Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
The Earth’s atmosphere does not act like a greenhouse. The analogy was partially developed to help students understand the apparent disparity between energy coming in from the sun and leaving the Earth to space. However, its greater value was in creating the global warming deception because it automatically triggered thoughts of increasing artificial heat. The reality is the default temperature for the earth is cold, but the greenhouse analogy has put all the attention on the heat. Partial proof is in the fact that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) addresses only the negative impacts of warming. Climate history shows that for flora and fauna (yes, us) there are many more positive effects for warming than negative effects for cooling.
The eclipse is a good opportunity to re-examine the thinking at the basis of this situation. How much did the temperature drop along the line of totality during the eclipse? NASA says,
“Typically, how big a temperature drop do you get during a total solar eclipse?
It would probably be equal to the typical daytime minus nighttime temperature difference at that time of year and location on the Earth. It would be modified a bit by the fact that it only lasts a few minutes, which means the environment would not have had much time to thermally respond to its lowest temperature, so it would probably only be 3/4 or 1/2 the maximum day-night temperature difference. Because the patch of the shadow travels faster than the speed of sound, weather systems will only be affected very locally directly under the instantaneous footprint of the eclipse. The main effect is in the “radiant heating” component which goes away suddenly at the moment of eclipse and produces a very fast temperature decrease. If the wind is blowing, your body probably exaggerates, by evaporative cooling, how large the actual temperature swing actually is.”
This argues that removal of the heat source, solar radiation (insolation) results, almost instantly in a reduction of ambient air temperature. What do they mean by the “radiant heat” component? They are talking about the zone within the height of a person. Are they saying that almost instantly the sun’s radiant energy is removed the temperature drops? But isn’t classical greenhouse theory that the air temperature is created by the insolation heating the ground and the ground emitting longwave or sensible heat to raise the air temperature? How can that cause a “very fast temperature decrease”?
They say the “environment would not have much time to thermally respond,” but what does that mean? The answer is inferred with the discussion about wind making it feel cooler to you because of evaporation. In their greenhouse analogy, they ignore the fact that a real greenhouse doesn’t include those thermal responses. What are they in the atmosphere? First, is the amount of insolation used for evaporation. Second, is the transport of that energy by convection and advection as a thermal response. This makes water in all its phases the most important component in the thermal response.
Unlike CO2, H2O adds and removes heat so that the result is it lowers maximum temperatures and raises minimum temperatures. We can see this in what was traditional called continentalism, the range in temperature at the same latitude because of the proximity of water. Here are the ranges for three Canadian cities at approximately the same latitude.
Station Maximum Minimum Range
Gander, Newfoundland 35.6°C -28.8°C 64.2°C
Winnipeg 40.6°C -45°C 85.6°C
Vancouver 33.3°C -17.8°C 51°C
There are some modifying factors, for example, the minimums at Gander and Newfoundland differ because the offshore currents are, respectively, cooler and warmer. The lunar temperature range is from 123°C maximum to -153°C minimum, a range of 276°C. Earth’s temperature range is generally given from a maximum of 56.7°C to a low of -89.2°C for a range of 145.9°C.
The obsession with high temperatures means the IPCC only examined the negative impact of warmer temperatures. People don’t believe it when you tell them more people die of the cold than the warm each year. Government adaptive strategies are all designed to offset warming, yet that is an easier adaptation for most regions than cooling. The claim of increased severe weather is based on warming in the polar regions. In fact, more storms are related to cooling in those regions.
Cold air is denser and heavier than warm air so in all circumstances it determines what happens. In a mid-latitude cyclone, the advancing cold air creates the Cold front and severe weather, including tornadoes. The warm front is created by the retreat of the cold air. We are seeing this dominance of cold air now as the cold domes that sit over the polar regions expand (Figure 1). The Jet Stream increases in speed, Rossby Wave patterns intensify and weather variability increases. Of course, because of the bias only warmer temperatures are reported. Did you see reports of cold and snow (neige) in Schefferville on July 12 in mainstream media?
The NASA quote underscores two of the most important differences between the greenhouse and the atmosphere, the transfer of heat by evaporation and wind. They are also the greatest failure of the global climate models.
“If the wind is blowing, your body probably exaggerates, by evaporative cooling, how large the actual temperature swing actually is. (sic)”
Parcels of air called adiabats are created by differential heating of the surface. They take on characteristics of temperature and moisture content distinctly different from the surrounding air. They become unique bubbles of air that, under a variety of conditions that create instability, rise-up in the atmosphere. If condensation occurs the water vapor in them becomes visible as water droplets that make up the category of vertical development clouds called cumulus. Over the course of a day, some of them continue to build until they become powerful cumulonimbus clouds transporting large quantities of heat and moisture often with vertical winds that allow them to punch through the tropopause into the stratosphere. This occurs mostly in association with the heat equator and the central area of the Hadley Cell known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Willis Eschenbach has written two useful papers on the importance of this area here and here.
Cumulonimbus clouds occur everywhere, I have seen them pushing into the stratosphere in subarctic Churchill, Manitoba. It is easier here because the tropopause is much lower, but more difficult because surface heating is more difficult. Regardless of where they form and estimates say there are tens of thousands at any given time across the world, they are major cooling conduits. However, as Essex and McKitrick point out in the chapter on “Climate Theory versus Models and Metaphors” in their book “Taken by Storm,” that no computer model has a grid size small enough to include any of them. As they explain,
There has to be a cutoff of the detail that will be considered by the model.
Omission of these clouds is legitimate due to physical limitations of the models, but it completely misrepresents atmospheric mechanisms that plays to the warming bias. It is a major cooling effect in the atmosphere that does not occur in a greenhouse.
In 2006, I wrote an article titled, “Global Warming will Benefit Canada.” From which I received more hate emails from Canadians than anything I published. Most people can’t imagine specific temperature change impacts. A few years ago, at a farm conference on global warming in Saskatchewan, Elaine Wheaton told the audience that the Province would be approximately 2°C warmer in about 30 years (These are approximations of what she said.) One farmer said this meant nothing to him, could she provide a location with a similar climate now. Elaine replied South Dakota. I pointed out that South Dakota was one of the most productive and prosperous farming areas in the US. Today I would ask those farmers to visualize their community with an annual average temperature 2°C colder than now. At present Canadian agriculture and most of the population live in a 200-km strip and to the north, which is generally 2°C cooler, there are few people and virtually no agriculture.
To paraphrase Mae West’s comment about wealth that she has tried rich and poor and rich is better, historically humans have tried warm and cold climates and overall warm is better. It is a precarious balance between the two global conditions, not because of CO2, which doesn’t alter the eclipse temperatures, but because such a brief reduction in time and space can so rapidly impact the temperature. However, there is one overriding reason why cooling is a greater threat than warming. The natural feedbacks mitigate against excessive warming. An increase in global average annual temperature causes an evaporation increase; this means more H2O in the atmosphere to moderate the temperature range, as it always does. To my knowledge, there is no similar internal Earth or atmospheric system that offsets cooling; remove the heat source and the default cold situation takes over.