Think like a Photon
This is a comment upgrade to a post. Recall the earlier post about thinking like a photon, rather than thinking like a human, if you want to understand why light exhibits the behaviour that it does. One of the other anthropocentric biases of climate alarm is to consider that the surface of the Earth is literally the ground or sea-level surface of the Earth. However, since climate alarm is based on a radiative theory of how heat flows in the atmosphere, then one should consider what the existing electromagnetic radiation considers as the surface of the Earth, and work things out from that starting point. If you are electromagnetic radiation, then the surface of the Earth is the atmosphere itself, not the ground surface! Carl Brehmer outlines the result in his comment, which is the next section below, unedited from the original comment:
Mean Global Surface Temperature – Climate Alarm Sophistry
“First law of thermodynamics: When energy passes, as work, as heat, or with matter, into or out from a system, its internal energy changes in accord with the law of conservation of energy. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the first kind are impossible.”
Let’s remember what spawned the “greenhouse effect” in the first place. The “greenhouse effect” hypothesis presumes to explain why the Earth’s “mean global surface temperature” is some 33 °C higher than the Earth’s “effective radiating temperature”. By this definition if the Earth’s “mean global surface temperature” were equal to the Earth’s “effective radiating temperature” then the “greenhouse effect” would = 0.000.
If you consider that the “surface” of the Earth is an atmosphere (85% of which is contained within the troposphere) and you recall that the mean temperature of tropospheric air (based on the International Standard Atmosphere) is about -18 °C, then the “surface” temperature of the Earth does, in fact, equal its “effective radiating temperature”. Thus by their own definition the “greenhouse effect” = 0.000. In other words, the Earth’s “surface”, i.e., its atmosphere, cannot be shown to be retaining any excess thermal energy.
The “greenhouse effect” confusion arises because those who spawned the hypothesis chose arbitrarily to only measure the temperature of the hottest part of the troposphere—sea level air—and call that temperature the Earth’s “mean global surface temperature”. Remember that all land based weather stations are sited ~1.5 meters off of the ground and only measure the temperature of 1/11,000th of the troposphere (the one meter thick layer of air that is being measured is only one out of 11,000 meters—the average thickness of the troposphere.)
Here is where the First Law of TD comes into play. “When energy passes, as work, as heat, or with matter, into or out from a system, its internal energy changes in accord with the law of conservation of energy.”
The one-meter thick layer of air that is about 1.5 meters off of the ground whose temperature is being measured and averaged to yield what is being called the “global mean surface temperature” is a completely “open system” in that its boundaries allow both mass transfer as well as energy transfer. This means that the air whose temperature is being measured in the afternoon is not the same air whose temperature was measured earlier that morning. The morning air is long gone by the afternoon and has been replaced by air that was somewhere else in the troposphere earlier in the day.
Conversely, the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis treats the one-meter thick layer of air that is about 1.5 meters off of the ground whose temperature is being measured and averaged to yield what is being called the “global mean surface temperature” as a “closed system” that is thermally isolated except to IR radiation. Is it any wonder why they cannot figure out why that one meter layer of air is 33 °C warmer than the average temperature of the troposphere as a whole?
If you want to properly analyze why sea-level air contains as much internal energy as it does you have to factor in the “work” that is done on it prior to its arriving at sea-level. For example, the larger thermodynamic system called the Troposphere is continually overturning. Within the Troposphere we observe the existence of great cells of circulating air, the largest being the Hadley Cell in which massive quantities of air convect upwards to the tropopause at the equator driven by daily uneven solar heating. This air then moves along the tropopause to the higher latitudes both north and south and descends back to the ground at ~30 degrees north/south.
The laws of physics demand that when the air from the tropopause descends back to sea level within the down-going leg of the Hadley Cell (many ground based weather stations are sited near this latitude) the “work” done on it by its progressively increasing higher pressure surroundings converts into thermal energy within that descending air. This is the well-known “adiabatic process” that is taught in every class on meteorology and we know that the “work” done on descending air raises the internal energy of that air enough to create a temperature lapse rate of 9.8 C/km. If it were not for contravening thermodynamic forces this would raise the temperature of the air on its descent from the tropopause to sea-level some 108 C. (The average temperature of the air at the tropopause is -60 C and 11 km x 9.8C/km= 108 C.) Without contravening thermodynamic forces sea level air would be 48 C instead of the 15C (what it is now according to the International Standard Atmosphere.) Let me say that again, if it were not for contravening thermodynamic forces the adiabatic process, which is triggered by the continuous overturning of tropospheric air, would keep sea-level air very hot at about 48C.
One of the “contravening thermodynamic” forces that keeps sea-level air cooler than 48 °C is radiative heat transfer, because higher radiation from the warmer and more emissive lower atmosphere moves heat up the atmospheric column against the cooler and less emissive upper atmosphere. Extensive surface radiation data being gathered at NOAA’a SURFRAD sites around the country as well as the formula for “net radiation heat loss rate” demonstrates that the movement of heat within the atmospheric column via IR radiation is virtually always upward away from the surface. When people talk about the fact that carbon dioxide and water vapor enhance the ability of the lower atmosphere to cool this is what they are talking about.
The “greenhouse effect” hypothesis completely ignores the fact that the air whose temperature is being measured at sea level ultimately came from the tropopause where its temperature was on average about -60 °C and that it acquired enough internal energy by the “work” done on it on its way to sea level to raise its temperature up to 48 °C–the temperature that it would be if contravening thermodynamic forces did not cool it down to about 15 °C. They instead believe that sea-level air only acquires thermal energy from the IR radiation that is being emitted by the ground which isn’t enough to keep sea-level air as warm as it is. They therefore concocted the “back-radiation” theory in which a portion of the heat “trapped” in the air by “greenhouse gases” is re-radiated back down to the ground raising its temperature, all the while being completely oblivious to the entire array of thermodynamic forces that are at work within the greater thermodynamic system called the “troposphere”. Here is one such example from wikipedia:
“The greenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface and the lower atmosphere, it results in an elevation of the average surface temperature above what it would be in the absence of the gases.”
When they say that sea-level air is warmer than what it would be if warmed by sunlight alone they are correct, because it is also being adiabatically warmed as a result of the “work” that is continually being done on descending air. If this were not the case then diesel engines, which have no spark plugs, would not work. The fuel/air mixture within a diesel piston achieves “flash point” temperature simply by the “work” done on the fuel/air mixture during the upstroke of the piston. When a parcel of air descends from the tropopause to sea-level it experiences the same thermodynamic force as the fuel/air mixture within a diesel engine on the piston’s upstroke. At the present time many people (even the Pope and his Pontifical Academy of Sciences) refuse to acknowledge that “work” done on descending air within the continually overturning troposphere warms it and are instead calling the consequential extra sea-level warmth a “greenhouse effect”.