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The Carbon Flame War
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Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

The real reason the Earth's surface is warm - heat capacity and air pressure: not co2 on 12/05/2012 09:05:25 MST Print View

There has been some interesting theoretical work going on at my website. We now have some good looking algebra to back up our new understanding.

Here's the layman's verbal precis:

Gravity acting on
atmospheric mass increases pressure nearer the surface, and therefore
air density, and, importantly, heat capacity. The throughput of solar energy necessarily leaves more
energy in this denser, higher heat capacity medium as it flows in
as short-wave and out as sensible heat, latent heat and long wave
radiation. That extra warmth is offset and balanced by the radiatively
active gases, water vapour and (tiny amounts of) CO2. Their primary role
is to lose energy back to space from high up in the troposphere. These
two processes plus general circulation driven by differentials are what
creates the vertical temperature profile and thus the enviromental lapse rate.

The primary role of the so-called ‘greenhouse gases’ is actually to
cool the planet, not warm it! Radiation is the only way energy can get
back to space!

Back radiation can’t elevate the temperature of the Earth’s surface
because downwelling IR is overcome on average by upwelling IR,
the net radiative flux is upwards. The denser, warmer, higher heat capacity air
near the surface prevents the ocean from losing heat quickly enough to
achieve equilibrium until it has risen in temperature high enough to
overcome the limitation on the rate of evaporation set by the air
pressure and temperature. The ocean itself supports that temperature
(especially at night) as it releases the solar energy it absorbs to a
depth of 100m during the day.

Without ocean and atmosphere the Earth’s average temperature would be
the same as the Moon’s, which was recently empirically determined by
the Diviner experiment on the Lunar Orbiter – ~197K. This is far below
the ~255K the radiative theorists falsely arrived at through their
mis-application of the Stefan Boltzmann equation to a flat Earth under
a weakened, averaged out Sun. The difference between ~197K
and the actual surface temperature of ~288K is waaay bigger than
anything ‘back radiation’ could achieve, and is down to the circulation
and heat capacity of the oceans, the surface air pressure induced by
gravity acting on the atmospheric mass increasing the density and heat
capacity of the near surface air, and the limitation that places on the
evaporation rate of the ocean.


Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: The real reason the Earth's surface is warm - heat capacity and air pressure: not co2 on 12/11/2012 02:25:26 MST Print View

Heh, showstopper.

OK, I've written an article without using any equations or difficult technical terms on my website which might help.

In the comments section I've added this more technical comment:

The whole of mainstream climate science), is fixated on balancing the books with radiation alone. This is false. 'Greenhouse gases' cool the Earth to space from high in the atmosphere where the radiatively active molecules can radiate directly to space. But they do not warm the surface with ‘downwelling radiation’ which can’t penetrate the ocean anyway.

The surface is warmer than the final ‘back to space’ average emission temperature because of the other factors I have outlined. The average surface temperature of the ocean is a couple of degrees higher than the average near surface air temperature. Changes in the globally averaged near surface air temperature lag changes in sea surface temperature by a couple of months. This tells you everything you need to know about the direction of causality. The Sun heats the ocean, the ocean heats the air, and the air loses heat back to space. Simples. No complicated 'back radiation' required.

I have no problem in accepting that GHG’s losing heat to space from high in the atmosphere are an essential part of the Earth’s system which are necessary for the surface to have the potential to be warmer than the final emission temperature on average.

But a necessary condition isn’t the same thing as a sufficient condition. This is elementary logic: Just because it is necessary for the high altitude GHG’s to be there for the surface to have the potential to be warmer than the average emission-to-space temperature doesn’t mean they are the sufficient cause of the surface being warm. In fact they can’t be, because most of the downwelling radiation is soon absorbed in the denser region of the troposphere below and carried upwards again by convection. What little reaches the surface from high altitude is absorbed in the top 10 nanometres of the ocean surface where it promotes the evaporation which cools the ocean. The primary role of GHG’s is to cool the planet and provide a necessary, but not sufficient condition for the surface to have the potential to be warmer than the average emission-to-space temperature of ~255K or -18C. On average, the net radiation flux is upwards, away from the surface, thereby cooling it, not downwards thereby warming it.

My contention is that the surface warming above ~255K is done by the Sun and the way matter with heat capacity is organised into gradients by gravity and convection. The high altitude GHG’s play a small role in the changing temperature gradient at the top of the atmosphere, but the contribution radiative gases make to the setting of the lapse rate diminishes with falling altitude. Heat capacity, density, pressure, latent heat of evaporation and the throughput of solar energy dominate the energy balance at the surface and are the primary factors in setting both its temperature, and the temperature of most of the troposphere.

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
air density on 12/12/2012 13:44:43 MST Print View

Happy Holidaze and Happy New Year everyone! HoHoHo!

Edited by wildlife on 12/20/2012 21:45:51 MST.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

MET Office dials back the global warming forecast on 01/09/2013 16:24:03 MST Print View



Happy New Year everyone. :-)

Edited by tallbloke on 01/10/2013 06:55:35 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: MET Office dials back the global warming forecast on 01/09/2013 16:51:53 MST Print View

Last year in U.S. there were record warm temps. Can't statistically link this to global warming - yet


Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Re: MET Office dials back the global warming forecast on 01/10/2013 00:57:00 MST Print View

Hi Jerry, Happy New Year to you.

The MET office forecast is for GLOBAL near surface temperature.

Are you aware that the contiguous U.S. shown on your plot represents around 2% of the GLOBAL surface area?

Anyhow, it seems like an appropriate time of year to see how my $1000 bet with Dean is going. If you remember, he says the GLOBAL trend shown by the average of the two main surface networks and the two main satellite teams from 2005 to 2020 will be up, and I say it will be down. Here's the current plot showing the trend in green:

.trend 2012

So far as regional extremes for 2012 are concerned, John Christy has this:

While 2012 was only the ninth warmest year globally, it was the warmest year on record for both the contiguous 48 U.S. states and for the continental U.S., including Alaska. For the U.S., 2012 started with one of the three warmest Januaries in the 34-year record, saw a record-setting March heat wave, and stayed warm enough for the rest of the year to set a record.

Compared to seasonal norms, March 2012 was the warmest month on record in the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Temperatures over the U.S. averaged 2.82 C (almost 5.1° Fahrenheit) warmer than normal in March; the warmest spot on the globe that month was in northern Iowa. The annual average temperature over the conterminous 48 states in 2012 was 0.555 C (about 0.99 degrees F) warmer than seasonal norms.

Compared to seasonal norms, the coolest area on the globe throughout 2012 was central Mongolia, where temperatures averaged about 1.39 C (about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than seasonal norms. The warmest area was north of central Russia in the Kara Sea, where temperatures averaged 2.53 C (about 4.55 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than seasonal norms for 2012.

Compared to seasonal norms, over the past month the coldest area on the globe was eastern Mongolia, where temperatures were as much as 4.55 C (about 8.19 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than seasonal norms. The “warmest” area was off the coast of the Antarctic near South America, where temperatures averaged 3.79 C (about 6.82 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than seasonal norms for December.

Edited by tallbloke on 01/10/2013 01:23:53 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: MET Office dials back the global warming forecast on 01/10/2013 08:58:48 MST Print View

"Are you aware that the contiguous U.S. shown on your plot represents around 2% of the GLOBAL surface area?"


We in the U.S. believe that we are 90% of the global surface area and don't know anything about the rest of the world : )

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: MET Office dials back the global warming forecast on 01/11/2013 04:14:12 MST Print View

Ah, that would explain why it's so difficult to get you to understand why the climate system is predominantly controlled by the ocean. You seem to think it's the paddling pool out of the Truman Show. ;-)

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Re: Re: Re: MET Office dials back the global warming forecast on 01/11/2013 04:14:15 MST Print View

Heh, that's why you seem to think the ocean is the paddling pool in the Truman Show then. ;-)

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
How do I "professionally" handle climate change denial? on 01/22/2013 15:36:35 MST Print View

My day job. A blog post to temper the flames.

Sean Staplin
(mtnrat) - MLife

Locale: Southern Cdn Rockies
RE: How do I "professionally" handle climate change denial? on 01/22/2013 18:26:59 MST Print View

I liked this response to that article.

Tom Arnold Commented On January 18th, 2013 at 13:22
Michael – With nearly 40-years of professional experience in environmental impact analysis and historical geological, meteorological, and biological studies behind me, I feel the need to scream some common sense toward your column. I am far from alone and what I and many of my peers see happening is the final successful collapse of the Global Warming mantra into the indisputable truth that we live on an ever changing planet with ever changing climate. So Climate Change as a term is correct and has happened since day one, not day one of our recent political memory but day one of our wonderful world. The truthful science (and yes there is plenty of untruthful politically-driven science) proving any actual impact or any influence by the human population on Climate Change has not been proven. We are in a climate cycle – no more and no less. Truly pollution is up as caused by increasing global population but significant global climate events as documented by ice core data, geologic history of the greening and drying of our worlds deserts, rises and fall of our oceans, ice ages and hot ages, documented impacts of solar cycles, earth axis wobbles and all the other mega-events puts us puny humans – that for political reasons only need populations to believe are to blame – back into perspective and proves we are not in control of the earth’s climate. Pollution control is good, energy efficiency is great … on their own; we don’t need self-perpetuating political hype and unending federal grants to support artificial self-serving science of politicians simply because political philosophers can’t control themselves. Now can we have a legitimate non-political discussion on water and other natural resources and the real impact of population growth? Our climate will continue to change, but what will become of our major world population centers when their water, wood, minerals, and other supplies are exhausted? The height of oceans, depth of ice, and other modest migrations in our changing climate are out of our control so yes, well need to spend some money to physically move to accommodate these proportionately small changes that will occur over several lifetimes. Our consumption and race-to-zero on natural resources is something we can and need to control.
Thank you for your question that provided me the opportunity to vent. Now back to billable work for my clients that need to stay in business, be efficient and responsible stewards of resources, and show a profit.

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
population on 04/04/2013 12:38:15 MDT Print View

What this guy is really saying is that the Earth's population is in control of the Climate. His turf is population and resources and he does not want the Climate Change people treading on his turf. It's as simple as that. These are 2 sides of the same coin. He just seems to desire going at the problem in a blind way and would like to ignore the big changes that are happening.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Montana to be the new Napa Valley for wine? on 04/08/2013 23:53:09 MDT Print View

Wine grape growing by 2050 map

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Montana to be the new Napa Valley for wine? on 04/24/2013 14:11:42 MDT Print View

Old saying in Britain:

"If you want to make a small fortune, start with a large one and buy a vineyard in England."

Dan: Tom is correct. The cooling has only just begun, as the cyclic turn of the climate wheel rools us gently over the top of the warming curve, but it will gather pace over the next year or two. If you want to steal a march on your competitors, start designing a pack with a built in waterbag cozy.

Sean: ;-)

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Here is the five year forecast on 04/25/2013 01:59:54 MDT Print View

On average, there are three el Nino’s per cycle. There has been a big one starting soon after solar minimum for at least the last 6 cycles, although the one following El Chichon in the 80′s was less distinct because there was a low level ongoing El Nino following the eruption which meant the PWP wasn’t so well charged up when solar min came around. Then there’s usually a smaller one just after solar max, but with the nature of the weak solar cycle we are in, I doubt that’ll do much this time. Then the third is usually halfway down the downslope of the cycle. I think that is the one we’ll see around 2017.

The underlying factor is that the ocean takes the opportunity to get rid of energy via el Nino when there is a lull in the Solar input to the ocean. The uncertainty here is the question of when the next big northern hemisphere stratospheric volcano is going to occur. Iceland is rumbling and Katla is overdue. The Kamchatkan peninsula volcanic range has been more active recently. There are ~90 yr (Gleissberg) and ~110 yr cycles in Solar activity which seem to be linked to periodic upticks in volcanic activity.

I made a comparison plot of the late 1800′s to the 2000′s a couple of years ago. It shows that when the Solar cycles take a downturn, some big El Nino’s occur. This maintains near surface air temperatures as the ocean loses heat. The ocean’s massive heat capacity means that air temps can be maintained for years, but while the Sun is putting out less energy, the overall ocean heat content will diminish, and average sea surface surface temperature will fall. That means colder winters as there is less energy coming out of the ocean in the winter hemisphere to maintain air temps. This is because the current bringing warm water up the Antlantic from the southern hemisphere in Austral summer will be less vigorous. That is what will make the effects of the la Nina following the next big El nino particularly harsh.

Of course, mainstream climate scientists will make up some story about the less vigorous ocean circulation being due to ‘changes in the atmosphere’, but it should be obvious to anyone who thinks about it that it is the ocean which drives the atmosphere, not the other way round. The top two metres of ocean has as much heat capacity as the entire atmosphere above it. Near surface air temperature lags a couple of months behind SST. The tail does not wag the dog. But since the mainstream climate scientists don’t understand cause and effect with changes in co2 following changes in temperature (at all timescales), they don’t understand that atmospheric changes are a consequence of solar induced oceanic changes rather than their cause either.

This is mostly because traditionally, meteorology has been an atmospheric study, and because the atmosphere is more easily accessible and amenable to measurements than the oceans. It’s natural for professionals to believe the object of their specialism is at the root of the chain of cause and effect, because it makes them feel more self important and their publicly funded salaries and research more justified. This is why there is strong resistance to accepting that the principle climate drivers are above and below the atmosphere, rather than in it.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

UK Spring coldest in 130 years. on 06/12/2013 14:20:42 MDT Print View


Flying to Malta on Sunday to get some Sun.

"Where's Malta" I hear you ask.

It's an Island in the Mediterranean with a fascinating history. Everyone has been through, Romans, Phoenetians, Turks, Moors, The Knights Hospitalier...

Apparently there are a few small areas where wild camping is permitted too.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
The Carbon Flame War on 07/02/2013 21:52:17 MDT Print View

Anyone else enjoying the cool weather ?

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: The Carbon Flame War on 07/03/2013 12:11:57 MDT Print View

Climate Change 101:

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 07/31/2013 05:46:43 MDT Print View

Here's one of the claims made in 'climate 101'

"Floods, storms, droughts, fires, theyr'e all occuring at a greater frequency than ever before in recorded history."

Uh-huh. Obama tried this one on recently too.

Lets take a look:



Doughts are not more prolonged, but infrastructure has not kept pace with a growing populations demands. This is not the fault of co2 however.

Some really dumb enviro laws have been passed making it illegal to burn off dead wood. This means that when big fires do start, they have a more devastating impact, making pine tree seeds less likely to survive.

Propaganda movie #101

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: The Carbon Flame War on 07/31/2013 08:28:29 MDT Print View

I see huge areas of dead pine trees on East side of Cascades in Oregon and Washington. Due to beetles. It doesn't get cold enough to kill them off in winter. Yeah, years of fire supression have created problems but you're just choosing factors that are non CO2 related.