Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.

Settings

Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup

Settings


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe


Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...



Username
Password
Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts

Archives

The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate
The 2nd law of thermodynamics is consistent with the greenhouse effect which is directly observed.

Climate Myth...

2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory
 

"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." (Gerhard Gerlich)

 

Skeptics sometimes claim that the explanation for global warming contradicts the second law of thermodynamics. But does it? To answer that, first, we need to know how global warming works. Then, we need to know what the second law of thermodynamics is, and how it applies to global warming. Global warming, in a nutshell, works like this:

The sun warms the Earth. The Earth and its atmosphere radiate heat away into space. They radiate most of the heat that is received from the sun, so the average temperature of the Earth stays more or less constant. Greenhouse gases trap some of the escaping heat closer to the Earth's surface, making it harder for it to shed that heat, so the Earth warms up in order to radiate the heat more effectively. So the greenhouse gases make the Earth warmer - like a blanket conserving body heat - and voila, you have global warming. See What is Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect for a more detailed explanation.

The second law of thermodynamics has been stated in many ways. For us, Rudolf Clausius said it best:

"Heat generally cannot flow spontaneously from a material at lower temperature to a material at higher temperature."

So if you put something hot next to something cold, the hot thing won't get hotter, and the cold thing won't get colder. That's so obvious that it hardly needs a scientist to say it, we know this from our daily lives. If you put an ice-cube into your drink, the drink doesn't boil!

The skeptic tells us that, because the air, including the greenhouse gasses, is cooler than the surface of the Earth, it cannot warm the Earth. If it did, they say, that means heat would have to flow from cold to hot, in apparent violation of the second law of thermodynamics.

So have climate scientists made an elementary mistake? Of course not! The skeptic is ignoring the fact that the Earth is being warmed by the sun, which makes all the difference.

To see why, consider that blanket that keeps you warm. If your skin feels cold, wrapping yourself in a blanket can make you warmer. Why? Because your body is generating heat, and that heat is escaping from your body into the environment. When you wrap yourself in a blanket, the loss of heat is reduced, some is retained at the surface of your body, and you warm up. You get warmer because the heat that your body is generating cannot escape as fast as before.

If you put the blanket on a tailors dummy, which does not generate heat, it will have no effect. The dummy will not spontaneously get warmer. That's obvious too!

Is using a blanket an accurate model for global warming by greenhouse gases? Certainly there are differences in how the heat is created and lost, and our body can produce varying amounts of heat, unlike the near-constant heat we receive from the sun. But as far as the second law of thermodynamics goes, where we are only talking about the flow of heat, the comparison is good. The second law says nothing about how the heat is produced, only about how it flows between things.

To summarise: Heat from the sun warms the Earth, as heat from your body keeps you warm. The Earth loses heat to space, and your body loses heat to the environment. Greenhouse gases slow down the rate of heat-loss from the surface of the Earth, like a blanket that slows down the rate at which your body loses heat. The result is the same in both cases, the surface of the Earth, or of your body, gets warmer.

So global warming does not violate the second law of thermodynamics. And if someone tells you otherwise, just remember that you're a warm human being, and certainly nobody's dummy.

Last updated on 22 October 2010 by TonyWildish.

Printable Version  |  Offline PDF Version  |  Link to this page

Related Arguments

Further reading

  • Most textbooks on climate or atmospheric physics describe the greenhouse effect, and you can easily find these in a university library. Some examples include:
  • The Greenhouse Effect, part of a module on "Cycles of the Earth and Atmosphere" provided for teachers by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).
  • What is the greenhouse effect?, part of a FAQ provided by the European Environment Agency.

References

Comments

Prev  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  Next

Comments 451 to 500 out of 1403:

  1. Damorbel is doing here exactly what he has been doing on the Wikipedia Temperature talk page. He makes repeated objections based on his flawed understanding of the subject, then accuses others who have taken the time to correct his nonsense of attempting to distort the issue.

    He has absolutely no interest in understanding anything you guys may say to him. He simply wants to argue.
  2. Re #449 you wrote:-

    "Before that there was 'albedo', multi-layer insulation, 'sunlight can't make it out of the water', 'constant disequilibrium', 'elastic collision of photons', and the lovely bit of obfuscation, "All materials, even gases, have a refractive index >1, consequently no material substance can behave according to the definition of a black body"."

    This isn't a scientific argument of any sort, you do know that don't you?

    You cannot possibly imagine that material with a refractive index >1 can be a 'black body; it is in Kirchhoff's original definition; you have read Kirchhoff's work, haven't you?

    I think you may have trouble in discussing the matter you refer to as "elastic collision of photons". Photons do not collide there is no known collision process for photons, elastic or inelastic.

    Photons begin and end at electric charge, free or bound; that is the whole basis of electrophysics. I am beginning to wonder if you are aware of this.
  3. Re #449 Sorry, the link doesn't work.

    refractive index
  4. I do not claim, KR, 337, that all AGW theories contradict the second law. It is just that many of them do. Most of them confuse heat and energy, which is where entropy comes in.

    One such explanation, which you can still find in modern text-books, (Houghton for example) is the original greenhouse radiative effect. Consider a greenhouse made of non-absorbing material, such as rock salt. It will absorb heat from the sun, the interior will heat up, and, with convective cooling eliminated, the internal temperature will be higher than the surroundings (G and T’s car interiors, for example). The greenhouse will radiate W watts per square meter, proportional to the fourth power of its temperature.

    Now replace the rock salt cover with glass, which absorbs infra-red radiation. Half of the outgoing radiation will return to the interior, which, so the story goes, will heat up until it radiates 2W. The original W will then be radiated to the atmosphere, and W will be returned to the interior.

    The ratio of the glass interior temperature to the rock salt interior temperature will be the fourth root of 2, or 1.19. An increase of 19% of the rock-salt interior absolute temperature, or about 60 degrees C.

    Does that argument sound familiar? You will find it in part 1 of the Rabett paper to which SOD contributed.

    It is, of course, wrong. Back radiation from the cooler glass cannot heat the warmer interior. It would breach the second law if it did. To check this R W Woods built two greenhouses – one rock salt, one glass – so that their convective warming would be identical. Any back-radiative effect would heat the glass green-house preferentially.

    Their temperatures were the same.

    “Higher is Colder”, is not “part of the greenhouse effect”. It is the only plausible way of explaining how increasing atmospheric absorption and emission can increase the surface temperature. Incidentally, it is a mechanism which G and T did not discuss, although it was current from 1900 onwards.

    Think about an atmosphere without a lapse rate – an isothermal atmosphere where higher is not colder. Add greenhouse gasses, increase absorption, and you suggest that the atmospheric temperature will increase.

    What would happen if it did? Apply the Stefan-Bolzmann equation to the radiation to space, and energy emission will also increase (proportional to the fourth power of the atmospheric temperature). But the incoming energy, from the sun, will not change. So the atmospheric temperature will fall back to its original value.

    With a lapse rate, you can suggest that the effective emission level moves up to a colder region, reducing energy emission. All the temperatures must then increase to restore the balance. The only snag with that argument is that the evidence from the last 30 years shows that it does not happen to any detectable extent.
  5. Fred Staples - Even in the toy case of an isothermal atmosphere, absorbing/emitting greenhouse gases will increase the stable temperature.

    Power emitted must equal power received at equilibrium. Greenhouse gases do not affect power received (visible light window), while they decrease planetary emissivity in IR by radiating part of the energy back to the surface. Given the Stefan-Boltzmann relationship, if emissivity decreases power radiated decreases, causing an imbalance. An increase in greenhouse gases directly decreases emissivity by absorption band deepening and widening. This drops emitted energy to space.

    Power = emissivity * SB constant * Area * T^4

    That imbalance will persist (accumulating energy, increasing temperatures) until radiated power rises to the level of incoming power again, at a higher stable surface temperature. The temperature will not drop again under those circumstances, because the emissivity of the planet remains lower. The only way to reduce the stable temperature of the planet would be to increase emissivity, by (for example) decreasing GHG's. Emissivity does not magically drop when the imbalance zeros out, which seems to be what you are asserting.

    Current Earth effective planetary emissivity is ~0.612, with ~240 W/m^2 entering and then going to space. Doubling CO2 creates an imbalance of 3.7 W/m^2, which is equivalent to reducing emissivity to 0.6026 by simple power scaling.

    Earth surface temperature is ~14C, or 287.15K. Calculating:

    ( 287.15^4 / ( 0.6026/0.612 ) ) ^ 0.25 = 288.27K

    The surface temperature under those conditions rises to 288.27K, or 15.1C, matching the 1.1C rise predicted for doubling CO2 with no feedbacks.
  6. Fred Staples - My apologies, I'm mixing two examples in my last post.

    The isothermal atmosphere example you posit will increase in temperature due to increased GHG absorption, and will remain stable at that higher temperature unless the emissivity increases. That's a requirement of the S-B law. Temperature and emissivity are the two flexible values if emitted power is fixed - as one goes up, the other goes down. And in this case temperature is the dependent variable; emissivity is the driving variable.

    The actual Earth system includes both band widening/deepening as well as lapse rate driven cooling of the emissive layer. But both are part of the radiative greenhouse effect.

    Rock salt convective greenhouses are irrelevant to this - and the Woods experiments have been repeatedly debunked over time.
  7. Posting here in hope PhysSci will respond in correct place?
    "Regarding satellite observations of atmospheric absorption of IR radiation emanating from the surface, they show just that 'absorption' and provide no evidence for a temperature change due to such absorption"

    Consider ground detectors of IR (DLR). If there is no evidence of temperature change at the surface, explain to me how these detectors work? You seem to be implying that energy absorption by the surface of the detector is not allowed?

    As to efficiency of radiation cf convection. Lets see surface radiation averages 390W/m2. Convection moves
    12W/m2 (and zero off planet).
  8. This is a response to scaddenp from another blog. I've been asked to post this here as a more relevant place
    -----------------------

    scaddenp - Yes, I have read the article "2nd Law of thermodynamics and greenhouse theory". Firstly, I never said that the GH theory violates the 2nd Law of thermo. I said it violates the First Law pertaining to energy conservation, which is even worse, because among the 4 laws of thermodynamics, only the First one is mathematically exact! Secondly, the above article makes a common mistake as many other popular publications do by using the 'blanket' analogy to describe the working of the atmospheric GH effect. Specifically it states:

    "The Earth loses heat to space, and your body loses heat to the environment. Greenhouse gases slow down the rate of heat-loss from the surface of the Earth, like a blanket that slows down the rate at which your body loses heat. The result is the same in both cases, the surface of the Earth, or of your body, gets warmer."

    Nothing can be more misleading! As I explained in a previous posting (now deleted!), blankets, coats, and real greenhouses preserve heat by obstructing convective heat exchange, not radiative cooling, i.e. by physically trapping air mass. The free atmosphere does not impose any restriction on the surface convective cooling. That is why the term 'atmospheric greenhouse effect' is a misnomer, and has been identified as such in the science literature back in the 1970s and 80s. In addition, since IR radiation travels at the speed of light, it can only be trapped by materials of very low emissivity and (respectively) high IR reflectivity such as aluminum, polish silver etc. This fact is well known in the insulation industry and is the basis for the so-called radiant barrier technology pioneered by NASA some 40 years ago. Since the atmosphere contains no IR-reflecting substances, and has a negligibly small heat storage capacity, it cannot physically 'trap' heat of any kind (radiative or convective)!

    Now, here is why the GH theory violates the First law of thermodynamics. These facts are well-known in the science literature, but not usually discussed in popular outlets such as this website - Satellite and surface based observations have determined that the Earth-atmosphere system absorbs on average 239 W m-2 solar (short-wave) radiation. At the same time, the lower troposphere emits towards the surface some 343 W m-2 long-wave radiation (the so-called down-welling thermal flux). If the GH effect were due to absorption and re-emission of IR energy by greenhouse gases ultimately traceable to solar input as claimed by the current theory, then how is it possible that the down-welling thermal flux exceeds the total solar input by 44% (343/239 = 1.44). Simply put, observations indicate that the lower troposphere of Earth contains significantly more internal energy than provided by the Sun. This situation is extreme on Venus, where the down-welling thermal flux is about 80 times larger than the average absorbed solar flux by the entire planetary system of Venus! Given the rather small heat storage capacity of the atmospheres on both planets, these data cannot be explained in the context of the current GH theory founded on radiation interception without violating the Firs law of thermo! ... Yes, the lower atmosphere does contain energy above and beyond of what the Sun provides, but the source of that energy is not IR radiation! It's something else and much more fundamental ... Can you guess what it is?
  9. scaddenp - Read my posting above and it will answer some of your questions.

    Regarding the efficiency of energy transfer by radiation vs, convection, in the atmosphere (which is a fluid), convective cooling is much more efficient than radiative cooling, simply because radiative heat exchange depends on the 4th power of absolute temperatures, while convection depends on the simple difference between temperatures. That's with respect to sensible heat flux. Latent heat flux (i.e. cooling due to evaporation) can transfer heat even across zero or negative temperature gradients as long as there is a spatial gradient in water vapor concentrations. Most convective cooling of the Earth surface is due to latent heat fluxes. Globally, the convective cooling of Earth's surface (sensible + latent heat flux) is at least 2.5 times bigger than the long-wave radiative cooling. Check papers by Trenberth et al (1997, 2009).

    As I said in my previous posting, the lower troposphere contains more energy than supplied by the Sun. Where is that energy coming from?
  10. since IR radiation travels at the speed of light, it can only be trapped by materials of very low emissivity and (respectively) high IR reflectivity such as aluminum, polish silver etc.

    Er, no.

    Somehow, my skin (which is an awful long way from being aluminium or polished silver) traps IR radiation quite effectively - I know I quite appreciate that fact during the cooler months, standing under the heat lamps in the bathroom!

    To argue that IR is only trapped by materials that effectively reflect it is a fundamental misunderstanding of radiative heat transfer.

    This fact is well known in the insulation industry and is the basis for the so-called radiant barrier technology pioneered by NASA some 40 years ago.

    Er, again, no.
    The "radiant barrier technology" doesn't absorb IR - it reflects it. You know, bounces it back where it comes from. Foil layers in building insulation are used to do just that - reflect IR either back into the home (to warm it in cold climates) or back out of the home (to stop it heating up in warm climates).

    As for your comments as to why GH theory violates the First law of thermodynamics - sigh. I suggest you do a bit more reading about radiative heat transfer and the greenhouse effect. Pay particular attention to the bits about how the surface of the earth is about 30ºC warmer than a simple radiative balance with solar input would suggest.
    Response: [DB] Careful, the D-K is strong in this one. I fear you are in for a long slog in your efforts.
  11. Ben,

    You are mixing apples and oranges here, and obviously do not understand the subject being discussed... Your skin is a strong absorber of IR, but it is also a strong emitter of IR ... When I say 'IR trapping', I mean preventing of IR radiation generated inside from escaping to the outside. That prevention is done NOT through high-emissivity materials but by using low-e (thermally highly reflective) materials ... Talk to any engine mechanics, and he will tell you that in order to help cool an engine, they use black covers of high IR emissivity. That's because such covers help transfer more efficiently the IR heat generated by the engine to the outside environment ...

    I have done more reading about the radiative transfer theory than you can imagine. From your response regarding the First Law of thermo, I gather that you did not understand my points in the previous posting. Please, read it again and think it through one more time ... I'm not your 'garden variety' of 'climate skeptics', and believe me there is hardly anything you could tell me that I do not already know. On the other hand, I could probably tell you a few things that would enhance your knowledge on this subject ... For example, did you know that this 30 deg (or actually 33 deg) GH effect that's quoted in all popular literature, is mathematically wrong? One arrives at this number, when solving the S-B equation for temperature using observed solar irradiance and the Earth's total albedo. However, since radiation is a 4th power function of the absolute temperature, if one has a non-uniform distributions of temperatures such as on a spherical planet, one does NOT get the TRUE mean surface temperature by simply inverting the S-B equation. Mathematically, this is explained by Hoelder's inequality. The correct way to calculate the 'black-body' (airless) temperature of Earth (or any planet for that matter) is to first take the 4th root of the radiation absorbed at EVERY point on the surface, and THEN average (integrate) the resulting temperatures across the planet surface. When one does that, one finds that the actual GH effect is 133C. That's right - the presence of an atmosphere raises the average temperature on Earth by 133C, not 33C! ... This implies the presence of considerable EXTRA energy in the lower atmosphere above the amount supplied by the Sun.

    I hope this helps ...
    Response: [muoncounter] Please check that you have the correct names of those to whom you respond. Please refrain from subjective judgment as to who understands what and lofty declaratives like "there is hardly anything you could tell me that I do not already know." Those kinds of statements do not serve to enhance your credibility. Please note also that you've claimed a lot of reading and have yet to cite a single scientific reference. The preferred style here at SkS is to make a point and immediately show some substantiation of it, preferably from a peer-reviewed publication. If you've read this thread from the beginning, you've noted that opinion-based science doesn't usually stand scrutiny - and those discussions do little except go in circles. If you follow these suggestions, you'll find that you can have a worthwhile debate.
  12. PhysSci... I believe your proclamations belong in the "Your Nobel Awaits" category.

    What you say goes completely against almost all published and accepted literature on the topic. My guess is you know far less about this topic than you claim to know. But I could be wrong. In that case, write up your ideas, publish it, receive the Nobel Prize for overturning a century of basic physics. I'm not joking here. If you're right you quite literally will win the Nobel Prize. What an incredible opportunity! Don't you think?

    Outside of that, all I see is a case study for D-K.
  13. That's fine, moderator (97). I will move to here and, without waving my hands, invoking the second law, or mentioning entropy, I will attempt to demonstrate that energy is characterised by both quantity and quality.

    In any transaction involving energy transfer, quantity is conserved.

    Quality is not.
  14. PhysSci @458:

    That is why the term 'atmospheric greenhouse effect' is a misnomer, and has been identified as such in the science literature back in the 1970s and 80s. In addition, since IR radiation travels at the speed of light, it can only be trapped by materials of very low emissivity and (respectively) high IR reflectivity such as aluminum, polish silver etc. This fact is well known in the insulation industry and is the basis for the so-called radiant barrier technology pioneered by NASA some 40 years ago.


    IR radiation can also be trapped by a high emissivity substance with low temperature. This follows straightforwardly from the fact that absorption is a function of emissivity and the incident radiation (and hence not of temperature), while emission is a function of emissivity and temperature.

    To illustrate this point, consider a source of heat and a heat sink in a vacuum. Suppose all waste heat is disposed of through the heat sink. In this instance, we can change the temperature of the heat source by changing the emissivity of the heat sink. If we increase the emissivity, we will cool the heat source; and vice versa. But we can also change the temperature of the heat source by changing the conductivity of the connection between heat source and sink. Increasing conductivity will cool the heat source, while reducing it will heat it - even though there is no change in emissivity.


    @461:

    " The correct way to calculate the 'black-body' (airless) temperature of Earth (or any planet for that matter) is to first take the 4th root of the radiation absorbed at EVERY point on the surface, and THEN average (integrate) the resulting temperatures across the planet surface. When one does that, one finds that the actual GH effect is 133C. That's right - the presence of an atmosphere raises the average temperature on Earth by 133C, not 33C!"


    It is true that equalizing the temperature ranges on the surface of the planet will increase the global mean temperature, and adding an atmosphere and/or ocean to a planet will tend to equalize temperatures. But this is not the greenhouse effect, and should not be confused with it. Therefore including the impact of this effect as part of the greenhouse effect as you have done is an error. The effect you are relying on here would hold with a nitrogen only atmosphere, while the greenhouse effect would not.

    I will note that calculating the energy balance of the Earth on a one dimensional model will over estimate the Earth's surface temperature. The fact that the Earth's surface is warmer than this over estimated temperature indicates that there is more, not less to be explained by the actual green house effect.

    I will further note that GCM and energy balance models are not one dimensional calculations, so the overestimation indicated above is not a feature of climate science per se, but only of some simple models used to illustrate a particular concept in climatology.

    Finally, I will note that because increasing the greenhouse effect reduces the temperature difference between poles and equator, and between night and day; the effect you mention is an additional positive feedback on the greenhouse effect.
  15. Rob Honeycutt @ 462: I agree that what I'm saying goes against the popular believes, but it is fully supported by the scientific literature... Regarding your Nobel Prize remark, I'm flattered ...:-)

    I'm writing up my ideas in a comprehensive paper (currently over 70 pages long, single space), which I hope to be published sometime this year. However, I do NOT care about the Nobel Prize! I lost respect for that institution after they awarded IPCC, and especially after giving a Peace Prize to Obama at the time when he was just getting into office while expanding the wars. In my opinion, the Nobel Prize has become as corrupt as many other institutions in our society... What's important here is to promote real knowledge and help the intellectual and spiritual evolution of mankind. Oftentimes, these things are done outside the (corrupt) 'establishment'. So my focus is in that direction, not at the 'carrot on a stick' ... :-)
    Response: [muoncounter] Please read the Comments Policy, taking note that accusations of corruption, dishonesty, fraud, etc (even parenthetically) are usually deleted.
  16. Tom Curtis @ 464: Providing a comprehensive response to your comments/questions would require repeating the content of my paper (which I mentioned above). So, you'll have to wait until it's published. However, I'll point out two things:

    1) I never claimed that the GH effect was equalizing the temperatures on a surface of a planet, although this is one of the products of the GH effect. As I explained in my posting #458, the lower troposphere contains much more internal energy than provided by the Sun. Therefore, trying to explain the GH effect with a transformation (recycling) of solar energy (as attempted by the current theory) inevitably clashes with the First Law of thermodynamics.

    2) The nature of the GH effect has specifically to do with that extra energy in the lower atmosphere. Now, ponder this for a while: the so-called 'greenhouse' effect is NOT a radiative phenomenon, but a thermodynamic one!
  17. muoncounter - Note taken! This was only my personal (unscientific) opinion, and I'm far from the thought that I can prove that in the court of law ... :-)
  18. muoncounter, I have a question for you - how do you upload a PDF file to this blog?
    Response: [DB] You can only link to it. Permissible HTML tags can be found here.
  19. Just a very general point. Your claims involve a different interpretation of thermodynamics from the theory that has served us so well so far. Since you are sure the textbook is wrong and you are right, do you also accept the principle that your claims must account for empirical results? Ie if the textbook interpretation of thermodynamics accounts for observation results and yours do not, then perhaps the textbook is correct and you need to do more reading?
  20. scaddenp @ 469: What different interpretation of the thermodynamics do you mean? Can you be more specific? I believe my claims and the new GH theory I'm proposing is in 100% agreement with the classical thermodynamics.
  21. PhysSci @466, you claimed that the surface temperature of the Earth is raised, not by 33 degrees C, but 133 degrees C. You claimed this based on an integration of the 4th root of the radiation absorbed at every point over the planet, attributing the entire difference between the temperature so derived and the actual mean global surface temperature to the greenhouse effect. That is an error, as I have pointed out. A significant portion of the difference in temperature (but not all) is due to the equalization of temperatures across the Earth's surface by heat transfer by wind and ocean currents (and also temporally by thermal inertia).

    To determine the actual greenhouse effect, you would need to find the surface temperature distribution that equalizes incoming and outgoing radiation in the case where there is a thermally equivalent atmosphere and ocean, but no GHG (including water vapour). Taking the difference between that solution and the actual situation would then find the strength of the greenhouse effect.

    Alternatively, we can find the lower limit of the strength of the greenhouse effect by calculating the globally averaged temperature needed to balance globally averaged insolation, and taking the difference from the actual globally averaged mean temperature. That lower limit is a 33 degree increase in temperature increase beyond the maximum increase that can be accounted for by the redistribution of temperature. The upper bound is certainly not 133 degrees.

    My previous comments where not questions, but criticisms. Your answer is that its all in your unpublished paper. (I suggest you try Energy & Environment for publication, for otherwise I suspect it will be unpublishable.) That, however, is nonresponsive. Appealing to the authority of an unpublished, and hence uncheckable paper is not better than claiming your pronouncements are true ex cathedra.
  22. I'd like to make a clarification - I'm intentionally providing the participants in this blog with certain pieces of science facts and observations that are not normally discussed on this website (due to the blocking effect of the current paradigm), so that all of you could start thinking (critically) and evolving your understanding in a new direction. I have solid answers to all questions you have posted so far, but I do not want to discuss the details (reveal 'secrets') until my paper is published, because it does introduce a qualitatively new paradigm, which may cause an 'Aha' moment in many of you ... :-)

    The GH theory I present in my paper is very coherent and explains climate variations on a wide range of time scales (from decades to billions of years). For example, it readily explains observations that are problematic for the present concept such as the big swings in Earth's climate over the past billion years from 'snowball-earth' events to 'hothouses', and the giant cooling trend experienced by our planet over the past 51 million years. For those of you not familiar with paleo-climate data, the Earth surface was about 16C warmer than today 51 million years ago, and the climate was equable, i.e. with little temperature difference between equator and the poles. Current GCMs have a hell of a time simulating such an equable climate, and my theory explains it why. The global temperature has been sliding down ever since (following an irregular pattern) despite the slight increase of Sun's luminosity over this time period.

    So, think about the facts I presented to you as well as some other questions such as:

    - Where is the solid empirical evidence that CO2 has impacted Earth's climate in the past?

    - Why has the global temperature stopped rising over the past 10 years, and why there has been no statistically significant warming for the past 15 years despite the continuing increase in atmospheric concentrations of 'greenhouse gas'?

    - Why do global observations show no increase of temperature in the tropics and higher southern latitudes over the past 30 years when greenhouse gases have increased uniformity everywhere? Satellite data show that the Southern hemisphere has not had any statistically significant warming since 1979 meaning that nearly all warming was due to temperature increases in the Northern Hemisphere. In other words, recent global warming attributed to anthropogenic activity is actually not Global.

    - Why had the Arctic region experienced a significant warming trend over the past 100 years while Antarctica (as a whole) shows no discernible temperature trend, or even a slight cooling in some areas?

    - Why do variations in global temperature over the past 27 years correlate much better with observed changes in cloud albedo than with those in GH gases?

    - Why do reconstructed global temperatures for the past 1000 years correlate much better with reconstructed solar magnetic activity than with CO2 concentrations? (In fact, the CO2-temperature correlation over the past 1000 years is almost zero).

    Wishing peace and mental clarity to all of you!
    Response: Everyone who responds to this, please do so either by simply and briefly pointing to the appropriate threads, or by responding on those appropriate threads and posting a comment here, pointing to there. After a short grace period, I'll start deleting off topic comments from here.

    - Regarding the empirical evidence that CO2 has affected Earth's climate in the past: There are several relevant Arguments on this site. Just one is "There’s no correlation between CO2 and temperature."

    - Regarding your claim that the temperature has not risen for the past 10 to 15 years, see "It hasn’t warmed since 1998" and "Global warming stopped in 1998, 1995, 2002, 2007, 2010, ????."
  23. PhysSci @472, I have never been one to trust all seeing oracles, particularly when the will not let us look behind the curtain. As you do not want to discuss your theories here, you have nothing to contribute. Come back when you have satisfied yourself that no-one will accept your theories for publication; and are therefore prepared to actually talk about them.
  24. PhysSci - as others are pointing out, there is in fact quite a divergence from how textbooks interpret the laws of thermodynamics. Textbook thermodynamics find GHE in perfect concordance for a start. I will aware you do not believe this, so I ask again, if the textbook interpretation of thermodynamics accounts for observation results and yours do not, then perhaps the textbook is correct and you need to do more reading?

    Eg. theory has no problem in making quite good estimate of planetary temperature from TSI, albedo - and GHG. Easily within a degree for moon, mars, venus, earth etc. Your theory has to be able to do the same.

    As to your question above, click on Arguments and look them up. If you dont find the answer satisfying, then comment on the answer in that particular thread. Back your assertions with papers and data.
  25. Actually most of the answers to what you are questioning can be found in IPCC WG1. I wonder if you have read it?
  26. Tom Curtis @ 471: It appears to me that you are confusing the mechanisms responsibly for a planetary average temperature with those determining with the average temperature distribution across a planet. These two types of mechanisms are very different. Let me explain:

    The average near-surface temperature on a planet is a linear function of the total internal energy in the lower atmosphere. Therefore, that temperature can only be changed by increasing or decreasing the total internal energy. Winds, thermal inertia, axial rotational speed and other heat-transfer mechanisms on the surface of a planet only serve to redistribute that total energy, but do not change its overall amount. As a result these mechanisms can only affect the degree of uniformity of the equilibrium temperature field, but cannot change the planetary mean temperature. This follows from the law of conservation of energy (First Law of thermodynamics), for any change of average temperature requires a net change in total internal energy.

    I'm working as fast as I can to complete my manuscript and submit it for publication. But it takes time to explain in a clear yet bullet-proof way the new concept, simply because there has been at least one whole generation of scientists indoctrinated into the wrong paradigm. The situation is analogous to that described in this legend, where American Indians could not see at first Columbus's ships on the horizon, because they had no mental concept of what a sail ship is. It wasn't until the local shaman explained to them the new 'event' in terms they could understand that they were able to see the ships (I think this legend was portrayed in the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know"). In other words, what we believe in and are accustomed to (i.e. our worldview) determines to large extend our ability to see or not certain things.

    In no way am I implying that I'm the 'shaman' here and everybody else represents the 'unenlightened Indians'! The new concept I'm presenting in the paper is actually quite simple (since it's rooted in physical principles that are 150 years old). BUT it does require a shift in perception in order to fully grasp it. That is in part why it constitutes a new paradigm... :)

    NO, I'm not planning to submit it to E&E, although this journal has published a number of articles that have brought some important valid points to the climate debate. I can bring up a similar objection with respect to Nature as well, since that journal has published the hockey-stick temperature paper by Michael Mann & Co in 1998, which has been since discredited for its [snipped] statistical analysis both in the peer-reviewed literature and at Congressional hearings (Note that IPCC is longer using the hockey-stick graph).
    Response: Your claims about the hockey stick are incorrect. Regarding your claim that the hockey stick has been discredited, see the Argument "Hockey stick is broken." Regarding your claim that the IPCC is no longer using the hockey stick graph, you can see the hockey stick just by looking in the 2007 IPCC report itself!
  27. "(Note that IPCC is longer using the hockey-stick graph)."

    You may have to add a few pages to your monograph to elaborate on your claims about this aspect of the science. It will be a lot of pages in fact.

    Lotta hockey sticks here
  28. scaddenp @ 474: The short answer to your question is YES - my new theory fully accounts for known observational results AND is in full compliance with standard thermodynamics theory, which is not the case with the current GH concept as I explained in #458. It also perfectly predicts the observed temperatures on hard-surface planets in the solar system! This is actually one of the main strengths of the new theory ...

    Ladies & Gents, I will be leaving you now for a while, since I've got work to do and have already stirred enough the pot for couple days ... Keep thinking about this discussion in an open-minded way and wait till my paper is published ... We will continue the discussion then.

    Good luck to all of you!
  29. adelady @ 477: Sorry for the missing word in that sentence. What I meant was

    "(Note that IPCC is no longer using the hockey-stick graph)" ..

    The problem of perception in scientific inquiry is a psychological issue and a topic of another discussion ...
    Response: Your change in phrasing doesn't make your claim correct. You have been pointed to the Skeptical Science thread where your claim is rebutted, and where you must post any further comments on that particular topic.
  30. I hope the answer is still YES to my actual question not your rephrasing of it. ie
    "do you also accept the principle that your claims must account for empirical results? Ie if the textbook interpretation of thermodynamics accounts for observation results and yours do not, then perhaps the textbook is correct and you need to do more reading? "

    You have untold empirical mountains to climb and excuse my extreme skepticism until that is presented. My money is on you not being able to get published given what you said to date.
  31. PhysSci (RE: 458),

    "If the GH effect were due to absorption and re-emission of IR energy by greenhouse gases ultimately traceable to solar input as claimed by the current theory, then how is it possible that the down-welling thermal flux exceeds the total solar input by 44% (343/239 = 1.44)."

    This is not correct. The downward emitted flux is only about 150 W/m^2. The surface on average emits about 390 W/m^2. About 90 W/m^2 passes through unabsorbed and goes straight out to space. About 300 W/m^2 is absorbed and re-emitted by the atmosphere, of which half goes up and half goes down (150 W/m^2 up and 150 W/m^2 down).
  32. PhysSci (RE: 459),

    "As I said in my previous posting, the lower troposphere contains more energy than supplied by the Sun. Where is that energy coming from?"

    It's coming back from the atmosphere. The rate at which the energy is coming in from the Sun is faster than the rate at which it's able to leave to planet. In essence it takes 1.6 W/m^2 at the surface to allow each 1 W/m^2 to leave the planet, offsetting each 1 W/m^2 entering the system from the Sun. (390 W/m^2 at the surface divided by 239 W/m^2 from the Sun = 1.6).
  33. PhysSci,

    BTW, I agree that Conservation of Energy is the biggest Achilles heel of the entire CO2/AGW theory but not for the reasons you claim.
  34. PhysSci,

    "Why do variations in global temperature over the past 27 years correlate much better with observed changes in cloud albedo than with those in GH gases?"

    My guess is because the temperatures are tied mostly to the available energy in the system (i.e. the amount of post albedo energy from the Sun), rather than GHG concentrations or atmospheric opacity.
  35. Response to RW1 @ 481: Forgive me, but comments like yours make me smile and really wonder what's the level of scientific expertise on this blog?... A global down-welling thermal flux of over 320 W m-2 has been extensively measured and confirmed by both satellite and surface observations for 15 years now! The actual estimates vary between 324 and 348 W m-2. This is now considered a basic information about Earth's radiation budget!!

    Here are some references (in chronological order) to help you update your knowledge base on this:


    Rossow, W. B. and Zhang, Y.C. 1995. Calculation of surface and top of atmosphere radiative fluxes from physical quantities based on ISCCP data sets, 2, Validation and first results, J. Geophys. Res., 100, 1167–1197.

    Trenberth, K. E. 1997. Using atmospheric budgets as a constraint on surface fluxes. J. Climate, 10, 2796–2809.

    Gupta, S. K., Ritchey, N. A., Wilber, A. C., and Whitlock, C. A. 1999. A Climatology of Surface Radiation Budget Derived from Satellite Data, J. Climate, 12, 2691–2710.

    Pavlakis, K. G., D. Hatzidimitriou, C. Matsoukas, E. Drakakis, N. Hatzianastassiou, and I. Vardavas. 2003. Ten-year global distribution of downwelling longwave radiation. Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 3:5099-5137.

    Trenberth, K.E., J.T. Fasullo, and J. Kiehl. 2009. Earth’s global energy budget. BAMS, March:311-323


    Also, look at the NASA's Surface Radiation Budget (SRB) project page, where you can get global maps of LW and solar fluxes on a monthly basis for 24 years, where you'll clearly see that LW fluxes at the surface exceed incoming SW fluxes by a large margin:

    http://mynasadata.larc.nasa.gov/las/servlets/dataset?catitem=21
  36. PhysSci,

    "Forgive me, but comments like yours make me smile and really wonder what's the level of scientific expertise on this blog?... A global down-welling thermal flux of over 320 W m-2 has been extensively measured and confirmed by both satellite and surface observations for 15 years now! The actual estimates vary between 324 and 348 W m-2. This is now considered a basic information about Earth's radiation budget!!"

    I'm not referring to the total downward flux, but the downward amount that last originated from the surface emitted. I think you're forgetting that a good amount of incoming solar energy is absorbed by the atmosphere/clouds and emitted down toward the surface. Conservation of Energy dictates that the downward emitted amount that last originated from the surface cannot be 300+ W/m^2. If you are claiming this is so, show me the power in = power out calculations that prove it.
  37. General Response to RW1:

    RW1, I suggest you stop embarrassing yourself with comments like the ones you made in 482 to 484 ... I'm not even going to respond to a such a profound lack of understanding. You are totally excused, if you are not a scientist, but if you are, then you've got a BIG problem with basic physics ...

    Thank you for participating and good luck!
  38. PhysSci,

    Sorry, clarification to my own #481, I meant 'back radiation'- meaning the downward emitted that last originated from the surface.
  39. PhysSci,

    "RW1, I suggest you stop embarrassing yourself with comments like the ones you made in 482 to 484 ... I'm not even going to respond to a such a profound lack of understanding. You are totally excused, if you are not a scientist, but if you are, then you've got a BIG problem with basic physics ..."

    Sorry, you're going to have to do better than that.
  40. PhysSci,

    "RW1, I suggest you stop embarrassing yourself with comments like the ones you made in 482 to 484"

    #484 I was guessing.

    #482 - are you claiming that the post albedo energy of 239 W/m^2 does NOT become about 390 W/m^2 at the surface? Are you claiming that 390/239 is NOT about 1.6? Are you claiming that this does NOT mean that it takes 390 W/m^2 at the surface to allow 239 W/m^2 to leave the planet, offsetting the 239 W/m^2 entering?

    If yes, please explain why in detail and then we'll discuss via give and take.
    Response: [muoncounter] Please be aware that this is not necessarily the best forum for such give and take. Much of this detail has already been the subject of numerous comments, both on this thread and climate sensitivity threads.
  41. From Trenberth, Fasullo and Kiel (2009):



    Globally averaged incoming SW radiation at the Earth's surface is shown to be 184 w/m^2, of which 23 w/m^2 are relfected back to space. Total backradiation (all sky downward long wave flux) globally averaged is 333 w/m^2. Total upwelling engergy from the Earth's surface, globally averaged is 17 w/m^2 (thermals) plus 80 w/m^2 (evapotranspiration) plus 396 w/m^2 (upwelling long wave radiation), or 493 w/m^2.

    Downward = SW + LW = 161 + 333 = 494, the difference between them being the net absorbed. So, no contradiction of conservation of energy involved.

    That wasn't so hard, was it?
  42. "Globally averaged incoming SW radiation at the Earth's surface is shown to be 184 w/m^2, of which 23 w/m^2 are relfected back to space. Total backradiation (all sky downward long wave flux) globally averaged is 333 w/m^2. Total upwelling engergy from the Earth's surface, globally averaged is 17 w/m^2 (thermals) plus 80 w/m^2 (evapotranspiration) plus 396 w/m^2 (upwelling long wave radiation), or 493 w/m^2.

    Downward = SW + LW = 161 + 333 = 494, the difference between them being the net absorbed. So, no contradiction of conservation of energy involved."


    But latent heat and thermals are kinetic (not radiative) - meaning their energy moved into the atmosphere didn't come from from surface emitted radiation. So even assuming all the latent heat and thermal energy is ultimately returned to the surface as downward emitted radiation (highly unlikely), the net effect is zero relative to surface emitted radiation. It has to be for Conservation of Energy to be met.

    The bottom line is only about 150 W/m^2 of the surface emitted radiation can be returned as 'back radiation'. By 'back radiation' I specifically mean radiation that last originated from surface emitted (this is a key distinction, especially since all the energy ultimately originated from the Sun).

    You do know that the surface emitted radiation of about 390 W/m^2 is directly due to its temperature and nothing else, right?
  43. If you notice, even Trenberth is showing 169 W/m^2 emitted by the atmosphere and 70 W/m^2 passing through completely unabsorbed (40 W/m^2 through the atmosphere, 30 W/m^2 through the clouds) for 239 W/m^2 leaving. This means that of the 396 W/m^2 emitted by the surface, using Trenberth's numbers at least, 157 W/m^2 of it has to be 'back radiation' from the atmosphere.

    He's obfuscating this by absorbing some of the post albedo energy by the atmosphere and returning it as 'back radiation' when it's really 'forward radiation' that last originated from the Sun - not the surface. He's then returning the latent heat and thermals as 'back radiation' to come up with at total downward emitted of 333 W/m^2, which he incorrectly designates as being all 'back radiation'. It's a mess.
  44. 161 W/m^2 + 78 W/m^2 = 239 W/m^2 post albedo at the surface. 239 W/m^2 from the Sun + 157 W/m^2 downward emitted from the atmosphere = 396 W/m^2 emitted by the surface.
  45. The moderator of this website has an agenda to prevent a free and open discussion on important subjects. He deletes postings that are totally relevant to the subject at hand but do not conform to his ideology or agenda.
    Response: Discussion of hockey sticks and the little ice age are not relevant to this thread. You have already been pointed to the appropriate threads for discussion of these topics, feel free to post your comments there.

    In addition, your latest comments have been peppered with inflammatory invective. This will not be tolerated. You are a guest on this site, and as such you are expected to abide by this site's comment policy. Please try and behave like a mature adult if you want to be taken seriously.
  46. The moderators, plural, at this site ensure that the contributions from all of us conform to the Comments Policy...

    This might mean that this comment disappears along with your #495 but that doesn't matter. To comply with the policy, your statements must avoid politics, accusations of dishonesty, against anyone, and your scientific statements have to have some backing or reference to the scientific literature.

    You've set yourself a difficult task in trying to overturn 150 years of physics and nearly as many years of observations from glaciology, biology and the rest. But if your science is sound, you should be able to point out scientific references that support whatever limited statements you do make about your new theory.

    There is an agenda. "Stick to the science" best describes it. There are some exceptions but this thread isn't one of them.
  47. RW1 @492-5, "First of all, what is “back-radiation” ? It’s the radiation emitted by the atmosphere which is incident on the earth’s surface. It is also more correctly known as downward longwave radiation – or DLR"

    There is nothing in that definition that depends on the original source, or penultimate source of the energy in the Downward Longwave Radiation, and with good reason. If you want to use some different concept other than DLR, then find your own term and define it clearly. Don't lazilly misuse an already defined technical term and then accuse people who are using it correctly of doing so incorrectly. Not only is it lazy, it is bound to cause confusion for other when they try to understand you; and yourself when you do the same.

    The very good reason why back radiation is DLR only is that, when a GHG emits IR radiation, it does not have a phycical state correlating to the penultimate source of the energy it is about to emit. It only has the energy itself. Therefore it can make no difference to the properties of that emitted radiation whether that energy was originally carried into the atmosphere by evaporation, or convetion, or IR radiaton from the ground, of from volcanic emissions, or what ever. Indeed, as most energy transfers in the astmosphere are by collision, it is doubtfull you can say sensibly of any parcel of energy what its penultimate source was.

    Therefore, energy carried into the atmosphere by evapotranspiration will be radiated to the surface, or to space in the exact ratios as energy carried into the atmosphere by IR radiation, or energy absorbed from SW radiation from the sun. Trying to treat it as a discrete entity after it has been carried into the atmosphere is, scientifically, gobbledy-gook.

    To finish, Trenberth, Khiel and Fasullo are not obfusticating by indicating some SW radiation is absorbed in the atmosphere. They are describing an indirect emperical result, and one that is more easily determined than, for example the proportion of SW light reflected from clouds, or from the surface. The method is to measure downward SWR at the Top of the Atmosphere, upward SWR at the TOA, and subtract the later from the former. You then measure downward SWR at the surface, and subtract that result from the difference; giving you the amount of SWR absorbed. (Clearly the measurements need to be made at a large number of points and times to determine a global average.) T,K, & F (2009) list a summary of such mesurements on table 2b.

    It is a telling indictment of your "science" that you cannot use standard definitions correctly, and have to dismiss observational results as "obfustications".
  48. To demonstrate the equivalence of work and energy, elementary physics uses the example of a paddle wheel in a gas filled, insulated container, driven by a falling weight. (Page 51 of Schaum’s Themodynamics for Engineers, since this blog likes references)

    The potential energy of the weight is converted to kinetic energy as the weight falls, and the rotation of the paddle works on the gas content, increasing its temperature.

    Neglecting frictional losses, the energy content of the gas (its temperature increase) is equal to the potential energy of the weight.

    The questions that really elementary Physics does not ask, are these:

    Is it possible to use the additional energy in the gas to restore the weight to its original position? If not, why not?

    It is not possible because the quality of the energy has changed. It has been dispersed throughout the gas and, unlike the energy of the weight, its possible use is very limited. To recover the energy, even in principle, we would need to treat the gas as a source of energy, and connect it to a sink at a lower temperature. Energy could then be transferred, and some work could be done to raise the weight, but we would have to discharge most of the additional gas energy into the sink, so the weight would not rise very far.

    If this concept of energy quality is acceptable to advocates of atmospheric back-warming, we can go on to debate that proposition.
  49. Fred Staples @499, contrary to your claim in 498, your "proof" of the second law of thermodynamics is nothing but hand waving. It seems plausible, and we believe it to be true; but we do so because we are assuming heat loss to the environment through friction, air resistance and imperfect insulation. Absent those assumptions, ie, in an ideal system, it is not clear that the increased pressure and temperature could not be converted to work and raise the weight to its original position. Your merely asserting this is not the case does not constitute proof, and is, contrary to your claim, hand waving.

    Having said that, why not simply appeal to the second law of thermodynamics:

    "When two isolated systems in separate but nearby regions of space, each in thermodynamic equilibrium in itself, but not in equilibrium with each other at first, are at some time allowed to interact, breaking the isolation that separates the two systems, and they exchange matter or energy, they will eventually reach a mutual thermodynamic equilibrium. The sum of the entropies of the initial, isolated systems is less than or equal to the entropy of the final exchanging systems. In the process of reaching a new thermodynamic equilibrium, entropy has increased, or at least has not decreased."
  50. How can anybody learn anything from the supposed heat transfer shown in the diagram in #491?

    The author who drew this failed to provide any temperature information anywhere. How can he possibly know the energy tranfers (all over the diagram in W/m^2) without indicating the temperatures? Whoever drew this diagram obviously hadn't the slightest knowledge of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Who pays money for 'stuff' like this?

    It is the appearance of dagrams like this in IPCC reports that makes one instinctively mistrust all of 'global temperature increase' figures produced by the IPCC.

Prev  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  Next

Post a Comment

Political, off-topic or ad hominem comments will be deleted. Comments Policy...

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.

Link to this page



The Consensus Project Website

TEXTBOOK

THE ESCALATOR

(free to republish)

THE DEBUNKING HANDBOOK

BOOK NOW AVAILABLE

The Scientific Guide to
Global Warming Skepticism

Smartphone Apps

iPhone
Android
Nokia

© Copyright 2014 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Contact Us