the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Unified Theory of Climate

Posted by Jeff Id on December 29, 2011

Kim left a link to an interesting article at WUWT (originally at Tallbloke’s talk shop).   It claims that by integrating convection into the radiative transfer equations, that the surface temperatures of most planets can be calculated.  I’m working on other things (as always) and haven’t had time to thoroughly examine the work but I do have several questions, not the least of which is why a parametrized model with convection built in doesn’t replicate the same thing.   It is an interesting article though and worth considering for those with more time than myself.


We present results from a new critical review of the atmospheric Greenhouse (GH) concept. Three main problems are identified with the current GH theory. It is demonstrated that thermodynamic principles based on the Gas Law need be invoked to fully explain the Natural Greenhouse Effect. We show via a novel analysis of planetary climates in the solar system that the physical nature of the so-called GH effect is a Pressure-induced Thermal Enhancement (PTE), which is independent of the atmospheric chemical composition. This finding leads to a new and very different paradigm of climate controls. Results from our research are combined with those from other studies to propose a new Unified Theory of Climate, which explains a number of phenomena that the current theory fails to explain. Implications of the new paradigm for predicting future climate trends are briefly discussed.

52 Responses to “Unified Theory of Climate”

  1. Brian H said

    It’s just a foretaste, apparently:

    There is more on the way. “This write-up is only a summary of our research results detailed in 4 papers which we are currently preparing for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.”

  2. Ned Nikolov & Karl Zeller have given us an interesting analysis that seems to prove that gas pressure is more important than gas composition when it comes to estimating planetary surface temperatures.

    Each planet considered seems to sit right on the temperature/pressure curve in their “Figure5″. This alone should ensure that their poster be taken seriously.

    More likely they will be deluged with character assassination and red herrings. There is far too much money at stake for a serious discussion of the underlying science to take place.

  3. AJStrata said

    To me this model is much better than Lord Monkton’s (also up at WUWT). The physics is closer to reality, though I still think it is incomplete (e.g., does not include warming from our core which offsets emissions as well). I have a lengthy comment on the details at WUWT which I can’t replicate here.

    BTW, decided to post my speculation on who could be (all theory, no hard evidence).

  4. plazaeme said

    The numbers they give for “observed mean surface temperature” of non atmosphere planets (Mercury, Moon) are perfect for their theory, but really weird if you check at places like NASA:

    440K vs 248K for Mercury

    253K vs 154K for the Moon

    You need to look at the original PDF, because at WUWT there is a column left out.

  5. page488 said

    Yeah!!!! Perhaps we will soon see a return to real science!

    When I first got interested in CAGW eight or nine years ago, I brushed up on my basic physics, chemistry and biology (particularly botany/photosynthesis – because of the tree-ring studies).

    My gut feeling at the time was that the scientists involved in pushing the CAGW theory relied too heavily on sparse, scattered, and easily manipulated statistical measurements, and studied almost nothing else relating to Climate Change on Gaia.

    I can even remember posting here about photosynthesis, years ago, as it relates to bristle cone pines, and having the posts ignored (there were no statistics involved).

    Also, I can remember that, at the same time, I could not understand why the involved CAGW scientists never mentioned atmospheric pressure.The relationship between atmospheric pressure and atmospheric temp has been well known for many, many years. It always astounded me that, when scientists compared earth to Venus, for example, the only basis for the comparison of temperature difference was the CO2 content of each atmosphere. That’s just nuts! Any student of Chem or Physics 101 could have easily argued, and correctly, that atmospheric pressure was the main driving force for the difference in surface temps between the two planets, but, then, the easy scientific facts have always been ignored by the status quo environmental scientists.

    The concepts put forth in this new paper are not new science but, at the very least, perhaps these studies will, hopefully, return the study of AGW to the field of real science, where it belongs, and diminish the role of arbitrarily conducted statistical studies created by unscrupulous and/or politically motivated scientists.

    As an adjunct to science, statistical studies have a lot to offer. But, only as adjuncts. To base scientific conclusions and/or public policy on recently conducted, highly dubious, and god-only-knows-how-conducted statistical surveys, is just crazy.

    Look at the effort it has required of the sane world just to try to confine these people to some degree of scientific honesty.

    Hope Tallbloke is doing ok!

    Happy New Year to All!!


  6. There’s lots of really dumb stuff in this paper. But as to the unified theory, what they’ve done is to take data from seven planets, only four of which have anything that could be described as climate. They fit a complicated nonlinear formula with four parameters, and say, what a marvellous fit! So we can deduce temperature as a function of pressure!

    Of course their fit can’t fail, because four of the planets show as having zero pressure on their graph (Fig 5).

  7. Tony Hansen said

    Nick – ‘from seven planets, only four of which have anything that could be described as climate’

    If the other three don’t have a climate, what do they have?

  8. John M said

    “They fit a complicated nonlinear formula with four parameters, and say, what a marvellous fit!”

    Nick, Could have sworn you were describing the current state of climate models, excepting the fact that there are many more parameters that can be manipulated.

  9. kuhnkat said

    Nick Stokes,

    “They fit a complicated nonlinear formula with four parameters, and say, what a marvellous fit! So we can deduce temperature as a function of pressure!”

    Just like real Climate Scientologists huh??

  10. Tony #7
    “If the other three don’t have a climate, what do they have?”
    A response of a solid surface to insolation. There’s no reason to believe the trace atmosphere has noticeable effect in transferring heat horizontally.
    But this shows in Fig 5. They have chosen a functional form that goes to zero pressure as Ts/Tgb drops below about 1.4. It wouldn’t matter what result these planetary bodies actually returned; it would be declared a fit. So they have four points and four parameters to fit.

    And no, that is nothing like climate science.

  11. Nick Stokes,
    Some time ago you and I participated in a little discussion on “Science of Doom”:

    Back then it was apparent that you were not happy with the fact that the surface temperature of Venus could be explained in terms of the adiabatic lapse rate in the convective part of the atmosphere (from the cloud tops to the surface).

    Harry Dale Huffman made it clear that the Venusian surface temperature was primarily determined by the 90 bar surface pressure rather than the fact that the atmosphere is 95% CO2:

    Now Nikolov & Zeller have extended the analysis to other planets you seem to be even more upset. You will have to do a little better than mutter about “dumb stuff” if you want anyone to take you seriously.

  12. Thanks, Jeff, for posting this information.

    AGW is not science, but a cancerous growth on government science that grew “out of sight” after Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to China in 1971:

    AGW is designed to unite nations against an imaginary “common enemy” – Global Climate Change – to prevent the threat of mutual nuclear annihilation.

    Only the world’s most egotistical fools would believe themselves capable of controlling the Sun. A natural selection process concentrates these souls as leaders of nations, religions and sciences. Hence AGW.

    The foundation of AGW is equally absurd dogma adopted at the Bilderberg in 1967 that Earth’s heat source – the Sun – is a giant ball of hydrogen steadily heated by H-fusion, “in equilibrium.”….3….5G

    This became known as the Standard Solar Model (SSM), a title that concealed the political base. of this “scientific” dogma.

    My research career (1961-2011) happened by “coincidence” to capture a birds-eye view of the corruption of federal science, forecast by Eisenhower in 1961 and fully exposed by the Climategate scandal of 2001, and society’s crumbling confidence in the world leaders that led us into this demise.

    Here are two images of Earth’s real heat source – the violently unstable remains of a supernova that gave birth to the entire solar system five billion years (5 Gyr) ago

    And a recent NASA news report that explains how the AGW model of Earth’s climate and the SSM model of the Sun were protected from experimental measurements that would have ruled out both as unscientific dogma.

    Despite all of mankind’s follies, the universe is unfolding exactly as it should and tonight all is well.

  13. Dave Springer said


    CO2 has a strong thermal absorption band at 4um. The surface temperature of Venus is 900F which has a peak emission frequency of 4um.

    At 1400psi partial pressure of CO2 at the surface that’s an uber-effective insulator for thermal emission at 900F. It’s like the rocks don’t stop at that point and conduction is all that moves the heat through the lower atmosphere much like only conduction is what moves it through the rocks. There will be some convection of course but at 1400psi CO2 density is greater than water and convection will be quite slow.

  14. Leonard Weinstein said

    I am getting a bit unhappy with the various blogs and comments on this topic. Lord Monckton had it basically correct even though he uses overly simplified models. Long wave absorbing gases and aerosols and clouds move the average location of outgoing thermal radiation to a greater altitude above the surface. The lapse rate does the rest. Increasing the altitude with more “so called” greenhouse gases (this is a misleading term, and just refers to the absorbing gases, but it is used commonly) increases the temperature by simple virtue of setting a temperature on the lapse rate gradient at a higher altitude. Thus total atmosphere pressure (which is a measure of total mass) does affect possible temperature, in that it allows the level of outgoing radiation to be at a higher altitude, but the absorbing gas is necessary to move this level up. An example is Venus, where the high mass of its atmosphere AND presence of greenhouse gas and aerosols make the altitude of outgoing radiation very high (about 50 km). The lapse rate then results in the high temperature.

    Please look up in google what the lapse rate is and where it comes from. It is a GRADIENT not a level of temperature. The gradient is only dependent on gravity and the specific heat of the atmospheric gas (but can be modified by a condensable gas such as water vapor to give a wet lapse rate rather than dry lapse rate). Locking any point on the gradient to a particular temperature then defines the entire temperature variation. With no absorbing gas or aerosols or clouds, the curve is locked to the ground. With absorbing gases or aerosols or clouds, it is raised up in altitude. The average level where outgoing radiation equals incoming absorbed solar radiation, called the characteristic-emission surface, defines the temperature at that point.

  15. steve fitzpatrick said

    With an abstract that contains:
    “the physical nature of the so-called GH effect is a Pressure-induced Thermal Enhancement (PTE), which is independent of the atmospheric chemical composition.”
    you know right away that the authors have serious misunderstandings about the physical processes involved. Yes, a thicker atmosphere of the same composition will lead to a warmer surface, so long as that atmosphere contains at least some infrared absorbing gas(es), and so long as at least some solar energy penetrates into the atmosphere and reaches the surface. Yes, convection (and moist convection in particular) carry much heat from the surface to the upper troposphere, where it is lost to space. But the lapse rate that the authors seem so hung up on is a natural consequence of solar radiation being absorbed by the planet’s surface and atmosphere (in the case of Earth, the the surface and lower troposphere); the surface pressure in and of itself has nothing to do with higher surface temperature. Reduce the solar intensity, and the surface temperature will always fall, even with the same atmospheric density.

    Convection in any fluid is always driven by warming from below and cooling from above, which leads to an effective density inversion. It is always a density inversion which causes convective instability. The ocean’s well mixed layer is a perfect example of absorption of solar energy well below the surface, combined with surface cooling, which together to promote convection…. and a quite uniform temperature throughout the well mixed layer. If water were less absorptive in the visible spectrum, then sunlight would penetrate more deeply and the well mixed layer would deepen, if it were more absorptive in the visible spectrum, then the well mixed layer would become more shallow. Note that water is perfectly opaque to infrared radiation, so only convection can allow escape of energy absorbed at depth.

    The authors’ seem to have cause and effect switched.

  16. steve fitzpatrick said

    Just as many times before Lenoard, you are completely mistaken about lapse rate. Imagine an atmosphere which is transparent to long wave infrared, but strongly absorbs visible and shortwave infrared. What does the theoretical lapse rate tell you about the surface temperature in this situation? (hint: The top of the atmosphere will be much warmer than the surface.)

  17. Dave Springer,
    Radiative Transfer Equations are of minimal importance in the transfer of heat from the surface of Venus for at least two reasons:

    1. The Venusian atmosphere is essentially opaque to IR radiation. It only takes a few millimeters of CO2 @ 750 Kelvin and 90 bar pressure to absorb all the radiation available.
    2. The planet has 100% cloud cover year round and the clouds are mainly composed of sulphur compounds that absorb whatever IR radiation manages to escape from the surface.

    Within the troposphere of Venus, convection is the dominant heat transfer process. Radiative heat loss from the planet can be calculated using the temperature of the cloud tops (~250 Kelvin. For the purposes of radiating heat into space the surface temperature (~750 Kevin) is not relevant.

    If you had taken the trouble to read the Science of Doom discussion that I linked (#11) you would already know all this. I particularly recommend the comments of Leonard Weinstein and DeWitt Payne although I disagree with them on some details.

    None of this stuff is new but Nikolov & Zeller have improved the mathematics. I already mentioned Huffman but I hope you will enjoy Steve Goddard and “Counting Cats” too:

    I suspect your problem is that you have bought into Hansen’s theory that Venus is subject to a “Runaway Greenhouse Effect”. This is clearly false for Venus and laughable when applied to planet Earth with its 0.04% CO2 concentration.

  18. Leonard Weinstein said

    Dave Springer,
    Surface convection on Venus is not small wrt energy transport. Conduction rates are so small that even the relatively slow convection far dominates. There is a small amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of Venus, and this heats the surface slightly above the gas above it. Buoyancy and slow lateral convection amount to a few cm/sec or more convection near the surface, and this is enough to be a dominate process. At higher altitudes, very strong winds dominate. This mixing is sufficient to maintain the adiabatic lapse rate, as was directly measured by the Russian probes.

  19. Leonard Weinstein said

    16.Steve Fitzpatrick,
    The case you quoted is totally unrealistic. However assuming the strange condition you quote, There would be possible a temperature gradient less than or even inverted from the normal lapse rate over part of the atmosphere. This actually occurs with long wave radiation in the window at high latitudes at night in a clear sky on Earth (but not on average). However, there would also be atmosphere currents due to variations in insolation with latitude, and with day and night cycles and rotation. These would tend to cause some mixing down, and atmosphere moving from low latitudes to higher ones would tend to set a downward flow as the TOA radiated to space and cooled more than the layers below. Some features of this case is actually close to Venus, except it is almost all solar input absorbed in the upper atmosphere and clouds, except some small amount of solar wavelengths reach the surface, and long wavelengths absorbed going up. Note that even with this, Venus has the lapse rate expected due to gravity and specific heat. The result for each case would depend on exact details, and may have a colder surface due to long wave radiation loss but would increase above that to a maximum at still a fairly low altitude due to adiabatic heating with mixing.

  20. stevevfitzpatrick said

    #$19, Lenoard,

    This actually occurs with long wave radiation in the window at high latitudes at night in a clear sky on Earth (but not on average).

    Actually, it happens with alarming regularity where I live in Florida (eg, this morning, yesterday morning, and probably tomorrow morning) whenever radiant cooling causes a nighttime inversion to form near the surface. The whole point is that the lapse rate is something of an upper bound for temperature increase with decreasing altitude. Any lesser rate of warming (compared to the theoretical lapse rate) with declining altitude is physically allowed, and is physically stable (no convection). Any greater rate of warming with decreasing altitude leads to convective heat transport. The warming with depth is a consequence of radiant energy which reaches the surface and which must find a way out to space (either by radiation or convection). The lapse rate does not cause the surface to be warmer than higher up in the atmosphere; the temperature anywhere in the atmosphere, or at the surface, is always a question of energy balance, with the lapse rate only describing a transition from stable (non-convective) to unstable (convective) atmospheric regimes.

    By the way, the stratosphere is dynamically stable (non-convective) specifically because it is warmed by absorption of solar radiation above the temperature corresponding to the lapse rate calculated temperature at stratospheric altitudes.

  21. Anonymous said

    Leonard Weinstein,
    Hi! Good to know you are still patiently explaining the power of adiabatic processes.

  22. page488 said

    I think that radiative processes have been grossly overvalued both for earth and elsewhere.

    I also think it is silly to talk about the atmospheric processes on Venus as if they can be fully understood at the present time. Its atmosphere, its place in space, its retrograde spin, and other matters are not understood well enough to treat the planet as if its atmosphere can be fully understood from here.

    Why don’t one of you geniuses explain the twin hurricanes that appear at one of Venus’ poles. The phenomenon certainly involves the atmosphere, but I don’t see anyone ever attempting that explanation.

    Happy New Year to All,

    Page and Sylvie (the dog in the picture)

  23. Tonight brings news of the “Anonymous release of more Stratfor data”

    I was barred from commenting, “Distrust of government is an alarming new development that may require leaders of nations and scientific organizations to be more candid in addressing evidence of wrongdoing in government funded studies on global climate change, etc.”

    Best wishes for 2011!
    Oliver K. Manuel

  24. kuhnkat said


    must be time for you to haul out your model and disprove their work!! 8>)

  25. George said

    If I increase the amount of greenhouse gas, I would expect the atmosphere to become more convective possibly making it a more efficient transfer medium of heat from the surface.

    Imagine an atmosphere with no greenhouse gas. Sun shines on the surface. The surface can only radiate heat by LWIR or conduction. Conduction results in some heating of the lower atmosphere but not much. Convection is weak. Now add a greenhouse gas. LWIR heats the gas and convection gets going cooling the surface more. Add more greenhouse gas, more convection, more heat transfer away from the lower troposphere.

    You need greenhouse gas in order to create convection. But nobody takes into account the active refrigeration provided by water. At least not to a degree that satisfies me.

  26. steve fitzpatrick said

    “You need greenhouse gas in order to create convection. But nobody takes into account the active refrigeration provided by water. At least not to a degree that satisfies me.”
    Yes, the relative importance of convective transport versus radiative loss depends on the composition of the atmosphere, with a lower IR absorption in the atmosphere, convection would have to be reduced. But water vapor itself is a strong infrared absorber, so it is hard to see a wet surface planet with an IR transparent atmosphere. Heat flow through the atmosphere is complicated, but I think people are mostly aware of the latenent heat transported via moist convection.

  27. steve fitzpatrick said

    I did not know it when I wrote the above comments 16, 20, and 26, but Roy Spencer has recently written a very nice (and correct!) summary of why the Earth’s laps rate is what it it is, and more importantly, why the laps rate does not control the surface temperature.

  28. Leonard Weinstein said

    #17 gallopingcamel
    The actual details of energy balance on planets with atmospheres and at least some “so called” greenhouse gases and aerosols, are only approximated by me by using average values, and by lumping many details into simplistic models. Nevertheless, these simplifications show the basic mechanisms of the processes, and give reasonable approximate values for the balance. I do appreciate that you agree with the overall direction of my analysis, but in order to increase my understanding better, I would appreciate if you specify where you disagree with what I stated, and explain in simple terms the correct interpretation. Do not dwell on my use of averages, as I do understand that is a simplification, and was done to make the discussion easier to understand.

  29. Leonard Weinstein said

    #20. Steve Fitzpatrick,
    You are correct that the lapse rate is the boundary between stable and unstable buoyancy, but in fact the condition of increasing temperature with height only hold in limited regions and for limited times in the Troposphere. The reason is that there is continual input from solar insolation (on average) and all of that input energy to the ground has to be lifted to higher elevations due to the need to radiate to space in the presence of greenhouse gases, aerosols, and clouds. Thus the input always drives the average ground to atmosphere transfer toward unstable. Local variation can occur as you mention, but it never is the average case. My comments are for averages. In addition, latitude variation in solar insolation, and day and night, as well as rotation effects cause wind, which mixes the atmosphere. Sufficient turbulent wind mixing (on average) also drives the atmosphere toward adiabatic average conditions. The result on Earth and Venus is average atmospheres very close to adiabatic lapse rates. The adiabatic lapse rate produces a gradient only determined by gravity and the specific heat of the atmosphere, and locking one point at a given effective average altitude to a particular temperature does the rest. The temperature in the Stratosphere is a different case for several reasons. If density gets low enough, Reynolds numbers of local flows become small, and thus the flows tend to become laminar. In that case, local temperature inversion due to UV absorption heating causes temperature inversion, and this is stable to buoyancy. There are still some flows, but they do not result in mixing, thus the region does not have an adiabatic lapse rate. This is not a contradiction to what I said, but just looking at the detailed Physics of the fluid processes.

  30. steve fitzpatrick said

    Leonard Weinstein # 29,
    “The adiabatic lapse rate produces a gradient only determined by gravity and the specific heat of the atmosphere, and locking one point at a given effective average altitude to a particular temperature does the rest.”
    But the temperature at any point (surface or in the atmosphere) STILL depends only on heat balance at that point (including both radiant and convective fluxes). If the flux of radiant energy absorbed at the ground falls below that which is emitted, then the the temperature falls, and the theoretical lapse rate can become irrelevant…. the atmosphere becomes stable and the actual temperature change with altitude will be smaller that the lapse rate would suggest. Just as I see most winter mornings in Florida.

    So, do you or do you not agree with Roy Spencer’s explanation (link above)?

  31. Mark T said

    Happy New Year everyone!


  32. If “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” as Shakespeare suggests:

    Then the world’s most powerful leaders are now trapped, like you and me, in a drama that may end in disaster if we do not find a path to peace.

    Science and spirituality are both great tools for accessing reality; They lead to the same conclusion:

    However, spirituality requires humility – That seems to be the key missing ingredient in the search for world peace in 2012.

    May 2012 Bring Peace,
    Oliver K. Manuel

    PS – Dogmatic scientists and dogmatic religionists seem to be identical twins hiding under different cloaks of social respectability.

  33. Leonard Weinstein said

    30. Steve,
    I do agree with Roy’s explanation. Also, as I said, local variation can have inversions. If an atmosphere is too low density (Mars) or has strange optical properties, strange things can happen Re the lapse rate. However, Earth and Venus are, on average, well behaved atmospheres with enough density and greenhouse gases to do on AVERAGE exactly as I stated. We do not disagree on local possible effects, but that is not what I have been discussing.

  34. steve fitzpatrick said

    Here it the part I think you have wrong:
    “Long wave absorbing gases and aerosols and clouds move the average location of outgoing thermal radiation to a greater altitude above the surface. The lapse rate does the rest. Increasing the altitude with more “so called” greenhouse gases (this is a misleading term, and just refers to the absorbing gases, but it is used commonly) increases the temperature by simple virtue of setting a temperature on the lapse rate gradient at a higher altitude.”

    I don’t see how you can simultaneously believe the above and what Roy Spencer wrote in his post.

    What sets the surface temperature is the energy balance at the surface. As I pointed out, and you acknowledged, there are lots of places and times in Earth’s atmosphere where the increase in temperature with decreasing altitude is much less than the theoretical lapse rate (or even of opposite sign!). The fact that either the sensible temperature or the potential temperature above any location is warmer than it “should be” based on the theoretical lapse rate simply means that the surface temperature is NOT set by the lapse rate…. if it were, then common thermal inversions (colder surface than the potential temperature above) could never happen. The lapse rate is an effect of energy flux, not a cause. It is a boundary condition of potential temperature that separates convectively stable and unstable atmospheric regimes; it “controls” nothing.

  35. steve fitzpatrick said

    Sorry, that should have been #31.

  36. steve fitzpatrick said

    GRR.. should have been #33.

  37. Alan D McIntire said

    Used: T = P/ ρ • M/R

    Venus Earth Mars
    ——– ——– ——–
    P – pressure 9220000 101325 605 N/m2 (Pa)
    ρ – density 65 1.217 0.015 kg/m3
    M – molar mass 0.0434 0.02897 0.04334 kg/mol
    R – gas constant 8.31451 8.31451 8.31451 J/K/mol
    ——– ——– ——–
    T – temperature 740.40 290.09 210.24 K

    A couple of years ago I read a article stating that Earth had a rouglhy 10% denser atmosphere during the Permian Period than it does now , which helped make it warmer than it is now. From that article I thought I could apply the PV =nrT law to get the additional greenhouse effect from an Earth with a denser atmosphere, and Venus’s; surface temperature,. I quickly found a snag in my reasoning,

    M, and R are determined constants, P is an input for an atmospher of a given density, but RHO is not determined by initial conditions,
    If P is 10% larger and Rho is ALSO 10% larger, you get the same temperature as before.
    Venus has a P of roughly 90. What determines Rho? If Rho was 130, Venus would have
    a temperature of 370 K.

    I suspect that Nikolov is messing around with an identity, and that his formula doesn’t tell us how to calculate rho with a given atmospheric composition and density, and a given solar flux.

  38. Genghis said

    No one is commenting on the different calculation for the S-B Gray body temperature? 100 K less than the standard temperature based on a cross section, rather than a sphere?

    The fact that the GCM’s and the GW theory is based off of a temperature premise that is more than 100 K off doesn’t interest anyone?

  39. steve fitzpatrick said

    “100 K less than the standard temperature based on a cross section, rather than a sphere?”
    OMG no. Believe it or not, the Earth is not a circular cross section. Suggestion: read and learn, then comment.

  40. Genghis said

    OMG no. Believe it or not, the Earth is not a circular cross section. Suggestion: read and learn, then comment.

    Yes I phrased the question awkwardly. Is the author’s gray body temperature average correct?

  41. Leonard Weinstein said

    34: Steve Fitzpatrick,
    What Roy discussed was result of PROCESS and not the simplified net effect. It is true that the energy balance is what determines the temperatures, but the causes of the average energy balance are simply due to input energy (Sun), albedo (clouds, aerosols, and ground/water absorption properties), conductive, evaporative and convective properties of the atmosphere, and optical absorption properties of gases and aerosols of outgoing energy. The net result of all of these can be represented in an effective average altitude for the out going energy to space, and the temperature resulting at this location. The average lapse rate (if the atmosphere has sufficient mixing) is only due to gravity and the specific heat (and for condensing water vapor, the effect of heat of condensation transfer). Those two factors, outgoing net altitude and lapse rate, are the only cause of the net effect. Note the average outgoing altitude can vary, so processes that cause this variation are the actual subject of the entire process. Other factors such as back radiation are a result of this process, not a cause. Roy tended to combine the details of the local processes to get to the final answer, which is a valid approach to show haw unbalances become rebalanced, but it does not separate cause and effect. My approach is a net equilibrium average result. From this you can understand cause and effect better. The temperature at the Tropopause and Stratosphere are not the adiabatic values due to the fact that the gas densities are low enough and the input solar UV absorption strong enough to prevent mixing, so the basic assumption generating lapse rate does not hold all levels of the atmosphere. However, it does hold in Earth’s Troposphere, and Venus’s main atmosphere. You need both atmosphere mass and greenhouse effect to get the answer. If you doubled Earth’s atmosphere, and retained the same portion of greenhouse gases, you would increase temperature. If you retained the same mass and increased greenhouse gas concentration, you would increase temperature. The exact increase in both cases is not known due to feedbacks (probably mainly due to clouds and ice melting), which at this time are not fully known.

  42. AusieDan said

    Those who reject N&Z’s theory need to explain how they can calculate the correct temperature of eight solar bodies, using the wrong formulae.
    Anyone for tennis?
    Do the calculations.

  43. Alan D McIntire said

    Mars, Mercury, the Moon, Triton have essentially no atmospheres. You have only 3 planets with significant atmospheres, Earth, Venus, and Titan. The equation curve has
    2 parts (K1 e^-x1 + K2 e^-x2). With 2 variables you HAVE to find a match with only 3 independent planets.

    We’ll have to wait a century or more until we have data on the atmospheres of terrestrial sized planets from other solar systems before we know whether this equation has any validity or it is an exercise in curve fitting like Mann’s hockey stick calculations .

  44. Genghis said

    I have been doing a conceptual thought experiment for myself, I would appreciate it if the errors could be pointed out.

    Let’s take a planet with no atmosphere, it will have a hot spot and get cooler the further from the hot spot facing the sun.

    Now let’s add an oxygen and Nitrogen atmosphere, no greenhouse gases. The atmosphere will heat by convection primarily from the earths hot spot. This atmosphere cannot radiate energy to space and it will distribute energy from the hot spot to cooler areas. The end result at this stage is an average surface temperature that is warmer than a no atmosphere planet, and an atmosphere with a adiabatic lapse rate, warmer closest to the surface (and source of heat) and cooler at higher altitudes.

    Now lets swap the atmosphere for CO2, a green house gas. This atmosphere will have the same properties of the last atmosphere except that it can now accept LW radiation from the planets surface and transmit LW radiation to space, in addition to receiving energy from convection and transforming that kinetic energy from convection and transmitting it out as LW radiation.

    If there was no LWR from the surface and just convection, scenario two would produce a cooler atmosphere simply because CO2 would convert the kinetic energy in the atmosphere and radiate it out. Since there is LWR from the surface to the atmosphere, that is equivalent to more energy going into the atmosphere, which would raise the average temperature.

    But, it is the temperature of the atmosphere which determines how much energy the CO2 radiates. At relatively low temperatures the LW radiation that C02 receives is going to be transferred to kinetic energy to heat up the atmosphere and at higher average air temperatures CO2 will radiate out more LW than it receives from the surface, primarily kinetic energy from convection heating.

    Back to the stationary planet, now with CO2, Oxygen and Nitrogen, or any combination. At the hot spot, convection heating will dominate with CO2’s contribution which is to cool the atmosphere. As the convection currents carry heat to cooler regions of the globe, CO2’s effect will go from a net cooling to neutral and then to a positive contribution in the energy budget. Essentially CO2 moderates the atmospheric temperature.

    My conclusion is that for a given density and when their temperature is in equilibrium, the three different atmospheres will have identical temperatures. In short my thought experiment is in agreement with the paper, that it is the ideal gas law that determines atmospheric temperature.

  45. #44
    No, the GHG atmosphere is much hotter. There is a level at which the temperature is established by the Stefan-Boltzmann law. Incoming heat energy has to be emitted, and the temp of a uniform layer to do that is about 255K. With no GHG, that’s ground, and the lapse rate cools from that point as you go up. But with GHG, the 255K is at TOA, and it gets warmer going down.

  46. Genghis said

    Nick – “No, the GHG atmosphere is much hotter. There is a level at which the temperature is established by the Stefan-Boltzmann law. Incoming heat energy has to be emitted, and the temp of a uniform layer to do that is about 255K. With no GHG, that’s ground, and the lapse rate cools from that point as you go up. But with GHG, the 255K is at TOA, and it gets warmer going down.”

    First of all your 255 K number is wrong (too high) as the paper demonstrates because it is calculated using a cross section of a circle, not a hemisphere as S-B requires.

    Secondarily that 255 K number is based on zero atmosphere and you are assuming that Green House gases are entirely responsible for all of the warming in the atmosphere, that is clearly wrong, convection is a major contributor. It can easily be demonstrated that the lower portion of an atmosphere without any green house gases will be heated significantly above the S-B level simply by convection.

    Convection from a warm surface is the number one source of heat in the atmosphere. That fact alone disproves the AGW theory, as you have stated it.

  47. Alan D McIntire said

    we get about 1368 watts from th e sun. With NO greenhouse gases, the temperature at high noon would be (1368/390.7)*0.25 * 288 = 394 K.
    After dark the temperature would be 2.7 K, the radiation we get from the “big bang”.. The average of (Th+Tl))/2 is under 200 K.

    What a non greenhouse atmosphere would do is balance temperatures between day and night somewhat through convection.
    A very thick non greenhouse atmosphere would virtually balance day and night temperatures.
    That would work out to an average of 1368/4 = 342 watts.
    That gives an average temperature of (342/3909.7) *0.25 * 288 = 278.6 K – above freezing and above that Th+Tl/2 average.

    You have to throw in albedo, with no greenhouse gases we’d have no clouds, so the actual albedo might well be less than at present. The icecaps might be bigger, so the albedo could be higher, or the same as now.- no clouds, more ice. l. You also have to take into consideration the emissivity of the surface, maybe 0.94,, which would tend to increase the temp of the surface.

  48. Alan D McIntire said

    Adding more nits to my #47 and #44. That ;255 K presumes only 240 watts to the surface, not the 342 average we get from the sun. That assumes the 30% cloud albedo still exists. If clouds still exist in a non greenhouse world, they still radiate heat to space from a higher level than the ground, leaving AVERAGE height for that 255 K radiation higher than the ground, again leaving the ground and ocean surface warmer than 255 K.

  49. Genghis said

    Alan – “That gives an average temperature of (342/3909.7) *0.25 * 288 = 278.6 K – above freezing and above that Th+Tl/2 average.” …
    “You also have to take into consideration the emissivity of the surface, maybe 0.94,, which would tend to increase the temp of the surface.”

    Wouldn’t the increased temperature of the surface increase the temperature of the atmosphere due to convection?

    Also are you saying that all of the current green house gasses are are most responsible for less than 10˚ of the current 288 K average temp?

  50. Alan D McIntire said

    Nikolov and Zeller are wrong about temps being solely determined by atmosphere, but their proposal gave me a new perspective on the problems of greenhouse gases, and blacbodies..

    First, a blackbody immediately radiates away as much energy as it is receiving- nothing at all like the real universe, where everything, including planets, is radiating less heat than it is receiving as it warms up- as I posted before, temperatures don’t reach 394 K at noon, even on the moon,. Temperatures also don’t drop all the way to 2.7 K at night, not even on the moon, which cools down gradually- the real universe would have to apply Newton’s law of heating and cooling rather than use hypothetical blackbodies in computing temperatures.

    Also, there’s an albedo problem. If you can talk about an imaginary earth with no greenhouse gases, you can also talk about that same imaginary earth with no clouds- how can clouds exist with no greenhouse gases? An earth covered by oceans, would have a temperature above freezing regardless of the amount of greenhouse gases-
    We’d get 342 watts from the sun, given an emissivity for an ocean covered earth of 0.94, that would be equivalent to a surface temperature of
    342/.94 = (363.83 /390.7)^0.25*288 = 282.9K

    Of course such an imaginary planet would also have no rain or clouds- drastically limiting weather.- miraculously, the increased albedo from clouds just about offsets the increased wattage from greenhouse gases- leading to stable oceans lasting billions of years.

  51. Genghis said

    You are slightly missing Nikolov and Zellers point. To put it bluntly, it is primarily convection that warms the atmosphere, not radiation. The atmosphere is largely transparent to radiation and can’t be directly heated by it.

    Let me describe it in a different way. Lets say that we have a mass of nitrogen freely floating around in space. It is going to be very cold and even directly warmed by the sun it will stay cold (almost by definition, remember that Ideal Gas Law?). Now lets add a couple of percentage of CO2 to the mass of nitrogen floating around in space. Will that change the temperature of the Gas in any way? No, not in the slightest, except the the individual CO2 molecules will be slightly accelerated for a millisecond before re radiating the radiation away.

    Now lets take the same mass of nitrogen (sans the C02 we added) and put it down on a planet. Almost instantly the surface of the planet is going to start heating the gas due solely to convection and because of the Ideal Gas law we will see a lapse rate. Ultimately, the density and energy from the sun (via convection) will determine the equilibrium temperature of the atmosphere and it will be above the S-B temperature. Radiation through this atmosphere plays no part in determining its temperature.

    Now if we add CO2 into this planetary atmosphere it will transfer some of the LWR into the nitrogen atmosphere via kinetic action, but the nitrogen atmosphere will also transfer some of its kinetic energy to the CO2 to be radiated out to space, so the net gain is going to be tiny, almost unmeasurable.

    H20 and the oceans on the other hand are a whole different ball game. Convection of warm moist air is orders of magnitude more powerful than convection of dry air and yes H20 definitely changes the albedo of the entire planet and is easily capable of changing the atmospheres temperature many degrees from its equilibrium baseline (that is established by the density of the atmosphere, via convection).

  52. Alan D McIntire said

    As I posted before, convection stabilizes temperature – with 342 watts unevenly distributed and no atmosphere- you get large temperature swings and a lower average temperature due to that T^4 effect. A non greenhouse atmosphere at eath’s cannot bring average temps higher than an equivalent body receivng constant 342 watt radiation

    As I stated previously Nikolov and Zeller, you only have effectively 3 non zero data points – Earth, Venus, and Mars. Their formula was essentially curve fitting.

    I believe CO2 and other geeenhouse gases have little effect on earth- the BIG greenhouse effect is through water in all of its phases

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