Posted by: erl happ | April 24, 2009

The Gaping Hole in Greenhouse Theory

This is a very short study of the thermal character of the atmosphere in the zone between the equator and 10°south latitude.  Here, there is no evidence of a greenhouse effect although the upper troposphere is plainly subject to down-welling radiation from the lower stratosphere. It is apparent that ‘Greenhouse Theory’ is based on a selective reading of atmospheric dynamics that is clearly at odds with the behaviour of the atmosphere as we perceive it here on Earth.

Average monthly temperature Jan 1948-March 2009 Equator to 10°S Latitude.

Figure 1. Average monthly temperature for the period Jan 1948 to March 2009 equator to 10°south latitude.

Consider figure 1. The temperature curves reflect forces that change with the pressure level. The strong peak at the surface in March contrasts with an annual peak in August at 100hPa. Above 100hPa (the lower boundary of the stratosphere) the single peak gradually morphs to dual peaks, but these are only fully expressed at 1hPa, well above the 10hpa ceiling of this figure.

The August peak at 100hPa is due to the unequal distribution of land and sea between the hemispheres. In mid year the continents of the northern hemisphere heat the atmosphere. The resulting strong increase in air temperature causes cloud loss, particularly south of the equator where the waters are seasonally cool. Outgoing long wave radiation from the planet peaks in August (despite the fact that the Earth is furthest from the sun in July) and more of it is emitted just south of the equator than anywhere else. This radiation excites ozone that increases in concentration quite rapidly above 200hPa. Ozone requires a very dry atmosphere if it is to persist because it is very soluble in water. The troposphere holds most of its water vapor close to the surface. The stratosphere, by contrast is relatively free of water vapor and rich in ozone.

Ozone  is a product of the interaction of ultraviolet light and oxygen. The atmosphere is opaque to very short wave lengths in solar radiation by virtue its oxygen content. The short wave lengths are almost completely absorbed at some  level within the middle stratosphere.  Ozone drifts down to the lower stratosphere/upper troposphere where the very dry and cold conditions (minus 80°C near the equator) favor its persistence.  In the stratosphere the atmosphere is therefore ‘stratified’ according to ozone concentration and increasing temperature.

In the lower stratosphere the August temperature peak is clearly due to ozone absorption of outgoing radiation from the Earth. In the upper stratosphere the twin peaks in March and September alternate in strength between years perhaps reflecting a complex interaction between the Earth in its elliptical orbit about the sun, geomagnetic (solar wind) and atmospheric influences including the forces that drive the Quasi Biennial Oscillation of wind direction and atmospheric temperature near the equator.

The important thing is that the air at 100hPa is about five degrees warmer in August than it is in March by virtue of its ozone content and the seasonal peak in outgoing long wave radiation. This sets up an atmospheric test bench for greenhouse theory. There is local heating of a greenhouse gas (ozone) by outgoing long wave radiation. The air below this level should show evidence of radiative transfer of energy in a downwards direction.

Convection is the phenomenon whereby less dense air is rapidly displaced by dense air. Density is a function of temperature and pressure. Above the tropopause convection is weak. Below the tropopause convection is relatively strong but nowhere as strong as it is in the near surface layers of the atmosphere where latent heat is released as clouds form.

Figure 1 shows sea surface temperature peaks in March when the sun is vertically aligned with the equator and moving into the northern hemisphere. The March maximum, therefore reflects energy absorption by the vast body of the southern hemisphere oceans over summer. The seasonal minimum occurs in September when the sun is about to renew its warming of that vast body of southern ocean.

So, we have the paradox of a March maximum at the surface and an August maximum at 100hPa.

Te Reiterate: Greenhouse theory maintains that down-welling radiation will warm layers beneath the point of energy emission.  So, if nature were to reflect the impact of down-welling radiation, and that radiation were to be actually effective in changing atmospheric temperature below the point of emission, we should see a gradual transition between an August maximum at 100hPa and March-May maximum at the surface. For instance at 150hPa, temperature should attain its maximum just short of the time when the 100hPa level reaches its maximum (see the pink dotted line in figure 1 as a suggestion). The 200hPa level would peak just prior to the 150hPa peak and so on. But, big surprise, this does not happen. The 150hPa maximum is in May. In fact all levels between 500hPa and 150hPa experience a maximum in May reflecting the March maximum in sea surface temperatures and the lag in latent heat release from a warm ocean gradually cooling after its seasonal maximum.

Why the failure to warm the troposphere when the stratosphere warms? The obvious answer is that there is no effective energy transfer from down welling radiation at all. Not at 150hPa or at any other level. There is no greenhouse effect. If there were the shift in the temperature maximum would reveal that fact. Its a simple case of stimulus and response. If there is no response you can infer that the stimulus is either absent or it is overwhelmed by a second force. That force is very likely convectional transport of air that loses density as it acquires energy.

From this simple morphological observation we can conclude that greenhouse theory is based on a misunderstanding of how the atmosphere works. The true nature of the troposphere is that the air is hopelessly unstable. ‘Tropos’ means ‘turning’. The atmosphere is truly a vehicle for cooling the Earth. But for the atmosphere, the surface would be warmer. This would be so even in the absence of water vapor because the air absorbs warmth via simple conduction, that is, energy transfer by contact. The existence of water at the surface provides a powerful additional vehicle for surface cooling via evaporation, the most important limiting factor on the rise in surface temperature. The myth of a ‘greenhouse effect’ dissolves in the cold light of careful observation. The atmosphere is no more effective in warming the surface than a greenhouse structure without a roof. An insulator (preserver of warmth) actually requires a vacuum, or, less efficiently,  trapped air that can not be displaced by cold air from nearby. Unless you can properly trap and hold the air you will not conserve the warmth.

We know these things. How is it that we have been sucked into this vortex of misinformation by so called ‘experts’. We are assured that there is a scientific consensus on this matter. If this is indeed the case, the reputation of science must suffer. To label a person as an ‘expert’ will invite derision.  The notion that we should trust in the opinion of ‘scientists’ will be taken as a joke.

Observation reveals performance at odds with theoretical prediction. One instance is enough.  Scrap the theory.

In this work I use data from Kalnay, E. and Coauthors, 1996: The NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis 40-year Project. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 77, 437-471.

This dataset is available via the web at:

This post was revised in February 2010 to eliminate errors (some reflected in the comments) and tighten the argument.



  1. Hi Erl,

    You asked for comment on this page in another blog: Decadal scale coolings not all that unusual, at Chris Colose’s Climate Change blog. It’s more appropriate to leave a response here.

    I can’t hope to give a complete list of everything wrong with this page, and I won’t try. That’s not intended as an insult to you personally. I wish you nothing but the best. However, when it comes to substantive feedback on the content it’s best to be frank. This post is unmitigated drivel. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person; just that you have a lot to learn about basic physics. I don’t expect you to believe it, but it sticks out a mile to anyone reading this who knows a bit of atmospheric physics.

    The page starts right off with a really fundamental misconception:
    There is no evidence of a greenhouse effect in the upper troposphere although the upper troposphere is plainly subject to down-welling radiation from the lower stratosphere.

    Here are two basic physical facts:
    (1) The impact of radiation from the stratosphere on the upper troposphere is small.
    (2) The greenhouse effect does not predict a warming effect on the upper troposphere from down-welling radiation.

    It’s quite plain how your misconceptions arise. The blog post confuses temperature with radiation. There’s no attempt anywhere here to calculate or estimate radiation. A fundamental point to grasp is that a thin gas, even if extremely hot, doesn’t radiate much energy. There’s just not enough of it to produce the radiation.

    The strength of radiation coming from a gas depends on the optical thickness; or (in the optically thin limit) on the mass of the gas. Even without any calculation, a moment’s thought should be plenty to establish that at the 100 hPa level (which will be somewhere roughly near the tropical tropopause) there is bound to be one heck of a lot more radiation coming up from the thick atmosphere below than from the thin atmosphere above. The troposphere has substantially higher temperatures, and about ten times the partial pressure, by comparison with the rarified stratosphere above!

    At the climate change blog of Chris Colose, Erl states: “There is nothing wrong with radiative theory” (this comment). So there should be no problem using a stock standard calculator based on radiative theory: the MODTRAN calculator, widely used without qualm as a basic research tool for radiative transfers in the atmosphere of all kinds.

    Using a tropical atmosphere and a detector at 18km altitude (which is about the tropospause in this case) the radiation coming down is 9.34 W/m^2, and coming up is 288.38 W/m^2. The radiation coming up is more than 30 times greater than what is received from the stratosphere. That’s because the stratosphere is so much thinner.

    As you keep moving up into the stratosphere, the magnitude downwelling radiation continues to fall rapidly, while the upwards radiation shows a small increase, with an incremental addition from each successive layer. For the downwelling radiation, the rising temperature is far less important than the falling pressure.

    As for the predictions of greenhouse theory. The fundamental point is that certain gases interact with thermal radiation. These gases are better at absorbing, and emitting thermal radiation. (The equivalence of absorptivity and emissivity at a given wavelength is an observation, and also a necessary consequence of the second law.) Greenhouse gases in the troposphere have a warming effect, because there is lots of hot thermal radiation coming from the surface, which is hotter than the atmosphere. This is the main process by which Earth’s troposphere is heated, and heating occurs from the bottom up.

    But in the stratosphere, greenhouse gases have a cooling effect, because the stratosphere is actually warmer than the atmosphere below it. The radiation coming upwards is from some of the coldest parts of the atmosphere – the tropopause – and hence it cannot give a net flow into the stratosphere. The effect of thermal interaction up here is to emit heat more effectively, and cool the atmosphere down. The difference is basically because of the reversal in lapse rate in the stratosphere. The stratosphere is heated top down, from the Sun.

    You can think of greenhouse gases as a bit like a large passive radiator fin, used for passive temperature control. If you are cooler than surrounding radiation, it works to capture radiation and warm you up. If you are warmer than the surrounding radiation, it works to shed radiation, and cool you down.

    I’m not planning to comment here further, but I leave this in the faint chance it might be of some use. If you are inclined to try and treat this as a matter for more debate and argument, then I’ve wasted my time again; but it was worth a shot.

    Cheers – Duae Quartuciae

  2. Duae,
    Seems to me that you are acknowledging that there is no evidence of a greenhouse effect in the upper troposphere.

    At what level should we look for it?

  3. The cooling of the upper stratosphere is strong evidence of a greenhouse effect at work. There is a contribution to cooling from decreased ozone levels, but not enough to fit the observed trends. There is a lot of cooling up there, which is strong evidence for the greenhouse effect being the primary cause of rising surface temperatures, as opposed to other factors like albedo or insolation.

    Effects in the troposphere and tropopause are not nearly so good as evidence of a greenhouse effect. What we see is consistent with the greenhouse effect of course, but it can also arise from any other kind of surface warming. Hence this specific line of evidence doesn’t help much for distinguishing greenhouse from other effects.

    Neither of these are the primary reason for confidence in the importance of the greenhouse impact on climate. That comes mostly from basic radiation physics. The interactions of matter and light are well understood, and you can calculate the forcings with good accuracy, especially for CO2 with its long residence time and thorough mixing.

  4. Second comment…. Erl, I may have misunderstood your question.

    I was answering above a question about how evidence helps determine whether CHANGES to greenhouse gas concentrations are important for changes to mean global temperatures over recent decades.

    But if you are asking about a greenhouse effect AT ALL, then the best evidence is right at the bottom of the atmosphere, and the large flux of thermal radiation coming down to the surface from the atmosphere. It can be measured directly, and it means we are a lot warmer than we would be without the atmosphere.

    The capacity of an atmosphere to absorb and emit thermal radiation is the greenhouse effect, and it is seen directly in measurements of radiation coming down from the open sky.

    Measurement of Earth’s thermal emission as seen from space also shows very clearly a large chunk cut out of the spectrum, where this thermal interaction occurs.

  5. Duae,
    By evidence I mean temperature change.

    Greenhouse theory posits an increase in atmospheric temperature at elevation that is said to raise surface temperature by inhibiting the flow of long radiation to space.

    We see no actual evidence of an increase in air temperature beneath the tropopause when temperatures rise due to the presence of ozone there. That is, there is no increase in temperature beneath the tropopause. Then, I ask, at what level in the atmosphere does the supposed increase in temperature due to the (increasing) presence of greenhouse gases become evident?

  6. Your description of greenhouse theory is incorrect. It bears no relation to the actual atmospheric greenhouse theory in physics, and the inferences you make are unphysical.

    As I pointed out in Chris’ blog, you mix up the flow of energy at a point in time, with the difference in temperature equilibrium when there is thermal absorption in an atmosphere.

    The surface is hotter when there is more atmospheric thermal absorption, because the surface has to heat up more to supply the energy that goes into the atmosphere. With a non-greenhouse atmosphere, radiation gets straight out into space unimpeded, and so the surface is much colder.

    Greenhouse theory therefore REQUIRES an atmosphere which is heated bottom up, and each successive layer has to be colder as altitude increases, at least up until the radiation is free to escape into space. This is about as elementary as atmospheric physics ever gets. The atmosphere is not a source of energy. Like a layer of blankets, it is the innermost layers that are the warmest.

  7. Duae,
    Can you specify for me the atmospheric pressure level where the increase in temperature due to greenhouse gas in the atmosphere actually appears.

  8. Everywhere in the troposphere, pretty much.

    If Earth’s atmosphere was just oxygen and nitrogen, with none of the greenhouse gases like O3 or H2O or CO2 that can absorb thermal radiation, then thermal radiation would escape straight out into space, with nothing to stop it. The surface would be, on average, around -18C. The atmosphere would be much colder as well, and the tropopause would be at a much lower altitude.

    On the other hand, the tropopause temperature would still be roughly the same as now, to a first order approximation. The major difference is that it would be at a much lower altitude (higher pressure). With the cooler surface there would be a much smaller troposphere, which is where convection is involved in transferring heat up from the surface to levels with a more simple radiative equilibrium.

  9. Duae,
    You seem to be skipping the question and writing a thesis.

    Where do I look for the evidence of increased temperature due to the presence of an increasing volume of greenhouse gas. What level? 850hPa? 700hPa? 600hPa?

  10. Already explained above. When you add more greenhouse gases, there is an increase in temperatures at the surface and up through most of the troposphere. This reverses a bit before the tropopause, and at higher altitudes you get a reduction in temperature.

  11. Duae,
    I need numbers, not just hand waving.

  12. You asked what level you see the raised temperatures from the greenhouse effect. I told you. The greenhouse effects results in higher temperatures at ALL levels, up to about the tropopause.

    I have no idea what number you want. The answer to your question is that there IS NOT a single number identifying where the temperature increase is found. Earth’s greenhouse effect gives higher temperatures throughout the troposphere.

    When I tried to give more detail, you complain about a thesis. So I just answered your question directly. Now you call it hand waving. I cannot possibly give you a complete account of basic atmospheric physics in these comments. For full detail, you are better to obtain and study an introductory level text book on the subject, and work up from there.

    But here are two numbers that give a nice simple direct quantification of Earth’s greenhouse effect.

    33 degrees. That’s about the increase in temperature at the surface, on average, that results from the Earth’s greenhouse effect. If we had a non-greenhouse atmosphere, then the surface would be about 33 degrees cooler.

    330 W/m^2. That’s roughly the magnitude of backradiation from the atmosphere to the surface, on average. It has been known to exist for over a hundred years, and directly measured for over 50 years. You get this energy not merely because of temperature; but because of strong interaction with thermal radiation. A pure oxygen and nitrogen atmosphere at the same temperature would give very little backradiation.

    There are lots of other numbers, but the answer to the particular question you were asking is not a number. It’s “the troposphere”.

  13. Duae,

    You say: When you add more greenhouse gases, there is an increase in temperatures at the surface AND UP THROUGH MOST OF THE TROPOSPHERE.

    You have already acknowledged that there is no temperature effect below the tropopause due to ozone. So, very unlikely to be a temperature effect at the top of the troposphere to any other greenhouse gas either.

    So, download the data for the 600hPa level between the equator and 10°S and show me the historical increase in temperature that you say is there.

  14. In the NCAR/NCEP reanalysis model, the 600 hPa level and the 0-10 latitude band, there is a warming trend of a bit over 0.08 C/decade, with 95% confidence limits of about +/- 0.02, over the time interval 1948-2009 that you’ve picked out in your post.

    I know a bit about the data you are using, and it does show statistically significant warming at 600 hPa. That’s not as meaningful as one might think.

    The NCAR/NCEP reanalysis product is not what you should be using if you want measurements. It gives a pretty good general picture, but the numbers are calculated values, taken from a climate model that is fitted to measurements. That’s a different thing from measurements, and I explained some of the problems with this before. The data from NCAR/NCEP does show warming at 600 hPa; but the real issues concern actual measurement datasets; not a climate model. There are unresolved open questions here, various systematic sources of error, and large measurement uncertainties.

    In this blog post, you’ve not addressed warming over recent decades, but strike instead at something much more fundamental – the very existence of a greenhouse effect at all. Effectively, you have a problem with conventional radiative physics. Until you get that sorted, you’re not well placed to understand what’s going on with measurement debates.

    I’d really like a straight answer on one question. I think getting this sorted would be a big step forward for you. I spoke of the 300 W/m^2 plus that comes down to Earth’s surface from the atmosphere.

    Have your heard of this radiation before? Do you agree that it exists?

  15. Duae,
    I have no problem with your radiation theory. But I do have a problem with the evidence that net warming has occurred at any level above 700hPa. I know that convection is the agency that renders the radiation effect ineffectual.

    600hPa is a level for which there should be excellent long term data from radiosondes. I see no reason why the different data sets should give varying figures at 600hPa

    From where I sit there has been no warming at all at 600hpa and anywhere above this level. Let’s face it, every data set in existence is based on interpolation. The level of interpolation was much greater before the satellite era. You and I are not in a good position to evaluate the accuracy of data sets.

    Warming below 600hPa shows double the rate at 850hPa as at the surface. That is latent heat release due to increased flux of energy into the ocean. It is the increased flux of energy into the tropical ocean that is responsible for near surface temperature increase in the atmosphere. That warming due to latent heat release extends to 700hPa.

    If you are going to blame the data sets I think you are clutching at straws.

    I have a big problem with your assertion that the stratosphere is cooling because of increases in greenhouse gases. Ozone is soluble in water. Water vapour has entered the stratosphere as evaporation from the tropical oceans has increased. Witness the inverse relationship between sea surface temperature and temperature in the lower stratosphere during every tropical warming event.

    Secondly, ozone levels in the stratosphere are a function of the strength of the polar vortex.

    Thirdly when you say ‘stratosphere’ you can not be referring to the 10hPa level where temperature increasing dramatically in the seventies, or the great bulk of the southern hemisphere where temperature at all levels jumped in 1976-1980 and has yet to return to previous lows.

    Temperature in the stratosphere at 30hpa in the tropics has been stable since tropical sea surface cooling began about 2003-5.

    Evidence is what we need. Time and place. Broad generalizations based on theory are just arm waving and have no value.

    Are you aware of the loss of absolute and relative humidity in the tropical and subtropical upper troposphere over the last 40 years. Does that not suggest that the loss of cloud cover may have something to do with the increase in evaporation from the tropical oceans.

    A boiling kettle sits at 100°C. The rate of evolution of water vapour then varies with energy input. How good is surface temperature as an indication of energy input into the oceans that comprise 70° of the Earths’ surface?

  16. Duae,
    In 1976-80 temperature at 600hpa between the equator and 10°S increased by half a degree in one fell swoop. There has been no increase since.

    That change was due to a succession of El Nino tropical warming events that produced a step change in equatorial sea surface temperature of half a degree. This constitutes a change in energy input.

  17. Duae,
    You ask:
    I spoke of the 300 W/m^2 plus that comes down to Earth’s surface from the atmosphere.

    Have your heard of this radiation before? Do you agree that it exists?

    Yes. And it will vary from place to place. Have you evidence that it is increasing due to increase in greenhouse gas or is it perhaps increasing due to enhanced latent heat release at 850hPa?

  18. Duae,
    A report of stratospheric water vapour content rising by 50% over the last 50 years.

  19. Thanks for this post. This is a very convincing debunking of the greenhouse effect. It’s a shame there is no way to present this to the so-called experts and force them to address it.

    What to do when the so-called “journals” are run by corrupt warmists and the IPCC just ignore anything that runs counter to their communist agenda?

    • Hi Inferno,
      Thanks for the commendation.

      The proponents of greenhouse theory can not point to evidence that the temperature of the atmosphere has increased in the way that they suggest it should. End of the day, evidence is not important to them. No amount of good science will move them. No alternative explanation is of interest. We are looking at a crusade driven by a feeling of malaise and disconnection and a longing for the life of a primitive, in close communion with nature. If they have their way, that is the way we are headed. These guys are wreckers. They are vandals.

  20. Erl,

    Just wanted to make sure I understand what you are claiming and the implications. Specifically you conclude that there is no greenhouse effect at all and in fact the presence of an atmosphere makes a planet cooler, correct? This leads me to two questions.

    One, I’ve often heard that Venus is hotter than Mercury because of its atmosphere. I just checked the Wikipedia page on Venus and it makes that claim. Is this incorrect in some way? Here is what Wikipedia claims:

    The CO2-rich atmosphere, along with thick clouds of sulfur dioxide, generates the strongest greenhouse effect in the solar system, creating surface temperatures of over 460 °C (860 °F).[27] This makes Venus’s surface hotter than Mercury’s which has a minimum surface temperature of -220 °C and maximum surface temperature of 420 °C, even though Venus is nearly twice Mercury’s distance from the Sun and receives only 25% of Mercury’s solar irradiance.

    The other thing is the greenhouse effect is something that is accepted by many of those who have disputed Global Warming. For example, Roy Spencer sells books disputing the issue, and you can read what he has to say about the greenhouse effect here: Do you think you’d have more luck in persuading someone like him that there is no such thing as the greenhouse effect?

    • Eric,
      Thanks for participating. Yes, its a big mistake in my view.

      An insulator (preserver of warmth) requires a vacuum, or, less efficiently, trapped air that can not be displaced by cold air from nearby. Unless you can properly trap and hold the air you will not conserve the warmth.

      At the moment I have four layers of clothing on and I have wrapped myself in a blanket so that the warmth is more effectively trapped. I am in a well insulated house at 34°S of the Equator within 5 miles of the ocean. Inside temperature 18°C

      I am about to publish an article that looks at the pattern of temperature increase over time, according to latitude and elevation. That pattern of increase is very different to what you would expect via warming due to an improvement in the insulating value of the surrounding film of atmosphere…….assuming that you could somehow actually improve its ability to retain energy.

      Does the presence of an atmosphere makes a planet cooler? Does it depends upon the properties of the material that the planet is made of? With water or without? How much water? What is the period of rotation we call a day? Will all the energy be lost overnight regardless? How much of the radiant energy is actually absorbed by the planetary surface. How fast is the energy lost via radiation alone. What’s the conductivity of the material? If its a good reflector and a poor conductor not much energy will be gained. Add an atmosphere. Will some of the energy be absorbed by the atmosphere and not reach the surface? will the atmosphere include reflective particles? Will it have clouds? How big is the planet? Is there an ocean to move energy away from the tropics? Are the land surfaces large or small? Are they predominantly in one hemisphere? Is there a big temperature differential between the pole and the Equator? Is there a tilt to the axis? How long is the year? How thick is the atmosphere in terms of elevation? Whats the ‘lapse rate’, the rate at which temperature falls with elevation?

      If something is too hot I would pour water over it. If I have no water I would look for a material that absorbs by contact and swiftly conducts the energy away. Air is not a bad substitute for water and I would imagine one gas would be about as good as another. Its not the property of the actual molecule that determines the rate of convection. Its the property of any gas that when it absorbs kinetic energy it becomes less dense and is displaced…..very rapidly. Take a very hot article and put it in a vacuum and it will stay hot longer. (The Thermos Flask).

      Take away the air and you could probably exist quite comfortably without your clothes on……as long as you had some bottled oxygen to breathe.

      • Any guesses as to why Venus is warmer than Mercury, or have you not really looked into it? Does your work lead to any method of making quantitative predictions, e.g. about how warm Venus or Earth would be without their atmospheres?

  21. Eric L
    I am a simple fellow Eric. Just a bush carpenter you might say.

    Did you put your clothes on when you got up this morning or are you relying on the air to keep you warm?

    Change the composition of the gas and it will not materially affect the rate at which it absorbs warmth from your body. It does so mostly by direct conduction, i.e. transfer by touch. The touch is brief. Another molecule rushes in for a touch to replace those that are sped off on their way by convection.

    Make two pots of tea. Put them in two thermos flasks. Leave the cap off one of them. Sample the temperature of the liquid every hour. Why does the open one cool down so much faster?

    70% of the surface of the Earth is water. Most of the heat transfer to the atmosphere from the surface of the Earth is not by radiation or conduction. Its via evaporation and the release of the latent heat of condensation in the atmsophere.

    Has Venus got any water on it? If it retains energy at the surface, the lack of water may be the chief factor involved.

  22. Eric,
    Come to think of it evaporation is also the thing that most endangers the human body. Stop drinking and see how long you last.

  23. “There is no actual temperature effect from down welling radiation at all. Not at 150hPa or at any other level. There is no greenhouse effect.”

    – Completely insupportable insanity.

    Note valleys in escaping radiation at CO2 absorption lines.

    No further proof of the existence of a greenjhouse effect is needed.

    • cmb. Thanks for your comment.

      The abscence of specific wave lengths in outgoing long wave radiation does demonstrate absorbtion by ozone CO2 and water vapour. It is indeed evidence of atmospheric energy gain from these spectra. However, there is no evidence of actual temperature gain in the layers of atmosphere below those levels doing the absorbing… my post amply demonstrates. We know why. Convection transports energy upwards as fast as it is released into the atmosphere.

      I believe that climate models predict warming of the tropical troposphere over time. We have good records from satellite, rocket and balloon data from about 1979. Unfortunately for your thesis, temperature at 200hPa in the global tropics has been in slow decline since 1978.

      Proponents of the anthropogenic argument for global warming continue to maintain that greenhouse gases are responsible for surface warming in complete denial of what is actually observed in the atmosphere.

      We pride ourself on a scientific approach to the explanation of phenomena. Sadly, the widespread popularity of the AGW argument demonstrates our susceptibility to be swayed by mob hysteria in defiance of that which we observe.

  24. “The abscence of specific wave lengths in outgoing long wave radiation does demonstrate absorbtion by ozone CO2 and water vapour. It is indeed evidence of atmospheric energy gain from these spectra. However, there is no evidence of actual temperature gain in the layers of atmosphere below those levels doing the absorbing… my post amply demonstrates. We know why. Convection transports energy upwards as fast as it is released into the atmosphere.”

    Convection cannot transport downwelling infrared radiation resulting from emissions by the excited GHGs.

  25. cmb

    You’re right. Convection plays no part in transporting radiation. It is responsible however for the transport of materials heated by that radiation. Let me have another crack at explaining my point of view.

    Let us distinguish between temperature gain in the atmospheric layer that includes an absorber (eg stratosphere as layer and ozone as absorber) and the supposed temperature gain from ‘downwelling radiation’ in the atmospheric layers beneath that exhibiting the temperature gain.

    One can hypothesize that a gain in temperature SHOULD occur from a ‘downwelling radiation process’. However, in doing so one must be aware that the nature of the atmosphere suggests that the effect is unlikely. The heated layer is immediately convected upwards as soon as the slightest temperature differential appears.

    The globe radiates most unevenly. The atmosphere is pockmarked with centres of convection. Each centre of convection is surrounded by colder denser air.

    Are you aware that the upper atmosphere above the equator exhibits marked change in the amount of outgoing long wave radiation over time. Radiation DIMINISHES as the surface warms. A warming surface is associated with evaporation, the release of the latent heat of condensation (in the lower atmosphere) and strong uplift. The atmosphere then eliminates heat by decompression associated with that uplift. Think of the refrigeration principle and the bike pump.

    We should never forget that radiation is an unimportant means of heat transfer in the lower troposphere. We live in a watery world. Evaporation is the single most important means of cooling at the surface.

    Cooling via decompression is a prime characteristic of an overturning atmosphere.

    It is only in the upper troposphere that radiation becomes an important means of heat transfer. My observation, as reported in the post above, is that that when radiation excites the ozone layer and establishes a marked temperature differential, that differential is highly localized. It is not reflected in the temperature of the layers beneath.

    A further observation may clarify the point. Radiation from the tropical atmosphere peaks strongly in northern summer. Between April and September the great land masses warm the air and global cloud cover declines by 3%. Conversely, the presence of cloud is evidence of condensation, convection, de-compressive cooling and low levels of radiation. So, the absence of cloud is evidence of high levels of outgoing radiation.

    The absence of cloud is also associated with relatively intense incoming short wave radiation and strong temperature gain at the surface (depending upon moisture content).

    Before we attribute a change in surface temperature to a process that can not be demonstrated, or evidence found for its viability, we should investigate the simple stuff, the coming and going of clouds, and in particular ice clouds that are highly reflective.

    There is a strong flux in the temperature of the atmosphere above 200hPa (including the top third of the troposphere and the stratosphere) associated with a seasonal and biennial change in its ozone content. As the temperature in this layer rises (due to increasing ozone content) so does the temperature of the surface of the sea.

    That is the sort of observation that should excite our attention if we wish to explain the ups and downs of surface temperature over short and long time scales.

    Manifestly, we do not understand the warming and cooling of the sea. Until we do we should steer away from attributing change to the activities of man. To say that we can’t account for change and therefore it must be due to man is just stupid. The fact is, we don’t understand the simplest processes that bring about the change that we observe on a seasonal and inter-annual basis.

  26. Mr. Happ:

    Good work. This is a very interesting discussion, but I do have a curiosity question as an old (actually ancient) upper air guy.

    I am wondering why you picked the 600hPa level to compare temperatures?

    600hPa is not a mandatory level and thus the temperature on (for example) a Skew-T chart for this level could be as much as plus or minus .9C from the plotted temperature. The actual temperature at this level could only be determined from the raw data, but not from the coded report unless 600hPa happened to be selected as significant.

    Both 500 or 700hpa bracket this level and are always reported as they are mandatory levels.

    • Hi Rod, Thanks for the inquiry. Why use 600hPa? I am doing my best to discover the forces working on the atmosphere. So, I am using a data set derived from reanalysis of the record. Its at and offers this level. I guess every data set is based on interpolation, that’s the nature of the game. In this case the data I report is an average of the record over a long period of time, 1948 through to the present time.

  27. Thank you for a very timely answer. I can see why you would use the linked site, although I am put off by the term “reanalysis.”

    I just wouldn’t think a mean temperature calculation would require “reanalysis.”

    Again, thanks for satisfying an old coot’s curiosity.

  28. Don’t try and make points with references to classical knowledge and science. You say the Greeks knew what was up when they named the troposphere. Except they didn’t, of course. They didn’t know a troposphere from a bathysphere. The word was invented in 1914:
    1914, from Fr. troposphère, lit. “sphere of change,” coined by Fr. meteorologist Philippe Teisserenc de Bort (1855-1913) from Gk. tropos “a turn, change” + sphaira “sphere.”

    It embarrasses me when people I agree with put on dumb airs. >:-( 😉

    • Thanks, I am enlightened.

      I imagine that the Greeks were familiar with the ‘turning’ nature of the atmosphere. Bit hard to miss really.

  29. I live on a hill in Seattle. I have never seen so much snow on the mountains we call the Cascades to the east. This is Why we are entering a cooling phase according to Theodore Landscheidt, who died in 2004, and predicted all this.
    1. We have no sunspots, Teddy predicted this would happen.
    2. Sunspots create what is called a solar wind.
    3. Solar wind knocks away cosmic rays. Cosmic rays come from outer space. Things like supernova. They are actually atoms without the electrons.
    4. Cosmic rays seed clouds, cosmic rays more clouds. Relative humidity is usually between 120-140% before it rains. Relative humidity at all levels of atmomphere has been falling in recent years. Relative humidity in North Africa is usually 80-90% yet it seldom rains.
    5. No clouds clear sky. Sun warms earth and especially the ocean. Because the ocean is dark and has what is called a low albedo. Ocean albedo about 10%. This puts more water vapor in sky. The feed back mechanism between no sunspots and a cooler ocean is estimated at between 4 to 7 years. We have had low sunspot activity since 2006. The planet should be getting progressively cooler.
    6. If you have dark clouds, believe it or not. The other side of that cloud is a bright white. (rocket science?). This bright white is reflecting the suns energy into space. The earth gets only so much energy a year. If we don’t get it from sunshine we go to the bank (eg. the ocean) and get it from there.
    7. The ocean is really big in scientific terms.
    8. If the ocean loses heat the earth loses heat. (more rocket science).
    9. We and our plants get cold. Our plants get cold, we get hungry.
    10. If the earth gets cold and warm clouds come in we have storms. If it is cold enough it snows. If the sun doesn’t melt the snow. The snow stays where it is. unless you get off your lazy bum and shovel it away.
    11. Like the other side of clouds, snow is very white and has a high albedo. More energy is reflected into outer space and warms up the martians, but we and our plants and oceans get colder.
    12. We go to the bank some more, but pretty soon everybody on earth is cold.
    13. Teddy warned us this would happen. Is it what you want?
    14. If the Russians get cold they have what are called nuclear weapons. They produce a lot of heat. If they are hungry they would probably ask for food. If we don’t give it to them. We should probably think this out. What would you do if you were hungry?
    15. All this thinking because you are too lazy to shovel a little snow.

  30. Erl;
    You might be interested in Clemenzi’s version of the “convection” mechanism you posit. He describes it as a kind of “heat pipe”, wherein evaporation cools the surface, and condensation of that vapor in clouds turns their upper surfaces into blackbody radiators which dump energy into space — a negative feedback loop of virtually unlimited power, able to prevent “runaway” no matter how much GHG is present.
    He also notes that Venus’ heating has nothing to do with GH effects; despite the very slow rotation there is no day/night temperature difference there, so the sun has zero effect at the surface.

    Other sources note that it is an embarrassing detail of radiative accounting that spacecraft instruments measure more heat coming off Venus than the Sun put onto it. I.e., Venus has its own internal heat engines which are still at work. It has not reached thermal equilibrium.

  31. Thanks Brain H

    from the source you cite:
    Of course, wind, weather fronts, and storms greatly complicate this model. My point was simply to show that simple evaporation followed, by cloud formation, effectively pokes a hole in the insulating atmospheric blanket so that heat can escape. As a result, if additional CO2 makes this blanket more efficient at holding heat, that will have almost no effect because the water driven heat pipe (phase change assisted heat transfer) will provide the necessary negative feedback.

    Exactly, and this is the reason why the ocean in the warmest part of the tropics is virtually temperature saturated. As a result, the temperature increase of the tropical ocean over recent decades is about of the third of that in the atmosphere at 850hPa where moisture condenses to form cloud. According to greenhouse theory this should result in a massive increase in back radiation to the ocean. But the countervailing activity of that heat pipe ensures that the energy evaporating the water is efficiently conveyed towards space.

    As the air moves upwards in convection tubes it cools via decompression. There is an equal and opposite subsidence of descending, warming and drying air in subtropical high pressure cells which have little cloud. In these areas the sea warms, not due to a back radiation factor but a simple loss of cloud cover. These are the areas where the bulk of the warmth coming from the Earth is FREELY RADIATED to space.

    The end of this discussion of what determines the temperature at the surface of the Earth must be informed by observation of the symmetry in the movement of temperature of the stratosphere and the sea. If we can explain why that is so we explain climate change.

    The temperature of the stratosphere is determined by its ozone content. And the ozone content of the stratosphere depends upon the degree of mixing of mesospheric air rich in nitrous oxides (that are hungry for ozone) into the stratosphere by the polar vortexes.

  32. Yes. But one of the points made by Clemenzi is that the energy radiated from the cloudtops is essentially blackbody radiation from warmed liquid water droplets, plus heated molecules of other gases. All radiation to space is an energy sink, not just IR.

    In any case, since evaporation increases with surface heating (land or water) it constitutes a direct and potent negative feedback control on heat buildup. Venus, lacking water or other volatiles, has no such mechanism, for example.

  33. Further, re the stratosphere, as Clemenzi notes elsewhere and as NOAA recently discovered to its evident surprise, water vapor in the stratosphere has a potent effect on its heat transport behavior. It must never be forgotten how broad the H2O IR emission bands are.

  34. The 33 degrees of so-called greenhouse gas warming is a bogus number obtained by the fatal mixing of a vector temperature (outgoing infrared radiation) and a scalar temperature (ave. of ground thermometer reading).

    The creator of this fraud was Dr. James Hansen of NASA who ignored requests to correct this junk science error.
    See here:

  35. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as
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    • Pleased to be of service Larry. Go right ahead.

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