It is what it is- and the GOD of Physics will have it no other way!

Warning, global warming believer, read at your own risk.

I’m writing this post to make a point to all the new readers here why I’m not a denier yet am a skeptic. I’m an aeronautical engineer who works as an optical engineer but mostly business owner in my day job. Therefore the following equations are very familiar to me. I’ve received permission from Lucia at the Blackboard to repost this here . My opinion is that people who deny the possibaility of greenhouse climate change do not understand the basic proof – and it IS an absolute proof of the warming effect of greenhouse gasses.

My opinion is that people who deny have the basic understanding that the science is politicized, corrupted and exaggerated for a hidden agenda. Something revealed quite clearly in the ClimateGate emails and subsequent events. What they don’t understand is that the argument against global warming goes too far and is completely unnecessary.

I’ll try to keep all of this simple but it might get a bit tricky for non-scientific folks. My hope though is to convince some of those who are ‘deniers’ that the warming effect exists and that the proper ‘and far stronger’ argument lies elsewhere. First the basic physics have been around for hundreds of years. These physics actually have a consensus because unlike treerings, hockeysticks, and climate models these equations have been validated by experiment.

Before we step into the math. There is a known effect which in optics is referred to as a Planck blackbody radiator. A blackbody is a perfect radiation emitter whereas the light energy coming off it can be calculated from its temperature. A greybody is an imperfect yet similar version of a blackbody. Physicists are pretty simple sometimes.

What it means is that if you have an object at a known temperature you can predict the color spectrum (wavelength) and total brightness emitted by it. Every object not at an absolute zero temperature emits electromagnetic energy – everything! It’s so well known and understood that the spectrum for light bulbs is even referred to as color temperature. I don’t want to go too far into this but you can buy (evil) white color incandescent lights with a blueish cool white 6500Kelvin filament or a yellow-red 3000Kelvin filament – the kelvin rating is called “color temperature”. The color is created by the temp – bluer is shorter wavelength redder is longer. As hot objects such as bulb filaments (turned off) cool they continue to produce longer and longer wavelengths until the outgoing energy balances the incoming energy. The same is true for the earth.

Greenhouse theory is that gasses are more transparent to incoming high frequency visible light (Sun 6500Kelvin) and less transparent to outgoing infrared from a cold body (Earth’s surface 288 Kelvin).

The following math was done by Lucia at the blackboard. I went searching by google for the best description and it was amazing to find it at one of the few blogs linked at the right. All of the detail I was looking for laid right out in front of us like 6 pages deep into my google search.

The purpose of the math below is to look at incoming energy and determine how hot the earth should be from incoming energy alone. If the math is too much skip through it to the result.

Lucia’s original post is here.

Derivation of formula to calculate the effective radiating temperature, Te

Cartoon Earth To calculate the temperature of the earth, we first draw a cartoon to illustrate our model.

If the earth’s temperature is assumed at steady state, then the net rate of energy from the sun, accounting for reflection, must balance the energy emitted from the earth. In terms of variables show in the figure to the left, conservation of energy requires:


Ps – α Ps = Pe or

Where Ps is the rate of energy intercepted by the earth, α is the fraction of the energy reflected by clouds, ice or anything reflective on the earth’s surface represented as α Ps. And Pe is the amount of energy emitted by the earth.

The solar constant, S, describe the energy flux from the sun at the earth’s distance from the sun, and from the perspective of the sun, the earth is seen as as a disk with radius R. So, the rate at which the sun’s energy intercepted by the earth is:


Ps= π R2 S .

Assuming the earth is a black body, the full spherical shell of the earth emits as a black body in all directions and obeys the Stefan-Boltzmann law:


Pe= σ (4 π R2) Te4

where σ is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant and is equal to 5.67 x 10-8 Watts m-2 K-4, and temperature Te must be expressed in Kelvins.

Rearranging and canceling, we obtain


Te4 = (1-α) S / (4 σ)

Calculation of Te

To determine the effective radiating temperature, Teneed values for everything on the right hand side of (4). We make the following selections:

  • The Stefan-Boltzman constant, σ= 5.67 x 10-8 Watts m-2 K-4.
  • The albedo of the earth is estimated to be α=0.30. This is the commonly used value for the earth; it is a function of the amount of cloud cover, and ice cover. So, it could change if the earth warms or cools.
  • The yearly average measured value of the solar constant is S= 1368 W m-2 (See NASA.)

Substituting into (4) results in and effective radiating temperature of Te = 255 K = -18 C = -1 F.

This is the temperature predicted by this very simple baseline model. Since the surface we stand on is not an ice covered snowball, it is obvious that this is not the average temperature at the surface where we all live and breath.

Measurement indicate the average temperature near the surface of the earth’s crust and over the oceans is closer to Ts≅ 288K (15C, 59F)

So, the difference between the effective radiating temperature and the temperature near the earth surface is

ΔT≅33 C


So as Lucia has shown the earth is warmer than Planck and Stefan Boltzmann would calculate from solar enery alone. This is the simple proof that without greenhouse gasses we would have 33C less warming than we do right now. It is proven unless you want to deny your lightbulbs.

This ends the simple, inarguable, absolute proof that some level of global warming is true. If you are technical and disagree, the next section may satisfy your argument.

Update: I need to mention that the blackbody assumption isn’t perfect, after rereading the post it should be made more clear. There are also assumptions about absorption rate of incoming energy. Therefore 33 isn’t an abs0lute which I think more technical readers get but the point is that there is some effect caused by NATURAL GHG.


And now we get to the fancy stuff which if you have no science background may not make much sense so skip this section.

I’ve not read this step at any blogs. It’s a big internet so this must be done somewhere but an interesting argument has been made that the reason for the 33 C change is due to the emission altitude of the IR radiation from the gas.

Ya see, the outgoing surface radiation is captured by the gasses in the atmosphere. The energy is absorbed and re-emitted repeatedly until it finally makes its escape to space. The capture and re-emission is because the gasses are not transmissive at very long infrared wavelengths. To be clear, gasses like CO2, H20 and Methane love to let through visible sunlight while blocking long wave IR.

We therefore KNOW the average emission altitude of the warming is not ground level. As outgoing energy is captured and re-emitted (from an alien invaders perspective) the average altitude which outgoing energy emits from is well above ground. So one strong sounding and often repeated argument goes like this.


At least some of the warming is created by the pressure difference from ground to the true emission altitude. Therefore there isn’t 33C of warming from greenhouse gasses because the emission altitude is well above ground and there is an expected reduction of pressure and temperature with altitude in the atmosphere.

This point can be disproven with a simple thought experiment. Extremes in thought experiments can often provide answers we otherwise miss. I learned this trick (some pun intended) in school.

For this experiment, all we need to do is assume all gasses on earth have NO absorption of electromagnetic radiation on ANY wavelength. All sunlight comes in and all of it exits. We still have standard 14.7 PSI pressure on the earths surface so the pressure gradient still exists. The atmosphere has no effect on temperature whatsoever b/c the heat isn’t blocked or even slowed down from the earth. The emission altitude then becomes zero…..

According to the assumptions and math above, what would the earths surface temperature would be —– ????

Te = 255 K = -18 C = -1 F. – according to Planck, Boltzmann, Stefan, Michael Mann, Jeff and Lucia.

No warming gasses, no increase in emission altitude, no surface warming beyond Planck whatsoever.

Therefore the argument that 33C of additional warming is caused entirely and completely by ‘greenhouse gasses’ – is TRUE. It’s completely 100% right. Impossible to deny. –

— And there is simply no reason to deny it.


Finally, we come to the point where we can discuss rationally what that means.

  • It means that global greenhouse gas warming is real
  • It means that NATURAL greenhouse gasses are responsible for about 33C of earth warming

Where do we go from here?

That’s it. So if I’m such a believer, where is the disagreement? Where can WE Skeptics and now ex-denialists go? What doesn’t it mean?

Beyond these simple proven equations that AGW advocates like Michael Mann depend on for their continued paychecks, there is a LOT of exaggeration in climate science.

Additional simple equations can show 1.2 C of C02 warming for doubling of CO2. This is completely different than the above calculation I’ll show the math later but consider that the above 33C calculation uses known and tested physics. Endlessly verified in laboratories combined with measured surface temperatures. Now 33C does rely on a surface temperature measurement but this measurement isn’t the tenths of a degree measurements used to discuss trends of DOOOOOMMM(haha – couldn’ t resist) but rather 33 friggin’ degrees different from the expected temp. – this is not 2C of urban warming but rather proof of global warmth (not warming) caused by greenhouse gas!!

The 1.2 C from doubling of CO2 is far more complex because in this case it assumes no feedbacks from the atmosphere. No added clouds, aerosol changes or any other imagined feedback. Sounds weak but guess what, feedbacks are completely unknown and untested. This is the beginning of where the argument and discussion exists. In addition, doubling the CO2 is not terribly easy with your SUV.

Therefore one thing an honest thinker should put their focus on is the feedback mechanisms. The feedbacks of an increase in CO2 can result in more OR less warming than the baseline and there is a lot of evidence for less. Climate models ASSUME (and it is a complete assumtion) MORE warming than CO2 alone creates through cloud feedback by several times (four times!! -called positive feedback). There is simply no proof of accuracy. What’s more, these models fail in comparison to temp measures in that the measured warming is statistically significantly less than modeled. McIntyre and McKitrick have a paper being held up by ‘peer review’ on this very topic right now. I would love permission to write on that, but it will wait. In the meantime, Treesfortheforest (link on right) absolutely installed a new @#%^ in the now famous Ben Santer’s work again demonstrating the poor results of temperature trend modeling.

What if the feedback is actually negative? That would mean even less than 1.2 C of warming for an absolutely MASSIVE increase in Co2. Can you prove to me that it’s not!!! Can anyone.!! —Let me get this for you NO!! The CO2 zero feedback scenario is enough to buy us centuries of non-regulation because the IPCC relies on this completely unproven, untested and poorly measured cloud feedback.

More fodder for us skeptics is that the warming is unprecedented. This is completely undetermined by science, unsupported by historic evidence and current papers are horrible in quality. Nobody knows the real answer, and anyone with the skill to know, knows damn well that they don’t really know. hahaha. This is the field of “hide the decline” and “ten ways to hockeysticization”.

Finally, how bad is a bit of warming? Will it really melt the caps? Will it cause more storms? How is it that flooding the earth with water results in drought? These are even less determined avenues of climate science yet they get the same weight in political reports.


Is global warming from CO2 real? – Hell yes!

Is it measurably warmer due to CO2 — not sure.

Are claims of ice melt, fish shrinking, model projections, temperature measurements, paleo science, drought, increased storms and FLOODING!! exaggerated? – Yup!

Is it being done with intent. OH HELL YES.


We cannot choose physics, but we can choose reason.

128 thoughts on “It is what it is- and the GOD of Physics will have it no other way!

  1. Just to be clear- climate science quotes the 33C value quite often and this means nothing in relation to climate gate. The boys still cooked the books and still had their thumb on the scale.

  2. Sir, you are a denier, and if I and my congressman had my way you’d be put on some sort of train and taken to some sort of camp were you’d be put to some sort of forced labour. -_-

    This is a very good explanation of how CO2 works on our world. (I think) This should be in some sort of report. Possibly one given out by some sort of panel. Some sort of intergovernmental panel. That deals with climate.

  3. Okay,

    So ice sheets breaking off, ships being able to sail through the Northwest passage, etc…is no big deal? People are making all this human caused warming up so they can spend billions of dollars to combat a fake problem? All those folks with a doctorate in climate science are just wrong and we have nothing to worry about? I hope you skeptics are right because if not, my kids are going to have hell to pay in the future. Not to mention getting off carbon will benefit humanity in the long term. Of course educated affluent Americans will not care because they will still have a nice lifestyle and people in the Third World, they are screwed…

  4. You write:

    “This is the simple proof that without greenhouse gasses we would have 33C more warming than we do right now.”

    Shouldn’t this be 33C LESS warming?

  5. #3 Yup, we need to send money to those in the third world developing nations to help communists extracate themselves from the disadvantaged position created by free peoples success.

    I’ll do the sea ice posts again soon, not that you will pay attention.

  6. Fred G., since many people in the world are religious and believe in a spiritual afterlife, I can only assume that you are a proponent of forced euthanasia, because living as a disembodied spirit made out of magic and childrens dreams is the only way humanity can ‘get off carbon’.

  7. Fred G.

    The fact that new nuclear powered icebreakers managed one run through the Arctic this year isn’t exciting when we have pictures from an essentially ice-free North Pole in 1956. The official Arctic ice recordkeeping doesn’t start until later – and there was a lot more ice in the seventies.

    Nor are the Antarctic ice sheets exciting – moving ice meets water. Finally.

  8. There’s a problem here. I don’t think that Te should be compared with the average temperature of the earth. There’s that 4th power exponent to consider.

    I need to think about this. But consider a case where a relatively small area of the earth had a high temperature. The emitted power would be relatively very large (due to the 4th power), but it’s constribution to planetary average temperature would be much less (since it’s contribution to the average is proportional to area).

    In nuclear engineering we have a situation where the neutron source strength of spent nuclear fuel varies as the 4th power of burnup. Burnup varies axially in a nuclear fuel assembly. But you can’t just take the average axial burnup, raise it to the 4th power, and get an estimate of the total neutron source strength. The higher burnup regions in the center of the assembly contribute *significantly* more to the neutron source strength (as a result of the 4th power exponent) than the underburnt ends.

  9. Thanks, Jeff, for the clear presentation of facts of which you always excel. Lucia and you have done some good work.

    Warming exists, and therein lies the kernel of the propaganda put out by those who are making $millions off this scare program.

    Like so many others, I would like to see science done properly, with actual peer review, and their hypotheses tested against real world data.

  10. To put it another way: Consider that you could have a planetary surface temperature distribution with a global average temperature *lower* than Te, but which has a *higher* Pe.

  11. #11, If we have uneven Te, which I’m sure we do, does that affect the conclusions or the magnitude?

    Edit: I see this as a spherical light source problem which emits from a surface. That is far simpler than a nuclear fuel consumption problem. If we could see really long wave IR the earth would have variance, however there’s no reason to change the bulk numbers to explain the result.

    IOW, I should have written — there have got to be effects of non-uniformity however the point of the post is to present a clear explanation of the general magnitude. For that I think Lucia (and I) have done ok.

  12. Jeff Well put and you hit on the head with that the IPCC et al downplay negative feedback. Proffessor Lindzens work has shown that there must be some type of negative feedback or how else do you get an increase in radiative heat with rising CO2. Hopefully the CERN Cloud Project gets some good prelim results next year. If the Cloud Project shows that Comsic Ray’s do in fact form clouds that will really be the deathnell to AGW since that will tie the Sun to Water Vapor the Big gun in “Greenhouse Gases”. Also it will be funny watching the team trying to debunk the Physics of the CERN scientists. Can you see Mann trying to bully CERN?

  13. I think everything holds in your analysis until you take a delta-T against real-world average temperature. You and Lucia need to think carefully about that because the temperature distribution is critical.

  14. I don’t think any one doubts that CO2 has an impact. Water vapor has a much greater impact over a wider spectrum of IR, though, and that would pretty much swamp CO2. I mean, it is sort of like closing a sheer curtain across a window that already has shutters over it.

    Yeah, that sheer makes a difference but darned little compared to the shutters.

    The important things are the exaggeration, “adjustments” that seem to dominate in a single direction, lack of transparency of the data and the math, and the “validation pressure” among scientists who are activists and under great pressure for their work to back up their positions under any circumstances. It is “the end justifies the means” “science”.

    What is particularly disturbing is the wildly exaggerated claims of consequences. The recent flawed model that resulted in forecasts for much of the San Francisco Bay area to be under water is an example.

    It’s just plain nuts. And now that these “scientists” have gone so far out on the limb and told people that there is nothing that can be done, even if we act now the warming will continue, telling us each year that we have only “ten years left” to act, etc. They have left themselves with no room if temperatures begin to drop. They are on record as saying it can’t happen and that warming will accelerate. Once they are out on that limb, they are under great pressure to validate their previous words. And here we are. The limb broke. The front has fallen off HMS CRUT.

  15. Molten rock at earth’s core is caused by heat released from radioactive decay of naturally occurring radioactive isotopes. It has an insignificant affect on this analysis because the resulting heat flux at the earth’s surface is small compared to the solar heat flux.

  16. “So why does the earth have molten rock inside of it?”

    Radioactive decay producing heat faster than it can “leak” out through the crust. Gee, I wonder … if I bury a few acres of styrofoam insulation panels, will I create a volcano?

  17. Jeff,

    Your cartoon is missing a part of the equation. You have reflected and emitted enersgy, but is missing the converted part. The converted part is the falsifiable portion: if the manmade part of the CO2 soup is creating a measurable effect then the models require that we would see a warming in the tropical troposphere. We don’t.

  18. Fred G:

    So ice sheets breaking off, ships being able to sail through the Northwest passage, etc…is no big deal?

    It has happened before. In fact, in 1959 the North pole was nearly free of ice.

    And there wasn’t an anthropogenic global warming at that point, so the explanation is natural climate . Remember that the models tell us that anthropogenic CO2 and sulfates nearly balanced each other until 1980.

    So it’s a “big deal” , but there are factors besides CO2 that influence climate.

    Maybe some day the alarmists will work out that controlling CO2 emissions isn’t a magic bullet that will cure all ills.

  19. Fred G: Also, the ships sailed through the Northeast passage. Escorted by icebreakers. And it was not unprecedented.

  20. Amazing isn’t it. Without the CO2 contribution to the (33C) warming blanket effect of the earth, life as we know it might not even exist. Makes you think twice about intelligent design doesn’t it? I for one would rather live in a warm environment rather than try to exist in an ice age.

  21. #3

    <blockquote cite="Fred G. saidDecember 5, 2009 at 1:31 amOkay,So ice sheets breaking off, ships being able to sail through the Northwest passage, etc…is no big deal?”>

    The Russians have been using the Northeast Passage for seventy years. The records from whaling ships in the arctic record years of almost no ice. I don’t know where you live but if you visit Vancouver, BC and go to their Maritime Museum, they have preserved the ship the St. Roch that routinely made the Northwest Passage during the 20s and 30s. A couple times it got caught in the ice and had to overwinter but generally, it sailed from Vancouver, BC to Halifax, N.S. in one season. And that was while it was stopping at villages and doing work (she was an R.C.M.P. patrol boat) — her voyages were not some mad dash trying to set a record.

    The ice comes and it goes.

  22. If you haven’t read Climate of Extremes yet, you should. If you want to see just how strong the skeptical case is over the “denier” case, they do it best.

    And I’m a self described denier. 😉

  23. I fond it interesting that when I go to Weather Underground to get my local weather I must suffer an ad that says:

    “The number of Cat 4 and Cat 5 hurricanes has doubled …” and says HopenHagen and gives a “Sign the petition” link. It is pure fabrication. It is an absolute lie. The number of Cat4 and Cat5 hurricanes has NOT doubled but people believe they have because of information like this being put out by websites they trust. To them it is “well, weather underground says it is so” so they believe it is so, even though the ad is run by Google. Wunderground should be more careful of the ads they run.

  24. Hmmm, I need to think about this.

    No one disputes that the “greenhouse gases” have an impact. I’d say there are very few “deniers” of that. It’s the actual impact and the fraudulent gyrations of the AGW believers to get something substantial.

    Please see this

    Your view would be welcome.



  25. CO2 makes a lot of difference if there is no water vapor. It makes little difference when there is a lot of water.

    Take the average morinng low temperature in Miami vs Tucson in January. Both have the same amount of CO2.

    One reason the poles are so cold is because the air is very dry. CO2 plays a much greater greenhouse role in Antarctica than it does in Bermuda because there is less water vapor in Antarctica. Water vapor accounts for about 85% of Earth’s greenhouse. CO2 accounts for about 10%. If we were to double the CO2 in the atmosphere, it would still account for about 10% of the overall greenhouse. Most of CO2’s work is done.

  26. Crosspatch:

    CO2 makes a lot of difference if there is no water vapor. It makes little difference when there is a lot of water.

    Water vapor is a more important greenhouse gas, but that’s not the same thing as saying that CO2 makes no difference.

    Doubling the CO2 would increase the atmospheric temperature by less than 3°C (probably). That’s about a 1% effect in dT/T. Small is not the same thing as negligible.

  27. no. 27

    The St Roche sailed through three times between 1929 and 1939. That is according to the museum where it is now kept. Maybe they have got it wrong? I doubt that there is anything very remarkable going on in the way of present day warming, but let’s keep the facts straight here. The St Roche did not make regular passages between east and west coasts, and there is no point asserting she did.

  28. Those talking of the North West passage might like to read my article carried here a few months ago that deals with this very subject

    A very interesting footnote is that I subsquently discovered that someone local I know had a relative that actually got a £5000 prize in 1821 for effectively being the first to traverse the North West passage in 1821 on the Hecla (links in article)

    To demonstrate the ‘variabilty’ aspect in the title the next year they went again and this time got trapped by ice and died of scurvy.


  29. As a climate sceptic, it’s embarassing to see someone claiming familiarity with an equation then spelling the name of the equation contributer wrong. It’s something you’d expect from some journo taking an interview with a scientist over the phone. Not a science graduate.

    [REPLY:] Well I never claim to be perfect but I have used these equations since the80’s. This kind of comment is particularly annoying. It’s like people think the hours of typing and reading to put together a blog and one spelling error and you’re embarrassed, it’s not ‘perfect’. I would suggest that if that little bitty mistake embarrasses you — don’t start a blog.

    I’ve made some BIG colorful ones over the past year, and I probably will next year. Now that’s embarrassing.

    Two r’s in embarrass BTW 🙂

  30. Jeff

    Aren’t you making the same logical fallacy that the IPCC did. They say that since the temps are going up faster than theory and they have no other explanation then it must be caused by CO2. Likewise you calculate that delta T is 33 degrees from a theoretical black body therefore it must be due to green house effect.

    But, if we accept the MWP and the LIA then the temp has been going up and down while the atmospheric makeup was stable (I’m assuming here). This implies at least some causitive agent other than greenhouse effect. So what part of the 33 degree delta is due to this other agent?

    Or am I missing something here?

  31. “It’s Planck, not Plank”.

    It’s Planck when you are discussing Physics, it’s Plank when you are describing Mann’s grasp of Statistics.

    [REPLY:] Thancks

  32. Jeff Id,

    I totally agree that the physics could care less about what we think. That is the point. Do we actually think the real physics?? Now hold onto your hat. Lotsa arm waving about to start.

    The earth isn’t a black body so small difference here.

    Another nitpick is that the surface temp will be continuously either increasing or decreasing as the sphere spins changing the actual emission temperature. I guess someone with the skill could integrate for this??

    Another nitpick is that the 1368 is TOA MEASUREMENT. Are we using a radius equal to the TOA??

    The general implication is that the 33K difference is between GHG’s and no GHG’s. I accept water vapor as a GHG. But, we are actually talking about the difference between a solid sphere and a solid sphere with oceans and atmosphere including GHG’s.

    Without GHG’s, IR will pass unhindered and the sun will DIRECTLY HEAT THE SURFACE with its 47% IR output instead of that solar IR being cooled through successive absorptions and emissions by GHG’s. The atmosphere itself will be heated by convection just like it is now BUT, there will be no GHG’s for anything to collide with that can cool it!!! I tend to think this solar IR will balance the heat loss from the OLR not being slowed.

    Another item left out of Climate Science is that bit about Black Body radiation. Even air emits. The hotter something is, the more IR it emits. I can’t compute how much that is, probably not much, but, there is a LOT of air!!

    When did the physicists tell us how long it takes for a GHG molecule to emit the energy that it has absorbed? Maybe there is little chance that the GHG will collide with another gas particle while it has absorbed energy!!!

    Straight forward conduction will heat the bottom layer of atmosphere without GHG’s and simple convection will spread that warmth upward through the atmosphere. There is warming!!!

    Why isn’t the atmosphere directly heated slightly by IR?? Most other things are.

    Then there is that whole bit of warming the air as opposed to warming the surface with backradiation. When did they decide that conduction only goes from GHG’s to other molecules?? If warm air from the surface convects upwards and mixes with cooler air the warm molecules colliding with cooler GHG molecules will transfer heat to them that they can radiate won’t they???? (see CO2 Laser)

    I also have to wonder about backradiation. During the evening and night when the earth is cooling I can see the IR rewarming molecules that just emitted and are cooler than the IR. During the day when the surface is warming?? Not happening much unless it is IR from the sun which is hotter. This is all 2nd law whether the Climatistas want to admit it or not. This would appear to be consistent with the observations that night temps increase more than day temps although that may be more UHI than backradiation!!

    Basically I see GHG’s as an air conditioner, heating or cooling as conditions change, not just a heater.

    At best 33K is a small overestimation. At worst????

    OK, you can teach me or embarrass me now.

  33. One other item, when the Climatistas get huffy about measuring backradiation at the surface, isn’t part of that originating from solar?? If the OLR makes it out to space mostly through successive absorptions and emissions, why doesn’t solar make it in the same way????

  34. But Jeff, what about when physicists disagree about the physics?
    Maybe I could submit this paper (in lieu of argument, as I’m a non-physicist) below as my rebuttal to your post, and you could address some of the points that are critical of your science above.

    Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics
    Authors: Gerhard Gerlich, Ralf D. Tscheuschner
    (Submitted on 8 Jul 2007 (v1), last revised 4 Mar 2009 (this version, v4))

    Abstract: The atmospheric greenhouse effect, an idea that many authors trace back to the traditional works of Fourier (1824), Tyndall (1861), and Arrhenius (1896), and which is still supported in global climatology, essentially describes a fictitious mechanism, in which a planetary atmosphere acts as a heat pump driven by an environment that is radiatively interacting with but radiatively equilibrated to the atmospheric system. According to the second law of thermodynamics such a planetary machine can never exist. Nevertheless, in almost all texts of global climatology and in a widespread secondary literature it is taken for granted that such mechanism is real and stands on a firm scientific foundation. In this paper the popular conjecture is analyzed and the underlying physical principles are clarified. By showing that (a) there are no common physical laws between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effects, (b) there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet, (c) the frequently mentioned difference of 33 degrees Celsius is a meaningless number calculated wrongly, (d) the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately, (e) the assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical, (f) thermal conductivity and friction must not be set to zero, the atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified.

    Comments: 115 pages, 32 figures, 13 tables (some typos corrected)
    Subjects: Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (
    Journal reference: Int.J.Mod.Phys.B23:275-364,2009

  35. The science is clear and settled about global warming/climate change but too many “deniers/sceptics” do not see it – the science of ad hominem and cum hoc ergo propter hoc.

    Globalwarmists do not distinguish between evidence of global warming – the temperature record – and the multi-factor mechanism which affects the temperature record, as outlined in the excellent synopsis above.

    They have narrowed down the latter to one thing – CO2 from fossil fuels – and conflated this with the former. Global warming has thus become a term for both the cause and the effect so evidence of effect is de facto evidence of cause so proven because they correlate. This is a logical fallacy which they have been allowed to get away with. Correlation does not prove cause.

    In addition they have cast global warming as somewhat unnatural and dangerous.

    They have further conflated global warming with climate change as if the two are synonymous and also infer that climate change is unnatural and dangerous.

    When was there climate stasis? In fact the IPCC defines climate change as change to climate caused by Mankind beyond natural variation, but do not say what to call change to climate due to natural variation.

    The overall affect of this is Globalwarmists can taunt sceptics and paint them as global warming/climate change deniers. Since most people accept, and indeed the record shows, global warming and climate change cannot reasonably be denied, that makes sceptics look bonkers, howlers at the Moon.

    It is not accidental. It is a tactic thought out by those in the so-called Green Movement which is a political movement, and adopted by scientists and politicians either because they do not see the conflation or they do, but know it is an effective propaganda weapon.

    The value of the article above is that it de-conflates the issue separating cause from effect.

    More sceptics should do this making the point that the science explaining the greenhouse affect of gases is well known and it is but one aspect affecting climate, and CO2 is but one “greenhouse” gas playing a part to a degree that is not clear.

    So NO, the science on that important point is not settled and not clear.

    Yet instead of focusing on this aspect, here we are arguing about temperature records which show what already we know, whether fiddled or not: the Earth has warmed.

    What causes this and how? We do not really know.

  36. #47 JohnK

    The calculation is a comparison of a ‘grey body’ with no atmosphere to the earth directly. The only difference is the atmosphere of the earth itself. I add the bit at the bottom about a perfect transmitting atmosphere to so people can get the concept that the difference is due to heat capture by the atmospheric layer.
    On another topic,

    Physics kind of stinks in that you don’t get to choose what you want it to do. It really does. Early in my career I worked in a lab and ‘knew’ several things, only to find out I didn’t know them shortly later. The god of physics makes a living teaching lessons in humility.

    Climatologists don’t do experiments for verification, it would be nice for the god of physics to do a class for Mann, Gavin, Briffa,Osborn, Jones, Foster on and on

  37. Cher Monsieur,

    votre démonstration semble convaincante,mais comme le souligne Ursus Maritimus, vous ne pouvez écarter d’un revers de main les travaux de gerlich

    Pour les habitués du blog qui lisent le français ,d’autres hypothèses ,qui ont l’air tout aussi “sympathiques” que la vôtre, et qui semblent se vérifier pas mal avec les observations

  38. Two points, the description of the ‘cartoon’ — Where Ps is the rate of energy intercepted by the earth, α is the fraction of the energy reflected by clouds, ice or anything reflective on the earth’s surface and α Ps is the amount of energy emitted by the earth.

    Should not the last Ps be Pe, the emitted energy as shown on the energy balance cartoon figure? Something doesn’t match up, or it’s me not understanding it right.

    And secondly, earth has it’s own internal heat from the nuclear decay in the core, as others have noted, this effects the total energy emitted. Without an atmosphere, earth would still be warmer that a dead body, like Mars say. I think to be completely correct, you need to add that back in to your calculations, and if you choose, show how it does not have any effect.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Very good explanation, isn’t this what Dr Lindzner is doing at MIT? Energy balance observations using satellite data.

  39. #53, I wish I could take credit for Lucia’s work because she’s broken it down into such an elegantly simple problem.

    Nice catch on the description, after reading the equations I missed that. It’s updated.

    Also, I agree that the internal heat of the earth would affect the total warming. No idea how much .

  40. “Straight forward conduction will heat the bottom layer of atmosphere without GHG’s and simple convection will spread that warmth upward through the atmosphere. There is warming!!!”

    Here’s a question for you. Everybody knows that hot air rises. So why are the tops of mountains so cold?
    (And is it all a plot by the skiing industry to hide the data?)

    Why, if the grey body calculation based on radiation to space says equilibrium at -18 C, is the top of the troposphere at about -54 C? What keeps it so cold?

  41. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for laying out the radiation physics. I have only one small (nit-pick) issue. The sensitivity of temperature to changes in radiative forcing at 255K emissions temperature is about 0.266 degree per watt/M^2. If you take the doubling of CO2 forcing (IPCC) to be 5.35 * ln(2) = 3.708 watts, then the expected sensitivity should be about 3.708 * 0.266 = 0.99C per doubling, not 1.2C per doubling. Am I missing something?


  42. #56, Nope, I quoted the figure from memory.

    #55, It happens because of the pressure gradient in air.

    Temperature is the speed of vibration and physical velocity of a group of molecules times the number of collisions per second. If you spread the gas out without removing energy, they still are moving equally fast yet the number of collisions per second drops. High altitude – low collisions – low temp.

  43. #56 Steve, I’ve never researched the CO2 forcing aspect of the physics beyond a few articles. It seems like there may be some room for play even in the simple version of the CO2 contribution. What do you think?


  44. Jeff ID, thanks much for this timely and explanatory post. I have not read it in detail but your introductory comments put me right where you come down on the issues of AGW.

    How many times do I hear members of the AGW consensus using arguments against the total denier, kind of like a strawman, when the more difficult arguments are:

    1. What level of AGW can we predict for the future and estimate from the past and with what level of certainty?

    2. What are the expected detrimental (beneficial) effects of that warming and expected at what level of certainty.?

    3. If mitigation measures are inforced what is the probability that there will be unintended consequences and could the cure be worse than the disease?

    4. How well do we understand feedback effects which take CO2 warming to higher (lower)levels and particulary that involving clouds and how large of an effect does that uncertainty have on the overall uncertainty in modeling the climate?

    5. If we breakdown the consensus response using the above criteria would you expect that we would see a wide range of opinions or would we see very close agreement?

    For the total denier, the AGW advocates need not answer any of these questions, but instead give the tired old mantra that the glaciers are melting etc., ect., ect.

  45. 37-I agree that the paper is flawed but Arthur Smith most certainly does NOT have no “dog” in this hunt. He’s a Kossack.

  46. I was always concerned about the infinite thermal inertia in the above description but I see that this is covered in the paper cited by Carrick in #37.

  47. 58. Jeff,

    I have not researched it much either, just a bit in preparing a post last year for Anthony. I think the 5.35 * ln(2) value is pretty widely used. I did run into a couple of more complicated expressions that were supposed to better account for absorption band overlaps with non-CO2 species, but if you cranked through the numbers, they turned out almost exactly the same as the simpler equation, so 3.708 watts/M^2 per doubling is probably a good number.

    Where I think there is some wiggle room for the sensitivity value to be higher or lower than the blackbody value is in the accuracy of equating the forcing at the earth’s surface from CO2 in the atmosphere to forcing from an increase in incoming solar radiation on a black body surface. The total radiation at the surface surely does increase by that 3.708 watt value, but the emission to space from the atmosphere remains at ~255K on average, since the total incoming solar energy has not increased. I’m not sure that the simple blackbody case accurately predicts the average surface temperature increase due to CO2. After all, what we’re talking about is really an increase in the steepness of the temperature gradient between the surface and emitting level of the atmosphere due to an increase in the resistance of the atmosphere to the passage of infrared. It may turn out that this increase in “resistance” warms the surface about like a blackbody would warm, but I am not at all sure. While I can see how a relatively simple radiative solution could be calculated if you assumed only radiative heat transfer from the surface to the emitting level of the atmosphere, the real-world situation, with much of the heat transport from the surface via convection/cloud formation/rain, would seem to preclude any simple radiative calculation. Changes in humidity with temperature, altitude, and regional differences (land vs. ocean for example) further complicate any calculation.

    The other complexity that is not included in the simple blackbody analysis is the very non-uniform intensity of solar energy across the Earth’s surface, and corresponding wide range of effective emitting temperatures. The blackbody sensitivity in the tropics/subtropics, which have an average emission temperature well above 255K, is for certain lower than 1C per doubling, while at high latitudes (especially in winter) the effective emission temperature is well below 255K, and the blackbody sensitivity for certain higher than 1c per doubling.

    So while the blackbody radiative example is instructive to show that increases in infrared absorbing gases must in fact increase the surface temperature, I don’t think it really places much of a constraint (not even a lower bound) on what the sensitivity to CO2 really is. Could be higher, could be lower. Only a perfectly accurate model of the process (this does not currently exist!) or very good data will really tell us.

    Sorry for rambling on…

  48. 48:

    I’m trained as a physicist. This is a bizarre article, with a mish mash of science, history and invective. They raise a few arguments against the simplified radiation arguments for atmospheric warming, but don’t focus and draw any conclusions. They are probably right that the word greenhouse is misapplied to the atmosphere. I don’t know how significant their other claims are.

  49. Willis Eschenbach’s post at WUWT on the steel greenhouse is also of interest although the lack of understanding in many of the comments is a little depressing.

    A temperature of 255 K assumes that not only is the sphere a perfect black body, but it’s also superconducting. A sphere with its axis of rotation perpendicular to the plane of its orbit and with zero thermal conductivity would have very cold poles and a very hot equator. The global average temperature would also be a lot lower than 255 K. Surface heat capacity also would need to be factored in. However, because of air and ocean circulation, the emission of IR by latitude from the TOA is close enough to perfectly conducting that 33 degrees is a reasonable approximation.

    The decrease in temperature with altitude is a little more complicated than PV=nRT. You have to factor in buoyancy, heat capacity, the acceleration of gravity and adiabatic expansion/compression, not to mention the Clausius Clapeyron equation if you throw water vapor into the mix. Short of buying an undergraduate level Physical Meteorology textbook, lecture notes available on line gives more detail.

    G&T is not peer reviewed. You can put pretty much anything into arxiv.

  50. @DeWitt Payne,

    G&T is published now in International Journal of Modern Physics, a peer review journal which has published some physics Nobels. So don’t dismiss it too quickly.

    An illustration of G&T result is to consider not a disk receiving 1368/4 but a much more realistic
    – half disk receiving 1368/2 (lighted half earth at day => 30°C according to Boltzmann and 0,7 albedo)
    – + the other half receiving nothing (dark half earth at night => -273°C).

    Then the resulting mean T is -121,6 °C and not -18°C. That’s the essence of G&T (they use double integrals over the Earth sphere and the exact result is -129° C, not much very different than above).

  51. And I would add, if the no-air Earth temperture is -129° C as stated by eminent physicists, then the GHG based on a no-air Earth at -18°C can’t be right.

  52. #67

    “- half disk receiving 1368/2 (lighted half earth at day => 30°C according to Boltzmann and 0,7 albedo)
    – + the other half receiving nothing (dark half earth at night => -273°C).”

    Without an atmosphere, the albedo is not anywhere near 0.3; 0.1 is about right. Even with that caveat, and ignoring the simplification that different latitudes receive vastly different daytime intensity, and so would have vastly different temperatures, only a zero heat capacity blackbody surface would behave the way described. At noon on the equator, and assuming albedo 0f 0.1, the zero heat capacity blackbody temperature would be about 384K.

  53. If I understand this correctly, a big if, the Arthur P. Smith paper cited by Carrick in #37 gives the -18C figure as the highest possible for a planet with infinite thermal inertia or rotating very quickly. As the thermal inertia falls or the planet slows the average temperature will fall.
    The -129C figure given by G&T is for a stationary planet or zero thermal inertia.
    The actual temperature would be somewhere in between?

  54. 57. Yes, it’s the pressure gradient.

    But the molecules slow down. Gas in an expanding box bounces back off the receding walls slower than they hit it. The same applies when the “walls” are more gas.

    65. You don’t need to model it. If you want to know what temperature a body in Earth’s orbit would be without atmosphere, the moon is a good approximation. The principal significant difference is that it rotates slower.

    72. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing with the Virial theorem. His application of it looked invalid to me.

  55. I’m not able to keep up with all the comments today and hope that others will help answer some of the basic questions. I’ll just say to folks, look at the mean surface temperature of the moon. It has different material on the surface but basically no atmosphere. We have a working proof right in front of us.

    Denying greenhouse gas is not where the argument lies. All you have to do is read a few hundred CA threads to figure it out. 😉

  56. #75 Jeff Id. Isn’t the problem that the moon is about 100C during daylight? Adding an N2/O2 atmosphere without convection does nothing to change the temperature. Adding some CO2 will raise the temperature of the air. What we see at the earth’s surface is a lot colder, by about 50C, due to both convection and the properties of H2O in it’s various forms. It seems to me the whole AGW model of the atmosphere is upside down. Why is it so cool relative to Stephan-Boltzmann is the correct question.

  57. 74. Thermodynamics separates the internal energy U from the heat transfer Q and the work done W. In general, dU = dQ – dW. For a perfect gas, dW = P dV, the pressure times the change in volume, and is just an integration of force with respect to distance moved. An adiabatic process is one in which dQ is zero, meaning there is no thermal transfer of heat. It doesn’t mean there’s no change in internal energy – the kinetic energy of the molecules. The change in internal energy is due to work being done, either on the gas or by the gas on its surroundings.

  58. HWisemann (#66),

    I glanced at this and the figure 7f-2 shows atmospheric particles absorbing insolation (doesn’t specify bandwidth) and emitting IR.

    Is part of my problem that some of the effects I armwave are actually understood and included in the models but ignored in the cartoons and explanations for simplicity?? Are some so small that they really don’t matter??

    If so, which and what should I throw out as unphysical??

  59. Jeff,
    Wiki says that for Moon temperature :
    Surface temp.
    min mean max
    equator 100 K 220 K 390 K
    85°N[3] 70 K 130 K 230 K

    The Moon is much colder than the -18°C (255K) no-air Earth of the GHG theory.

    That fact that a 100m altitude rise produces a 0,6°C cooling (environmental lapse rate) suggest the GHG theory is junk : you can’t possibly explain such temperature difference by difference in GHG concentration. You can with PV=nRT.

  60. Therefore the argument that 33C of additional warming is caused entirely and completely by ‘greenhouse gasses’ – is TRUE. It’s completely 100% right. Impossible to deny. –

    – And there is simply no reason to deny it.

    You are not accounting for the fact when gas is under pressure its temperature rises. The gasses that make up earth’s atmosphere are under pressure do to the earth’s gravitational pull. Plus you are conflating the “green house effect’, which was proven wrong in 1909 by Professor Wood of John Hopkins University with what is actually happening.

    If you want to write a simple explanation of why the earths atmosphere is warm then you need to go back and rewrite your piece (pun fully intended) without using terms like “greenhouse” which confuse and obfuscate the issue and instead use more terms like “adiabatic lapse rate”.

    Anyway you would get farther in your endeavor to explain this if you started with this article and started from known principles and worked your way up.

  61. Jean,

    This gives mean day time temperature 390 K, mean night time 120 K. Assuming it means the whole day, that gives 255 K overall. But as the graphs there show, it isn’t so simple. (And they’re latitude weighted, as there’s a lot more equator than poles.)

    I’ve seen other numbers saying that a metre below the surface layer of regolith it’s a constant -35 C all day.

    “That fact that a 100m altitude rise produces a 0,6°C cooling (environmental lapse rate) suggest the GHG theory is junk : you can’t possibly explain such temperature difference by difference in GHG concentration. You can with PV=nRT.”

    The greenhouse gas theory (the proper one) does explain the temperature difference by means of PV = nRT. That’s what we’ve just been saying. But the temperature difference between what and what? Between the average altitude of emission of IR to space, and the surface, which are different precisely because of GHGs. The adiabatic lapse rate sets the gradient, but the average emission altitude sets the intercept.

    Without GHGs, the surface would be cold, and the air would be even colder, decreasing at 6-10 K/km altitude.

  62. Actually, the above complaints fail to address the equations presented. The paper by Gerlich in #47 is the best option but it has problems which deserve to be disassembled in another post. The conclusions by several here that the post misses the point are lacking in their own understanding in my opinion.

    The lunar surface mean temperature is far warmer than Gerlich predicted for the earths surface, in this post pressures were taken into account (a bad argument), Lucia found a way right around the Gerlich 33 C derrivation method which is far simpler and shows that Gerlich didn’t get the right answer.

    Look at what we have above. Energy striking a disk – total energy in. We have a known albedo. We have known physics for emission, even Gerlich didn’t argue the outgoing radiance. The sphere temp defines total radiance out.

    The post describes the difference between GHG and no GHG. While 33 C isn’t a perfect answer, it’s real.

  63. 83. The pressure explanation is correct, but pressure on its own is only half the story. You also need GHGs to raise the average emission altitude. It’s the average emission altitude that radiates at the equilibrium grey body temperature (simplifying a bit) and the pressure difference between that altitude and the surface explains the temperature difference between the equilibrium temperature at that altitude and the surface.

    You are absolutely correct that without GHGs, or some other mechanism to emit to space from the high atmosphere, then the average surface temperature would be something like -18 C, as predicted by Stefan Boltzmann.

    But the mechanism that warms the surface to +15 C does involve convection and pressure, and while IR trapping does occur, it does not control the magnitude of the effect.

    There is a model of an atmosphere without convection in which radiation is proportional to optical depth. Each opaque “shell” of gas radiates up and down, and the temperature profile is near-exponential with altitude, due to the thickening atmospheric density near the surface. Without convection, this pure radiative model would predict an absolutely enormous surface temperature. But in practice as soon as this gradient exceeds the adiabatic lapse rate, convection starts up and spreads the heat far more rapidly. In a convective atmosphere, the adiabatic lapse rate dominates, and controls the gradient based on pressure differences. The offset is set by the requirement that the temperature at the average emission altitude correspond to the heat-balance equilibrium.

    There is a real greenhouse effect, and it is a consequence of greenhouse gases. But its controlling mechanism is not the “trapping” of IR by repeated absorption/re-emission by GHGs.

    Exactly the same mechanism also causes the top of the troposphere to cool to -54 C, well below the equilibrium -18 C. That cooling is also “the greenhouse effect”. But it’s clearly not the result of trapped heat.

  64. PA Annoyed, we all recognize that the dynamic system has different characteristics, and additional mechanisms to play. And yes of course, convection is a much more important form of heat transport, especially for a saturated greenhouse gas like CO2.

    But the classic greenhouse gas effect describes very real physics, Without it, the other processes you describe would never come into play.

  65. FYI, the Gerlich and Tscheuschner paper was published earlier this year. (Not sure if it was peer reviewed.)

    G. Gerlich, R. D. Tscheuschner:

    Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics.

    International Journal of Modern Physics B, Vol. 23, No. 3 (30 January 2009), 275-364

    I agree with Mesa (#64): “This is a bizarre article, with a mish mash of science, history and invective.” I’ve only seen the arXiv version. They certainly could have turned down the invective, which would have at least shortened the article. I think the science (whether correct or not) could have been more succinctly stated.

  66. RB, Brad deLong gets it wrong too. The reversal from a “snowball Earth” was due to a shift in atmospheric chemical composition.

    That has nothing to do with positive feedbacks…

    If there are positive feedbacks, unless our laws of nature shift in time, they are there all the time, so Lindzen’s comment is a bit perplexing, unless it is taken out of context and he meant something different.

  67. The temperature of the atmosphere at the surface is determined primarily by the temperature of the surface, not the other way around. Otherwise the atmospheric temperature at the poles would be the same as the equator. They are at the same pressure after all. Well, the South Pole isn’t, but that’s because it’s on top of several kilometers of ice.

    The behavior of the temperature, pressure and density of the atmosphere with altitude is then determined by the composition and physical properties of the atmosphere and the acceleration of gravity at the surface. The dry adiabatic lapse rate (9.8 K/km), for example is equal to g/Cp where g is the acceleration of gravity at the surface (9.81 m/sec2) and Cp is the heat capacity per kilogram of air at constant pressure (1004 J/(kg K).

    I prefer superconducting to infinite heat capacity for modeling the upper limit of radiative equilibrium temperature. It takes an infinite amount of time for a body with infinite heat capacity to reach equilibrium but zero time for a superconductive body with zero heat capacity. And with superconductivity, the body doesn’t even have to rotate because the surface temperature will be the same everywhere by definition. Here’s a plot of equatorial temperature for a spherical rotating body with zero surface thermal conductivity with and without surface heat capacity.

    Note that even with a perfectly transparent (i.e. non-radiative) atmosphere and no liquid water, there would still be heat transfer from the equator to the poles resulting in an increase in global average temperature compared to the zero thermal conductivity model. With a 24 hour rotation rate, Hadley, Ferrel and Polar cells would develop. Now add surface heat capacity and the night time temperature doesn’t drop as much and the average temperature goes up some more.

    Here’s a plot showing how heat transfer affects the Earth’s radiative budget as a function of latitude. The outgoing radiation curve is much flatter than the incoming.

  68. Bravo Jeff. I know you simplified your presentation so I won’t quibble with any aspect of it. Terrific to see some real science being discussed in the comments, much better than the delusions that pass for “science” on various blogs. The Internet has many benefits but one major cost is the sheer volume of ill-informed comment occasioned by the negligible barrier to entry to publishing.

  69. 86. I’m not sure what you mean by “classic” greenhouse effect, but if you mean the IR trapping explanation, the pure classic mechanism predicts an exponential dependence on altitude, while convection predicts a linear relationship. Linear is observed.

    It is physically possible to get a greenhouse effect without any greenhouse gases at all, although in Earth’s atmosphere it happens to be the GHGs that are responsible.

    90. The temperature at the surface is determined by the solar energy input which defines the radiative equilibrium temperature, and the height difference between the radiation altitude and the surface. (Plus horizontal heat transfer, of course.) The poles are cold because they get less sun, as expected. You might also note that the tropopause is at a lower altitude, and there is less water vapour.

    The “pressure” explanation is not just pressure, so it certainly doesn’t predict the same temperature at the poles as at the equator. No more than Jeff’s 14 C surface temperature is supposed to apply everywhere.

    Heat capacity and conductivity at the surface are relevant for studying the response to changes in conditions – day/night, summer/winter, etc., but this argument addresses long-term averages that smooth many details out. The ocean temperatures rise and fall every year, so must bracket the average.

    To be frank, it’s not really a very good explanation, leaving far too much out. But it’s the one used by the modellers as explained in Soden & Held 2000, referenced by the IPCC. Steve McIntyre described it as “arm-waving” and has been looking for a more detailed/complete explanation. So far without success.

  70. #82 @Pa Annonyed,
    Given the graph of Moon temperature in your link, I don’t see how they possibly arrive at 380 K day mean temperature. Look at the graph ! Most of times, mean temperature is around 300K for day and 100K for night. Then -according to your link-, mean temp is around 200K, still much colder than -18°C. As far as to an authoritative source for Moon’s T, the jury is still out.

    The reasonning of “look at the Moon’s T to have an idea of no-GHG Earth temperature” is sound but data are not exactly supportive that temperature is around -18°C.

  71. It is physically possible to get a greenhouse effect without any greenhouse gases at all, although in Earth’s atmosphere it happens to be the GHGs that are responsible.

    But on Earth, the atmosphere is almost “without any GHG at all” ! It’s made of 99% of O2 & N2. So saying GHG effect can exist without GHG **AND** that 1% GHG is responsible for the GHG effect on Earth is like saying the tail wag the dog.

    You might also note that the tropopause is at a lower altitude, and there is less water vapour.

    In deserts, there is almost no water vapour. Yet Tombuktu (desert) while at the same latitude, is not colder than Bangkok (soaked in humidity), it’s hotter ! That’s among multiple lines of evidence that GHG is not the main driver of temperature.

  72. ave(298,278) = 288 (288+/-10).

    CubeRt((298^4 + 278^4)/2) ~= 288.52, so, less than 1% difference.

    Current Nth Pole temps are around 255K, current equatorial temps around 298K or possibly higher.

    CubeRt(298^4 + 255^4)/2) ~= 278.98, while ave of those is 276.5.

    Of course, these averages have to take into account the area of the respective parts of the earth at those temperatures, so my calculations are too simplistic.

    Hard to say (without putting more effort into the calculation or perhaps writing a program) how much simply equating the average temp to the cube-root of the outgoing energy biases the DeltaT.

  73. ave(298,278) = 288 (288+/-10).

    CubeRt((298^4 + 278^4)/2) ~= 288.52, so, less than 1% difference.

    Current Nth Pole temps are around 255K, current equatorial temps around 298K or possibly higher.

    CubeRt(298^4 + 255^4)/2) ~= 278.98, while ave of those is 276.5.

    Of course, these averages have to take into account the area of the respective parts of the earth at those temperatures, so my calculations are too simplistic.

    Hard to say (without putting more effort into the calculation or perhaps writing a program) how much simply equating the average temp to the cube-root of the outgoing energy biases the DeltaT.

    Hmmm, not so hard to say. The first set of numbers suggests that the error from ignoring (a + b)^4 >= a^4 + b^4 with the numbers we are dealing with is less than 0.25% since it is going to be dominated by the higher temps which are nearer to the Equator.

  74. PA:

    86. I’m not sure what you mean by “classic” greenhouse effect, but if you mean the IR trapping explanation, the pure classic mechanism predicts an exponential dependence on altitude, while convection predicts a linear relationship. Linear is observed.

    Again, PA, nobody said that a model that does not include convection is going to predict the correct profile for a model that includes convection.

    But what drives the climatic CO2 greenhouse gas effect is radiative absorption by CO2 in a frequency band that is transparent to water vapor. Flip a switch so it doesn’t absorb at those wavelengths, and it won’t affect the Earth’s climate anymore.

    It is physically possible to get a greenhouse effect without any greenhouse gases at all, although in Earth’s atmosphere it happens to be the GHGs that are responsible.

    You have a valid point, ont that is bloody obvious actually, which is simply computing the differential differential for a static layered model isn’t going to give the right answer when you allow convection (well duh), but you are overselling that point. You can’t get a greenhouse gas effect if you don’t have radiative absorption. And any gas that absorbs the lw radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface will acts as a greenhouse gas.

    So while you’re making some good points, you’re also picking nits.

  75. Jean,

    93. The moon is only an approximation to the Earth – its albedo and rotation period are different. (You do have a point about the number for the mean looking iffy.)

    I would have to do some work to figure out what was going on, but my initial suspicion is the T^4 relationship. However, I would suggest that if the natural temperature in Earth orbit is even colder than -18 C, the greenhouse effect would have to be even stronger. There is more of a difference to be explained.

    94. 1% is an awful lot, if it’s 1% of a layer 10 km thick! Fog and cloud are a tiny percentage of air. The ozone layer is a tiny percentage. Skimmed milk is less than 1% fat, and is still opaque. The idea that you can make an intuitive leap about such a number being “big” or “small” without any consideration of the physics is unscientific.

    I didn’t say you could get a GHG effect without GHGs, I said you could get a greenhouse effect without GHGs. Big difference.

    I don’t recall ever saying that GHGs were the biggest driver of temperature. I would think sun and cloud would be more significant.

    And I think relative humidity in Timbuktu is something like 15%?

  76. Of the 33C, only about two thirds can be (potentially) attributed to greenhouse gases. The other third is due to the way the density of sea water happens to vary with temperature, which results in the average global sea *surface* temperature being approx 11C warmer than the average global sea temperature.

    Since about 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered in seas, and most of the remaining 29 per cent uncovered land surface is near enough to the sea to have its average temperature largely forced by the upwind sea surface temperature, the average global surface temperature (sea and land combined) is skewed upwards by nearly the same amount (say 10C).

    It seems that the 11C warming referred to above is largely a “one-off” warming that occurs in the transition from a largely ice-covered Earth (where the surface of the ocean is actually colder on average than the sea bed) to a largely water-covered Earth like today. Note that this is NOT the same as albedo feedback, though the two go hand in hand.

    If GHG are only truly responsible for 22C of warming, and the other 11C is not a significant feedback to further warming caused by GHG, then, very roughly speaking, any climate sensitivity figure derived from the 33C figure would be overstated by a factor of 3 over 2.

    Funny this, as up to 2C warming for a doubling of CO2 makes intuitive sense (Planck plus weak water vapour and albedo feedback plus neutral cloud feedback) whereas 3C or more…………

  77. “You can’t get a greenhouse gas effect if you don’t have radiative absorption.”

    Actually, you can. That was my point.

    Imagine we have a thick planetary atmosphere (100 bar) which some high level clouds (50 km above surface). The clouds absorb 90% of the solar radiation, and re-radiate long wave IR, while being totally transparent to shorter wave IR. The 10% that gets through is sufficient to drive convection.

    Now the clouds will reach equilibrium with the solar input at some moderate temperature, depending how far the planet is from its sun. The adiabatic lapse rate of say 10 K/km will raise the temperature of any descending air by 50*10 = 500 K, which will make the surface nice and toasty. The hot surface will radiate IR at significantly shorter wavelengths, to which the clouds are totally transparent.

    Is this artificially constructed scenario physically realistic? You need clouds that absorb/scatter in two bands, visible and long-wave IR while being transparent in between. I don’t see why that should be impossible. Do you? Planets with thick atmospheres and high-level clouds definitely exist.

    And yet, in this scenario no radiation from the surface is absorbed, and the clouds are not gaseous – they may be liquid or even solid. There are no GHGs

    It’s not absorption that matters. It’s the fact that some part of the emission to space occurs from places within the atmosphere above the surface. That, combined with convection, (and hence a positive lapse rate,) are the essential ingredients of the effect.

  78. Great thread Jeff, but reading all the comments just confirms my long held belief that we know far less about the climate than we think we do.


  79. #103, Absolutely.

    From 99 I’ve been looking into this. the 33C number has some uncertainty I was unaware of.

    Ocean surface temps are 16C average yet the best reference I can find shows an actual average ocean temperature of 3.8C

    Click to access Lecture3.TS.Rho.EqState.pdf

    Consider that while it means the surface of the ocean matches global surface temperatures pretty well the heat energy is concentrated at the top. Doesn’t that mean that a substantial fraction of the 33C of warming currently associated with GHG is actually ocean induced? From the 3.8 number I don’t think it’s possible that 2/3 of the warming is ocean because we only have 33-16 = 13C to play with but it’s probably not insignificant.

    Does anyone have any better numbers for this?

  80. Sorry for some sloppy language in #99 e.g. “the other 11C is not a significant feedback to further warming caused by GHG” should have read something like “the cause of the other 11C would not represent a significant feedback to any further warming caused by GHG”
    “any climate sensitivity figure derived from the 33C figure would be overstated by a factor of 3 over 2” should have read “any climate sensitivity figure derived from the 33C figure would be overstated by a factor of a third”
    But it seems I got the gist across anyhow….

    #104 “Doesn’t that mean that a substantial fraction of the 33C of warming currently associated with GHG is actually ocean induced?” Yup!

    I was working on the basis of global ocean surface temperatures averaging 15C and global ocean temperatures averaging 4C hence my 11C figure.
    I’m unable to go into this more deeply (partly time, partly knowledge/resources) but I think it is worth others exploring further re: the iconic 33C.

  81. The deep ocean temperature hasn’t always been 3.8 C. There is good evidence that it was much warmer, ~14 C, during the Eocene optimum about 55 Mya. There weren’t any polar ice caps then either. In fact there were boreal forests on Antarctica, which wasn’t all that far from its current location. Deep ocean cooling was likely caused by the same mechanism that cooled the whole planet and resulted in current conditions.

    Venus didn’t always have a 90 bar surface pressure atmosphere. Using reflective cloud layers and adiabatic lapse rates that describe current conditions does not explain how current conditions on Venus evolved. It had to heat up enough to start cooking CO2 out of carbonate rocks first.

  82. Correcting the mis-impressions regarding Venus today would be sufficient for me. I don’t make any claim to understand its past.

    But do we really know for sure how the early history of Venus worked? I get the impression that there’s still a lot of speculation.

    On Earth, I gather we used to have a dense CO2 atmosphere too, then carbonates were formed by solution in water after the Hadean rains, and plate tectonics subducted much of it below the surface where it reacts to form silicates. I know that the theory is that Venus had oceans too early on, but how certain are we of that, and of when they disappeared? And I gather Venus doesn’t have the active tectonics that Earth does, so wouldn’t that limit the carbon capture possible? Does the faint early sun paradox play a role?

    How strong is the evidence for the Earth-like early Venus? What little I know of it, looks weak, more a case of we can’t think of anything that fits any better. But maybe you know of something more consistent/complete/definite?

    As an aside, this is an interesting bit of history.…149..731S
    One of the first papers on the Cytherean greenhouse. I used to like his TV programmes.

  83. Pa:

    Imagine we have a thick planetary atmosphere (100 bar) which some high level clouds (50 km above surface). The clouds absorb 90% of the solar radiation, and re-radiate long wave IR, while being totally transparent to shorter wave IR. The 10% that gets through is sufficient to drive convection.

    Pa, that is an interesting example, but the physical mechanism by which the clouds “absorb solar radiation” is still radiative absorption. And it has nothing to do with my comment about the greenhouse gas effect fundamentally being driven by radiative absorption. Make the gas transparent to E&M radiation, and no initial heating occurs.

  84. 109. It’s a thought experiment. It doesn’t matter what they’re made of.

    110. “Pa, that is an interesting example, but the physical mechanism by which the clouds “absorb solar radiation” is still radiative absorption.”

    True. If nothing absorbed radiation, the planet would be totally transparent and would not heat at all.

    “And it has nothing to do with my comment about the greenhouse gas effect fundamentally being driven by radiative absorption.”

    If that’s literally what you meant, then fine. But the classic greenhouse effect as explained by Al Gore involves absorption of upwelling IR from the ground by greenhouse gases. What I’m talking about is absorption of direct incoming solar radiation by dust or droplets in high-altitude clouds. The radiation from the ground is not absorbed or trapped, and there are no greenhouse gases. The gap between clouds and ground is completely transparent. The clouds are transparent to the radiation from the ground. All the IR from the ground goes straight out into space without stopping.

    If that’s what you meant by “driven by radiative absorption” then I apologise for misunderstanding.

  85. Pa Annoyed said
    December 6, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    But maybe you know of something more consistent/complete/definite?

    PV = nRT?


  86. #111 PA, in #100 you said one can have a greenhouse gas effect without radiative absorption and then went on to describe a scenario including clouds that re-radiate long wave IR but are totally transparent to shorter wave IR. The chemical composition of your clouds do indeed matter because if you’re relying on nonexistent molecules to achieve your ends then your particular scenario is disproven.

    I am interested in your scenario but you must employ actual molecules not fictional ones so I’m interested in which ones you’ve chosen that possess the properties you’ve stated.

  87. “Molten rock at earth’s core is caused by heat released from radioactive decay of naturally occurring radioactive isotopes. It has an insignificant affect on this analysis because the resulting heat flux at the earth’s surface is small compared to the solar heat flux.”

    I am perpetually confused about how climate scientists think about heat flux. Any given patch of earth warms during certain times of the day or year and cools at other times. Despite the high basking in the sun energy flux, the net energy gain over a year for any given patch of earth is close to zero.

    Heat emanating from earthborne sources represents surface energy addition which must represent net heat gain. Nordell has looked at this and attributes 55% of warming to commercial energy use and 74% to earthbound energy sources.
    This effect is largely unaccounted by IPCC and Kiehl&Trenberth’s global radiative energy budget.

    Physics can clearly relate energy to temperature change if mass and specific heat are known. Effects of conduction, convection and radiation can be accounted.

    On the other hand, climate science depends entirely on a formula to convert radiative flux (RF) to surface temperature change (ΔTs): ΔTs = λRF, where λ is the climate sensitivity parameter. λ is derived by observation and computer models, which then become a self-fulfilling prophesy for prediction. λ estimates vary from 0.3 to 2 or even more widely than that (see wikipedia on climate sensitivity)

    Whether CO2 can facilitate heat transfer from a warmer to cooler gas mass under the influence of IR from the warmer side should be easy to establish empirically by physics experiment. Haven’t been able to find one yet. Any ideas anyone?

  88. Still trying to get my head around Gerlich and Tscheuschner’s falsification of CO2 greenhouse. Plainer language version by Schreuder and approved by G&T has link to original paper.

    Click to access Falsification_of_the_Atmospheric_CO2_Greenhouse_Effects.pdf

    My understanding of physics at present:
    * H20 is the major greenhouse gas and its effect may be bound in the water cycle and high specific heat
    * radiative energy transfer for greenhouse effect defies the second law of thermodynamics and is impossible and illogical and that is why there are no verifiable experiments that demonstrate it (no substance known can transfer heat energy from warmer to cooler without consuming substantial energy in the process)
    * gases that absorb longwave IR from earth warm and rise and cool in the process – atmospheric temperature drop with altitude is well known; earth in the absence of sunlight is a net heat emitter
    * falling water transfers energy back to ground – haven’t seen any estimates of magnitude yet

  89. Pa Annoyed said
    December 7, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    How about ?

    But it’s still not complete.

    ? How does this relate to a post in which I replied to your comment about Venus?

    My point being that Venus is just as easily explained by PV = nRT as it is by any other reason since we have no idea whether the temperature came before the pressure (since it presumable happened a long time ago, before we were watching).


  90. Rather than “temperature came before the pressure,” I was meaning “temperature caused the pressure (or vice versa).” The point is that it is a chicken and egg scenario.


  91. Why are climate scientists fixated on the earth being in control of its own temperature and complete exclusion of conduction and convection as methods of heat transfer. Gerlich and Tscheuschner complain about that in more technical language.

    I found a paper attempting to account for human thermal pollution in the global energy budget. Sadly, it doesn’t even bother to quote Nordell in the powerpoint version I saw, so it therefore perpetuates the junk science that is the (ΔTs): ΔTs = λRF, where λ is the climate sensitivity parameter.

    For an example of how physics might deal with temperature and energy, see

    The complicated version of ΔQ = cp * rho * Δt accounts for heat diffusion in substances of different density and thermal conductivity integrated over time.

    Given a rotating earth, it makes not much sense at all to even consider atmospheric effects until one has assumed:
    a. atmospheric effects are at equilibrium
    b. total solar radiation per annum is constant
    c. cosmic rays per annum are constant
    d. total of thermal pollution plus geothermal heat per annum is constant

    One should then apply the computer model to predicting day/night temperature variablility and seasonal temperature variablilty in land on oceans to prove the various formulae explaining heat diffusion and ocean currents and so on are valid.

    Having done that, one should then apply the computer model to predicting expected changes when:
    a. atmospheric effects are at equilibrium and have no effect
    b. total solar radiation per annum varies
    c. cosmic rays vary
    d. total thermal pollution varies and geothermal heat generation varies

    Having done that, one should consider the possibility of other effects needed to explain temperature variability.

    The ruling climate nonscience assumes the exact opposite of a sensible scientific approach:
    a. atmospheric effects cause everything
    b. everything else doesn’t count, because we believe in a.

    It’s no more than childish egocentrism or a flat earth mentality, which will never prevail over science.

  92. #119, I agree with most of what you’ve written. Several of the assumptions you list may be just fine but they are assumptions. The point of this post was to say if you add CO2 to the atmosphere the net energy capture goes up. It says nothing about the magnitude of warming. The feedback (if it’s thermal differences only) could almost nothing or it could be more than they say.

    The problem as I see it is that nobody knows how much or how dangerous it is and rational thinking people know we can’t fix it. Underlying the whole thing is that the consensus is promoting extremist left government as the Utopian solution – and socialist solutions don’t work.

  93. The biggest point I wanted to make was that the numerical relationship between “radiative forcing” and a temperature change is extremely weak in theory and evidence.

    Nordell’s computations of the temperature effect of thermal pollution appear to explain a large chunk of observed warming. In that case, the generally agreed numbers for climate sensitivity parameter could be out by an order of magnitude. There is no theoretical proof or empirical evidence to support the notion of radiative forcing and its effect on global temperature. Computer models have been used to support the theory and vice versa.

    To quote Trenberth’s latest attempt at the Global Radiative Energy Budget:

    Click to access 10.1175_2008BAMS2634.1.pdf

    “There is a TOA imbalance of 6.4 W m-2 from CERES data and this is outside of the realm of
    current estimates of global imbalances (Willis et al. 2004; Hansen et al. 2005; Huang 2006) that are expected from observed increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The TOA energy imbalance can probably be most accurately determined from climate models and is estimated to be 0.85±0.15 W m-2 by Hansen et al. (2005) and is supported by estimated recent changes in ocean heat content (Willis et al. 2004; Hansen et al. 2005). A comprehensive error analysis of the CERES mean budget (Wielicki et al. 2006) is used in Fasullo and Trenberth (2008a) to guide adjustments of the CERES TOA fluxes so as to match the estimated global imbalance. CERES data are from the Surface Radiation Budget (Edition 2D rev 1) (SRBAVG) data product. An upper error bound on the longwave adjustment is 1.5 W m-2 and OLR was therefore increased uniformly by this amount in constructing a “best-estimate”. We also apply a uniform scaling to albedo such that the global mean increases from 0.286 to 0.298 rather than scaling ASR directly, as per Trenberth (1997), to address the remaining error. Thus the net TOA imbalance is reduced to an acceptable but imposed 0.9 W m-2 (about 0.5 PW). Even with this increase, the global mean albedo is significantly smaller than for KT97 based on ERBE(0.298 vs 0.313).”

    Sounds like nonscience “fudge the numbers” to me.

  94. Here is an alternative perspective on greenhouse falsification which makes no reference to Gerlich and Tscheuschner.

    “The modernisation of Arrhenius’ greenhouse effect neglects some rather important thermodynamic properties. In fact, version 2.0 of the Greenhouse effect neglects any quantitative science at all. There is no measurable thermodynamic property used to compare the relative strengths of greenhouse gases, and there is no equation of measureable thermodynamic properties that likewise can give us an indication of how much one gas is more a greenhouse gas than another. The emissivities of gases we have to date are not applicable because they are intended for use in systems where the point radiation is unknown, and no determination of gas emissivities applicable to determining temperature from radiative emission have been measured. We may well be able to determine air emissivity from remote imaging systems at the present time, but we have nothing on the component gases. It is impossible to do more than guess how CO2 from combustion and additionally from other sources such as respiration, deflation (soil erosion) and volcanic activity; affect the bulk thermal emissivity of the atmoshere as a consequence of compositional change, and temperature. The sicence isn’t settled at all. In fact, the evidence hasn’t even been collected.”

  95. What’s worse is that the IPCC scientists know all about the missing cloud feedback, they just haven’t quantified it.

    IPCC AR4 WG1 Clouds claims that climate scientists have no idea at all whether clouds cause surface warming or cooling. What planet do they live on????? The surface temperature differences on sunny and cloudy days are manifestly obvious to the other 6 billion inhabitants.

    “By reflecting solar radiation back to space (the albedo
    effect of clouds) and by trapping infrared radiation emitted by
    the surface and the lower troposphere (the greenhouse effect
    of clouds), clouds exert two competing effects on the Earth’s
    radiation budget.
    […] In response to
    global warming, the cooling effect of clouds on climate might be
    enhanced or weakened, thereby producing a radiative feedback
    to climate warming (Randall et al., 2006; NRC, 2003; Zhang,
    2004; Stephens, 2005; Bony et al., 2006).

    In many climate models, details in the representation of
    clouds can substantially affect the model estimates of cloud
    feedback and climate sensitivity (e.g., Senior and Mitchell,
    1993; Le Treut et al., 1994; Yao and Del Genio, 2002; Zhang,
    2004; Stainforth et al., 2005; Yokohata et al., 2005). Moreover,
    the spread of climate sensitivity estimates among current
    models arises primarily from inter-model differences in cloud
    feedbacks (Colman, 2003a; Soden and Held, 2006; Webb et al.,
    2006; Section 8.6.2, Figure 8.14). Therefore, cloud feedbacks
    remain the largest source of uncertainty in climate sensitivity

    IPCC AR4 WG1 Ch8 on climate models says on p591: “Most AOGCMs no longer use flux adjustments, which were previously required to maintain a stable climate.”

    This suggests to me that the climate models lack sufficient modeling of negative feedbacks that stablize the real climate on earth. The fact that flux adjustments are no longer required reflects that the models are improving and that further modeling of negative feedback effects are likely to further stabilize the models.

    The next problem is that if one attempts to correctly model the negative feedbacks, then one can’t explain the observed warming without adding additional warming possibilities to the model. But correcting for urban/airport heat islands would probably help.

  96. Is the globe warmer because of CO2? Yes.

    Is the globe warmING because of CO2? Indeterminate at best. Currently the globe doesn’t seem to be warming at all. CO2 may have had some impact in recent decades but right now we aren’t aware of any ‘runaway’ climate factors such as those suggested by the pro-warming lobby. If there were, the Earth would long ago have ceased to be hospitable to hominids and very probably most complex life forms that exist today.

    Now, if CO2 were to double from here, how much warmer would the world become? Currently this is unknowable due to a) the limits of technology and the historical record and b) because those who were SUPPOSED to be studying this for the last 30 or 40 years decided it would be greatly more to their benefit to tell us that CO2 IS CAUSING THE GLOBE TO WARM (with very little real evidence beyond correlation), and that THIS IS TERRIBLY BAD FOR EVERYONE (in spite of much evidence to the contrary), and that anyone who says otherwise is a terrible person who has sold their soul to the Devil (aka Big Oil).

    The solution is to throw the lot of them out on their respective rear-ends and start over. Certainly there are many many Jack Eddy types who’s career’s in physics, astronomy and/or statistics could guide them in the proper application of science in this realm.

    Stringing these miscreants along by agreeing with them that the Earth is warmer because of the presence of CO2 in the atmosphere is a bit pedantic at best and only serves to endorse their misbehavior at worst.

    If free scientific endeavor is to continue, these charlatans need to be ostracized and their current power structure overthrown in it’s entirety.

  97. Re: Blous79 (Jan 4 15:43),

    There is no measurable thermodynamic property used to compare the relative strengths of greenhouse gases, and there is no equation of measurable thermodynamic properties that likewise can give us an indication of how much one gas is more a greenhouse gas than another.

    Sure there is, it’s called spectrophotometry. Line strengths have been measured in the lab and used to calculate emission spectra. The emission spectra can be measured in the field. There is very good agreement between calculated and observed spectra. Even better, one can calculate the line positions and strengths of the vibrational/rotational transitions of simple molecules like CO2, N2O and H2O from first principles (ab initio in physics speak) and they agree very well with the measured lines.

    Why people insist on looking foolish by attacking the soundest part of the theory while essentially giving a pass to the problems with the IPCC SRES, WGII and WGIII is beyond me.

  98. Dewitt Payne #125:

    You’d have to quiz the geologist who wrote the statement.

    Personally, I haven’t found the measurable thermodynamic property or equation either. I’m having trouble trying to figure out which part of spectrophotometry is/produces a measurable thermodynamic property. Any clues?

  99. Re: Blouis79 (Mar 31 09:33),

    Strictly speaking, spectrophotometry doesn’t measure thermodynamic properties as those are bulk properties and spectrophotometry measures the properties of an individual molecule. It can be argued, for example, that an individual molecule does not have a temperature. It has a kinetic energy, but that’s not exactly temperature. You have to have a lot of molecules with a Boltzmann kinetic energy distribution to define a temperature. But the measured spectral properties of a molecule can be used to calculate things more closely related to thermodynamics like the rate of heat transfer by radiation.

  100. The moon gets identical incoming radiation, but cools much faster overnight. The reason is conductive heat retention by Earth’s atmosphere. A hot/warm body does not, in any case, radiate away its heat energy instantly; it takes time for a hotplate to cool in a vacuum.

    But regardless: the “back-radiation” of IR originating from the ground is LESS than the shadowing of the surface by GHG interception of incoming IR from the sun.

    Eliminate the GHGs and MORE heat would reach the surface, and it would therefor stabilize at a higher temperature. I.e., the net effect of the presence of GHGs in the atmosphere is COOLING.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s