Monday, November 22, 2010

Venus: No Greenhouse Effect

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The flip side of the entrenched incompetence in science today is that all it takes is scientific competence to make revolutionary discoveries, or fundamental corrections to current dogma. Being a competent physicist rather than an incompetent climate scientist (which 97% of them demonstrably are), I was able recently to post an answer on to a question about the greenhouse effect on Venus, an update to which I give here:

Surprisingly to most, there is no greenhouse effect at all, and you can prove it for yourself.

From the temperature and pressure profiles for the Venusian atmosphere, you can confirm that, at the altitude where the pressure = 1000 millibars, which is the sea level pressure of Earth, the temperature of the Venusian atmosphere is 66ºC = 339K.

This is much warmer than the temperature at the surface of the Earth (at pressure = 1000 millibars), which is about 15ºC = 288K. HOWEVER

Venus is closer to the Sun, and gets proportionally more power from it. Earth is 93 million miles from the Sun, on average, while Venus is only 67.25 million. Since the intensity of the Sun's radiation decreases with distance from it as 1 over r-squared, Venus receives (93/67.25) squared, or 1.91 times the power per unit area that Earth receives, on average.

Since the radiating temperature of an isolated body in space varies as the fourth-root of the power incident upon it, by the Stefan-Boltzmann law, the radiating temperature of Venus should be the fourth-root of 1.91 (or the square-root of 93/67.25) = 1.176 times that of the Earth. Furthermore, since the atmospheric pressure varies as the temperature, the temperature at any given pressure level in the Venusian atmosphere should be 1.176 times the temperature at that same pressure level in the Earth atmosphere, INDEPENDENT OF THE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF INFRARED ABSORPTION in the two atmospheres. In particular, the averaged temperature at 1000 millibars on Earth is about 15ºC = 288K, so the corresponding temperature on Venus, WITHOUT ANY GREENHOUSE EFFECT, should be 1.176 times that, or 339K. But this is just 66ºC, the temperature we actually find there from the temperature and pressure profiles for Venus.

[Note: The derivation of the radiating temperature above is for absolute temperature, in degrees Kelvin (K), so the 1.176 factor relates the Kelvin temperatures, not the Celsius temperatures.]

So there is no greenhouse effect. You have just proved that climate science is utterly wrong to think otherwise. This is the scandal that so many "experts" in climate science, and all the scientific authorities, will not face. Listen to the physicists that tell you there is no greenhouse effect; they know without having to go to the Venus data -- and I am one of them. The continuing incompetence on this vital point among so many scientists, for more than a century, is amazing, and tragic.

Here is a table more precisely comparing the temperatures at various pressures in Earth's atmosphere (the standard atmosphere) with the corresponding temperatures in Venus's atmosphere:

(updated 12/02/10)

My uncertainty in finding T_Venus from the graphs is +/- 1.4 K, so any error less than about 1.2 K (in the last column) is negligible. I don't know why the comparison falters slightly between 600 and 300 mb, or why it improves suddenly at 200 mb (~60 km altitude), but the Venus cloud top is given as 58 km, between the 300 and 200 mb levels.

The Venus atmosphere is 96.5% carbon dioxide, and supposedly superheated due to a runaway greenhouse effect, yet that portion of it within the pressure bounds of the Earth atmosphere is remarkably like the Earth in temperature. This is student-level analysis, and could not have been neglected by climate scientists, if they were not rendered incompetent by their dogmatic belief in the greenhouse hypothesis. (Again, the overwhelming extent of fundamental incompetence exhibited by scientists today is the real underlying story.) This result also flies in the face of those who would say the clouds of Venus reflect much of the incident solar energy, and that therefore it cannot get 1.91 times the power per unit area received by the Earth -- the direct evidence presented here is that its atmosphere does, in fact, get that amount of power, remarkably closely. This in fact indicates that the Venusian atmosphere is heated mainly by incident infrared radiation from the Sun, which is not reflected but absorbed by Venus's clouds, rather than by warming first of the planetary surface. (It also indicates that the Earth atmosphere is substantially warmed the same way, during daylight hours, by direct solar infrared irradiation, and that the temperature profile, or lapse rate, for any planetary atmosphere is relatively oblivious to how the atmosphere is heated, whether from above or below.) This denies any possibility of a "greenhouse effect" on Venus (or on Earth), much less a "runaway" one. This has already been pointed out recently by physicists Gerlich and Tscheuschner, who have written succinctly, "...since the venusian atmosphere is opaque to visible light, the central assumption of the greenhouse hypotheses [sic] is not obeyed." Yet they are ridiculed by climate scientists, who thus behave like spoiled children who refuse to be chastised by their parents.

Update March 14, 2012: This analysis is so easy, the result so immediately amazing, and the interpretation just above so obvious to me, yet the opposition to accepting it so universal and so determined, that I was led to unconsciously accept, partially but nevertheless wrongly, the premise of incompetent critics, that my findings were invalid because I had not "corrected for albedo", or in other words had wrongly assumed the Earth and Venus atmospheres were blackbodies, absorbing all the radiation incident upon them. I inadvertently got caught up, over time, in claiming the Earth-plus-atmosphere system behaves like a blackbody (although I never claimed it absorbs all the radiation incident upon it, as a blackbody is defined to do, and as the incompetent dismissers of my analysis have determinedly, dogmatically insisted). Although this has thoroughly hindered the acceptance of my analysis, my initial approach to the problem was in fact sound (even if too simple-minded for most), and my above, initial interpretation is quite correct, and in fact unavoidable, although it is not a complete statement. The complete interpretation, which I have stressed (as a logical fact) ever since, both in comments below this article, and on other internet sites, is that the two atmospheres must DIRECTLY absorb the SAME FRACTION of the incident solar radiation. For, supposing that both atmospheres do so absorb, and are solely warmed by, the same fraction (f), and given that the ratio of the two planets' distances from the Sun--Venus/Earth--is (A), the governing formula becomes, for the Earth and Venus atmospheres in turn

This result is independent of the fraction f absorbed, which is why naively approaching the problem as if f = 1 nevertheless gives, without the need to even consciously consider albedo beforehand, the amazingly clear result that the temperature ratio depends only--and amazingly, quite precisely--upon the ratio of the two planets' distances from the Sun. Any "expert", upon seeing this amazing result, should quickly have realized it means both atmospheres must absorb the same fraction of the incident solar radiation, and be warmed only by that fraction. So I apologize for not presenting the explicit equations above sooner, for it would have saved me stumbling into error later, and embarrassing my few defenders, in my "blackbody" defense of the original analysis--but I insist my critics have all been more incompetent than I in this matter, in refusing to even consider my correct interpretation, because of what they merely assumed was a fatal error. There was no physical error in my original analysis, because the temperature ratio I obtained was an empirical fact, and the absorbed power ratio I implied from that was a logical fact (simply stated, Venus's atmosphere DOES absorb 1.91 times the power that Earth's atmosphere does, as their temperature ratio shows--and that ratio is precisely that predicted simply from the ratio of their distances from the Sun). Since the two atmospheres DO, factually, absorb the same fraction of the solar radiation incident upon them, there was, in reality, no physical reason to extend the analysis by "correcting for albedo". But I seriously underestimated the level of determined ignorance--alias incompetence--of the "experts", and dropped part way down to their level for a time.

Another way to look at the Venus/Earth data is this:

Venus is 67.25 million miles from the Sun, the Earth, 93 million.

The radiating temperature of Venus should be 1.176 times that of the Earth.

Without ANY greenhouse effect as promulgated by the IPCC, at any given pressure within the range of the Earth atmosphere, the temperature of the Venus atmosphere should be 1.176 times that of the corresponding Earth atmosphere.

The facts:
at 1000 millibars (mb), T_earth=287.4 (K), T_venus=338.6, ratio=1.178
at 900 mb, T_earth=281.7, T_venus=331.4, ratio=1.176
at 800 mb, T_earth=275.5, T_venus=322.9, ratio=1.172
at 700 mb, T_earth=268.6, T_venus=315.0, ratio=1.173
at 600 mb, T_earth=260.8, T_venus=302.1, ratio=1.158
at 500 mb, T_earth=251.9, T_venus=291.4, ratio=1.157
at 400 mb, T_earth=241.4, T_venus=278.6, ratio=1.154
at 300 mb, T_earth=228.6, T_venus=262.9, ratio=1.150
at 200 mb, T_earth=211.6, T_venus=247.1, ratio=1.168
(Venus temperatures are +/- 1.4K, Earth temp. are from std. atm)

The actual ratio overall is 1.165 +/- 0.015 = 0.991 x 1.176. It does not vary from the no-greenhouse theoretical value at any point by more than about 2%.

There is no sign whatever of a greenhouse effect on either planet. The fact that the temperature ratios are so close to that predicted solely by their relative distances from the Sun tells us that both atmospheres must be warmed, overall, essentially in the same way, by direct IR solar irradiation from above, not by surface emissions from below. Keeping it simple, the atmospheres must be like sponges, or empty bowls, with the same structure (hydrostatic lapse rate), filled with energy by the incident solar radiation to their capacity to hold that energy.

There is no greenhouse effect on Venus with 96.5% carbon dioxide, and none on the Earth with just a trace of carbon dioxide.

Monday, November 15, 2010

On Innovation in Science and Society

I have posted a short comment at Die Klimazwiebel, on the present state of climate science, and more generally on where innovation comes from and the tasks facing society in a time of vaguely-sensed revolution, whether natural or man-made.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Unphysical Greenhouse Effect

In my post on "Runaway Global Warming", I pointed out that the radiational energy balance as claimed by the IPCC and most climate scientists exhibits an unrealistically large infrared radiation emitted by the Earth's surface, and an almost equally large "backradiation", supposedly emitted downward by the "greenhouse gases", especially carbon dioxide. In this way, they insist, the 0.04% of the atmosphere that is carbon dioxide controls the temperature of the globe, by returning heat to the surface that would otherwise quickly escape to space. To a competent physicist, this should set off alarm bells, primarily because in their model, the energy coming off the surface is greater than that coming from the Sun, which is simply impossible.

I would like to add a note to show how the infrared radiation actually works in the atmosphere, and that there can be no large "backradiation" from CO2 or other infrared-absorbing gases, because that is directly counter to the way the atmospheric radiation really works in the process of distributing heat energy in the air.

There is a new book out, exposing the overwhelming weakness in the climate consensus of a "greenhouse effect" responsible for global warming, titled "Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Theory." I have posted a comment on one of its web pages, an updated version of which I present here:

In our gravitationally bound ocean of air, heat always rises, and the infrared radiation (supposedly "trapped" or "slowed down" by CO2, in the "greenhouse" theory) is just another pathway for the heat to go. It is, in fact, not a continuous path, since it depends on the temperature at which it was radiated and the temperature of any molecule it hits. The IR radiation given off at any given temperature level (height) of the atmosphere, cannot (statistically, or macroscopically, speaking) be absorbed by molecules immediately below, because they are too warm to be excited by the "cooler" radiation from above, and will quickly bounce it back upwards. The molecules immediately (or within a short distance) above the level from which the radiation was emitted, can absorb it, and it is quickly transformed into additional kinetic energy of those molecules, which are then convected upward, like the common candle flame, which is stretched upward by the same effect. Thus, there can be no real, large "backradiation", because it is heat radiation, and heat must rise naturally, like the candle flame (congratulations to the book's author, for pointing out this clear example of natural heat flow in the air). Why this is not obvious to the bulk of climate scientists is an ongoing sordid tale, and one of monumental proportions (although it is just one small example of the overall incompetence in science today, which only my discovery of the world design of the "gods" has revealed).

The temperature profile of the atmosphere is basically determined only by gravity, which increases the pressure in the atmosphere the farther down toward the Earth's surface you go (just like the pressure increases with depth in the water ocean), and the greater the pressure, the greater the temperature -- the presence of infrared radiation, or infrared-absorbing gases, has essentially nothing to do with it.

How long will it take to purge climate science of its belief in the "greenhouse effect", and how long to disabuse recent generations of students (and the general public) of the bad science which they have been, and continue to be, so determinedly indoctrinated in?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Greenhouse Effect: Incompetence in Climate Science

At the heart of the anthropogenic global warming (or AGW) hypothesis is the so-called "greenhouse effect", which is widely discussed on the internet (so I won't go over what is readily available elsewhere). Climate scientists have, apparently, all been taught that the carbon dioxide greenhouse effect is a long-known fact, and confirmed by overwhelming experimental observations along many lines of evidence. Physicists, however, tend to have independent opinions and more critical views (which are spread out over the range from total acceptance to total rejection). A few of the current articles, available online, by physicists critical of the greenhouse effect, are: Prof. Claes Johnson, "Climate Thermodynamics"; Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf Tscheuschner, "On the Barometric Formulas and Their Derivation from Hydrodynamics and Thermodynamics"; and Tom Vonk, "CO2 Heats the Atmosphere...A Counter View." The first two are math intensive, while the third is more narrowly focused and clearly physical in tone. I would not ordinarily feel the need to write an article on the subject myself, but I have to discuss openly the incompetence I see being played out in many sciences, across the board. I have lately found myself posting on forums I have come across, where the physicist's view of the greenhouse effect seems to be neglected, or even haughtily dismissed by climate scientists; and I might as well say here, in my own backyard so to speak, what I have said elsewhere -- particularly because I haven't seen anyone voice my own understanding of the physics of it, in a clear, strong manner.

Putting my position succinctly, I have come to consider the greenhouse effect completely wrong, the more I have read about it. The following is basically a copy of one of my most recent posts on the subject.

The imaginary character of the atmospheric greenhouse effect is most readily seen in the energy budget diagrams that are derived from it (look up "Trenberth energy budget", or see my last post here), where the surface of the Earth is shown as emitting more energy than is provided by the Sun (the sole power source for the global climate system). This is a clear violation of the conservation of energy (never mind the "laws of thermodynamics" that others talk about), but today's climate scientists as a whole seem to have been taught otherwise, and are simply incompetent.

So forget what even the AGW skeptics who believe in the greenhouse effect are putting out, it is all flawed, as the obvious violation of energy conservation should make clear. CO2 and other IR absorbing gases cannot "trap" or even "slow down" heat transport through the atmosphere. The radiation they absorb and emit is simply heat energy, and that heat flows from warmer regions to colder, by whichever path (convection, conduction, or radiation) is available and is the most efficient.

[In fact, to make it simple, I suggest that heat radiation should probably be considered as "heat conduction by radiation," and perhaps treated as an effective thermal conductivity of the atmosphere, rather than radiation per se, since climate scientists, and thermodynamicists in general, have stumbled badly trying to deal with it as the latter. This is my own, recent idea, which I have noticed an echo of in the article by Prof. Johnson, so it is certainly not a new idea in the world of science, although the IPCC and those who believe in the greenhouse effect (including many physicists) don't seem to have heard of it. The physics behind it can be stated as, the IR radiation from molecules in a cooler region cannot be absorbed by the molecules in a warmer region, because the "cooler" IR photon does not have enough energy to excite the "warmer" molecule to its next higher energy level. Heat, including heat radiation, can only flow from warmer to cooler regions.]

The temperature profile of the atmosphere is dictated solely by gravity acting on the ocean of air and the specific heat of the air, which imposes a temperature "lapse rate" (a declining temperature) with height given by -g/c, a constant rate, where g is the acceleration due to gravity and c is the specific heat. Note that this is entirely independent of the presence of any IR absorption by gases in the atmosphere. The available heat energy must be distributed in accordance with that constant lapse rate, and IR radiation is just one pathway for the heat to be distributed. Thus, IR absorption and emission in the atmosphere can only enable more efficient (faster) heat transport through the atmosphere, they cannot trap heat, or slow it down. And as you can read elsewhere on the internet (see, for example,, the evidence from climate science itself is that the co2 greenhouse effect cannot explain the global temperature record, particularly over the last ten years or so, when atmospheric co2 has substantially increased, while the temperature has levelled off or declined very slightly.

The only thing that has kept the greenhouse theory alive, even after the lapse rate was observed and explained by simple thermodynamics, has been the breathtaking magnitude of the entrenched incompetence among climate scientists. It can be traced, to a substantial degree, back to Carl Sagan's popular appeal, around 1960, to a "runaway greenhouse effect" for the extremely high surface temperature of Venus. But he was wrong (and a bad, self-serving scientist), and the lapse rate for the huge ocean of air on Venus (providing a surface pressure 90 times that on the Earth) explains that too, although again, you will find climate scientists referencing Venus to "prove" the greenhouse effect. This is not just your usual scientific discussion or genteel disagreement, then, it is the tip of a world-sized incompetence in science. Indeed, it involves a religious belief among climate scientists in the greenhouse theory, a belief up to now immune to even the clearest logical and evidential arguments.