Friday, August 10, 2012

The Problem With Radiative Transport Analyses

The climaterealists and notrickszone sites have posted on a new paper by Martin Hertzberg, on radiative transport between the Earth's surface, the atmosphere, and space, to which I responded at climaterealists, and add here:
I respect Martin Hertzberg and the other so-called "dragon slayers", some of whom have manned the trenches for years, against the belief--by warmists and "lukewarm" skeptics alike--in the consensus greenhouse effect, of increasing temperature with increasing carbon dioxide (I myself have tried to do so, since I disproved that effect with the definitive evidence myself, in late 2010). I agree with his most general conclusion, that the atmosphere cools the Earth (that is, the Sun provides more than enough energy to heat the Earth system to its observed mean global temperature, and the atmosphere provides the means for the system to shrug off the excess). It is an indictment of our science education system, that the climate "consensus" belief in the greenhouse effect was ever allowed to come into existence, much less prosper and thus fundamentally miseducate the last two generations of atmospheric and climate scientists.

But I have to say, that Hertzberg's analysis, based on the ideas of emissivity and absorptivity, in my opinion conceal the real physics as much as they may enlighten our partial understanding. He cautions in his papers that the emissivity and absorptivity are not just simple numbers representing the whole system, but vary from location to location and with the physical elements involved (as for example, the ocean vs. the land, and the surface vs. the atmosphere). I would emphasize his caution, as I consider, at my present stage of understanding, that "emissivity" and "absorptivity" are essentially just fudge factors, not well-defined, understandable physics, as used both in the consensus radiative transfer theory and in Hertzberg's own recent papers (specifically this latest one, and his 2009 paper). That his use of them confirms more basic, definitive demonstrations against the greenhouse effect may be fine for others, but I prefer to "keep it simple"--particularly because we are writing for the public, not each other, and the public needs to begin to see the simplest, most basic understanding, of good physics for a change, that completely destroys the "consensus" they are being bombarded with by all of our suborned institutions. If they get nothing else, the public needs to know that the atmosphere is properly described by the stable Standard Atmosphere model, which is well over a hundred years old and shows the Earth is not subject to "runaway" global warming OR cooling (so no "ice ages" by the chance working of physical processes, either!), and which was abandoned by incompetent climate scientists like James Hansen over 40 years ago. I confirmed the Standard Atmosphere model with my Venus/Earth temperatures comparison.

I commented on this latest paper by Hertzberg at, where I pointed out,

"...the Sun's incident radiation quickly warms the troposphere directly beneath its rays ... to the Standard Atmosphere equilibrium, vertical temperature lapse rate--and the Earth's surface, separately heated by the Sun during the day, and prevented by the atmospheric lapse rate from further heating the atmosphere beyond transient/local effects (i.e., just those effects we call "weather", and "climate"), acts to cool the near-surface atmosphere during the night (so that many locations see a local temperature inversion near dawn)."

I think that is clearer and simpler than talk of "emissivity" and "absorptivity" affecting the temperatures. My Venus/Earth comparison also demonstrates that clouds don't have any effect on atmospheric temperatures, in both the Venus and Earth atmospheres, outside of the cloud regions themselves. To affect the surface temperature, then, clouds would have to be very near the surface (within a few hundred meters probably, or more conservatively, within one kilometer).

The main point I have against analyses focused upon radiative transport, using the ideas of emissivity and absorptivity, is that they fail to take note of the fundamental physical fact, unrecognized by the mass of scientists, that the Earth's atmosphere is heated by direct absorption of incident solar radiation, not from the surface. Put most simply, the atmosphere is independently heated by the Sun, just as you and I are when we step out into the sunlight.

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