‘To heat a planetary surface’ for dummies; Part 5b

If there were no atmosphere on top of our solar-heated terrestrial surface, then Earth’s mean global surface temperature would likely be about 80 degrees lower than what it actually is (209 rather than 289K). And this would be in spite of the fact that in this case the solar heat input to the global surface would be almost 80% larger on average (296 rather than 165 W/m2).

Much of this cooling of the mean would simply come as a result of greatly amplified temperature swings between day and night and between the seasons. The larger the planetary surface temperature amplitudes in space and time, the lower the mean global planetary surface temperature needs to be to maintain dynamic radiative equilibrium with the Sun. This is why the Moon is so cold.

So we need to get this straight: The Earth’s surface would be a much colder place without an atmosphere on top of it. Even with much more solar heat absorbed. There is no escaping this. The lunar surface is about 90K colder than ours, on average.


The short answer: It insulates the solar-heated surface.

Well, so how does it do this?

Mainly in four ways, three of which concern suppressing the effectiveness of convective cooling of the surface at a certain temperature.

Why is this important? Why convective cooling?

Consider a hypothetical single-room house. Continue reading

‘To heat a planetary surface’ for dummies; Part 5a

In 1938, English steam technologist Guy Stewart Callendar wrote what proved to be a seminal – one might even venture to call it the foundational – paper of the entire modern AGW pipe dream movement, with its rather determined effort at postulating what we today call the “Radiative (Atmospheric) Greenhouse Effect” (rGHE), or as some people would prefer it: the “Callendar Effect”.

In his paper – “The Artificial Production of Carbon Dioxide and Its Influence on Temperature” – Callendar argued that the increase in global atmospheric CO2  concentration due to our industrial endeavours would (and did) warm the world because of the alleged augmenting influence of this IR-active molecule on the so-called “sky radiation” (what we today call “(atmospheric) downwelling longwave radiation” (DLR, DWLWIR), more commonly known simply as “back radiation”):

“Few of those familiar with the natural heat exchanges of the atmosphere, which go into the making of our climates and weather, would be prepared to admit that the activities of man could have any influence upon phenomena of so vast a scale.

In the following paper I hope to show that such influence is not only possible, but is actually occurring at the present time.”

Notice here how Callendar was well aware that with his hypothesis, he was challenging a generally accepted scientific paradigm of his time, one which held that our climate and weather are natural phenomena with purely natural drivers, which can not in any meaningful way be influenced (globally, at least) by human activity.

Callendar claimed that it can. And that it does. He even went so far as to claim he could show it …

Well, then; by all means bring it on! To quote Carl Sagan:

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Continue reading

UAH need to adjust their tlt product

Update (March 9th) – Dr. Roy Spencer just gave an interesting response:

“yes, we have been aware of some spurious warming over land versus over the ocean after approximately 2000. Our version 6 dataset (now close to completion) will have most of that removed, although it looks like some of it is genuine.”

I guess we all just have to wait and see …

I have earlier noted a rather curious blocklike shift up in the UAH tlt (lower troposphere temperature) timeseries occurring abruptly some time in 2005. (There is most likely a similar – only downward – step at the same time in the RSS tlt timeseries; however, this post will not address this one.)

The 2005 shift seems very much to originate in the land portion of the UAH dataset. The shift can readily be seen here, but not at all in the oceanic portion, a situation which is quite unprecedented in the record – global land temps simply do not by any known natural mechanism all of a sudden jump out of step with the global ocean temps and then remain elevated high above thereafter:

Land vs. ocean, UAH

Figure 1. As you can see, something quite out of the ordinary happens in the UAH land curve in 2005. Continue reading

The “enhanced” greenhouse effect that wasn’t

Update (March 24th) at the end of this post – a kind of response from Feldman.

There was much ado recently about a new paper published in ‘Nature’ (“Observational determination of surface radiative forcing by CO2 from 2000 to 2010″ by Feldman et al.) claiming to have observed a strengthening in CO2-specific “surface radiative forcing” at two sites in North America going from 2000 to the end of 2010 (a period of 11 years) of about 0.2 W/m2 per decade, and through this observation further claiming how they have shown empirically (allegedly for the first time outside the laboratory) how the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration directly and positively affects the surface energy balance, by adding more and more energy to it as “back radiation” (“downwelling longwave (infrared) radiation” (DWLWIR)), thus – by implication – leading to surface warming.

In other words, Feldman et al. claim to have obtained direct empirical evidence – from the field – of a strengthening of the “greenhouse effect”, a result, it would seem, lending considerable support to the hypothesis that our industrial emissions of CO2 and other similar gaseous substances to the atmosphere has enhanced, and is indeed enhancing still, the Earth’s atmospheric rGHE, thus causing a warming global surface – the AGW proposition.

From the abstract:

(…) we present observationally based evidence of clear-sky CO2 surface radiative forcing that is directly attributable to the increase, between 2000 and 2010, of 22 parts per million atmospheric CO2.”


“These results confirm theoretical predictions of the atmospheric greenhouse effect due to anthropogenic emissions, and provide empirical evidence of how rising CO2 levels (…) are affecting the surface energy balance.”

So the question is: Do these results really “confirm theoretical predictions of the atmospheric greenhouse effect due to anthropogenic emissions”?

Of course they don’t. As usual, the warmists refuse to look at the whole picture, insisting rather on staying inside the tightly confined space of their own little bubble model world. Continue reading

‘To heat a planetary surface’ for dummies; Part 4

I rounded off Part 3 of this series by suggesting the following:

Next up: How do you heat a planetary surface, then? If not by the Earth’s own thermal radiation, a result of its temperature rather than a cause of it … How does the atmosphere insulate the surface?”

Not so. This will have to wait a bit still. Next post, perhaps. I will rather try to clarify my stance on the whole ‘bidirectional flow’ concept thing, seeing how this topic has a tendency of stirring up both emotions and misconceptions.

There is quite a bit of confusion surrounding the whole issue of electromagnetic radiation, the Stefan-Boltzmann Law and the thermodynamic concept of ‘energy transfer’.

I will try to explain why there can be no such thing as a bidirectional energy transfer between two objects radiating at each other. Yes, they are radiating at each other! Radiation goes in all directions. Continue reading

‘To heat a planetary surface’ for dummies; Part 3

We’re still discussing Willis Eschenbach’s ‘Steel Greenhouse’.

How come the warming EFFECT of putting the shell around the sphere is real but Eschenbach’s “back radiation” EXPLANATION of how it comes about is wrong?

Simply put, it’s because the effect doesn’t violate the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, but the explanation does.

In Part 1 and Part 2 we established some fairly basic principles of thermodynamics that we can now put to use in analysing Eschenbach’s explanation of why and how the radiating central sphere needs to warm with the steel shell surrounding it:

“In order to maintain its thermal equilibrium, the whole system must still [after the steel shell is placed around the sphere] radiate 235 W/m2 out to space. To do this, the steel shell must warm until it is radiating at 235 watts per square metre. Of course, since a shell has an inside and an outside, it will also radiate 235 watts inward to the planet. The planet is now being heated by 235 W/m2 of energy from the interior, and 235 W/m2 from the shell. This will warm the planetary surface until it reaches a temperature of 470 watts per square metre. In vacuum conditions as described, this would be a perfect greenhouse, with no losses of any kind.”

The first part of this paragraph simply describes the necessary conditions for reaching a new dynamic equilibrium upon putting the steel shell up around the radiating sphere. Nothing mysterious about it at all.

But then (in the bolded part) Eschenbach starts ‘explaining’ how he sees this new state of dynamic equilibrium to be accomplished.

And this is where any connection to basic, ordinary physics – and hence, to the real world – appears to be lost.

Let’s parse what he’s saying: Continue reading

Postma’s confusion

This could hopefully be a nice learning experience as part of our ongoing discussion on ‘how to heat a planetary surface’.

I went over to Joseph Postma’s site to see how they treat the whole sphere/shell problem there, having learned that some commenter had linked to my last post on the subject on one of his threads, evidently leading to the appearance soon after of a couple of climateofsophistry.com regulars on this blog.

What I found quite frankly appalled me.

It is just as much a cultic echo chamber as any warmist site I’ve ever visited. They live firmly and tightly packed inside their little pink bubble, completely detached from reality, but keep patting each other on the back, congratulating themselves whenever more elaborate ways are found to consolidate and entrench the cult’s profoundly absurd ideas about the world, loudly and indiscriminately thrashing everyone not agreeing with them, calling them idiots, criminals and the like. Anyone who dares question the dogma is immediately and summarily labelled a ‘sophist’. The cult leader, Postma himself, is of course first in line, the worst of the lot, a person with clear megalomaniacal tendencies, whose modus operandi when it comes to meeting a challenge consistently revolves around twisting the opponent’s every word, nitpicking on irrelevant semantic details to evade major points being made, constantly ‘misunderstanding’ opposing arguments, thus creating the opportunity to divert and build straw men to tear down, all of it sprinkled with a nice dose of mockery and verbal abuse.

In short, the perfect sophist, surely a dedicated student of the Alinsky method.

Following are a couple of exchanges from Postma’s blog exemplifying precisely what I mean, highlighting the blinkered, confused nature of Postma’s world view, plus his aggressive rhetorical tactics employed whenever he needs to escape rational – but obviously uncomfortable – counter-arguments threatening to trap and expose him, keeping his flock’s cognitive dissonance safely at bay: Continue reading