/sx-4-eng.php
Bob

86. David A says:

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

Is that more or less energy then put out by the contrails of the jets that stopped for one day after 9-11?
Sherri wants to know.

87. Sparks says:

Rujholla says:
March 23, 2012 at 12:05 am

Did I just hear NASA saying that the more CO2 in the atmosphere the more it acts as a negative feedback to the greenhouse effect?

Ha Ha! Yes, it happens quite a lot and goes unnoticed, contradictions of the AGW (SCAM!!) are willfully ignored.

88. Robert Brown says:
March 23, 2012 at 9:19 am
<….until you consider the volume being heated. Suddenly the effect is utterly ignorable.

You are absolutely correct; however I am surprised by the limited knowledge in the field of geomagnetic science. I have stumbled on number of effects that are not referenced in available literature. Despite being ridiculed by those in the know, I am inclined to think that there is causal relationships rather than coincidence.
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CET-NAP-SSN.htm
The North Atlantic Precursor, I stumbled upon nearly two years ago, it has a sporadic correlation with solar activity, but relatively good since 1870s. In order to have a credible hypothesis, a clear instrumental record would be helpful to show possible linkage to the solar activity. It appears there is one, not as much to the sunspot count, but to the frequency and intensity of solar flares.
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/Tromso.htm
While the casual look may dismiss the whole thing as irrelevant, and it may look a bit innocuous and in the global terms insignificant, it may be of fundamental importance, if these tiny changes are reflected in what is found in the historical records, as assembled in the above mentioned precursor.

89. Pamela Gray says:

Love the mathematical-mechanistic discussion and crowd-sourced rolling critique of commentors’ attempts at quantification. Then came the Leificing on the cake: we are talking about a measurement that is 500,000th of TSI.

That temperatures change so much on Earth should be sending all scientists on the path to discover what is it about the Earth’s highly variable and powerful intrinsic properties that drives such temperature fluctuations. Instead, scientists seem to be standing on their heads and waving their feet in a room filled with elephants, studying teeny, tiny anthropogenic and galactic variations, thinking that there must be a source for the smell in the room OTHER than the elephant poop right next to their noses.

90. rgbatduke says:

kk total of 26,000,000,000kw = 26,000,000,000,000w, which 5% of it is 1,300,000,000,000w, which = 0.01W/m^2. That makes much more sense.

Yes indeed, although you are still off by the actual amount of time the energy was delivered in. A watt is a joule per second. If you deliver any given amount of energy in joules in one second you get a much higher power in watts than if you deliver the same energy over one day. This energy was delivered over some unspecified time, but probably at least hours, more likely days. Indeed, it was probably delivered over a time that is long enough that the “95%” figure is rather suspect — much of that 5% of the energy that had been radiated downward probably had time to be absorbed and re-radiated out (through the usual radiative cooling mechanisms) over the time involved.

The point is that this article, while interesting, is irrelevant to global climate. It is PROBABLY irrelevant to LOCAL climate near the poles, although there it may have had some observable effect. I’m not asserting that CMEs are in general negligible factors — the one back in the 1880s or thereabouts, if replicated today, would very likely have highly non-negligible effects on human civilization in general and possibly (briefly) on climate, or weather, or whatever. However they are not neglected culprits responsible for directly heating or cooling the Earth, at least through any mechanism I’m familiar with. Even trillions of joules vanish without a trace (in the thermal record) for a planet as large as the Earth (a fairly small planet, as planets go).

To give you a point of reference, the total energy incident per second on the TOA in the cylinder subtended by the Earth in outgoing sunlight is roughly $1360 \times \pi \times (6.4 \times 10^6)^2 = 1.75\times 10^{17}$ joules, order of a billion billion joules per second. That is, the TOA power incident from the sun is $1.75 \times 10^{17}$ watts. Roughly 30% of this is directly reflected — currently a bit over that, maybe 32%. The extra 2% is roughly equivalent to 2 K of global cooling at the Earth’s current mean temperature. It is enough to, over time, completely cancel all of the warming observed since the end of the Dalton minimum if not the Maunder minimum before that, regardless of the causes of that warming. Climate sensitivity and feedback is all very controversial; this is not — increasing (or decreasing) the Earth’s albedo by a few percent is all that is needed to explain most of the long term climate variability observed over the Holocene.

If albedo is indeed tied directly the magnetic state of the sun by e.g. GCR modulation of cloud nucleation (or anything else) then all — and I do mean all — of the results of the GCMs and curve fitting and so on will have to be redone with the omitted variable “fraud” eliminated. Whether or not the fraud is intentional, or merely the result of omitting a variable because there was no good reason (then) to think it was important other than the obvious correlation between solar state and temperature in the record, NASA’s observations of increasing albedo in coincidence with reduced solar activity is starting to look like a smoking gun to me.

To the CAGW enthusiasts of the world I would say (looking into my eight-ball) “Future cloudy; try again later…”

rgb

91. rgbatduke says:

As a clarification, is the 26 TWh over and above the normal day TSI ?

Also Robert Brown, when talking about delivered electricity costs, it is instructive to remember that the fuel cost of 10 cent/kwh electricity derived from coal is in the .9 cent range, therefore even if the coal was FREE, the bill would still be 9.1 cents/ kwh. While the “fuel” for a PV plant may be free, the capital costs, maintenance and distribution costs all tend to be higher per MW than coal fired plants, and then there’s that pesky drop in efficiency after 10 or 20 years.

Arrgh, yet another reply wasted because my login to WUWT no longer “sticks”. I tried to login again, and I’ll see how it goes.

OK, here’s the essence of my lost post. $1360 \times \pi \times (6.4\times 10^6)^2 \approx 1.75 \times 10^{17}$ is the total power delivered at TOA in the cylinder the Earth subtends in the outward-streaming sunlight. $2.6 \times 10^{13} \times 3600 \approx 10^{17}$ joules. The energy content of the entire event or series of events contained about as much energy content as the sun delivers to the earth in one-half of a second, delivered over a much, much longer time frame. There isn’t even any point in comparing it to the energy delivered in a day (which contains 86,400 seconds!). It is utterly irrelevant to the climate or temperature of the planet.

As for PV plants, I’m not certain where you’re getting your figures from. PV plants can be and are manned by very, very small crews — basically caretakers for the hardware, as everything is automated. Higher capital costs are an important variable, but one that is subject to Moore’s Law and is steadily dropping (per watt). There is no reason that maintenance and distribution costs of new PV construction should be any higher than for new coal or other plant construction. A grid connection is a grid connection and everything else is wrapped into the capital costs.

As I’ve pointed out, simple rooftop collectors installed retail on households cost no more than a factor of two too much to be a really attractive investment for a homeowner in large parts of the US. These are things you can go online and have quoted and installed right now. They are break-even with paying for grid power straight up amortized over 16-20 years, although the government subsidy knocks that down a bit. Power companies can already build and install for costs per watt that are roughly half that — enough to make it attractive (so lots of municipalities are installing solar collectors because they will pay off in a short period of time) but not an overwhelming win compared to alternatives. The subsidy there does get some folks to jump in now instead of later, which isn’t actually crazy as they help debug the whole thing.

Installed, plants large enough to supply small cities can be run by five people, and they don’t really have a lot to do most of the time. Where, exactly is the high maintenance and operations cost? Human costs are a major part of any fuel-burning plant’s operations.

As I and many other people have pointed out on list, when the cost per consumer retail watt drops below $1, so a 5000 watt rooftop collector (installed, unsubsidized) is$6000 to $7000, new home construction will start featuring this sort of thing as a standard item. It will drop the cost of most homes by at least a mortgage payment a year in reduced energy costs, a clear win. At that point it will also be an absolute no brainer for electrical utility companies — if it makes economic sense for retail consumers, economy of scale means that it makes lots of sense for large scale producers that can purchase, install, and maintain for easily half the cost to a retail consumer. Prices will reach this level, almost certainly, by 2020. By 2020, no matter what happens with “Carbon”, CO_2, CAGW, alarmism, skepticism, and the like, everyday people will be choosing to go PV electric where they can because the sun is not subject to the evident volatility of the fuel-based energy marketplace. By 2030, assuming that Moore’s Law has worked as expected, PV costs per watt will be on the order of$0.25, with more or less fixed costs for installation and likely reduced costs for converter/regulators and/or battery storage (depending on unpredictable but probable advances in the latter). There is really no reason that most PV systems will not work well out beyond 20 years — they just work at reduced efficiency. However, they are long since paid for and as long as the power delivered continues to exceed the cost of maintenance they will continue to be run, just like personal computers are often used long after the “optimal” replacement cycle of 3 years.

We will need the energy. As noted above, power incident on the Earth at TOA is roughly $1.75 \times 10^{17}$ watts. Of this, roughly 30% is directly reflected. Roughly, because in coincidence with the end of the grand solar maximum of the 20th century, the Earth’s bond albedo has increased by about 6% from 0.30 to roughly 0.32, apparently due to increased cloud formation. This is consistent with the hypothesis that solar magnetic modulation of GCRs affects the nucleation rates of saturated water vapor into clouds.

The 6% increase in albedo corresponds to an expected decrease, over decadal time scales, in global mean temperature of roughly 2K, given the mean temperature we have now. This expectation is not subject to the arguments and controversy over climate sensitivity and feedback — it is taken “off of the top” as it were and is a direct, significant reduction in the Earth’s energy budget.

To put this in perspective, if the albedo change persists, we can expect a drop in temperature over the next twenty or thirty years that will completely erase the temperature increases from the Dalton minimum, if not the Maunder minimum that corresponded to the coldest temperatures over the entire Holocene.

My message to the CAGW crowd (looking into my crystal-gazing eight-ball) might well be “Future cloudy; try again later”…

rgb

92. rgbatduke says:

Hm, how interesting. It kept the previous message in spite of my not being logged in and kicking me back to a rejected screen. Sorry for the double post of a lot of the content. Hopefully I’ll get the logging in thing all straight (again) very soon…

rgb

93. Pamela Gray says:
Then came the Leificing ….
Leif Svalgaard says:
Vuk, this is total nonsense [as you have been told too many times to remember].

Svalgaard turns vukcevic’s reason into ridicule, as he made it worse, better appear the reason.

94. John F. Hultquist says:

rgbatduke says:
March 24, 2012 at 8:42 am

“everyday people will be choosing to go PV electric where they can

Your information shows you have spent many hours examining the PV issues and why you think this will be the thing of the future. I suggest you spend a few hours examining why this technology will NOT have a significant overall effect on the World’s energy use. The phrase quoted above includes the term ‘everyday people’ and this can be either ‘everyday-people’ or, perhaps ‘everyday, people.’ In the first sense, your statement is likely wrong. In the second sense you ought to write ‘everyday, a few people will.” Assuming, as you say, this technology becomes reasonable by 2020, will we see governments impose the technology on new housing construction? Will there be subsidies? Will such subsidies be seen as the “reverse Robin Hood phenomena”? Will communities not allow such installations for aesthetic reasons? Something like 2 hens are okay but no roosters. Of you can paint your house trim any color you like as long as it is a pale earth-tone. At this level there are many issues.

Then consider that during this same time frame there is interest in have more people live in apartments so as to increase density of settlements and reduce traffic, and so on. The ratio of PV-available space to residents changes. The problems can be solved, say, with side mounting, bigger and more batteries, and new businesses to service and maintain all the internal functions of the building’s energy system. Doesn’t this seem like a move back in time to heating homes with coal or wood and all that went with that?

At the end of the quote, you have written “where they can”, and this brings another set of issues. Clouds, snow, dust, shade, and latitude come to mind as things to be considered. [Beyond the community issues already mentioned.] You are aware of these, but let me just mention that many cities do not approve of a homeowner or builders cutting down trees. Inspections and permits with fees are required. Without getting approval for such, removing or even severe pruning of a tree can result in a fine. I recognize that these society aspects can be changed over time, but I think you cannot ignore them.

Thus, while what you write looks good as a paper and pencil exercise, there are many reasons why the impact of PV systems will be much slower to move the needle as a percentage contributor to large nation and/or World energy usage.

95. vukcevic says:
March 24, 2012 at 9:47 am
“Vuk, this is total nonsense [as you have been told too many times to remember].”
Svalgaard turns vukcevic’s reason into ridicule

96. rgbatduke says:

Thus, while what you write looks good as a paper and pencil exercise, there are many reasons why the impact of PV systems will be much slower to move the needle as a percentage contributor to large nation and/or World energy usage.

Well, as you note (and thank you!) I have indeed thought long and hard about this issue and we will have to agree to disagree. As I told Willis (who agrees strongly with you, I think) future prognostication is an open game, and I’ll place my bets on Solar against ever increasing Coal quite independent of what happens or does not happen on the climate science front. I, and a lot of other people, see an inevitable crossover between an inexorably upward line for fuel based power and inexorably downward line for solar power, and take further note that solar is suitable for DIY and distributed (non-centralized) installation.

I think the timeline I laid out is conservative — I actually think things will proceed faster than that. But we will, of course, see — if we live long enough.

rgb

97. Leif Svalgaard says:
Hi doc
No room or reason for sadness. It is your ‘teaching method’ that inspired discovery of more than half a dozen unknown correlation, more than 250 novel graphs, seen by thousands through more then 125,000 web-page internet hits.
You have achieved far greater deal than you assert, and I am grateful for the inspiration.
With your knowledge and experience, guided by my intuition, we could present to the world solutions to the two great puzzles of modern world:
– the cause of natural climate change
– the solar activity’s role
As it happens I have got both, but I need an authoritative voice; I can assure you there is nothing there which contravenes any law of physics, but when one is engaged in a partisan (as in Norwegian ) hit and run exercise, then one has to use lot of camouflage.
Thanks doc.

98. vukcevic says:
March 24, 2012 at 11:39 am
No room or reason for sadness. It is your ‘teaching method’ that inspired discovery of more than half a dozen unknown correlation
The number of spurious correlations yet to be discovered has no limit. The sadness comes from the fact that you have learned no science at all.

99. LazyTeenager says:

But, but, but you guys keep on telling me that the volume fraction of CO2 in the atmosphere is 0.03% ( and it’s so heavy it stays near the ground) and so it can’t have any significant effect. If that is so, how can it reduce the upper atmosphere heating effect of a solar storm?

Could it be you guys lied to me?

100. LazyTeenager says:

Rod says:
March 22, 2012 at 11:36 pm
“Infrared radiation from CO2 and NO, the two most efficient coolants in the thermosphere, re-radiated 95% of that total back into space”
What, no 50% radiated down to heat the lower atmosphere?
————————-
Yeah I noticed this to.

I’ll have a stab at an explanation. No guarantees I’m correct, just shooting from the hip here.

The heating effect is taking place in the upper atmosphere. Any IR radiated outward is obvious lost straight away. 50% is lost.

But any IR radiated downward, also 50%, is absorbed by the slightly denser atmosphere below that height. This of course warms that part of the atmosphere. There again 50% is radiated up and 50% is radiated down.

So , nominally speaking, another 25% is now lost. The remaining 25% warms up some even lower part of the atmosphere.

Continuing, at this lower part of the atmosphere 50% is radiated up and 50% is radiated down. Now, nominally speaking 12.5% is lost and 12.5% heats some even even lower part Of the atmosphere.

Blah, blah, blah , you get the picture. Ira’s little einsteins should remember his bouncing balls.

Here is the thing you guys will love. The NO and CO2 are acting to prevent the energy from the solar flare from penetrating into the atmosphere. In other words green house gases act to increase the resistance of the atmosphere to energy flow.

This is of course the exact same effect that acts as resistance to energy transfer, when energy absorbed at the surface of the earth is transferred to outer space.

Isn’t it wonderful how consistent physics is?

101. LazyTeenager says:

Cal says
I know that climate scientists are not keen on measuring anything in case it undermines their models but this would be a very good thing to know given that, in the absence of a cooling tropopause, an increase in CO2 would lead to increased radiation loss and a cooling surface.
————-
How is it that you can say this while looking at a satellite image showing IR emissions of CO2? That satellite, amongst many others, cost millions of dollars and was put up by climate scientists for the specific purpose of checking their calculations.

102. LazyTeenager says:

Ric Werme says:
March 23, 2012 at 5:17 am
NO is a diatomic molecule, hence must have a very different absorption spectrum than the GHG gases we normally deal with.
———–
Offhand it has one absorption band corresponding to the NO bond stretch. Google nitric oxide.
But the actual spectrum here says otherwise

103. LazyTeenager says:

Paul Bahlin says:
March 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm
Wouldn’t the difference of net (vertical) radiation be due to the exponential that results from continually splitting flux. I know I’m leaving a lot to be desired semantically here. But if you assume, as a very crude model, multiple layers of opaque gasses that absorb unidirectionally and then re-emit isotropically, each downward ‘hit’ at a layer results in a 50% split (in the vertical component). Half continues on down. Half gets reversed.
—————-
I reckon that’s correct.

104. LazyTeenager says:

http://trs-new.jpl.nasa.gov/dspace/bitstream/2014/22701/1/97-1224.pdf

More than you ever wanted to know about NO and it’s spectrum in the thermosphere.
It’s the latest HITRAN data set description for NO, as used in atmospheric modeling calculations.

A quick comparison between the HITRAN and NIST spectra says the extra lines of note in the NIST spectrum are due to hot bands.

105. rgbatduke says:

This is of course the exact same effect that acts as resistance to energy transfer, when energy absorbed at the surface of the earth is transferred to outer space.

Provided one is in the right band of wavelengths.

rgb

106. Robert S says:

Clearly this work by James Russell of Hampton University means that we should be increasing emissions of CO2 and NO by building more coal fired power stations.

107. Robert S says:

The dynamic equilibrium in the upper atmosphere replenishing CO2 and NO lost to outer space must be maintained by increasing emissions down here on Earth.

108. LazyTeenager says:
March 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm

But, but, but you guys keep on telling me that the volume fraction of CO2 in the atmosphere is 0.03% ( and it’s so heavy it stays near the ground) and so it can’t have any significant effect. If that is so, how can it reduce the upper atmosphere heating effect of a solar storm?

Could it be you guys lied to me?

I challenge you to find any comment I’ve made to you or others asserting any of your above statements. (Including the 0.04% – If I used percent, I would have rounded up.) The closest you will come will be to a tongue-in-cheek claim that all the argon has settled to sea level and we’re all dead.

You may have been trying to be cute, but you referred to “you guys” and that includes me. If you want to suggest people have been lying to you, I suggest you take it up with them.

109. I have a reply from James Russell:

Yes NO does have a very different spectrum than the GHGs. The primary GHGs are all tri-atomic or greater molecules which have very complex spectra and they include many absorption lines (in the 1000s) and several bands. NO is only diatomic and has a simple structure with one primary band containing lines that are regularly spaced in wavelength. The abundance of NO in the lower atmosphere coupled with its altitude distribution makes it unimportant as a GHG. However in the high atmosphere, it is the primary gas responsible for cooling the upper atmosphere above 100km altitude..

From the .pdf Lazy posted, the longest wavelength involved is 5 µm, for reference, the blackbody temperature that most strongly radiates there is 300°C. The thermosphere starts at about 80 km and reaches interplanetary space at some 500-1000km.