Comments on Miskolczi’s (2010) Controversial Greenhouse Theory

August 5th, 2010 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

SPECIAL MESSAGE: For those following Miskolczi’s work, and his claims regarding “Aa=Ed”, if those two radiative fluxes (Aa and Ed) are not EXACTLY equal, then Miskolczi has found nothing that disagrees with current greenhouse theory. That they are NEARLY equal has been known for a long time (e.g. Kiehl & Trenberth, 1997). Their near-equality is due to the fact that IR radiative flows are continuously “trying” to achieve radiative equilibrium between layers of the atmosphere, and between the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface. If those two quantities were more “un-equal” then they are in nature, then radiation-induced temperature changes in the atmosphere, and at the surface, would be much larger than we observe.

Again…if Aa does not EXACTLY balance Ed, then Miskolczi has found NOTHING that departs from the fundamental mechanism of the greenhouse effect.

ADDENDUM…his additional finding of a relatively constant greenhouse effect from 60 years of radiosonde data (because humidity decreases have offset CO2 increases) is indeed tantalizing. But few people believe long-term trends in radiosonde humidities. His result depends upon the reality of unusually high humidities in the 1950s and 1960s. Without those, there is no cancellation between decreasing humidity and increasing CO2 as he claims.


Executive Summary

Using both radiative transfer theory and radiosonde (weather balloon) observations to support his views, Miskolczi (2010) builds a case that the Earth’s total greenhouse effect remains constant over time.

While this might well be true, I do not believe he has demonstrated from theory why this should be the case.

His computation of a relatively constant greenhouse effect with 60 years of radiosonde observations is tantalizing, but depends upon the reality of high humidities measured by these sensors before the mid-1960s, data which are widely considered to be suspect. Even with today’s radiosonde humidity sensors, the humidity accuracy is not very high.

On the theory side, much of what he claims depends upon the validity of his statement,

for..two regions (or bodies) A and B, the rate of flow of radiation emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the rate of flow the other way, regardless of other forms of (energy) transport that may be occurring.”

If this statement was true, then IR radiative transfers cannot change the temperature of anything, and Earth’s natural greenhouse effect cannot exist. Yet, elsewhere he implies that the greenhouse effect IS important to temperature by claiming that the greenhouse effect stays constant with time. The reader is left confused.

His italicized statement, above, is an extreme generalization of Kirchoffs Law of Radiation, where he has allowed the 2 bodies to have different temperatures, and also allow any amount of extra energy of any type to enter or leave the 2-body system. No matter what else is going on, Miskolczi claims there is no net radiative energy exchanges between two objects, because those 2 flows in opposite directions are always equal.

This appears to fly in the face of people’s real world experiences.

Nevertheless, Miskolczi’s (and previous investigators’) calculations of a NEAR-equality of these IR flows are quite correct, and are indeed consistent with current greenhouse theory. Others trying to understand this issue need to understand that greenhouse theory already “knows” these flows are almost equal. If the imbalance between them was not small, then the temperature changes we see in nature would be much larger than what we do see.

But it is their small departure from equality that makes all the difference.

Introduction

For the last couple of years I have been getting requests for my opinion on papers published by Ferenc Miskolczi, the latest of which recently appeared in Energy & Environment.

Since his latest work builds upon earlier work, here I will comment on his most recent paper.

I have been reluctant to comment (and still am) because the material is rather slow going, and I do not understand a couple of the claims he makes.

I glad to see his most recent paper has dropped discussion of the Virial Theorem (VT). From what I’ve read, I suspect the VT does not preclude the Earth’s average surface temperature from changing as greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations change. After all, since GHGs cause temperature falls in the upper atmosphere at the same time they are causing temperature rises at the surface and lower atmosphere, catastrophic global warming could theoretically occur without much change in the average temperature of the atmosphere, anyway.

Nevertheless, the fact that one of his claims would undermine the theory of anthropogenic global warming makes it unusually important for us to understand his work, and so I will provide what I think I understand at this point in time. I have spent many hours examining it and thinking about it, since I think scientists always need to remain open to radical new ideas.

Some of what he reports is indeed useful. For instance, his idea that nature might keep the Earth’s total greenhouse effect relatively constant is a valid hypothesis…one which I have advanced before. The observational evidence he finds to support it is certainly tantalizing, but entirely depends on the reality of relatively high humidities measured by radiosondes way back in the 1950s and early 1960s.

But I disagree with his explanation of why the atmosphere’s total greenhouse effect should remain the same, particularly his use of Kirchoff’s Law of Radiation.

Different amounts of IR being absorbed and re-emitted by greenhouse gases at different altitudes in the atmosphere are fundamental to the explanation of Earth’s natural greenhouse effect. But Miskolczi claims that there is no net exchange of infrared radiation between different layers of the atmosphere, or between the atmosphere and surface of the Earth.

If this were true, then (as far as I can tell) there is no way for IR radiation to affect the temperature of anything. I know of no one else who believes this, and it seems to fly in the face of common sense.

But then, understanding the greenhouse effect requires more than an average amount of common sense, anyway. So I will spend a fair amount of time explaining how the greenhouse effect works…partly to convince you, the reader, and partly to convince myself that it still makes sense to me.

Of course, my opinions are always open for revision given new understanding. If I have misinterpreted or misrepresented something Miskolczi believes or has published, then I apologize.

If after reading this, he would like to respond to my criticisms, I would be glad to post that response here, unedited by me.

The Importance of an Outside Energy Source to the “Greenhouse Effect”

There is a recurring theme to the arguments from those who say adding greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere cannot change its temperature. I’ve been trying to understand where this idea comes from, and I think I know one major source of confusion. I want to mention it up front, because it impacts people preconceived notions when they approach the issue.

If the Earth’s atmosphere was isolated, with a constant amount of total energy contained within it, and you added more CO2 at the same temperatures as the surrounding air, then it is indeed true that the average temperature of the atmosphere would not change.

In other words, simply adding CO2 cannot increase the heat content of an energetically isolated atmosphere.

But that is not what happens in the real world, because the real world is not energetically isolated. In the real world, there is an outside energy source available to the climate system — the sun.

Since temperature is, in some sense, a measure of accumulated thermal energy in an object, any change which alters the rates at which energy flows into, or out of, the object can change how much heat accumulates in the object, and thus its temperature. Greenhouse gases change the rate at which an object loses energy.

I think this might be one source of confusion on the part of those who claim that increasing the Earth’s greenhouse effect cannot change its temperature. Hopefully, this will make sense to you, because it is a key point.

Miskolczi’s Global Infrared Energy Budget

One of the useful things Miskolczi did was to make detailed calculations of the infrared (IR) radiative energy flows within the atmosphere, and between the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface, from many years of radiosonde (weather balloon) data.

I have no serious problems with how he has done those calculations; but I do have a problem with what infers about how IR radiation impacts (or doesn’t impact) the temperatures we observe in the climate system. As I’ve often said, making the measurements is usually the easy part of research; determining what they mean in terms of causation is the difficult part.

Curiously, Miskolczi claims some of these radiative flow rates (fluxes) have never been calculated before, when in fact people have calculated them. Maybe not in exactly the same way, and maybe not in as detailed a manner as he does, but different researchers usually use somewhat different procedures when doing radiative calculations anyway.

But even if his calculations are the most accurate ever performed, their differences from what is already known about infrared energy flows in the atmosphere are not sufficient to require a new explanation of greenhouse theory. There is no new information here that would make us believe that the IR flows in and out of the atmosphere and surface of the Earth are exactly equal.

For instance, let’s examine the same IR energy flows computed by Kiehl & Trenberth (1997, hereafter K&T). I stole the following chart from another website and artistically enhanced it with Miskolczi’s values in parentheses…the green lines separate the three major classes of energy flow: solar, infrared, and convective.

Note that the two studies get similar numbers for the individual components of the Earth’s infrared energy budget (the tan-colored arrows on the right side):

We will examine these numbers in a little more detail, below, but first let’s briefly review what the consensus view of how the “greenhouse effect” operates, and how it is believed to affect temperatures in the climate system.

Radiation, Temperature, and the Greenhouse Effect
Central to the theory of the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect is the fact that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere absorb and emit infrared energy.

In the usual explanation of the greenhouse effect, greenhouse gases warm the lower atmosphere and Earth’s surface above what their temperatures would have been without those greenhouse gases. (Seldom mentioned is that they also make upper atmospheric temperatures lower than they would otherwise be.)

Without greenhouse gases, the observed global average surface temperature of around 59 deg. F would be more like 0 deg. F. (Also seldom mentioned is that without convective heat transfer from the surface to atmosphere, that temperature would be more like 140 deg. F…but that’s another blog post).

Understanding the greenhouse effect can be confusing because of the seemingly contradictory roles of greenhouse gases in the climate system. Without GHGs, the atmosphere would have no way of losing the heat it accumulates from convective heat transfer caused by solar heating of the surface.

So, one major role of GHGs is to allow the atmosphere to COOL, to lose excess energy to space in the face of continual solar heating of the climate system.

But, at the same time GHGs allow the atmosphere to cool, they also WARM the surface temperature above what it would be without those gases.

But how can this be? How can something that allows the atmosphere to lose energy to space also make the surface warmer?

Because, when an IR absorbing atmosphere is placed between the solar-heated Earth’s surface and the cold depths of outer space, it not only absorbs some of the upwelling IR radiation from the Earth’s surface, it also emits some IR energy back toward the surface.

If you find this difficult to believe, then consider this…

Lost In Space

Imagine you find yourself lost in outer space, floating aimlessly, with your warm skin exposed to the cold background of the cosmos.

Sure, keep your clothes on.

There is no sun or nearby stars to add much energy to your body. Your skin would gradually cool by losing IR radiation. (Of course, if the lack of air didn’t kill you first, you would freeze to death. Bear with me here…)

But now imagine you then surround yourself with a blanket. We won’t even use a fancy, NASA-invented, IR-reflective “space blanket”…just a woolen one. And let’s even assume the temperature of the woolen blanket was extremely low — just above absolute zero.

Some of the IR radiation you emit, instead of being lost to the depths of space, would then be intercepted by the blanket. This would raise the temperature of the blanket. As that happened, the inside of the blanket would begin to emit some IR energy back toward your body, while the outside of the blanket would emit energy to outer space.

As a result, the temperature of your skin would remain higher than it would without the blanket — even though the blanket would remain at a lower temperature than your skin.

So, contrary to what some would intuitively expect, the introduction of a cold object has made a warm object warmer than it would have otherwise been.

But it didn’t actually RAISE the temperature of your skin. In this example, all we have done is slow the rate of cooling of your body, and you would eventually freeze to death anyway.

But if you had a continuous supply of energy available (like the Earth does with the sun), and had reached a steady state of shivering and discomfort and THEN added the blanket, your skin would indeed increase its temperature, compared to if the (colder) blanket was not there.

Of course, this example is just an analog to the Earth in space.

The Earth has an energy source (the sun), and it has a “radiative blanket” (greenhouse gases) enveloping it.

The greenhouse effect has to do with the rate of energy flow OUT of the climate system. It reduces that rate of energy loss.

And since temperature represents the amount of energy accumulated by one object, a second object entering the picture and reducing the first object’s ability to lose energy can cause the first object’s temperature to rise – IF – like the Earth, the first object has some external source of energy being continuously pumped in.

Miskolczi’s Computed Infrared Flows in and Out of the Earth’s Surface

So now let’s return to the above energy budget illustration, and look first at the IR flows at the Earth’s surface which I have circled in the lower right portion of the diagram. I’ll reproduce the figure, below, for your convenience.

Note that the average intensity of IR radiation emitted by the sky down to the surface (with the somewhat misleading name, “back radiation”) is nearly as large as the IR flow in the opposite direction.

As can be seen, both investigators find these two flows to be very nearly equal. Miskolczi states,

the total flux of IR energy emitted by the atmosphere downward toward the Earth’s surface (ED) very nearly equals the upward flux from the surface and absorbed by the atmosphere (AA).”

That these two quantities are NEARLY equal has been known for a long time. It is partly a reflection of the fact that the entire depth of the atmosphere is mostly opaque to the transfer of IR radiation all the way through it. Miskolczi computes a global average infrared “optical thickness” of 1.87 for the entire depth of the atmosphere. I doubt that others would strenuously object to this value.

It is also partly due to something Miskolczi does not believe: that IR flows of energy from greenhouse gases have changed temperatures in the system to MINIMIZE the imbalances in IR energy flows between different components of the system.

But, just like any continuous heat transfer process (conduction, convection), the net heat flow of thermally emitted radiation from higher to lower temperatures can never quite “catch up”. After all, without some energy imbalance, the heat flow would end completely. Yet, we know that it is going on day after day.

Now, let’s discuss just how close these radiative flows are to each other in magnitude. Due partly to the large infrared opacity of the atmosphere, K&T calculated that the downwelling IR emitted by the atmosphere (324 Watts per sq. meter) is about 93% of the upwelling IR absorbed by the atmosphere (350 Watts per sq. meter).

Miskolczi gets a somewhat higher proportion, about 96%. If you see people discussing “ED=AA“, it is this (near-) equality they are talking about.

So, at face value, both studies have computed that the surface of the Earth, on average, loses somewhat more IR energy to the atmosphere than it absorbs from the atmosphere.

This makes physical sense since (1) the Earth’s surface is totally opaque to IR radiation, while the atmosphere isn’t; and (2) the Earth’s surface is warmer than the average temperature of the atmosphere.

But Miskolczi’s startling claim is that these two flows must be EQUAL — not only between the surface and the atmosphere as a whole, but between any two layers within the atmosphere.

He further claims that computations anyone makes that suggest otherwise are in error, due to neglect of other effects. He removes the small observed difference between the flows in opposite directions with an “empirical hemispheric emissivity factor” to force them to be equal, consistent with his assumption that they are equal.

I believe this claim regarding the equality of IR energy flows is the most fundamental issue that others would disagree with.

Radiative Exchange Equilibrium: A Consequence of Kirchoff’s Radiation Law?

Miskolczi makes the following statement regarding this supposed equality, which he calls “radiative exchange equilibrium”:

for..two regions (or bodies) A and B, the rate of flow of radiation emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the rate of flow the other way, regardless of other forms of (energy) transport that may be occurring.”

This is the most surprising claim I have ever seen in this business, and I am quite certain it is false. (I’m not TOTALLY certain, because I could be dreaming right now, and you know how dreams can fool you).

He appears to attribute this to Kirchoff’s Law of Radiation (which he notes was actually discovered before Kirchoff).

But Kirchoff originally demonstrated his law with two plates in isolation, in a vacuum, with no other sources of energy from their surroundings.

Let’s look at how Kirchoff’s Law is stated by several different sources:

At thermal equilibrium, the emissivity of a body (or surface) equals its absorptivity.”

The ratio of emitted radiation to absorbed radiation is the same for all blackbodies at the same temperature.

The emissivity of a body is equal to its absorbance at the same temperature.

At equilibrium, the radiation emitted must equal the radiation absorbed.

Note Miskolczi has done away with two caveats regarding his 2 bodies, A and B, that Kirchoff included: (1) energy equilibrium between two bodies, and (2) the bodies are isolated (no energy exchanges) from their environment. These conditions are not satisfied either at the Earth’s surface or in the atmosphere.

If Miskolczi is correct that the amount of thermal radiation emitted by an object (or layer of the atmosphere) ALWAYS equals the amount absorbed, this necessarily implies something that no one else I know of believes: that INFRARED RADIATIVE FLOWS BETWEEN IR ABSORBERS AND EMITTERS CANNOT CHANGE THEIR TEMPERATURE.

Let’s think about that. For IR energy flows to change the temperature of something, you need either a “convergence” of IR energy (absorption greater than emission) to cause the temperature to rise, or “divergence” of IR energy (emission greater than absorption) to cause temperature to fall.

But if the IR fluxes emitted and absorbed by an atmospheric layer are always the same, as Miskolczi claims, then the temperature of that layer cannot be changed through IR energy flows at all. Period.

And if THAT is true, then the greenhouse effect does not exist. Or, at a minimum, it is not caused by infrared radiation.

Another Thought Experiment

Obviously, if IR-absorbing layers A and B are identical in every way, including their temperatures, then the rate of IR flows between them will indeed be equal.

But let’s say layers A and B don’t touch (no conduction), and they do not interact with their surroundings. This would be like Kirchoff’s original experiment with the two plates.

Now, let’s take a blowtorch and heat layer A by 100 degrees. Layer A will now emit IR at a greater intensity than before, since its emission is proportional to the 4th power of its absolute temperature. Since the amount emitted is now greater that the rate of IR it is absorbing from layer B, layer A’s temperature will fall.

Meanwhile, over at layer B, since IR opacity is defined based upon the fraction of incident radiation it absorbs as that radiation is passing through, and layer A is now emitting IR at a greater rate than before (due to the blowtorch), Layer B now absorbs more than it is emitting.

This process – which Miskolczi claims does not exist – will eventually cause both layers to reach a new state of equilibrium, with equal temperatures, where both are emitting and absorbing IR energy at the same rate.

But Miskolczi’s theory says that the hotter layer will still emit radiation with the same intensity as it absorbs it. There would be no way for the hotter layer to transfer energy to the cooler layer. Presumably, the two layers’ temperatures would stay 100 deg. different.

Unless I am missing something important, this is a necessary consequence of Miskolczi’s claim. Maybe he thinks that since two atmospheric layers are already in a “quasi-steady state”, that their IR absorption equals their IR emission.

But this ignores other energy flows that we know are happening…most importantly, the convective transport of heat from the surface to the atmosphere. The surface is continuously dumping more energy into the atmosphere through convection. The atmosphere must emit more than it absorbs in order to cool itself.

The Hypothesis of a Constant Greenhouse Effect

Miskolczi additionally shows from 61 years of radiosonde data that a long-term decrease in the Earth’s greenhouse effect from humidity decreases in the middle and upper atmosphere have approximately counterbalanced the increase in the greenhouse effect from rising CO2 levels.

At face value, this might suggest that nature has mechanisms in place so that the total infrared opacity of the atmosphere remains about constant, consistent with the absorbed solar energy, and so the Earth’s temperature is naturally stabilized.

This might well be true.

But his conclusion from the radiosonde data depends upon the reality of relatively high humidity values in the very early years of radiosonde measurements, the 1950s and early 1960s. If you remove those years from his Fig. 9, then the drying trend that cancels the warming from increasing CO2 turns into a moistening trend.

Global “reanalysis” datasets extending back that far in time would have also the same problem, because those early radiosondes provide the most important source of information for the reanalysis.

Now, it might well be that nature has such a greenhouse effect-stabilizing mechanism in place, and that the total greenhouse effect stays at a relatively constant value for a given amount of absorbed solar energy. I have sometimes advanced the same possibility myself.

But I do not believe that Miskolczi has demonstrated either that it is the case, or why it should be the case.

In fact, the very nature of his claim that there are natural counterbalancing mechanisms at work keeping the greenhouse effect at a constant value implies that he thinks that the greenhouse effect DOES impact global average temperatures.

This seems to conflict with his claim that, by “law”, anything that absorbs IR at a certain rate must also emit IR at the same rate.

Since this law would remove the greenhouse effect entirely from the discussion of temperature change, why talk about compensating influences on the greenhouse effect? This does not make sense to me.

If Miskolczi is correct that the surface of the Earth does not lose any more IR energy than it gains from the overlying atmosphere, how is the surface cooled? Through 2 other mechanisms: (1) convective heat transfer from the surface to the atmosphere, and (2) loss of IR directly from the surface to outer space.

That convective heat transport is the dominant mechanism for moving heat from the surface to the atmosphere is not in dispute. I get angry e-mails from people who ask, “Why do you always talk about radiation? Convection is where it’s at!”

Yes, we all know that. For years I have talked and written about the cooling effects of weather are stronger than the warming effects of greenhouse gases. Lindzen in 1990 also emphasized this. We meteorologists were taught much more about convection than about solar and infrared radiation.

Even the (controversial and often maligned) K&T energy diagram shows the convective heat loss by the surface to the atmosphere (102 Watts per sq. meter) is about 4 times larger that the rate of IR loss by the surface to the atmosphere (26 Watts per sq. meter).

Thus, even in the “scientific consensus” view of global warming, convection is by far the primary mechanism by which the surface transfers heat to the atmosphere in the face of solar heating.

Yet, most of the computerized climate models still predict substantial global warming. So, obviously, they think a small change in radiation from more CO2 is pretty important.

IR Absorption and Emission Between Atmospheric Layers

So far, we have discussed the IR fluxes between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere as a whole. What about the interaction between different layers in the atmosphere?

As I mentioned above, Miskolczi claims that the rates of IR exchange between atmospheric layers must be equal. He presents as evidence the fact that at any given level in the atmosphere, the rate of IR absorption by greenhouse gases is *nearly* the same as the rate of emission. This is shown in Fig. 3 of Miskolczi’s paper.

But the fact that these two flows are *nearly* the same is also consistent with standard greenhouse gas theory. It’s the tiny imbalance in them that makes all the difference. The greenhouse effect only becomes significant as we add up the cumulative effect of all the layers of the atmosphere.

Temperature changes have already minimized the imbalances between these IR flows, but a small imbalance still remains. This keeps the NET flow of IR energy through the climate system going “downhill”, from higher temperatures to lower temperatures.

To illustrate how tiny these IR imbalances in nature are, let’s examine what happens when we look at IR absorption and emission in 1 meter thick atmospheric layers, as Miskolczi presents in his Fig. 3.

The heat capacity of air is somewhat over 1,000 Joules per kilogram per degree C, which means it takes 1,000 Joules of energy to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of air by 1 deg. C.

Conveniently, in the lower atmosphere 1 kg of air corresponds to about 1 cubic meter (1 m3) of air. So, for a 1 meter thick layer of air, 1,000 Watts per sq. meter (W m-2) heating applied for 1 sec would raise the temperature by 1 deg. C.

Or, since there are 86,000 seconds in a day, it would take (1000/86,000) = 0.01 Watts per sq. meter to get 1 deg. C per day warming rate.

Finally, if we double this, it takes about 0.02 Watts per sq. meter imbalance between IR absorption and emission to get 2 deg. C per day of temperature change, a very small number, indeed. And since the 1960s, investigators have been publishing atmospheric cooling rates of about 2 deg. C per day, which are caused by these tiny imbalances.

So, we see that it only takes a tiny imbalance between absorbed and emitted IR energy to accomplish realistic rates of cooling – or heating.

It’s the great depths over which these tiny numbers add up that matters. If we scale up to a layer 1,000 m thick in the lower atmosphere, then we need around 20 W/m2 more IR lost than gained by that layer for a cooling rate of 2 deg. C per day. (The required radiative flux imbalances go down dramatically with height, though, since air density drops rapidly with height…I have not added this effect in).

Once we reach the TOP of the atmosphere, the flow if IR from outer space into the atmosphere (essentially 0 Watts per sq. meter) is WAY out of balance with that upwelling from below: 235 Watts per sq. meter if you believe K&T; 250 Watts per sq. meter if you believe Miskolczi.

So, we see that for very thin layers of the atmosphere the IR emitted is very close to the IR absorbed. At the Earth’s surface, the flows exchanged between the surface and the atmosphere are very nearly equal. But not quite.

All of this has been known for a long time, and is totally consistent with greenhouse theory.

The Big Picture

With few exceptions, no two layers of the atmosphere ever reach a state of radiative equilibrium with one another, as Miskolczi claims. The same is true for the Earth’s surface and the overlying atmosphere as a whole.

All components are usually at different temperatures, with external sources of energy being absorbed, released, and flowing through them. As a result of these complexities, there is no requirement through Kirchoff’s Law that they emit and absorb radiation at the same rates.

Now, it IS true that those flows are “trying” to equalize, by exchanging IR energy in a direction that reduces temperature differences between layers. As a result, the differences in IR flows in opposite directions are indeed small – but they are not zero. Temperature changes have already relieved much of the imbalance.

Despite that fact that a major function of greenhouse gases is to provide a way for an atmosphere to cool to outer space, their presence at the same time warms the surface and lower atmosphere. While this seems counterintuitive, upon some reflection and thought we realize that this does make sense after all.

The currently ‘accepted’ theory suggests that adding more CO2 to the atmosphere has a small, but not totally negligible additional warming influence. Yes, the atmosphere is already mostly opaque at those IR wavelengths where CO2 absorption is significant. But not totally. Everyone knows that, including those scientists who work on climate models that produce catastrophic global warming.

The big question is, how much will that warming be? That’s where feedbacks come in…the warming magnification (positive feedback) or reduction (negative feedback) of the relatively weak CO2-induced warming by changes in clouds and other elements of the climate system. And that’s what I spend most of my research time on.

I have not yet seen any compelling evidence that there exists a major flaw in the theory explaining the basic operation of the Earth’s natural Greenhouse Effect.

I would love for there to be one. But I don’t see it yet.

And, again, if I have mangled what Miskolczi has said, I apologize. He is free to respond here if he wants to.

Reference
Miskolczi, F., 2010: The stable stationary Value of the Earth’s global average atmospheric Planck-weighted greenhouse gas optical thickness. Energy and Environment, 21, No.4, 243-272.

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205 Responses to “Comments on Miskolczi’s (2010) Controversial Greenhouse Theory”

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  1. wayne says:

    Could this also be one of those hidden cards? My physics leaning mind won’t let go of it (yet). … now I will read this article!
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/05/co2-heats-the-atmosphere-a-counter-view/#comment-448718

    Want to thank you much for so thoroughly answering the comments on your little backyard experiment, that stands you (and John) very high on the tiny pile of open minded scientists I have come across, wish there were more like you. Keep it up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Will reply to myself. Seems any radiative pressure mentioned is so infinitesimally small that the mentioned affect is basically null. Ignore it, sorry to mention.
      - wayne

  2. Brad says:

    Dr. Spencer:
    Since everyone agrees that the radiative transfer quantity is considerably smaller than the convective, perhaps the difference between catastrophic warming and realistic warming is how one determines the radiative quantity. I’ve read that some purportedly knowledgeable people state that the radiative transfer of energy in the atmosphere will have half the energy go up and half go down. I can’t see how that can be correct. If I am incorrect, please tell me how.
    In my own thought experiment, I visualize a light bulb the size of a molecule. I am making the light bulbs (molecules) emit photons in all directions, assuming that is a realistic representation of all radiating bodies, and regardless of frequency just to make it easier on the visualization. The photons that are directed toward the ground (“back radiation”) are less than 20% of the total. The photons that hit other light bulbs (molecules) would transfer the energy with the same proportional difference of over 80% away from the ground. The farther away from the ground, the smaller percentage that is directed toward the ground. The radiative transfer would favor away from the ground, considerably more than half.
    On another note, I fail to see why we should be subjugated to use inferior terminology ( greenhouse rather than atmospheric effect) to satisfy the current fashion.
    Thanks again for the brain exercise.
    Brad

  3. wayne says:

    Right off the bat I read…

    “for..two regions (or bodies) A and B, the rate of flow of radiation emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the rate of flow the other way, regardless of other forms of (energy) transport that may be occurring.”

    and know he has left out some words that make it true

    “for..two regions (or bodies) A and B, the rate of flow of radiation emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the rate of flow the other way, emitted by B and absorbed by A, regardless of other forms of (energy) transport that may be occurring.”

    and is merely meaning that convection and conduction rates do not affect radiation and radiation does not affect convection and conduction rates.

    That is until I can find him explicitly relying one his original statement without the added words. That is, I always try to make him right, if possible, and he may need to update his paper. If all scientists would share in that manner we may finally get somewhere faster than decades.

    Dr. Spencer, I do the same thing to everything you write equally and will come back to you if I feel the words need to change or add to make your point correct.

    Did Ferenc mean the original statement irregardless of their temperatures A to B and B to A or just A to B and the reverse flow? One says Ain = Bin and Aout = Bout at different temperatures and the later doesn’t. For a good physicist, I hardly think so. Then, with added words is the ‘modified’ paper correct?

    Don’t think I’m capable of answering that, need a physicist.

    • yes, I am quite sure he meant what you added in. And any convective heating of a layer WILL affect rates of IR emission. In the context of his paper, I am quite sure he meant that the radiative exchanges are independent of temperature.

      • Anonymous says:

        Christopher Game replying to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Aug 5 at 4:46 PM.

        With respect, Dr Spencer, it is not reasonable, indeed it verges on the mischievous, to write an allegation that Miskolczi means that radiative exchange is independent of temperature. Miskolczi means no such thing. To make such an allegation is to ignore the fact that Miskolczi uses the proper laws of physics in his calculations. Of course radiative exchange depends on temperature, and of course Miskolczi is fully aware of that.

        Christopher Game

  4. Christopher Game says:

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    Thank you for your kind and valuable post on Miskolczi’s 2010 article. It is very good to have this subject openly discussed, when we have reason to believe, from emails, that at least one AGW authority says they have not even bothered to read the Miskolczi 2010 article because they know it is “rubbish” just from reading the abstract.

    Nevertheless, with respect, you have made a fundamental and practically fatal error of reading.

    The term “radiative exchange equilibrium” is defined in Miskolczi’s 2010 article in the terms that you quote in your valuable blog post. But that 2010 definition is obviously not intended by Miskolczi to be seen as a law of nature. It is intended to be a definition, no more and no less.

    There are physical situations in which that definition applies. For example, Planck (“The Theory of Heat Radiation”, Enaglish translation of 1914, section 46, page 40) uses the idea in his derivation of the so-called Kirchhoff law.

    For a non-equilibrium example, in many of the usual steady state models of climate processes, the earth is postulated to be in radiative exchange equilibrium with the rest of the universe, by this definition.

    The several notions of exchange equilibrium were probably first understood by Pierre Prevost, published in 1791. This work of Prevost is a major basic element of all subsequent radiative work. It is regrettable that some textbooks do not bother to cite Prevost; instead they carelessly list the 1791 ideas of Prevost as if they were discovered by Kirchhoff in 1859 and 1860. Also the textbooks usually do not note the publication of a form of what is called Kirchhoff’s law (1860) by Balfour Stewart in 1858. The eponymous naming of laws can be confusing. In this context, I note that your previous blog pointer to the Wikipedia article on Kirchhoff’s law is not good. That Wiki article is written by people who apparently did not read or understand Stokes, Helmholtz, Stewart, Rayleigh, Planck, and Born and Wolf, and that Wiki article is consequently riven with radical errors of physics. Commonly accepted errors I grant you, but still radical errors of physics. I would suggest Planck 1914 as a better source for a precise statement of Kirchhoff’s law.

    But what it seems as I read your present blog that you do not understand is that Miskolczi is reporting observations of empirical fact when he claims that Aa = Ed for the infrared radiative exchange between the land-sea body and the atmosphere. (I think it quite possible that you are not actually engaging with the definitions of terms that Miskolczi uses.) This newly empirically recognized relationship, Aa = Ed, is not claimed to be derived theoretically by Miskolczi as you mistakenly allege. It does not seem to Miskolczi to be derived directly from a simple general law of nature, as you are mistakenly alleging that he thinks. Miskolczi knows that his new observation of empirical fact is surprising in the context of previous beliefs; that is why he published it.

    The relation Aa = Ed is physically possible precisely because the turbulently mixed boundary layer of the troposphere is not in pointwise radiative equilibrium, as you well know and have often pointed out, though not actually using the term pointwise radiative equilibrium. That is why the definition of the term, radiative exchange equilibrium, used previously by Planck, is made explicit in Miskolczi’s 2010 article. Planck uses the term for a system in thermodynamic equilibrium, and the present system is far from thermodynamic equilibrium, but the definition of the term still carries over.

    The physics of the departure from pointwise radiative equilibrium in the turbulently mixed boundary layer of the tropopause is that energy is supplied to that layer not only radiatively, but also by convection derived from conduction and evaporation from the land-sea body, as you very well know. These non-radiative energy supply sources make it possible for Aa = Ed to happen. This means that in this layer, the atmospheric cooling to space is supplied with energy entirely by atmospherically absorbed solar radiation and by convection from below, in Miskolczi’s terms dEu = dF + dK. This means that the cooling to space approximation agrees with dAa = dEd locally. You are well aware that dAa = dEd is not grossly violated but what you have not yet understood, as I read your post, is that the all-altitudes integral of the errors (indeed the all-altitudes integral of the absolute values of the errors) is also practically zero (Miskolczi’s paper shows some detailed examples of exceptional cases of smallish deviations from exactitude, but in the main the relationship is obeyed rather well; we are looking at a chaotically turbulent process). The all-altitudes integral of the errors is the quantity relevant to Aa = Ed, and I think you have missed that point. So far as I know (please correct me if you know otherwise; independent confirmation would be very desirable; can you persuade anyone who knows how to, to do it with suitable accuracy?) no one else has calculated that integral error in the accurate detail that Miskolczi has done. It is that point that makes Miskolczi’s empirical observational discovery new.

    I will not write more here and now, but I hope this note of mine will alert readers to the fact that you are blogging not about what Miskolczi actually wrote, but that you are blogging about what you perhaps hastily assumed that he might have written. With your permission I will write more later.

    (I have a diagram to show my belief of how you should amend your diagram of a previous blog. I will send that in due course.)

    Thank you for generously and graciously allowing this discussion to be aired, and for devoting so much of your very valuable time to this, when you have many urgent things to do. I admire your mighty work, and your enduring strength in resisting the tide of nonsense, even when I argue with you.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Christopher, I think you did not read my entire article before objecting.

      Miskolczi did NOT find Aa= Ed from radiosonde data, any more than Kiehl and Trenberth did. Look at the numbers in the diagram!

      And, I showed why they APPEAR to be equal when he computes fluxes for thin layers…its because the fluxes are extremely small.

      If, at the Earth’s surface, Aa=Ed *observationally* (as you insist Miskolczi is asserting), then there is NO net IR flow between the surface and atmosphere,and the greenhouse effect does not exist!

      • Anonymous says:

        Christopher Game replying to Dr Spencer’s reply posted at 2010 Aug 6 at 2:52 AM. Dr Spencer wrote:

        “Christopher, I think you did not read my entire article before objecting.

        Miskolczi did NOT find Aa= Ed from radiosonde data, any more than Kiehl and Trenberth did. Look at the numbers in the diagram!

        And, I showed why they APPEAR to be equal when he computes fluxes for thin layers…its because the fluxes are extremely small.

        If, at the Earth’s surface, Aa=Ed *observationally* (as you insist Miskolczi is asserting), then there is NO net IR flow between the surface and atmosphere,and the greenhouse effect does not exist!”

        Christopher replies:

        Dear Dr Spencer,

        Thank you for your polite answer.

        You propose that “Miskolczi did not find that Aa = Ed from radiosonde data, any more than Kiehl and Trenberth did.”

        As for the accuracy or otherwise of Kiehl and Trenberth’s figures that you cite, I have right here nothing to say.

        As for Miskolczi’s calculations, your proposal that I just quoted above is simply mistaken. You have not understood at all what Miskolczi did or wrote. Your misreading or misunderstanding makes it impossible to carry on a useful discussion, until it is remedied.

        Let me try to clarify things for you.

        Please consider Miskolczi’s formula Su = Aa + St. This is simply a matter of definition and the law of conservation of energy. Miskolczi notes that he assumes a black land-sea surface.

        Miskolczi’s Su denotes the total infrared radiation that enters the atmosphere upwards from the land-sea surface. It is the infrared flux that escapes from the land-sea surface into the atmosphere. Some of it presumably comes from some depths of the ocean and it is thus not essentially a flux for a thin layer.

        Miskolczi’s St denotes the moiety of that radiation Su that makes its way right through the atmosphere to space without interaction with the material of the atmosphere. St is a moiety of Su and since Su is not essentially a flux from a thin layer, neither is St.

        Miskolczi’s Aa is the column amount of infrared radiation that is emitted from the land-sea surface into the lowest atmosphere and that is absorbed by the atmosphere. It is not a flux for a thin layer.

        Miskolczi’s Ed is the column amount of infrared radiation that is emitted downwards by the atmosphere that makes its way right down through the atmosphere down to enter and be absorbed by the land-sea surface. It is not a thin layer flux.

        If you read Miskolczi carefully again you will find that he did find that Aa = Ed directly from radiosonde data by accurate calculations. Each radiosonde sounding takes about 45 or 50 minutes to analyze by HARTCODE on my computer.

        You have it right that there is practically NO net IR flow between the land-sea surface and atmosphere. That is the new fact that Miskolczi is reporting. Your apparent rejection of it is prima facie evidence of its newness.

        But it does not mean, as you mistakenly infer, that consequently the greenhouse effect does not exist. Your inference is speculative, purely theoretical, and mistaken. You seem to think that the greenhouse effect is defined in a certain way, but you are really thinking of a certain mistaken opinion about how its details happen. The greenhouse effect is sometimes, indeed often, defined (e.g. Inamdar and Ramanathan 1997) as the difference between Su and the OLR (outgoing longwave radiation). This is not asserted to be zero by Miskolczi.

        By the way, to provide a definition of another of Miskolczi’s terms, Eu is the column amount of radiation that is emitted upwards by the atmosphere and makes its way right through the atmosphere to space. It is not a thin layer flux.

        Obviously then we have OLR = Eu + St. The total infrared radiation to space is the sum of the amounts from the land-sea body and from the atmosphere.

        Miskolczi has observed that for the global average, 3 Ed = 5 Eu. Noting that Su = Aa + St and that Aa = Ed we deduce that the Inamdar and Ramanathan 1997 definition of the greenhouse effect, Su – OLR >> 0. Miskolczi’s Aa = Ed does not remotely imply that the greenhouse effect does not occur. You infer that Miskolczi’s Aa = Ed implies that the greenhouse effect does not occur because you have a peculiar definition of the greenhouse effect.

        Assuming that you have a good knowledge of the present state of accepted or known physics in this area, your denial that Miskolczi could be right about this seems prima facie evidence that his finding is truly new, unless we discount your opinion because you did not understand Miskolczi’s basic definitions.

        I agree that I did not read your entire article before objecting. What I read was enough to let me know forcefully and unequivocally and distressingly that you had utterly and totally misread what Miskolczi wrote, and that no further useful discussion can go ahead until you have corrected your misunderstanding. I noted that I would write more, but that I wanted to get up a post quickly to alert readers to the depth of your misreading, before too many of them were muddled by your mistakes. Further reading would have delayed my warning so that more readers would have missed it. I could say plenty more to say about your article but one must have priorities. But your article is so muddled that it is not likely to be useful to discuss it much further till you recognize and remedy your misunderstanding.

        The point is that energy flow from land-sea surface to atmosphere is simply by conduction and evaporation, followed by convection, and that net IR exchange between the land-sea body and the atmosphere is practically zero. The other cooling mechanism is infrared radiation direct from land-sea body to space through the atmospheric window, St. This is a new understanding. This is why Miskolczi reported his findings.

        Your have posted in front of your article a warning that Miskolczi’s Aa = Ed must be exact else already well known and thus not new and not interesting and not remarkable. Well, Miskolczi’s 2010 paper has shown clear pictures that show that Aa = Ed is not always exact on every occasion. The difference is, however, very much closer to zero than the Kiehl and Trenberth figures that you cite; those figures are notable in that they really say that Aa > Ed, although you for rhetorical purposes, but misleadingly, like sometimes to say that they mean that Aa ~ Ed, but still not quite very closely, so that you leave yourself room also to say tha they mean that Aa > Ed; you want to equivocate. It is the fact that the closeness observed by Miskolczi far exceeds that of the Kiehl and Trenberth figures that you cite that is of importance. This means that your dilemma of “either exact else already well-known” is wrong. The the real situation is “not quite exact, but on most occasions, and on average, very much closer than previously recognized”. That is why Miskolczi’s empirically observed finding should be recognized as new and interesting.

        I hope that, with patience and care, we can get some clarity about this. I am very sorry that I have to be so blunt and direct and definite about your misunderstanding of what Miskolczi writes, but I do not see any convenient way of avoiding it, unless I come to visit you and explain things in person.

        Thank you for your care in answering my post, and for generously hosting this discussion.

        Yours sincerely,

        Christopher Game

        • Please consider Miskolczi’s formula Su = Aa + St. This is simply a matter of definition and the law of conservation of energy. Miskolczi notes that he assumes a black land-sea surface.

          True, but not relevant to our disagreement.

          Miskolczi’s Su denotes the total infrared radiation that enters the atmosphere upwards from the land-sea surface. It is the infrared flux that escapes from the land-sea surface into the atmosphere. Some of it presumably comes from some depths of the ocean and it is thus not essentially a flux for a thin layer.

          True…you are now stating things I think you know we already agree on….

          Miskolczi’s St denotes the moiety of that radiation Su that makes its way right through the atmosphere to space without interaction with the material of the atmosphere. St is a moiety of Su and since Su is not essentially a flux from a thin layer, neither is St.

          Yes, I know.

          Miskolczi’s Aa is the column amount of infrared radiation that is emitted from the land-sea surface into the lowest atmosphere and that is absorbed by the atmosphere. It is not a flux for a thin layer.

          Christopher, now I think YOU have not fully read his paper! After his discussion where Aa comes from the Earth’s surface, he then switches from the Earth’s surface to imaginary atmospheric surfaces at the bottom of thin layers and continue to compute up through the atmosphere!

          Miskolczi’s Ed is the column amount of infrared radiation that is emitted downwards by the atmosphere that makes its way right down through the atmosphere down to enter and be absorbed by the land-sea surface. It is not a thin layer flux.

          See my previous statement, it applies here as well.

          If you read Miskolczi carefully again you will find that he did find that Aa = Ed directly from radiosonde data by accurate calculations. Each radiosonde sounding takes about 45 or 50 minutes to analyze by HARTCODE on my computer.

          I gave actual calculations to show why these flux differences will be very small (average around 0.02 Watts per sq. meter for 1 meter thick layers). *IF* he has actually computed the to be exactly the same, it is because — as he says just before these calculations — he FORCED them to be equal, with is assumed 0.967 fudge factor! If you force one thing to be equal to another, and then find they are equal, is that any great surprise?

          You have it right that there is practically NO net IR flow between the land-sea surface and atmosphere. That is the new fact that Miskolczi is reporting. Your apparent rejection of it is prima facie evidence of its newness.

          Christopher, Trenberth and Kiehl ALREADY shows they were close! Do you really claim that 96% (Miskolczi’s result) is so “new” compared to Kiehl & Trenberth’s 93%? That is well within the error just due to uncertainties in free-tropospheric humidities!

          But it does not mean, as you mistakenly infer, that consequently the greenhouse effect does not exist. Your inference is speculative, purely theoretical, and mistaken. You seem to think that the greenhouse effect is defined in a certain way, but you are really thinking of a certain mistaken opinion about how its details happen. The greenhouse effect is sometimes, indeed often, defined (e.g. Inamdar and Ramanathan 1997) as the difference between Su and the OLR (outgoing longwave radiation). This is not asserted to be zero by Miskolczi.

          I am not claiming he said it, Christopher. I am telling you the logical consequence of Miskolczi claiming that up- and down-fluxes of IR are the same.

          By the way, to provide a definition of another of Miskolczi’s terms, Eu is the column amount of radiation that is emitted upwards by the atmosphere and makes its way right through the atmosphere to space. It is not a thin layer flux.

          Yes, I know that.

          Obviously then we have OLR = Eu + St. The total infrared radiation to space is the sum of the amounts from the land-sea body and from the atmosphere.

          yes, also true. Is there a point here?…

          Miskolczi has observed that for the global average, 3 Ed = 5 Eu. Noting that Su = Aa + St and that Aa = Ed we deduce that the Inamdar and Ramanathan 1997 definition of the greenhouse effect, Su – OLR >> 0. Miskolczi’s Aa = Ed does not remotely imply that the greenhouse effect does not occur. You infer that Miskolczi’s Aa = Ed implies that the greenhouse effect does not occur because you have a peculiar definition of the greenhouse effect.

          Excuse me??? If IR fluxes between layers are equal, then they can not influence each other’s temperature through IR radiation. That IR CAN do so is a requirement of greenhouse theory!!

          Assuming that you have a good knowledge of the present state of accepted or known physics in this area, your denial that Miskolczi could be right about this seems prima facie evidence that his finding is truly new, unless we discount your opinion because you did not understand Miskolczi’s basic definitions.

          see my previous comments

          I agree that I did not read your entire article before objecting. What I read was enough to let me know forcefully and unequivocally and distressingly that you had utterly and totally misread what Miskolczi wrote, and that no further useful discussion can go ahead until you have corrected your misunderstanding. I noted that I would write more, but that I wanted to get up a post quickly to alert readers to the depth of your misreading, before too many of them were muddled by your mistakes. Further reading would have delayed my warning so that more readers would have missed it. I could say plenty more to say about your article but one must have priorities. But your article is so muddled that it is not likely to be useful to discuss it much further till you recognize and remedy your misunderstanding.

          AH-HA! Now we are getting somewhere. You had no idea what I was talking about, that Miskolczi’s claims were internally inconsistent (if not physically impossible). You simply assumed that Miskolczi’s work represents the new gospel.

          The point is that energy flow from land-sea surface to atmosphere is simply by conduction and evaporation, followed by convection, and that net IR exchange between the land-sea body and the atmosphere is practically zero. The other cooling mechanism is infrared radiation direct from land-sea body to space through the atmospheric window, St. This is a new understanding. This is why Miskolczi reported his findings.

          “Practically zero”? Miskolczi’s 4% difference versus K&T’s 7% difference is hardly a breakthrough (different radiosonde datasets give different results), and in no way invalidates current greenhouse theory.

          Your have posted in front of your article a warning that Miskolczi’s Aa = Ed must be exact else already well known and thus not new and not interesting and not remarkable. Well, Miskolczi’s 2010 paper has shown clear pictures that show that Aa = Ed is not always exact on every occasion. The difference is, however, very much closer to zero than the Kiehl and Trenberth figures that you cite; those figures are notable in that they really say that Aa > Ed, although you for rhetorical purposes, but misleadingly, like sometimes to say that they mean that Aa ~ Ed, but still not quite very closely, so that you leave yourself room also to say tha they mean that Aa > Ed; you want to equivocate. It is the fact that the closeness observed by Miskolczi far exceeds that of the Kiehl and Trenberth figures that you cite that is of importance. This means that your dilemma of “either exact else already well-known” is wrong. The the real situation is “not quite exact, but on most occasions, and on average, very much closer than previously recognized”. That is why Miskolczi’s empirically observed finding should be recognized as new and interesting.

          As I mention in my original article, I do not dispute the way he does his calculations…(except maybe his 0.967 fudge factor to FORCE things to be equal)….just his interpretation of the results. On the observational side, I have analyzed and published lots of radiosonde data over the years…even helped launch the balloons. I’ve discussed the validity of the humidity measurements from them with the leading experts on the subject. Miskolczi’s treatment of the old raob data as accurate is a HUGE assumption, an uncertainty he does not admit.

          Christopher, if you do not read and understand what I have written BEFORE objecting to it, I will have to ban you from this discussion. You are misleading others about what I have said. From some of the things you said, I don’t think you have even digested Miskolczi’s recent E&E paper yet, lets alone my comments on it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Colin Davidson replying to Dr Spencer.

        I would like to add my plaudits to Dr Spencer for his wonderful work in this field, his most interesting posts, and tolerance.

        Dr Spencer wrote in reply to Christopher Game:
        “If, at the Earth’s surface, Aa=Ed *observationally* (as you insist Miskolczi is asserting), then there is NO net IR flow between the surface and atmosphere,and the greenhouse effect does not exist!”

        I don’t think that is correct.
        The Surface energy flux balance equation at equilibrium is:
        Absorbed Sunlight + Back IR Radiation = Surface IR + Evaporation + Conduction

        An increase in Back IR tends to cause an increase in Surface Temperature. As the temperature of the Surface increases, so does the evaporation rate. The increase in Surface IR PLUS the increase in evaporation will tend to balance the increase in Back IR Radiation, [if the system tends to restore equilibrium]. That is, the response of the Surface is more sluggish than one would expect, due to the increase in evaporation rate. The increase in Back IR is GREATER than the increase in Surface IR by the increase in evaporation.

        So as the surface temperature increases,the difference between Surface and Back IR decreases, and Ed becomes more nearly Aa.

        A narrowing of Ed to Aa is a consequence of a higher surface temperature, which may be a consequence of increased back IR radiation due to a tightening greenhouse.

        Aa=Ed would imply that the Greenhouse is perfect – that all IR absorption in the atmosphere is complete very close to the ground, and therefore that the highest level from which back radiation comes is also very close to the ground, and that the boundary layer is the same temperature as the ground.

        Aa=Ed is therefore the condition if the Greenhouse is perfect. Aa-Ed is a measure of how far away the atmosphere is from a perfect greenhouse. On the K&T numbers, not far…

        • Colin,

          I understand what you are saying. While what you say is true from an energy budget standpoint (that is, the surface energy budget will indeed balance under your conditions), you are leaving out two very important real-world constraints that apply to the global average atmosphere: (1) the atmosphere is colder that the surface, and (2) the atmosphere is not totally opaque in the IR.

          These two constraints lead to back radiation being less than surface emitted radiation.

          What I am talking about is how the real atmosphere operates.

          -Roy

          • Anonymous says:

            Dr. Spencer,
            I am a petroleum engineer and a layman in these matters, but what I am picking up amongst all seemingly contrary replies is an inappropriate mixing of equilibrium and transition states. Since the expression of the theorized lack of equilibrium is calculated to be very near 1 degree per century, I can’t see how the energy flow imbalance could be observable, but might be inferred by temperature changes and might be modeled, correctly or incorrectly.

            In the petroleum industry complex systems are modeled and the test of a model’s validity is how well it matches history, a validation that no climate model has yet achieved.

            I see no flaws in your statements and I have not read Miskolczi’s work, so my opinion is fairly worthless. But to give you an idea of what one layman is inferring and believes, the greenhouse effect is real (thank Goodness) and objects exchange net energy through IR radiation if they are not in equilibrium. If Miskolczi’s work contradicts this, then he is wrong.

            Mark Pomeroy

  5. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game noting a typographical error: I typed “turbulently mixed boundary layer of the tropopause” when I meant to type “turbulently mixed boundary layer of the tropoSPHERE”. Please excuse my error.

  6. Thank you Dr. Spencer and the other commentators. This geologist will will need to reread Miskolczi’s paper and these posts several more times, to fully understand. I can say I interpreted Miskolczi much the same as Christopher Game. It is the implications of his empirical findings, I think, that are more important then his conclusions. If the moisture measurements from the earlier part of the data set are bias that may devalue the analysis. On the other hand, that raises further questions about the role or impact of the different gas state molecules in the atmosphere. I have long suspected the most important factors in climate are moisture and ocean temperatures.

    As I see it, Miskolczi at the very least, raises serious questions about what the different feed back systems are and how they operate. I want to go on and say something profound about dynamic processes and the inability of static models to properly evaluate them. I think that is more or less what this is all about. I may be way off base though. I have long suspected that what we don’t know and what we haven’t yet measured is far greater then what we do know and can measure where climate is concerned.

  7. pochas says:

    Dr Spencer,

    You are correct in saying that a layer of atmosphere is not in thermal equilibrium with an adjacent layer at a different temperature. However, this does not affect Miskolczi’s calculation since he uses radiosonde data profiles for temperature, pressure (altitude) and humidity as his inputs, then calculates radiation received at any specified point as the sum of radiation received from all visible points, line-by-line, with source temperatures taken at the actual temperature of the source layer. So the lack of equilibrium from layer to layer is a moot point except at the surface, where the surface temperature is assumed to be the temperature of the air layer immediately adjacent to the surface. This is the only LTE assumption of importance.

  8. Kevin says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    With respect,

    You wrote:

    “All components are usually at different temperatures, with external sources of energy being absorbed, released, and flowing through them. As a result of these complexities, there is no requirement through Kirchoff’s Law that they emit and absorb radiation at the same rates.”

    I hate to sound like a broken record, but this is the SPEED OF HEAT exemplified! Here is a simple example, in a vacuum chamber, place a strip of aluminum foil at 500 degrees F (or C or K or R, you choose) 1 foot from a 1 inch thick strip of copper at 100 degrees. If you perform only the radiative transfer equations (Kirchoff’s Law) these two surfaces will equilibrate at some temperature between 500 and 100 degrees (calculations left to the student). However, due in part to the lower speed of heat within the aluminum it will quickly cool down before the temperature of the copper rises by much. In this simple example I suspect that the copper and aluminum quickly end up at about 105 degrees.

    It seems counterintuitive, but in heat transfer problems the material with the slowest speed of heat determines the outcome. My favorite analogy; if your are on a one lane road in your family sedan following a horse cart upgrading your sedan to a Ferrari will not get you to your destination any sooner. This is why you cannot heat up a slab of PVC very quickly with a slab of much warmer copper. Copper and PVC have similar thermal capacities (per unit volume) but the vastly different thermal conductivities means that you cannot get the heat “into/out of” the PVC as fast as you can get the heat “into/out of” the copper. This is known as a “rate limiting process”.

    From my simple calculations of the thermal capacity (one component of the speed of heat) of water vapor versus the thermal capacity of water, it requires approximately 1 million vertical meters of water vapor (assuming 4% of the atmosphere is water vapor) to equal the thermal capacity of 1 vertical meter of water. Last I checked the atmosphere of the Earth is not 1 million meters thick. If you desire to repeat this calculation be careful to compare units of thermal capacity per unit volume instead of thermal capacity per unit of mass. There is a large difference.

    I am still of the opinion that increases in “greenhouse” gases (coincident with the necessary decreases in “non-greenhouse” gases) actually work to increase the response time of the gases in the atmosphere. As the Sun rises at each location on the surface of the Earth the gases warm more quickly without the surface reaching a new higher equilibrium temperature. As the Sun sets the temperature of the gases cool more quickly without the surface reaching a new lower equilibrium temperature. This is a necessary result of slightly more heat travelling through the atmosphere at the speed of light (ie “IR active gases”) versus the speed of heat. I also believe that this effect is so small that we probably could not spend enough money to measure it.

    Cheers, Kevin.

    • No, the heat capacity of the entire atmosphere, with water vapor, is equivalent to about 2 meters of water. I don’t know why you brought this up. (?)

      • Anonymous says:

        Roy, yes indeed the entire thermal capacity of the atmosphere is probably equal to about 2 meters of water (~200,000 meters versus 2 meters = 100,000:1). My point was more that the proportions of the “Infrared active“ gases (i.e. CO2, Water Vapor, etc.) versus the water on the surface is more like 1 Million to one. You have in your past writings postulated that this admittedly smaller proportion of the atmosphere (i.e. ~1/10) is SOLELY RESPONSIBLE for all of the cooling and warming that occurs on the surface of the Earth.

        This is your postulated answer as to how the Earth Warms AND Cools. I have read your postings that clearly postulate that the ONLY way the Earth WARMS AND COOLS is via the “greenhouse” effect. It seems that you should be able to explain why the other 9/10’s of the thermal capacity of the atmosphere HAS NO EFFECT on the outcome.

        With respect, I again suggest that you investigate the speed of heat. I believe that until you can without question demonstrate that “greenhouse” gases can slow the speed heat enough to cause a new permanent higher “equilibrium” of temperature you are defending an effect that does not exist.

        Cheers, Kevin.

  9. Reader says:

    Well my question is no where near the level of complexity of other posts here, which to be honest make my head hurt, but I will ask it anyway and hope for a simple answer.

    Referring to the K&T diagram of radiative flow in the atmosphere:

    It seems that regardless of whatever else is happening there is 342Wm-2 in and out.

    This seems to suggest that any other things occurring are the result of energy moving around the system but that in general you won’t get any net warming.

    Additionally I notice that for a net input into the system of 168Wm-2 from solar and 24Wm-2 (ie. 192Wm-2) there is a surface radiation of 390Wm-2.

    So this seems to suggest that we are somehow multiplying the energy and getting more for less.

    Or is the 390Wm-2 some source of compound value that is the result of the 168Wm-2 solar forcing and feedback from the 324Wm-2 back radiation ?

    Maybe if someone could clarify a bit more whats happening in that diagram I would appreciate it.

    Also I note that the backR + solarR = SurfR + Evap + Therms -> 324 + 168 = 390 + 78 + 24 = 492

    Is this suggesting that thermals are a result of thermal inputs from backR and SolarR ? Is that really likely ?

    I assume they aren’t saying that the sun cleverly manages to add additional SolarR to match the thermals but I guess they could be saying that backR is a function of the size of emitted Radiation. However, that would be very clever of the CO2 & water vapor to know that it must reflect more radiation in response to increased thermal or solar activity activity would it not ?

    Sorry, I think there are about 10 questions here but it would nice if someone could humour me despite my ignorance.

    Thanks.

    • “It seems that regardless of whatever else is happening there is 342Wm-2 in and out.

      This seems to suggest that any other things occurring are the result of energy moving around the system but that in general you won’t get any net warming.”

      Just because flows of energy in and out of a system are the same tells you NOTHING about the temperature of the components of the system.

      If more CO2 caused catastrophic warming of the surface, these flows would STILL be the same.

  10. KuhnKat says:

    OK, 390 from the ground equals about 240 at TOA. I read Science of Doom where he states the difference between these numbers is the Greenhouse effect.

    Isn’t the major difference between these numbers the simple fact that the surface is emitting from a smaller AREA than the TOA has or even the average emission height has??

    • No. The percentage error you are talking about is tiny and generally neglected.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry, I do not understand your answer. What percentage error? Is there an error?

        What I am talking about is the average emission of the surface compared to the average emission at toa. Since it is in Watts per Meter Squared it is not adjusted for the difference in area so it can not be said that 390-240=Greenhouse effect. It has to be recomputed based on area or given in a total flux per time increment to compare for greenhouse effect.

        Please explain to me in extremely basic terms as I am obviously too uneducated for this.

        • Anonymous says:

          I think he is saying the differnce between the TOA area and the surface of the earth is so small that it can be ignored. You would have to include parts of the atmosphere that contain very little matter for it to make a difference.

  11. Christopher Game says:

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    Thank you again for generously and graciously allowing this discussion.

    It is comforting, indeed pleasing, to read your comment “I have no serious problems with how he has done those calculations;”. You finish your sentence thus: “but I do have a problem with what infers about how IR radiation impacts (or doesn’t impact) the temperatures we observe in the climate system.”

    The accuracy of Miskolci’s basic calculations seems agreed here. We are on the road to agreement in general with some luck and patience.

    But so far as I can see, Miskolczi’s paper makes no inference about effects on climate temperature. You are setting up a straw man here when you find a problem with his “inferences” about “temperatures”. You have a special interest in climate temperatures, but this is not the focus of Miskolczi’s work as you seem to imply.

    Reading more deeply into your post, I have to say, in relation to the eponym ‘Kirchhoff’, that you utterly and totally misunderstand or misrepresent what Miskolczi wrote. Perhaps you have already worked that out from what I wrote above about radiative exchange equilibrium as distinct from pointwise radiative equilibrium.

    Miskolczi does not appeal in this 2010 paper to Kirchhoff as support for the concept of radiative exchange equilibrium, an appeal which you mistakenly allege he makes. Miskolczi wrote as follows: “It will be convenient here to define the term radiative exchange equilibrium between two specified regions of space (or bodies) as meaning that for the two regions (or bodies) A and B, the rate of flow of radiation emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the rate of flow the other way, regardless of other forms of transport that may be occurring.” He makes this definition, a kind of lift from Planck (1914) in the context here of the work of Prevost 1791. Miskolczi writes: “The concept of radiative exchange was the discovery of Prevost [17]. …. In Miskolczi [4] the relationships in eqn (5) were ascribed to Kirchhoff, but as noted above, radiative exchange equilibrium was first understood and described in 1791 by Ref. 17.” Miskolczi used the word ‘definition’ at this point because he was writing a definition, not stating an alleged universal law. Miskolczi here intends to disavow his previous misleading citation, based on a Hungarian textbook, of Kirchhoff 1859/1860 on this point, and to point instead to the more proper source, Prevost 1791.

    It is quite wrong of you to allege that Miskolczi claims or imagines some universal law of radiative exchange equilibrium. For example (one of many that you provide in your blog), Miskolczi does not remotely believe, as you allege, that “these two flows must be EQUAL — not only between the surface and the atmosphere as a whole, but between any two layers within the atmosphere.” That “must” is entirely of your making, your second straw man. In creating this second straw man, you are making a mock of this discussion. It is not possible to continue usefully to discuss the matter till you recognise that you are mistaken in your reading of what Miskolczi wrote about this.

    Much of the rest of your post assumes the validity of your mistaken allegation here, and is therefore not usefully further considered for the present discussion. I can only appeal to you to read again more slowly and carefully to see how you have misinterpreted what Miskolczi wrote.

    In a nutshell, Miskolczi defines radiative exchange equilibrium and then, not universally, but only in a particular circumstance, finds that it is observed in nature, and he indicates what that particular circumstance is.

    You are vigorous in protesting the non-universality of radiative exchange equilibrium and Miskolczi will entirely agree with you on that point.

    He did not actually explicitly write “Radiative exchange equilibrium occurs in nature only in very special circumstances” because he assumed, as you do, that it does not, and he assumed that this was too obvious to need explicit statement. Well, if an explicit statement is needed, please accept this from me now, in case Miskolczi does not reply to this blog: RADIATIVE EXCHANGE EQUILIBRIUM DOES NOT OCCUR UNIVERSALLY IN NATURE; IT OCCURS ONLY IN VERY SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES; I can vouch for it that Miskolczi knows this perfectly well.

    People talk about (pointwise) radiative equilibrium without assuming or expecting that they will be understood to be talking about a universal law. So it is also for radiative exchange equilibrium.

    It is fortunate that you are a reasonable man and I hope that my words above will lead to a profitable discussion, when this misunderstanding is corrected.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Christopher, if what you say is true, why does Miskolczi end up at the end of his paper claiming there is something wrong with greenhouse theory?….

      It’s because he claims to have found something that cannot be explained by greenhouse theory, when he DIDN’T.

      I spent many hours studying that paper, and I do not see how any informed scientist on the subject could come to any other conclusion than I did. I am not setting up any strawmen.

      Either Miskolczi is claiming that Aa=Ed, or he ISN’T. If Aa is not *exactly* equal to Ed, then he has found NOTHING that is inconsistent with current greenhouse theory.

      Now, read that last sentence AGAIN.

      Christopher, you are a smart guy, but you really need to learn more about radiative transfer in the atmosphere if you are going to weigh in on this issue.

      • Anonymous says:

        Christopher Game replying to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Aug 6 at 3:12 AM. Dr Spencer writes:
        “Christopher, if what you say is true, why does Miskolczi end up at the end of his paper claiming there is something wrong with greenhouse theory?….

        It’s because he claims to have found something that cannot be explained by greenhouse theory, when he DIDN’T.

        I spent many hours studying that paper, and I do not see how any informed scientist on the subject could come to any other conclusion than I did. I am not setting up any strawmen.

        Either Miskolczi is claiming that Aa=Ed, or he ISN’T. If Aa is not *exactly* equal to Ed, then he has found NOTHING that is inconsistent with current greenhouse theory.

        Now, read that last sentence AGAIN.

        Christopher, you are a smart guy, but you really need to learn more about radiative transfer in the atmosphere if you are going to weigh in on this issue.”

        Dear Dr Spencer,

        Thank you for your reply. I hope this reply of mine does not disappear as did my last effort, which was a reply to your post of 2010 Aug 6 at 2:52 AM.

        In short, to reply to your dilemma. You require that Aa = Ed be exact or already well known. This is a false dilemma. It is neither exact nor already well known. It is not exact, as may be seen from the examples that Miskolczi gives in figure 5 of his 2010 paper. But the difference between Aa and Ed for a particular given radiosonde sounding is much closer to zero than is indicated by what you consider to be already well-known, for example your citation of Kiehl and Trenberth. It is a matter of degree, not the 0,1 dilemma that you pose.

        I am sorry that you do not see how you have set up straw men. I spent quite a time in writing my now apparently lost post trying to clarify for you exactly how you have radically misread and misunderstood Miskolczi’s paper. If that lost post does not turn up within a reasonable time, I will write another to replace it. But in the meantime I note that what you think of as thin layer fluxes are very much not thin layer fluxes. You have utterly misread and misunderstood Miskolczi’s definitions. I repeat, you have utterly misread Miskolczi’s definitions.

        You write: “Either Miskolczi is claiming that Aa=Ed, or he ISN’T. If Aa is not *exactly* equal to Ed, then he has found NOTHING that is inconsistent with current greenhouse theory.

        Now, read that last sentence AGAIN.”

        I have read the last sentence AGAIN. And AGAIN. I am not ignoring what you write. I note that you are now fudging by saying “he has found NOTHING that is inconsistent with current greenhouse theory.” How elastic will you make “current greenhouse theory” in order to be able to say “Either what Miskolczi said is ridiculous or he has nothing new to say, we always knew what he says”?

        To make further progress here, you need to study and understand Miskolczi’s definitions of Su, Aa, St, Ed, Eu, and OLR. Until you do so study and understand, we can make no progress, I think. My lost post tries to clarify the definitions for you.

        Yours sincerely,

        Christopher Game

  12. Dear Dr. Spencer,

    Let me write here about two different issues:
    (a) facts / numbers;
    (b) interpretations / explanations.

    (a) As I can see, applying equation Aa=Ed (and anothers: Su=3OLR/2, Su=2Eu and f=f(tau) in the given way), Miskolczi is able to derive an equation for the optical depth, having its solution tau=1.867561… . This derivation was performed solely from the structure of the IR fluxes, without any reference to the actual amount of greenhouse gases in the air. This derivation was given in his 2007 paper.

    Earlier, in 2004, he found on the TIGR2 global weather balloon database that their average is tau=1.8693.

    Now, on the 61 NOAA/NCAR annual data he got a mean tau=1.868754.

    As tau comes from the St/Su ratio, where St (“atmospheric window”, or, more precisely, surface transmitted) is very sensitive to the total absorbing effect of the actual GHG composition, the equality of these three within 0.1 Kelvin is more than surprising: it gives me a good confidence to believe in Aa=Ed.

    (b) I think the reference to Prevost is not the intent of Miskolczi to derive his results from “first principles”, but an introduction of a definition. Based on my experiences in the history of science, I notoriously try to detach the process of discovery from its results. There are several cases when the result was good and acceptable, while the road to it was heavily challenged, or proved to be short or even wrong, for decades (examples: Planck, Schrödinger, special relativity, etc.).

    So my suggestion here is to differentiate these two fields, having in mind the last sentence of the Miskolczi 2010 paper: “These empirical results could well be challenged by a comparable empirical method.”

    I am sure we will have very good discussions on the role of clouds, on entropy production, or on the principle of least action (=>energy minimum, =>most effective cooling–a central one here I presume), in 2020 as well, but a more urgent task could be to check his numbers.

    Yours sincerely,

    Miklos Zagoni

    • If Miskolczi makes an assumption about the equality of two radiative flows where an EXACT equality does not really exist, and then computes almost the same optical depth for the atmosphere as others who have who did not assume the equality, has he proved than an equality exists? NO!

      What he is claiming has nothing to do with the exact value of the total optical depth of the atmosphere.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dear Dr Spencer,

        Thank you for this great post and for the opportunity to discuss the issue again.

        I think what you questions here works in the opposite direction. To have the equation of theoretical equilibrium, the exact match, Aa=Ed is needed. What I do not know – and in this I agree with you – that whether the measured values of Ed, and the specifically computed (not measurable) Aa in global average are really the same. But I think that with showing the equality of the empirical taus with the theoretical one (the latter depending on Aa=Ed), yes, he has proved than the Aa=Ed equality also exists.

        Yours sincerely,
        Miklos Zagoni
        http://miskolczi.webs.com

        • Miklos, you apparently do not yet understand what I am saying. It is physically not possible for Aa to equal Ed as a characteristic of our atmosphere. They can be very close, but for the system as a whole they cannot be the same. To claim that the are EQUAL is — probably without knowing it — also saying that IR fluxes do not change temperatures in our climate system. To admit that they are close, but NOT QUITE EQUAL, is not a new finding. It is a necessary consequence of a greenhouse atmosphere that is continuously adjusting to radiative imbalances between layers.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dear Dr Spencer,

        Congratulations for your site, and thank you for this great post and for the opportunity to discuss the issue again.

        I think what you questions here works in the opposite direction. To have the equation of theoretical equilibrium, the exact match, Aa=Ed is needed. What I do not know – and in this I agree with you – that whether the measured values of Ed, and the specifically computed (not measurable) Aa in global average are really the same. But I think that with showing the equality of the empirical taus with the theoretical one (the latter depending on Aa=Ed), yes, he has proved than the Aa=Ed equality also exists.

        Yours sincerely,
        Miklos Zagoni
        http://miskolczi.webs.com

    • Anonymous says:

      Reply of Christopher Game to the posts of Miklos Zagoni of 2010 Aug 6 at 1:49 Am and the reply of Dr Spencer of 2010 Aug 6 at 3:18 AM.

      Dear Miklos and Dr Spencer,

      I agree with Dr Spencer insofar as he says that the verification or refutation of Aa = Ed is not really quite closely enough addressed by the constancy or inconstancy of the Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness. The verification or refutation of Aa = Ed is much more direct and rigorous than that. The two quantities Aa and Ed are direct outputs of HARTCODE for a particular radiosonde sounding. Their equality or inequality is directly testable right there. And that is where it should be tested.

      Dr Spencer seems to imagine that “Miskolzi makes an assumption about the equality of two radiative flows where an EXACT equality does not really exist, and then computes almost the same optical depth for the atmosphere as others who did not assume the equality, …” Dr Spencer is quite mistaken here. Miskolczi’s calculation by HARTCODE of the Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness does not rely on any such assumption as Dr Spencer mistakenly alleges. To check this, if he does not trust me (which perhaps he does not, to judge from one of his comments) Dr Spencer can read the detailed description of HARTCODE which calculates the Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness.

      The equality Aa = Ed is not exact. It is an empirical finding, based on measurements from radiosonde soundings. It is a rather close near-equality for most radiosonde soundings. Some mildy deviant examples (the most extremely deviant cases that Miskolczi could find in the data that he used) are shown in Figure 5 of Miskolczi’s 2010 paper. Also the good average fit is illustrated in that paper. The discrepancy is small compared with the discrepancies cited by Dr Spencer. It is the smallness that is new.

      If Dr Spencer really wants to make a useful contribution here, I think he would be better spending his great and valuable intellectual powers, coupled with his very great knowledge of meteorology and climate science, on working out a theoretical physical/meteorological reason why Aa = Ed rather closely, rather than trying to deny or trivialize the new observation that Miskolczi has published. The required explanation has to be related to adiabatic expansion, and I suppose to the near constancy of the profile of the potential temperature in the turbulently mixed boundary layer of the troposphere. But first Dr Spencer will need to get clear in his mind what are the definitions that Miskolczi uses, as indicated in another post of mine.

      Yours sincerely,

      Christopher Game

      • Christopher, I am giving you the numbers directly from his paper. Miskolczi gets within 4% of equality; Kiehl & Trenberth got within 7%. This is all well within the uncertainties in the humidities that come from radiosonde profiles, and says nothing new about the greenhouse effect from a theoretical standpoint.

        I have already explained that the close match he gets between upwelling and downwelling IR *in 1 meter thick layers* is nothing new. It MUST be a very small difference, or radiative-induced temperature changes would be huge! I showed this with real numbers.

        Finally, his observational result from 60 years of radiosonde data IS interesting, but his belief in humidities in the 1950s and early 60s — which his claim of a constant greenhouse effect depends upon — is a faith that is not shared by radiosonde experts who have worked with these things their whole lives.

        Your condescending approach to what I have said, discounting it even before you read most of it, and considering the fact I have worked with this stuff, published it, and have 3 degrees in it, shows that you can not speak more authoritatively on it than I can. Yet that’s how you are talking to me, as if you need to teach me the fundamentals, and then suggest I hop on Miskolczi’s bandwagon if I want to be of use.

        No, I think I’ll pass this time.

        • Anonymous says:

          Quote. Dr Roy -

          “Your condescending approach to what I have said, discounting it even before you read most of it,”
          – – - – - – - —

          A condescending & arrogant approach would be a far more accurate observation.

          Steve Smith

          • sorry, I couldn’t think of the right words at the time. :)

          • Anonymous says:

            Dear Dr. Roy Spencer,

            Christopher Game has patiently and politely tried to point out to you some of the misconceptions you have of Miskolczi’s paper. I believe that if you read his comments carefully, you will find that he is correct in pointing out some of your misconceptions.

            I understand the reasons for your coming to the conclusions that you have reached but I feel that you have reached these conclusions based upon mistaken assumptions.

            I may be wrong but I think what Miskolczi (and Christopher) are saying is that he has empirically determined that Ae is equal Ed but only over that part of the air column in which convective energy transport plays a major role. Again, I could be mistaken, but I believe that he is not saying that Ae is pecisely equal to Ed in those parts of the column (i.e. the upper extremes of the troposphere and lower stratosphere) where convection/condensation does NOT play a major role in energy transport.

  13. [...] Comments on Miskolczi’s (2010) Controversial Greenhouse Theory [...]

  14. Stephen Wilde says:

    I’ve been waiting for a serious discussion of Miskolczi’s work for a while because, if correct, it would mesh very nicely with my own climate description which is derived from observation supported by basic laws of physics.

    It would suit me very well for him to be right and I think he is right but one clearly has to go a step further to demonstrate it adequately and as Roy says the data available concerning the changes in total global water vapour are not accurate and long standing enough to be definitive.

    However I don’t think it reasonable to suggest that Miskolczi’s work stands or falls on the issue of an exact match of energy in and energy out from moment to moment. We all know that that is not how the world works. Everything is always changing all the time and with regard to the Earth’s energy transfer system as a whole something clearly operates as a negative effect agains all the external (solar changes and asteroid strikes mainly) and internal (volcanic) attempts at disruption over the past several billion years. Ever since we acquired water oceans in fact.

    I take Miskolczi as pointing out that whatever forces try to disrupt a background equilibrium temperature set by the relative densities and pressures of oceans air and space and by the effects of the phase changes of water those forces are eventually cancelled by a powerful and variable counteracting force otherwise we would have lost our oceans aeons ago.

    So he is merely pointing out that the incoming and outgoing energy is equal over time but that does not preclude constantly changing shorter term imbalances between the layers of the system whether those layers be downward into the oceans or upward from surface to space.

    There may well be constant variations in the global water vapour levels as observed but they will always be small because the power of the water cycle in moving energy is such that only small changes are needed to provide the necessary negative effect cancelling out any attempts at disruption of the energy flow.

    Thus I have proposed that the physical mechanism that always alters disruptions to the background energy fluxes negatively is the speed of the hydrological cycle.

    If the supply of energy into the troposphere increases from below (the oceans) or from above (the sun)then the hydrological cycle speeds up to prevent that increase from causing the system to depart from the background equilibrium temperature set by those density and pressure differentials I mentioned before.

    If that supply of energy decreases either from above or below then the hydrological cycle slows down.

    When the hydro cycle is running faster the troposphere is slightly more humid and the jet streams move poleward. When it is running slower the troposphere becomes slightly less humid and the jets move equatorward.

    Note that the effect of changes in the speed of the hydrological cycle is always negative to any divergence from that background equilibrium temperature and it’s power arises from the huge scaleability of the effectiveness of the hydro cycle.

    A latitudinal shift in the positions of the jets of a few hundred miles was enough to stabilise the forces that led to the MWP and the LIA.

    So however one critiques the details of Miskolczi’s work I think he is on to a fundamental truth.It is the apparent lack of sizeable changes in global water vapour that best supports him. It need not be zero.

    If a little more CO2 is added to the air then all we would see would be an unmeasurable increase in evaporation rates and a miniscule increase in the speed of the hydrological cycle so that the slowdown in the speed of energy transfer to space caused by the extra CO2 is cancelled by the faster upward transfer of energy to space by the water cycle.

    All Miskolczi is pointing out is that the lack of significant change in optical depth (it doesn’t need to be zero) over time is evidence that the system is working and we are not currently at risk of any imminent catastrophic changes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Colin Davidson, commenting on STephen Wilde’s post.

      I agree with the thrust of Stephen’s post. The Surface is relatively insensitive to changes in solar/atmospheric conditions, due to evaporation and the rate at which that changes with temperature.

      The rate of change of evaporation with temperature is difficult to measure and as far as I can tell is in dispute (as so much in this fascinating field).

      If the rate of change of evaporation with temperature is high, you don’t get much response to changes in “forcing”.

  15. Christopher Game says:

    Oh dear, I have just written a careful reply to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Aug 6 at 2:52 AM, but when I hit the Submit comment button, my reply just disappeared. Perhaps it will reappear. Let me hope so.

    Christopher Game

  16. Christopher Game says:

    Oh dear, another reply disappeared when I hit the submit comment button. Christopher Game

  17. Christopher Game says:

    Ah, yes, the disappearing replies have now miraculously reappeared. Thank goodness for miracles. Christopher Game

  18. Shooshmon says:

    Hello Dr. Spencer,

    I was wondering what your opinion is of Lord Christopher Monckton. He is constantly bashed for not being a scientist, yet tons of nonscientists weigh in on the global warming issue. Personally, I think he is extremely intelligent and he obviously is a master of mathematics. Would you say most of his claims are accurate or inaccurate? I also would like to note that Monckton was an expert in environmental fraud.

    Secondly, in the time of the dinosaurs, we had 7,000ppm of co2 in the atmosphere. Now, we have 385. Where did all that co2 go? Other scientists I have spoken to concede this point but then follow up with “Well, we are adding co2 at a very fast rate.” This seems false to me. Dinosaur excrement surely gave off massive amounts of co2, which could have overflowed carbon sinks and triggered the release of massive amounts of co2.

    So, here is how I interpret the argument from a scientists who believes global warming is happening. “While the earth removed massive amounts of co2, it can’t and will not do it again, even though there is so very little co2 compared to what we used to have.”

    Please give me your thoughts.

  19. Shooshmon says:

    Whoops, I left out 2 points. Scientists concede the point that the oceans took out a lot of co2 from the atmosphere and transferred it into rocks. And dinosaur excrement gave off massive amounts of “methane” not co2. Or is it both?

  20. Bill Gilbert says:

    Dr. Spencer, I want to thank you for discussing Miskolczi’s recent paper in your blog. It seems to have been mostly ignored prior to this (although I have not read everything out there by any means). You seem to have two primary concerns: 1) the possible unreliability of past radiosonde moisture level measurements used by Miskolczi and the resulting decline in upper tropospheric moisture levels and 2) the impact of small but possibly cumulatively important net radiative flux between adjacent layers of atmosphere.

    With respect to the upper troposphere water vapor concentrations, Paltridge, et al, 2009 indicate that water vapor measurements below 300 hPa in the tropics and below 500 hPa in the higher latitudes should be reliable. They show a downward moisture level trend in the upper troposphere for the last several decades using data from 1973 to 2007. The recent Gilbert, 2010 paper “The thermodynamic relationship between surface temperature and water vapour concentration in the troposphere” explains the thermodynamics behind this phenomenon using empirical radiosonde data. He shows that the PV expansion work energy versus thermal energy released during water vapor condensation increases as the surface water vapor concentration increases. This is roughly analogous to Stephen Wilde’s comment about “the speeding up of the hydrological cycle”. A faster rate of PV expansion results in a more efficient dehumidification mechanism for the higher altitudes. This all fits with Miskolzci’s empirical data.

    With respect to the impact of a differential radiative flux between atmospheric layers, this can be shown to be insignificant with respect to total heat flux also due to the PV adiabatic expansion (cooling) and compression (heating) occurring as a result of this radiative flux differential. An ideal dry atmospheric system under the influence of a gravitational field will assume an equilibrium dry adiabatic lapse rate (dT/dh = -g/Cp). The atmosphere at equilibrium will not be isothermal as is commonly believed. Each atmospheric layer will have the same internal energy content (U) with the lower elevations having a higher temperature (CpT) and the higher elevations having a lower temperature but a higher potential energy (gh). But the sum of the two energy components will be equal at every layer; a constant potential temperature with altitude. (The value of the constant U is determined by the overall energy content of the atmosphere). As for the very small radiation heat transfer component between layers, the only effect will be to insure the atmospheric is not static. The lower layer will slightly heat the upper layer and that layer will rise and adiabatically cool and displace the cooler layer above it. The uppermost layer will descend (at some point) and adiabatically warm. The reverse happens for the lower layer. It will cool and sink and displace a lower hotter layer which will rise and cool. Everything returns to its original state. Heat is not transferred radiatively through the opaque portions of the atmosphere but the heat transfer will cause mini PV work events to take place causing some mixing action. But the dry adiabatic lapse rate is maintained. Convection maintains the isentropic equilibrium state. This helps to explain the Mislolczi empirical data that shows LTE at each atmospheric layer.

    I hope this makes sense to everyone. I have crammed a lot of information into a short space.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Miklos Zagoni says:
    Some technical problems must be here. One of my replies disappeared, another appeared twice. Miklos

  22. Anonymous says:

    Miklos Zagoni says:

    Roy, I understand WHAT you are saying: it is physically not possible for Aa to equal Ed; a tiny, at least an infinitesimal difference always must remain between the two, even in annual global average. I just do not understand WHY you are saying this. — OK, I can understand also the why; but I simply cannot see the proof of it. We should solve this problem soon, as we have a LOT of other issues in M’s theory to examine: further equations with heavy physical principles behind them, and with even heavier consequences.
    Miklos

  23. pochas says:

    Bill Gilbert says:
    August 6, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    Bill,

    A very interesting post. You mention a quantity U. Does it have a street name, like Hemholtz Free Energy? Where could a discussion be found, esp as it relates to climate?

    Thanks in advance,

  24. Roy,
    You say in your August 6, 2010 at 8:58 AM reply to Christopher Game:

    “his observational result from 60 years of radiosonde data IS interesting, but his belief in humidities in the 1950s and early 60s — which his claim of a constant greenhouse effect depends upon — is a faith that is not shared by radiosonde experts who have worked with these things their whole lives.”

    He made two further time series calculations as well, for the first 50, and for the last 50 years of 1948-2008 time period (I put it up to the website).

    1948-1997: Temp 288.8 K, H2O 2.6168 prcm, tau 1.867596
    1959-2008: Temp 288.9 K, H2O 2.6106 prcm, tau 1.867976.

    I can’t see a radical difference.

    Miklos

  25. Alex Harvey says:

    Dear Roy,

    I have tried to follow the above discussion and got a bit lost but I wonder nevertheless if there is a simple misunderstanding in it.

    I apologise in advance if this is a stupid question.

    I don’t know if you have read the earlier Miskolczi and Mlynczak 2004 paper where the Aa = Ed result was first reported, but I certainly can not understand why you said –

    “Miskolczi’s 4% difference [Aa to Ed] versus K&T’s 7% difference is hardly a breakthrough (different radiosonde datasets give different results), and in no way invalidates current greenhouse theory.”

    – and again later –

    “Miskolczi gets within 4% of equality; Kiehl & Trenberth got within 7%.”

    Specifically, I can’t see where you are getting this 4% figure from. I have eye balled M’s figure 3 in the 2010 paper and it looks much closer than 4%, and certainly, in the MM04 paper, it is said –

    “Based on our data set, the global average clear-sky downward atmospheric emittance is 311.4 W m–2, while the global average of the absorbed radiation by the clear-sky is 311.9 W m–2.”

    I make that as more equal (~ 0.0016 %?) than you’re allowing in this discussion.

    Can you explain where the 4% comes from?

    Best, Alex

    PS. Thank you for this great blog from a long time silent reader.

  26. Roy,
    Let me try to approach the issue from another direction.

    IF we assumed that Aa=Ed, then, applying this equation to the well-known commonly accepted balance equations at the surface and at the atmosphere, we’ll immediately get the Eu=K+F relation. Of course: if Aa=Ed, then all the energy the atmosphere emits upwards must come from non-IR radiative sources: turbulent and latent (K) + the shortwave absorbed by the atmosphere (F).

    Using this again in the two balance equations, we get arithmetically that the old surface balance equation becomes this one:

    G = Su – OLR = Ed – Eu.

    The left part of this equation is Ramanathan’s greenhouse effect definition (G=Su-OLR), the right hand side is something new. You can see here two net fluxes, an upward and a downward one. Su-OLR “remains” in the atmosphere, heating it (Su steps in at the bottom, OLR goes out at the top), Ed-Eu, as the reaction of the atmosphere, “leaving” it, cooling it. These two fluxes are equal — IF Aa=Ed holds.

    These two new equations (Aa=Ed, G=Su-OLR=Ed-Eu) are mathematically identical, assuming the other two old balance equations accepted.

    From Miskolczi’s Eq (8) of his 2007 paper, it directly comes that the normalized

    g=G/Su=(Su-OLR)/Su equals to 1/3.

    This comes in one step from the structure of the fluxes (IF Aa=Ed), independently of the actual greenhouse gas composition ofthe air.

    According to Ramanathan 2006 (Frontiers in climate modeling, Cambridge, ed. J. Kiehl), the EMPIRICAL value of g is 0.33, or, as he says, “1/3”.

    So, the objections against Aa=Ed should be re-formulated as objections against the equality of G=Su-OLR=Ed-Eu.

    Thanks,
    Miklos

  27. Steve Smith says:

    Hi Dr Roy.

    Just thought you may be interested in these links.
    Some info on these gentleman, who appear to be expert on Miskolczi’s theories & methods.

    No need to paste this message on your comments board.

    The Climatically Saturated Greenhouse Effect: A Note from Christopher Game

    http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/2009/05/the-climatically-saturated-greenhouse-effect/

    - – - – — – - – — -

    Miklos Zagoni in Australia and available for meetings
    Dr. Miklos Zagoni, Hungarian physicist, reviewer of the IPCC 2007 Assessment Report Four is now in Australia staying with his Uncle in Melbourne. On 4th May, he will appearing in front of a Committee set up by the NZ Government to revise their emissions trading scheme. Miklos is available to speak at any meetings we can find someone to organise between now and 2nd May. TCS Secretary

    http://globalwarmingwatch.blogspot.com/2009/04/climate-sceptics-party-needs-all-help.html

    • Anonymous says:

      Roy,

      If you review all comments to be posted here does the post of Steve Smith (August 7, 2010 at 2:46 AM) is relevant to my E&E article ?

      Ferenc

  28. You’re known by the company you keep.

    Dr. Spencer, do you see what kind of people your new comrades are yet? See the cognitive dissonance? CG is **starting out** with the assumption that Miskolczi has made a great breakthrough which invalidates AGW theory. Whatever you say or show to the contrary, there must be a flaw in it or you must be misunderstanding Miskolczi, because if you were right, it would mean that CG’s basic assumption is wrong. And that’s his **premise,** not his conclusion.

    You can’t win. Just demonstrating that you’re right, both empirically and theoretically, isn’t enough. People don’t decide these things based on what’s true. They base it on what they want, or **need,** to be true.

    And how much of that have you got yourself?

    No fingers pointed. I have it myself, everybody does. The differences lie in how determined you are to fight it and go with the evidence as best you can.

    • yeah, I know. I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess.

      • Anonymous says:

        I do not know who Barton Levenson is but he obvioulsy does not know (or has never met) Christopher Game.

        If he had, he would know that he is an extremely intelligent and well read person who does not presume to know the answers before his does any investgation. In fact, he is very meticulous in the way he researches any topic, taking many months if not years to convince himself that any given idea has merit.

        This does not mean that Christopher is always right, far from it [and he would be the first to admit that he has made some mistakes], but it does mean that if he proposes an idea, he only does so after having given that idea much thought and deliberation.

  29. Stephen Wilde says:

    Barton Paul Levenson said:

    “The differences lie in how determined you are to fight it and go with the evidence as best you can.”

    Then kindly explain why the optical depth seems not to have changed sufficiently to accord with the expectations of AGW theory.

    Stephen Wilde.

  30. “If the Earth’s atmosphere was isolated, with a constant amount of total energy contained within it, and you added more CO2 at the same temperatures as the surrounding air, then it is indeed true that the average temperature of the atmosphere would not change.”

    Unless the outside temperature is above 37 C, what warm blooded beings breathe out would be warmer than the surrounding air. But more significantly, the CO2 created by the burning of fossil fuels would always be much warmer than the surrounding air. Would it be correct to assume that the initial temperature of the created CO2 is totally irrelevant to this discussion?

      • Anonymous says:

        Dr Roy, or anyone!

        Could you elaborate on this? Is the temperature of CO2 emissions – and other sources of heat – relevant to the CAGW debate as a whole, as opposed to this specific discussion?

        Human beings have increased in number on the planet by over 5 billion (roughly 500%?) since 1850. Additionally, since that year, the following heat-emitting objects have increased by a huge amount:
        Ship transport; aircraft; vehicles; fridges; freezers; televisions; computers etc.

        Why is it not possible that the heat produced by these and other industrial outputs should not be factored into the average global temperature?

        Since 1850, the total rise in gt has been appx 0.8 deg C. We are invited to believe that a trace gas existing at 0.028% of the atmosphere in 1850 rising to 0.039% now has caused this rise in gt, and that this will lead to runaway global warming. I have seen no explanation why, at the same time, that same small amount of CO2 was responsible for up to 26% (7-8 deg C) of the Greenhouse Effect (according to realclimate and others). This does not make sense to me. If CO2 is responsible for such a large contribution initially how can it make such a small subsequent contribution due to a sizeable 40% increase?

        Many thanks.

        • Anonymous says:

          I’m sorry, I thought when posting the above comment I would have had to complete a name box.

          Arfur

  31. Ferenc Miskolczi says:

    Dear Roy,

    Thank you very much for your time and effort to comment my recent E&E article:

    Miskolczi, F., 2010, Energy and Environment, 21, No.4, 243-272.

    But why do you confuse people? In this article we are not talking about competing greenhouse theories. The main point of the paper is that in the last 61 years the global average infrared optical thickness of the real spherical refractive inhomogeneous atmosphere is 1.87, and this value is not changing with increasing CO2 amount. This means that no AGW exists based CO2 greenhouse effect.

    This is a very simple statement. To conquer this statement you must come up with your own global average atmosphere and optical thickness, and show the methodology of its computation.

    It is irrelevant what you or K. Trenberth, R. Lindzen, or the RC gurus like G. Schmidt from NASA or R. Pierrehumbert, P. Levenson, ect. may guess, assume or believe about the physics of greenhouse theories. Even my theory which supports the 1.87 value is irrelevant. Here no useless radiative budget cartoons or GCMs, or assumed feedback processes or arbitrary constants are needed. You do not need to worry about what the global h2o, temperature and pressure field is doing and what is the relationship among them. The atmosphere and its radiation field knows exactly what it should do to obey the laws of thermodynamics, or how to obey the laws of the conservation of energy, momentum and mass, or how to obey the energy minimum (entropy maximum) or Hamilton principles on local, regional or global scale.

    If you really want to know what is going on with the global average IR radiation field and you or your experts have some knowledge of quantitative IR radiative transfer, you (or the others) may compute precisely this physical quantity using only first principles and real observations. There is no other way around. The true IR flux transmittance, absorption or optical depth is fundamental for any or all greenhouse theories.

    If you do not trust my 1.87, compute it yourself, see how it is changing with time and verify or falsify my computation. Here there are no theories to chose, but the correct straightforward computation of a single physical quantity which gives the accurate information about the absorbed amount of the surface upward radiation. I am patiently waiting for your results. It is not very easy, but you or your group may give a try. If you can not do this with your resources, then further discussion of this topic here is useless.

    After we agree on this issue, we may start our debate on the theoretical interpretations of the results that was outlined in my 2007 Idojaras article, or on the questions how to relate the absorbed surface radiation to the surface temperature or to the downward IR flux density.

    Ferenc

    • But why do you confuse people? In this article we are not talking about competing greenhouse theories. The main point of the paper is that in the last 61 years the global average infrared optical thickness of the real spherical refractive inhomogeneous atmosphere is 1.87, and this value is not changing with increasing CO2 amount. This means that no AGW exists based CO2 greenhouse effect.

      This is a very simple statement. To conquer this statement you must come up with your own global average atmosphere and optical thickness, and show the methodology of its computation.

      It is irrelevant what you or K. Trenberth, R. Lindzen, or the RC gurus like G. Schmidt from NASA or R. Pierrehumbert, P. Levenson, ect. may guess, assume or believe about the physics of greenhouse theories. Even my theory which supports the 1.87 value is irrelevant. Here no useless radiative budget cartoons or GCMs, or assumed feedback processes or arbitrary constants are needed. You do not need to worry about what the global h2o, temperature and pressure field is doing and what is the relationship among them. The atmosphere and its radiation field knows exactly what it should do to obey the laws of thermodynamics, or how to obey the laws of the conservation of energy, momentum and mass, or how to obey the energy minimum (entropy maximum) or Hamilton principles on local, regional or global scale.

      If you really want to know what is going on with the global average IR radiation field and you or your experts have some knowledge of quantitative IR radiative transfer, you (or the others) may compute precisely this physical quantity using only first principles and real observations. There is no other way around. The true IR flux transmittance, absorption or optical depth is fundamental for any or all greenhouse theories.

      If you do not trust my 1.87, compute it yourself, see how it is changing with time and verify or falsify my computation. Here there are no theories to chose, but the correct straightforward computation of a single physical quantity which gives the accurate information about the absorbed amount of the surface upward radiation. I am patiently waiting for your results. It is not very easy, but you or your group may give a try. If you can not do this with your resources, then further discussion of this topic here is useless.

      After we agree on this issue, we may start our debate on the theoretical interpretations of the results that was outlined in my 2007 Idojaras article, or on the questions how to relate the absorbed surface radiation to the surface temperature or to the downward IR flux density.

      If you read and understood what I posted, Ferenc, I agreed that the *observational* result from 61 years of radiosonde data of a constant GHE (tau=1.87) is indeed intriguing, and possibly even true. (That it depends upon high humidities from the earliest sondes in the 1950s and 1960s, though, will not convince many people because there are so many instrumentation problems that affect long-term trends.) This is indeed a useful contribution, as I previously stated.

      But you have not addressed what I *was* objecting to, Ferenc: People are using your work to claim that Ed=Aa, and I was discussing in detail why that might APPEAR to be the case, but cannot be the case for a greenhouse atmosphere.

      You could help clairify things by answering the following question:
      If atmospheric layers A and B each contain greenhouse gases, under what conditions will we find that the rate of absorption by layer B of layer A’s thermal emission equal the rate of absorption by layer A of layer B’s emission? Your answer to that question could potentially remove all my objections to this key issue.

      • Anonymous says:

        I hope no one minds if I interject here.

        “If atmospheric layers A and B each contain greenhouse gases, under what conditions will we find that the rate of absorption by layer B of layer A’s thermal emission equal the rate of absorption by layer A of layer B’s emission?”

        I don’t think it ever will because the energy flux from the oceans below to A and the energy fux to space above from B is constantly varying due to the presence of other layers below A and above B.

        On that basis I suggest you take A as being the troposphere and B as being the stratosphere.

        “The observed climate is just the equilibrium response to such variations (between A and B) with
        the positions of the air circulation systems and the speed of the hydrological
        cycle always adjusting to bring energy differentials above and below the
        tropopause back towards equilibrium (Wilde’s Law ?).”

        from here:

        http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=5497

        • I don’t care what you take the two layers to be..I’m just looking for an answer to the question.

          • Anonymous says:

            I would like to hear what Ferenc Miskolczi has to say on the unreliability of the radiosonds in regards to humidity data, especially during the 1950′s -1960′s period.

            John Chaseling

      • Anonymous says:

        Dear Roy,

        I am very sorry, that you feel that you have to comment something that you do not understand. I admit that because of the very technical nature of the paper, it is difficult to digest.

        In this debate the most important thing is that you and I must have a common understanding of the physical laws and the terminology. I suggested you that, the best way to proceed is that you and I compute the same physical quantities – for example for your favorite global average atmospheric structure – and when we agreed on tau, Ed, Su, Eu, OLR, etc., then we start to analyze the relationships among them. I do not really care what you believe. I only care what you know for sure and what you can prove.

        If you do not mind, I shall not answer or elaborate your quiz. I did answer such questions forty years ago at my first astrophysics course at the university. However, you may easily answer your question yourself, if you figure out what Eq. 7 means.

        On the other hand you say: “…People are using your work to claim that Ed=Aa, and I was discussing in detail why that might APPEAR to be the case, but cannot be the case for a greenhouse atmosphere….”

        Think about – qualitatively – the new Trenberth-Fasullo-Kiehl cartoon: 1.87=-ln(1-Ed/Su) or Ed=Su*(1-exp(-1.87) ) or Ed=Aa. ( Ed and Aa are global average measured quantities.) If you agree that tau=1.87, in your view does this mean that the Earth’s atmosphere is not a greenhouse atmosphere???

        We arrive again at the same problem. To make quantitative statements on the degree of anisotropy in the Ed field you must produce numbers. Those numbers will tell you what is the physical meaning of the spherical emissivity (fudge factor ??), and you will see, that in monochromatic radiative equilibrium it is required by the law of the conservation of energy.

        And finally, I think you should assume that everybody joining this discussion has his own independent and decent scientific view of the topic.

        Ferenc

  32. Harry Dale Huffman says:

    Hear, hear, Dr. Miskolczi.

  33. Harry Dale Huffman says:

    Sorry, I just like that better than “Here, here…”

  34. John Millett says:

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    Thank you for your two books and this piece, all of which I find compelling, and your experimental attempt to demonstrate sky radiation, which has not persuaded me (though as I post this I see there is more to be digested). Nor is your acceptance of the fact of the greenhouse effect totally convincing.

    You say “Since temperature is, in some sense, a measure of accumulated thermal energy in an object, any change which alters the rates at which energy flows into, or out of, the object can change how much heat accumulates in the object, and thus its temperature. Greenhouse gases change the rate at which an object loses energy”.

    The “object” is the climate system, essentially the atmosphere including its lower bound, the earth’s surface. It is not obvious in which direction GHGs change the object’s rate of energy loss. Climate science claims they reduce it – a warming effect. However, GHGs’ immediately relevant property is absorption of radiation energy at particular wavelengths. These wavelengths occur in the spectra of both incoming and outgoing radiation. (Though this contradicts climate science convention it accords with K&T’s energy budget). Thus energised, GHGs spread the energy to their enveloping air parcel by collision with other molecules, increasing the system’s rate of energy loss – a cooling effect.

    GHG absorption of incoming radiation affects the distribution of solar energy between the atmosphere and the surface, within the climate system, rather than having an external effect on it. GHGs absorption of outgoing radiation is also an internal effect. It provides a radiative mode of energy transport from the surface to the atmosphere to supplement the turbulent modes, evapotranspiration and convection. Though all these are surface-cooling effects, none is a system-cooling one. The system-cooling effect derives from energy diffusion from GHGs to other constituents of the atmosphere and the consequent faster rate of energy loss to space.

    From K&T(1997) we see that the atmosphere emits to space 195 Wm-2 of the total 235 Wm-2 required to balance the net solar flux. It emits the heat that it takes in from the solar flux, 67 Wm-2, and from the surface: through evapotranspiration, 78 Wm-2; through convection, 24 Wm-2.; and, imlicitly, 26 Wm-2 through absorption by GHGs of surface radiation. Of the absorption, CO2 accounts for 26%. That is, CO2 (which accounts for 0.06% of atmospheric mass and is the alarmists’ chief villain) accounts for 3% of the climate system’s radiation to space. The possibility, canvassed by K&T, that the atmosphere absorbs 25 Wm-2 more of incoming radiation than they have allowed, reducing absorption of surface radiation by GHGs to 1 Wm-2, virtually relieves CO2 of any significance in the climate system.

    You say “Without GHGs, the atmosphere would have no way of losing the heat it accumulates from convective heat transfer caused by solar heating of the surface”.

    The notion that matter can emit radiation only if it absorbs it contradicts the thermodynamic theorem that all matter with temperature above zero Kelvin radiates at wavelengths and intensities related to temperature. The idea that the 99% non-absorbing atmosphere would, in the absence of the 1% absorbing component, accumulate heat through convection from the surface – in effect from the sun, in perpetuity – without in some way dumping it into the surrounding space looks decidedly un-natural. The atmosphere, after all, is an “emulsion” of terrestrial matter in space held by gravity. To borrow from your space thought experiment: Would a parcel of hot nitrogen in deep space forever retain its heat?

    The thought experiment: Lost in space

    Wrapping a body in a blanket in space introduces a barrier to heat loss through radiation. Heat loss proceeds as conduction to the outer surface of the blanket where radiation resumes. Whether this slows the body’s cooling rate and by how much depends on the blanket’s surface area, bigger than the body’s, as well as its intensity of radiation. In any event, this is an insulating effect, not the result of the blanket taking energy from the body and giving it back, the so-called back radiation. The blanket needs the energy it gets from the surface to provide and maintain the temperature gradient necessary for heat to flow through it and eventually escape. As the old adage has it, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. That would be creating energy, a violation of the first law of thermodynamics.

    Your assertion, that the temperature of the body, in the blanketed case relative to the non-blanketed case, is raised when the body is continuously-supplied with heat but not when it lacks input, needs elaboration. I think it’s incorrect. In both cases the body would be warmer blanketed than bare. The effect of continuously supplying heat to the body, blanketed or not, is to raise its temperature above that in the non-supplied case. A body in a blanket in space is a poor analog for the earth’s climate system in which the blanket is the body (see K&T).

    • Anonymous says:

      John Millett sais:

      “Thus energised, GHGs spread the energy to their enveloping air parcel by collision with other molecules, increasing the system’s rate of energy loss – a cooling effect.”

      But the more such collisions the longer the time required for the energy to exit the system hence a net warming effect because the longer the delay the higher the equilibrium temperature needs to be before balance is regained.

      See here:

      http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=1562&linkbox=true&position=20

      “Greenhouse Confusion Resolved”

      The fundamental point is that the total atmospheric warming arising as a result of the density of the atmosphere is a once and for all netting out of all the truly astronomic number of radiant energy/molecule encounters throughout the atmosphere.

      It is that interruption in the flow of radiant energy in and out which gives rise to a warming effect. The warming effect is a single persistent phenomenon linked to the density of the atmosphere and not just the composition. Once the appropriate planetary temperature increase has been set by the delay in transmission through the atmosphere then equilibrium is restored between radiant energy in and radiant energy out.

    • It sounds like you might not have been following the discussion. Adding the blanket to the warm body in space (which is not touching the body, so no conduction — I might not have made that clear up-front) will always reduce the skin’s rate of cooling. But it can only raise the skin temperature above it’s original steady-state temperature if additional energy is supplied to the body.

      I agree that compared to the total greenhouse effect, the direct warming from adding CO2 is a very small effect. Even the modelers who predict catastrophic global warming know this. Do you know why the previous 2 sentences are not contradictory?

      • Anonymous says:

        Roy,

        In this blog it is almost impossible to follow who is saying what and who is answering to whom. Can you do something about this ‘Anonymous says’?

        Your ‘SPECIAL MESSAGE’ and ‘Executive Summary’ do not worth much if you can not support it with data on Ed and Aa. The KT97 budget is not good enough. They use the UST76 atmosphere and some ad-hoc estimates to get the clear sky St. Two weeks ago in Boulder I talked to Dr. Trenberth about this in person, and he admitted that his St in the KT97 is unrealistic.

        And, by the way, you say: ‘I agree that compared to the total greenhouse effect, the direct warming from adding CO2 is a very small effect.’ . You keep talking about ‘current greenhouse theory’ all the time but you never referenced to the physical relationship between Su, OLR and the IR optical depth. Could you tell me what is behind your ‘current greenhouse theory’?

        Some years ago NASA hired me for the investigation of this relationship, and this is how I come up with the Su=OLR/f equation. How come you know this relationship for a long time and you did not tell? You may be aware that the classic Eddington relationship has persistent problem at the lower boundary.

        Referencing the fluxes from different altitudes somewhere in this blog you say: ‘The percentage error you are talking about is tiny and generally neglected.’ . This is not true. You must normalize the fluxes to the same altitude.

        Ferenc

  35. Anonymous says:

    Hello Ferenc, nice to hear from you.

    I think we are at one on this as per my earlier comment.

    “All Miskolczi is pointing out is that the lack of significant change in optical depth (it doesn’t need to be zero) over time is evidence that the system is working and we are not currently at risk of any imminent catastrophic changes.”

    AGW theory seems to be in a bit of a spin over this and I await the outcome with interest.

  36. Stephen Wilde says:

    For some reason I keep being posted as ‘Anonymous.

    To avoid confusion I’ll give my name at end of any further posts.

    Those of 1.37 am and 1.30 am are both mine.

    Stephen Wilde.

  37. Miklos Zagoni says to Roy Spencer’s August 8, 2010 at 6:13 AM comment:

    Roy, you asks: “If atmospheric layers A and B each contain greenhouse gases, under what conditions will we find that the rate of absorption by layer B of layer A’s thermal emission equal the rate of absorption by layer A of layer B’s emission?”

    Until we get Ferenc’s reply, let me give my own. I am not sure how your two different GHG layers come in. Ed is the back radiation measured at the surface by uplooking pyrgeometers. Aa=Ed means that the total energy absorbed in the air by GHG’s from the surface upward IR radiation comes back to the ground. Inserting Aa=Ed into the two old balance equations for the atmosphere and for the ground, you get Eu=F+K, where F is the shortwave atmospheric absorbed, K is the sum of all the non-IR radiative heat fluxes, convection, conduction, latent. That is, if Aa=Ed, OLR(=St+Eu)=St+K+F (St is the atmospheric window). This means that there is no GHG-related part in the energetic source of OLR. That is, the cooling of the Earth maximizes its non-radiative part (K) at the ground.
    Miklos

    • It doesn’t matter how the two layers “come in”, I’m just looking for an answer to my question, which is purposely phrased like Miskolczi’s statement in his 2010 E&E article: “for..two regions (or bodies) A and B, the rate of flow of radiation emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the rate of flow the other way, regardless of other forms of transport that may be occurring.” I would like him to clarify whether his statement really holds (as he implies) no matter what the layer temperatures are, no matter what their optical depths are, and no matter whether there are other forms of “transport” going on (I assume he means energy transport).

      • Anonymous says:

        Christopher Game replying to Dr Spencer’s post of 2101 Aug 8 at 11:38 AM.

        Dear Dr Spencer,

        Thank you for your great care and patience with this.

        First let me say I am sorry that I am seen as condescending and arrogant. I do not mean to be so; but if I am so, then mea culpa, I am sorry; I am the loser if it is so.

        All readers, please let me be clear. I am very well aware, and I think, or at least hope, that every reader must also be well aware that I am well aware, that Dr Spencer is a most admirable top world authority on the subject matter here. And I myself greatly admire him both for his personal virtues and for his work. And at the same time, I am very well aware that I am not even remotely qualified on this subject, no degrees, no publications, no work or laboratory or field experience. I am grateful to Dr Spencer when he gives time to reply to my comments. But I think I have something useful to say about how Dr Spencer reads the 2010 paper of Miskolczi.

        Now to the subject.

        Dr Spencer writes [in bold type that I am not sure now to show here]:

        I would like him [Miskolczi] to clarify whether his statement really holds (as he implies) no matter what the layer temperatures are, no matter what their optical depths are, and no matter whether there are other forms of “transport” going on (I assume he means energy transport).

        Dr Spencer, in my post of 2010 Aug 5 at 5:35 PM, I have tried to say that Miskolczi does not think, and that his 2010 paper does not imply, that radiative exchange equilibrium is anything remotely like a universal law, such as indicated in the immediately above quote from you. If radiative exchange equilibrium ever actually occurs in nature, it does so only in rare and special particular circumstances; I am sure that Miskolczi thinks that.

        To quote the full sentence which your post of 2101 Aug 8 at 11:38 AM quotes in part, Miskolczi writes: “It will be convenient here to define the term radiative exchange equilibrium between two specified regions of space (or bodies) as meaning that for the two regions (or bodies) A and B, the rate of flow of radiation emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the rate of flow the other way, regardless of other forms of transport that may be occurring.” This sentence advertises itself as a definition, not as a statement of a law; it does that advertising by including in itself the words ‘definition’ and ‘meaning’. The words “regardless of other forms of transport that may be occurring” are perhaps ambiguous or misleading. Please let me clarify. In a sense those words are redundant to Miskolczi’s meaning, and that redundance might perhaps mislead. The words “regardless … occurring” are simply negative or excluding, simply meaning that the equilibrium referred to is with regard only to radiation emitted by A and absorbed by B, and the other way, and not with regard to other transport. Those words are not intended positively, to require some kind of dynamic stability or whatever; they are just saying, ‘just think about the A-emitted–B-absorbed and the B-emitted–A-absorbed radiation for calculating the balance for this equilibrium, and ignore other things’.

        My opinion about what Miskolczi means is only my opinion. But I have heard Miskolczi talk and I think my opinion reports or reflects what I have heard him say. Perhaps if I am misunderstanding or misquoting or misreporting him he may say so, but perhaps he may not.

        I did not see a response from you, Dr Spencer, to my comment of 2010 Aug 5 at 5:35 PM, specifically on this point. You are well entitled to think that that comment of mine cannot be taken as a reliable indication of what Miskolczi might think. Perhaps you do think so.

        The physical question, of whether any physical phenomenon occurs in nature that can be described by the term ‘radiative exchange equilibrium’ as so defined, is a separate question from the mere definition of the meaning of the term. Miskolczi’s 2010 paper also addresses that question specifically, but separately from the definition.

        Thank you again for your patience and care.

        Yours sincerely,

        Christopher Game

        • I await Miskolczi’s answer to my question.

          • Anonymous says:

            Christopher Game replying to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010
            Aug 9 at 3:32 AM.

            Dear Roy,

            In your post of 2010 Aug 8 at 11:38 AM you ask the question:

            “I’m just looking for an answer to my question, which is purposely phrased like Miskolczi’s statement in his 2010 E&E article: “for..two regions (or bodies) A and B, the rate of flow of radiation emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the rate of flow the other way, regardless of other forms of transport that may be occurring.” I would like him to clarify whether his statement really holds (as he implies) no matter what the layer temperatures are, no matter what their optical depths are, and no matter whether there are other forms of “transport” going on (I assume he means energy transport).”

            and again in your post of 2010 Aug 9 at 3:32AM you write “I await Miskolczi’s answer to my question.”

            This asking of yours follows Miskolczi’s post of 2010 Aug 7 at 3:03 PM, which ends:

            “If you do not trust my 1.87, compute it yourself, see how it is changing with time and verify or falsify my computation. Here there are no theories to chose, but the correct straightforward computation of a single physical quantity which gives the accurate information about the absorbed amount of the surface upward radiation. I am patiently waiting for your results. It is not very easy, but you or your group may give a try. If you can not do this with your resources, then further discussion of this topic here is useless.

            After we agree on this issue, we may start our debate on the theoretical interpretations of the results that was outlined in my 2007 Idojaras article, or on the questions how to relate the absorbed surface radiation to the surface temperature or to the downward IR flux density.”

            As I read this, Miskolczi is waiting for you while you are waiting for him.

            I am guessing that neither of you will blink.

            I have put the view that Miskolczi does not think that radiative exchange equilibrium is a universal law, as it seems you are saying that he proposes.

            Examining the wording of your question may be helpful here. Your question is worded in complete generality: “no matter
            what the layer temperatures are, no matter what their optical depths are, and no matter whether there are other forms of “transport” going on.”

            Do you mean to ask about all arbitrary hypothetically imaginable temperature, pressure, moisture, etc., profiles? For example, the USST-76 model atmosphere is hypothetically imaginable, but is perhaps never to be found as an actual real atmosphere, because it is an artificial synthetic ideal construct, and cannot be necessarily expected to obey the laws of nature, because it is not an actual recording from a perfect radiosonde ascent.

            As I indicated above, we cannot necessarily expect an answer from Miskolczi in the immediate future, so perhaps one might try to guess how he might answer.

            Perhaps that general arbitrary hypothetically imagined case is the one about which you are concerned.

            If so, then I do not think there is any need to wait for his answer. It is no.

            Miskolczi would have not the slightest hint of an intention of speculating what might happen in an arbitrary hypothetically imagined atmosphere; he is not proposing to be a theorist on this very general question. But he would be confident that massive departures from radiative exchange equilibrium can be expected in an arbitrary hypothetically imagined atmosphere, and this confidence would lead him to say no.

            If your question is, on the other hand, about all profiles that can be expected to be observed by a reliable radiosonde ascent in an actual real atmosphere on earth, then my above remarks do not answer it. In this interpretation of your question, I think Miskolczi’s answer would be qualified. Figure 5 of his 2010 paper shows exceptional examples chosen to illustrate that under some circumstances Aa > Ed and under others Aa < Ed. But these exceptional examples are exceptional.

            I would like to think carefully before trying to guess how Miskolczi would reply in this less general case, and perhaps this is not what interests you, so that I need not even try to guess? Perhaps it would help if you were to define your question more narrowly or more precisely?

            Yours sincerely,

            Christopher Game

          • As I read this, Miskolczi is waiting for you while you are waiting for him. I am guessing that neither of you will blink.

            Christopher, I already answered his question by saying I did not dispute his computation of tau = 1.87. My question has to do with his assertions regarding Aa = Ed.

            I would like to think carefully before trying to guess how Miskolczi would reply in this less general case, and perhaps this is not what interests you, so that I need not even try to guess?

            Unless you are his surrogate, or are channeling his thoughts, maybe you should wait for HIS answer, rather than trying to answer for him?

            Perhaps it would help if you were to define your question more narrowly or more precisely?

            Well, I think the question was pretty clear…but maybe I can rephrase it, if it would be easier to answer:

            “Given any two adjacent atmospheric layers A and B, under what conditions can we expect the radiative flux emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the flux emitted by B and absorbed by A?”

            I assume you and he already know what “is equal to” means without further clarification.

          • Anonymous says:

            Christopher Game replying to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Aug 9 at 7:29 AM.

            Dear Dr Spencer,

            Thank you for this reply and this rephrasing of your question.

            You write:
            “Well, I think the question was pretty clear…but maybe I can rephrase it, if it would be easier to answer:

            “Given any two adjacent atmospheric layers A and B, under what conditions can we expect the radiative flux emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the flux emitted by B and absorbed by A?””

            This rephrased question is about intra-atmospheric layer exchanges, which is not addressed in Miskolczi’s 2010 paper. And this rephrased question is a theoretical question, while the 2010 paper claims that it “has restricted its attention to the empirical observational testing of the quasi-all-sky model, and has avoided theoretical analysis.”

            This rephrased question is not the same question as that of the equality Aa = Ed, which refers to the all-altitude total quantities, respectively with source and detector at the ground.

            Figure 3 of the 2010 paper reports calculations of the contribution density altitude profiles dAa(z)/dz and dEd(z)/dz. These quantities tell the altitude profiles of densities of contributions at altitudes z (flux density increment per unit altitude) respectively to Aa and Ed, the ground level totals. Thus Figure 3 does not refer to a test of possible radiative exchange equilibrium between adjacent atmospheric layers about which your rephrased question asks. By the words “law of radiative exchange equilibrium” in the caption of Figure 3, Miskolczi means Aa = Ed, not dAa(z)/dz = dEd(z)/dz, though the figure depicts the latter. Figure 3 depicts for the reader how it comes about that Aa = Ed, but is not itself a direct numerical test of that equality.

            You write: “Unless you are his surrogate, or are channeling his thoughts, maybe you should wait for HIS answer, rather than trying to answer for him?”

            Yes, I will wait for his answer. I am not his surrogate and am not channeling his thoughts.

            Yours sincerely,

            Christopher Game

          • Anonymous says:

            Chistopher,

            While you are waiting could you put on your teaching hat and answer a question for me. Would the following statement be consistent with Dr. Miskolczi’s findings?

            “Over any reasonable timeframe Aa = Ed because the atmosphere as a system is stable and will compensate for additional CO2 and other factors. However, in an instantaneous sense, they are almost never equal. I.e., Aa(t)/Ed(t) does not always equal 1.”

            If the above statement is consistent, it would seem to me Dr. Miskolczi’s work would be “new.”

            Sorry if this is simplistic.

            Mark Pomeroy

          • Anonymous says:

            Christopher Game replying to Mark Pomeroy post of 2010 Aug 11 at 11:45 AM.

            Dear Mark,

            I will not recite your post because I am hopeful that my reply will be right below it.

            Your summary statement is not at all an accurate representation of Miskolczi’s work.

            Yours sincerely,

            Christopher Game

          • Anonymous says:

            “Your summary statement is not at all an accurate representation of Miskolczi’s work.”

            Christopher,

            Sadly, your apparent interpretation of what I stated has nothing in common with what I stated. I would never endeaver to represent Dr. Miskolczi’s work and what I stated was in no way put forward as a summary.

            To say that water runs downhill is consistent with Newton’s work but an extemely poor representation of it.

            If I infer something not suggested, my apologies.

            Oddly, you did not answer my question. Perhaps I should have stated it in the negative. Does Miskolczi’s work prove my statement wrong? Perhaps you should leave the answer to that to others. I assume your failure to enlighten me was intentional.

            Mark Pomeroy

          • Anonymous says:

            Christopher Game replying to Mark Pomeroy’s post of 2010 Aug 11 at 1:49 PM.

            Dear Mark,

            I am sorry my reply was saddening or perhaps even offensive to you, as you indicate in the following that you wrote at 2010 Aug 11 at 1:49 PM:

            ““Your summary statement is not at all an accurate representation of Miskolczi’s work.”

            Christopher,

            Sadly, your apparent interpretation of what I stated has nothing in common with what I stated. I would never endeaver to represent Dr. Miskolczi’s work and what I stated was in no way put forward as a summary.

            To say that water runs downhill is consistent with Newton’s work but an extemely poor representation of it.

            If I infer something not suggested, my apologies.

            Oddly, you did not answer my question. Perhaps I should have stated it in the negative. Does Miskolczi’s work prove my statement wrong? Perhaps you should leave the answer to that to others. I assume your failure to enlighten me was intentional.

            Mark Pomeroy”

            Here Christopher Game replies:
            You are saddened or perhaps even offended because my reply did not directly and explicitly address exactly what you wrote.

            May I suggest to you that your post was in the form of a what lawyers call a leading question?

            I am sorry that my indirect and apparently nearly irrelevant reply was saddening or perhaps even offensive to you. It was not my intention to sadden, offend, or attack you. I intended only to be explicit about what I said, and brief.

            I did not and still do not think that readers will be interested in any further reply from me. That is why I did not reply at greater length and more directly and explicitly to exactly what you wrote.

            But I felt touchy that it might transpire that what you wrote might be read as a summary of Dr Miskolczi’s work, and might be unanswered by anyone, which might leave the idea that it did not elicit an answer because it was right. I plead guilty to feeling touchy. Perhaps I was too touchy. If so, I am sorry.

            Yours sincerely,

            Christopher Game

          • Anonymous says:

            Christopher,

            Yes, the question was leading but it’s the way I work through things. It’s like asking, “Isn’t it true that any given laser produces only one frequency of light?” The answer is, of course is no, but as a child I asked that question. It is both leading and innocent.

            After my first pass through the paper in question, I do find my question to be, at best, vaguely relevant.

            I’ll try to work out why Dr. Miskolczi says that the atmosphere is insensitive to CO2. I have some understanding, but it’s new–to me.

            Unrelated, The reason I have no opinion on AGW is that the models don’t match history. I have no dog in this hunt.

            BTW, if I get offended in the process of learning something,I’m a happy man.

            Mark Pomeroy

  38. BPL says:

    “Then kindly explain why the optical depth seems not to have changed sufficiently to accord with the expectations of AGW theory.”

    BPL: You have a time series for semigray infrared optical depth? I’d like to see it.

  39. This is Prevost’s definition of radiative exchange equilibirum; in our case A is the surface of the Earth, B is the atmosphere as a whole. It is not a general law, but a concept he applies in his study. The temperature of the two regions (or bodies), surface and near-surface air (where Ed is measured), is explicitely assumed to be equal.

    • Anonymous says:

      Christopher Game replying to Miklos Zagoni’s post of 2010 Aug 8 at 11:48 AM.

      Dear Miklos,

      You write: “This is Prevost’s definition of radiative exchange equilibirum; in our case A is the surface of the Earth, B is the atmosphere as a whole. It is not a general law, but a concept he applies in his study. The temperature of the two regions (or bodies), surface and near-surface air (where Ed is measured), is explicitely assumed to be equal.”

      To be very precise, this present definition of radiative exhange equilibrium is not a definition made by Prevost 1791. It is a definition lifted from Planck 1914, page 40 Section 46. Prevost 1791 defines two terms for equilibria between two regions of space, of what he calls ‘absolute radiative equilibrium’ and of what he calls ‘relative radiative equilibrium’. His term ‘relative radiative equilibrium’ is perhaps not quite clearly interpretable, at least not quite clearly interpretable to me, but perhaps it can properly be read to include radiative exchange equilibrium as defined by Miskolczi.

      You write: “It is not a general law, but a concept he applies in his study.”

      Agreed.

      You write: “The temperature of the two regions (or bodies), surface and near-surface air (where Ed is measured), is explicitely assumed to be equal.”

      Such is not at all Miskolczi’s meaning or assumption in the present 2010 definition. If perchance it were his meaning or assumption, then we would be in a situation far from the present one, and the whole cast of the discussion would be far from where it is.

      Yours sincerely,

      Christopher

  40. Stephen Wilde says:

    “If atmospheric layers A and B each contain greenhouse gases, under what conditions will we find that the rate of absorption by layer B of layer A’s thermal emission equal the rate of absorption by layer A of layer B’s emission?”

    Pending Ferenc’s clarification I’ll try again from my understanding.

    I take it that his statement really means that the two rates of absorption will be the same over enough time despite attempts by other forces to disrupt that equality over shorter periods of time.

    So one has a constantly varying input from above and below the two layers A and B so that the rates of absorption are constantly trying to return to equilibrium but always overshooting each other as they attempt to do so because the inputs keep changing as well.

    The condition where the rates are actually equal will be limited to the point at which they swing past each other as a result of external inputs but on average over time they are equal.

    So one can accommodate small short term differences whilst not offending the general rule of equality.

    This accords with my view that air circulation always acts negatively to reduce divergences from the background temperature equilibrium set by the density and pressure differentials between oceans air and space AND the phase changes of water.

    As soon as the pendulum goes one way or the other the air circulation systems and the hydro cycle work to negate the divergence whether it be towards warming or cooling and so the rule suggested by Miskolczi is true in the longer term but not necessarily in the shorter term.

    The evidence in support is the apparent relative constancy of optical depth despite changes in the composition of the air.

  41. And, if you imaginary elevate the surface into the air, you’ll get the same: Ed from the remaining atmosphere is equal to the absorbed part of that “layer”. This is shown in his Fig 3.

    • …and as I originally demonstrated, the only reason they appear to be equal in his Fig. 3 is because he is dealing with 1 meter-think layers. The radiative flux divergence in such thin layers MUST be close to zero. The “greenhouse effect” is a cumulative effect over the entire depth of the atmosphere.

      Miklos, you seem to have either ignored what I have said, or do not understand it. I understand what Miskolczi’s paper says — (not necessarily what he *intended* to say) — so I know what his material means. You are trying to simply repeat it without understanding my objection to it. You need to refute the specific points I made….repeat what I said back to me, and tell me why I am wrong.

  42. Stephen Wilde says:

    “BPL says:
    August 8, 2010 at 11:46 AM
    “Then kindly explain why the optical depth seems not to have changed sufficiently to accord with the expectations of AGW theory.”

    BPL: You have a time series for semigray infrared optical depth? I’d like to see it.”

    If AGW is to be substantiated it is necessary for you to show that the change has been sufficient. The burden of proof lies with you.

    Where is your time series for semigray infrared optical depth ?

    I’m inclined to accept Miskolczi’s data unless you can show it to be faulty.

  43. JamesG says:

    The thrust of M’s argument is that the system is self regulating and it is the H2O that adjusts. Now that doesn’t seem too controversial to me. Many books state that the water cycle provides a necessary thermostat to the worlds climate. AGW proponents also now state (particularly Dr Alley) that CO2 acts as Earths thermostat. Roy seems to suggest that clouds provide a thermostat. So what’s the big deal here? Surely the main point is that he finds no evidence for an increasing greenhouse effect. That would certainly clear up the missing sink argument.

    That the radiosonde data are iffy is not in doubt but this just adds to other evidence; the lack of ocean heat storage, Lindzens outgoing radiation, the lack of stratospheric cooling for 15 years… At what point does it become “overwhelming evidence” that the data doesn’t seem to match the theory? At what point do we stop saying that all the data must be faulty?

    • That is indeed one of the 2 major points, and I’ve said he might well be right about that. Unfortunately, it’s the other issue that people are probably misinterpreting. I have SO many people assert that when two bodies exchange thermally-emitted radiation, that those values must be equal. If that was true, the greenhouse effect would be a physical impossibility. Miskolczi’s paper is causing some of the confusion in this regard by make it sound like that is true.

  44. Dear Roy,
    I think the discrepancy comes from that you think he is dealing with 1-meter thick (thin) layers (so the relatively small differences disappear, showing a false equality in the total column) — while I think his absorption and emission calculations by Hartcode were performed on realistic thicknesses, as described in his 2004 paper: “The atmosphere was stratified using 32 exponentially placed layers with about 100 m and 10 km layer thickness at the bottom and the top, respectively”. His recent Fig.3 and Fig. 4 are simulations of virtual functions, as indicated in his text. If I am wrong, Ferenc surely will clarify soon.
    Thanks,
    Miklos

  45. … so, as I can see it, there is no such a question examined in the paper, “If atmospheric layers A and B each contain greenhouse gases, under what conditions will we find that the rate of absorption by layer B of layer A’s thermal emission equal the rate of absorption by layer A of layer B’s emission?”, especially not for extremely thin layers. What is plotted there, as I can understand it, is an imaginary lift of the surface (‘as if the Earth’s radius was greater’) to higher elevations, occasionally with 1-meter steps, and calculated the effect of the total column atmospheric absorption and emission above it. — But I may be wrong of course. Miklos

  46. … and, of course (if this is still ambiguous, as Christopher Game pointed out in an email to me), the derivatives of them give the contributions of different altitudes – expressed also by their names, contribution density profiles. — I wanted to clarify this, so sorry for the repeated entries.
    Thank you.
    Miklos

  47. Re: Christopher Game August 8, 2010 at 4:55 PM comment:

    Dear Christopher,

    The present paper writes (p245): “It is explicitely assumed that temperatures tA and tG are equal.”, where tG is the ground temperature, tA is the near-surface temperature.
    Miklos

  48. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game replying to Miklos Zagoni’s post of 2010 Aug 9 at 9:53 AM.

    Dear Miklos,

    You write: “The present paper writes (p245): “It is explicitely assumed that temperatures tA and tG are equal.”, where tG is the ground temperature, tA is the near-surface temperature.”

    The 2010 paper writes: “tA is the surface temperature”.

    Your post of 2010 Aug 8 11:48 AM to which I was replying wrote: “This is Prevost’s definition of radiative exchange equilibirum; in our case A is the surface of the Earth, B is the atmosphere as a whole. It is not a general law, but a concept he applies in his study. The temperature of the two regions (or bodies), surface and near-surface air (where Ed is measured), is explicitely assumed to be equal.”

    It seems I mistook your intention and misread what you wrote. I was thinking not in specific terms of calculations of Aa and Ed, but in terms of the general definition of radiative exchange equilibrium. The general definition does not require equal temperatures, and does not require the two bodies to be contiguous.

    After I posted it, as I went for an afternoon walk, I had a feeling I had not quite got that right.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher

  49. The answer, of course, is “when each layer has exactly the same temperature and no other mechanisms of heat transfer interfere.”

    And, of course, if that were true all through the atmosphere, there would be no greenhouse effect–and no lapse rate.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a shame that somone like BPL has chosen to post here. A nice quote from his web site:

      “My Climatology Papers: I explain some climate science, and bitch slap the global warming deniers”

      http://bartonpaullevenson.com/Climatology.html

      I believe he lowers the tone. The discussion here is informative and open. A premise which he obviously has no belief in.

  50. Mike Edwards says:

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    I’d like to thank you for your analysis of Miskolczi’s paper – and I admire your patience in handling some of the responses on this thread.

    I too am puzzled at the invocation of “radiative exchange equilibrium” in relation to exchanges between the Earth’s surface and layers in the atmosphere.

    Figure 2 in Miskolczi’s paper shows a clear profile of the air temperature steadily declining from ~280K at the surface to ~220K some 12Km up.

    Radiative equilibrium can only exist between bodies at the same temperature – this clearly does not apply in the case of the Earth’s surface and the atmospheric layers above.

    Yours, Mike Edwards.

  51. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game’s further reply to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Aug 9 at 7:29 AM.

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    May I add a comment about Figure 4 of Miskolczi 2010?

    Figure 4 shows another aspect of the mechanism of Aa = Ed.

    Instead of the actual ground as source of radiation for Aa(z), Figure 4 imagines at altitude z a blackbody surface emitting upwards, and shows the total all-higher-altitudes atmospheric absorption of that ‘false-ground’-emitted radiation.

    Instead of the actual ground as absorber of radiation for Ed(z), Figure 4 imagines at altitude z a ‘false-ground’ black body absorber of the total atmospheric downwards emission reaching it from all higher altitudes.

    Thus Figure 4 also does not address your rephrased question.

    May I add some other comments?

    It is a pity that the same notations, Aa(z) and Ed(z), are used in Figure 4 for its quantities as are used in Figure 3 for the other quantities that are shown there. Perhaps this may have caused some confusion. Some other notation should have been used, to distinguish the ‘actual-ground’ quantities of Figure 3 from the ‘false-ground’ quantities of Figure 4. Perhaps aa(z) and ed(z) would have done the job for Figure 4.

    For your rephrased question, one might label the questionedly putative radiative exchange equilibrium between two adjacent atmospheric layers as ‘near-homogeneous’ radiative exchange equilibrium, because the two adjacent layers will have not too great differences of material composition and state.

    The possible equilibria shown in Figures 3 and 4 are between the non-black atmosphere and black ‘ground’ surfaces. They might thus be labeled as heterogeneous radiative exchange equilibria.

    This difference is due to the atmospheric window.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher

  52. cohenite says:

    If I understand Christopher correctly, Aa=Ed is not a BOA surface to immediate atmospheric level description but a whole atmospheric to BOA surface equlibrium; in fact this is what Miskolczi said in his first paper:

    (c) — The atmosphere is in local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE). In case of
    the Earth this is true up to about 60 km altitude [page 3]

    In his summary of Miskolczi’s first paper Rob van Dorland confirmed Miskolczi’s Figure 2 of the 1st [2007] paper and figure 3 of the second [2010] paper; as Miskolczi says “the source density of Ed and the destination density of Aa match precisely at EACH ALTITUDE [my bold]“. So there is a temperature profile where Ed = Su.[1-Ta] at all places/heights; this answers BPL’s complaint: ‘And, of course, if that were true all through the atmosphere, there would be no greenhouse effect–and no lapse rate” because Miskolczi is not talking about a Zeroth law situation; in fact the opposite; and because it is the opposite the greenhouse effect is extant and at maximum, as indicated by the OD constancy.

    • The “pure radiative equilibrium” case was worked out an published in the 1960s by Manabe and Strickler, and the current atmosphere is nowhere near that.
      I think people throw around “local thermodynamic equilibrium” without even knowing what it means. I do not think the concept has anything to do with our discussion.

  53. Dear Roy,

    According to Aa=Ed, I have asked NASA CERES science team about their measured atmospheric window radiation (in Miskolczi’s notation, St). One has to know it, if wants to compute Aa from the definition Aa=Su-St.

    Their kind aswer was that they measured filtered window radiances from a dedicated CERES window channel and from these provided unfiltered radiances of the emitted thermal radiation over the 8.1 to 11.8 µm wavelength interval. Their ALL-SKY TOA window flux value was 66 Wm-2.

    If you substitute this St=66 Wm-2 (instead of the wrong 40 Wm-2) in the K&T figure, what would you get for Aa?

    Yours sincerely,
    Miklos

    • OK, Miklos, now that you want to change to a CERES-based estimate for the IR lost through the atmospheric window, you need to also use the CERES-based values for the rest of the IR fluxes. You can’t just mix and match numbers from different sources until you get the answer you want.

      But even then, it is well known the absolute calibration of the CERES instrument is no better than several Watts per sq. meter. These estimates all involve many assumptions, not the least of which is the influence of clouds, and adjusting for the diurnal cycle since CERES measures only 2 local times in the diurnal cycle. (Some say there is no such thing as cloud-free air, you know).

      Besides, it really not the loss through the window that is important here. It’s whether the upwelling IR flux equals the downwelling IR flux either at the surface, or at layers up through the atmosphere. If downwelling IR equals upwelling IR, then the greenhouse effect no longer operates. It’s like saying you will run your kitchen stove until the temperature of the stove element is at a steady state temperature equal to that of the air in the stove. It will never happen. Energy has to flow “downhill”, so there needs to be a downhill for that to happen.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Energy has to flow “downhill”, so there needs to be a downhill for that to happen.”

        I wasn’t going to get in the middle of this except AGW, or the GreenHouse effect, we are told is supposed to run a little uphill!!

  54. Dear Roy,

    I agree with you in all of your points (August 10, 2010 at 5:58 AM):

    - if one wants a CERES-based estimate for the IR lost through the atmospheric window, one needs to also use the CERES-based values for the rest of the IR fluxes;
    - the absolute calibration of the CERES instrument is no better than several Watts per sq. meter;
    - if downwelling IR equals upwelling IR, then the greenhouse effect no longer operates.

    I just would like to note that your third point is not what Aa=Ed states. By this relationship it is not claimed that the upwelling IR flux equals the downwelling IR flux either at the surface, or at layers up through the atmosphere.

    It claims that the total column amount of the absorbed part of the surface upwelling flux (Su minus the “window”) equals to the downwelling IR flux measured at the ground. But you know this.

    Thanks,
    Miklos

    • Mike Edwards says:

      Comment by Mike Edwards:

      “It claims that the total column amount of the absorbed part of the surface upwelling flux (Su minus the “window”) equals to the downwelling IR flux measured at the ground.”

      Yes, and that claim is STILL WRONG given that the total column temperature is LOWER than that of the Earth’s surface, no matter how you care to average the column temperature. Miskolczi even has a nice graph showing the temperature profile of the atmosphere.

      This is such a basic element of thermodynamics that I am amazed that people here are still debating it.

      Yours, Mike.

  55. … and, let me continue with your note Roy, “if downwelling IR equals upwelling IR, then the greenhouse effect no longer operates”: yes, but, if Aa=(Su-St)=Ed, then, from the arithmetic you know well it comes directly that Eu=K+F and that the greenhouse effect, G (= Su-OLR by def.) = Ed – Eu. And _how else_ the greenhouse effect could operate *if not* as the difference of the downwelling IR heating and the upwelling non-IR cooling?

    Thank you again,
    Miklos

    • Indeed! That is the point of my original post.

      Whether Mickolczi intended it or not, his work is being used to advance the view that the greenhouse effect is already “saturated”, when in fact his calculations tell us nothing about how much (or how little) warming would be required to restore radiative balance after adding some amount of CO2. I am talking about the direct CO2 effect here, not feedbacks that might mitigate that direct warming.

      • Anonymous says:

        Christopher Game replying to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Aug 10 at 11:35 AM.

        Dear Dr Spencer,

        You write:
        “Whether Mickolczi intended it or not, his work is being used to advance the view that the greenhouse effect is already “saturated”, when in fact his calculations tell us nothing about how much (or how little) warming would be required to restore radiative balance after adding some amount of CO2. I am talking about the direct CO2 effect here, not feedbacks that might mitigate that direct warming.”

        In effect, you seem here to be asking Miskolczi to use the IPCC paradigm that his 2010 paper says he does not use. Miskolczi’s 2010 paper reads on page 256:
        “This IPCC formalism is not used in the present article, because it is considered here that taking the calculations through the primary no-feedback virtual surface temperature
        increase is far too indirect and complicated and fraught with un-assessable risk of error, and is utterly superfluous and apparently physically misleading. Here the eventual afterfeedback effect of CO2 on the greenhouse-gas optical thickness is assessed directly without intervening virtual surface temperature calculations.”

        Your post uses a terminology slightly different from that used by Miskolczi in his 2010 paper and it is probably useful here to clarify the different terminologies.

        For the present discussion (not the only way the matter could be approached, see for example Sorokhtin Chilingar Khilyuk 2007 ISBN 9780444528155) as Miskolczi approaches it, the immediate direct no-feedback effect of added
        CO2 is precisely defined simply by its calculated effect on the global average Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness, all other variables being unchanged. This tells directly the basic mechanism of how the added CO2 has its effects on the atmosphere itself before these effects do things to radiation.

        Miskolczi’s 2010 paper calls this the virtual primary no-feedback effect. It is virtual because the data are year averages and there will be feedback effects over a year, so that the immediate effect can be found only by calculation, not by direct measurement. Figure 11 of the 2010 paper shows this virtual primary no-feedback effect of CO2 as a dotted and dashed line, trending steadily upwards.

        The next step of the reasoning is to ask how this increase in Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness will manifest itself in the workings of the atmospheric energy transport process. This next step Miskolczi does not take. As I read you, you think he ought to take it, and perhaps you think people know so well how the process works that they can take it, and many others agree with you. As I read you, this step, that you recommend he take, you call finding the “direct CO2 effect”. Miskolczi says he thinks it unreliable to calculate it.

        The question you ask “how much (or how little) warming would be required to restore radiative balance after adding some amount of CO2″ is the IPCC paradigm question. That is how the IPCC thinks about things. But is a theory-laden question, not a simple empirical question. Miskolczi’s 2010 paper announces that it avoids theory and focuses on empirical testing.

        Your post reads “how much (or how little) warming would be required to restore radiative balance after adding some amount of CO2. I am talking about the direct CO2 effect here, not feedbacks that might mitigate that direct warming.” I have to admit that this is rather too concise or compact and heavily theory laden an expression of your ideas for me to feel I understand. Perhaps a more unpacked version might help me understand. But I think it may be a wrong path to follow, and I would be a recalcitrant student, if it is along the IPCC line of thinking. So far as I can see, there has been no “direct warming”. That is the point of Miskolczi’s paper.

        The point of Miskolczi’s paper is that one can find out something very useful without involving oneself in that IPCC theory. There are other virtual primary no-feedback effects to be seen in Figure 11. These effects occur on various time scales, in particular perhaps the year-to-year fluctuation time-scale and the 61-year linear drift time-scale. It is not appropriate to discuss those in detail here.

        Miskolczi’s 2010 article shows that the virtual direct no-feedback effect of CO2 on the Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness was about four times the eventual actual effect on it, in the 61-year linear trend. The eventual actual effect is not statistically significantly different from zero, though the noise level of the data is low enough to allow detection of the virtual direct no-feedback effect of CO2 if it were present.

        The water-vapour effect is very prominent on the year-to-year time scale, but not on the 61-year linear trend. The largest virtual direct no-feedback effect on the 61-year linear time-scale in Figure 11 is that of temperature. This is not what the IPCC paradigm calls the “Planck response”. The IPCC’s “Planck response” is, depending on how you like to use the word ‘feedback’ (there are different theory-dependent concepts of ‘feedback’), an effective feedback or compensatory response. Figure 11 shows a virtual direct no-feedback of temperature on Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness, a dimensionless ratio quantity, not an effect expressed in terms of actual radiative response, thus not an IPCC-”feedback” and not an IPCC-”Planck response”. This virtual primary no-feedback effect occurs along with, not instead of, any effective feedback or compensation or “Planck response”.

        The virtual direct no-feedback temperature effect is the one that Figure 11 shows did the compensating on the 61-year linear trend. Not the virtual direct no-feedback water vapour effect.

        The point is that though CO2 rose, it did not lead to an actual eventual increase of Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness. With no actual primary effect on the atmosphere itself, there was no mechanism for CO2 to have caused any further effect, in particular no mechanism for warming.

        The mechanisms and causes of the linear-trend warming in the 61-year dataset are probably at least partly and perhaps mostly unknown, though there are some plausible suggestions. But they are shown by Miskolczi’s 2010 paper not to include CO2 addition.

        It seems unfair to criticize Miskolczi for what others say or do. His 2010 paper shows that what they are talking about simply did not happen as they expect it should have happened. Their theory was not born out by the events. Why should he try to explain the consequences of a disproven theory?

        We can remedy the inappropriate use of Miskolczi’s work by checking its accuracy and validity for ourselves, or supporting others who will check it, and by telling people about it, explaining it to them, clarifying it for them, so that they will be moved to cease to use it inappropriately. Perhaps you think I have used it inappropriately. Fortunately I am a nobody and few will be misled by what I might say.

        As I read you, you object to the use of the word “saturated”, a word that I have used. I think it is not misleading: CO2 was added and had no effect; that seems fairly called ‘saturated’ to me. I was careful to say that the saturation was not of the classical static type, but was of a dynamical type; things happen in the world that are not of classical types but are still real enough.

        Yours sincerely,

        Christopher Game

  56. Eli Rabett says:

    FWIW, in an earlier version he cherry picked the database he was using, relying on the 1983 version TIGR 2, rather than the more recent ones which had a substantial difference in the tropical humidity.

    • Anonymous says:

      Christopher Game replying to Eli Rabbett’s post of 2010 Aug 10 at 12:11 PM.

      Dear Eli Rabbett,

      You write:
      “FWIW, in an earlier version he cherry picked the database he was using, relying on the 1983 version TIGR 2, rather than the more recent ones which had a substantial difference in the tropical humidity.”

      This is an allegation that Miskolczi is a cheat. Presumably the moderator of this blog will be alert to the libellous nature of your post as it stands.

      You owe it to us and to Miskolczi that you supply enough details to prove your case, or to withdraw it with a handsome apology. You could withdraw and apologize right now, or you could present your proof right now, or you could say that you need time to present a proof of your case and offer us some surety that you will publish your details when you have had time to prepare them for presentation. A proof will include full radiative transfer calculations that prove your allegation of cherry picking.

      Miskolczi often asks for others to check his calculations, and he is still asking for this the last sentence of his 2010 paper reads:

      “These empirical results could well be challenged by a comparable empirical method.”

      Your post is virtually a statement that you can respond to the challenge. As I just said, you should do so or apologise for your libel.

      Your blog words FWIW, for those not used to blogese, mean ‘for what it is worth’. Your reply to this will tell us what it is worth.

      Dr Spencer wrote at 2010 Aug 9 at 7:29 AM:
      “Christopher, I already answered his question by saying I did not dispute his computation of tau = 1.87.”

      Yours sincerely,

      Christopher Game

  57. Roy, if you accept this point, as you wrote, “That is the point of my original post.”, than you seem accept the G=Su-OLR=Ed-Eu equation.

  58. John. P says:

    Help please.

    As I understand it, emprical evidence shows no increase in the optical depth of infrared absorbing gasses in the atmosphere over the measurement period (61 years) due to a decrease of infrared absorbing water vapor offsetting the increase in infrared absorbing co2. (negative feedback)

    Does a theory to explain the physics of how this process may work need to be controversial itself, in regards to current greenhouse theory?

    Thanks Dr Spencer for your reply.

    • Anonymous says:

      Christopher Game replying to John.P of 2010 Aug 10 at 3:59 PM.

      Dear John.P,

      You write: “due to a decrease of infrared absorbing water vapor offsetting the increase in infrared absorbing co2. (negative feedback)”.

      That is not what the Miskolczi 2010 article shows. Perhaps you might like to read a rather long post (labeled ‘Anonymous’) that I have just submitted, at 4:41 PM, as a reply to a post by Dr Spencer at 11:35 AM, in a track starting with a post by Miklos Zagoni at 10:14 AM, today.

      Yours sincerely,

      Christopher Game

  59. Dear Roy,

    Let me reformulate my previous question:

    Accepting that the greenhouse effect is the difference of the downwelling IR heating and the upwelling non-IR cooling, do you accept also the G=Ed-Eu relationship?

    Thanks,
    Miklos

  60. Dear Eli Rabett,

    You wrote:

    “in an earlier version he cherry picked the database he was using, relying on the 1983 version TIGR 2, rather than the more recent ones which had a substantial difference in the tropical humidity.”

    His data selection method was described in his paper:
    http://miskolczi.webs.com/RS_Madison_Wisconsin_1999.pdf

    If you have a better one, of course you can present it.

    During the spring of 2009, he made a lot of calculations on the more recent TIGR2000 database in which 872 new tropical profiles were added. As he hasn’t published the results of these calculations yet, I am not going to quote them. I only would like to note that the stability of the optical depth is robust.

    Miklos

  61. Mark Pomeroy says:

    Dr. Spencer,
    I am a petroleum engineer and a layman in these matters, but what I am picking up amongst all seemingly contrary replies is an inappropriate mixing of equilibrium and transition states. Since the expression of the theorized lack of equilibrium is calculated to be very near 1 degree per century, I can’t see how the energy flow imbalance could be observable, but might be inferred by temperature changes and might be modeled, correctly or incorrectly.

    In the petroleum industry complex systems are modeled and the test of a model’s validity is how well it matches history, a validation that no climate model has yet achieved.

    I see no flaws in your statements and I have not read Miskolczi’s work, so my opinion is fairly worthless. But to give you an idea of what one layman is inferring and believes, the greenhouse effect is real (thank Goodness) and objects exchange net energy through IR radiation if they are not in equilibrium. If Miskolczi’s work contradicts this, then he is wrong.

    • Anonymous says:

      Christopher Game replying to the post of Mark Pomeroy of 2010 Aug 11 at 8:27 AM.

      Dear Mark Pomeroy,

      Thank you for your comment.

      You write:
      “I see no flaws in your statements and I have not read Miskolczi’s work, so my opinion is fairly worthless. But to give you an idea of what one layman is inferring and believes, the greenhouse effect is real (thank Goodness) and objects exchange net energy through IR radiation if they are not in equilibrium. If Miskolczi’s work contradicts this, then he is wrong.”

      I have chatted with Miskolczi as well as reading his papers. For many years he did radiative transfer calculations for NASA and he has published papers on the subject, including published cooperative comparison tests of his own calculations. Dr Spencer wrote on 2010 Aug 9 at 7:29 AM that he did not dispute Miskolczi’s computation of tau = 1.87.

      Miskolczi’s work does not contradict the principle that “objects exchange energy through IR radiation if they are not in equilibrium”, nor does it contradict that “the greenhouse effect is real”. You can check this for yourself by reading his work. His business here is to calculate just how much energy is exchanged under the non-equilibrium conditions in the earth’s atmosphere, and how much is the greenhouse effect.

      Yours sincerely,

      Christopher Game

  62. Anonymous says:

    Christopher Game correcting his typographical misquote of Mark Pomeroy, in reply to Mark’s post of 2010 Aug 11 at 8:27 AM.

    Dear Mark Pomeroy,

    Sorry I misquoted you. I thought I could type more quickly than I could copy and paste. Too much of a hurry.

    I do not know how to edit my mistaken version nor whether my ‘cancel reply’ worked, so here is a corrected and extended version.

    Thank you for your comment.

    You write:
    “I see no flaws in your statements and I have not read Miskolczi’s work, so my opinion is fairly worthless. But to give you an idea of what one layman is inferring and believes, the greenhouse effect is real (thank Goodness) and objects exchange net energy through IR radiation if they are not in equilibrium. If Miskolczi’s work contradicts this, then he is wrong.”

    I have chatted with Miskolczi as well as reading his papers. For many years he did radiative transfer calculations for NASA and he has published papers on the subject, including published cooperative comparison tests of his own calculations. Dr Spencer wrote on 2010 Aug 9 at 7:29 AM that he did not dispute Miskolczi’s computation of tau = 1.87.

    Miskolczi’s work does not contradict that “objects exchange net energy through IR radiation if they are not in equilibrium”, nor does it contradict that “the greenhouse effect is real”. You can check this for yourself by reading his work. His business here is to calculate just how much energy is exchanged under the non-equilibrium conditions in the earth’s atmosphere, and how much is the greenhouse effect.

    I would add that ‘equilibrium’ (sans phrase) is a rather general word. For example, there is a big difference between the concept of (pointwise) radiative equilibrium which is defined in textbooks of radiative transfer theory, such as Chandrasekhar 1950 at page 290, Mihalas and Mihalas 1984 page 338, and Goody and Yung 2nd edition 1989 page 20, and the concept of radiative exchange equilibrium, used by Planck 1914 at page 40, and used by Miskolczi in his 2010 paper. Prevost 1791 distinguished the terms ‘absolute radiative exchange equilibrium’ and ‘relative radiative exchange equilibrium’.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr.Game,
      Im afraid you caught me begging the question. I used equalibrium to mean the condition where no net radiative energy is exchanged. Other qualifications apply such as the object must be in a position allowing exchange.

      Mark Pomeroy

  63. Eric Sander says:

    I would just like to pont out that if Miskolczi’s theory is correct and water vapor in the atmosphere will decrease as the level of carbon dioxide increases to maintain the optical depth, all the carbon dioxide we will have put in the atmosphere will not help us when this interglacial is over.

    Eric

    • Anonymous says:

      Christopher Game replying to Eric Sander’s post of 2010 August 11 at 3:19 PM.

      Dear Eric,

      You wrote: “if Miskolczi’s theory is correct and water vapor in the atmosphere will decrease as the level of carbon dioxide increases to maintain the optical depth”

      You have much opinion on your side, I think. For example, Dr Spencer’s note in his special message at the top of this article reads:
      “His [Miskolczi's] result depends upon the reality of unusually high humidities in the 1950s and 1960s. Without those, there is no cancellation between decreasing humidity and increasing CO2 as he claims.”

      Dr Spencer’s Executive Summary seems to support you too:
      “His computation of a relatively constant greenhouse effect with 60 years of radiosonde observations is tantalizing, but depends upon the reality of high humidities measured by these sensors before the mid-1960s, data which are widely considered to be suspect. Even with today’s radiosonde humidity sensors, the humidity accuracy is not very high.”

      In the section of his article that is entitled ‘The Hypothesis of a Constant Greenhouse Effect’, Dr Spencer writes:
      “Miskolczi additionally shows from 61 years of radiosonde data that a long-term decrease in the Earth’s greenhouse effect from humidity decreases in the middle and upper atmosphere have approximately counterbalanced the increase in the greenhouse effect from rising CO2 levels.”

      I think that you and Dr Spencer share this opinion with very many other people. A glance at Figure 9 of Miskolczi’s 2010 paper may explain why.

      Miskolczi’s 2010 paper reads:
      “CO2 doubling would virtually, with no feedback, increase the optical thickness by 0.0246. Calculations here show that an equivalent amount of increase can be caused by 2.77 per cent increase in H2O. There is also a direct no-feedback effect of temperature on the greenhouse-gas optical
      thickness and calculations here show that a virtual no-feedback equivalent increase could alternatively be caused by 2.65 K decrease in the temperature at each atmospheric level. As we mentioned earlier such virtual sensitivity tests are made without dynamic feedback changes in other atmospheric profile variables.”

      At 2010 Aug 10 at 4:31 PM, under the heading ‘Anonymous’, I posted a reply to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Aug 10 at 11:35 AM, which was a reply to Miklos Zagoni’s post of 2010 Aug 10 at 10:14 AM. That 4:31 PM post of mine reads: “The virtual direct no-feedback temperature effect is the one that Figure 11 shows did the compensating on the 61-year linear trend. Not the virtual direct no-feedback water vapour effect.” There is further comment on this point in that 4:31 PM post of mine.

      Yours sincerely,

      Christopher Game

  64. Dear Mark Pomeroy,

    There is no such assumption in Miskolczi’s work. He simply analyzed a lot of observed thermal and humidity profiles and determined the IR flows in it. He found that Ed=SuA holds pretty well, on most of the profiles, and in global average as well. This means nothing more then the downward IR flux at the ground equals to what remains in the atmosphere (Aa) from the surface upward LW radiation (Su) after some part of it left the atmosphere through the window (St).

    He simply substituted this relationship into the well-known balance equations, and got a set of equations that is solvable, and the solution is a constant. And this constant, the normalized greenhouse factor, g=G/Su=(Su-OLR)/Su, equals to 1/3 (we are talking about the “clear”, that is, the cloudless case). Jeffrey Kiehl and V. Ramanathan and Inamdar, famous IPCC scientists, gave an empirical number for g in their 2006 Cambridge book Frontiers in Climate Modeling, and surprise, this empirical g equals to 0.33, or, as they say, “1/3”. Miskolczi has derived theoretically, using only the new flux relationship he found on measured profiles, what the greenhouse factor must be if the system satisfies all of its physical and energetic constraints and limits. And the greenhouse factor in reality is that number. In his new paper he gives only another example, showing on a six-decade time series that the greenhouse factor of this sample set is also the same.

    Thank to Dr. Spencer, we can discuss here how this Ed=SuA relationship operates in the atmosphere. But in the Miskolczi case, no layers, thin or thick, same or different temperatures, assumed. The Miskolczi case is this.

    The ground is heated by the solar SW and the downwelling LW backradiation (Ed), cooled by the surface upward LW (Su), and by the non-radiative air convection, heat conduction, latent heat (K). The atmosphere’s incomes are the absorbed solar SW (67 on the chart), the absorbed part of Su (=Aa=Su-St), and K, its losses are Ed downward and Eu upward. Miskolczi’s statement, according to his relationship, is that there is a subset, especially the longwave subset, which is in equilibrium between the ground and the atmosphere as a whole, and the incoming SW is converted into outgoing LW completely through only two factors: non-LW processes (K+F) and the window (St).

    Miklos

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks Miklos,

      After reading the paper, that’s my understanding. I must step aside at this point to ponder what Dr. Spencer is saying. He says that it is possible to have a positive Ed and have no “greenhouse effect.” In other words, if Aa=Ed there can be no greenhouse effect even if Ed is positive, non-zero. I now realize this confuses me.

      Mark Pomeroy

  65. Jan Pompe says:

    Dr Spencer,

    With respect \

    You wrote:

    ” That they are NEARLY equal has been known for a long time (e.g. Kiehl & Trenberth, 1997).”

    Err no I would not interpret K & T’s 350 W/m^2 absorbed A_a versus 324 W/m^2 as nearly equal.

    This on the other hand I consider no significant difference.

    “Based on our data set, the global average clear-sky downward atmospheric
    emittance is 311.4 W m–2, while the global average of the absorbed
    radiation by the clear-sky is 311.9 W m–2″

    http://www.met.hu/idojaras/IDOJARAS_vol108_No4_01.pdf

    I couldn’t understand your critique of the following text in the paper
    ““for..two regions (or bodies) A and B, the rate of flow of radiation emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the rate of flow the other way, regardless of other forms of (energy) transport that may be occurring.””

    to wit:
    “If this statement was true, then IR radiative transfers cannot change the temperature of anything, and Earth’s natural greenhouse effect cannot exist. ”

    then looking at Miscolczi’s paper again I found this preceding the above quote
    “It will be convenient here to define the term radiative exchange equilibrium between two regions of space (or bodies) as meaning that …”

    I might add here that system thermal equilibrium does not changing its temperature profile it does not mean it’s isothermal. It doesn’t mean that radiation transfers can’t change temperatures but it doesn’t change the temperature as long as it’s in radiative exchange equilibrium. Throw the system out of equilibrium, for example by moving one of them, and temperature profile will change, it must, until new equilibrium temperature is attained.

    I’m sure you must have explored all this when starting out with weather monitoring satellites so the slip up has me baffled and just a little disappointed.

    • do you think you can change the obvious implication of his entire paper by citing the word “exchange”? OK, then I will emphasize the word, “equilibrium”. :)

      • Jan Pompe says:

        Hello Dr Spencer,

        I had the important missing bit bold with the greater emphasis on “equilibrium” which is in italics, so why do you think your emphasis as opposed to mine makes this statement correct?

        “If this statement was true, then IR radiative transfers cannot change the temperature of anything, and Earth’s natural greenhouse effect cannot exist.”

        • radiative equilibrium cannot exist in the real troposphere, because convection is continuously rearranging the temperature profile away from radiative equilibrium. The stratosphere is more nearly in radiative equilibrium.

  66. Christopher Game says:

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    In your post of 2010 Aug 6 at 8:31 AM, (in reply to my post of 2010 Aug 6 at 5:05 AM, in reply to your post of Aug 6 at 2:52 AM, in reply to my post of Aug 5 at 5:35 PM) you write:

    “*IF* he [Miskolczi] has actually computed the to be exactly the same, it is because — as he says just before these calculations — he FORCED them to be equal, with is assumed 0.967 fudge factor!”

    Dr Spencer, in relation to the factor 0.967, I would like to start at Phil. Mag., 4th series, vol.20, pages 1-21. There is a translation, by F. Guthrie, of Kirchhoff’s 1860 paper. On page 9, Kirchhoff is translated as writing:

    “… an observation made by Helmholtz in his ‘Physical Optics,’ p.169. Helmholtz here says (with somewhat different notation), “A ray of light proceeding from point 1 arrives at point 2 after suffering any number of refractions, reflections, &c. At point 1 let any two perpendicular planes a1, b1 be taken in the direction of the ray; and let the vibrations of the ray be divided into two parts, one in each of these planes. Take similar planes a2, b2 in the ray at point 2; then the following proposition may be demonstrated. If when the quantity i of light polarized in the plane a1 proceeds from 1 in the direction of the given ray, the part k thereof of light polarized in a2 arrives at 2, then, conversely, if the quantity i of light polarized in a2 proceeds from 2, the same quantity k of light polarized in a2 will arrive at 1*.” Kirchhoff adds a footnote * which I will not copy here, because it is not very relevant for us.

    Planck 1914 repeatedly uses the same Helmholtz reciprocity principle in his derivation of Kirchhoff’s law. Planck 1914 explains how this principle operates at an interface between two media. Following Planck’s account, let us consider the atmosphere/land-sea interface.

    Let us denote the downward flux of radiation that reaches the interface having been sourced in the atmosphere by Ed. Let us denote the upward flux of radiation that reaches the interface having been sourced in the land-sea body by Eg. Let us denote the flux of radiation that departs the interface upwards into the atmosphere by Su. Let us denote the flux of radiation that departs the interface downward into the land-sea body by Sd. Let us denote the emissivity of the land-sea body by epsilon. Let us denote the reflectivity of the interface by r. Let us denote the temperature of the interface and contiguous media by tA. Use sigma to denote the Stefan-Boltzmann constant.

    This analysis of the matter is also used by Stokes, Stewart, Rayleigh, and Born and Wolf. A recent review is at Potton, R.J. (2004) Reciprocity in optics, ‘Rep. Prog. Phys.’ 67: 717-754. This analysis is not used by B. Hapke (1993) ‘Theory of Reflectance and Emittance Spectroscopy, Cambridge University Press, New York, ISBN-13: 978-0521619271. I did not find a reference to Planck’s analysis in that book. The analysis used by Hapke does not require separate distinct statements of epsilon and r, while Planck finds such distinct separation essential. For Planck, the two quantities must be measured by entirely disparate experimental methods.

    It is not appropriate here to give a separate statement of the emissivity of the atmosphere here because it is already built into Ed.

    We have
    Eg = epsilon sigma tA^4.

    The Helmholtz reciprocity principle gives
    Su = (1 – r) Eg + r Ed
    Sd = r Eg + (1 – r) Ed

    In your post of 2010 Aug 6 at 8:31 AM, you wrote: “Miskolczi notes that he assumes a black land-sea surface.
    True, but not relevant to our disagreement.”

    By your leave, I would like to use the proposition that a black interface means r = 0.

    With r = 0 we have
    Su = Eg
    and thus
    Su = epsilon sigma tA^4.

    Kiehl and Trenberth 1997 write: “Emission from the surface is assumed to follow Planck’s function, assuming a surface emissivity of 1.” They cite Briegleb 1992 for realistic values of the land-sea emissivity. Breigleb 1992 writes: “Given the computed reference values for water, ice, nondesert land, and sandy desert, the values of e that yielded best fits were chosen to be 0.97, 0.95, 0.95, and 0.88, respectively.” Briegleb uses the same analysis as Hapke, not the Stokes, Helmholtz, Rayleigh, and Planck analysis.

    In your post of 2010 Aug 6 at 8:31 am, you write: “Christopher, Trenberth and Kiehl ALREADY shows they were close! Do you really claim that 96% (Miskolczi’s result) is so “new” compared to Kiehl & Trenberth’s 93%? That is well within the error just due to uncertainties in free-tropospheric humidities!”

    Dr Spencer, your figure of 96% for Miskolczi is based on your dismissal of the emissivity correction as a “fudge”. Let us nevertheless, for curiosity’s sake, follow the Planck analysis and use an emissivity of epsilon = 0.967.

    In the Planck analysis this would lead to Aa* = 0.967 Aa, where Aa is the value without the emissivity factor being included, and Aa* is the value including it.

    As I do the calculation from Miskolczi’s 2010 table 2, for the GAT,
    Ed / Aa
    = Ed / (Su(1 – TA))
    = 310.49 / (379.64(1 – 0.15422))
    = 0.96698

    You did the calculation, I think, for the global average of the individual values. Putting in the emissivity, this leads to a value of 96% / 0.967 = 99.3% .

    If we did the same thing to the KT97 value of 93% we would get 93% / 0.967 = 96%.

    The emissivity-included discrepancies are 0.7% and 4%.

    4% / 0.7% = 5.7 .

    What is your opinion of the Stokes-Helmholtz-Stewart-Kirchhoff-Rayleigh-Planck-Born-and-Wolf theory of interfaces?

    How small would the percentage discrepancy need to be for you to think it a significant step?

    Precisely what do you mean by saying that the emissivity factor is a “fudge”?

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  67. John. P says:

    To Christopher Game

    Quote:”The virtual direct no-feedback temperature effect is the one that Figure 11 (Miskolczi’s 2010 ) shows did the compensating on the 61-year linear trend. Not the virtual direct no-feedback water vapour effect.”

    Christopher, excuse my ignorance please.
    Can you explain how the temperature (rise)
    actually compensated for the increase in co2.
    If the temperature didn’t cause a decrease in water vapor I mean. Or did it?
    What actually balanced the OT out?

    thanks

    John

    • Anonymous says:

      To Christopher

      Ignore post at
      August 13, 2010 at 2:56 PM

      I’ll retry

      To clarify what I’m asking Christopher, I quote;
      “CO2 doubling would virtually, with no feedback, increase the optical thickness by 0.0246. Calculations here show that an equivalent amount of increase can be caused by 2.77 % increase in H2O.
      There is also a direct no-feedback effect from TEMPERATURE on the greenhouse-gas OPTICLE THICKNESS and calculations here show that a virtual no-feedback equivalent increase could alternatively be caused by 2.65 K decrease in the temperature

      Christopher, consider the following;

      1. With no other effects – changes, an increase in co2 is compensated for, & the greenhouse gas optical thickness does not change, thus no change in temperature.

      2a. An increase in surface absorbed SW, & no change in greenhouse gas optical thickness = increase in temperature.

      But ?

      (a)“There is also a direct no-feedback effect from temperature on the greenhouse-gas optical thickness”

      so

      2b. An increase in surface absorbed SW, = increase in temperature, But (a) causes a decrease in greenhouse gas optical thickness, = no net temperature increase.

      ???

      • Anonymous says:

        Christopher Game replying to the series of posts of

        John. P August 13, 2010 at 2:17 PM
        Anonymous August 13, 2010 at 2:56 PM
        August 13, 2010 at 3:01 PM
        August 13, 2010 at 2:56 PM
        John
        Anonymous August 13, 2010 at 3:08 PM

        Dear Writer,

        I think you are John. P in each of the above.

        Thank you for your active interest and replies.

        This matter is rather difficult to explain, even when one has face to face conversation and a reasonable amount of time, because it is new and complicated; I repeat, new and complicated. I have to ask you to let me right here just note the difficulty, and not try to explain it briefly. Better wait till I have the opportunity to explain it in a well set out article. Sorry this is an unsatisfactory answer to your very reasonable concerns. I will need some time to work on a well set out article.

        Thank you for your expression of your very reasonable and welcome concern.

        I just wrote about it because people continue to assume that the compensation over the 61 years was by water vapour when it wasn’t, and I thought it best to wave a flag about that.

        Yours sincerely,

        Christopher Game

      • Anonymous says:

        Christopher Game replying to John. P’s post of 2010Aug 13 at 3:08 PM.

        Dear John. P,

        Another try.

        You write: “2b. An increase in surface absorbed SW, = increase in temperature, But (a) causes a decrease in greenhouse gas optical thickness, = no net temperature increase.”

        What were the causes and mechanisms of the increase in surface absorbed SW? Your question is not well-posed.

        Even if your question were well-posed, things are complicated and back-of-an-envelope speculation is therefore rarely good way to go. Miskolczi is not offering a general theory of the detailed dynamics of the energy transport process of the atmosphere. He is offering only what you find in his 2010 paper.

        For this kind of work, one needs, at each occasion of investigation, to work with a definite and well-specified model. People find this hard to accept, and they just go on and on mixing indefinite diverse unspecified models, with predictable results; it is called “the practical approach”. The implicit assumption that one can just ask the kind of question that you ask, without a well-specified model, is often in play but mostly leads nowhere useful.

        Sorry I can’t do better than this for you.

        Yours sincerely,

        Christopher Game

        • Anonymous says:

          Reply to Christopher Game:

          Thanks heaps for your time;
          J.P

          “What were the causes and mechanisms of the increase in surface absorbed SW? Your question is not well-posed.”

          Either increased solar out put, or, decreased mean cloud cover.

          • Anonymous says:

            J.P.:

            Either increased solar out put, or, decreased mean cloud cover.

            My reply:

            Either way a constant would strongly imply a self-equilibrating system.

          • Anonymous says:

            Christopher Game replying to the comment of J.P at 2010 Aug 14 at 10:04 AM.

            Dear J.P,

            You write: “Either increased solar out put”

            My answer: Persistently increased solar output is a theoretical possibility.

            I should emphasize, as I have already done above, that I am neither qualified nor experienced in meteorology nor in climatology, and I am just inferring the following speculations from my own vague general impressions. As I understand Miskolczi’s 2010 paper, he does not propose detail of the kind I have speculated about in my below answer, and perhaps he does not even intend his model to extend to cover this case.

            If persistently increased solar output happened, then, so far as I understand Miskolczi’s 2010 paper, one would expect the overall temperature of the atmosphere and land-sea surface persistently to increase with unchanged constant global average Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness, a stable steady 1.87. The prime operative factor would be the persistent increase of flow of energy through the whole system.

            Various possibilities can be thought of as detailed mechanisms: change in the mass and composition of the atmosphere through geo- and bio-chemical changes, change in the water vapour content of the atmosphere, change in the lapse rate of the atmosphere, change in the altitude of the tropopause, change in the rate of equatorial-polar energy transport, change in the rate of the evaporative-circulatory heat pump (the hydrological cycle, including the penetrative convection of Lindzen or the rate of production of the protected towers of deep tropical convection of Riehl and Malkus) and I suppose many more. Some of the changes would affect the latitudinal distribution of kinds of local climatic regimes of the Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness, and some of them would affect the values in each kind of local climate regime. I do not know which would actually be the particular operative factors on the global average Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness.

            You write: “or decreased cloud cover”

            My answer: What is the cause and mechanism of the decrease of cloud cover?

            Yours sincerely,

            Christopher Game

          • Anonymous says:

            Just a note from Christopher Game in reply to the post of J.P at 10:04 AM.

            I have not worked out how to work the system for placing and heading replies.

            I have replied further to J.P’s post. My reply seems to have appeared with a “Christopher Game” header rather far above in the blog.

            Christopher Game.

    • Anonymous says:

      A second try at a reply by Christopher Game to John. P’s post of 2010 Aug 13 at 2:56 PM.

      Dear John. P,

      You wrote: “Can you explain how the temperature (rise)
      actually compensated for the increase in co2.”

      Answer: Not succinctly here.

      You wrote: “If the temperature didn’t cause a decrease in water vapor I mean. Or did it?”

      Answer: Miskolczi is at pains not to speculate about such things.

      You wrote: “What actually balanced the OT out?”

      Answer: temperature.

      This again is not all that might be desired, but I think a longer post would probably not be any better, considering the complicated nature of the matter.

      Yours sincerely,

      Christopher Game

      • Anonymous says:

        My mistake. That post of mine of 2010 Aug 13 at 10:14 PM was intended to answer yours of 2: 17 PM, not yours of 2:56 PM. Christopher Game

  68. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game in response to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Aug 14 at 7:08 AM

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    You write in response to Jan Pompe’s post of 2010 Aug 12 at 8:12 PM: “do you think you can change the obvious implication of his entire paper by citing the word “exchange”? OK, then I will emphasize the word, “equilibrium”.”

    Radiative exchange equilibrium was in the literature long before pointwise radiative equilibrium. The term radiative exchange equilibrium is used simply to clarify that one is not talking about (pointwise) radiative equilibrium as defined in standard texts such as Chandresekhar 1950 page 290, Mihalas and Mihalas 1984 page 338, and Goody and Yung 2nd edition 1989 page 20. There are very few or no places or occasions of (pointwise) radiative equilibrium in the atmosphere. You are of the view, for all I know perhaps rightly, that there are very few or no places or occasions of radiative exchange equilibrium within the atmosphere; the absence of radiative exchange equilibrium is logically distinct from the absence of (pointwise) radiative equilibrium, and to me it seems reasonable to use a distinct term for it, since its putative presence or absence, between the atmosphere and the land-sea body, is one of the subjects of Miskolczi’s 2010 paper, and, between regions of the atmosphere, of your present discussion. The use of the term does not prejudge the course of the discussion.

    I would like to ask, if you please, would you very kindly be willing to respond to my posts of ‘Christopher Game’ on 2010 Aug 12 at 9:23 PM and of ‘Anonymous’ on 2010 Aug 12 at 7:06 AM (in reply to the post of ‘Eric Sander’ on 2010 Aug 11 at 3:19 PM), which perhaps have escaped your notice.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  69. Robert Field says:

    The last comment was by Robert Field

  70. Christopher Game says:

    Christopher Game further replying to the comment of J.P at 2010 Aug 14 at 10:04 AM.

    Dear J.P,

    Further than my lack of knowledge mentioned above, regrettably I also am rather slow witted. If I were quicker witted I would have replied above as follows. But better late than never. I am sorry I will not be able to give the kind of answer that I think you want.

    Miskolczi’s 2010 paper announces:

    “… In all calculations of A, TA, tauA, amd of the radiative flux components, the presence or absence of clouds was ignored; the calculations refer only to the greenhouse gas components of the atmosphere registered in the radiosonde data; we call this the quasi-all-sky protocol. It is assumed, however, that the atmospheric vertical thermal and water vapor structures are implicitly affected by the actual cloud cover, and that the atmosphere is at a stable steady state of cloud cover; the present quasi-all-sky protocol refers to dynamic cloud processes only by implicit assumption.

    All radiative quantities mentioned hereafter, unless specifically noted to the contrary, are radiosonde data assessed in terms of the above-defined quasi-all-sky protocol. In effect, the various cloudy conditions of the actual atmosphere are regarded as maintaining their established average state, which forms a stable steady background for the present analysis.”

    Miskolczi’s 2010 paper concludes: “In order to predict the future, we need a principled physical theory to explain our empirical observations. The present paper has restricted its attention to the empirical observational testing of the quasi-all-sky model, and has avoided theoretical analysis.”

    Miskolczi is not offering a general theory of the detailed dynamics of the energy transport process of the atmosphere. He is offering only what you find in his 2010 paper.

    That is to say, Miskolczi’s quasi-all-sky model is only static, not dynamic as I think would be needed to answer your question.

    His quasi-all-sky model, that his 2010 paper is about, works from a specific kind of data. To get it to provide information about a change in climate, one must supply the model with the radiosonde data to find a time series of global averages for the Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness and the other variables. Without that information, the model mostly has little to say about dynamic questions.

    Consequently, even with the information that I asked for in my post at 1:29 PM, about the cause and mechanism of the decrease of cloud cover, one would stll need to have such a time series of that kind of radiosonde data in order to use Miskolczi’s model to answer your question.

    I am sorry my slow wits did not let me make that answer earlier.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  71. Alex Harvey says:

    Dear Roy,

    I now understand why it is that you say Miskolczi got his Aa to be within 4% of Ed, whereas KT97 got it within 7%.

    You have written, “[Miskolczi] removes the small observed difference between the flows in opposite directions [Aa and Ed] with an “empirical hemispheric emissivity factor” to force them to be equal, consistent with his assumption that they are equal.”

    Christopher Game seems to have shown that this is incorrect, and that M’s ‘empirical hemispheric emissivity factor’ is more or less the same epsilon that KT97 use, viz. ~0.967.

    Roy, I can understand Ferenc’s frustration in answering these sorts of questions. It is not your fault, but the matter of the emissivity was discussed ad nauseum in the past on other blogs. Barton Paul Levenson, for instance, already agreed with M’s epsilon.

    I believe that Christopher Game has asked a good, simple question above, and it would be really helpful for those of still curious about this controversy to see your answer:

    How close would Aa need to be to Ed for a problem in the greenhouse effect theory to emerge? It does seem that Ferenc’s observations have Aa and Ed within <1% of each other here.

    Kind regards,
    Alex Harvey

  72. Christopher Game says:

    Still a further, third response from Christopher Game to J.P’s post of 10:04 AM, and in response also to John. P’s post of 2010 Aug 13 at 2:17 PM.

    Dear J.P,

    John. P writes at 2010 Aug 13 at 2:17 PM:
    “Can you explain how the temperature (rise)
    actually compensated for the increase in co2.”

    Christopher’s reply: Again, if I had a quicker wit I would have answered more quickly. Perhaps it is lucky that you persisted with your questioning. Sorry for the delay.

    It may largely answer your question if I tell how the virtual direct no-feedback effect of temperature happens.

    There are two main ways in which temperature comes into the calculation of the Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness from a radiosonde record.

    (a) by way of the Planck-weighting
    (b) by way of the greenhouse-gas properties.

    (a) In Figure 5 of Miskolczi’s 2010 paper, let us look at the right hand column, ‘Antarctic winter A’ and ‘Tropical summer’. The main outlines of the spectra are proportional to the Planck source functions.

    The peaks of the spectra are differently located. The ‘Antarctic winter A’ spectral peak is at a wavenumber less than 500 cm^-1, while the ‘Tropical summer’ spectral peak is at a wavenumber more than 500 cm^-1.

    Moreover, the right hand tails are different. The right hand tail of the ‘Tropical summer’ spectrum is relatively much fatter than that of the ‘Antarctic winter’.

    This means that at higher temperature, the spectrum of the radiation from the land-sea surface is a better fit to the spectra of the component spectral windows, which in turn contributes to its being a ‘better fit to that of the atmospheric window’, though strictly speaking the atmospheric window does not have a single definite spectrum, because it includes factors such as temperature and pressure and slant of rays, as well as many greenhouse gas components.

    This better fit means that higher temperature Planck radiation gets through a given atmosphere more easily because the quality of the higher temperature Planck radiation fits the window better; this is a matter of quality as distinct from quantity.

    (b) It happens that in general the greenhouse-gas molecular species of the atmosphere have lesser emissivities at greater temperatures, in the linear range that is relevant here.

    This is not saying that the quantity of emission is less at greater temperature (it is greater). It is saying that the magnitudes of the emissivities of the atmospheric components, that is to say, the ratios between the component emission quantities and the source function, allow better transmission of land-sea-originating radiation of given quality (wavenumber). The atmospheric window is ‘more intensely open’ at higher temperatures, other factors being constant.

    I think these two factors (a) and (b) account for nearly all of the decrease in Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness with increase in temperature about which you ask. The extent of this combined effect is shown in table 3 of Miskolczi’s 2010 paper.

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  73. Christopher Game says:

    Another note from Christopher Game in reply to the post of J.P at 10:04 AM.

    I have made a second, and I hope more useful, further reply to J.P’s post. My reply seems to have appeared with a “Christopher Game” header rather far above in the blog, at 2010 Aug 14 at 11:18 PM.

    Christopher Game

  74. Dear Dr. Spencer

    Here, once again, is your “Layperson”

    Miskolczi states:

    “for..two regions (or bodies) A and B, the rate of flow of radiation emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the rate of flow the other way, regardless of other forms of (energy) transport that may be occurring.”

    Below this statement you give your answers, explanations and objections, most of which I agree with. That is as long as I believe in all the measurements and computations we are confronted with related to the case of the IR energy flows chart you submit in your article. All the numbers there are in Wm².
    Just as an example of what I am talking about; some years ago, it may have been in 2006, I came across a similar chart by NASA’s Earth Observatory, entitled: “The Atmosphere’s Energy Budget” All the numbers there were in percentages. This, of course should make no difference at all.
    However not many of the numbers correspond very well. – The incoming energy (radiation) averages of, in one case, 342 Wm² in the other (NASA) case 340Wm² = 100%. I have no quibbles at all with this other than to say that solar irradiation shown is obviously not a constant. However in another case, or two, i.e. those of thermals and Evapotranspiration (what a fine word that is). The plan you submit has values given as 24 and 78 (Wm²) respectively. In the NASA (percentage) plan the names are different and so are the numbers. It says: “convection: 5% – evaporation: 25%. So in one case the difference between the two is 3.25 times in the other the difference is 5 times.
    In one plan radiation absorbed by the surface is 168 Wm², in the other it is 48%. – 342Wm ² minus 48% leaves a figure of 164.16Wm ². If this post will admit it I will, for your convenience reproduce (steal and paste) it below: However all this tells me that all these measurements would be better served by the name “Guesswork” giving us another flawed way of modelling by computer
    Sorry, it looks like I cannot steal and paste. Not on this post.

  75. Jack Cowper says:

    Dr Spencer

    I notice that Barton Paul levenson has been posting here, are you are aware of the web page he has written about you:

    http://bartonpaullevenson.com/Spencer.html

    A few choice quotes:

    This is an example of a global warming denier being, not just a crackpot, but dishonest. (Go ahead and sue me, Roy, I’d love to see how a working-class Pennsylvania jury would handle it.)

    Dr. Spencer is a former NASA scientist with a Ph.D. in meteorology. He worked with satellite monitoring of Earth and atmosphere temperature conditions, so he must know Beer’s Law. If you don’t know what Beer’s Law is, don’t worry about it. I’ll use it later to establish why his blog post is not just wrong, but dishonest.

    • hmmm….can’t wait for that. Beer’s Law is fundamental to radiative transfer in the atmosphere, and I have no idea how something I have said might have violated it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you Dr Spencer

        I try to make a point of not reading any articles that use the words denier, alarmist etc. I think people such as BPL just obfuscate what you are trying to do. Please keep up the excellent work.

      • Anonymous says:

        Roy,
        do not care too much about what BPL is saying, he has demonstrated many times that he is not able to learn. He is only good for the RCL people….
        Ferenc

  76. GaryW says:

    Back Radiation Thought Experiment:

    We will explore the effect on the temperature of a sphere when adding another thin sphere surrounding it.

    1. Imagine a sphere of some metallic composition, say 1 meter in diameter, and heated by a 100 Watt source, and further that this sphere is in a vacuum in empty space with a background radiation temperature of zero degrees Kelvin. I know that is a stretch but remember this is a thought experiment. I’ve chosen one meter because it is fairly easy for folks to picture in their minds and 100 Watts as a number that they can relate to every day activities.

    2. Measure the surface temperature of the sphere when its temperature has stabilized. For a given material and surface characteristic, this can be calculated if you wish. 100 Watts of photons are being radiated away from the sphere every second. We don’t actually care what the wavelength of these photons are as simply knowing they are there is sufficient. There is no other way for the sphere to dissipate the 100 Watts other than spewing off metallic particles and we are going to disallow that possibility in this thought experiment.

    3. Add a second, very thin sphere around the first. Make it so the inside surface of the outer sphere is one millimeter away from the outer surface of the inner sphere. Furthermore, make the outer sphere is very, very thin. So thin that the temperature difference between its inner and outer surfaces is very, very small.

    4. What is the temperature of the outer surface of the outer sphere when its temperature stabilizes? Well, if it is made from the same material as the inner sphere, it will be just a tiny bit lower than the temperature we measured in step 2. Why? Because it also must radiate the 100 Watts supplied by the internal heat source but it is a couple millimeters larger than the inner sphere so it has a slightly larger surface area to radiate energy from.

    5. What is the temperature of the inner surface of the outer sphere? Well, it will pretty close to the outer surface temperature. After all, we constructed it so it would have a very, very small temperature difference between the inner and outer surfaces. OK so far?

    The outer surface of the outer sphere is radiating 100 Watts because of its composition and temperature. The inner surface of the outer sphere is of the same composition. It is also at very, very nearly the same temperature as its outer surface. It is also radiating photons at 100 Watts and they will be at very,very the same wavelength as those radiated from its outer surface. Notice that the outer sphere is radiating 200 Watts total!

    6. What is the temperature of the outer surface of the inner sphere when temperatures stabilize? The inner sphere is now receiving the 100 Watts of photons radiated by the inner surface of the outer sphere in addition to its internal 100 Watt source. Its total power input is now 200 Watts. Its temperature will have risen sufficiently from the temperature measured at 100 Watts to radiate 200 Watts. So, now we have 200 Watts transferred to the outer sphere from the inner by radiation and 100 Watts returned by the outer sphere for a net power flow outward of 100 watts.

    Results:

    The temperature of the outer surface of the inner sphere increased when the outer sphere was added. No laws of nature or physics were violated to produce that temperature rise. Though the temperature of the outer sphere is only that necessary to produce 100 Watts of photons, it radiates 200 Watts when both the inside and outside surfaces are combined. Why? Because its total radiated power is a function of both temperature and surface area. The outer sphere, being a hollow shell has slightly more than twice the surface area of the inner sphere. Yep, a cooler thing can heat a warmer thing.

    Problems with the thought experiment:

    The situation presented is not very much like that of the Earth’s atmosphere. Nether the spheres or the environment they are in are real. Substituting real materials in realistic environment would produce a much messier experiment. The question is whether that added complexity would obscure the physical processes described above.

    Using real material in a real environment will not invalidate the concept that the outer sphere caused and increase in temperature of inner sphere.

    How might we change the model to shift it a little closer to something we might recognize as the behavior of our atmosphere with CO2? Let’s try changing the character of the outer sphere so it allows half of the radiation from the inner to pass through it unimpeded. However we accomplish this, let’s assume the outer sphere’s surface area is unchanged though that is really only to make it easier to mentally relate the sphere to a planetary atmosphere. Now the outer sphere is intercepting only half the energy radiated by the inner sphere. The final calculated values work out to be: Inner sphere total power = 133.333.. Watts, 33.333…. Watts from the outer sphere, and 66.666… Watts directly radiated through the outer sphere. The inner sphere temperature would be that necessary to radiate 133.333… Watts of photons.

    Oops, you say! Only 33.333 Watts from the outer sphere? Isn’t it supposed to be receiving half of the power from the inner sphere? It is receiving 66.666… Watts. Half or 33.333… is radiated outward. The other half or 33.333… is radiated back at the inner sphere.

    Calculating the additional power radiated by the inner sphere is simple arithmetically:

    Pr = 1 + ((1 – N) / (1 + N))
    where:
    N is the transparency of the outer shell, i.e. if 90% of the photons pass through unimpeded, N would be 0.9
    Pr is power ratio, i.e. at N = 0.9, Pr would be 1.1111… or in our 100 Watt example above, inner sphere total power would be 111.111.. Watts.

    I’m not at all sure what the actual transparency of the Earth’s atmosphere is to outgoing thermal energy. Obviously there is not fixed value as it depends upon many factors including CO2 and water vapor content, plus cloud cover. It should be obvious that any water vapor or CO2 in the atmosphere will result in a higher ground temperature than if it was not there. I believe that is what “back radiation” is all about. I suppose this is also what we call the “greenhouse effect”.

    Now, does this mean that CO2 is a big player in Earth’s climate changes? Not necessarily. All this shows is that it has a part. That part that may be very, very minor.

    Anyway, that is my line of reasoning. For whatever it might be worth.

    GaryW

  77. maxwell says:

    Here is what I don’t understand about this guy’s theory.

    If ‘nature’ is trying to keep the optical depth of the atmosphere constant at some number, whatever it happens to be, how does ‘nature’ know to make water condense?

    There are several dozen other naturally occurring molecules that contribute to the greenhouse effect. Why wouldn’t ‘nature’ ‘choose’ those molecules to condense?

    Moreover, one of the guiding ideas of modern physics is that of least action. ‘Nature’ ‘wants’ to use the least amount of energy to accomplish the end goal in every situation. Given that all other IR absorbing molecules are at far lower concentrations in the atmosphere, it would be much easier to condense those molecules to achieve changes in the IR optical depth of the atmosphere.

    This idea is based on the fact that minus the base 10 log of transmission of light through any absorbing medium is linearly dependent on the concentration of absorbers at that wavelength of light, as per the Beer-Lambert law. So when there are small concentrations of molecules like acetone, phenol and other molecules, small changes in the concentration of these molecules will have a larger effect on the transmission of IR light than the same change in atmospheric water concentrations, which has very high atmospheric concentrations when compared to any other greenhouse gas.

    So in order for ‘nature’ to equilibrate the IR optical density of the atmosphere by condensing water, it would necessitate a great deal more energy than to condense, say, even methane, since the impact of condensing one molecule of methane will have greater returns on increasing IR transmission than condensing one molecule of water based on the above logic.

    And this does not even take into the energy involved in condensing water versus dissolving some other molecules, which might also play a role in determining which pathway necessitates the least amount of energy.

    So not only does it seem that Miskolczi misses the mark in confirming his claims based on universally known measurements, the fundamental molecular basis for his hypothesis seems unphysical, at least to a molecular physicist like myself.

  78. Gentlemen,

    As I can’t see too much activity in the last couple of days here, let me conclude, at least my standpoint.

    Roy has started this discussion on whether Aa=Ed was exact.

    The greenhouse factor, G, according to Ramanathan’s reasonable definition, is G=Su–OLR . But as Su=Aa+St and OLR=St+Eu also by definition, it arithmetically follows that G=Su–OLR=Aa–Eu .

    On the other hand, G cannot be defined consistently otherwise than G=Ed–Eu , IR heating downward at the ground minus IR cooling upward at TOA.

    I can’t imagine a case where G would be equal, in long-term global average, to some Ed+X–Eu. If someone thinks this X factor has a role either in the radiative or in the non-radiative part of the greenhouse play, he should explain what this role would be and what quantity should be associated to it. Otherwise X must be set to zero, and so Aa=Ed, exactly.

    This is of course not a “proof” of that equality but a rationale of it.

    Yours sincerely,
    Miklos Zagoni

  79. Miklos Zagoni’s reply to Mark Pomeroy’s comment on August 13, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    Dear Mark,

    As G=Su-OLR=Ed-Eu, G is also zero when Ed=Eu. But this is NOT the Aa=Ed case. This is the Aa=Eu case.

    Miklos

  80. mircea says:

    Dear Dr. Spencer

    Regarding the Ed=Aa it looks to me that the logic is as follows: It starts from observing that Sd=Aa-Qa (Sd – down radiation, Aa – accepted radiation and Qa – heat transferred from GHG to the rest of gas particles).

    Ed=Aa-Qa is valid because any radiation received from Aa that goes toward Eu is actually Et (Infrared transmitted to space).

    If the rest of gas particles are colder than GHG particles receiving the Aa (which increase their temperature) then Qa is positive and the result is that all the gas particles increase their temperature.
    If the rest of gas particles are hotter than GHG receiving the Aa then Qa is negative and the result is that all particles decrease their temperature.

    When the system is at equilibrium then Qa = 0 and results Ed=Aa.

    Does this make sense?

    Thank you!
    Mircea Dochia

  81. Miklos Zagoni’s reply to Mircea Dochia’s comment on August 25, 2010 at 7:50 PM:

    Dear Mircea,

    Yes, exactly, the situation you describe is called Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium (regarded to be valid in the atmosphere up to about 60 kms), and regarded to be equivalent to the Kirchhoff Law by radiative transfer experts as, for example, Goody, and Milne. That’s why Miskolczi introduced this equation under the name of Kirchhoff in his original 2007 paper.

    Miklos Zagoni

  82. LaymanAlert says:

    Isn’t what got this whole Greenhouse Effect thing rolling in the 19th century the idea that there ‘must’ be a warming effect? Not that there ‘was’ an effect, but according to the Stefan Boltzman calculation there ‘had’ to be?

    Now me putting myself in the place of the theorists back then, I would have doubted the applicabilty of the calculations to the Earth, I would have doubted their exactness to within a degree (or 33). It was the so called 33 degrees of extra unexplained heat that started this whole field of enquiry.

    People have pointed out that the Earth has depth, a 3rd dimension, not to mention a fiery core, which apparently stymies the Boltzmann calculation. I would have stopped there with Boltzmann and would have assumed that climatic temperatures made sense, it would be up to experimentation to figure them out.

    However, we do not have that scenario working out in climate science. People are looking to make Earth ‘fit’ the Boltzmann calculation. I see the statement in the above article, that:

    “If Miskolczi is correct that the amount of thermal radiation emitted by an object (or layer of the atmosphere) ALWAYS equals the amount absorbed…(snip)…then the greenhouse effect does not exist. Or, at a minimum, it is not caused by infrared radiation.”

    What would be so bad about an effect not existing? Especially when the ‘effect’ is assumed to exist because of an equation that may not apply (accurately)? Is not the effect people are looking to explain, a function of the assumed accuracy of the Boltzmann equation as it applies to Earth?

    But, assuming the Earth follows all physical laws, why can’t science take Boltzmann and ‘add’ technical relationships that make Earth different from a theoretical thin shelled sphere? Hey, sounds like an interesting exercise, but can it be done the way people are looking to do it? Namely the Greenhouse Effect, what if there was no ‘warming’ effect, just a basic heat insulation effect that was a function of all Earth’s features, including the atmosphere?

    I think some of my discomfort with the ‘luke warm’ skeptic position, is that it agrees with the jokers at the UN, and Kissinger’s Club of Rome (which got this all rolling), in saying not only that Man affects the climate, although all life does to a certain extent, dwarfing our ‘effect’. But the concept that any heat made here doesn’t just wick off in to outer space in fairly short order. But above that, that there IS a hocus pocus thermostat that controls the likely fictional 33 degrees of warming. No lie succeeds as well as a Big Lie.

    33 degrees of global temperature is an awful lot of energy, and I don’t see an electric cord going off in to the sky adding it to our system. The onus on warmers, especially lukewarmers because they are good folk, is to explain the outrageous assumption that we have a free energy system in our atmosphere.

    The explanation I hear is that the Sun’s energy is trapped temporarily by all the planet’s features (makes sense), and this boosts the average temperature (doesn’t make sense). A battery or passive solar collector stores energy and can release it in a delayed manner. They are like the ‘blanket’ that stands between us and the Sun. They serve as insulators that kindly release the stored energy when we want it. But insulators like our atmosphere have a limit of what they can do. If the humidity is keeping you warm at night, it also absorbed energy during the day time, when you’d otherwise be getting a 120 degree blast of sunshine. The atmosphere cannot create energy, it cannot ‘warm’ us by 33 degrees. It can only buffer us, there is no additive double counting of energy.

    Here’s an analogy aimed at laypeople:

    “But if you had a continuous supply of energy available (like the Earth does with the sun), and had reached a steady state of shivering and discomfort and THEN added the blanket, your skin would indeed increase its temperature….”

    Unless, of course the blanket was now blocking some or quite a bit of the incoming radiation / heating effect. Which it does!

    The blanket you talk about keeps heat in yes, but it would also keep heat ‘energy’ out to the same degree. If a corpse wore a blanket and you put him out in the sun, he probably wouldn’t warm up as much as if you removed the (insulator). My point is that insulators work both ways, they do not just keep something warmer.

    I think this is the basic flaw with the Greenhouse Effect to the layman. Our atmosphere shields us from the solar extremes, and then it and our Earth features delay some of the heat from leaving too quickly. The insulating shielding and delayed heat loss should balance each other, and likely do. What’s not to like with this scenario? Why look for the alleged 33 degrees? A 2006 NASA paper says that the Moon is 40 degrees warmer, because of it’s third dimension, than the Boltzmann equation predicted. If this applies to Earth, then our atmosphere actually shields us from some of the incoming radiation (check), and because of the Earth’s third dimension, and internal heating, is well within line for theoretical calculations for average temperature. No need to dream up an atmosphere that warms us by 33 degrees.

    “The Earth has an energy source (the sun), and it has a “radiative blanket” (greenhouse gases) enveloping it.

    The greenhouse effect has to do with the rate of energy flow OUT of the climate system. It reduces that rate of energy loss.”

    (and does this balance the rate of energy flow IN to the system?)

  83. Elling Disen says:

    I want to thank Christopher Game for his excellent pedagogic abilities, patience and grace in this exchange. I guess it goes unpaid and its tough to lecture and be blunt towards established academicians. Its all about being perceived as winning the debate and not about being proven 100% right. The message is too important to allow for all kinds of gentlemanly niceties.

  84. Invariant says:

    The fact that the question still remains unanswered is amusing.

    “Given any two adjacent atmospheric layers A and B, under what conditions can we expect the radiative flux emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the flux emitted by B and absorbed by A?”

    Seems to me that some mathematicians without any experience or intuition from physics are trying to do physics here…

    We all know algebra. A few of us can do the physics…

    • yes, Invariant, I forgot that my original question has, I believe, remained unanswered.

      • Anonymous says:

        Christopher Game commenting on the post of Invariant of 2010 Sep 1 at 9:45 AM and Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Sep 1 at 10:35 AM.

        They post:
        “Invariant says:
        September 1, 2010 at 9:45 AM
        The fact that the question still remains unanswered is amusing.

        “Given any two adjacent atmospheric layers A and B, under what conditions can we expect the radiative flux emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the flux emitted by B and absorbed by A?”

        Seems to me that some mathematicians without any experience or intuition from physics are trying to do physics here…

        We all know algebra. A few of us can do the physics…

        Reply
        Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says:
        September 1, 2010 at 10:35 AM
        yes, Invariant, I forgot that my original question has, I believe, remained unanswered.”

        Christopher comments:

        Dear Dr Spencer and Invariant,

        Well, it seems that Dr Miskolczi will not answer. Dr Spencer has asked me to wait till he does, but I could not wait, and under another article, at

        Christopher Game says:
        August 26, 2010 at 4:01 PM
        Christopher Game replying to Dr Spencer’s article Help! Back Radiation has Invaded my Backyard! posted August 6th, 2010, with a “technical detail” end note:

        What this Means for the Miskolczi “Aa=Ed” Controversy

        I offered my reply. I was hoping that Dr Spencer would reply to that reply of mine. Perhaps he does not want a reply from me, or perhaps he did not notice my reply, or perhaps a reply from me does not count.

        Howsoever, here is a copy of my reply there, in case it was simply unnoticed. This copy is an extract from my longer post there. My longer post there also contains more comment on the atmospheric physics of the present discussion, to which I would also like a reply from Dr Spencer.

        “You have also, in a previous blog article, put the challenge to answer your question:

        “You could help clarify things by answering the following question:
        If atmospheric layers A and B each contain greenhouse gases, under what conditions will we find that the rate of absorption by layer B of layer A’s thermal emission equal the rate of absorption by layer A of layer B’s emission? Your answer to that question could potentially remove all my objections to this key issue..”

        You asked me to wait for a reply to this question, but one does not seem to be forthcoming.

        First may I offer my own reply to this general theoretical question and then come back to your technical detail?

        The concept of radiative exchange equilibrium is used by Planck 1914 (page 40, section 46) in preference to the currently common textbook concept of (pointwise) radiative equilibrium (Chandrasekhar 1950 page 290, Mihalas and Mihalas page 338, Goody and Yung 2nd edition page 20) for very good reasons.

        The physics of our present problem is expressed in the Stokes-Helmholtz reversion-reciprocity principle, in Kirchhoff’s law of radiative absorptivity and emissivity, in the second law of thermodynamics, and in the radiative definition of local thermodynamic equilibrium (Chandrasekhar 1950 pages 7 and 288).

        My answer to your challenge question is:

        Let any two spatial regions, A and B, of the atmosphere each be small enough to be characterized by its respective single temperature, tA and tB, local thermodynamic equilibrium conditions prevailing inside each separately of A and B. Let there be any other moderate transport processes including convection affecting A and B directly, and let there occur other forms of transport including departures from local thermodynamic equilibrium in the other regions of the atmosphere.

        Then A and B are in radiative exchange equilibrium if and only if tA = tB .

        Moreover, if two small regions A and B of the atmosphere are each separately in radiative exchange equilibrium with a third small region C, then, regardless of other forms of transport that may be occurring, A and B will be in radiative exchange equilibrium with each other.

        When two small regions A and B, each in respective radiatively defined local thermodynamic equilibrium, regardless of other forms of transport that may be occurring, are such that tA > tB, then net radiative transfer will transport heat from A to B. This is due to a slight generalization of the classical form of the second law of thermodynamics.

        I think this answer is the one you are asking for. Please correct me about this.”

        Please correct me about this.

        Yours sincerely,

        Christopher Game

        • Invariant says:

          Without local thermodynamic equilibrium, most equations in thermodynamics are not valid; even the definition of temperature itself rests on this assumption. This may seem surprising; however, it is not a particularly speculative assumption, in most cases local thermodynamic equilibrium is reached extremely quickly – a matter of nanoseconds – for sufficiently small volumes.

          This said, a system in local thermodynamic equilibrium can still be dissipative in nature and have a nonzero flux – the main advantage of the assumption of local thermodynamic equilibrium is that the equations of physics becomes particularly beautiful with wonderful symmetries.

          However, if we inspect larger volumes over longer time intervals, the criterion of equilibrium is not satisfied. Think about Avogadro’s number and you will understand than even tiny volumes cannot be in equilibrium, the probability being vanishingly small. Thus I cannot see that Miskolczi’s assumption that two flows must be equal between any two layers within the atmosphere can be justified.

          • Anonymous says:

            Christopher Game replying to the post of Invariant of 2010 Sep 2 at 11:57 AM.

            Dear Invariant,

            You write: “Thus I cannot see that Miskolczi’s assumption that two flows must be equal between any two layers within the atmosphere can be justified.”

            Perhaps if you read Miskolczi’s 2010 paper you will discover for yourself that Miskolczi makes no such assumption. It is a pity that it has been mistakenly alleged that he did so, because some people seem to believe the mistaken allegation without having read the paper for themselves.

            Yours sincerely,

            Christopher Game

          • Invariant says:

            Christopher Game: You state that Miskolczi makes no such assumption, still he writes ED=AA. Explain, and use as few words as possible.

          • Anonymous says:

            Christopher Game responding to the following post:
            “Invariant says:
            September 3, 2010 at 12:22 AM
            Christopher Game: You state that Miskolczi makes no such assumption, still he writes ED=AA. Explain, and use as few words as possible.”

            Christopher’s response:

            Read.

          • Invariant says:

            Equation (7) reads ED = AA. What does it mean to you? Please explain!

  85. Miklos Zagoni’s reply to Invariant’s September 3, 2010 at 12:46 AM comment:

    Invariant,

    you say

    “Equation (7) reads ED = AA. What does it mean to you? Please explain!”

    As I can see, the integration there goes by wave numbers, not by altitude layers. One of the integrated quantites, ED is measured at the ground by uplooking intruments, being the total downward longwave flux radiated downward by the atmosphere (“Back radiation”) ; the other, AA is computed from Equations (1)-(4); its meaning is the difference between SU (surface upward LW radiation, measured at the ground), and ST, surface transmitted (“atmospheric window”) radiation, defined at the top of the atmoshere: AA = SU – ST (as shown in Equation (5)); again, a full-column quantity.

    On the interpretation of Figure (3), (4), and (6), you can find details in this blog’s discussions.

    Kind regards,
    Miklos Zagoni

    • If I may interject…I think Invariant has a valid question, which is basically the same as the one I had originally advanced.

      Miklos, yes the details you list are true, BUT THEY DO NOT ANSWER INVARIANT’S QUESTION. ED cannot, on average, equal AA in a greenhouse atmosphere. The fact they are close to each other, which IS true, tells us NOTHING about how much the atmosphere might warm if we add more greenhouse gas.

      I am sure that they are nearly the same on Venus, too, where there is 230,000x as much CO2 as on Earth, and the surface is hot enough to melt lead.

      This has been my main point all along. It could be the Miskolczi was not trying to make the claim of some new finding (except for the long-term radiosonde data suggesting negative water vapor feedback that approximately offsets the increase in CO2 over the same time…that is a DIFFERENT issue). But OTHER people ARE using Miskiocli’s work to claim he has somehow shown THEORETICALLY why warming cannot result from adding more CO2 to the atmosphere. I KNOW because I hear from these people on a routine basis.

      • Anonymous says:

        Christopher Game replying to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Sep 3 at 3:44 AM.

        Dear Dr Spencer,

        Thank you for your interjection. You raise several points, to which I would like to respond to seriatim.

        Perhaps I am wasting valuable electron trajectories by writing a response here, and your non-replies to my answers mean that my answers do not count for you. I think I have carefully and fully answered all your arguments, but I don’t know whether you have read my answers. For example, you have not responded to my just above answer to your challenge question, and one of your other responses to an answer that I wrote simply showed that you did not accurately read it, or that what I wrote was more or less unintelligible.

        As to what I think is the main point here, that I will try to look at first, you write: “If I may interject…I think Invariant has a valid question, which is basically the same as the one I had originally advanced.

        ED cannot, on average, equal AA in a greenhouse atmosphere. The fact they are close to each other, which IS true …”

        Dr Spencer, you are here implying that you have a theoretical argument that shows that necessarily Aa > Ed on global average. I think that is what you mean? Please correct me if I misunderstand.

        I would like here to state more precisely what I have understood of your theoretical argument, as follows, in italics.

        On average the temperature of the atmosphere is monotonically decreasing with increasing altitude above the land-sea body surface. As indicated above in my post of 2010 Sep 2 at 7:28 AM: “When two small regions A and B, each in respective radiatively defined local thermodynamic equilibrium, regardless of other forms of transport that may be occurring, are such that tA > tB, then net radiative transfer will transport heat from A to B. This is due to a slight generalization of the classical form of the second law of thermodynamics.” It follows that net radiation must on average carry heat continuously and gradually from the land-sea surface into the atmosphere and up through the atmosphere, in a kind of ‘radiative diffusion’, so to speak loosely. If I understand you here, this kind of transport is illustrated at the right in your diagram at http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/IR-example-thermally-stratified-atmosphere.gif . This kind of upwards quasi-diffusive intra-atmospheric radiative transport is in addition to direct radiation through the atmospheric window to space from the land-sea body, and in addition to non-radiative transport of energy from the land-sea body into the atmosphere and through the atmosphere, and in addition to radiation direct from the atmosphere to space. These considerations combine to provide a theoretical proof that on global average Aa > Ed.

        If you are interested in my reply, please tell me if I have just here stated your argument precisely as you intend it to be understood. Please correct or replace this, if you will. Let us make a precise statement of your argument, perhaps by correcting or replacing the above italicized paragraph, if you are interested my reply. If not, then I will have to suppose that you are not interested in my reply, and I will not carry on with it, at least not right here.

        Yours sincerely,

        Christopher Game

        • Christopher, I read your attempted answer and I do not think you understand the issue I have with Miskolczi’s paper.

          The whole “is Aa=Ed true or not” thing is getting us mired in details that do not answer my original objection anyway. Maybe if I phrase it this way it will help…because arguing Aa=Ed is not shedding any light where I hoped it would.

          What I object to is that Miskolczi makes it sound like Aa being close to Ed has some special significance that says something about the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect. It does not. The Earth’s surface and the overlying atmosphere could be 10 degrees warmer, and Aa would still be close to Ed.

          Again, the overriding objection I have had from the beginning (which maybe I did not phrase clearly) is against Miskolczi implying that Aa=Ed has any significance for the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect. I maintain it does not.

          • Anonymous says:

            Christopher Game replying to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Sep 3 at 7:51 AM.

            Dear Dr Spencer,

            Thank you for your clarification.

            You write: “The whole “is Aa=Ed true or not” thing is getting us mired in details that do not answer my original objection anyway. Maybe if I phrase it this way it will help…because arguing Aa=Ed is not shedding any light where I hoped it would. … the overriding objection I have had from the beginning (which maybe I did not phrase clearly) is against Miskolczi implying that Aa=Ed has any significance for the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect. I maintain it does not.

            This is a very abstract or theoretical thing that you maintain. It is about the logical structure of a process of reasoning. Abstract considerations of this kind call for careful diligence in matters dialectical and rhetorical.

            To define what I mean here by the words ‘dialectic’ and ‘rhetoric’, may I refer to and quote from or paraphrase a very enlightening book by James Hannam (2009), God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science, Icon Books, London, ISBN 9781848310704 ? Hannam recites the usual list of the medieval trivium, a three or four year course of study, the equivalent perhaps of a present day syllabus for a bachelor of arts degree. After this, the graduate might go on to the quadrivium, and the basics of the three branches of philosophy, another three years to a master of arts. The trivium consisted of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. Nowadays we usually speak of ‘logic’ when in those days they would have spoken of ‘dialectic’. ‘Rhetoric’ in that syllabus included the study of the structure of arguments. The quadrivium consisted of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. The branches of philosophy were ethics, metaphysics, and natural philosophy. End of immediate quoting or paraphrasing of James Hannam.

            Newton, poor benighted fellow, did not know that he was a physicist; he thought he was a natural philosopher. He used Aristotle’s physics to observe that his theory of gravity called for action at a distance, which worried him; the problem was not dealt with until it was tackled by Oliver Heaviside, and then by Einstein, and more recently by others including Jefimenko.

            Perhaps we can make our present discussion more definite and productive if you will kindly give an example of what you consider to be a proposition that does have “significance for the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect”, to help me understand precisely what you mean by that phrase. It would help, also, I think, if you would specify precisely what you mean by “the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect”. And perhaps if you would go beyond merely defining the term “the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect”, and give perhaps a sketch of your opinion about its physics.

            Yours sincerely,

            Christopher Game

          • Anonymous says:

            Christopher Game further replying to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Sep 3 at 7:51 AM.

            Dear Dr Spencer,

            Perhaps another angle might improve the view. You write: “Christopher, I read your attempted answer and I do not think you understand the issue I have with Miskolczi’s paper.”

            Is part of the problem the use of the word ‘saturated’? I have used the word in a post on Jennifer Marohasy’s blog. At http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/2009/05/the-climatically-saturated-greenhouse-effect/ I wrote there: “a major advance in our understanding of the physical dynamics of the climate process has come from the work of Ferenc Miskolczi. For the present note I am calling his discovery the ‘climatically saturated greenhouse effect’. I use these words to mean that the ‘saturation’ of which I speak is not the classical static saturation of an isolated system, but is ‘saturation’ in a specially extended sense for an open system in a thermodynamically-non-equilibrium dynamic steady state.”

            And also there: “The Miskolczi discovery of the climatically saturated greenhouse effect describes a climate process that is dynamically pinned at a thermodynamically-non-equilibrium phase transition. This means that the climate is in a stable stationary dynamical régime.

            The overall effect is to keep a constant ratio of solar energetic driving to long term climate temperature.”

            I am happy to withdraw my use of the word ‘saturated’ if that will help. It was a figure of speech, as I more or less indicated by saying that I did not mean it in the classical sense.

            I am less willing to abandon my use of the notion of dynamical phase pinning at a thermodynamically-non-equilibrium phase transition. I can readily say that this notion cannot be blamed on Miskolczi. It seemed to me at the time as an invention of my own. Perhaps it is quite wrong.

            But it may be useful for me to say that the sense of ‘saturation’ that I used then was not a reference to the relationship between Aa and Ed. It was a reference to a whole dynamical structure. And, though I haven’t discussed the question with him, I don’t suppose that Miskolczi likes to use the word ‘saturation’ to refer to the relation between Aa and Ed.

            Just as an aside, I think that note of mine on Jennifer’s blog misrepresented Miskolczi when I mentioned only the role of water vapour in keeping the global average Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness constant. I am not now saying that water vapour plays no part, but I am saying that I unduly focused it then, to the neglect of the virtual direct no-feedback effect of temperature. I now think that I then misrepresented Miskolczi and that I was mistaken there.

            Thus it may be useful to comment on the following statement by you: “the long-term radiosonde data suggesting negative water vapor feedback that approximately offsets the increase in CO2 over the same time.” It may be that the data suggests that to you, and indeed I thought it so when I wrote on Jennifer’s blog, but Miskolczi 2010 in Figure 11 shows clear evidence that it is not so. A detailed examination of Figure 11 is needed to appreciate this.

            It may also be helpful for me to say here that as I understand the Miskolczi quasi-all-sky model, it does not say that the climate temperature has a dynamical fixed point or attractor. No, the model, as I understand it, says that the ratio of insolation to terrestrial thermal radiation has a dynamical fixed point; more insolation leads to higher climate temperature, governed by that ratio. I stand to be corrected by Miskolczi about that.

            In summary, I think that the use of the word ‘saturated’ in this context does not specifically refer to the relation between Aa and Ed, and should not be interpreted as doing so. Perhaps this may remove a misunderstanding.

            Yours sincerely,

            Christopher Game

          • Anonymous says:

            Christopher Game’s third response to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Sep 3 at 7:51 AM.

            Dear Dr Spencer,

            My response of Sep 3 at 9:41 AM was not quite right. I would like to amend it here.

            In my post of Sep 3 at 9:41 AM I wrote: “This is a very abstract or theoretical thing that you maintain. It is about the logical structure of a process of reasoning. Abstract considerations of this kind call for careful diligence in matters dialectical and rhetorical.” I wish to reaffirm that here.

            In your post of Sep 3 at 7:51 AM you wrote: “The whole “is Aa=Ed true or not” thing is getting us mired in details that do not answer my original objection anyway.”

            In your post of Sep 3 at 3:44 AM you wrote: “ED cannot, on average, equal AA in a greenhouse atmosphere. The fact they are close to each other, which IS true, ”

            This looks to me as if the details do matter to you. You are insisting that it cannot be true that Aa and Ed are equal on average in a greenhouse atmosphere, while you are asserting also that they are close to one another. This looks like a detailed concern of yours.

            Moreover you are apparently intending to take your insistence on the impossibility of equality as a valid and acceptable premise of further discussion.

            In my judgement, after a night’s sleep, this is not a satisfactory basis on which to proceed with our discussion.

            Therefore I wish to amend my post of Sep 3 at 9:41 AM by removing from it my paragraph: “Perhaps we can make our present discussion more definite and productive if you will kindly give an example of what you consider to be a proposition that does have “significance for the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect”, to help me understand precisely what you mean by that phrase. It would help, also, I think, if you would specify precisely what you mean by “the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect”. And perhaps if you would go beyond merely defining the term “the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect”, and give perhaps a sketch of your opinion about its physics.”

            I wish instead to say that such an abstract and theoretical discussion as you are proposing is premature in the course of our inquiries. It cannot safely be pursued while the “detail” of the Aa – Ed question is not settled.

            You are asking to consider a very abstract and theoretical question, and I am saying I am not at present ready to go down that path because preliminary details need to be settled before it is a useful path to follow. I am claiming that the preliminary details, in particular the Aa – Ed question, are a matter of empirical observation, while you are, I think, proposing that you have a theory about them that trumps empirical observation, but you apparently do not want to further discuss your theory. I am saying that the priority should be the settlement of the empirical details.

            For a discussion of this kind of argumentative move, may I refer you to my favorite logician, Jaakko Hintikka, in his 2004 book Analyses of Aristotle, volume 6 of his Selected Papers, Kluwer, Dordrecht, ISBN 1402020406. In particular may I refer to Section 10 of Chapter 13, at page 200, et seq.?

            Yours sincerely,

            Christopher Game

      • Anonymous says:

        Christopher Game following up a submission in reply to Dr Spencer’s post of 2010 Sep 3 at 3:44 AM.

        Dear Dr Spencer,

        I tried to submit a reply, but when I hit the Submit Comment button, my submission seemed to disappear into the far reaches of outer cyberspace. Perhaps it will reappear.

        Yours sincerely,

        Christopher Game

      • Anonymous says:

        Christopher Game guessing at why his try at submitting a reply failed, when his subsequent note at 2010 Sep 3 at 7:22 AM was posted. Was the failure because my submission contained a url for your diagram that you posted in Yes, Virginia, Cooler Objects Can Make Warmer Objects Even Warmer Still ?

    • Anonymous says:

      The origin of equation (7), which reads ED = AA, may be some confusion about what exactly is the criterion of local thermodynamic equilbrium. Please read this book.

      http://books.google.no/books?id=dcCpdY_Y2CEC

      One of the tricky issues in statistical mechanics is to distinguish microscopic quantities from macroscopic quantities – for example, it is not a paradox that a system can be in local thermodynamic equilbrium and at the same time be out of (but usually very close to) global equilibrium. Far from equilbrium systems are quite rare (explosions and such).

      Since ED = AA is not valid, the rest of the paper is not useful. I think it would have been better if this paper had been written by someone with experience in statistical mechanics, because every equation in physics must make sense both from a microscopically (quantum mechanics) and macroscopically (classical) point of view.

      We all know algebra. A few of us can do the physics…

      I do not think that I have more to add to this discussion. Thank you.

  86. Invariant says:

    The origin of equation (7), which reads ED = AA, may be some confusion about what exactly is the criterion of local thermodynamic equilbrium. Please read this book.

    http://books.google.no/books?id=dcCpdY_Y2CEC

    One of the tricky issues in statistical mechanics is to distinguish microscopic quantities from macroscopic quantities – for example, it is not a paradox that a system can be in local thermodynamic equilbrium and at the same time be out of (but usually very close to) global equilibrium. Far from equilbrium systems are quite rare (explosions and such).

    Since ED = AA is not valid, the rest of the paper is not useful. I think it would have been better if this paper had been written by someone with experience in statistical mechanics, because every equation in physics must make sense both from a microscopically (quantum mechanics) and macroscopically (classical) point of view.

    We all know algebra. A few of us can do the physics…

    I do not think that I have more to add to this discussion. Thank you.

  87. Miklos Zagoni’s reply to Roy Spencer’s Comment on September 3, 2010 at 3:44 AM

    Dear Roy,

    You have made a very important and valid observation here, thank you for it:

    “The fact they are close to each other, which IS true, tells us NOTHING about how much the atmosphere might warm if we add more greenhouse gas.”

    Yes, exactly. The constraint, or constancy, or stability of the optical depth DOES NOT COME from the discussed equation ALONE. (This equation seems to be valid on the known NASA Martian profiles, as Miskolczi has computed them, but on the Mars the other conditions, described in his further equations, do not hold true.) So again, yes, I agree with you, Miskolczi’s Aa=Ed relationship alone, even if perfect, does not result in the constancy of the greenhouse effect. There are further equations (flux relationships) in Miskolczi’s papers that must be valid to maintain the equilibrium. Aa=Ed is only the first one; I might say, a necessary, but not sufficient condition for his basic equation of the transfer function f(tau)=

    2/(1+tau+exp(-tau))=(3+2exp(-tau))/5.
    (Eqn (12) in his 2010 paper.)

    So, if this was the cause of your resistance to accept Aa=Ed, you may abandon it. Accepting this equation, even its theoretical exactness, DOES NOT MEAN to accept the stability of tau. The latter needs two further equations to accept: Eqns (10) and (11) in the current paper (or see his ref. to his previous one).

    If you agree, I would be happy to step forward into this direction. I hope this will clarify this really fundamental question.

    Roy, thank you for your patience.
    Yours sincerely,
    Miklos Zagoni

  88. Chris G says:

    I hesitate to step between mating elephants, but FWIW…

    It stuck me that the argument might be the result of an assumption about the symmetries of emission and absorption. While the emission of IR photons upward is equal to the emission downward, the rate of absorption upward is not equal to the rate of absorption downward. This is because as a photon travels downward, the GHGs become increasingly dense; as they travel upward, the GHGs becomes increasingly less dense. Absorption rate is a function of density. So, I don’t see how it is possible for there to be an equality of emission and absorption between whatever layers of real atmosphere you define. Photons en masse, in particular as they go through cycles of being absorbed and emitted, will have a bias to traveling to less dense regions of the atmosphere, upward. If Miskolczi’s hypothesis depends on there being equality of absorption and emission between layers, then he has some pretty fundamental physics laws to overcome.

    • Anonymous says:

      Chris G says on September 3, 2010 at 1:45 PM :
      ‘…I don’t see how it is possible for there to be an equality of emission and absorption between whatever layers of real atmosphere you define…’
      The accurate computation of absorption and emission of IR radiation is fundamental for all kind of IR remote sensing. Why do not you read a bit more about the ‘pretty fundamental physics laws’, and their applications? If you can compute correctly what an IR sensor measures on board of a satellite, probably you do not have problems with IR absorption and emission and those pretty fundamental physics laws. You may look at this link to have an idea what is this all about…:
      http://science.larc.nasa.gov/ceres/STM/2005-11/miskolczi_airs.pdf

  89. Miklos Zagoni’s reply to Invariant’s September 3, 2010 at 12:46 AM commnet:

    “Equation (7) reads ED = AA. What does it mean to you? Please explain!”

    It means to me that OLR contains only two terms as its energetic source:
    - Surface Transmitted (“Atmospheric Window”, ST); and
    - Non-IR related heat sources: Shortwave solar absorbed by the air (F) and “Thermals + Latent” (K).

    As OLR=ST+EU, it is a direct algebraic consequence of the AA=ED relationship that EU=F+K.

    If AA was equal to ED + X, with X a mixed radiative-convective term, as Roy suggests in this blog, EU would be F+K+X. We are discussing here the possible values and mechanisms of this X term.

    As have I noted earlier, now we have two relationships, or “definitions” for the greenhouse effect:

    G = SU – OLR, and
    G = ED – EU.

    If AA=ED needs an explanation, the latter one does so also. It means: the greenhouse effect equals to the difference of the downwelling IR heating of the ground by the atmosphere at BOA and the upwelling IR cooling of the atmosphere at TOA.

    If X is non-zero, the latter becomes G = ED – EU + X.

    This is only algebra, but with several physical questions behind it.

    Finally, it is a part of my explanation that the constancy of tau does not depend solely on the validity of this equation. The proposed stability of the greenhouse effect is a three-legged stool. AA=ED is the first; the further two flux relationships of Miskolczi was not discussed in this thread yet.

    Miklos

  90. Invariant says September 3, 2010 at 12:46 AM:

    “Equation (7) reads ED = AA. What does it mean to you? Please explain!”

    It means to me (with the other two Miskolczi-equations together) that the global average tau is CO2-invariant!

    Thank you for the name!

    ((I’m sorry about my sense of humour, but I cannot resist pointing out that Invariant was the name of the second dog of John von Neumann. The first was called Inverse.))

    Miklos

  91. Miklos Zagoni’s reply to Roy W. Spencer’s September 3, 2010 at 7:51 AM comment.

    Dear Roy, you wrote:
    “What I object to is that Miskolczi makes it sound like Aa being close to Ed has some special significance that says something about the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect. It does not. The Earth’s surface and the overlying atmosphere could be 10 degrees warmer, and Aa would still be close to Ed.

    Again, the overriding objection I have had from the beginning (which maybe I did not phrase clearly) is against Miskolczi implying that Aa=Ed has any significance for the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect. I maintain it does not.”

    Let me repeat my position: You are partly right. Miskolczi’s Aa=Ed has, I would say, ‘one-third’ significance for the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect. The other ‘two-third’ comes from his other two flux relationships. So this constancy rests on a three-legged stool. Based alone on this single Aa=Ed leg, there is no stability.

    But his three flux relationships, applied on his f(tau) transfer function, arithmetically result in a simple equation for tau, having a constant solution, tau=1.867561…..

    Dear Roy, you wrote in your August 9, 2010 at 7:29 AM comment:

    “I already answered his question by saying I did not dispute his computation of tau = 1.87.”

    If you didn’t dispute his empirical tau (computed on different independent observed atmospheric data archives), and didn’t dispute his theoretically derived tau, then you seem to object solely that Aa=Ed leads to the invariance of tau. You are rigth in this, Aa=Ed alone does not lead to the existence of a stationary value of tau.

    Miklos

  92. Dear Dr. Spencer,

    As I can see, you didn’t succeed in pointing out any controversy in Dr. Miskolczi’s theory.

    You did not dispute his computation of the empirical tau = 1.869.

    You did not dispute his theoretical derivation of the constant stationary tau = 1.868.

    You stepped back from objecting his equality Aa=Ed.
    You object only that Aa=Ed has something to say about the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect.

    But Miskolczi has never stated that this equation alone would establish the constancy of the Earth’s greenhouse effect. He states it plays a given role in deriving the constant theoretical tau.

    May I suggest therefore with all respect considering the withdrawal of the adjective “controversial” from the title of your thread?

    Yours sincerely,
    Miklos Zagoni

  93. Dear Dr. Spencer,

    Let me reformulate my pposition this way:

    If

    (1) Aa is close enough the Ed; and

    (2) Su is close enough to 3OLR/2 (clear sky); that is, the normalized g=G/Su=(Su-OLR)/Su
    is close enough to 1/3 [Kiehl and Ramanathan say in their Frontiers of Climate Modeling, Cambridge Univ. Press 2006 that empirically g is EQUAL to 1/3]; and

    (3) Su is close enough to 2Eu (a relationship that even in the original K&T97 diagram is satisfied, with Su=390 and Eu=165+30),

    then (1)-(3), together, lead to an equation, having a constant mean solution, tau=1.867561…. , and we’ll wait the observed empirical tau to fluctuate closely enough around this number.

    As this set of equations is NOT GHG-dependent (but comes simply from the flux-relationships–i.e., was derived solely from the equilibrium structure), we can state that the mean (equilibrium) solution is GHG-invariant.

    The empirical tau on the TIGR2 global weather balloon dataset is 1.869, and on the average of 61 years’ NOAA annual global means is the same, 1.869.

    On August 23 Dr. Miskolczi has noted here that Dr. Trenberth admitted to him that the St in the KT97 (and TFK2009) global energy budget was unrealistic. Dr. Jeff Kiehl admitted the same to me almost a year ago. Substituting the correct St/Su ratio into these distributions, we get exactly Miskolczi’s equilibrium tau.

    Dear Roy, wouldn’t be the most fair and square way if you admitted also that Miskolczi’s equations and numbers are right?

    Miklos

    • Anonymous says:

      Christopher Game commenting on Miklos Zagoni’s posts of 2010 Sep 8 at 11:07 AM and at 3:36 PM.

      I would like to repeat my position here, with a little elaboration.

      I think that in this matter, we cannot just say “near enough is good enough”. We are considering small quantities. That is why we are arguing.

      An apprentice brought his work to the journeyman, and said “It’s not quite exactly right, but it’s near enough.” The journeyman said “Go and do it aright.” The apprentice went and did it exactly aright, and brought the fresh work back and said to the journeyman “It’s quite exact this time”. The journeyman said “That’s near enough.”

      I think we need better agreement about the empirical findings before we can safely go into the theory.

      Christopher Game