The Fraud of the AGHE Part 9: The Truth about the Cooling Atmosphere and the Lapse Rate

Bob Ashworth had this to say about the reality of what the atmosphere actually does:

“Just remember that the earth is the temperature it is because of the sun. Even if CO2 had a warming effect on earth, which it doesn’t, CO2 is so small (400 ppmv) mans activities (only 12 ppmv) you couldn’t even measure the effect.

First Law of Thermodynamics: Energy can be changed from one form to another, but energy cannot be created or destroyed.  The total amount of energy and mass in the Universe is always constant; it merely changes from one form to another.

Second Law of Thermodynamics: Heat may only be transferred from a hotter to cooler body, never vice versa.  A cooler atmosphere cannot heat the earth’s warmer surface.  The greenhouse effect is a myth because its premise clearly violates the second law of thermodynamics!  Although all bodies above absolute zero radiate and absorb radiant energy, the warmer body always provides more energy to the cooler body than it receives back from the cooler body.  A cooler body therefore can never heat up a warmer body; the cooler body warms and the warmer body cools, never vice-versa.

The Scientific Truth

The truth of the matter is that any mass between you and a radiant energy source will provide cooling.  Stand near a fireplace that is burning and feel the warmth of the radiant energy, then have two people drape a blanket between you and the fireplace – you will feel cooler!  This is like standing outside on a sun shiny day and when a cloud goes over and shields you from the direct rays of the sun, you feel cooler.  A child knows this.  Regarding the earth, our atmosphere provides cooling in the same manner:  Nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, carbon dioxide and any dust that is in the atmosphere all provide cooling.

Why is this? It is very simple. If there were no atmosphere, all of the radiant energy from the sun would hit the earth. With an atmosphere, a portion of the incoming sun’s rays are reflected back toward the sun by striking the gaseous molecules and dust particles, so less radiant energy hits the earth and the earth is cooler because of its atmosphere, see the figure below.


Everyone also knows that cloud cover at night (more insulation) prevents the earth from cooling off as fast as it does when there are no clouds.  However, on a relatively clear night if a cloud goes overhead you cannot feel any warming effect of the cloud, so this insulating effect is shown to be minimal compared to the daytime effect.

Anthropogenic Global Warming – more energy out than in – good trick, but violation of First Law of Thermodynamics.  The US Patent Office would never patent such a concept.

End quote.

This ties in to a couple of things.  The first is to ask why the bottom of the atmosphere is warmer than the top of the atmosphere.  One answer is that warming occurs at the atmosphere’s bottom in the first place with the very high-temperatures generated by Sunlight on the ground surface.  As we saw in my paper and real-world data, the surface is heated to almost 90oC(!) by sunlight on the day-side for a very large fraction of the surface of the Earth.  But this isn’t the entire picture.

On Venus, the clouds are so thick that hardly any direct sunlight actually even makes it to the surface.  But we also know that the bottom of the Venusian atmosphere is incredibly hot – much warmer than its equivalent radiative temperature as seen from space.  The Venusian atmosphere also has a very high reflectivity (albedo), and so its equivalent temperature as seen from space is actually cooler than the Earth’s.  So, if atmospheres reduce the amount of potential heat generation by filtering out and reflecting sunlight, then why do atmospheres also get to be warmer at the bottom than at the top?  All planets with atmospheres, even gas giants like Jupiter, follow this pattern of the gas getting warmer and warmer with depth.

The answer for this is of course the “lapse rate”.  One of the most useful ideas in the history of thermodynamics is the concept of “local thermodynamic equilibrium”, or LTE.  When a parcel of gas is in LTE, its energy content is constant, so that its temperature is stable.  We know that any gas in a gravitational field changes in temperature with depth, and this is knowledge which simply comes from observation, such as that in Earth’s atmosphere but also from that of stellar (star) atmospheres.  The problem to figure out, is, if the gas is thermally stable, but the temperature is not uniform, then how do we explain that the temperature of the gas is a function of depth (or altitude) in the atmosphere?

It turns out to be very simple:  Since thermodynamics is all about energy content (all of physics is really about energy content!), and the gas is in a gravity field, then what is the energy of a section of gas given its temperature and its gravitational potential energy?  The gravitational energy is simply a function of altitude, and so we can calculate the gravitational energy (EG) for a “slice” of the gas column at a particular height ‘h’:

EG = m*g*h

where ‘m’ is the mass of the slice of atmosphere, ‘g’ is the strength of gravity, and ‘h’ is the altitude above the surface.

The thermal energy (ET) from the temperature ‘T’ of the same mass ‘m’ of gas is:

ET = m*CP*T

where ‘CP‘ is the thermal energy capacity of the gas.  The total energy (ETotal) of the slice of gas, adding together its thermal energy and its gravitational energy, is thus

ETotal = m*g*h + m*CP*T

We’re now going to do something really amazing using calculus – we’re going to relate changes in the total energy to changes in all of the other parameters.  For this slice of gas, however, the mass does not change and neither does its thermal capacity; the only thing that can change is its height ‘h’ and temperature ‘T’.  In calculus, the prefix ‘d‘ (which stands for “differential”) is used to simply indicate a change in the value of a parameter, and since we know which parameters are changing and which are not, the equation becomes

dETotal = m*g*dh + m*CP*dT

Now we can return to the idea of local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE), which states that a slice of gas at a particular height ‘h’, and temperature ‘T’, will have a constant (i.e. unchanging) total energy when the whole column is thermally and hydrostatically stable.  But if the total energy of the slice of gas is constant, then the total energy does not change, and so the change of the total energy (dETotal) is equal to zero.  Thus, the above equation is equal to zero:

0 = m*g*dh + m*CP*dT

Remember, what we wanted to explain was why the temperature of a gas in a gravity field changes with altitude.  What we have in the above equation is ‘dh’, a change in altitude, and ‘dT’, a change in temperature, so now we can just rearrange the equation:

m*CP*dT = –m*g*dh

dT/dh = -g/CP

What this says is that the rate of change of temperature with respect to change in altitude (dT/dh), is equal to the strength of gravity divided by the thermal energy capacity of the gas.  It is really so simple, and, it matches exactly what is observed for dry air!  Isn’t that amazing how real mathematics and real quantification of physics explains reality?  No doubt this is why the greenhouse effect never quantifies itself in terms of an equation, math, physics, or thermodynamics!

Because the right-hand side of the equation is negative, this says that the rate of change of temperature with altitude is negative; or in other words, the temperature decreases with altitude, exactly as we expected.  The dry-air value of -g/CP is about -9.74 Kelvin per kilometer (i.e. for every kilometer you go up in altitude, the temperature drops by 9.74 K).

The presence of water vapor modifies the “dry” air calculation by adding heat to the atmosphere via condensation; this was described and calculated in my paper on pages 7 through 9, resulting in a global average atmospheric lapse rate of about -6.5 K/km.  What happens is that, on average, water is constantly being evaporating at the ground surface, and because water vapor (evaporated water) is lighter than air (and also warmer than air if it is evaporated by the high-temperature action of sunlight), then it naturally rises to high altitude, condensing back out as liquid droplets as it cools with altitude.  There is an equal amount of condensation of water vapor occurring which balances out the rate of evaporation, so that the total amount of water in the atmosphere is roughly constant.  Thus, a cycle is set up which preferentially adds heat to the atmosphere, and adds heat to a rising parcel of gas which thereby slows down its rate of cooling from -9.7 K/km to -6.5 K/km.  As we saw in a previous post, the latent heat of water also serves to transport heat to the poles, away from the equator, without requiring additional radiative input from the Sun.  Thus, if there is anything causing a warmer planet than expected, it is the latent heat in water, and the sophistry of the greenhouse effect is in ascribing to “backradiation” what latent heat is actually doing.

Let’s denote the average lapse rate with “Lave“:  Lave = -6.5 K/km.  Now, it is great to know that we have successfully calculated a major feature of the atmosphere, but the lapse rate itself isn’t actually a function of temperature with height, but is simply the rate at which temperature changes with height.  If we want to know the actual function of temperature vs. height, we have to take the differential equation we derived for the lapse rate,

dT/dh = -g/CP  = Lave  (when factoring in water vapor)

and anti-differentiate it with respect to ‘h’.  This results in the equation

T(h) = Lave*(h – h0) + T0

where ‘h0‘ and ‘T0‘ are constants of differentiation.  This equation is exactly like the equation for a straight line, y = m*(x-x0) + b.  Usually, the term ‘m*x0‘ is combined with ‘b’ to make a “new” constant ‘b’, so that the equation can be written as y = m*x + b.  Writing it as we did here, denoting the ‘x0‘ term (i.e. h0) specifically, is more physically correct because ‘h0‘ and ‘T0‘ can then represent constant characteristics of the system – a characteristic height ‘h0‘ and a characteristic temperature ‘T0‘.

The characteristic height and temperature are not as easy to define as you might think, but, it would be nice to peg these constant values to something we are familiar with.  Well, we are familiar with the equivalent radiative temperature of -18oC (from 240 W/m2) for the Earth discussed previously, so, let’s use that value for ‘T0‘.  Recall from that post (previous link), that there is ambiguity in how an “equivalent radiative temperature” actually corresponds to a kinetic temperature measured with a thermometer, and that it is this fundamental ambiguity which creates the sophistry of the backradiation greenhouse effect.  We can now actually resolve that ambiguity!

If we say that the characteristic temperature ‘T0‘ is equal to -18oC, for the atmosphere, then we can calculate the corresponding characteristic height ‘h0‘ if we simply know the average kinetic temperature at a single other height.  And we do know this, from the same ambiguity which creates the sophistry of the backradiation greenhouse effect: at an altitude of h = 0, i.e. the sea-level surface, the average kinetic temperature is measured at T = +15oC.  Plugging it all into the previous equation from above:

T(h) = Lave*(h – h0) + T0

+15C = -6.5K/km*(0 – h0) – 18oC

and so

h0 = 5 km.

Thus, the equation for the average temperature of the atmosphere with height above the ground is:

T(h) = Lave*(h – 5km) – 18oC

The ambiguity of the difference between the equivalent radiative output temperature and the kinetic surface temperature is therefore found in the fact that the “equivalent radiative temperature” of a radiative output of 240 W/m2 is not kinetically found at the ground surface, but in the atmosphere at altitude.  This does not mean that 240 W/mcomes from an altitude of 5km, but just that the equivalent kinetic temperature is found somewhere around that altitude.  This is similar to the radiating atmosphere of stars, which I am familiar with from my work in astrophysics, where the kinetic temperature of the star’s atmosphere is close to its equivalent radiative output temperature at a characteristic average optical depth.

What the greenhouse effect and supporters of it try to argue, is that if the atmosphere didn’t have a greenhouse effect from backradiation, then the near-surface air would have an average kinetic temperature of -18oC.  Let’s think about that for a moment: if the average temperature was found at the surface, and we know from the lapse rate that the temperature will naturally decrease in altitude above the surface, then the average temperature will in fact be found at a boundary of the whole atmosphere (the surface boundary), and lower temperatures will thus be found above this boundary. In other words, the warmest area of the atmosphere will be one of its boundaries, and this boundary will also be the average.

This is a plain logical contradiction.  If the boundary is the warmest, then it can not also be the average, because the average of a whole “ensemble” is necessarily smaller in number than the largest number of the ensemble.  What greenhouse effect advocates imply is that the average of the sequence

-18, -24.5, -31, -37.5, -44,

must be equal to -18!  They say that without a greenhouse effect, -18oC would be found at the ground surface, with the temperature decreasing by -6.5 K/km above it, and that the average would still be -18oC.  It makes no sense at all.

The fact that the atmosphere naturally has a lapse rate necessitates that the average or characteristic temperature of the atmosphere can not be be found at the atmosphere’s lower (or upper for that matter) boundary, but has to be found somewhere “in the middle” of the atmosphere by the simple definition and requirement of pure logical mathematics.  The average is found “somewhere in the middle” by the definition of what an average is – an average is not the boundary and highest value of a sequence!  Warmer temperatures will have to be found below the altitude of the characteristic average temperature, guaranteeing that the surface boundary will be the warmest part of the ensemble, and this has nothing to do with backradiation or a greenhouse effect, but everything to do with the natural lapse rate.  For the Earth, it is also a given that the bottom of the atmosphere will be warmer than the average of -18oC, since the heating occurs at the bottom of the atmosphere at temperatures approaching 90oC on a large fraction of the daytime hemisphere.

Of course, you will find greenhouse effect advocates thus trying to argue that the greenhouse effect either is, or creates, the lapse rate, but you saw the derivation for the lapse rate here above, and it has nothing to do with discussing backradiation or a greenhouse effect.  Their arguments are just another attempt at sophistry and obfuscation.

What effect does carbon dioxide have on the lapse rate, g/CP?  It doesn’t change gravity, obviously.  And its effect on CP is almost negligible, given that 1) the CP of carbon dioxide is nearly equal to that of standard air, 2) carbon dioxide is a trace gas that barely even factors in to CP in the first place.  The effect of changes in CO2 on the atmospheric average thermal capacity is almost zero.

Also note what effect water vapor has on the lapse rate – water vapor is said to be the “strongest greenhouse gas” due to its radiative properties and because it is several dozen times more prevalent than carbon dioxide   But its effect on the lapse rate, which is a well-known and well-measured effect, makes no reference whatsoever to its specific radiative abilities, and rather only to its thermal capacity and latent heat.  And calculating its effect on the lapse rate due to its latent heat and thermal capacity, without any reference or inclusion of any radiative effects, is entirely successful at predicting the results, thus proving that there are no additional radiative heating effects.  If the supposed radiative effects from water vapor have no effect on the temperature distribution in the atmosphere, then the same supposed radiative effect from carbon dioxide will likewise have no effect.

The reason for that is because the radiative effects from water vapor and carbon dioxide do not represent additional energetic input to the system!  Note that the only effect water vapor has is through its release of latent heat, which specifically is additional energetic input to the system.  This is yet another indication that the vaunted effects of backradiation are entirely fabricated and at least badly imagined.

I said at the start that Ashworth’s quote tied in to a couple of things; the second thing relates to this statement “The US Patent Office would never patent such a concept”, and I will discuss it in the next post with reference to what “else” the GHE is said to be.

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19 Responses to The Fraud of the AGHE Part 9: The Truth about the Cooling Atmosphere and the Lapse Rate

  1. Pingback: The Fraud of the AGHE Part 9: The Truth about the Cooling Atmosphere and the Lapse Rate « Skeptics Chillin'

  2. Stephen Wilde says:

    The slope of the actual lapse rate as opposed to the adiabatic lapse rate set by gravity is integral to the speed of the hydrological cycle.

    I said this in the above thread at WUWT:

    “Entirely consistent with my suggestion that since then the Earth’s tropospheric temperatures have remained largely stable (subject to continental changes) due to the hydrological cycle now being faster than then.

    Stephen Wilde April 7th 2010

    As Claes says the adiabatic lapse rate is about 10C.

    Currently the actual lapse rate in the troposphere is about 6.5C

    If it was 8.3C back then the hydrological cycle was less vigorous than today just as I suggested in 2010 (and before).

  3. richard smith says:

    What would you say to the AGW argument that without greenhouse gases the effective radiating level would be the earth’s surface and therefore one would expect to see an average global surface temp of -18C? This is yet another so-called justification for AGW that I have read.

    [Reply: Well yes this is basically the argument that I discussed here, that without a greenhouse effect -18C would be found at the surface. There is just simply no justification for it. How do you prove it? They just SAY it, say things, but it doesn’t mean anything. Why would the surface be -18C? The input isn’t -18C…-18C comes from the flat-earth models. What would be the result if the molecules didn’t produce a “GHE” (whatever it is…some supposed radiative effect) but water still had latent heat? THAT needs to be answered before we can say anything about what we think the “GHE” (whatever it is…but it isn’t latent heat) might do. We might discover that latent heat trapping (energy trapping…latent heat is real energy trapping, and release…isn’t that something like the “radiative GHE”?) is what allows higher temperatures to be maintained compared to the strict radiative input. Indeed, isn’t that exactly what latent heat does? It maintains temperature without requiring, separate from, additional radiative input.

    The other point is what I discussed in my paper ( in the intro, that the ground surface isn’t the incoming radiative surface in the first place, let alone the output surface.

    Another point is, if the atmosphere couldn’t emit thermal radiation, then how would it cool? As it is now, the atmosphere is generally always cooler than the surface, and so the atmosphere is constantly being heated by the surface, by about the same rate that it cools itself via its own emission of thermal radiation. That way the atmosphere has a stable average temperature – the amount of heat energy it collects from the surface (because it is cooler than the surface) is equal to the amount of energy it is itself emitting to space (at a lower temperature). If you took away the atmosphere’s ability to radiate, then the heat it collects from the ground wouldn’t be able to escape. So then it would raise in temperature until it equilibrated with the ground temperature. So, without GHG’s, the near-surface-air at 1.5m would be warmer, not cooler. Carl Brehmer has been doing work showing that when the emissivity of the air increases, which is what happens when you add GHG’s to it since by definition GHG’s radiate, and so more GHG’s mean better ability to radiate, then the atmosphere is better at cooling and IS cooler.

    So, what do I think about the argument you mention? It is a nice thing for them to say, and they get to say anything they want without ever quantifying it, proving it, or measuring it, but I think it isn’t nearly so simple. Without GHG’s, the atmosphere would be warmer, because it would have to be if we just look at the physics and the trapped energy. Think about this: the GHG is supposedly all about trapping energy. Well, 1) latent heat traps energy, 2) gas that CAN’T radiate traps energy, 3) gas that CAN radiate does NOT trap energy…but in fact helps cool. Energy trapping from gases that CAN radiate is a contradiction in terms…actually it is another example of cognitive dissonance, isn’t it…

    Also remember that the surface isn’t heated at -18C, but at around +90C for large fraction of the day-side, and at about +30C (or +49C if doing an integrated average) on average on the day side.]

  4. Bart says:

    Good stuff Joe!
    In aviation meteorology, we are made well aware of dry and saturated adiabatic lapse rates. I remember an exam question that asked us to explain how a Chinook worked! All that’s to say, when factoring in latent heat, lapse rate and dew point as it relates to how much water vapour (and therefore latent heat) a parcel of air can hold/release….. Well, it’s clear that water vapour makes it all quite a powerful and complicated system! One thing’s for certain, when assessing the atmosphere for the purposes of a safe flight, the radiative effects of CO2 do not have to be taken into consideration.
    A suggestion for all climate scientists the next time they take a flight somewhere……….. take a very good look out the window at those big beautiful white things in a constant cycle to keep it all in equilibrium. Then, tell me what’s driving the Earth’s climate. Unfortunately,despite the vast expanses of towering and thundering evidence in front of them, they’re still likely to say it’s CO2 and back radiation……..

    [Reply: Nice one…exactly!]

  5. Stephen Wilde says:

    I’m a bit puzzled about the scenario of an atmosphere with no radiative capability at all.

    There would still be a gravity induced lapse rate due to the pressure decline with height and a consequent reduction of KE relative to PE.

    With a continuing decline with height there would still be convection and a global circulation.

    However the surface would be hotter due to no GHGs radiating out and the atmosphere would be shallower due to no GHGs causing it to expand.

    The hotter surface and a shallower atmosphere with a steeper lapse rate would require a much more vigorous circulation to maintain top of atmosphere energy balance and to share out the energy between day side and night side.

    Does anyone have any idea how shallow the Earth’s atmosphere would need to be if it were radiatively inert, how fast the winds would have to be and how steep the lapse rate would be ?

    Using the DALR would not be good enough because that only strips out the radiative characteristics of water vapour.

    All other gases with any mass at all still have some radiative capability however small but there are often lots of such gases such as Nitrogen and Oxygen.

    For an atmosphere that is completely inert radiatively just how steep would the ideal lapse rate set by gravity need to be for, say, the Earth.

    Could the atmosphere be retained or not ?

    [Reply: That’s a good question, starting from the top.

    Yes, I agree there would still be the lapse rate without radiation…as we’ve seen, the lapse rate has nothing to do with radiative ability, so, it would still be there. This is a fact that really upsets GHE theorists.

    Yes there would still be convection since the ground surface is heated to high temperature, and yes there would still be global circulation. No, it wouldn’t be possible to just conclude that the ground surface would “-18C”, since the input is nonlinear over a curved surface etc etc…I don’t think we really know what the result would be.

    Without the ability to radiate, the atmosphere couldn’t cool, thus would be warmer. I am not sure the atmosphere would be shallower; if it was warmer, it might actually be deeper then.

    Not sure what a hotter atmosphere would do to convection & circulation etc…and would likely depend on how much hotter etc. Also have to ask if latent heat and H2O is still around. If the atmosphere is closer to the temperature of the surface, then convection might actually decrease?

    Atmospheric “retainment” is a function of molecular weight; hydrogen escapes because it is so light and so reaches escape velocity just from thermal temperature, the heavier molecules don’t.

    I think it is really just quite difficult to say what would happen, in minute detail, when we start modifying parameters.

    I’m comfortable with a non-radiating atmosphere being warmer, since it can’t cool. This is very basic and fundamentally true. On the other hand, even that is impossible since everything with T>0K radiates. However, GHG’s are said to radiate even better, and so this means they help shed energy, not retain it. Of course, the only place energy is retained is in latent heat, in any case, not in GHG’s. So, no GHG’s, means less radiation, means less cooling means higher temperature. Also comfortable with the lapse rate still being a function of g/Cp. Convection rates, winds, etc, I am not sure…perhaps a meteorologist would know, if the situation were clearly outlined.]

  6. Stephen Wilde says:

    All good points Claes, hence my uncertainty.

    On balance, though I think I conclude that the atmosphere without GHGs would be neither warmer nor cooler, neither higher nor lower.

    The incoming solar energy would be absorbed by the ground and released from the ground but there would still be just as much energy cycling between ground and atmosphere as already set by mass, gravity and insolation.

    All that would happen is that the air circulation would change to compensate for the missing radiative window and the adiabatic loop would run faster to ensure redelivery of KE to the ground (reconverted from PE in descending air) as fast as necessary to ensure that TOA balance is maintained vai radiation from the surface.

    When GHGs try to alter the slope of the lapse rate the height of the atmosphere changes to negate the effect until the previous radiative equilibrium is restored and when GHGs try to change the height of the atmosphere the slope of the lapse rate changes to negate that effect until the previous radiative equilibrium is restored.

    All that changes is the relative sizes positions and intensities of the permanent climate zones and the jet stream tracks between them.

    [Reply: Claes? I’m Joe. I don’t think that GHG’s alter the lapse rate; water does only because of latent heat but there seems to be no other radiative effects.]

  7. Doug Cotton says:

    You have incorrectly used “thermal capacity” C when you should have used Specific Heat, Cp. this being the reason your calculation is different from that under “Dry adiabatic Lapse Rate” in

    You have already multiplied by Mass, so you should have used heat capacity per unit mass, which is specific heat.

    Doug Cotton

    [Reply: The value I used is that of the specific heat; I abbreviate specific heat capacity to thermal capacity, given the context of the equation using mass. Cheers. ]

  8. Rosco says:

    “What would you say to the AGW argument that without greenhouse gases the effective radiating level would be the earth’s surface and therefore one would expect to see an average global surface temp of -18C?”

    I would say one has to only look at data from the Moon which shows that the Solar radiation can heat planetary surfaces to ~120 degrees C.

    I would also say that data from the Moon also shows that a heated surface radiating to space cools at a far slower rate than happens in an atmosphere where conduction and convection and evaporation all contribute to dramatically convey energy away from the surface.

    Finally I would also say that data from the Moon also shows that in twelve hours on average of no solar input the Earth is not going to lose any where near as much energy as the Moon does in about 354 Earth hours.

    “Nuff said really – real data which demolishes most of pseudoscientists arguments –

    The atmosphere wraps around us like a blanket keeping us warm against the cold of space and other similar BS.

    Parts of space may have very low energy levels but the space around the Earth is literally awash with powerful Solar radiation with the only place to avoid it being the “shadow” of a planet.

    Climate pseudoscience is completely wrong !

    [Reply: Great points.]

  9. Rosco says:

    The other thing I never see discussed – except for you guys debunking the false claims – is how can it be possible that such small amounts of mass emit the claimed amount of radiation ??

    At best Greenhouse gases constitute very small amounts of mass at sea level – approximately 1% of the small atmospheric mass of 1.205 kg/cubic metre atmosphere.

    Less than 20 grams per cubic metre is supposed to be capable of 324 W /sq metre back radiation ?

    Am I wrong to consider that radiation must be proportional to a couple of things – the actual mass and the energy state of that mass ?

    If I am right then the only way such small amount of mass could emit large quantities of radiation is if their internal energy levels were correspondingly high.

    At the temperatures found in the “layer” of the atmosphere radiating this “back radiation” the energy levels are actually very low compared to the surface.

    Haven’t they forgotten the radiation is actually caused by the temperature ?

    Aren’t their theories simple fantasy ignoring the reality that to produce significant radiation you need significant mass ?

    Or am I simply wrong ?

  10. You’re right! 🙂

  11. Stephen Wilde says:

    Sorry to have mixed up Joe and Claes.

    Joe said:

    “I don’t think that GHG’s alter the lapse rate; water does only because of latent heat but there seems to be no other radiative effects.”

    I’m coming round to that point of view and what my post really meant was just that, except that the ‘juggling’ between lapse rate slope and atmospheric height would be the process that prevents any net radiative effects hence the suggestion that after a while the previous thermal equilibrium would be restored.

    That doesn’t assume that there are any net radiative effects. It is just that if there were any the circulation would deal with it.

    The circulation changes would lag behind any net radiative stimulus whether it were positive or negative and take a little while to restore thermal equilibrium.

    In the meantime there would be constant changes in circulation anyway from solar and oceanic variations so we would never be able to quantify any effect from GHGs anyway.

    I think this point about mass being more important than radiative characteristics is very significant because we need to detach radiative characteristics from any net change iin system temperature in order to deal with the AGW theory.

    Once one involves the entire atmospheric mass then the radiative characteristics of CO2 become insignificant anyway but in fact I think it is ALL own to mass which I always understood to be the settled science before the radiative theory came to the fore.

  12. Any long-wave radiative energy in the atmospheric system is a result of the temperature which has been created by sunlight heating, and such radiative energy can not be the cause of any more heating, especially as in self-heating. The GHE has no rational basis whatsoever.

  13. Stephen Wilde says:

    The gas based GHE has no rational basis but the mass and gravity subjected to sunlight GHE does have a rational basis.

    The issue is as to how best detach the former from the latter in people’s minds.

  14. Andy says:

    Joe, since I’ve discovered your website I’ve learned quite alot and has given me the incentive for futher research. However I have shared your views with some of my greener combatants and have come to a dead end. I guess some people are not willing to even look in another direction. This is one excerpt from an on going e mail I’m have with numerous people. Everybody cliams to be the smarter one with all the correct answers on their side. Have any thoughts on this?

    “Now that’s funny. Postma clearly has no idea of how the greenhouse effect works. His rant about the atmosphere transferring heat to the surface in violation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics is pure ignorance at work. Why? It’s the surface that transfers heat to the atmosphere, not the other way around. Postma has it exactly backwards.

    Visible and shortwave radiation from the sun passes through the atmosphere, hits the surface of the earth, and is converted to infrared radiation (aka longwave radiation). The surface re-emits that infrared back out into the atmosphere, thereby heating the atmosphere. This is the step where Postma goes badly wrong. He apparently thinks that solar radiation becomes infrared in the atmosphere before reaching the surface. Dead wrong and he’d fail the test I give my freshmen students on the subject.

    Triatomic molecules (H2O, CO2, NO2, etc.) in the atmosphere absorb the infrared coming up from the planet’s surface and re-emit that radiation in all directions, including back to the surface, thereby preventing that radiation from escaping directly into space. This is what creates the greenhouse effect. It’s very similar to how a blanket keeps you warm on a cold night. The blanket doesn’t create any heat itself – it just keeps heat from escaping.

    Simple concept, simple to explain. Don’t ask me how someone can earn a M.S. in astrophysics and get it so badly wrong.”

  15. That comment is completely idiotic. It’s not even in the ballpark. It is direct evidence of how mentally retarded and incapable of rational critical thought these supporters are. You have to keep in mind that these people aren’t mentally cogitating – they’re trapped in a religious system of belief where they hate themselves, and it makes them insane.

    I have stated numerous times in my papers and probably on this blog that the surface transfers heat to the atmosphere. How is that something that I disagree with or said the opposite of? You see that? The person made up a fiction, then said I was responsible for it. BS.

    It is the GHE which says that the atmosphere returns heat to the surface to warm it up some more. That’s what backradiaiton is said to be doing by the IPCC. I didn’t say that, and don’t say that. The IPCC and the GHE says that. The fellow tries to say I am the one who said that, and they unwittingly make the point that they disagree with the IPCC and how the GHE is said to work.

    Then, visible radiation is NOT converted to IR radiation. Visible radiation causes the heating on the surface. Then the heated surface emits radiation according to its temperature and emissivity. It is not a direct conversion, but given the looseness of language the statement is basically correct but physically meaningless.

    Then the radiated emission is said to heat the atmosphere. Yes indeed, and the atmosphere is colder than the surface, and gets heated by the surface both from conduction (mainly) and from radiative absorption. But the atmosphere is generally always cooler than the surface, and so it does not heat the surface, like the IPCC says.

    I have never said anywhere that the atmosphere converts incoming solar radiation into longwave before reaching the surface. This is a completely idiotic statement and the fellow is out to lunch, making up pure meaningless lies. Are you starting to get an idea of the type of degenerates you have to deal with now on this issue? The type of mental and moral fanatical religious degenerates, and their sick minds?

    Lastly, re-emission, let alone ANY emission, from a cold source to a warm object does not cause heating on the warmer object. The only heat generation comes from sunlight, or the original source; after that, no more temperature can be generated; although, the heat can be retained and for a gas it is retained best in the lowest emissivity gas. The entire atmosphere retains heat, not just CO2 etc. The only place heat is actually TRAPPED is in the latent heat of H2O. CO2 can not and does not trap heat. The atmosphere may be like a blanket, but the portion of the blanket which can radiate, and therefore can cool, is the GHG part. The rest of the atmosphere, the 99% of O2 and N2, simply retains heat and can’t cool off by radiation, since they (N2 and O2) don’t radiate and have very very low emissivity.

    So, CO2 doesn’t trap heat, only H2O does in latent heat. This is what keeps the poles much warmer than they would otherwise be. CO2 may scatter a small portion of the outgoing IR, but this scattering only delays the exit of those IR wavelengths by a few milliseconds, and scattering is not a thermalizing process.

    Lastly, a real greenhouse function by stopping convection. Convection isn’t stopped in the open atmosphere. The thing is though, that a real greenhouse also has backradiation, but the backradiation is NOT A FACTOR in determining the internal temperature of the greenhouse. Only the degree to which convective cooling is prevented is a factor. Let me repeat: there is TONS of backradiation inside a real greenhouse, and this is a NON FACTOR in determining its internal temperature. It can’t magically all of the sudden be a factor in the open, cooling atmosphere. The longwave IR, emitted after surface heating by sunlight, is a passive response, and can only be a cause of heating to something colder, which by definition is not its own source.

  16. Rosco says:

    There is no doubt that compressing a gas causes an increase it temperature. In our atmosphere this effect is transitory due to the huge bulk of the atmosphere compared to the small volume of compreswsed gas – equilibrium will eventually happen and the compressed gas will then cool.

    But a whole atmosphere is a different thing altogether. Compresson will induce a temperature – the higher the compression the hotter. This then results in the only manner an atmosphere can ultimately cool is by radiating to space.

    The data from the Moon indicates this is a slow process so it is highly probable that the atmospheric compression sets a minimum temperature that the Solar energy increases and the heat absorbed during the day is slowly lost during the night.

    There is no doubt about the compression of gases creating heat.

    Jupiter reaches temperatures wayyyy above what the Solar radiation can induce that far away.

    Of course the Sun is the ultimate proof – there is little doubt it was the enormous heat and pressure of gravity compression of the enormous mass of hydrogen that ignited the thermal fusion – just as a fission explosion provides the input energy for a hydrogen bomb’s fusion explosion.

    Climate science also dismisses the significance of the period of rotation – I am sure the Moon would be much hotter on average – way above the traditionally calculated blackbody figure – if it rotated in 24 hours instead of 708 hours.

  17. Flow Ir In says:

    Love these explanations. Thank you. CO2 as ineffective makes more sense that as a ‘greenhouse gas’, CO2 as a refrigerant (due to increased entropic cooling) makes even more sense and explains weather patterns.
    One thing. we are assuming that all energy input comes from outside – the sun. I think it is reasonable to assume that there is some level of internal heating, from whatever cause (spacetime gets pretty squashed just under the surface). How do all these equations work, factoring in a % of internal heat production?

  18. Well I think that the internal geothermal heating of the ocean and atmosphere is still quite low, and they would freeze right out except for a few small local hotspots without solar input. I think that with the solar input and the necessary feature of the lapse rate, then the average temperature given the solar heating has to not be found directly at the surface, but at altitude, hence leaving the surface warmer than the average.

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