Greenhouse? - We don't need no stinkin' greenhouse! (Warning, science ahead!)

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Trenberth et al 2011jcli24 Figure 10

This popular balance graphic and assorted variations are based on a power flux, W/m^2. A W is not energy, but energy over time, i.e. 3.4 Btu/eng h or 3.6 kJ/SI h. The 342 W/m^2 ISR is determined by spreading the average 1,368 W/m^2 solar irradiance/constant over the spherical ToA surface area. (1,368/4 =342) There is no consideration of the elliptical orbit (perihelion = 1,416 W/m^2 to aphelion = 1,323 W/m^2) or day or night or seasons or tropospheric thickness or energy diffusion due to oblique incidence, etc. This popular balance models the earth as a ball suspended in a hot fluid with heat/energy/power entering evenly over the entire ToA spherical surface. This is not even close to how the real earth energy balance works. Everybody uses it. Everybody should know better.

A real heat balance based on Btu/h looks like this. Basically (Incoming Solar Radiation spread over the cross sectional area) = (U*A*dT et. al. leaving the lit side perpendicular to the spherical surface ToA) + (U*A*dT et. al. leaving the dark side perpendicular to spherical surface area ToA) The atmosphere is just a simple second year HVAC heat transfer, heat balance, thermo problem.

“Technically, there is no absolute dividing line between the Earth’s atmosphere and space, but for scientists studying the balance of incoming and outgoing energy on the Earth, it is conceptually useful to think of the altitude at about 100 kilometers above the Earth as the “top of the atmosphere.” The top of the atmosphere is the bottom line of Earth’s energy budget, the Grand Central Station of radiation. It is the place where solar energy (mostly visible light) enters the Earth system and where both reflected light and invisible, thermal radiation from the Sun-warmed Earth exit. The balance between incoming and outgoing energy at the top of the atmosphere determines the Earth’s average temperature. The ability of greenhouses gases to change the balance by reducing how much thermal energy exits is what global warming is all about.”

ToA is 100 km or 62 miles. It is 68 miles between Denver and Colorado Springs. That’s not just thin, that’s ludicrous thin.

The GHE/GHG loop as shown on Trenberth Figure 10 is made up of three main components: upwelling of 396 W/m^2 which has two parts: 63 W/m^2 and 333 W/m^2 and downwelling of 333 W/m^2.
The 396 W/m^2 is determined by inserting 16 C or 279K in the S-B BB equation. This result produces 55 W/m^2 of power flux more than ISR entering ToA, an obvious violation of conservation of energy created out of nothing. That should have been a warning.

ISR of 341 W/m^2 enter ToA, 102 W/m^2 are reflected by the albedo, leaving a net 239 W/m^2 entering ToA. 78 W/m^2 are absorbed by the atmosphere leaving 161 W/m^2 for the surface. To maintain the energy balance and steady temperature 160 W/m^2 rises from the surface (0.9 residual in ground) as 17 W/m^2 convection, 80 W/m^2 latent and 63 W/m^2 LWIR (S-B BB 183 K, -90 C or emissivity = .16) = 160 W/m^2. All of the graphic’s power fluxes are now present and accounted for. The remaining 333 W/m^2 are the spontaneous creation of an inappropriate application of the S-B BB equation violating conservation of energy.

But let’s press on.

The 333 W/m^2 upwelling/downwelling constitutes a 100% efficient perpetual energy loop violating thermodynamics. There is no net energy left at the surface to warm the earth and there is no net energy left in the troposphere to impact radiative balance at ToA.
The 333 W/m^2, 97% of ISR, upwells into the troposphere where it is allegedly absorbed/trapped/blocked by a miniscule 0.04% of the atmosphere. That’s a significant heat load for such a tiny share of atmospheric molecules and they should all be hotter than two dollar pistols.

Except they aren’t.

The troposphere is cold, -40 C at 30,000 ft, 9 km, < -60 C at ToA. Depending on how one models the troposphere, average or layered from surface to ToA, the S-B BB equation for the tropospheric temperatures ranges from 150 to 250 W/m^2, a considerable shortfall from 333.
(99% of the atmosphere is below 32 km where energy moves by convection/conduction/latent/radiation & where ideal S-B does not apply. Above 32 km the low molecular density does not allow for convection/conduction/latent and energy moves by S-B ideal radiation et. al.)

But wait!

The GHGs reradiate in all directions not just back to the surface. Say a statistical 33% makes it back to the surface that means 50 to 80 W/m^2. A longer way away from 333.

But wait!

Because the troposphere is not ideal the S-B equation must consider emissivity. Nasif Nahle suggests CO2 emissivity could be around 0.1 or 5 to 8 W/m^2 re-radiated back to the surface. Light years from 333.

But wait!

All of the above really doesn’t even matter since there is no net connection or influence between the 333 W/m^2 thermodynamically impossible loop and the radiative balance at ToA. Just erase this loop from the graphic and nothing else about the balance changes.

BTW 7 of the 8 reanalyzed (i.e. water board the data till it gives up the right answer) data sets/models show more power flux leaving OLR than entering ASR ToA or atmospheric cooling. Trenberth was not happy. Obviously, those seven data sets/models have it completely wrong because there can’t possibly be any flaw in the GHE theory.

The GHE greenhouse analogy not only doesn’t apply to the atmosphere, it doesn’t even apply to warming a real greenhouse. (“How Global Warming was Discovered” Spencer Weart) It’s the physical barrier of walls, glass, plastic that traps convective heat, not some kind of handwavium glassy transparent radiative thermal diode.

The surface of the earth is warm for the same reason a heated house is warm in the winter: Q = U * A * dT, the energy flow/heat resisting blanket of the insulated walls. The composite thermal conductivity of that paper thin atmosphere, conduction, convection, latent, LWIR, resists the flow of energy, i.e. heat, from surface to ToA and that requires a temperature differential, 213 K ToA and 288 K surface = 75 C.
The flow through a fluid heat exchanger requires a pressure drop. A voltage differential is needed to push current through a resistor. Same for the atmospheric blanket. A blanket works by Q = U * A * dT, not S-B BB.

Open for rebuttal. If you can explain how this GHG/GHE upwelling/downwelling/”back” radiation actually works be certain to copy Jennifer Marohasy as she has posted a challenge for such an explanation.


Richard Plank Added Dec 9, 2016 - 1:52pm
Ok Nicholas so what you are arguing here is that the assumptions of the model/theory that pertain to all of this are wrong.  Being from the social sciences I see this all the time and the interesting debates are on the assumptions.  The notion of equilibrium in economics is one such case.   So what are the competing models? What assumptions are more appropriate?  Educate us.  I view this as a wicked problem from management theory in the 1960's. The system is so complex and has so many variables as to be unfathomable. 
Mike Haluska Added Dec 9, 2016 - 4:53pm
Richard - there is NO WAY to model a complex, non-linear, non-deterministic system like the Earth's climate.  First of all, the principal variables that affect climate are NOT predictable.  For example, the energy output of the Sun is the primary driver and source of all energy affecting the Earth's temperature and its output varies randomly.  If we don't know what the solar output of the Sun will be in 2075, HOW THE HELL CAN WE FORECAST THE EARTH'S TEMPERATURE IN 2075???
Nicholas Schroeder Added Dec 9, 2016 - 5:21pm
Here is a concept for a real climate heat balance.
WB doesn’t lend itself to a Power Point presentation so descriptions will have to do.
Picture a square kilometer on the surface of the earth. Above that patch is a 100 km square tube of atmosphere.
Entering the top of this square tube is about 340 W/m^2 of incoming solar radiation. A watt is not energy, it is a power unit, energy over time, 3.6 kJ/h to be precise or 1,224 kJ/h.
Straightaway the albedo reflects about 100 W/m^2 or 360 kJ/h.
The atmosphere absorbs about 80 W/m^2 or 288 kJ/h.
Arriving at the surface is about 160 W/m^2 or 576 kJ/h. (It all adds up!) This energy is absorbed by whatever it hits raising the temperature of that surface per its specific heat capacity, J / g K.
Now as this square column rotates from dawn to dusk to dawn over 24 hours the intensity of the sunlight varies because of the oblique incidence, absorbing heat, but only during the day, the solar intensity changing with the seasons and the elliptical orbit.
At the same time, and just like your house, this square column of atmosphere is losing heat from surface to ToA based on the temperature difference, a large difference during the day counterbalancing the ISR and 100% loss at night or when there is no sunlight, i.e. the poles during a couple months per year.
In order to maintain a constant temperature, the kJ/h coming in and the kJ/h leaving must stay the same. Considering the chaotic nature of the climate just what are the changes of that. Even a slight change in the albedo or amount of ice at the poles will disrupt this balance, a totally natural process that has been going on for millions of years without the help or hindrance of mankind.
In this particular column there are variations in clouds, weather, aerosols, ice snow, vegetation, etc. all of which have to be modeled as it orbits through 24 hours.
The radius of the earth is 6,371 km so the spherical surface area is 5.1 E 14 km^2. Now just do the above modelling 510,000,000,000,000 – 1 more times.
You are going to need a bigger computer.
Bill H. Added Dec 9, 2016 - 10:23pm
Keep convincing yourselves until your last choking breath while we watch icecaps melt, timberlines increase, oceans warm, tropical climates migrate, and fish species show up in areas they have never been.
You ignorant fucks!
Leroy Added Dec 10, 2016 - 8:36am
Thank goodness for the new EPA Administrator.
Mike Haluska Added Dec 10, 2016 - 4:42pm
Bill H - how about you admit that despite over 40 years of "Doomsday Forecasts" NOTHING HAS EVER MATERIALIZED!!!  Thank God Climate Change Bullshit doesn't accumulate in the atmosphere - then we really would be choking to death!!!
Shane Dean Added Mar 14, 2017 - 7:24pm
Funny, Bill and Desertphile, you only offer insults but never back up what you say like those of differing views do.  But you appear more interested in taking others word and perpetuating what they say rather than look up and present and opposing view, like real scientists who don't have an agenda would do.  
Druss Legend Added Jun 10, 2017 - 8:00pm
For those that want some real science that comes to the same conclusion (that there is no such thing as RGHE) then you can chew on this;
New Insights on the Physical Nature of the Atmospheric Greenhouse Effect Deduced from an Empirical Planetary Temperature Model
Pamalien TW Added Jun 21, 2017 - 12:10pm
So... Ill present you with an image of me shielding my eyes from a bright light and heavy wind because, I'm not a scientist and have no idea what any of those formulas mean. 
All I have is 25 years of watching the coral reefs in Florida die, a perpetually closer, higher tide, despite constant dredging to retain beaches for Canadians in the winter... That year I spent about 3 collective weeks in the house over the course of 4 hurricanes and, I can't predict anymore, what time it's going to rain every day.
Robert Wendell Added Jan 15, 2018 - 11:35pm
Thanks for your comment, Bill H. These people don't know their butts from a hole in the ground when it comes to how to even think intelligently about this. This is not to mention an utter lack of any real understanding of the most basic scientific principles, empirically established beyond any doubt and used for ages in industrially practical applications that produce real products and technologies that actually work.
They don't know enough about any of this stuff to have the slightest clue how stupid their ignorant, but to them, seemingly reasonable and intuitively obvious lay speculations look to anyone with a solid grasp of high school physics or even chemistry.