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Trenberth on Tracking Earth’s energy: A key to climate variability and change

Posted on 12 July 2011 by Kevin Trenberth

Energy and Climate

Climate change is very much involved with energy, most commonly in the form of heat but other forms of energy are also important. Radiation comes in from the sun (solar radiation at short wavelengths), and every body radiates according to its temperature (proportional to the fourth power of absolute temperature), so that on Earth we, and the surface and atmosphere radiate at infrared wavelengths. 

Weather and climate on Earth are determined by the amount and distribution of incoming radiation from the sun.  For an equilibrium climate, global mean outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) necessarily balances the incoming absorbed solar radiation (ASR), but with redistributions of energy within the climate system to enable this to happen on a global basis.  Incoming radiant energy may be scattered and reflected by clouds and aerosols (dust and pollution) or absorbed in the atmosphere.  The transmitted radiation is then either absorbed or reflected at the Earth’s surface. Radiant solar (shortwave) energy is transformed into sensible heat (related to temperature), latent energy (involving different water states), potential energy (involving gravity and altitude) and kinetic energy (involving motion) before being emitted as longwave infrared radiant energy.  Energy may be stored, transported in various forms, and converted among the different types, giving rise to a rich variety of weather or turbulent phenomena in the atmosphere and ocean.  Moreover the energy balance can be upset in various ways, changing the climate and associated weather.

Hence the incoming radiation may warm up the ground or any object it hits, or it may just go into drying up surface water. After it rains and the sun comes out, the puddles largely dry up before the temperature goes up.   If energy is absorbed it raises the temperature.  The surface of the body then radiates but also loses heat by transfer through cooler winds or by evaporative cooling.  Some energy gets converted into motion as warm air rises and cold air sinks, and this creates winds and thus kinetic energy, which gets dissipated by friction.  Over oceans the winds drive ocean currents. 

The differential between incoming and outgoing radiation: the net radiation is generally balanced by moving air of different temperature and moisture content around.  Air temperature affects density as warmer air expands and thus it takes up more room, displacing cooler air, thereby changing the air in a column whose weight determines the surface pressure.  Consequently, this sets up pressure differences that in turn cause winds, which tend to blow in such a way as to try to offset the temperature differences. The Earth’s rotation modifies this simple picture. A result is that southerlies are warm in the northern hemisphere and northerlies are cold.  And so we get weather with clouds and rain in all of its wondrous complexity.

The changing seasons illustrate what happens as the sun apparently moves across the equator into the other hemisphere.  In summer some excess heat goes into the ocean, which warms up reaching peak values about the equinox, and in winter the land cools off but heat comes out of the oceans and this is carried onto land, and so oceans moderate the seasonal climate variations.  Much of the exchange involves water evaporating and precipitating out, and thus the hydrological cycle.

The same can happen from year to year: heat can accumulate in the ocean and then later be released, leading to warmer spells and cooler spells.  This commonly happens in the tropical Pacific and gives rise to the El Niño phenomenon.  El Niño is the warm phase in the tropical Pacific while La Niña is the cool phase.  During and following an El Niño there is a mini global warming as heat comes out of the ocean, while during La Niña, heat tends to get stored in the ocean.  The El Niño cycle is irregular but has a preferred time scale of 3 to 7 years.

Ocean heat storage can last longer: for decades or centuries and inevitably involves ocean currents and the much deeper ocean.  In the North Atlantic, cold waters sink and move equatorward at depth while the Gulf Stream at the surface takes warmer waters polewards, creating an overturning circulation that can also involve density changes in the ocean associated with both temperature and salt (the thermohaline circulation). Salty water is denser. Nonetheless, much of the ocean overturning circulation is wind driven. The overturning may involve the ocean down to several kilometers and can take many centuries to complete a cycle.

As well as the ocean taking up heat, heat can be lost by forming ice, as glaciers, ice caps, or major ice sheets (Greenland and Antarctica) on land, or as sea ice. Extra heat can melt this ice and may contribute to sea level rise if land ice melts.  Surface land can also absorb a small amount of heat but not much and not to great depths as it relies on conduction to move heat through the land unless water is flowing. Land energy variations occur mostly in the form of water or its absence, as heat goes to evaporate surface water.  Highest temperatures and heat waves typically occur in droughts or deserts.

The atmosphere can not hold much heat and is dependent for its temperature on links to the underlying surface through conduction and thermals, convection, and radiation, as well as the wind in moving it around.

The global energy budget

In the past, we (Kiehl and Trenberth 1997) provided estimates of the global mean flow of energy through the climate system and presented a best-estimate of the energy budget based on various measurements and models, by taking advantage of the fact that energy is conserved.  We also performed a number of radiative computations to examine the spectral features of the incoming and outgoing radiation and determined the role of clouds and various greenhouse gases in the overall radiative energy flows. At the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) values relied heavily on observations from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) from 1985 to 1989, when the TOA values were approximately in balance. 

Values are given in terms of Watts per square meter. The incoming radiation is about 342 W m-2.  But there are about 5.1x1014 square meters for the surface area and so the total incoming energy is about 174 PetaWatts (=1015 watts, and so 174 with 15 zeros after it or 174 million billion).  About 30% is reflected back to space and so about 122 PW flows through the climate system.  For comparison, the biggest electric power plants are of order 1000 MegaWatts, and so the natural flow of energy is 122 million of these power plants.  If we add up all of the electric energy generated and add in the other energy used by humans through burning etc, it comes to about 1/9000th of the natural energy flow.  Hence the direct effects of human space heating and energy use are small compared with the sun, although they can become important very locally in cities where they contribute to the urban heat island effect.

New observations from space have enabled improved analyses of the energy flows. Trenberth et al. (2009) have updated the earlier global energy flow diagram (Fig. 1) based on measurements from March 2000 to November 2005, which include a number of improvements. We deduced the TOA energy imbalance to be 0.9 W m-2, where the error bars are ±0.5 W m-2 based on a number of estimates from both observations and models.

Figure1

Figure 1. The global annual mean Earth’s energy budget for 2000 to 2005 (W m–2). The broad arrows indicate the schematic flow of energy in proportion to their importance.  From Trenberth et al (2009).

The net energy incoming at the surface is 161 W m-2, and this is offset by radiation (63), evaporative cooling (80), and direct heating of the atmosphere through thermals (17).  Consequently, evaporative cooling and the resulting water cycle play a major role in the energy balance at the surface, and for this reason, storms are directly affected by climate change. The biggest loss at the surface is from long-wave radiation but this is offset by an almost as big downward radiation from greenhouse gases and clouds in the atmosphere to give the net of 63 units. 

Updates included in this figure are revised absorption in the atmosphere by water vapor and aerosols. The direct transfer of heat has values of 17, 27 and 12 W m-2 for the globe, land and ocean, and even with uncertainties of 10%, the errors are only order 2 W m-2. There is widespread agreement that the global mean surface upward longwave (LW) radiation is about 396 W m-2, which is dependent on the skin temperature and surface emissivity.

Global precipitation should equal global evaporation for a long-term average, and estimates are likely more reliable of the former. However, there is considerable uncertainty in precipitation over both the oceans and land.  The latter is mainly due to wind effects, undercatch and spatial coverage, while the former is due to shortcomings in remote sensing.  The downward and net LW radiation were computed as a residual and compared to various estimates which tend to be higher but all involve assumptions and models. The correct depiction of low clouds is a continuing challenge for models and is likely to be a source of model bias in downward LW flux. For example, there are sources of error in how clouds overlap in the vertical and there is no unique way to treat the effects of overlap on the downward flux.

The new observations from space have enabled improved analyses of the energy flows, their variations throughout the annual cycle, for land versus ocean, as a function of location, and also over a number of years. There is an annual mean transport of energy by the atmosphere from ocean to land regions of 2.2±0.1 PW primarily in the northern winter when the transport exceeds 5 PW.  It is now possible to provide an observationally based estimate of the mean and annual cycle of ocean energy, mainly in the form of ocean heat content. 

Note that the sum of all the values at the TOA and at the surface in the figure leaves an imbalance of 0.9 W m-2, which is causing global warming.  As carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases increase in the atmosphere, there is initially no change in the incoming radiation, but more energy is trapped and some is radiated back down to the surface. This decreases OLR and leads to warming.  At the surface the warming raises temperatures and thus increases the surface radiation, but there is still a net amount of energy that partly goes into heating the ocean and melting ice, and some of it goes into increasing evaporation and thus rainfall.  To achieve an energy balance, the vertical structure of the atmosphere changes, and the radiation to space ultimately comes from higher regions that were originally colder.  In that sense, the figure is misleading because it does not show the vertical structure of the atmosphere or how it is changing.

There is often confusion about how the greenhouse effect works. Greenhouse gases are those with more than two atoms, and water vapor is most important (H2O).  But water has a short lifetime in the atmosphere of 9 days on average before it is rained out. Carbon dioxide (CO2), on the other hand, has a long lifetime, over a century, and therefore plays the most important role in climate change while water vapor provides a positive feedback or amplifying effect: the warmer it gets, the more water vapor the atmosphere can hold by about 4% per degree Fahrenheit.  Most of the atmosphere is nitrogen (N2) and oxygen (O2) and does not play a role in the greenhouse effect.  Oxygen does play an important role through ozone (O3) though, especially in the stratosphere where an ozone layer forms from effects of ultraviolet light. Ozone is not well mixed throughout the atmosphere as it has a short lifetime in parts of the stratosphere, and in the lower atmosphere its life is measured in months as it plays a role in oxidation.

The air is otherwise well mixed up to about 80 km altitude and heavier gases like carbon dioxide do not settle out owing to all the turbulent motions, convection, and so on. Also the other long lived greenhouse gases are well mixed and connect to the non-greenhouse gases with regard to temperature.  Air near the surface has a temperature not much less than the surface on average, and therefore it radiates back down with almost as much energy as came up from below.  But because the air gets thinner with height, its temperature falls off, and air is a lot colder at 10 km altitude where ‘planes typically fly. This air therefore radiates less both up and down, and the net loss to space is determined by the vertical temperature structure of the atmosphere and the distribution of greenhouse gases.

Changes in energy balance over the past decade

With the new measurements from space, variability in the net radiative incoming energy at the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) can now be measured very accurately. Thus a key objective is to track the flow of anomalies in energy input or output through the climate system over time in order to address the question as to how variability in energy fluxes is linked to climate variability.  The main energy reservoir is the ocean (Fig. 2 below), and the exchange of energy between the atmosphere and ocean is ubiquitous, so that heat once sequestered can resurface at a later time to affect weather and climate on a global scale.  Thus a change in the energy balance has consequences, sooner or later, for the climate.  Moreover, we have observing systems in place that nominally can measure the major storage and flux terms, but due to errors and uncertainty, it remains a challenge to track anomalies with confidence.

Figure2

Figure 2. Energy content changes in different components of the Earth system for two periods (1961–2003 and 1993–2003). Blue bars are for 1961 to 2003; burgundy bars are for 1993 to 2003. Positive energy content change means an increase in stored energy (i.e., heat content in oceans, latent heat from reduced ice or sea ice volumes, heat content in the continents excluding latent heat from permafrost changes, and latent and sensible heat and potential and kinetic energy in the atmosphere). All error estimates are 90% confidence intervals. No estimate of confidence is available for the continental heat gain. Some of the results have been scaled from published results for the two respective periods.  From (IPCC 2007, Fig. TS.15 and Fig. 5.4).

A climate event, such as the drop in surface temperatures over North America in 2008, is often stated to be due to natural variability, as if this fully accounts for what has happened.  Aside from weather events that primarily arise from instabilities in the atmosphere, natural climate variability has a cause.  Its origins may be external to the climate system: a change in the sun, a volcanic eruption, or Earth’s orbital changes that ring in the major glacial to interglacial swings.  Or its origins may be internal to the climate system and arise from interactions among the atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere and land surface, which depend on the very different thermal inertia of these components. 

El Niño

As an example of natural variability, the biggest El Niño in the modern record by many measures occurred in 1997-98. Successful warnings were issued a few months in advance regarding the unusual and disruptive weather across North America and around the world, and were possible in part because the energy that sustains El Niño was tracked in the ocean by a new moored buoy observing system in the Tropical Pacific.  Typically prior to an El Niño, in La Niña conditions, the cold sea waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific create high atmospheric pressure and clear skies, with plentiful sunshine heating the ocean waters.  The ocean currents redistribute the ocean heat which builds up in the tropical western Pacific Warm Pool until an El Niño provides relief.  The spread of warm waters across the Pacific in collaboration with changing winds in turn promotes evaporative cooling of the ocean, moistening the atmosphere and fueling tropical storms and convection over and around the anomalously warm waters. The changed atmospheric heating alters the jet streams and storm tracks, and influences weather patterns for the duration of the event.

The central tropical Pacific SSTs are used to indicate the state of El Niño, as in Fig. 3 presented below.  In 2007-08 a strong La Niña event, that spilled over to the 2008-09 northern winter, had direct repercussions for cooler weather across North America and elsewhere.  But by June 2009, the situation had reversed as the next El Niño emerged and grew to be a moderate event, with temperatures in the top 150 m of the ocean above normal by as much as 5°C across the equatorial Pacific in December 2009.  Multiple storms barreled into Southern California in January 2010, consistent with expectations from the El Niño. The El Niño continued until May 2010, but abruptly reversed to become a strong La Niña by July 2010.

Figure3

Figure 3.  Recently updated net radiation (RT=ASR-OLR) from the TOA http://ceres.larc.nasa.gov/products.php?product=EBAF.  Also shown is the Niño 3.4 SST index (green) (left axis); values substantially above the zero line indicate El Niño conditions while La Niña conditions correspond to the low values. The decadal low pass filter is a 13 term filter making it similar to a 12-month running mean.  Units are Wm-2 for energy and deg C for SST.

We can often recognize these changes once they have occurred and they permit some level of climate forecast skill. But a major challenge is to be able to track the energy associated with such variations more thoroughly: where did the heat for the 2009-10 El Niño actually come from?  Where did the heat suddenly disappear to during the La Niña?  Past experience suggests that global surface temperature rises at the end of and lagging El Niño, as heat comes out of the Pacific Ocean mainly in the form of moisture that is evaporated and which subsequently rains out, releasing the latent energy. 

The values and patterns of SSTs in the northern summer of 2010 undoubtedly influenced the extremes of weather, from excessive rains and flooding in China, India and Pakistan, the active hurricane season in the Atlantic, and record breaking rains in Colombia. Later the high SSTs north of Australia contributed to the Queensland flooding.  The La Niña signature has also been present across the United States in the spring of 2011 with the pattern of drought in Texas and record high rains further to the north, with flooding along the Mississippi and deadly tornado outbreaks.

Anthropogenic climate change

The human influence on climate, arising mostly from the changing composition of the atmosphere, also affects energy flows. Increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have led to a post-2000 imbalance at the TOA of 0.9±0.5 W m-2 (Trenberth et al. 2009) (Fig. 1), that produces “global warming”, or more correctly, an energy imbalance.  Tracking how much extra energy has gone back to space and where this energy has accumulated is possible, with reasonable closure for 1993 to 2003; see Fig. 2. Over the past 50 years, the oceans have absorbed about 90% of the total heat added to the climate system while the rest goes to melting sea and land ice, and warming the land surface and atmosphere. Because carbon dioxide concentrations have further increased since 2003 the amount of heat subsequently being accumulated should be even greater. 

While the planetary imbalance at TOA is too small to measure directly from satellite, instruments are far more stable than they are absolutely accurate.  Tracking relative changes in Earth’s energy by measuring  solar radiation in and infrared radiation out to space, and thus changes in the net radiation, seems to be at hand.  This includes tracking the slight decrease in solar insolation from 2000 until 2009 with the ebbing 11-year sunspot cycle; enough to offset 10 to 15% of the estimated net human induced warming.

In 2008 for the tropical Pacific during La Niña conditions, extra TOA energy absorption was observed as expected; see Fig. 3. The Niño 3.4 SST index is also plotted on this figure and the slightly delayed response of the OLR to cooler conditions in the record and especially in 2008 is clear. However, the decrease in OLR with cooler conditions is accompanied by an increase in ASR as clouds decrease in amount, leaving a pronounced net heating (>1.5 W m-2) of the planet in the cooler conditions.  And so this raises the question as to whether a coherent perspective that accounts for both TOA and ocean variability can be constructed from the available observations.  But ocean temperature measurements from 2004 to 2008 suggested a substantial slowing of the increase in global ocean heat content, precisely during the time when satellite estimates depict an increase in the planetary imbalance.

Since 1992, sea level observations from satellite altimeters at millimeter accuracy reveal a global increase of ~3.2 mm yr-1 as a fairly linear trend, although with two main blips corresponding to an enhanced rate of rise during the 1997-98 El Niño and a brief slowdown in the 2007-08 La Niña.  Since 2003, the detailed gravity measurements from Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) of the change in glacial land ice and water show an increase in mass of the ocean. This so-called eustatic component of sea level rise may have compensated for the decrease in the thermosteric (heat related expansion) component.  However, for a given amount of heat, 1 mm of sea level rise can be achieved much more efficiently – by a factor of 40 to 70 typically – by melting land ice rather than expanding the ocean.  So although some heat has gone into the record breaking loss of Arctic sea ice, and some has undoubtedly contributed to unprecedented melting of Greenland and Antarctica, these anomalies are unable to account for much of the measured TOA energy (Fig. 4).   This gives rise to the concept of “missing energy” (Trenberth and Fasullo 2010). 

Figure4

Figure 4.  The disposition of energy entering the climate system is estimated.  The observed changes (lower panel; Trenberth and Fasullo 2010) show the 12-month running means of global mean surface temperature anomalies relative to 1901-2000 from NOAA (red (thin) and decadal (thick)) in °C (scale lower left), carbon dioxide concentrations (green) in ppmv from NOAA (scale right), and global sea level adjusted for isostatic rebound from AVISO (blue, along with linear trend of 3.2 mm/yr) relative to 1993, scale at left in millimeters).  From 1992 to 2003 the decadal ocean heat content changes (blue) along with the contributions from melting glaciers, ice caps, Greenland, Antarctica and Arctic sea ice plus small contributions from land and atmosphere warming (red) suggest a total warming for the planet of 0.6±0.2 W m-2 (95% error bars).  After 2000, preliminary observations from TOA (black) referenced to the 2000 values, as used in Trenberth and Fasullo (2010), show an increasing discrepancy (gold) relative to the total warming observed (red).  The quiet sun changes in total solar irradiance reduce the net heating slightly but a large energy component is missing (gold). Adapted from Trenberth and Fasullo (2010). The monthly global surface temperature data are from NCDC, NOAA: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/anomalies/index.html ; the global mean sea level data are from AVISO satellite altimetry data: http://www.aviso.oceanobs.com/en/news/ocean-indicators/mean-sea-level/ ; and the Carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa data are from NOAA http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/.

To emphasize the discrepancy, Fig. 5 presents an alternative version of Fig. 2 for 1992 to 2003, as a contrast to 2004 to 2008.  The accounting for all terms and the net imbalance is compatible with physical expectations and climate model results, with the net imbalance about 0.7 W m-2 at TOA for 1992 to 2003.  However, for the 2004 to 2008 period, the decrease in solar radiation associated with the sunspot cycle and the quiet sun in 2008 contributed somewhat, but the Ocean Heat Content (OHC) change is a lot less than in the previous period and a residual imbalance term: the missing energy, is required.

Figure5

Figure 5.  The energy entering the climate system is estimated for the various components: warming of the atmosphere and land, ocean heat content increase, melting of glaciers and ice caps (land ice), melting of the major ice sheets (Greenland and Antarctica), and changes in the sun. For 1993 to 2003 these are summed to give the total which is equivalent to about 0.7 W m-2.  For 2004-2008, TOA measurements are used to provide an increment to the total based on comparisons with 2000-2003, and the quiet sun has contributed, but the sum is achieved only if a spurious residual is included. Units are 1020 Joules/year.

Further inroads into this problem will no doubt become possible as datasets are brought up to date and refined.  In the meantime, we have explored the extent to which this kind of behavior occurs in the latest version of the NCAR climate model.  In work yet to be published (it is submitted), we have found that energy can easily be “buried” in the deep ocean for over a decade.  Further preliminary exploration of where the heat is going suggests that it is associated with the negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and/or La Niña events. 

Clearly, tracking energy and how and where it is stored, and then manifested as high SSTs which in turn affect subsequent climate is an important thing to do.

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Comments 101 to 150 out of 213:

  1. Nasa figures and simple mathematics prove that upward radiation from the earth's surface (including all resulting from feedback) has energy which is no more than about 30% of the original incoming solar insolation. The ipcc diagram shows figures which amount to 114%. Nasa shows that only one third of heat entering the surface is then radiated back upwards, the rest being diffused by conduction and then convection. This dramatically reduces the effect of feedback. You either accept nasa's estimates or the ipcc's exaggerations which are nearly four (4) times the actual. Prove me wrong. See http://earth-climate.com/ipccdiag.jpg
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  2. "NASA" figures and "IPCC" diagrams have a single source - Trenberth and Keihl 1997 (okay, or the update in 2009). The apparent difference is what they are trying to show. Try reading the 2009 paper linked in the article. If you have an alternative theory of climate, then make sure it can explain the measurements that are the basis of that paper.
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  3. jonicol @75, you claim that the CO2 in the atmosphere cools the surface of the Earth. In order to test that idea, could you answer for me the following questions:

    1) Does on average the energy the Earth radiates to space equal the energy the Earth receives from the Sun (if we ignore negligible terms such as the radioactive decay of elements, etc)?

    2) Does the surface of the Earth radiate IR radiation in same wavelengths that CO2 radiates IR radiation to space?

    3) Is the surface of the Earth warmer than the average temperature of the levels of the atmosphere from which CO2 radiates IR radiation to space?

    4) If your answer to (2) and (3) is yes, and given Planck's Radiation Law, does the surface of the Earth radiate more or less energy than the energy radiated as IR radiation by CO2 to space in those wavelengths in which CO2 radiates IR radiation to space?

    5) In light of your response to (4), would the Earth radiate more or less energy to space in the wavelengths in which CO2 radiates energy to space if there was no CO2 or H2O in the atmosphere?

    6) If your answer to (5) is "more energy", and in light your answer to question (1), would the Earth radiate more or less energy to space outside of those wavelengths at which CO2 radiates IR radiation to space taken in aggregate if there was no CO2 or H2O in the atmosphere?

    7) If you answer to (6) is "less energy", and given Planck's Radiation Law, would the surface of the Earth be warmer or colder if there was no CO2 or H2O in the atmosphere?

    The above questions are very simple, and easy to answer for anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of atmospheric physics. For somebody such as yourself who has widely distributed an article lecturing on the subject, you should have no trouble. You may find the following two diagrams useful answering the questions:





    For those unfamiliar with these diagrams, the firs shows the observed outgoing radiation over the Gulf of Mexico, with the theoretically calculated outgoing radiation shown alongside, with the observed spectrum displaced for easy viewing. The second diagram shows a detail of the same information without the displacement. The theoretically calculated spectrum was calculated using a Line by Line radiation model with observed data for temperature and humidity at different levels of the atmosphere, and shows a fair representation of the accuracy of the models (as of 1970) which are used by the IPCC and disputed by jonicol (and Doug Cotton).
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  4. Further to my 103, this is the paper from which the above spectrums where obtained. The satellite making the observations was Nimbus 3
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  5. Advice, Jonicol: when visiting Venus, make sure you wear your extra-thick parka.
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  6. Re my #101 and replies #102 #103: No one has as yet shown any proof that I am wrong in calculating that the ipcc estimates of infra-red radiation from the surface are incorrect by a factor of nearly 4 times. The detailed argument and the reference to the source of the information being nasa is at the foot of the linked diagram at http://earth-climate.com The application of Steffan-Boltzmann Law applies to the earth when viewed (as a true blackbody) from space, including its atmosphere. At the internal surface/atmosphere interface heat energy can be diffused by conduction (molecular collisions) directly to nitrogen and oxygen molecules. Quantum theory explains the processes involved and the priority of conduction over radiation in such equilibrium situations. In fact, as nasa indicates, about two thirds of such heat (previously absorbed in the crust and oceans from direct insolation) is transferred this way (and probably 100% in calm conditions) and so, the energy is reduced in the surface and it cannot emit as much radiation as a result. (The radiation to space subsequently comes from the air molecules.) If this were not so, there would never be (close) equilibrium causing very similar temperatures just above and below ground especially on a calm night. Radiation cannot bring about such equilibrium - only conduction and convection can.
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  7. DougCotton: you missed the bit on the right-hand side of the IPCC figure you referenced, labelled "back radiation".

    The lower figure doesn't show that greenhouse effect, and only shows nett energy transfer.

    If you only consider the nett energy, you then have the problem of trying to explain why the Earth's surface is 33ºC warmer than predicted for black body radiation, i.e. it only looks at the energy that goes up from the top-of-atmosphere to space, and ignores the energy that flows down, particularly from the warmer lower layers of the atmosphere.

    If you don't understand how heat can flow from the lower atmosphere to the (slightly) warmer ground surface, then can I suggest this post by Dr Roy Spencer?
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  8. Re my #101 & #106 the links you need are ...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Breakdown_of_the_incoming_solar_energy.svg

    http://www.climate-change-theory.com/calculations.jpg
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  9. Bern: #107 That is not correct. I have calculated feedback in great detail. See the links in #108.
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  10. DougCotton @106, allow my to draw your attention to my post 91, where I draw attention to your assertion of a contradiction to defend your theory. Once a contradiction is accepted as true, you can prove any propostion from it, thus voiding your assertions of any significance. If you wish to be taken seriously on this forum, perhaps you could adress yourself to making your beliefs non-contradictory before blathering on about things of which you evidently know nothing.

    As to your specific challenge, I have already met it twice on two other threads, to which your sole response has been to thread hop. If you cannot stand the response, don't issue the challenge.

    Put simply, the sole relevant difference between the Top of Atmosphere Energy Balance from ERBE data that you use, and that based on Kiel and Trenberth, 97, is of necessity, the Top of Atmosphere data, as measured by satellite, cannot measure the long wave radiation originating in the atmosphere, and absorbed by the surface. Therefore it neither includes that radiation, nor the long wave radiation originating at the surface and absorbed by the atmosphere that balances it. It does include a small term for IR radiation emitted from the surface and absorbed by the atmosphere, but satellite data can only detect that term indirectly, by measuring the shortfall in the known energy balance of the atmosphere.

    In contrast to the ERBE data, Kiehl and Trenberth (and Trenberth et al 2009) include data from actual measurements of the up welling IR radiation from the surface, and the down welling IR radiation from the atmosphere as detailed here. These measurements have been made all over the globe, and very extensively, with one data set of such measurements including (as of 1999) 220,000 monthly data sets from 1,500 stations around the globe as detailed here and here.

    This means that the correct comparison between Kiehl and Trenberth and the ERBE data is between the net surface long wave radiation balance and the ERBE surface radiation. For Kiehl and Trenberth 97, that value is 66 W/m^2, compared to approximately 72 W/m^2 for the ERBE energy balance. Using the correct comparison, it is ERBE, not Kiehl and Trenberth that have the largest radiation component.

    It should be noted that if the approx 72 W/m^2 where the total flux from the surface, rather than the net flux, and with an average temperature of 288 degrees K, then from the Stefan-Boltzmann law the emissivity of the Earth's surface must average around 0.18 which is nonsense, with no major component of the Earth's surface having an emissivity much less than 0.7, and with water, snow and ice having emissivities around 0.98 for the IR spectrum.

    Your claims not only attempt to sweep vast amounts of observations under the carpet as inconvenient, they also are physically absurd given known laws of thermal radiation and known radiative properties of the surface.
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    Moderator Response: [mc] fixed link text
  11. DCotton:

    The graphic you cite (wikipedia) is hardly a scientific source document.

    That image seems to be a derivative of the graphic shown here, a web page written in 1998, which shows this '30%' reflected to space. In that page, the image is linked to NASA's Langley archives, but no original version of the image (after all, it is at least 13 years old).

    Is this graphic the basis for all your subsequent calculations? If so, it was clearly pointed out by CBDunkerson starting here that you've misinterpreted the numbers and by Tom Curtis that you've ignored more modern source material.

    Until you provide appropriate citations for your sources, use the most recent data available and correct the errors already identified in your comments, no one here will take your claims seriously.
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  12. In reply to all comments: Some don't appear to acknowledge that I did calculate feedback at http://earth-climate.com/calculations.jpg and, yes, I based it on a similar diagram to the one referenced in #111, albeit 1998. The link again is http://earth-climate.com/ipccdiag.jpg . The 20.7% becomes 33% assuming all photons are captured and all energy re-radiated - so no warming of atmospheric molecules. Both these extremes are unlikely, so I reduced the 33% to "< 30%" - this comparing likes with likes regarding the IPCC diagram. Show me if you can what is wrong with my calculations as they stand taken from the data on the diagram, whether or not the diagram is correct.

    My reasons for selecting the NASA based diagram were several. But firstly, I would like to see physical measurements of low frequency radiation coming down from the atmosphere. If anyone can point me to such, many thanks. It seems to me that such radiation could still be expected to continue when the sun is behind a cloud, or when one stands in the shade of a building late afternoon, and even immediately after sunset. How can this radiation have about double the energy of direct sunlight? If it does, block it with an umbrella and see if the difference is noticeable.

    The second reason goes like this. There is an underground temperature gradient inversely related to the conductivity of the rock, clay etc. German borehole measurements found 270 deg.C at 9,000 metres - let's call that 540 deg.K. Now, at the equator for example, underground temperatures are about 298 deg.K. In Singapore the minimum temperature above ground is also either 298 deg.K or 299 deg.K every night of the year. If this temperature of the air were only controlled by radiation (at night) how on Earth does it "fluke" the same temperature? I suggest it can only do that if the main (if not nearly all of the) heat transfer is by diffusion, which is like conduction and happens between solids and gases by molecular collision, and which creates equilibrium. Now, over the whole globe, winds will cause more radiation when they lower air temperatures enough below surface temperatures to allow quantum energy level falls within molecules - which is when photons of radiation are emitted. But, in calm conditions, diffusion will prevail as in the lamp cover experiment on my site: heat at the side goes straight up. http://earth-climate.com/light.jpg

    Finally, refer to the Mexican Professor of Physics who (in May this year) showed that when a box has a lid which is transparent to both high and low frequency radiation the air still warms due to contact with the hot walls and base, not "trapping" of radiation. A lid that acts like a GH gas still leads to the same temperature rise.

    Just as good old Prof Sumner-Miller (Sydney Uni Physics Dept - 1960's) taught me to ask, "Why is it so?" I ask likewise of any and all readers.
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  13. Tom, re #91: I did not say O2 and N2 don't emit any photons. Re-read what I said: .."don't emit many photons." I said this because the number of photons emitted by, say, an O2 molecule is a lot less in number than the number emitted by a CO2 molecule which is capturing and emitting all the time. So it was "not many" in relative terms. Note also that the photons emitted by O2 are high energy and so (very roughly) 1 such photon may have, say, 100 times the energy of a low energy photon from CO2. All molecules will emit photons when their energy drops suddenly to a lower quantum state. I don't see any contradiction in what I said.
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  14. Doug, there are direct measurements of DLR all over the place. Use scholar.google.com. Here's one: http://www.meteo.physik.uni-muenchen.de/~emde/publications/wacker2008.pdf
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  15. DC#112: "In Singapore the minimum temperature above ground is also either 298 deg.K or 299 deg.K every night of the year"

    Using only one data point to represent the entire globe (the ultimate cherrypick!) proves nothing. Singapore is at 1 N latitude. Locations that close to the equator have nearly the same solar radiation input all year long; their temperatures don't vary much.


    source

    Try again at higher latitudes (all values from weather.com):
    Wellington NZ (41S), nighttime annual range 7 - 14C
    Amsterdam (51N), nighttime annual range -1 - 12C

    Note: I chose cities near sea level for comparison to Singapore. One could also infer that the presence of a large body of water at these locations moderates their temperature range.

    Try the high desert, noting that elevation difference is insignificant (since you are starting your thermal gradient at great depth):
    Phoenix (33N) nighttime range 7 - 27C (the largest range, validating the ocean-as-moderating influence suggestion).

    Your 'diffusion will prevail' argument fails.
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  16. Muoncounter #115: Inland areas at the equator in Africa do not have steady temperatures like those seen on equatorial islands. It is, in fact, exactly as you say: "a large body of water at these locations moderates their temperature range." Why is it so? Why is the temperature millimetres above the surface of the ocean just about the same as that of the first few millimetres of water just below? According to the Tremberth diagram, the heat exiting the water does so 16.2% as latent heat which drifts up into the clouds before it has any effect, and 80.3% by radiation which can in no way convey the exact temperature of the water to the adjacent air molecules. Only conduction (diffusion) can do that. Is that the 3.4% in those thermals doing all that? It does leave me questioning the assumptions. If I fill a balloon in a room with 80% pure nitrogen and 20% pure oxygen the "air mix" inside will soon have a temperature matching the outside air, won't it, no matter how much I alter the air conditioner. Yet no GH gas inside, no radiation to speak of - just good old convection and diffusion - just like in fact does happen at the surface, using up probably at least two thirds of the outward heat flow as in the outdated 1998 NASA chart. What a difference a few years makes in consensus opinion.
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  17. DougC#116

    "Inland areas at the equator in Africa do not have steady temperatures "

    I suggest you look at some data before making any more unsubstantiated claims; at Entebbe Airport (0 latitude) in Uganda the minimum temp varies between 16-18C, with an annual average of 17C. The nearly constant insolation at the equator dominates.

    "Why is the temperature millimetres above the surface of the ocean just about the same as that of the first few millimetres of water just below?"

    Once again, we look to the data. Galveston, TX water temperature remains in the 80s F through September; air temperature begins declining a month earlier. If memory serves, I recall something about water having a higher specific heat than air. But the relevance of this particular observation is?

    "If I fill a balloon in a room with 80% pure nitrogen and 20% pure oxygen"

    You must stop conflating these room scale examples with atmospheric dynamics. Same mistake as RW Wood made with his salt greenhouse. Scale is everything here.

    "the outdated 1998 NASA chart."

    If it is outdated, why are you continuing to cite it? How can you base your 'skepticism' of the current (Trenberth) diagram on this outdated chart?

    "just like in fact does happen at the surface, using up probably at least two thirds"

    'Probably at least'? Is this a scientific statement? And in what manner is energy 'used up'?

    No one claims that convection and conduction are not involved in heat transfer. But your 'diffusion prevails' argument is invalid; that takes anything based on that argument down as well. Integrity demands that you admit your mistakes here and retract these positions on your own website.
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  18. DougCotton @113, you not only said that O2 and N2 do not emit many photons, you also claimed that they carried two thirds of the energy released from the surface, and that they emit that energy. Indeed, you where very specific:

    "Also, since two thirds of the heat energy in the surface/oceans went into other air molecules (outnumbering CO2 by 2,500 : 1) there is still about half of that coming back, eclipsing that from CO2."


    Further, you specify that O2 and N2 "... must release the energy in the form of photons at least when they get close to absolute zero".

    These beliefs form a mutually contradictory set with the laws of physics. In fact so does the belief that photons emitted by O2 or N2 at near absolute zero should have "... 100 times the energy of a low energy photon from CO2". And while your first sentence is not technically contradictory (I did misread "many"), for each of the two beliefs asserted in it, the probability of that belief being true given the other one is very low.

    Equally importantly, this is another of your evidence free assertions. Put simply, you just made it up.

    To demonstrate, consider this graph of the observed backradiation:



    The area under each peak gives the power radiated at that wavelength. I can clearly see the CO2 peak (and a secondary CO2 peak not labelled at a wave number of 800). Could you kindly point out the O2 or N2 peaks, or provide a similar spectrum which shows them. It should be easy to find as, according to you, there radiation eclipses that of CO2.
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  19. DougCotton, as I pointed out in 110, for the Earth's surface to emit as little thermal radiation as you claim it does, it would need an emissivity of 0.18 in the 4 to 16 micrometer wavelength range. Perhaps you could point to the suitably low emissivities from the following common surface materials:



    Pleas note that with an emissivity of 0.9, at 273 degrees K, the surface would emit approximately 280 W/m^2 of radiation, of which at most 40 W/M^2 escapes to space. Would you care to explain what happens to the other 240 Watts?

    Or do you believe that is an unfair question in that your mere assertion is expected to trump all scientific data mounted against your theories? (Which seems to be the principle you operate on.)
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  20. Muoncounter #117: Not only do you link a site with mean monthly data, rather than individual daily ranges, but you pick Entebbe Airport about 3km from the large Lake Victoria and itself on a peninsula with water on each side - pretty much like Singapore. Try some in the middle of South America or the first one I picked today in Africa - Boende 13' 0" South - where maximum temperatures range from 22 to 29 deg.C over the next 7 days - fairly different from the 31 and 32 deg.C in Singapore every day of the year, even when cloudy or wet. http://www.foreca.com/Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo/Boende?add=100218680

    Regarding Galveston, you have not quoted air temperatures within a few millimetres of the top of the ocean as I referred to, and nor is it in the middle of a large ocean. The laws of Physics apply just as much in a room as in the small zone I was talking about a few millimetres above and below the surface of an ocean. Take a bucket of sea water into a room if you wish, heat it and measure the temperatures just above and below the surface if you want a closer simulation. The energy is transferred by conduction (which is basically the same as diffusion - see Wiki) as your experiment will prove. Obviously that leaves far less energy then to be radiated. Though you might like to say 80% plus or minus 20% by diffusion if you wish. (I am conscious of the fact that some readers may not have a scientific background and so some lay terms may make my website and these posts more understandable.)
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  21. DougCotton#120

    "pretty much like Singapore."

    Yes, Lake Victoria's thermal inertia is an apt analogy for that of the Pacific Ocean.

    "Boende 13' 0" South - where maximum temperatures range from 22 to 29 deg.C over the next 7 days"

    FYI Boende, Zaire is at 2N latitude, but why quibble over a few degrees?

    However, 7 days of data do not represent the average, which varies from 73 to 75F over the course of a year. The website I cite uses 14 years of data (what we expect to see when we are talking about climate). Taking 7 days out of a year, let alone 14 years, is known as cherrypicking - with a capital C. (Of course, you've already done that by basing your entire conduction/diffusion/thermal gradient idea entirely on Singapore - 1 data point. Even Steve G would be ashamed of that!)

    Yet again, at the equator the consistency of insolation dominates all other factors discussed so far.

    "The laws of Physics apply just as much in a room as in the small zone I was talking about a few millimetres above and below the surface of an ocean."

    Indeed: in this case, delta Q = m C delta T might be relevant. Experiments must be scaled: Small objects (balloons, buckets of water) have large surface area compared to the mass they represent and thus do not scale appropriately. Observations based on a bucket or a pot or a lamp do not represent what happens in the ocean or the atmosphere.

    I still do not understand this fascination with a few mm +/- sea level. But that is not relevant. Thus far, all data presented here (including some you've presented) contradict your views. And last I looked, it was still "a capital mistake to theorize before one has data." -- S. Holmes
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  22. Tom. There is nowhere near enough empirical data on a world-wide, round the clock, year-round basis to confirm the magnitude of mean world-wide downward radiation which, by the way, should include O2 and N2 high frequency (high energy) downward radiation. (This is off the graph in your Figure 1, but if you look up the ratio of the frequencies at which photons can be emitted for O2, N2 and CO2 etc, then that will be the ratio of the energy in each photon.) So no one really can say for certain what the proportions are for radiation, conduction, latent heat etc for the heat leaving the crust. I prefer the 1998 NASA diagram with the additional calculations I have done for theoretical feedback. In that regard, I consider that there is no greater probability that those emitted photons that "get through the maze" will reach the surface than that they will go to space. The maze is thinner above, so maybe even more than 50% get to space. I know there can be a chain reaction, but it is the last emission in the chain that still has at least 50% chance of heading for space. My "two thirds" of the heat in O2 and N2 came from the NASA figures where I have assumed that the latent heat will nearly always end up in N2 and O2 simply because of the dominance of such molecules. And, yes, this energy will be released in the form of photons - how else can we get a balance at the top of the atmosphere? Your calculations on emissivity are irrelevant when there is an equilibrium state between the surface and the immediate few millimetres of the atmosphere, simply because if the ground is at the same temperature as the air it is not going to emit photons and make itself cooler than the air. (Strictly speaking, there can be an equal interchange of photons, but the net outflow will be zero.) You cannot apply blackbody physics when you are not relating it to the boundary of the blackbody but to an internal interface. It can only be applied when "looking" at the whole Earth system, including the atmosphere, from outer space. Finally, you will note in my calculations of feedback (linked above) that, if the assumption that 50% of photons go up and 50% go down is about right, then, when we consider a few iterations of "up and down trips" then 50% of all the energy transferred from the surface to the atmosphere will come back down again and start the second iteration. Then 50% of that comes down etc, so we end up in the limit with just double the amount going up. This applies no matter what the proportion of radiation, because half of whatever heat transfers to air molecules by other means will also be emitted back after each upward trip. You can see the simple geometric progression in my calculations. And the most important thing in all this is that the emissions from O2 and N2 (and about 50 other gases in the atmosphere I understand) need also to be considered.
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    Response:

    [DB] Your comments would at least take on the semblance of an argument if you were to use paragraphs.  Just sayin'.

  23. Mouncounter #121: Having lived 20 years of my life close to Sydney Harbour (though well back from the coast) I can assure you that even the Lane Cove River had a moderating effect on shore temperatures. And flat ground such as an airstrip with water on both sides would get plenty of cross wind. We are obviously talking about light breezes blowing air from not too far away over the water. Why do you keep talking about means? In Singapore the maximum is practically never outside the one degree range 31 to 32 deg.C. So I only have to show a variation of, say, 7 degrees the maximums in one week somewhere else to demonstrate my point. Obviously inland cities get affected by winds blowing from different directions such as from a desert area. And yes I do refer to even just 1 mm from the interface of ocean and atmosphere because that is exactly where diffusion happens - look up "Heat Transfer" on Wiki - 2nd paragraph where it refers to 1mm. Diffusion (or "conduction" if you prefer) is a mollecular interchange as energy from electrons in one molecule transfers to the other (cooler) molecule due to a physical collision, albeit it usually a "grazing" brush past when gases are involved, rather than direct impact with the nucleus. It has to happen, simply because molecules will collide. Perhaps now when you understand the small scale of this you will see why it happens the same way in a balloon, a bucket of water or with my hot lamp cover in the photo on my site.
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  24. DougCotton#123: "Why do you keep talking about means?"

    Your diffusion model was based on a geothermal gradient, was it not? Surely that is fairly constant over more than a few days; after all, that was the rationale you gave for Singapore's year-round constant temperature.

    Now you look at just 7 days of data from another location and conclude that a difference there is significant? Unacceptable by any standard.

    What I have done is present evidence that it is the near constancy of insolation that dominates: Locations near the equator have the same annual temperature range (empirically demonstrated) because they receive nearly the same amount of solar energy year round (accepted fact; a moderately sophisticated calculation that you can do on your own). If your diffusion model made any sense whatsoever, high latitude locations would have the same annual range because they must cool by diffusion from the same subsurface temperature -- and most certainly you must agree they do not (again empirically demonstrated).

    "Perhaps now when you understand the small scale of this"

    Perhaps you misunderstood my reference to 'experimental scale.' Of course, molecular collisions take place in very small spaces; that does not at all mean that the ocean responds in the same manner as a bucket of water. Mass does not scale in the same manner as linear distances, that is why thermal conductivity may dominate for 1 kg of water in a metal bucket while it does not for an ocean.

    Here is an example from the field of thermal engineering demonstrating the importance of both radiation and conductivity in scaled experiments:

    The effect of radiative heat transfer between walls was studie[d] and shown to be similar to the effect of heat loss from the burner to its ambient. It is important that the models must include radiative heat transfer when calibrating a macroscale models which will be down-scaled to small scale devices.

    You will notice that when I present data or information that are not in common knowledge, I cite the sources. I do not appeal to wikipedia if I can find a more authoritative source. I challenge you to show data and research from similarly credible sources - peer reviewed whenever possible - that support your 'diffusion will prevail' model. Enough with these bucket and balloon analogies; they prove nothing. You cannot overturn solid scientific research with the photo of a lamp. Until you can meet that challenge, you have very little to add to this discussion.
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  25. DougCotton @122, we are making progress. You have retreated from confident assertions of falsehoods in despite of the data to pure obscurantism.

    It follows, of course, from nobody knowing, that you do not know, so your claims on your website have now been admitted by you to be without basis.

    However, you are wrong in your assertion that nobody knows, and that there is not enough data. As I have previously indicated (see 110 above), there are large data bases of measurements around the world of both the IR back radiation and the IR surface radiation. These have been made under a large variety of surface, weather and climactic conditions. They have been compared with model predictions, and the models have performed well. There are also large databases of the radiative properties of various gases (Hitran) and surface materials (see 119). These can be combined with known surface conditions to predict both the surface radiation and back radiation, and indeed have been in the models I just mentioned. Consequently these values can be known, and are known within a range of plus or minus 5% (according to Trenberth et al 2009). They are certainly known in sufficient detail to show that your claims about the IPCC are simply false.

    And as you have just tacitly admitted, you made those claims not based on evidence but simply on prejudice.

    Nor is your obscurantism justified with respect to O2 and N2 emissions. The full range of the spectrum has been scanned by various instruments and the emission peaks you claim to exist do not. Here is a shorter wavelength range of the spectrum, including the range needed for photons to have 100 times the energy from the peak CO2 band at atmospheric temperatures (0.15 micrometers):



    You'll notice the complete absence of an O2 or N2 spike. In fact, the only contribution by O2 is an absorption band in the incoming sunlight. As can be seen from the following black body radiation curves, in order to radiate at that wave length, Oxygen would have to be at a temperature of several thousand degrees Kelvin:



    At typical atmospheric temperatures, radiation at that wavelength is effectively non-existent:



    So, not only is their direct data refuting your claim that radiation by O2 and N2 eclipses that from CO2, but your claim is in direct conflict with the laws of black body radiation.

    The last diagram was generated a now obsolete, but publicly available version of Modtran, which will calculate the radiation flux upwards or downwards at a variety of altitudes for a variety of conditions. It is obsolete (circa 1990 version) and so is only accurate to about plus or minus 10%, but it will give you a far better idea of what actually occurs than you are so far managing.

    It does not, for example, restrict itself to a single layer atmosphere model as you do in your absurd calculations.
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  26. Dc - I think you will find the most people here and all climate scientists are very familiar with the concept of conduction thank you. This is well covered in textbooks like "Global Physical Climatology" or "Principles of Planetary Climate". These would be a good place to start for what climate scientists actually take as given, rather than what you seem think climate scientists assume.

    Now perhaps you might like to explain why you prefer the outdated 1998 NASA diagram rather than the most up to date data in 2009 paper from above using the latest NASA data?
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  27. Tom, phil and muon, I'm glad Trenberth does not have to deal with what you guys deal with.

    I am sorry, however, that you do have to deal with it! Sometimes I think he should step in just to see what it's like!

    Still, you guys show amazing patience here. Mind blowing actually.
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  28. Re #121: Mouncounter: We will have to agree to disagree on some things such as whether diffusion occurs between water surfaces and the atmosphere. I feel you miss my point regarding temperature variations: one exception is sufficient to prove that exceptions can happen. Maybe you'd like to explain why, with varying CO2 levels and varying weather conditions Singapore still gets up to at least 31 deg.C each day. The extra warmth must be from solar insolation (above the 25 deg.C ocean and underground temperature) but why does that maximum never vary from being about 6 to 7 degrees above the minimum, never 4 some days or 9 on others? Why are the minimums also only ever 25 or 26 deg.C, never 23 or 28 on any day ever? And, finally, you still haven't explained why the temperature of the air just above the ocean (sea) surface is so constant every day, not just in monthly or annual means. -snip-
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    Moderator Response: You have been asked before to stop with your shameless promotion of your web-site. SkS is concerned with educating and informing people about climate science, not misinforming them. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
  29. Re #125: Tom:

    1. I know you don't like Wikipedia, but they do at least set out the NASA data (which they still treat as current it appears) in an orderly fashion. If you have a similar example for the net figures for the Trembert diagram it would help avoid some ambiguity therein. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Radiation_Budget

    2. One thing they say is "15% is transferred into the atmosphere by radiation, then reradiated into space" and "atmosphere" here would surely include O2 and N2. If, as you appear to say, O2 never emits even a single photon at a time, there how exactly can it get cooler? What happens to the energy it carries? There has to be some O2 in the very cold layers.

    3. Is there any review paper combining all radiation data and coming up with a world mean close to that 333 figure for backradiation?

    4. I also want to know why it is that we apparently cannot feel the back radiation which has about double the energy of direct solar insolation.

    5. The NASA data indicates that 45.1% (23/51) of the heat transferring to the atmosphere from the surface/ocean does so by evaporation. In contrast, the corresponding figure for Tremberth is 19.4% being 80/(396+17.) What has caused such a dramatic change in data these last few years?
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  30. #126:

    1. The assumptions about the split of the heat transferring from the surface to the atmosphere are clearly set out - even more so in Wikipedia who still treat them as current. Maybe Trembert should get them to accept his figures.

    2. They do clearly include a reasonable figure for the diffusion I believe does happen: "7% is transferred back into the atmosphere by heated rising air, called Sensible heat flux" (Wiki)

    3. I am questioning the Trembert evaporation figure which is discussed in #129 (5)
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  31. DougCotton@129
    I have just edited the Wikipedia page on Earth's Energy Budget to include your numbers on O2 and N2 radiation. So configurations, your theory is now substantiated.
    Much easier than having it in reviewed journals.
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  32. #121 (continued) The link to the image (at the end) was for a plot of nasa sea surface data showing every day for the period from January 2003 to June 2011 with all years overlapping so that you could see the constant temperatures very nearly the same on corresponding days in each of the 7 or 8 years. You can do the plot yourself on the nasa site of course.
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  33. To all:

    I do want to say that I really do appreciate the time you have put into writing posts in response to mine. I'm the first to admit that I have learnt things from some of these, and can appreciate the position some of you are in and the fact that there appears to be a wealth of peer-reviewed papers and claims that data fits the models etc. But I want you to understand why I am still very much in doubt about the projections of future temperatures, if nothing else. So I list these points and would genuinely welcome any well thought out answers that are clearly based on Physics.

    1. I am still convinced, even from my basic knowledge of statistics, that the statistical evidence for natural cycles in the climate records is compelling. Such cycles are overlapping (eg 934 year, 60 year, 11 to 13 year and 39 month and correlate with planetary orbits) and they can at times all rise at once, which is what happened leading up to El Nino, itself probably caused by the simultaneous maxima.

    2. The cycles are fully sufficient in themselves to explain the observed rises (and falls) last century, as well as the current significant reduction in the gradient.

    3. The very regular patterns (nodes) in NASA sea-surface temperatures at the same times in each of the last 7 or 8 years show that climate is tightly controlled (within 0.2 degrees on a world-wide daily basis) and so the data does not indicate random noise from a somewhat higher upward trend. This year (2011) looks like it will certainly have a lower mean (at sea surface) than 2003 eight years earlier. Two end points don't make a trend, but a full year's data at each end does let me say there has been no accumulation of heat evident in this data in 8 years.

    4. For long-term warming, heat has to build up somewhere. The models do not show where they expect such a build up. But it cannot have any effect on sea temperatures if it happens in the mid or upper atmosphere, and it cannot last up there anyway because any warmer air will cool quite easily.

    6. So, if it is to build up, it has to happen in the oceans and continental crust somehow. But I now don't see any way that this is likely from solar insolation. Instead, I say the temperature gradient from the core can affect both land and ocean temperatures if the core temperature varies even just a few degrees out of about 5,700 deg.K, or if frictional heat from crustal Earth tides varies. It would be too much of a coincidence that the projection of that gradient (starting at least as deep as the start of the liquid core) just happened to "break out" at the surface at about the observed temperature on a calm night - all over the world. I say it is supporting the temperature and physics can show that you don't need a high rate of heat flow to do so - just low conduction rates as in rock etc.

    7. Basic physics and experience tells me that the near-stationary layer (say 1mm in height above the surface) is always very close to the temperature found just underground in calm conditions late at night. This could not be achieved by radiation and so does require conduction / diffusion (call it what you like.) If the temperature is the same, net upward radiation is restricted, if not temporarily halted.

    9. I don't observe (nor do others) any physical evidence of back radiation of the order of double that of direct sunlight. I cannot explain with physics any reason for more than 50% of the emitted photons returning to the surface in each iteration, and the limit of 1 + half + quarter + .. is of course 2, meaning at the most feedback can only double the initial upward radiation.

    10. ( -Snip- ).

    So try proving something for yourslef: place a thermometer in the long shadows of a building late afternoon where it can capture most radiation from the sky. After measuring, shield it with a sheet of plywood covered with aluminium foil. Measure again; remove the foil and measure again. Repeat the experiment in the sun and compare.

    I am going to try it soon. Are you prepared to do likewise?

    Then explain the results.

    Again, if anyone can objectively answer any of the above concerns, I will read with interest.
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    Response:

    [DB] Your number 10 is in complete violation of the Comments Policy.  Out of respect to Tom and others who are engaging you, I merely have excised the offending portion rather than deleting the entire comment.

    Since you admit you cannot show with physics where the misunderstandins lie, you also cannot then attribute differences of opinions you have with established tools like models (which are built on established physics) to malfeasance on the part of others.  Beyond what I have already written, it shows ideology rather than science is propelling you and reflects poorly upon your reasoning abilities.

    Since I'm sure your intent on being here is to either teach others science or to learn science from others, please try to keep personal ideologies from colouring your comments. Future violations of this nature will cause your entire comment to be deleted.

  34. DougCotton @129:

    1) You may find the following two illustrations from NASA useful:





    Both where designed by Simon Loeb using flux estimates supplied by Norman Loeb from the CERES satellite. Both post date 2008, so can reasonably be viewed as current.

    You will notice that the first diagram is modeled on that by Trenberth et al, 2009 (Fig 1 in the main article above). The second cancels out opposing terms to show net fluxes. Thus the surface flux is the 117% surface radiation - 100% back radiation for a net 17% surface flux.

    Because they are sourced from the same person, and are transparently related, there is no question of any contradiction between the two diagrams. Given that it is worthwhile noting that the NASA diagrams show a net 58 W/m^2 surface flux, compared to the net 63 W/m^2 from Trenberth et al. NASA shows 17 W/m^2 for sensible heat and 85 W/m^2 for evapo/transpiration, compared to 17 and 80 for Trenberth et al. NASA shows 398 W/m^2 for the surface radiation compared to 399 by Trenberth et al.

    2) O2 does apparently emit IR radiation, but it is very weak compared to the main GHG, and so weak it cannot be distinguished from noise in observed spectra of outgoing longwave radiation or back radiation.

    For the most part, it and N2 are warmed and cooled by collisions with the main GHGs. According to the equipartition theorem(PDF), the energy of a gas will be equally distributed between the various degrees of freedom of the molecules of the gas, where a degree of freedom is one of the three spatial axis, or one of the vibrational or rotational mode of the molecules of the gas. Importantly this is a statistical property, so that individual molecules may have a greater vector in the x axis than in the y or z, or have more energy in a vibrational mode than as kinetic energy.

    When CO2 absorbs a photon, one of its rotational modes has a surfeit of energy. Normally, in a short time it will collide with another molecule resulting in that excess energy being redistributed between the two molecules, and amongst their degrees of freedom. The net effect is that each gains kinetic energy, raising the temperature of the gas. This is true regardless of the molecule that collides, so that O2 and N2 can gain energy this way as well.

    Conversely, sometimes a collision will result in a rotational mode of CO2 having excess energy. When that happens the CO2 can emit a photon, effectively cooling not just itself, but the gas of which it is a part. It is in this way that the ozone layer is cooled, with energy being absorbed by O3, but emitted by both CO2 and O3 (which also radiates strongly in the IR).

    3) Yes. Trenberth, Fasullo and Khiel 2009. In addition to developing their own energy balance, they cite the other major efforts to achieve the same thing, and list the other results in tabular form.

    4) We feel warming effect of the sunlight because it's direct effect at noon in the tropics is approximately 1300 W/m^2, or nearly four times the average strength of the back radiation. More importantly, it is significantly stronger than the energy we radiate because of our internal temperature of around 500 W/m^2 (or perhaps a little lower, I'm not sure of the emissivity of skin). In contrast, in the cool of the evening, we would not be able to tell be feel if our hand was in direct sunlight because its effective radiation is much less. Likewise, we do not feel the 333 W/m^2 of backradiation because it is less than the aproximatey 500 W/m^2 we radiate, so the net radiation is outward, thus cooling us.

    5) This question is based on the incorrect premise that the base figures from Trenberth can be simply compared with the net radiation figures from NASA. If you want to make the comparison, either use the NASA figures from my first figure in answer to question (1), or convert Trenberth et al's figures to net figures by subracting the back radiation from the surface radiation.
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  35. Doug:
    With questions and statements like:

    "O2 never emits even a single photon at a time, there how exactly can it get cooler? What happens to the energy it carries?" (the energy is transferred to carbon dioxide by molecular collisions, and then radiated away) and

    "I don't observe (nor do others) any physical evidence of back radiation" (you have been provided with this data above, it is easily measured at home with the correct type of thermometer. Your experiment above is wrong because you are using the wrong thermometer)

    you obviously do not know anything about atmospheric physics or chemistry. Why are you so adamant arguing about something you admit you know nothing about? If you ask questions about how the atmosphere works, the people here will explain it to you. Making up explainations on your own, based on no data, will not replace the understandings of thousands of scientists over the past decades. You are clogging up the entire web site with your ignorant rantings. Please try to learn something about atmospheric physics so you can join the discussion.

    You have to learn the basic background information before you can explain how the atmosphere works. Ask questions and "all" will help you to understand more.
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  36. #134 Tom - genuine thanks. Now I do have one more for you:

    If O2 and N2 lose energy to CO2 by collision then their energy is in part transferred to CO2, and so there is still going to be the same energy radiated back (and to space.) Hence the net result is the same - you have to count the energy in the O2 and N2 and expect half of that also to produce extra feedback, just as if it had been radiated directly by the O2.

    Hence, every molecule of any gas that leaves the surface will, as it cools, in effect keep radiating both up and down, even if it does it indirectly by first transferring energy in collisions to CO2.

    So, for every photon that CO2 emits back it also emits another to space, the latter helping to cool the atmosphere faster.

    Of course I appreciate that the 50% figure could be out a little, but as a mean it must be fairly close to the mark I suggest. I can see no reason for the probabilty of downward emission being greater than upward. If anything, because of the angles from high altitudes, there should be slightly less than 50 going back to Earth.

    Now we also need to include the 23% coming in to the atmosphere because they add energy that also has to be radiated out. Adding the surface bits: 25 + 5 + 17 - 12 and getting total of 23 + 35 = 58%. Then we double that because of the geometric progression 1 + half + quarter + .. = 2 and we get 116% in total going up. (cf 117% above) - Then take off the first 17% going up to get 101% coming back (cf 100% above) so all within 1% - I'm happy with that. Who needs computers?

    So CO2 both slows the cooling process (for those photons it sends down) and speeds it up for those from oxygen and nitrogen that it sends to space. And the net effect is nothing in terms of net delay in the nightly cooling.

    Yes that satisfies me completely and fully explains why we are seeing no warming from CO2 (anthropogenic or otherwise, now or in the past) and the climate is indeed just following cycles. CO2 is both a helper and a hinderer - equally.

    Now everything gels with the observations and I have a bit more to add to my site this weekend. Have a good one.

    Over and out.
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  37. Doug, stop a moment and examine your methodology.

    You have just learned something new which contradicts things you previously advanced as clear and immutable facts.

    Would not the logical outcome of this be to step back and re-examine your other assumptions and the conclusions ostensibly built on this incorrect 'fact'? If the fact was wrong then surely some of the conclusions it led to could be as well.

    Instead, you seem to have jumped to looking for new assumptions which will allow this recently learned information to support your end conclusion.

    In short, you have established your conclusion as correct and are seeking to build arguments which support that. This is not science or reason... it is faith. You choose to believe that CO2 cannot possibly be warming the planet and from there you build a mish-mosh of half understood concepts into a protective shield around this belief. One of those concepts proves incorrect... you just replace it with a new unfounded belief to preserve the barrier between outside reality and your foundational belief.

    Also, answer me this... why would John Tyndall have faked experiments showing that CO2 DOES cause planetary warming back in the 1850s? What possible motive could there have been more than a century before the great global warming 'debate' began? And why have scientists the world over repeating and refining those experiments continued to claim the same conclusion for 160 years? Do you realize that even the 'skeptic' scientists like Roy Spencer, John Christy, Richard Lindzen, et cetera ALL say that CO2 does indeed cause significant surface warming? All of them. Even complete [snip] like Fred Singer and Christopher Monckton do not deny this fact. How can such a huge 'conspiracy' exist... stretching back more than a century before there was any reason for it? Why do even scientists who claim that global warming will be mild or is mostly natural accept this supposedly 'false' information?
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    Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] No accusations of dishonesty please, the comments policy applies, no matter how well founded the accusation is considered to be.
  38. Doug Cotton wrote "1. I am still convinced, even from my basic knowledge of statistics, that the statistical evidence for natural cycles in the climate records is compelling. "

    In that case, your knowledge of basic statistics is rather lacking. Firstly correllation is not causation; you also need to have a physical mechanism that can explain the strength of the observed effect. This is almost completely lacking for explanations based on planetary orbits (other than that of the Earth). Secondly such arguments based on statistical evidence assume that the datasets used were the only information we had on the physics of climate. However that is not true, there are multiple lines of evidence for example for the existence of the greenhouse effect, which is accepted by both sides of the scientific community in climatology. There are multiple forcings that act on the climate, such as solar forcing, radiative forcing from the enhanced greenhouse effect (that all skeptical scientists agrre exists) and aerosol cooling. For the hypothesis of natural cycles to be correct, then your theory must be able to explain why observed changes in aerosols and greenhouse gasses (etc) have not affected the climate.

    The statistical arguments fall foul of many known statistical pitfalls such as confounding; and demonstrate a considerable degree of statistical naivete on the part of those promoting them.

    Your posts on these threads demonstrate a substantial lack of self-skepticism. If you want to prove the scientific community wrong, good luck with that, it is what all scientists desire (almost) most of all. The difference between a good scientists and a crackpot is an even greater desire to scrutinise their own work for errors and to review all of their assumptions constanty.
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  39. DougCotton @133:

    1) Actually the evidence for most proposed "cycles" of short duration is very weak, for a couple of reasons. The first of these is that few of the proposed cycles are in fact cyclical. Most are quasi-periodic like the ENSO "cycle". That is, they have a characteristic return period, but the actual length of any given "cycle" can vary by 50% or more of that return period. Second, the evidence for long term periodicity of these cycles is very weak, often failing any reasonable test of statistical significance, as Tamino shows for the AMO. Third, the short term periods may appear significant over the validation period, but frequently fail on past temperature indications as soon as they leave the validation period. That for example is the fate of Loehle and Scaffeta's recent attempt to find a cycle in the temperature record.

    Finally, and this carries us into
    2), cycles are by their nature an ad hoc explanations. They themselves are unexplained unless they have a clear physical basis (such as the Milankovitch cycles). And as they are unexplained, if we explain something else by them we have merely shifted the burden of explanation, not resolved it.

    In fact, it is worse than that, for by postulating a cycle, you assert that a particular pattern has existed for an extended period, longer than the initial pattern you are trying to explain. Because that pattern is more extensive, it imposes a greater explanatory burden upon us.

    If there is very clear evidence of a cycle, this extra burden may be happily accepted, for it may also provide a clue as to its resolution. But absent clear evidence of such a cycle (and that evidence is absent in the majority of cases), it provides no clues and just increases what we need to explain.

    Now as it happens, the combination of changes in GHG and aerosol levels together with known natural forcings provides an excellent and physically grounded explanation of the changes in global mean temperature over the last 600 odd years. That explanation is exclusive of any except a very minor possibility for cycles. Therefore in accepting cycles as explanation we are rejecting a well grounded physical explanation for an unexplained, improbable series of events for which we have neither a physical explanation nor compelling grounds to believe in its existence. That is not good science.

    3) Somebody may want to tackle this one more directly, but for me by choosing such a short time period you appear to be cherry picking.

    4) For long term warming, heat has been building up somewhere - the ocean:



    It has also been building up in the atmosphere, which has been warming as well. (Note, there are several thread on ocean heat content on SkS, and if you wish to discuss it, you should move that part of the discussion to one of those threads.)

    6) I am not going to discuss this theory of yours which is physically implausible and has no supporting evidence. Instead, let's remain concentrated on the greenhouse theory.

    7) Of necessity, all energy entering the atmosphere from the surface by conduction must do so through the first 1 mm of air above the surface. In contrast, IR radiation emitted by the surface may not be absorbed for hundreds of meters above the surface. The result is that while all 17 W/m^2 of sensible heat transferred to the atmosphere is absorbed in that first mm. In contrast, only about one millionth of the 390 W/m^2, or 0.00039 W/m^2 transferred by radiation is absorbed in the first mm. Naturally the conductive transfer dominates in that first mm, but that tells us nothing about overall transfers.

    9) See my 134 (4), and following response.

    Finally, your experiment will show greater temperatures in full sunlight for the simple reason that in full sunlight, it will be exposed to both back radiation and sunlight, while in shade it will only be exposed to the back radiation. Note that your shielding arrangement is inadequate in that all warm bodies emit thermal radiation, including aluminium foil, so while placing the foil across the top of the box will shield the thermometer from back radiation, it will replace that back radiation with thermal radiation of almost the same intensity because it is at room temperature.
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  40. #137:

    Frankly I'm a little surprised that you refer back to that experiment because if you click "here" you can read how a Professor of Physics (thought he) debunked it in May this year.

    But even I do not place much emphasis on lab experiments like this, because in a lab the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies (approximately) whereas, in the atmosphere it does not because it is not an "isolated physical system" and the two "results" of the law, namely uniform temperature and uniform pressure cannot of course happen.

    The reason neither experiment is totally correct or totally wrong is that, in the real world, we have both radiation and conduction sending heat from the surface. So, any lab experiment which, in effect, says it's all one or the other, is not painting the full picture. So I suggest you keep away from recommending either experiment.

    Roy Spebcer pointed out how winds and air currents would greatly reduce the effect of CO2 (to about a third) and that it would then be not worth worrying about.

    I have not read of anyone who has considered the implications of the "clean up" job that CO2 can do with air molecules. This became almost immediately obvious when I understood and accepted that oxygen, for example, in a sense has difficulty emitting its photons. So unless there were scavenger CO2 molecules to clean up, gather the energy by collisions and then emit photons (that I was assuming O2 and N2 would do themselves) we would have a stalemate.

    Perhaps it's my almost life-long involvement with studies in Nutrition and Natural Medicine that led me to an analogy with antioxidants cleaning up free radicals.

    You must remember too, that, as explained in #133 (1) (2) & (3) I have, almost from the outset, been totally convinced that there is solid evidence that CO2 is not causing warming. At the most, it probably only delays the cooling each evening by less than 10 minutes, simply because the iterations of photon "trips" up and down are at the speed of light. There will be perhaps a few seconds delay before the extra heat into the surface "turns around" and exits as another photon, but after half a dozen iterations numbers are down to less than 1% because they reduce by 50% each time.

    Besides all that, we now can see that CO2 actually speeds up the cooling as well, which is sure to compensate for any warming.

    There really is nothing more to think about it. It is obvious and it does match the data, but don't start me on that one again. Just study the first three points above.

    Cheers everyone!

    Doug (Sydney)
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  41. Doug,
    Your statements:
    "So CO2 both slows the cooling process (for those photons it sends down) and speeds it up for those from oxygen and nitrogen that it sends to space. And the net effect is nothing in terms of net delay in the nightly cooling."
    and

    " At the most, it probably only delays the cooling each evening by less than 10 minutes, simply because the iterations of photon "trips" up and down are at the speed of light. There will be perhaps a few seconds delay before the extra heat into the surface "turns around" and exits as another photon, but after half a dozen iterations numbers are down to less than 1% because they reduce by 50% each time"

    are false (they contradict each other) because you do not understand the basics of atmospheric physics. Each time a photon is absorbed it is delayed (a lot) in its transit up to space. This delay causes the atmosphere to warm. In addition, the increased amount of CO2 in the air causes the height at which the photon is finally released to space to increase. This increase lowers the temperature at which the photon is emitted, causing it to carry less energy away.

    Please try to learn some basic physics and chemistry before you try to overturn decades of established science. If you ask questions about what you do not understand we will help you learn.
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  42. Doug IIRC, the Mexican profs experiment only shows that the greenhouse effect does not work in the same way that a greenhouse works. However the explanation of the greenhouse effect accepted by skeptic climatologists such as Spencer, Christy, Lindzen etc. is the mechansim first coherently expressed by Calendar and Plass, not Tyndall.

    The example of Tyndall was put forward to show that the conspiracy theory about AGW is laughable, and I suspect nothing more. If you want to make a revolution in climatology, it is the work of Plass (and his successors) you need to overturn, not Tyndall.
    0 0
  43. Dougcotton @136, I am a bit tired so I am not going to give a full response. Suffice to say that climate scientists actually model the processes you are talking about using known radiative properties of the atmosphere and known physics and come up with very different results from yours. The fundamental reason for the difference is that you assume the atmosphere is optically thin for IR radiation, ie, that most IR radiation emitted upward from any portion of the atmosphere will escape to space. In fact in the significant wavelengths, that in which CO2 and H2O absorb and emit, the atmosphere is optically thick, with IR radiation not escaping to space around the 15 micrometer wavelength band unless it is emitted with an altitude of around 8 kilometers, and for H2O relevant wavelengths, around 6 kilometers.

    I refer you again to my 103 for a demonstration of the sort of experimental accuracy obtained with these models.

    Against that your hand waving calculations simply do not cut it. Your are in fact trying to perform the same sort of calculations as are performed in the models (even if you do not know it), but without their precision or comprehensiveness. And of course those models show back radiation of the order shown by Trenberth et al.

    Now, seeing as I'm tired, I will now simply refer you to a series of posts by Science of Doom where he explains some basics of atmospheric physics, and develops a climate model in the process to demonstrate the concepts, and enhance understanding. It is highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand climate science and can cope with a little mathematics. I particularly recommend that your read the entire series right through, including the comments (which are often very informative). If you have genuine questions, ask SOD over there (he is a very patient instructor) or ask them here. At the end, you should be able to answer for yourself what is wrong with your post here.

    The first Post is http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/12/23/understanding-atmospheric-radiation-and-the-greenhouse-effect-part-one/
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  44. DougCotton @140, the Mexican professor's experiments completely failed to control for back radiation, which rendered his experiments incapable of testing the claims he thought he was testing for.

    As for the rest, please take CBDunkerson's excellent advise at 137. You have been, and demonstrably, clearly misinformed about climate science. That you respond to actually learning something new by simply restating your old argument in a new form shows that for you the important thing is not the truth of the matter, but the conclusion you desire to reach.

    The proper thing to do in your position, having realized the extent to which you have been misinformed, is to take down your web page and become properly informed. If after that you are still a skeptic, fine - but at least your theories might be interesting to rebut (or even, though the odds are not good, unrebutable) rather than simply tiresome as they are now.
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  45. Doug Cotton:
    "I have, almost from the outset, been totally convinced that there is solid evidence that CO2 is not causing warming."

    That's the problem; you never started from a position of skepticism.
    0 0
  46. DougCotton:


    Perhaps it's my almost life-long involvement with studies in Nutrition and Natural Medicine that led me to an analogy with antioxidants cleaning up free radicals.


    Attempting to impose such knowledge as you possess regarding chemical reactions between free radical compounds and anti-oxidants onto atmospheric physics via analogy is, I dare say, an activity fraught with peril.
    0 0
  47. 146, Composer99,

    It's funny, but Doug's problem appears to be the same one enjoyed by most Galileo-wannabes. Co2isnotevil wants to apply EE feedback control theory to everything to the exclusion of all else. I've seen people do the same with physics, computer science, thermodynamics, raw mathematics, and more.

    The basic recurring theme seems to be that they have an overconfident grasp of one approach (the hammer), and so assume that it applies perfectly to climate problems (the nail) with no revision or expansion whatsoever. The idea that their perspective is too limited and inadequate never seems to even cross their minds, even when it is pointed out to them.

    co2isnotevil recently did this with Gavin, of all people, over at RC. It was just dismissed out of hand that his over emphasis on feedback control theory where it didn't belong was leading him astray. Instead, from his point of view, it was the well known and respected professional scientist who'd been sucked into the wrong way of thinking, and he was right and adamant about it.

    [Doug, if you've bothered to read this, the lesson is not that there are more out there like you and the climate scientists have it wrong. Read this comment over and over until you begin to get some idea as to how you can improve your own approach to understanding, instead of everyone else's. You're not going to get anywhere with us, or most people, until you convince others that you have a good understanding of the problem, instead of a predetermined disposition and a really complicated but ultimately failed way to make it appear to be true.]
    0 0
  48. "That's the problem; you never started from a position of skepticism."
    That and as far as I can see, never bothered to open textbook on atmospheric physics before leaping onto the web with an irresponsible website and laughable claims about climate science.
    0 0
  49. DougCotton#136: "I have a bit more to add to my site this weekend"

    That's unfortunate, as you've been shown many areas where your base premises are completely unfounded.

    And now that you know that you are incorrect, adding even more based on those errors would be ... Well, the Comments Policy prevents me from saying what that would be. Any standard of scientific integrity demands that you produce some data and actual research that supports your positions; otherwise they are just your opinions.

    Consider this bit of wisdom:



    It's ironic that this comes up just as school is about to start in my part of the world. As a physics teacher, the grade that the totally undocumented, unsupportable 'racecar on a train' idea would get is an F.
    0 0
  50. It is very important that you all understand the implications of what Tom has explained in #134 point (2).

    Put aside all your arguments about past comments and focus on this one point. As Tom explains, nitrogen and oxygen do not emit photons at atmospheric temperatures because the photons they have to emit (refer Quantum theory) are in the high frequency (thus high energy) UV spectrum - well over 100 times the IR values that green house gases both absorb and emit.

    You are aware of course that O2 and N2 absorb some incoming UV photons from incident insolation. So they are going to get warmed, both that way and by conduction/diffusion (ie contact with surface molecules) leading to the 5% convection that the 2008 NASA diagram shows - thank Tom for that too.

    So O2 and N2 work in the UV range and GH gases in the IR range. But GH also emit in the IR range - much more easily than O2 and N2 can ever do in the UV range, because it is nowhere near hot enough up there.

    So, in a nutshell, GH gases are the scavengers that collide with other air molecules (that can't emit radiation themselves) and collect energy from them (little bits at a time) and emit IR photons to get rid of the heat.

    In the absence of all GH gas, O2 and N2 could potentially reach extremely high temperatures as they keep absorbing some of the incoming insolation. They have no way of getting rid of it by radiation until they get very hot as Tom explained - and you should all be grateful to him. Yes, this is ground-breaking. But it is undeniable.

    See the big picture. We know the photons are getting to space and you must agree nothing of any concern has happened since we got past the big El Nino.

    The "system" is working one way or another and the "problems" that were unstandably perceived late last century were primarily due to the fact that the normal 60-year cycle was on an upswing (1970-1999) crossing over and going above the long-term cycle (itself rising from the Little Ice Age) which also peaked in 1999 and will just a little more in 2058-2059 before it starts a 450 year decline.

    Folks, I really have no more to say - take it or leave it. You cannot deny that GH gases can emit photons quite easily and O2 and N2 cannot.

    Surely logic says we need GHG to rid the atmosphere of heat.

    This really must be good-bye from me.
    0 0
    Response:

    [DB] You are aware of course that most of the regular participants in this forum have either cracked textbooks in atmospheric physics and statistical analysis, gotten degrees in climate-science related fields, worked in those fields in a non-scientist capacity and/or are actually real, living & breathing climate scientists?  Condescension by you in this matter is thus the living embodiment of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

    So while you play the metaphorical version of alchemy, wielding 21st Century versions of eye of newt and wing of bat, mumbling incantations to conjure the skeptic's dragon's breath, real scientists in the real world have been studying, researching and quantifying the field of climate science for nearly 200 years. 

    In the absence of actual research you offer sophistry and mumbo-jumbo.  Good luck convincing the cognoscenti with that.  In this Forum you have presented nothing to be worth discussing further.  And logic says until you do that actual research & publish it in a peer-reviewed journal, you should be ignored.

    So, as a man of your word, let this be good-bye from you.  Really.

    To our regular readership: apologies for the abruptness.  Time for a beer.

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