This is How Climate Works – Part 1

Guest essay by Mike Jonas

This is how climate works. It’s all about seeing the ocean and atmosphere separately:

  • The sun directly warms the ocean.
  • Cloud cover changes naturally, affecting the sun’s warming of the ocean.
  • Cloud cover changes have only minor effect on the atmosphere.
  • Ocean oscillations warm the atmosphere.
  • Greenhouse gases (GHGs), including man-made CO2, warm the atmosphere too.
  • The atmosphere has little effect on the ocean, except over very long periods.
  • If the ocean cools, the atmosphere radiates excess heat to space.

And that’s about it. Well, OK, a few other things do go on in climate, but those are the essentials.

1. Introduction

It is generally accepted – incorrectly – that man-made CO2 is the principal force changing Earth’s temperature, and that it will lead to catastrophe (the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis, “CAGW”). The “C” in “CAGW” is very important, because that is the major point of contention. Many scientists and others do think that CO2 warms the planet, but not nearly enough to be catastrophic.This document explains how Earth’s temperature really works, and then goes on to explain how extraordinarily badly the process has been misunderstood and misapplied.

The “mainstream” climate science has been a stuff-up of epic proportions. As with so many major stuff-ups, there was not one error but a sequence of related errors, with hubris and a bit of bad luck thrown in. This is not supposed to happen in science – science is supposed to be self-correcting. Well, mistakes do happen in science, and the self-correction process sometimes takes quite a long time. In the case of climate science, there has been some appallingly shoddy science and bad behaviour, protected by the truly awful process by which science currently operates.

In this series of three articles on This is How Climate Works,

· Part 1 describes how climate works.

· Part 2 explains how mainstream climate science went wrong.

· Part 3 looks at the scientific process.

NB. I do not claim to be the first or only person to put forward any of the ideas in this series of articles. I do hope that I am adding some value by putting it all together.

2. This is How Climate Works


2.1 Clouds

In a recent post, I asked “was ‘the pause’ caused by a change in global cloud cover?“. Some clues to how the climate works were in that post.

Put very simply, clouds control Earth’s temperature and hence its climate, and in the long term the sun controls the clouds.

But there are two different cloud-temperature relationships.

2.1.1 Short term: Temperature -> clouds -> water cycle.

When temperature increases,

· evaporation increases by about 7% per 1 deg C as per the Clausius-Clapeyron relation (“C-C”),

· warm humid air convects up to a cooler layer of the atmosphere where the water vapour condenses to form clouds,

· and then it rains (precipitates).

All of this is in line with the IPCC report. The only major issue that I am aware of is just how much extra precipitation there is when temperature increases, and hence how much “cloud feedback” there is. The IPCC put precipitation increase at 2-3% per 1 deg C increase in temperature. Evidence has been presented that puts it much higher, in line with C-C evaporation. But for this part of the discussion, that doesn’t matter. [I re-visit it later].

Cloud and temperature data shows the formation of clouds soon after a temperature increase, typically 1-2 months after:

Figure 1.1. Temperature and Cloud over Tropics Ocean, with some dates highlighted.

What causes the temperature changes is not specified. For some of the highlighted dates, the cause could have been ENSO. The IPCC argue that this pattern applies for any cause of temperature change, and there seems to be no reason to disagree. Obviously, sometimes “noise” will make it difficult to identify.

[Cloud data is from ISCCP, temperature data is from UAH].

2.1.2 Longer term: Cloud -> temperature.

I expect that just about everyone is familiar with some version of the global energy budget

Figure 1.2. Global annual average energy budget, from here).

The item of interest here is the 168 W/m2 of direct solar input that is “Absorbed by Surface”.

Everything to the left of this item in the diagram (Figure 1.2) is reflected to space. Everything to the right of this item is Infra-red (IR) or is converted to IR.

The “168 W/m2” is direct solar radiation, so it contains SW (UV and visible light) as well as IR. Of this direct solar radiation, there is one band of wavelengths, from about 200nm to 1000nm, that is very poorly absorbed by water and by water vapour.

Figure 1.3. Absorption coefficients for water. [From here].

This band of wavelengths passes virtually unscathed (no absorption) through the atmosphere and through the ocean surface, and penetrates many metres into the ocean. I will call this band the ITO (Into The Ocean). The ITO warms the ocean well below the surface with little direct effect on the atmosphere. All other wavelengths cannot penetrate the surface (land or ocean), and enter a rapid cycle of absorption and re-emission until their energy escapes to space, except for a small proportion that manages to enter the ocean, eg. by conduction or as precipitation.

The energy budget as shown in Figure 1.2 is net zero at the surface: 168+324=492 inward, 24+78+390=492 outward. Net zero balance is correct for a stable planet, but there is a big difference in timing between the ITO and the rest. The non-ITO radiation (IR etc) doesn’t hang around anywhere – it spends a very short time being reflected and/or absorbed/re-emitted before nearly all of it escapes to space. But the ITO enters the ocean and its energy can then take a long time to get back up to the surface. That “long time” could be days or months (eg, it might up-well quite quickly), it could be years (eg, waiting to be scooped up in an El Nino), it could be decades (eg, accumulating until an ocean oscillation such as the AMO or PDO brings it to the surface), or it could even be many centuries (eg, taken down into the deep ocean by the THC).

The ocean acts like a giant heat-pump. Energy from the sun is pumped in short or long bursts by the ocean into the atmosphere. In the short term, or even over decades, the release of energy might bear little relation to its acquisition.

Those time-scales – days, months, years, decades, centuries – are not “Either-Or” options. The ocean is a large place, and all the timescales apply at some time in some part of the ocean. Similarly, when the energy does reach the surface again, it might do so over a short or long time-scale. In a truly stable planet, the energy budget at the surface would indeed be a net zero, but only over a very long time. On all other timescales, there would be “noise”. And, of course, Earth’s climate isn’t stable over very long time-scales anyway.

There is some debate about whether clouds are net warming or cooling. The generally agreed position is that low clouds are net cooling, while high clouds are net warming, with variations for particular cloud types, etc. But that is all about IR (and EUV) and Earth’s surface (land and ocean) and atmosphere, so it is all irrelevant to this part of the discussion,. It has nothing to do with the ITO. The ITO is affected by the amount of cloud cover – ie. cloud reflectance – and by nothing else of much significance. Cloud height doesn’t matter, only cloud reflectance.With respect to the ITO and the ocean, clouds only cool. More cloud -> cooler, and less cloud -> warmer.

2.2 The IPCC

The IPCC and the models make no allowance for clouds changing independently of temperature. Their view is that clouds are a constant (plus “noise”) until they are affected by temperature. Their view then is that clouds give a positive feedback to temperature. They offer no mechanism, no evidence, and their view is prima facie in the opposite direction to the short term above where temperature increase -> cloud increase.

In the longer term, clouds and temperature do move in opposite directions, as I showed in the ‘Cloudy Question‘ post. ie, temperature and “ClearSky” move in the same direction, and over very large areas of the ocean the cloud cover changes direction several years before temperature does. eg:

Figure 1.5. NH Temperature and ClearSky anomalies, with 11-yr smoothing.

This suggests pretty strongly that cloud cover is in the driving seat, and that the mechanism is as described in 2.1.2 above.

2.3 Sun-Cloud Connection

A long time ago, Henrik Svensmark realised that there was a sun-cloud connection. The sun protects Earth from Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs), and GCRs create aerosols which seed clouds. A more active sun therefore leads to less clouds, and a less active sun leads to more clouds.

The fourth IPCC report dismisses Henrik Svensmark’s theory as ‘controversial’, and ignores it. The fifth IPCC report is interesting. The draft report leaked by Alec Rawls admitted strong evidence for enhanced solar forcing: “Many empirical relationships have been reported between GCR or cosmogenic isotope archives and some aspects of the climate system []. The forcing from changes in total solar irradiance alone does not seem to account for these observations, implying the existence of an amplifying mechanism such as the hypothesized GCR-cloud link.“, but the final report contained no such statement and continued to treat total solar irradiance alone as the sun’s only influence.

Henrik Svensmark’s theory has been confirmed in many tests and experiments. For example, by Laken et al (2010)These results provide perhaps the most compelling evidence presented thus far of a GCR-climate relationship. From this analysis we conclude that a GCR-climate relationship is governed by both short-term GCR changes and internal atmospheric precursor conditions.“.

This might not be the only sun-cloud connection, but the simple fact is that the sun-GCR-cloud link does exist.

2.4 CO2

Much of CO2 theory has been confirmed in many tests and experiments. But only the direct effect of CO2 has been demonstrated. As I described here and here, the indirect effects (“feedbacks”) claimed by the IPCC are unsubstantiated and their use is unwarranted..

The direct effect of CO2 – “Climate Sensitivity” – is generally agreed to be about 1 to 1.2 deg C per doubling of CO2. Some studies observe much lower climate sensitivity (eg. here), but to be on the safe side I will use 1.2. [NB. Studies which find a higher sensitivity tend to be model-based, ie. they make the same errors as the models].

Applying the same data and formulae as I used here, but with a climate sensitivity of 1.2, projected temperature increase from 1750 to 2100 is ~2 deg C. That is using the “Business as Usual” CO2 projection, which reaches 1,030ppm in 2100. Some other years are:

Year CO2 Deg C
1750 280.0 0.00
1900 296.3 0.09
1980 338.7 0.27
2000 369.7 0.40
2010 389.4 0.48
2017 415.5 0.55
2047 562.7 1.00
2100 1,030.2 2.03

Table 1. CO2 concentration and temperature projection for ECS = 1.2.

For an ECS less than 1.2, the ‘Deg C’ figures in Table 1 would be lower.

At Mauna Loa Observatory, the current (21 Jan 2017) CO2 measure is 406ppm.

2.5 Clouds vs CO2

The question is often asked: how much of the observed global warming is from CO2 and how much is from natural factors.

In a way, that is a misleading or inappropriate question, because it is based on linear thinking – ‘if you add the components you get the total‘. But climate is non-linear.

The way that direct ocean warming and GHG warming relate to each other is the key.

GHGs warm the atmosphere. The GHG process involves only IR, which cannot penetrate the ocean more than a fraction of a millimetre, where its energy goes mainly into evaporation. ie, the energy goes straight back into the atmosphere. Other ways that the energy from GHGs can get into the ocean is by rain being warmer, and by conduction at the ocean surface (which does a poor job). In the meantime, the atmosphere is busy radiating its heat out into space. And, of course, the heat content of the ocean is much larger than the heat content of the atmosphere. The bottom line is that it will take a very long time indeed for any GHG warming to warm the oceans. It is not exactly surprising that the IPCC do not attempt to say how long it takes to reach equilibrium.

Clear sky – absence of clouds – warms the ocean in and below the surface. That warmth, as explained above, later warms the atmosphere on various timescales. But net heat transfer between ocean surface and atmosphere is from the one that is warmer to the one that is cooler. So, for example, if the atmosphere is already warmer then the ocean will not warm it any further – although it could slow down the rate at which it cools.

So in simple terms the relationship between Clear Sky warming and GHG warming is that GHGs warm the atmosphere and Clear Sky warms the ocean, and then the two of them look for a balance. If the ocean is warmer then it warms up the atmosphere on various timescales as described earlier. If the atmosphere is warmer then it radiates to space.

By 1980, global temperature was no more than about 0.5 deg C higher than in 1850, which was probably little warmer than 1750. The global temperature has since gone up by about another 0.5 degrees C. So the global temperature over the last few decades has been much higher than the temperatures that could be expected from CO2.

/Continued in Part 2.

Mike Jonas (MA Maths Oxford UK) retired some years ago after nearly 40 years in I.T.



AMO – Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation

APS – American Physical Society

AR4 – Fourth IPCC Report

AR5 – Fifth IPCC Report

C – Centigrade or Celsius

C-C – Clausius-Clapeyron relation

CAGW – Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming

CO2 – Carbon Dioxide

ENSO – El Niño Southern Oscillation

EUV – Extreme Ultra-Violet

GCR Galactic Cosmic Ray

GHG – Greenhouse gas

IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

IR – Infra-Red

ISCCP – International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project

ITO – Into The Ocean [Band of Wavelengths approx 200nm to 1000nm]

NCAR – (US) National Center for Atmospheric Research

nm – Nanometre

PDO – Pacific Decadal Oscillation

ppm – Parts Per Million

SCO – the Sun-Cloud-Ocean hypothesis

SW – Short Wave

THC – Thermohaline Circulation

TSI – Total Solar Irradiance

UAH – The University of Alabama in Huntsville

UV – Ultra-Violet

W/m2 or Wm-2 – Watts per Square Metre


254 thoughts on “This is How Climate Works – Part 1

  1. Greenhouse gases (GHGs), including man-made CO2, warm the atmosphere too.

    Does not follow from:

    Many scientists and others do think that CO2 warms the planet, ….

    You, thus, assert as a given, as a fact, in your opening paragraph, what has never been proven by observation.

    1. Whether or not CO2 (per se) warms the planet is not proven; this is speculation based on extrapolating CO2’s behavior in a laboratory setting onto an open, essentially chaotic, system. It is a guess.

    2. Given that the guess about CO2 warming the planet to some degree is correct, human CO2, 2 orders of magnitude smaller than natural, has never been proven to be effectively warming the planet. With the dynamic natural sinks also 2 orders of magnitude greater than human CO2 emissions, human CO2 could EASILY be completely taken up (or taken up to the degree that the quantity of any remaining human CO2 is negligible) by natural sinks.

    Furthermore, we now have anti-correlation evidence, i.e.:
    (human) CO2 UP (steeply). WARMING STOPPED.

    • Janice, your last sentance only proves that natural variation exists. It does not (yet) disprove that there is some planetary GHE from CO2. Time period is not long enough when we know there is a ~65 year natural climate cycle visible in both surface temperatures, Arctic August ice maps and other qualitative indicators such as those discussed in Wyatt and Curry 2014? Stadiummwave paper.

      • “General relativity has been repeatedly confirmed by its predictions having been observed.”

        General Relativity is “confirmed” by a multitude of observations, some of them active, with a stimulus applied, and the result observed. E.g., your GPS unit on your phone or in your car would not work properly if the calculations due to GR were not available.

        Time genuinely runs faster at the GPS satellite orbits than on the Earth’s surface, and the pace at which it does so varies according to the mass distribution of the Earth relative to the satellite position in accordance with the theory. One can receive the GPS data, and see these effects in the time series, and confirm that the error goes down as one adjusts for them according to formulas derived from first principles. I have done it. It is amazing.

        But, I use the quote around “confirmed” because the theory is not thereby proved. It is possible that the theory gives the correct answers though its underlying premises are in error. More likely, it is possible that it is only an approximation to a more abstruse theory into which it will eventually be subsumed as a special case, much as Newtonian gravity is a special case of GR when mass is relatively low, and speeds relatively slow, and even, perhaps, when the local speed limit that we call the speed of light is relatively constant.

        But, this is much different from AGW. We confirm GR every minute of every day with these GPS measurements. There is essentially no ambiguity in the result. We see the effect repeatedly, across many platforms in the GPS constellation, and the result always matches the theory.

        For AGW, we only have the one platform, and the results are ambiguous, to say the least.

      • AGW is a hypothesis, the weakest form of scientific endeavor. Hypotheses are little more than guesses, and are often disproved. Google: laws, theories, hypotheses to read the actual meaning of these terms.
        General relativity is a theory. Not as good as a law, such as the thermal laws. AGW is a hypothesis, and CAN be disproven, unlike a law or theory. Theories can’t be proved, or they would become laws. If disproved, they would become hypotheses until the error was explained.

      • Bart,

        As I said, science doesn’t do proof. It does confirmation or falsification, based upon tests of predictions capable of being shown false by observations. A single falsification can shoot down a hypothesis, but no amount of confirmation proves one.

        A hypothesis, such as the heliocentric theory, can never be proven true. It can however finally be directly observed, which then shows it valid, ie objectively reality. The heliocentric theory, as amended, was eventually shown true by direct observation, but before that had been repeatedly confirmed and never falsified.

        That’s how the scientific method works.

      • The very big problem is that there are no negative numbers in the rise of co2. The assertion is implied that the co2 cycle was in balance. When compared to that time period from 1750 to 1900, you don’t think something is wrong ? Did the oceans or plants suddenly change their nature? The sinks were in fact much larger or should have been than now. In fact it seems that the only way co2 levels could have remained level was for an additional natural input of co2. Are you saying Ristvan that the sinks are conditional upon how much co2 there is and not the size

      • You people are misjudging a few things. At any point in time there is a best theory or at least better theories than not. The best theory we have is what climate science puts forward (that’s the result of science in the aggregate by the people doing science.. you can participate if you do science.. most people blog about this but don’t actually understand the math/physics/science). The major source of error in model projections is not knowing a great many variables because the atmosphere is so large. There are also weaker parts of the model. There is much in the planet’s variability that is not able to be modeled on a near-term scale nor without certain “error bars”, which is why long time frames are needed to judge the projections. That is also why you have to include the “error bars” on the projections as it is part of the definition of the projection itself. The average line should run hot some of the time and cold some of the time (though going back to earlier models from decades back, they are mostly on the hot side). You also have to later on fill in variables that were not known at the time and are not part of the modelling, eg, CO2 levels (which depend on technology, laws, and consumer habits for example).

        If a model is not as precise as f=ma, is it useless? Should we ignore that within error bars it suggests certain rises within span of a century, rises that are abnormal for the planet and the speed of species adaptation, certainly for the pace at which human societies might be able to deal with it? Maybe the ocean warms up more slowly than they expect while there is so much ice at the poles. Any of many variables, doesn’t mean the overall model is a bad one. Again, to judge you need to look at error bars, and yes, the models from 30 years ago are more likely to be off than the most recent incarnations.

        We can’t predict path of hurricane exactly. Lot’s of variables, etc, but is it wise to ignore the predicted path? [You may find the following funny if you understand spanish: ]

      • >> Indeed that hypothesis, or conjecture, has been repeatedly shown false, ie falsified.

        Can you link to one example?

    • IMO the first 100 or 200 ppm of CO2 does have a measurable effect on planetary temperature (as well as enabling photosynthesis), but after that there are sharply diminishing warming returns.

      • You have to remember that IR radiation is only about 11–15% of the energy transport in the atmosphere after insolation. CAGW places huge weight on it only by ignoring the water cycle in which warm moist air, warmed by the surface and some heat used to evaporate water (a non sensible heat that then is carried upward), by convection to altitude where adiabatic cooling condenses the water, releasing the latent heat of water to the atmosphere which is then lost as IR to space (the downwelling IR is reflected by the warmer surface and also lost to space). The resulting cold air then sinks and the precipitated water also falls bringing cold water back to the surface.

        The missing energy that Trenberth is always moaning about is because he ignores this massive global heat engine that ramps up with a little warming and serves to bring temperatures back down. Thus, only significant changes in Earth’s energy input really alter the climate, with the water cycle always acting as a negative feedback mechanism against whatever the input is at the time.

        Most if not all grade school kids know about the water cycle. How is it that government paid “scientists” never got such basic education?

      • Yes. CACA considers only “radiative forcing” without the other effects, such as clouds and evaporative cooling. Then assumes positive H2O feedback not in evidence, to get what in the lab might be 1.2 degrees C warming per CO2 doubling into the “canonical”, ie made up, three degrees.

        It’s possible that in the real climate system, even the 1.2 degrees per doubling doesn’t occur, due to negative feedbacks, but at most ECS is well under two degrees, based upon actual observations rather than GIGO modeling.

      • CO2 can’t heat the earth because if it DID heat it, even a nano-degree, earth’s rate of radiation would increase instantly, and radiate that extra energy away, You can’t heat earth without its radiation increasing to remove it. Note how quickly it happens at night when removing the sun’s abundant energy.

      • As discussed above, you can’t prove that, and the pause is close to disproving your intuitive hypothesis.I must say I suspect you came to this conclusion because this hypothesis is everywhere shouted from the rooftops ,we seem to be having a bit of warm spell right now and we are yelled at and called bad people if we question the ” great truth”of this AGW religion. That isn’t science. It’s more like what Galileo had to deal with.
        My hypothesis says the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are a great heat engine, with heat absorbed disproportionately at the equator and moved by wind and water vapour to the poles,at a rate largely determined by the heat differential that drives the process. My hypothesis has the advantage of explaining the pause, providing a trail to follow for the recent el Nino heat that raised global temperatures (in reality, the heat content was present in Pacific sea water temperature and then in water vapour before, during and after the el Nino temperature spike. It’s fingerprint is still visible in rain and snow falling on California and the low ice conditions in the Arctic. Apparently the geniuses who apply for these grants don’ understand that air temperature is only one manifestation of heat in the climate system. It’s like burning their hand on the muffler and concluding the engine is shot.
        Now the Pacific has shed it’s excess heat and the Arctic will quickly dispose of it. As the planet unfortunately cools down the engine will slow down and heat will start to accumulate. Probably in the tropical Pacific, for reasons we don’t understand yet.
        We could probably figure that out pretty quickly if we spent a tenth the time and money on real science instead of garbage math applied to tree rings by grant sucking charlatans like Mann.

    • The very nanosecond a radiated photon is absorbed in the oceans or any other substance, that substance immediately gains energy, and THUS increases its own radiation. The earth’s entire surface is a thermostat that radiates exactly as the 4th power of its temperature. You can heat the earth with the sun, but you can’t with back radiation because there are far too few photons striking the surface when the sun isn’t present. Back radiation can’t even melt frost. As soon as the sun hits frost, it melts. I’ve had frost on the ground for days when the sun couldn’t strike it, but all frost that received sunlight melted the first time sun hit it.
      CO2 has nothing to do with the temperature of the earth, unless it has a very, very slight cooling effect in the atmosphere.

    • “Greenhouse gases (GHGs), including man-made CO2, warm the atmosphere too.”

      Now I’m a really confused skeptic. One articles says that there is some warming from CO2 and another says that CO2 lags temperature by ~800 years… how can we have it both ways?

      • You can’t have it both ways. The problem is that the basic hypothesis is wrong, and many people just believe it instead of reasoning why it can’t be true. Co2 can’t heat the earth without the earth increasing its radiative output, which would remove any energy received from this trace gas virtually instantly. Then the radiative output would drop back as the excess energy was radiated away.

      • Doug,

        You’ve run aground on the shoals of the “lukewarm conundrum.”
        Many years ago, Watts decided to avoid angering further the angry gods of Mann-made-Global-Warming. He, and other prominent “skeptics” created the lukewarm position:
        “Yes, o might gods of Science, pal-review-circle-jerkers, and keepers of the federal grant spigot, we agree with you that CO2 is a nasty, blanket of hotness, and man is spewing it to the detriment of the earth. We only disagree with you on the degree to which the Earth is damaged by this nasty CO2 hotness, and how hot the nasty hotness will be. Please may we come to the sorority dance with you now?”
        They hoped that their lukewarm acceptance of the GHGE theory would allow them to be players on the world stage. The lukewarmers then became attack dogs against actual skeptics who dared to question the GHGE theory.
        So, if you missed those years of lukewarmer attacks on skeptics, which were resolved by lukewarmers banning GHGE skeptics from discussions, then you might be confused. The cognitive dissonance is overwhelming—as WUWT serves up constant evidence that the GHGE is false, and then turns around and sticks to the lukewarmer position, and bans outright skeptics of the GHGE.
        Hope that helps.

      • The idea is that in the past CO2 lags temperature. Go back at least 200 years before now. We can overwhelm the lagged response and now cause the increase.

    • Agree 100% Janice, well-said. Why people insist on believing human released CO2 is warming the planet,
      without evidence of that, is perplexing. Some people seem to HAVE to believe human beings are influential on the climate, oceans, large eco-systems etc. We aren’t.

      • CO2 is 0.01% of our atmospheric mix. Manmade CO2 is 5% of that – the other 95% is natural. That means that 5% of 0.01% of the atmosphere would be responsible for the man-made raising of the temperature of the earth. That is, 20 PPM of CO2 would have to have the ability to shift the world’s climate. (400ppm * .05 = 20ppm). 20 CO2 molecules for every million? Are you KIDDING??? Try to find 20 black marbles in a million clear ones with a lighted background. Some things just don’t pass the sniff test. This one stinks.
        CO2 has absolutely, positively, nothing whatsoever to do with CAUSING climate to change.

      • Of course there is a continuing supply. It captures radiation coming its way. That excites the electronic state and later turns to heat as it passes energy to nearby molecules of any sort (bumping) most of the time before the excited electronic state would release a photon. Effect is that instead of photons going from surface to space at a certain rate, it takes much longer while warming the in between path. Sun keeps up its rate, but extra CO2 slows down release to space.. that is until the surface is at high enough temp, establishing a balancing point but at a higher temp.

      • @ Phillip Bratby
        CO2 is an inert gas with no continuing supply of energy. It does not and cannot warm anything.

        While technically true, what Warmist’s really mean is increased CO2 will decrease cooling due to scattering of up-welling IR photon’s into a torturous path, all other things being equal. Personally I think the all other things being equal is the crux of the matter.

  2. [In the meantime, the atmosphere is busy radiating its heat out into space.] The atmosphere is 99.9% inert gases, and thus does not radiate to space save for the gh gases. The atmosphere is most obviously heated daily, but exactly how DOES it cool? It doesn’t convect downward, it doesn’t radiate, so the only other possibility is conduction. Yes, conduction is the major mover of energy in the downward direction. And, since gh gases are continuously radiating, they are a cooling influence to the inert gases that contain more energy. THAT is what has been overlooked. AGW believers would have you believe gh gases gain energy then somehow hang on to it…exactly why would this be? They radiate constantly, not just when accepting a photon. They are constantly losing energy in all directions.

    • Mister Shotsky — for Pete’s sake — what is this??

      What you say strikes me as a bit “off.”

      gh gases gain energy then somehow hang on to it…exactly why would this be?

      Answer: THE PROPERTIES OF WATER, the most powerful greenhouse gas.

      I may have completely misread you, but, boy, Mr. Shotsky, I think you need to re-write that comment!

      (and I probably need to rewrite just about everything I’ve written over the years, too, lol)

      • Any radiative substance will radiate constantly, based solely on its temperature and emissivity. Thus, greenhouse gases ALL radiate constantly. A gh gas molecule will radiate just as easily as it will accept a photon, but does not require gaining a photon to radiate. No hypothesis presents how the day’s energy is removed from the atmosphere, and I assure you it is not that 0.01% of the atmosphere that does it.

    • It takes a bit of searching, possibly because they do not want us to know this, but there are absorption spectra for O2 and N2 out there and they indeed have IR absorption lines in the region of the water vapor and CO2 IR absorption. It would take a lot of wind from their sails if they had to admit that all of the atmosphere is in play and that they want us to radically alter our lives to try to influence one tiny component of an otherwise IR active atmosphere.

      • Can someone enlighten me, please? I understand that there is a finite amount of solar energy available to be absorbed by CO2. At what PPM does there cease to be any energy left for CO2 to absorb? (I have read that the figure is about 600 PPM of CO2).

    • From a chemical perspective, O2 is not inert. Perhaps a better term would concern being weak IR absorbers. Also, H2O concentration varies widely, so 99.9% is incorrect.

    • “…so the only other possibility is conduction.”

      Not quite. All gases at temperature above absolute zero radiate, but the pace at which they do so is dependent upon their energy input. Up to the tropopause, they can collide with IR radiating molecules, and their energy transferred. Once you get to the stratosphere, energy release is dependent on conduction and radiation at higher energy, and so the lapse rate reverses, and temperatures increase with altitude until the stratopause, where ozone radiates at lower energy to again produce a positive lapse rate throughout the mesosphere until you hit the mesopause.

      • Ok, I agree with that, having worked with lasers for 25 years. Nitrogen, argon, helium neon and CO2 lasers, Some are inert gases, some radiative. Add enough energy, and they all radiate. But the bulk of our atmosphere, and that which we measure at the surface, is not exposed to those temperatures, so the general idea of inert gases not radiating and radiative gases radiating holds. When you see a lightning strike, however, it is not only the gh gases that are visible – all the gases are heated sufficiently to radiate, which is the light we see.

    • You are mixing up dry atmosphere with the real atmosphere. The real atmosphere has on average of from one to two perecent H2O as well as clouds and other airisols that all radiate in the IR. The other gases are not entirely thermaly inert either. If you want to talk about greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, the bulk of your disscussion should be about the primary greenhouse gas, H2O.

    • >> AGW believers would have you believe gh gases gain energy then somehow hang on to it

      Seems you have misunderstood the science or you are picking on “AGW believers” that don’t themselves understand the science.

      My understanding is not graduate level, but I think it’s accurate enough. CO2 radiates all the time based on its energy state. But it also shares energy with neighbor molecules of any type when they pass near each other (call it a “bump”). I believe something like 1 to 3% of the energy captured via far away radiation is likely to be sent off again in random direction (which can be back towards earth some of the time) without that molecule contacting other molecules, but most of the time (for LTE case, which is what exists at least in lower atmosphere) the energy is dissipated via contact, raising the energy level of nearby molecules. That bump bump process is slow compared to speed of light radiation. And since energy is diluted among many molecules, the “temp” of any one particle is much lower so radiation would be slower if it didn’t happen right away. Back radiation is real and measured (eg, at night when sun is not shining) and matches the sort of numbers you see on the Trenberth graph.

      Any form of insulation achieves a similar result, although usually via convection or conduction rather than radiation, which is that the path of escape by heat from the surface is “hindered” with some degree of “back-radiation” (analogies of course).

      In short, there is back radiation (since re-release of photons is in random direction and happens all throughout where there are GHG) as well as warming of the air masses from particle collisions (which is how non-GHG get energy captured by nearby GHG).

  3. Left out solar variation, just like the IPCC.

    No concept of what happens to the climate, to SSTs, to OHC when the sun is either very active or very quiet, nor what happens in between.

    Clouds are formed from evaporated water off the ocean evaporation driven by direct sunlight and upwelling OHC, not cosmic rays.

    Is it me or has there really been an uptick in the number of these ‘internal variation’ theories popping up lately?

    The climate rides between TSI-insolation extremes.

  4. And two positive thoughts:

    1. EXCELLENT writing. Well-organized, thorough (love the glossary at the end), and with the plain language that makes publishing it here worthwhile for the average reader can understand! :)

    One favorite sentence:

    The “mainstream” climate science has been a stuff-up of epic proportions.

    2. You close with a powerful argument against AGW — well done.

    In short: you are doing a mighty work for LIBERTY! Truth = freedom from enviroprofiteer tyranny.

    Thank you, Mike Jonas!

  5. The atmosphere in fact does have a strong effect on the oceans, by the atmosphere’s radiated IR heating the top millimeter of water, which slows and therefore reduces the ocean’s transfer of energy into the atmosphere. A good explanation is on, in four parts all titled starting with “Does ‘Back-Radiation’ Heat the Ocean?”:

  6. Mike,
    “GHGs warm the atmosphere. The GHG process involves only IR, which cannot penetrate the ocean more than a fraction of a millimetre, where its energy goes mainly into evaporation. ie, the energy goes straight back into the atmosphere.”
    This argument is wrong on several counts. But the main one is flux direction. As you said, a lot of sunlight penetrates the sea to depth. It’s about 168 W/m2 according to the budget you showed, and it all comes out again (nowhere else to go). So the net flux at the surface (excluding SW) is up. The surface is too warm for that flux to maintain S-B radiation and evaporation; the balance is supplied by down IR from the air. But that doesn’t need to penetrate; it just restores surface balance. If there is more of it, then the surface has to emit more to maintain balance, and hence warm. All done with no IR penetration.

    As an aside, the down IR flux could penetrate. The sea emits IR, and that is the same problem. Heat has to get to the surface to be emitted, and it does. These paths are reversible.

    • Nick, firstly you responded to a sentence about GHGs with a discussion about sunlight. Was that intentional? Are you saying that the discussion of GHG radiation in the article is wrong?

      Secondly, you appear to be saying that no part of the oceans ever warms from the action of sunlight.

      Thirdly, are you suggesting that the amount of energy from GHG radiation into the water is significant when compared to the amount of energy from sunlight? I would have thought that they are different by orders of magnitude.

    • Hi Nick – I think this is one of the areas where proper dispassionate testing can distinguish between this hypothesis and CAGW. An El Nino, for example, brings warm water to the surface, and that lifts the atmospheric temperature quite significantly. The warmth must have been accumulating beloiw the surface for some time. Under the 2nd law of thermodynamics, warm water from the surface skin cannot mix with deeper water to create water of an even higher temperature. IOW, once heat is in the ocean, it cannot concentrate itself to form even warmer water. To my mind, this is a very strong indication that the heat that comes from El Ninos and other ocean oscillations has had to be built up in sub-surface water, where the same sub-surface patch has been warmed directly by the sun over a significant period.
      Yes, the paths are reversible, but the upward path is multiple times more efficient than the downward path.

      • “Yes, the paths are reversible, but the upward path is multiple times more efficient than the downward path.”
        No, reversible means just that. It’s the same path. Heat can flow either way.

        But I think you are mixing up time scales here. In the mixed layer, where sunlight penetrates, the time scale is hours or days. And the heat capacity is high relative to the mixing, so it is more or less a continuous flow of that 168 W/m2 back to the surface.

        I showed in the link above some day/night profiles. There is a peak of T where absorption is greatest; from there heat moves both up and down. But at night all that flattens; heat moves up from greater depths. The main thing is that basically all the heat does flow up through the surface in the 24 hours. There is a slow seasonal cycle superimposed, and a much slower change again (involving very little flux, but sustained) when the air warms due to AGW. At the surface the down flux increases due to warm air, so the upflux has to increase to balance, due to warmer SST. The heat for that warming comes from retained sun warmth, not penetration of down IR.

    • “The surface is too warm for that flux to maintain S-B radiation and evaporation; the balance is supplied by down IR from the air.”

      What does this even mean? Evaporation is always occurring, as is SB radiation, when temperature is above zero K. It is not either/or. As is condensation and radiative heating when a heat source is available. Equlibrium is achieved when both incoming and outgoing flows balance.

      “If there is more of it, then the surface has to emit more to maintain balance, and hence warm.”

      Not beyond a few microns depth. You seem to be dreaming of gates and switches that simply do not exist.

      • “What does this even mean?”
        Simple – it’s in the Trenberth diagram. Total emitted from the surface 24+78+390=492 W/m2. These are determined by surface temperature. Sunlight is 168. How can that go on without the surface raoidly cooling? 324 W/m2 from down IR. Is the balance a coincidence? No, the temperature has settled to a level needed for balance.

      • You’re basing your conclusions on a cartoon that is based on the reasoning that leads to your conclusions? This is circular reasoning.

        What we are talking about is penetration of the ocean depths. That is what drives long term climate. And, IR radiation does not penetrate very far at all.

    • This CO2 can’t slow water from cooling perhaps calls for an example. A lake ices over much later in the year than is normal because of a very balmy Fall including Semptember, October and November. How can it be said the lake took no notice of the warm atmospheric temperatures and emitted to the air the same amount of energy as it does every year?
      The driver of lake ice depth in Minnesota is atmospheric temperatures during the Fall and Winter. The Sun becomes more of player around February as it gets higher in our sky.
      The result of CO2 directly or indirectly keeping the oceans warmer than otherwise is increased sea level rise and that’s bad. However it slows the GMST rise and it is able to do that for a long time I think.
      I find a little irony there. This CO2 is so powerful, it slows temperature rise by keeping more energy in the oceans. It helps stablize its own impacts by putting more warmth into long term storage, the oceans. Then a lack of CO2 would do what? Withdraw more energy from the oceans to help stablize a descent in temperature in the atmosphere. The wonder gas.

  7. What is completely ignored across the board is that “greenhouse” gases (GHGs) are more accurately called “radiative” gases. Where, during the day, these gases may absorb IR radiation and convert it to heat in the atmosphere, it is just as likely to convert heat in the atmosphere to IR radiation that is emitted. During the day, GHGs are saturated with IR and basically busy going both ways, i.e., they are a wash and do not detectably warm the atmosphere.

    CAGW “science” requires that these gases in the upper tropical troposphere (at -17 deg C) absorbs upwelling IR and sends it back downward to warm the surface (at 15 deg C). Thermodynamics clearly indicates that a cold object cannot heat a warmer object. The downward IR would be rejected by the surface as the energy levels equivalent to -17 deg C IR would already be filled. Extensive searches for the reputed “hot spot” in the upper tropical troposphere have been futile and, in fact, a gentle cooling has been going on up there for over 30 years, according to satellite data (NASA).

    The “hotspot” idea having failed, CAGW glossed over it and moved on to claiming that GHGs heated the lower troposphere directly. As mentioned above, this is basically a wash during the day.

    What goes un-admitted and totally ignored is that global climate models do not do night-time. It is during the night that these radiative gases, with no energy input from the Sun (no insolation), actively convert heat energy in the lower troposphere to IR radiation that is eventually lost to space. That is why the air chills down so rapidly after sundown and, on a sunny day with scudding clouds, little breezes kick up so quickly in the clouds’ shadows as they move along—this gives a clear idea of how rapidly these gases operate.

    If GHGs have any effect on climate, it is to cool the plant and not to warm it. To pretend the Earth is 24 hours of daylight and react to the bogus ideas that produces is just bad science.

    All of this can be set aside by one observation. As human emissions of CO2 have been increasing logarithmically over the last 50–60 years, the increases atmospheric CO2 has been essentially linear over time. Our input is not apparent and not affecting atmospheric CO2. CO2 along with methane has a half-life of ~5 years in the atmosphere, not the 200 or 1000 years claimed by the IPCC and NASA, respectively.

    So, if we are not affecting atmospheric CO2 then we are not affecting the climate either. At the very least, our effects are undetectable.

    • [If GHGs have any effect on climate, it is to cool the plant and not to warm it.]
      I completely agree. An atmosphere of only, say nitrogen would heat by day from the surface heating and incompletely cool by night. The result would be a warmer atmosphere. It would HAVE to be, since there would be energy accumulating in the atmosphere faster than it could be removed, thus heating the surface of the earth, causing it to radiate more as well. GH gases radiate to space some of the energy in the atmosphere. That would be missing in an inert atmosphere..

      • Mr. Shotsky,

        It seems to me (nobody special) that (speaking in super simple terms) If the atmosphere allowed heat in the form of infrared radiation emitted by the solar warmed surface to pass unobstructed into the Big Black ; ) then it would be cooler near the surface compared to a situation wherein the atmosphere interferes with that radiation’s passage into space.

        Are you proposing it would be warmer? The same temps? Or?

      • Yes, I propose it would be warmer, but not because of what you said. First, ALL solar radiation would hit the surface if no gh gases, which would heat it more. That heat would heat the inert atmosphere at the surface, which would rise, transferring surface energy into the atmosphere. In order for the atmosphere not to stay heated, it would have to have a way to lose energy – but the only way it CAN lose energy is by contact with a cooler surface or molecule in the atmopshere. GH gases would help remove energy from the atmosphere, speeding up the cooling that we already see at night.

      • Well, would it be correct, as you see this matter, to say that at night the GHGs would cause a slowing of the cooling near the surface due to radiation leaving, but you believe GHGs effectively act in reverse during the day, to reduce the rate of warming even more?

      • Not really. For every gh gas molecule in the atmosphere, there are billions of surface molecules emitting. Every speck of the surface radiates, CO2 is a trace gas. Those photons that are earth directed (1/2) couldn’t possible warm anything. As soon as someone can show me that back radiation can melt frost at 32 degrees, I’ll consider changing my position. Blue sky, 32F at the surface with frost…it will not melt until either the sun hits it or it warms to 32.1F. It will last for days if it stays below freezing, and no sun hits it. That has to be factored into all this back radiation crap because that is how it actually works, and any of you can prove it.

      • John Shotsky @ January 28, 2017 at 11:56 am

        “An atmosphere of only, say nitrogen would heat by day from the surface heating and incompletely cool by night. The result would be a warmer atmosphere.”

        But, it could never warm more than the temperature at the surface. Since radiation from the surface is not impeded by the atmosphere, it has to balance with the incoming radiation from the Sun. The temperature at which it balances is given by the Stefan-Boltzmann (SB) relationship. The Earth’s surface is significantly warmer than that relationship appears to indicate it should be. That is where the so-called Greenhouse Effect comes into play.

        What it all comes down to is the spectrum of radiation from the surface versus the outgoing spectrum at the top of the atmosphere. For equilibrium, the total radiation from the top of the atmosphere must be the same as the total incoming from the Sun. Total radiation is the integral of the spectrum, i.e., the area under these temperature dependent curves:

        Gases that absorb radiation from the surface block that radiation from exiting at the top of the atmosphere. So, the temperature at the surface has to increase in order to allow greater radiation from the surface to bypass the blocking band. See that big divot in the spectrum centered at about 15 microns for the top plot (satellite looking down)? It is mostly from water vapor, and it is preventing a lot of the radiation that comes in from Sun (bottom plot) from getting back out. Warming of the surface shifts the top plot up and slightly left from where it otherwise would have been, so that outgoing radiation again balances with incoming.

        That is the basic mechanism. It is logically consistent, and fairly well assured. But, there are complications. For one, there is necessarily a point of diminishing returns. Once a particular band is totally blocked, you cannot block it more, and it requires exponentially greater concentrations of blocking material to make a given sized dent in a partially blocked band.

        Additionally, there are feedback effects. Temperature increases produce more convection, and higher convection lofts heat higher in the atmosphere, where it can escape radiatively without encountering a substantial blocking distribution. Increasing temperature also produces more water vapor, which produces clouds which reflect more of the incoming solar radiation back out before it can heat anything. There are probably other feedback effects which are either known and underappreciated, or completely unknown.

        The Greenhouse Effect is real. We are warmer than we would otherwise be without IR radiating gases in the atmosphere. But, it is not a slam dunk that incrementally increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in the present radiative-convective state of the climate will necessarily produce incrementally increasing surface temperature. Indeed, for reasons I will not go into here, I am pretty sure that we are in a climate state in which the incremental sensitivity is virtually nil.

    • higley 7,

      “Thermodynamics clearly indicates that a cold object cannot heat a warmer object.”

      I hear such statements relatively often around here, but I see the matter in question more in terms of rate of cooling. For instance a rock warmed to 50 degrees, will shed it’s heat faster into 20 deg. air than into 30 deg. air. To my mind (such as it is ; ) all of this discussion about warming, is really about rate of cooling.

      As I understand the matter, for instance, a tiny bit of energy is transferred to the Earth from deep space at ~ 3 deg. K (though vastly more energy is heading out). The net heat transfer cools the planet of course, but not quite as much as if space were at less than 3 deg K, and therefor “warmed” the planet less by it’s minuscule (but real) earthward radiation.

      Is this not how you (far more intelligently no doubt ; ) conceive of the matter?

      • Mr. Shotsky,

        So, you contend that such a rock will cool at the same rate regardless of the air temp? (as long as the air is cooler than the rock?) This does not seem possible to me . . I myself have experienced the effects of 20 and 30 degree air . .

      • From a purely radiative aspect, yes. It makes no difference what the atmosphere around the rock is, the radiation from the rock is based on the rock’s temperature and it’s emissivity. No, I don’t ‘contend’ that it is my opinion, it is a thermal law. Look it up.

      • I think you altered the rock example inadvertently, John, and switched it to a matter of just radiative transfer of energy . . when I meant simple rate of cooling in air . . So, to get to my underlying ignorance ; ) I ask;

        If there are two stars orbiting each other, and one is hotter than the other; Do you believe the warmer one would be the same temp if it were alone? (also the cooler, for completeness of thought sake)

      • Sorry, I thought you were speaking solely of radiation on the original statement. If you are talking about conduction, then of course the rate is proportional to the difference in temperature between them.

      • So, I believe (fool that I am ; ) that the situation with radiation is similar to the situation with convection cooling of that rock . . wherein kinetic energy (from collisions at a molecular level) is passing both ways, with the outbound energy in the case given (from the rock to the air) being greater than the inbound (from the air to the rock), such that in the case radiation the photons are passing both ways, and the net flow of total energy is what determines whether a surface is cooled or warmed. If not, what happens to the energy of the photons heading into the higher temperature matter? It can’t just disappear, so to speak . . ?

      • Photons are quantum units of energy that have no memory of the temperature of the object that emitted them, nor of the object that absorbs them. Thus, a photon from earth strikes the sun and adds its energy to the sun. Don’t laugh, that is how radiation works – it is emitted, it travels until it encounters something that can absorb it. Period.

      • “Photons are quantum units of energy that have no memory of the temperature of the object that emitted them, nor of the object that absorbs them. Thus, a photon from earth strikes the sun and adds its energy to the sun.”

        Yeah, that’s my point . . so, DWLR would add energy to a sun warmed surface (substance) it strikes, and thereby reduce the rate of cooling of that surface, right? Not by much perhaps, but the bit of “returning” energy would retard the cooling process, which is what I understand is meant by the “greenhouse effect” . .

  8. Most of this is directionally consistent with my understanding of climate basics, but some isn’t. SoD explained how backradiation does affect ocean heat in more ways than just evaporation, one aspect being that the thin surface is turbulent. I will reserve comment until part 2 publishes, because that will provide better context for understanding the whole.

    • ristvan – Let us suppose that this is the warmest year ever Well, warmest for a very long time anyway. The warming of the ocean by the atmosphere in past years cannot raise the temperature of the ocean above the temperature of the atmosphere in those cooler years. So no matter how effectively the atmosphere warms the ocean, and no matter by what mechanism it does it, it cannot have caused the ‘warmest year ever’. Therefore something else is going on.
      So yes there is turbulence, but (a) it can’t be very effective because atmosphere heat content is lower than the ocean’s, and (b) from the above, it isn’t the answer. NB. I didn’t claim no effect on atmosphere on ocean, I said “The atmosphere has little effect on the ocean, except over very long periods.”.

      • MJ, thanks for the reply, but I will stand by my comment and wait until after part two to better understand your whole hypothesis. Just dunno, yet. OTH, there are definite responses to some of the comments your thought provoking post has elicited. There, am fully engaged. Regards.

  9. I have two remarks on the text, which mainly correct. I recommend not using the energy balance of Kiehl and Trenberth, because it obsolete. Much better version is published by Stephens et al. in Natural Geoscience in 2012. My own version is very close to this model. The atmospheric window flux is not correct, and K&T does not show any calculations for this flux. Also the latent heat flux is about 90 W/m2, not 78 W/m2. K&T has used US Standard Atmosphere 76 in their spectral calculations, which is pretty odd, when they should be experienced climate researchers.

    I know that many researchers have calculated that the climate sensitivity is between 1.0 to 1.2 degrees Celcius. I know also the reason for this: they have assumed that the radiative forcing formula by Myhre et al. is correct but they never checked or noticed that it is calculated using the atmosphere of constant relative humidity, which means that water doubles the CO2 warming effect.

    • With the energy balance, are these figures averaged over the globe? Is it accurate to say that outgoing energy is uniform over the globe? If not what affect do the regional differences have on the various calculations?

      • Nick, I do respect and appreciate you take on things. I learn from them every time either way. I am certain many others also appreciate your participation here on what I would call a “less than accepting environment”. That being said, what is you take on ECS? Mosher toed the IPCC line when I asked him. What is your take?

        Regards Ed

      • Ed,
        Thanks. The first thing I would say about ECS is that it is Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity. What has happened after everything has settled down, which takes a very long time. So you can’t get it from looking at changes in the historic record, as some like to do. But yes, I too would reflect the IPCC view, which is that we don’t know with any great accuracy. Somewhere between 1.5°C and 4.5°C. It may not even be a constant. The uncertainty isn’t reassuring.

      • Nick Stokes : “Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity. What has happened after everything has settled down, which takes a very long time.“. [my bold].
        Thanks, Nick. That’s what I was trying to say, in: “The bottom line is that it will take a very long time indeed for any GHG warming to warm the oceans.“. [my bold].

    • Aveo: which raises something that I have never seen discussed at length- the role of advection ( and synoptic patterns) in redistributing heat held by atmospheric molecules and determining the location of phase change in water and its latent heat. Being a simple man (like Bill OReilly), living in a very harsh climate (Manitoba), and being an avid organic gardener, spring and fall frosts determine just about everything from the garden. Frost occurs when skies are clear and winds are light. Give me a cloud cover, or an overnight wind and I seldom “cover” the garden. Give me both and I open a bottle of wine. Most of the heat released by condensation (clouds) came from the Pacific Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. I live 90 miles from the geographic centre of NA, so a long way from the original source of that heat. We live in a wonderful world!

  10. Like always there are comments that CO2 has no warming effect, which would mean that there is no greenhouse effect in the atmosphere. Or even more logical that, yes GH effect exists and CO2 has contribution in this phenomenon but not any more even though its concentration has increased a lot. It is useless to to start showing the evidence about these elementary issues.

  11. This is not an article about how the climate works. If it was it would start with a discussion about why the
    earth has the average temperature of about 287 Kelvin. Which is warm compared to space (3 K) and cold
    compared to the surface of the sun (~ 6000 K). And the only valid explanation of that is the effect of green house gases and in particular non-condensing green house gases (such as CO2). Rather this article is
    trying to explain small variations (of the order of 1K or less than 0.5 %) while ignoring the central problem.

    • in my opinion you are both right and wrong. It is true that without GHE Earth would have a temp of about -18C and we wouldn’t be here to argue about AGW. Fortunate thatnwe live on a watery planet in themFoldilocks zone. But the AGW question is how much that primary GHE equilibrium shifts with additional anthropogenic CO2. That is the question this post addresses, and it IS the central one to CAGW alarm.

      • Once again thank you for persisting with rational science based arguments, and for setting things straight for the wild and wacky posters. It must be tedious work, but someone has to do it. Rational skepticism and the difference from flat earthism, really does need to be explained. Over and over again unfortunately. Thank you.

      • You are welcome. Notice my by now boring effor on this WUWT blog to repeat ad nausium simple refutational sound bites. Its politics, not science. So learn political sound bites,, not science.

      • I’m running into that as well. Every year they send a new crop of believers with the same sound bites. It gets tiring refuting the same misinformation. Depending on the quality of the arguments makes a big difference in the outcome. I think the last 20 years speaks pretty well that overrides all the minutia in how AGW supposedly works. If it didn’t happen the way they explained it, by the way it has really changed in 20 years, it’s wrong. Literally, the only thing that AGW has left is adjusting the temperature. And they argue about that too as if it’s right ! Unbelievable!
        Science of Doom may have thought he won the argument on thermodynamics, he didn’t. I got to the point I thought it was worthless.

    • It is not the only valid explanation – the gas laws explain it perfectly, without using a tired hypothesis that has been disproved in many ways. Gas laws are independent of type of gas, so gh gases work the same as all others. Gas temperature (as at the surface of the earth) are dependent only upon pressure and volume. Gravity provides pressure, volume varies, but can be thought of as layers of an onion, and temperature is the result. Or, you can work with whatever you do have, and determine temperature. Has absolutely nothing to do with radiative gases! We are talking LAWS here, not hypotheses, and those laws may not be violated to explain a physical phenomenon. AGW violates gas laws, thermodynamic laws AND the laws of radiation, treated separately from thermodynamic laws.
      Oh, and weathermen can predict temperatures based on pressure and location (altitude) quite well, without calling CO2 into question. NO weather calculation uses a radiative gas hypothesis to predict temperatures. Think about that for a while.

      • JS, the gravitational gradient temperature hypothesis (a basic sky dragon bit) is quite easily disproved. 1. The atmosphere reached its density cross section as Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago. During that time PV=rkT would have heated the developing atmosphere. Not since. That work related heat dissipated billions of years ago. It is irrelevant now. 2. The surface has warmed some in the past century. Surely you do not believe gravity has increased or Earth has added atmosphere in the past century? Either or both would be required for your alternative explanation. Earth is surrounded by space — men have been there to prove that– so it can in general gain neither mass nor atmosphere. Please think more and silly comment less. Skeptics question everything, then leave the solid good stuff alone and move on. Move on.

      • ristvan:
        That was a good explanation. I didn’t understand that hypothesis until now. We know the bicycle pump warm connector experiment. Work is done on gas and it warms. The work ended billions of years ago, there is no perpetual motion.

      • Atmospheric pressure changes all the time, and temperature as a result. Ever hear of snow eater winds, Santa Ana winds, etc? Simple matter of air going to a lower altitude and heating up.

      • John,
        You need to take a physics course someday. Your statement below about Death Valley is just simple baloney. The ideal gas law does not dictate its temperature.

      • This paper purports to establish the surface temperature of several planets and moons, independent of the gaseous makeup of their atmosphere. Only two data points are necessary. “Our analysis revealed that GMATs of rocky planets can accurately be predicted over a broad range of atmospheric conditions and radiative regimes only using two forcing variables: top-of-the-atmosphere solar irradiance and total surface atmospheric pressure.”
        Thus, the incoming solar radiation, and the ‘weight’ of the atmosphere. Note that even Venus is calculated the same way, independent of its solar year, or the makeup of its atmosphere.
        If this is correct, then all the talk about energy budgets, CO2 and the like are incorrect, as I’ve been saying for over 15 years.

      • Nice job, fits exactly what I have believed all along. It also explains why the atmosphere over the equator is twice as high as at the poles – more work is done at the equator. Once one understands how this works, it is impossible to assign a climatic effect to CO2, and the more absurd the wasted trillions of dollars spent trying to reduce it!!

      • Yes, I read all of your papers. Interesting that you mention Hans Jelbring – we first communicated about 15 years ago. I’ve read his thesis. Wind-Controlled Climate, I believe it was called.
        It is a most interesting change of attitude one has when one realizes why CO2 can have nothing to do with climate. It eliminates all those nagging problems where thermal and gas laws would have to be violated in order for the greenhouse hypothesis to be correct.

      • Yes, I totally get the opposition – who wants to rewrite all the text books, and give up the gravy train??? That is exactly what will have to happen. Good by, IPCC, you have no charter!!

      • I find Shotsky’s and Wilde’s explanation of planetary temperature compelling and elegant and would like to see this discussed more. In particular it refutes James Hansen’s conjecture that Venus is so hot because of CO2, and if we’re not careful we’ll be a poor cousin of Venus.

      • Glad to hear of more interest. In nature, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Climate can and does vary, of course, due to various causes, but earth’s average temperature is what it is due simply to the total solar insolation and gravity – the weight of the atmosphere. It takes work to ‘lift’ the atmosphere and hold it up against gravity. Less energy at the poles results in half the height of the atmosphere. Highest where warmest – the equator. No radiation hypothesis can make sense of that.
        For those who still believe the ‘back radiation’ raises the temperature of the earth, I have just one single question that must be answered first: Why can’t back radiation melt frost that is at 0 C? If it can’t do that, it can’t raise the temperature of the earth as a whole.

    • Germinio, I would have thought that if you wanted to talk about the temperature of the earth you’d start with water vapour and see whether there is any need to consider any other gases. To your mind what percentage of your difference between earth and space (3K and 287K you say) is down to water vapour?

      • If you start with water vapour you find that firstly it is the largest contributor to the green house gases but
        that on its own it is unstable because as it cools it condenses and turns to either rain or ice. And so after a
        couple of weeks there is no water vapour left in the atmosphere and the earth freezes. You need non-condensing green house gases (such as CO2 and methane) to keep the earth warm enough so that there is
        some water vapour present to heat up the atmosphere to the present temperature.

      • The earth’s temperature is not what it is due to greenhouse gases. When you understand why the average temperature of death valley is warmer than the terrain around it, you will understand that it is the gas laws that define earth’s average temperature. Death valley is below sea level, and thus is warmer due to more atmospheric pressure. The same happens in vertical mines, where the pressure increase causes the temperature increase, not because of heat from the earth itself.

      • Because snow and ice become dust/soot covered over time, and that melts the ice. That stuff stays there, year after year. It would not come into play if there were succeeding years of increasing snow, but all it takes is one good low snow year to reexpose the dust/soot and increase melting.

      • JS, : “Because snow and ice become dust/soot covered over time, and that melts the ice. ” How come then the only places I still see snow and ice in my area is covered in dirt, dust and soot, whereas all the snow in
        “clean” areas is gone?

      • I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are joking. In case you’re not, ask yourself how the ‘dirt’ got on that snow to start with. Did a snowplow or blower pile it deeper? Did someone shovel snow? Or do you think that somehow, the ‘clean snow’ had some dirty neighbors that just wouldn’t go away? I’ve run into that.

      • John Shotsky January 28, 2017 at 2:27 pm

        The same happens in vertical mines, where the pressure increase causes the temperature increase, not because of heat from the earth itself.

        I agree. The lapse rate below the surface is about 7C/km as it is above the surface.
        This is excellent evidence that the atmosphere is heated by gravity.

  12. If you break it all down, you have to explain what is warming the oceans to explain what is driving climate change. CO2 and IR between 13 and 18 microns simply won’t warm the oceans. If you can’t explain how CO2 warms the oceans, you can’t explain how CO2 causes climate change. It is really that simple.
    Exhibit Z: PDO/ADO and other Natural Cycles You’ve Never Heard of…and for good reason.

    • Your thought is backwards. Sunlight warms the oceans. Some of that is transferred to the atmosphere; the now rapidly cooling 2015-16 El Nino blip is an example. Heat can only escape Earth from the atmosphere via radiation. CO2 impedes that radiative cooling. AGW is not about heating per se; it is about the absence of sufficient cooling to offset the sunlight warming, which then results in the atmosphere warming until sufficiently more IR is generated to restore equilibrium at some higher average temperature.

      • Not true, the evidence shows that CO2 actually helps cool the atmosphere. CO2’s main contribution is through radiation, not conduction and convection. Radiative energy travels at the speed of light. If you think of the atmosphere as a series of nets, with each net having bigger holed as you go higher, it is easy to see how CO2 if far more likely to drive heat up and away, than back down to earth. I’ll do a post later on this topic, as well as the graphic showing that the rate of cooling is higher for the IR spectrum between 13 and microns.

      • If that “impede cooling” effect was real, we wouldn’t fill dewar flask and insulated glazing with void or argon, we would fill them with water and CO2.

      • CO2, please do. Tearing it apart will be fun. You might want to brush up on the basics, first. Read the climate chapter of The Arts of Truth and check out the several hundred footnotes. Or just read essay Sensitive Uncertainty for a slim few page primer.
        Paqy, you do not understand how a dewar flask works. Its main effect is to impede heat conduction from the outside. Best is a vacuum that can conduct nothing. Secondarily, impedes warming radiation from outside. That is why the vacuum holding glass is silvered on the outside ( usually the inside of the outside shell to prevent damage in use). So you apparently are a bit weak in very simple physics. And yes, a real,greenhouse works by impeding convection and greenhouse gasses impeding radiative cooling is to some a misnomer. But it is the nake and the analogy we have to communicate with.

      • co2islife;
        it is easy to see how CO2 if far more likely to drive heat up and away, than back down to earth.

        First you said CO2 was primarily about radiation, and now you speak of heat. They are two different things.

        But at day’s end, CO2 intercepts photons that would otherwise of gone straight out to space. Exactly what happens to them afterward doesn’t much matter. The point is that they otherwise would have escaped to space and instead don’t, at least temporarily. If you think that this somehow makes things cooler… C’mon, give your head a shake.

      • This is precisely what is wrong with the AGW hypothesis. Radiative gases radiate CONSTANTLY, not just when absorbing a photon. Radiative law – everything above absolute zero radiates based on its temperature and emissivity. GH gases don’t just sit out there and only absorb photons, they are more like flashlights, with the light always on, losing energy all the time. That is how they help cool the atmosphere – the inert gases can’t do that. An absorbed photon is gone, it doesn’t ever appear anywhere again. New photons are emitted constantly. Oh, and to a photon, there are only the earth and space, so it’s 50-50 in each direction. Not that it matters, the entire surface of the earth is an infinitely better radiator than the trace gases. One molecule in 2400 in the atmosphere is a gh gas molecule. EVERY molecule on the earth’s surface, including oceans, is a radiator. Trillions of times more emitters than trace gases. Does anyone ACTUALLY think a trace gas can HEAT the earth???

      • JS, you seriously need to renew your faulty knowledge of basic quantum physics. Hint, quantum.
        I redacted several further more embarassing comments in the probably vain hope you might learn more basic science.

      • I’ll chalk this one up to you not realizing a flashlight emits photons – quantum units of energy called, uh, light. And, lest you think gh gases are not constantly emitting photons, then I will have to beg to differ – by DEFINITION and by NAME, they are radiative gases above 0 Kelvins, so they are radiating. It does not matter how many photons are absorbed, there will always be more emitted than absorbed, because they also pick up energy through collisions with inert molecules of higher energy. Talk about needing remedial physics!!

      • John Shotsky;
        because they also pick up energy through collisions with inert molecules of higher energy.

        Two way street. At equilibrium, same traffic both ways. Enter upward bound IR, and the CO2 molecules are on average higher energy than those around them, so they give up their energy instead of picking up more.

        You’re making the same mistake I did when I first started learning this stuff a long time ago. Radiative gases are selective in frequency/wavelength, surfaces are not. Spectroscopy works precisely because this is true.

      • I would agree, but radiative gases are always radiating, and are thus generally lower energy than inert gases nearby which don’t radiate and thus have the previous day’s energy present. That is how they help cool the atmosphere. Remember, the atmosphere is warmed by the sun, we see that every day. It’s how it cools that is important, because if it doesn’t cool fully, it will warm, as it does going into any warmer season. gh gas molecules are the only molecules in the atmosphere that can help it cool – ALL of the rest of the atmospheric cooling has to be via conduction, and/or precip. Radiative gases radiate constantly, collide with neighbors, and gain energy, and continue to radiate that newly gained energy plus residual energy. As long as they are above 0K, they are radiating.

      • ristan
        I do know how a dewar flask work; in this matter you said it all. It has a silver lining reflecting, not absorbing, radiation. That’s the way to impede radiation : reflect them, not absorb them. If absorbtion was the way to go, it would be black carbon instead of silver.

      • davidmhoffer – That is an extremely handy chart that you posted in your January 28, 2017 at 8:45 pm comment. Please can you provide a link, not to the chart itself but to the document that it appears in. Even better, are you able to provide a link to the underrlying data? TIA.

      • Mike Jonas

        The image is from the Wikipedia article which details the sources used:

        As a rule I dislike Wikipedia, but this particular chart is one of the best I’ve found that summarizes it all. The sources used to construct it are pretty much rock solid, and over the years I’ve compared it to other charts on the same issue. Other than the sun and the earth radiance being scaled differently, they all use pretty much the same info.

    • Vulcanism is on average fairly constant both in number of eruptions and their intensity distribution. So unlikely to affect temperatures on climate scales. VEI >4 can inject stratospheric aerosols causing transient (~18 month) cooling. Never warming; Earth is a big place and volcanos aren’t. See essay Blowing Smoke in ebook of same name. Undersea eruptions less known, but that is mostly fairly constant rates of flood basalt linked to tectonic seafloor spreading.

      • Does this ocean floor action take place with no measurable effect on basin geometry capable of causing a drift or shift in sea level measurements?

      • GS, sure it does. But we can only ‘guess’ at how much using GIA models. Best current SWAG is 0.3mm/year globally. Regionally for Antarctica, diff GPS measurements 2013 proved the regional model wrong by ~5x. Ouch. So GRACE large negative ice mass loss had to be corrected to near zero. Double ouch.

  13. Any scientist or engineer who understands process control, and is willing to tell the truth, KNOWS CO2 is NOT the driving function AGW disciples purport it to be! Ice core analysis from Greenland and Vostok, Antarctica prove that Earth’s temp changers BEFORE CO2 concentration changes! CO2 is a lagging parameter, NOT a forcing! CO2 concentration changes are a resultant of Earth’s temperature changes, not a driver! It’s that simple, AGW is a hoax!

    • Agreed, and it makes sense. As the oceans warm, they give off more CO2. Warming the oceans takes a long time, thus a slow increase in CO2, exactly what ice cores have shown.
      As the current cooling continues, I do expect we will see a reversal in CO2 in the atmosphere. That reversal will be the final nail in CO2 as AGW driver’s coffin.

      • “As the oceans warm, they give off more CO2.” That does not mean what you want people to infer it means. Ocean temperature is only one of the influences. Just as important is the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the amount of CO2 already dissolved in the ocean. (Really it’s a whole complex of ocean chemistry rather than simply molecular CO2 dissolved in the oceans.) Oceans constantly both absorb and emit CO2. The net can be absorption or emission, depending on all those influences. Currently the oceans are net absorbers. The fact that the oceans are warming does not mean that the oceans are net emitters of CO2. The changing chemistry of the oceans is unequivocal evidence that the oceans continue to net absorb CO2. That’s because of the increasing partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere. See

      • Tom, the reason oceans have been net absorbers is that the anthro source is equilibrium sinking into the oceans at a greater rate than the oceans have been adding to the atmosphere. Thus oceans, nature can be a “net sink” while still contributing to the rise in the atmosphere…

    • Quite so Bill but there is a bit more to the story. The question is whether the outgassed CO2 you refer to then has a secondary effect, be it warming or cooling. It’s once you get past that question that the CAGW theory is put to the test because if the secondary effect is warming then mankind is contributing to it. If the secondary effect is cooling then mankind is counteracting warming. Then of course the effect either way needs to be quantified.

      Oh and just for completeness I don’t have much confidence in ice core samples, tree rings and the like as thermometers.

    • BY, you are quite right about the ice core lag. ~800 years, nicely agreeing with THC. Gore was stupidly wrong. Essay Cause and Effect in ebook Blowing Smoke.
      But that unfortunately is not a logical response to the post 1958 (Keeling curve) CO2 rise which is clearly anthropogenic (Salby provably wrong) having nothing to do with Henry’s law in physical chemistry. Your point proves Gore’s ignorance. It unfortunately does not refute his thesis. A sound bites that might:
      Except for a now rapidly cooling 2016-16 El Nino blip, no warming this century (except by Karlization). Yet since 1958 (Keeling curve) about 1/3 of all the increase in CO2 concentration was in this century.

      • “A sound bites that might:
        Except for a now rapidly cooling 2016-16 El Nino blip, no warming this century (except by Karlization). “

        Too many exceptions, none of them defensible..

      • Today’s increasing CO2 could be due to LIA rebound. We don’t have (accurate) records of pre-LIA Co2. 95% of CO2 emission is natural, with variations of up to 15% annually. Our piddly 5% is basically swamped anyway. We will know, if climate continues to cool, and CO2 ceases to climb or reverses. No crystal balls here, but I expect that to happen.

      • Yes, shots, if we see temps tank with the upcoming solar min (and the carbon growth rate with it), then there will be a lot of egg to wipe off a lot of faces…

  14. “By 1980, global temperature was no more than about 0.5 deg C higher than in 1850, which was probably little warmer than 1750. The global temperature has since gone up by about another 0.5 degrees C. So the global temperature over the last few decades has been much higher than the temperatures that could be expected from CO2 …”.
    I’m not sure (as an interested layman) where that is heading in Part 2 but the GAT went up ~0.5C from 1910 – 1945, about the same amount over about the same time period almost entirely without the help of human CO2 emissions.

    • “GAT went up ~0.5C from 1910 – 1945, about the same amount”

      And that reality throws the entire AGW subject into the uncertainty bin. How can one attribute recent warming to humans when this data from 1910 to 1940 tells us it could be “natural”.

    • Chris Hanley – Yes, the 1910-1945 warming is relevant, and yes, it is about the same as the late 20th century warming, and yes, it raises a massive question mark over CAGW. But IMHO we are not dealing with honest science here. Until we can disprove the claim that 1910-1945 was natural and 1970-2000 was man-made, CAGW can continue to be defended. In Part 3, I explain the process.
      Thanks for your comment, anyway.

      • Mike, at the risk of sounding like a broken record (☺), ain’t they the ones that are supposed to prove their claim?

  15. Essentially all terrestrial EMR that is absorbed by ghg is thermalized (converted to heat). Thermalization and the complete dominance of water vapor in reverse-thermalization (at low altitude) explain why CO2 has no significant effect on climate. Terrestrial EMR absorbed by CO2 is effectively rerouted to space via water vapor.

    CO2 has only one absorb/emit band in the range of significant terrestrial thermal radiation. Water vapor has “about 170 lines in the spectral interval 75-550 /cm” (….87..497E/0000499.000.html) for each molecule and there are on average near sea level about 35 WV molecules for each CO2 molecule. Thus there are about 35 * 170 = 5950 absorb/emit bands for WV plus 1 absorb/emit band for CO2 for a total of 5951 absorb/emit bands. Doubling the CO2 increases this to 5952 absorb/emit bands. This is an insignificant increase of less than 0.02%.

    The fact that the WV absorb/emit bands are mostly lower energy and considering the energy distribution in the gas molecules (Maxwell-Boltzmann for velocity), the effect of doubling CO2 is actually even less.

    Sunspot number anomaly time-integral (acting as a proxy for cloud change) plus an approximation of the net of the effect of all ocean cycles plus effect of water vapor increase provides a 98% match to temperature anomaly measurements 1895-2015. Analysis and graphs are at

  16. I hate this average global energy budget. it’s plain wrong, actually.
    it would be fine if W/m² was an energy unit. It isn’t.
    This is not just rethoric. with W/m² you just cannot see that ocean and biosphere contain much more energy than atmosphere. This is not earth budget. It is just a zoom on atmosphere budget, with an implicit assumption that everything else is at equilibrium; which is plainly wrong.

    it would be fine if Earth were a disc always facing sun, with no thermal inertia. It isn’t
    Thermal inertia (and biosphere’s energy inertia, too) creates delays. Delays are very important in weather and climate dynamics. Diurnal delay. Seasonal delay.

    it would be fine if Earth were at equilibrium. It surely isn’t.

      • .you get temperature change.. or not. effective thermal capacitance changes. A lot.
        For instance, there is MORE energy in a -50°C winter siberian air, whose pressure is 105 kPa, than in a +50°C summer midday air in Sahara whose pressure is lower. But less than in a wet, cool spring air in Seattle.
        Foehn wind lose energy when raising temperature downhill.
        Temperature is a very misleading variable.

      • Dan, “or not” just meant that you cannot divide energy change by effective thermal capacitance to get temperature change. As evidenced by foehn wind, that has positive thermal capacitance, lose energy, but nonetheless raise temperature downhill.
        No need of infinite effective thermal capacitance for that, you just need a changing thermal capacitance. When thermal capacitance goes down (which is exactly what happen with foehn) temperature goes up although energy go down. And vice versa, so you can cool your surrending air by sprinkling water, eventhough by doing that you increase energy of the air.
        Temperature is a very misleading variable.

      • Paq – Re your 10:21 post: It is clear that we are addressing different things. Your examples are processes whereas my statement refers to definition of the instantaneous state. The validity is demonstrated by the units: Energy rate (power) W/m2 . The time-integral of this is W sec/m2 . Divide this by effective thermal capacitance with units W sec/m2/K results in the temperature, K.

    • paqyfelyc – “It is just a zoom on atmosphere budget“. Nicely put. My hypothesis involves what goes on below the surface of the ocean, and that isn’t directly shown in that energy budget. The actual numbers aren’t very important, but the pattern is.

  17. I have found there has been a mistake in the key assumptions/premise of greenhouse theory. Sceptics do not even like what I have uncovered – I am totally on my own. Please search/ test my claim. If I am right everything we know about GH theory is totally wrong.

    There is, a contradiction in current understanding of radiation. N2 and O2 by GH theory are assumed not to radiate IR (heat) – this is impossible as all matter (by thermal dynamics and quantum mechanics) above absolute zero radiates. But if N2 and O2 are found to radiate, GH theory is contradicted.

    I have found N2 and O2 do radiate, and so are also GHGs ( just as Fourier first posited in the 1820’s).
    N2 and O2 have clear predicted vibrational modes/ bands/ absorption spectra at 1556cm-1 and 2338 cm-1 respectively – right within the IR range of the electromagnetic spectrum. When it comes to observing these predicted modes/bands (they only have one each in the IR range – unlike the other GH gases), thermoelectric thermopiles exploiting the Seebeck effect (the same used by John Tyndall in this fundamental thermopile1859 experiment that determined the special GHGs – and the same used in the thermal imaging cameras) cannot measure them and will never detect them as they do not produce an electric signal (they have no electric dipole moment). Oxygen and Nitrogen will never generate electricity via the Seebeck effect – at any temperature. We have misinterpreted this as being a property of radiation, we are wrong – all of us.

    To really observe N2 and O2’s modes (and CO2’s non thermoelectric mode also) we must use a Raman spectrometer. Raman is the complementary instrument to (so called) IR spectroscopy. IR spectroscopy should be termed thermoelectric spectroscopy: they only give part of the thermal ‘picture of reality. Using Raman (laser) devices we see N2 and O2 modes and other non thermal electric modes of CO2, O3, CH4, and H2O – clearly. Two of CO2s three modes are thermoelectric and the third is non thermal electric (similar to O2 and N2) so they are picked up by thermopiles.

    Raman spectrometers is used by NASA in LIDAR instruments to measure the atmospheres temperature(!) and most solar system space probes carry them as they reveal all the gases of atmospheres – more than the discriminant thermoelectrics. Raman can do just what thermoelectrics can do, measure temperature and thermal image are now produced.

    Finally, if N2 did not radiate – absorb and emit – the CO2 laser would not operate – no more cosmetic surgery. The N2 vibration mode at 2338cm-1 is excited (heated), and in so doing this excites CO2’s close mode at 2349cm-1. What’s more, in this CO2 laser process N2 is said to be metastable (that is long lasting absorption). I am not saying here the atmosphere is a laser (though it is discussed by others) I am only calling that N2 radiates and so GH theory wrong and needs to be reviewed.
    I have written my theory of the atmosphere and am currently rewriting it as it has expanded to include all radiation theory including knowledge of emissivity. Emissivity has to go as it too is determined only by thermoelectrics. Together our understanding of radiation is ‘trapped in the 19th Century: it needs to be updated with 20th Century science.

  18. I’ve been far offshore more than once an have almost never been in flat water. Maybe in the bays and creeks. The wind pretty much blows constantly so there is constant mixing of the surface and depending on the wind speed probably extends down many meters.

    This thin membrane at the surface doesn’t exist. Air is constantly mixing with water.

  19. Review Article

    Electrodynamical Coupling of Earth’s Atmosphere and Ionosphere: An Overview

    A. K. Singh,1 Devendraa Siingh,2 R. P. Singh,3 and Sandhya Mishra1

    1Department of Physics, University of Lucknow, Lucknow 226007, India
    2Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune 411-008, India
    3Physics Department, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221005, India
    Received 24 March 2011; Revised 31 July 2011; Accepted 9 September 2011
    Academic Editor: Lucilla Alfonsi

    Copyright © 2011 A. K. Singh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


    Electrical processes occurring in the atmosphere couple the atmosphere and ionosphere, because both DC and AC effects operate at the speed of light. The electrostatic and electromagnetic field changes in global electric circuit arise from thunderstorm, lightning discharges, and optical emissions in the mesosphere. The precipitation of magnetospheric electrons affects higher latitudes. The radioactive elements emitted during the earthquakes affect electron density and conductivity in the lower atmosphere. In the present paper, we have briefly reviewed our present understanding of how these events play a key role in energy transfer from the lower atmosphere to the ionosphere, which ultimately results in the Earth’s atmosphere-ionosphere coupling.

    Recent advances in global electric circuit coupling between the space
    environment and the troposphere.

  20. The calculations that came up with 1.2 degrees C for the climate sensivity of CO2 were found to be too great by more than a factor of 20 because the calculations fail to take into consideration the doubling the the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will slightly lower the dry lapse rate in the troposphere which is a cooling effect. So instead the number should be .06 degrees C which is a trivial amount.

    • 1.2C for CO2 no feedback is ~correct. The dry adiabatic lapse rate has zero to do with radiative cooling physics, which is why it was not taken into consideration. And a small increase in a trace gas like CO2 (~400 ppm, so ~0,04%) could not affect dry adiabatic lapse rate anyway via density change. Maybe re-research dalr.
      If you are referring instead to sensitivity with feedbacks like water vapor where dry is important, then TCR observationally is ~1.3 and ECS is ~1.6-1.7. So Feynman’s simple statement about your espoused theory’s calculated result applies. To paraphrase, ‘It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is. If it disagrees with observation, it is wrong.’
      As said to others on other topics this same thread, please stop giving warmunists ‘Flat Earther’ ammunition. You do the general skeptical cause no good. Learn the climate science basics. Argue the good irrefutible sound bites that shoot down CAGW. I comment such sound bites frequently here and elsewhere in the hope that folks like you will ‘get it’. Stop asserting easily disproven nonsense that truly makes you a science d@i*r. Enabling warmunists to tar the rest of us skeptics with with your guilt-by-association tarbrush. Please.

      • No! The 1.2C calculation explicitily assumes that the dry lapse rate in the torposphere does not change but it does. The dry lapse rate is a function of the pressure gradient caused by gravity and the heat capacity of the atmosphere in this case assuming there is no H2O. Increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from .04% to .08% is enough to change the heat capacity of the dry atmopsphere enough to cause a slight decrease in the dry lapse rate. This calculation is ignoring possible feedbacks but it still cannot ignore all what happens to the thermal transfer chacteristics of the atmosphere when the amount of CO2 is doiubled. Radiation is not the only concern especially when you consider that heat energy transfer by conduction, convection, and phase change dominates over LWIR absorption band radiation in the troposphere. The problem with the AGW conjecture is that it is based on only partial science and ignores all that must happen. What I am telling you are all atmospheric physics basics.

      • willhaas;
        to cause a slight decrease in the dry lapse rate.

        First you claimed a 20:1 change, and now that it is slight. See the problem there?

        You repeat this same thing over and over again. Repetition doesn’t make it less wrong.

      • I am reporting of work originated by Kyoji Kimoto, in an article entitled. “Basic Global Warming Hypothesis is Wrong” that appeared in “The Hockey Schtick” dated Wednesday, November 11, 2015. In that article Kimoto showed how sensivitive the surface temperature is to a slight change in the dry lapse rate due to the hight of the troposphere. According to him, because of the change in the dry lapse rate the Planck effect climate sensivity of CO2 is reduced by more than a factor of 20.

        Another issue that you need to consider is that the radiant greenhouse effect upon which the AGW conjecture is based has not been observed in a real greenhouse, in the Earth’s atmosphere, or in the atmosphere of any planet in the solar system with a thick atmosphere. Derived from first principals, the effects of gravity and the heat capacity of the atmosphere accounts for all 33 degrees C that the surface of the Earth is warmer because of the insulating effects ot the atmosphere. There is no additional radiant greenhouse effect caused by the LWIR absorption properties of so called greenhouse gases. If any gasses in our atmosphere trap heat it would be the non-greenhouse gases that absorb heat via conduction and convection but that are very inefficient radiators to space. There are also no applications where CO2 is used as an insulator. Without the radiant greenhouse effect, the AGW conjecture is nothing but science fiction.

      • Derived from first principals, the effects of gravity and the heat capacity of the atmosphere accounts for all 33 degrees C that the surface of the Earth is warmer

        A statement that could only be made by someone who doesn’t understand those first principals. You really do need to go study the basics instead of quoting an article about a guy who said something you think you understand.

      • willhaas

        More of us are coming to the fore.

        The Greenhouse Effect is a consequence of conduction leading to convective overturning within a gravity field that sorts atmospheric molecules into a density gradient around a sphere.

        Hence the simple application of the Gas Laws creates the lapse rate slope along the density gradient.
        The starting surface temperature is set by mass gravity and insolation alone.

        GHGs affect the lapse rate slope differently at different heights and ALSO differently within rising and descending columns such that overall the net effect is zero.

        See Fig 3 here:

        Regionally, non condensing GHGs make the surface a little warmer beneath rising columns but a little cooler beneath falling columns for a zero net effect at the surface.

        ALL the thermal effect of CO2 is seen off the surface and along the lapse rate slope. Convective changes successfully neutralise that thermal effect at the tropopause by introducing vertical irregularities that act as a buffer for the energy held by CO2. That prevents any effect on average surface temperature. It is analogous to a shock absorbing spring.

        If there were no layering within the atmosphere the vertical irregularities would be at the boundary with space.

        This is a unique feature of a gaseous medium which arises because of the huge compressibility of gases. That compressibility involves large conversions of KE to PE and vice versa depending on whether one is moving up or down the density gradient. Such processes are fully dealt with in the Gas Laws.

      • Stephen, by the kinetic theory of gases, I was with you until you said “sorts atmospheric molecules into a density gradient”, which isn’t what happens. All gases are miscible directly follows from the kinetic theory of gases. The thermodynamic temperature of a sample of gas is the geometric mean of the kinetic energies of the constituents of the sample. Without chemical sources and sinks of constituents, they will all mix to a homogenious state (which is how ‘heavier’ than air perflouro- and chlorofluoro-carbon compounds can and do reach the stratosphere), with each one’s partial pressure proportional to its molar concentration. There is a density gradient, but there is no gravitational fractionation of the constituents until you reach the top, where the ‘lighter = faster moving at a given temperature and pressure” constituents can reach escape velocity more often than the “heavier = slower moving at a given temperature and pressure”.

      • You should note that the source of kinetic energy for the bulk of an atmosphere is conduction from the surface and the greater the density the higher the kinetic energ that can be achieved.
        When convection occurs it does so against gravity in ascent but with gravity in descent. Once convection begins your contention comes into play in that the height a molecule will reach will depend on features of the specific molecule rather than on gravity alone.
        However, on average it is gravity that creates the density gradient. No gravity, no such gradient.

      • Regarding gravity in descent – while technically correct, nature abhors a vacuum, so when hot air ascends, it must be replaced by descending air somewhere. That may exert more force than gravity alone, but I’m not entirely sure how that should explained.

  21. Table 1 illustrates a linear relationship between doubling of CO2 and temperature increase at ECS=1.2. I thought temperature effect declined logarithmically with each doubling of CO2?

  22. Mike Jonas,
    (All other wavelengths cannot penetrate the surface (land or ocean), and enter a rapid cycle of absorption and re-emission until their energy escapes to space, except for a small proportion that manages to enter the ocean, eg. by conduction or as precipitation.)
    Is it possible that the down-up-down-up… cycle repeats, or does it degrade in energy so that what is sent down cannot go back up again? (A shift to the right in your spectrum every time).
    Or is it a case where at each atmospheric down step, half of the energy is down, then at the water half of that energy is up, then more halves and halves, getting to a series that sums to one? Which means that essentially all ‘downwelling’ radiation quickly ends up in space? Granted it is more complex than this.

    • Geoff Sherrington – I think you will find that the cycle repeats, but getting rapidly weaker because in each cycle some escapes to space, and some enters the ocean skin. From the ocean skin, some (most?) is then transported as latent heat into the ~mid troposphere (typically to a cloud-top) where most of it is re-radiated to space, and the rest is precipitated or re-enters the cycle. Of the rest, some is radiated further down into the ocean and some radiates back up into the atmosphere and/or space. I think you will find that the amount radiated further down into the ocean is very small, because any downward radiation is absorbed again within a fraction of a millimetre where it is released into the atmosphere as latent heat or re-radiated 50-50 up-down. So most of the energy added to the ocean skin goes back into the atmosphere or space anyway. As you put it essentially all ‘downwelling’ radiation quickly ends up in space.

  23. ristvan,

    Normal science is about reproducible experiments.

    As Einstein said “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”

    No one has ever managed to demonstrate that CO2 can be used to raise the temperature of anything. No one. Just surmise, assumption, and strident declaration.

    Sure, CO2 can be heated. So can all other matter in the universe. The GHE is a widely held delusion – in the same category as phlogiston, the luminiferous ether, N rays, and orgone.

    Repeatedly and loudly asserting that anybody who disagrees with the existence of the GHE in the absence of reproductive experimental support is mentally defective in some way, is just demonstrating that you have no experimental facts to support you.

    The Earth has cooled for four and a half billion years. Its internal supply of radioactive elements has been largely depleted. Neither the Sun, nor all Man’s puny efforts can prevent the big molten blob of rock on which we live from cooling. Slowly but remorselessly.

    Your “observations” are nonsense. Climate is the average of weather, no more no less. Obviously, burning stuff to create CO2 creates heat. Even in the absence of sunlight. I have to point out that at night, the surface loses all the heat it gained during the day. If this was not so, Winter would not be possible, nor would the Earth have cooled during the last four and a half billion years years.

    Maybe you could provide some actual scientific experimental evidence, where the heating effect of CO2 has actually been recorded. Complete nonsense, which is why Warmists are reduced to talking about overcoats, insulation, TOA, TCR, and all the other pseudo scientific gibberish that occupies their delusional view of reality.

    Hansen, Schmidt, Mann, and all the rest of the self proclaimed climatologists are merely deluded, not necessarily fraudulent or stupid.

    I don’t believe in unicorns either. Show me one, and I’ll change my mind smartly, I suspect.

    CO2 GHE? Bah, humbug!


  24. Mike Jonas, is this what you intended to write?

    If the ocean cools, the atmosphere radiates excess heat to space.

    • Greg – Yes, exactly. Bear in mind that it is part of a simplified summary whose aim is to give a nice simple picture of the overall pattern. To find out more, you need to look to the details.

    • LMAO @ co2islife: “Mid-Latitude Summer”
      Nice cherry you picked there buster.

      What happened to high latitudes?
      What happened to Winter?
      What happened to low latitudes?
      What happened to Spring and Autumn?

    • It isn’t really the choice of plot that is wrong here. It is the interpretation, or lack of it. Firstly, yes, a lot of the IR coming from the Earth comes from CO₂, so you could say that is cooling the Earth. But what happens is that CO₂ absorbs photons which had been emitted from the warm surface. And the absorbed heat is re-emitted (likely by different CO₂ molecules) at the same location, which is much colder. So it is lower intensity; radiation is impeded. That has to be made up for by higher emission in unimpeded wavelengths – so warmer surface.

      But the graph is actually unhelpful. It shows cooling in K/day/cm-1. It is high at about 1mb. But that is gas at about 2gm/m3. A small emission cools it rapidly. What you see at those peaks is the heat from UV absorbed by ozone being re-emitted by CO₂, which isn’t really about climate at all. The relevant plot is what is below the tropopause.

    • This chart helps explain the chart above. The average path length of a photon leaving the atmosphere is longer than one approaching the earth. A radiated photon from CO2 simply takes 3 steps up, 2 steps back, 3 steps up, 2 steps back. The physics simply don’t support trapping heat, they support just the opposite.

      Climate “Science” on Trial; Evidence Shows CO2 COOLS the Atmosphere

      • The physics simply don’t support trapping heat, they support just the opposite.

        The theory doesn’t propose trapping of heat. Trapping of heat is terminology used by reporters in the MSM writing about something they don’t understand and dumbing it down. You’re debunking a claim that the theory doesn’t make.

      • OK, what I really wanted to do was to address the physics. See any problems with the physics detailed, or the explanation of the chart?

      • Your chart doesn’t represent the physics. Your explanation doesn’t represent the physics. You’re so far afield from the actual physics that Einstein’s quote comes to mind:

        That’s not right. That’s not even wrong.

        I suspect your attempt is sincere, but it is wrong.

      • The average path length of a photon leaving the atmosphere is longer than one approaching the earth.

        The ones approaching the earth are at completely different wavelengths, have completely different absorption spectrum, and are immaterial to this discussion.

        A radiated photon from CO2 simply takes 3 steps up, 2 steps back, 3 steps up, 2 steps back.

        You are ignoring the fact that most energy absorbed by CO2 is then transferred by collision to other molecules in the atmosphere. You are ignoring that WHERE the average photon escapes to space is the driving factor, that doubling of CO2 requires that this average height increase (simply because there are now twice as many molecules at all heights that might intercept a photon that would otherwise have escaped) and you are ignoring the effect all these things have on the lapse rate from the Mean Radiating Layer down to the surface.

        The physics simply don’t support trapping heat, they support just the opposite.

        No. A thousand times no. The physics supports neither trapping of heat nor the opposite. Both would violate the laws of thermodynamics, and is NOT, repeat NOT a claim made by the theory in the first place.

      • No one has explained why back radiation doesn’t melt frost at 32F. If it can’t do that, it can’t “warm” the surface. The sun takes seconds to do what back radiation cannot even do. What’s more, if it DID melt frost, you would find it melted only where it was open to the sky, but not under trees, etc. Doesn’t work that way – frost stays until it’s above 32F. Anyone can prove this for themselves. I’m not saying there is no back radiation, I’m saying it can’t ‘heat’ anything.

      • An analogy here is shining a flashlight on a hot stove. Yes, the photons hit the stove. Yes, the photons are mostly absorbed. No, it doesn’t heat the stove. Co2 photons striking the earth’s surface is similar. The entire surface of the earth is like that stove. CO2 is a trace gas. It doesn’t have some magical ability to overwhelm the continuous radiation of the earth. It is a matter of scale.

      • A flashlight adds additional energy. The GHG effect absorbs outgoing radiation, and a small fraction get sent back to the source. There is no way for a radiating body to warm itself.

      • There is no way for a radiating body to warm itself.

        Always amusing when someone tries to debunk a theory by attacking a claim that the theory does not propose. The theory requires that the effective black body temperature of earth be precisely the same before CO2 doubles as it is after. EXACTLY the same. The theory does not, and never did, contemplate warming the entire system. It cannot, it does not, and the theory never made any such claim.

        What the theory claims is that the temperature profile from earth surface to top of atmosphere gets altered. The effective average temperature from surface to TOA remains EXACTLY the same, but the temperature at the bottom (earth surface) is higher and the temperature at the top is colder. As seen from space, the temperature of the planet changes by zero.

        Learn what the g*d d*mned theory actually is before making a fool of yourself by debunking a claim that was never made.

      • You can’t have the top getting colder because it must match the temperature of space, no more and no less.

        What happens is that GHGs alter the lapse rate slope differently at different heights and locations so that convection then adjusts the internal mass distribution of the atmosphere until radiation down from GHGs matches radiation out to space from GHGs for a zero net effect.

        See Fig 3 here:

        You will see that the surface is warmer below rising columns but colder beneath falling columns for a zero net effect.

  25. The author writes: “Cloud cover changes have only minor effect on the atmosphere.”

    I regret I was late to the party on this one Mike and to some extent I appreciate your contribution; I expect your heart is in the right place; I’m almost certain your mind is :)

    Clouds have a significant effect on albedo, subsequently on global temperature. You should work to develop your understanding of this effect.

    Best Regards.

    • @ Bartleby
      January 28, 2017 at 6:37 pm : Bart, the author is right. Clouds are too late to interfere with IR heating (optical depth/ Beer-Lambert Law). Venus is an example. So it is left for SW in the ocean, where present. Physics is more wonderful than we think….

    • The author writes: “Cloud cover changes have only minor effect on the atmosphere.”

      The MODTRAN program disagrees with that statement hugely, as would anyone working outdoors on a hot summer day and a cloud passes over.

    • Bartleby and Co2islife – The IPCC explains that low clouds are thought to be net cooling and high clouds are thought to be net warming [of the atmosphere]. So the overall effect on atmospheric temperature is minor. Clouds’ major effect is on the ocean, as I explain. Yes, you can feel the effect of a cloud on a hot summer day, but it hasn’t changed the air temperature around you, it has stopped direct solar radiation from reaching you. You are feeling what the ocean feels.

      • “Yes, you can feel the effect of a cloud on a hot summer day, but it hasn’t changed the air temperature around you.” That is the effect that is important for warming the oceans. You have to warm something before you can trap its outgoing IR.

  26. “GHGs warm the atmosphere. The GHG process involves only IR, which cannot penetrate the ocean more than a fraction of a millimetre, where its energy goes mainly into evaporation. ie, the energy goes straight back into the atmosphere.”
    Reemitted LWDR from water vapour is assumed in the MOM 4.0 guide used by the models to have an average ocean attenuation of 267mm. MOM guide 8.3.2. This applies to all wavelengths greater than 750nm.
    The back radiation energy from WV would likely be incorporated in the ocean by turbulence etc. This is why the oceans do not freeze as Willis has pointed out in various posts.
    The back radiation from CO2, on the other hand is almost totally absorbed in the 1mm evaporation layer with it’s energy almost totally returned to space as latent heat of evaporation. In my opinion this would affect the efficacy of CO2 forcing and is a factor not allowed for by the models.
    “GHGs” in your quote is too general a term. You should distinguish between WV and CO2.

  27. @
    John Shotsky
    January 28, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    “AGW is a hypothesis, the weakest form of scientific endeavor. Hypotheses are little more than guesses, and are often disproved. Google: laws, theories, hypotheses to read the actual meaning of these terms.
    General relativity is a theory. Not as good as a law, such as the thermal law:”

    Janice, you are of course right, and this is one of the killers. The Gas Laws and Poisson relationship, as shown by Maxwell (a truly superior practical physicist) are part of the proof against ghe. All else is piffle. There are plenty of 20th century experimental and empirical backups to this.

  28. — Sun does not control cloud cover
    — cloud cover define the sunshine hours and thus global solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface and thus net radiation or radiation balance at the Earth’s surface
    — cloud cover reduces day temperature [due to reduction in global solar radiation] but raises night temperature[due to raise in net radiation for that global solar radiation], hence the balance lower temperature on cloudy day — see Figure 1.1 after cloudy day temperature coming down
    — cloud/moisture and temperature vary with seasons/general circulation pattern — wind speed & direction — clouds may or may not rain depending upon some localized conditions
    — if we look from an aeroplane, you find stretches of cloud cover and stretches of clear skies over oceans.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  29. “If the ocean is warmer then it warms up the atmosphere on various timescales as described earlier. If the atmosphere is warmer then it radiates to space.”

    Not clear at all what is meant. If the atmosphere is warmer than what? The atmosphere radiates to space regardless of the temperature of the ocean, surely? Does the temperature of the ocean have any effect on this? Don’t get it.

    • michel – It’s in the context of the ocean and atmosphere looking for a balance. So I’m explaining the mechanism by which they achieve the balance.

  30. Mike wrote: “When temperature increases, evaporation increases by about 7% per 1 deg C as per the Clausius-Clapeyron relation (“C-C”)”

    Mike needs to learn a little about evaporation. When temperature increases, the C-C relationship means that SATURATION WATER VAPOR PRESSURE increases about 7%/K. This does not mean that evaporation (or technically the rate of evaporation) increases by 7%/K. The atmosphere is not saturated with water vapor.

    In the big picture, the rate of evaporation – which is equal to the rate of precipitation – which combined is called the rate of the “hydrologic cycle” or “atmospheric overturning” – depends on the rate water vapor is carried high enough in the atmosphere to precipitate. If we focus just on the surface evaporation, the rate of evaporation is proportional to the surface wind speed and the “under-saturation” of the air over the ocean (100% – relative humidity). If one assumes that absolute humidity doesn’t change, then an increase in temperature produces an increase in undersaturation and therefore evaporation. Once the original relative humidity is restored (typically 80% over the ocean or 20% undersaturation), the rate of evaporation drops.

    See Isaac Held’s blog:
    or more simply:

    Rational: A thin layer of air over the ocean is saturated with water vapor, but molecular diffusion is too slow to carry water vapor any higher. Turbulent mixing caused by surface wind is needed to transport water vapor perpendicular to the surface. If turbulent mixing brings down air that is already saturated with water vapor, then no net evaporation can occur. Therefore the “undersaturation” of the air turbulently transported downward near the surface of the ocean is also critical to the rate of evaporation.

    Suppose the rate of evaporation did increase 7%/K. Given that latent heat removes about 80 W/m2 of heat from the surface, that increase in flux would be 5.6 W/m2/K at the surface. (The net increase in radiative cooling by the surface – OLR-DLR – per degK of warming is much smaller.) If the same amount of heat escaped to space per K of surface warming, ECS would be (3.7 W/m2/doubling)/(5.6 W/m2/K) or 0.66 K/doubling. So ECS is intimately related to the increase in evaporation per degK of surface warming and high ECS requires that evaporation/precipitation increase far less than 7%/degK. (Increasing albedo with warming can reflect some of this 5.6 W/m2/K as SWR rather than OLR.)

    • Frank – You’re right about the saturation water pressure. Evaporation only increases by the full ~7% if the water cycle also increases by that amount. I’ll try to tighten the wording in any future version.

  31. Mike is broadly correct in relation to the ocean atmosphere interaction but I see that as only half the answer to natural climate variability.

    The ocean cycles/oscillations work from the bottom up but the sun also has top down effects due to solar induced changes in the slope of the tropopause height gradient between equator and poles.

    Both processes affect jet stream tracks by altering the balance between zonality/meridionality which in turn affects global cloudiness/albedo.

    Climate change is the outcome of the varying interaction between the two processes and as far as CO2 might have any effect it would be indiscernible.

    Many articles, like this of Mike’s, are now getting very close to the content of my work published over the past ten years.

    • How much do we actually know about Brine currents, or more generally the thermohaline circulation? From what I am reading, this cycle from start to finish could take 1,600 years as currently estimated. We see very little with respect to the influence of these circulations on climate, but they are indeed long term major players. Are these modeled in the GCM’s?

    • Hi Stephen – I have read your past comments on the jet stream with interest. While I was going through the ISCCP data, it seemed that some of it supported your ideas, though I didn’t follow up that part of it. Even if you are correct [and if I have understood you correctly] it doesn’t help because the CAGWers can simply claim that what you describe is just a cycle that doesn’t affect the long term picture – just as they do with for example ocean oscillations.

    • the slope of the tropopause height gradient between equator and poles.??? How? and so?
      Climate change is the outcome of the varying interaction between the two processes But not “global” climate change and not permanent. Right? If i understand correctly, you (your articles) define why and how masses of energy move/shift around the globe, but the total of energy in atmosphere changes very little, so little it is impossible for us to accurately measure the variances. Just asking…

      • Solar particle and wavelength variations alter the balance of the ozone creation/destruction process in the stratosphere differently at varying heights and latitudes.

        That describes how solar variations can account for all the climate variability that we have observed since cloudiness/.albedo changes can warm or cool the globe by affecting insolation which is one of the three determinates of surface temperature, the other two being atmospheric mass and the strength of the gravitational field.

        But what about radiative gases?

        If an atmosphere is to remain in hydrostatic equilibrium between the upward pressure gradient force and the downward pull of gravity then potential disruption from radiative gases MUST be neutralised otherwise one loses the atmosphere.
        If the surface is heated to a point beyond that required by mass, gravity and insolation then the atmosphere expands so that the top layer goes outside its point of balance (within the new, higher, layer, the upward pressure gradient force EXCEEDS the downward pull of gravity) and that layer is lost to space.
        The mass of the atmosphere falls so it expands upwards again (less resistance to the upward pressure gradient force from atmospheric mass)and another layer is lost and so on until the entire atmosphere has gone.

        The thermal effct of radiative gases MUST be neutralised:

      • SW, thank you. I read only the first article before, not the second. Both are logical and i now understand the “height gradient” phrase.

  32. I agree totally. The increase in short waver over the last century has been responsible for ~2/3 rds of the warming and CO2 for ~1/3rd. So .6 C for Solar, .3 C for CO2

  33. My rumination.

    Regarding CO2, if oceans are in net discharge, this increased evaporation combined with warmth will cause increased greening. Increased greening will enter into the food cycle driving increases at every stage to result in increased atmospheric CO2 levels. Paleo-evidence from interstadial/stadial periods clearly demonstrate this paradigm as do agricultural experiments on a much smaller scale. CO2 rides the coat tails of another driver.

    Regarding the post, the cloud/cosmic ray hypothesis has yet to show up in nature as a consistently cosmic ray driven linked observation in the temperature data. Lab experiments have all been inconclusive. Neither does CO2 for that matter though lab experiments demonstrate its ability to absorb and re-emit long wave IR.

    Regarding the null hypothesis, what drives small time segments of climate should first be ruled out as the mechanism driving longer segments of the climate. That has not been done. The CO2 crowd simply ignored the requirements of basic research around intrinsic mechanisms. Therefore, the null hypothesis stands. Both long term and short term variations are internally driven by teleconnections involving the oceans, the atmosphere, and Earth’s orbital/axial mechanics in the presence of a stable solar source of energy.

  34. Rud, this is a straw horse: “The surface has warmed some in the past century. Surely you do not believe gravity has increased or Earth has added atmosphere in the past century? Either or both would be required for your alternative explanation”
    We are fairly sure it is the sun/oceans relationship ie energy supply/rate of release changes.
    The ‘atmospheric thermal effect’, which perfectly explains surface temps, is a property of gases. The physics of their state of matter, hence the gas laws and Poisson relationship Actually demonstrate they are wrong, and you will be a giant. But I waste my time, and will await developments elsewhere..

    • “The ‘atmospheric thermal effect’, which perfectly explains surface temps, is a property of gases”


      More specifically the COMPRESSIBILITY of gases which is the characteristic that made the Gas Laws necessary.

      Compression/decompression is all about the transformation of KE to PE and back again within convective columns working within a gravity field.

      Ongoing convection requires an energy source at the surface in the form of KE (heat) so on Earth the surface has to rise by 33K above S-B to successfully maintain ongoing convective overturning.

  35. “The GHG process involves only IR, which cannot penetrate the ocean more than a fraction of a millimetre, where its energy goes mainly into evaporation. ie, the energy goes straight back into the atmosphere.”

    Fig. 1.2 contradicts your statement. Out of 324 W/m^2 back radiation, evaporation is only 78 W/m^2 or a quarter of back radiation. Surface radiation is 390 W/m^2. Now you cannot emit more radiation without increasing surface temperature according to S-B law

    • Well, suppose that only 78 Wm2 of back radiation comes from GHGs then GHGs would be cancelled by evaporation would they not ?

      The rest of that initial 324 Wm2 which is in my view incorrectly described as back radiation is in reality kinetic energy being recovered from non radiative conduction and convection as one descends along the lapse rate slope.

      I adopt those numbers just to keep it simple for you.

      More likely the actual figures are that GHGs send less than 78 downward and are completely eliminated by enhanced evaporation and the rest of the 78 comes from evaporation induced by recovery of KE from PE in conduction and convection.

      So, I think Mike is correct about the effect of evaporation eliminating IR from GHGs without heating the oceans.

      The idea that the sky as a whole is radiating down at 324 is nonsense. The vast bulk of that 324 is being recovered from non radiative processes via compression of descending non radiative gases. The existence of the lapse rate slope is the necessary proof.

      • “The idea that the sky as a whole is radiating down at 324 is nonsense.”

        It’s not a matter of opinion. Back radiation has been measured. See Table 2 – values are 317 to 330 W/m^2

        What happens if only solar radiation heat the ocean?
        “The second graph has only solar radiation heating the ocean. Notice that the temperature drops to a very low value (-15°C) in just a few years.”

      • Something may have been measured, but I can think of no better instrument to measure down radiation than frost at 0C degrees. If it doesn’t melt, there is NO measurable downward radiation or else it would rise above 0C and melt. It simply does not happen. Recheck those instruments and see how much of it is hypothetical or computer models. If it can’t melt frost, it sure as hell can’t warm the earth 33K.

      • Roy and everyone else do not seem to realise that an IR thermometer records the composite of both IR coming down from GHGs/particulates directly as a result of their radiative absorption characteristics AND the IR coming from the KE retrieved from PE via non radiative processes by those same GHGs and particulates along the lapse rate slope at the height at which the instrument focuses.That latter component is the primary cause of the temperatures at which the GHGs and particulates radiate downwards.

        That also explains why the reading is higher when a cloud passes over. Under a clear sky the instrument records the temperature at a location high up along the lapse rate slope where it is colder but a cloud causes the instrument to record at the height of the cloud which is a lower warmer location. The height at which the instrument records the temperature is determined by the optical depth required to trigger the sensor. For example, if you point the sensor at say the inside of a fridge which is colder than the air between you and the fridge then the density of the fridge materials will trigger the sensor and the temperature of the fridge will be recorded rather than the temperature of the intervening air molecules.

        The source of the bulk of the thermal activity at any given height is the lapse rate slope which traces the amount of KE retrieved from PE as one descends towards a planetary surface. The IR received directly from from GHGs and aerosol particulates solely as a consequence of their radiative absoorption characteristics is a relatively small component and that from CO2 alone pretty much insignificant.

        If their radiative absorption characteristics cause their temperatures to deviate from the lapse rate temperature in their location then that causes density variations which affect convection so that height changes occur so as to neutralise the radiative imbalance.

        Due to constant air movement along the lapse rate lope there are always imbalances but taking the Earth’s atmosphere as a whole in three dimensions the imbalances away from the ‘ideal’ lapse rate slope in one location are always offset by imbalances in the opposite direction somewhere else for a zero net effect.

        Convection always responds to density variations to make it so.

      • “Roy and everyone else do not seem to realise that an IR thermometer records the composite of both IR coming down from GHGs/particulates directly as a result of their radiative absorption characteristics AND the IR coming from the KE retrieved from PE via non radiative processes by those same GHGs”

        You do not seem to realize that IR is a massless photon and GHG is a molecule with mass. Conversion of PE to KE involves a change in speed of the molecule in the vertical direction while heat is the random motion of molecules in all directions. Emission of photons by atoms involves a change in the quantum energy level of electrons in the atom. They are different phenomena.

      • Not so.
        For gases, compression in situ converts PE to KE and compression also occurs when molecules move down an increasing density gradient.
        More KE, more photon emissions.
        It is the interchangeability of intermolecular forces between KE and PE combined with the compressibility of gases that has been overlooked.

      • I used to design infrared thermometers. Often used to measure temperature of telephone pole transformers from the ground with a rifle-like instrument with a scope. The detector has a filter to cut out the atmospheric window, or you would see nothing. In fact, you must also know the emissivity of whatever you are measuring to get an accurate reading. Or, if you know the temperature, you can determine the emissivity.

      • Compression of gas does not convert PE of gas molecules to KE. PE is dependent on the position of the molecule in a gravitational field. In compression you apply external work to increase the pressure and temperature of gas. It’s not conversion of PE to KE, at least not in the atmosphere. It’s true for gas inside a cylinder with a piston and you put weights to drive the piston,

      • Within a gravity field density variations alone will cause the necessary work to be done to convert intermolecular forces between KE and PE

  36. “The bottom line is that it will take a very long time indeed for any GHG warming to warm the oceans. It is not exactly surprising that the IPCC do not attempt to say how long it takes to reach equilibrium.”

    This is what IPCC-TAR said on how long to reach equilibrium:
    “For a full coupled atmosphere/ocean GCM, however, the heat exchange with the deep ocean delays equilibration and several millennia, rather than several decades, are required to attain it.”

  37. “If the ocean is warmer then it warms up the atmosphere on various timescales as described earlier. If the atmosphere is warmer then it radiates to space.”

    The whole atmosphere is cooler than the surface because of environmental lapse rate. In the hypothetical scenario where the atmosphere is warmer, it will radiate and transfer heat to both surface and space.

  38. For Mike Jonas, this is why there is a maximum energy content that can be achieved by water oceans under any atmosphere of a given weight and at a given level of insolation:

    In summary, the weight of the atmosphere alters the amount of energy required by the evaporative phase change and it is that amount of energy that controls the maximum energy content.

  39. John Sotsky,

    This paper purports to establish the surface temperature of several planets and moons, independent of the gaseous makeup of their atmosphere. Only two data points are necessary. “Our analysis revealed that GMATs of rocky planets can accurately be predicted over a broad range of atmospheric conditions and radiative regimes only using two forcing variables: top-of-the-atmosphere solar irradiance and total surface atmospheric pressure.”
    Thus, the incoming solar radiation, and the ‘weight’ of the atmosphere. Note that even Venus is calculated the same way, independent of its solar year, or the makeup of its atmosphere.
    If this is correct, then all the talk about energy budgets, CO2 and the like are incorrect, as I’ve been saying for over 15 years.

    Too good to be true? Temperature is predicted by irradiation and pressure?
    Yes too good to be true. It turns out that the paper that is cited and that is available at several places including tallbloke was actually WITHDRAWN

    “WITHDRAWN: Emergent model for predicting the average surface temperature of rocky planets with diverse atmospheres

    This article has been withdrawn upon common agreement between the authors and the editors and not related to the scientific merit of the study. The Publisher apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause.

    Doesn’t precisely inspire confidence on the pressure conjecture.

      • “not related to the scientific merit of the study.”

        Sure, it is so normal to have a paper withdrawn, that I have never actually met anybody that had to go through that. I would say that anything in that paper becomes automatically suspicious, and cannot be cited.

      • Shouldn’t need to cite it given the Gas Laws plus the basic thermo behind conduction and convection all of which is absent from radiative AGW theory.

      • Unless we know who caused the withdrawal, and why, we don’t really know anything about the validity of the paper. It is hard to find peer reviewers that will agree with a completely different approach to that which is held by the vast majority. That STILL doesn’t make the vast majority right, it only shows that it only takes ONE person to disprove the popular hypothesis by proving an alternative hypothesis. Not ONE THING about AGW has EVER been proven.

  40. Mike Jonas – Thank you for an outstanding essay. Very well written, readable and understood.

    I have a question about a recent article I read online (I can’t find it right now). It stated that there are geothermal outpourings in the trenches (i.e. Marianas I think) and around the islands in the SW Pacific, likely caused by earthquakes, that heat up the ocean right near where the ENSO is suspected to originate. It stated that this may be the primary force behind the ENSO.

    Have you heard this and what do you think? I also read a long time ago ( a year or more) that there are similar geothermal vents in the arctic. Could these be contributing to the melting ice caps?

    I am a forester by training and have a pretty solid background in science. In my profession, we have used algorithms to model forest growth and I quickly learned they are only as good as their inputs. Ever since Gore’s tragic film I have tried to tell friends and anyone else that atmospheric science has more variables than can possibly be modeled with any type of precision or accuracy on any computers we have today. The above statement, about the absurdity of using ‘tree rings’ to determine the temperature in the past, although possible, has such a wide margin of error as to make it superfluous in climate modeling.

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