Yes, Virginia, the “Vacuum” of Space Does have a “Temperature”

February 21st, 2012 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Usually, I refrain from addressing silly scientific claims. But since some people seem determined to go to any extent to ‘disprove’ greenhouse gas theory, in this instance I am going against my better judgment to answer a particularly crazy article entitled, “Roy Spencer’s Fatal Error: Believing the Vacuum of Space Has a Temperature“.

I can’t tell whether John O’Sullivan really believes what he has written there. While I will assume he does, it still feels like I’m being challenged by a supermarket tabloid to offer proof that Elvis was not abducted by space aliens.

But I digress. The basic issue is that the radiative energy budget of the Earth involves energy GAIN from the sun (primarily at visible wavelengths, less at infrared [IR] wavelengths), and then energy LOSS to the ‘cold’ depths of outer space, which is mostly in the IR.

It is usually assumed in radiative energy budget calculations of the Earth that there is no IR emission toward the Earth from outer space, but this is not strictly true. Space emits radiation like a blackbody whose temperature is 2.7 K, and a portion of this emission is indeed in the infrared, as was verified by the COBE satellite experiment:

So yes, Virginia, outer space does have a temperature, and it is a very cold one. But even if that temperature was 0 K (in which case one might metaphysically ask whether zero absolute temperature actually means no temperature), the practical result would be the same: the thermal radiation emitted by a colder object CAN influence the energy budget, and therefore the temperature, of a warmer object.

In the case of the greenhouse effect, downwelling infrared sky radiation, even though it is usually less intense than the upwelling radiation from the ground, keeps the ground from cooling much faster at night than if the atmosphere was not there.

No laws of thermodynamics are broken, because the net flow of radiation is still from the warmer object to the cooler object, despite the fact that the cooler object (the atmosphere) keeps the warmer object (the ground) warmer than if the atmosphere was not there. That’s the (so-called) greenhouse effect.

You can perform an experiment yourself, with an inexpensive handheld IR thermometer (which is really a radiometer) and (for example) a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer. Point the IR thermometer, which will be close to room temperature, at the inside of the freezer (say at 0 deg. F), and the temperature of the freezer viewing side of the thermopile within the thermometer will drop, due to IR energy loss from the thermopile toward the freezer. Circuitry measures the rate of temperature drop and calculates the temperature of the object you are viewing (it also assumes an IR emissivity, usually close to 1.0).

But if you then point the IR thermometer at the inside of the refrigerator (say at 40 deg. F), then the temperature of the refrigerator-viewing side of the thermopile will rise, even though the refrigerator temperature is colder than the handheld thermometer. So, yes, Virginia, cold objects (the refrigerator) can make warmer objects (the thermopile in the IR thermometer) even warmer still!

If the Sky Dragon Slayers want to keep claiming otherwise, then fine. Maybe someday they will receive a Nobel Prize.

And maybe someday Elvis will return from space with a great new weight loss product.


229 Responses to “Yes, Virginia, the “Vacuum” of Space Does have a “Temperature””

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  1. Mac says:

    Dr Spencer,
    In about 1961, in about 7th grade, in science class, during a discussion of the “coming ice age”, my science teacher explained quite clearly the point you make above. I have never been confused about the issue since.

    It is a wonderment to me how some folks have it so wrong.

    I hope Elvis will stop by my house as I could use to lose a few pounds.

    Thanks for your continued efforts.

    All the best wishes for you and your family,
    Mac

  2. Of course outer space has a temperature, and it is cold around 3 K. I thus don’t support the view put forward by the group of Sky Dragon Slayers to which I no longer belong, if I ever did.

    But Roy strides on repeating his backradiation message and is not willing to listen to reason. Roy presents as evidence an IR-thermometer which measures the temperature of a target by sensing its own heating (if the target temp is higher) or cooling (if the target temp is lower). But an IR-thermometer does not sense any backradiation and so Roy’s evidence is nil.

    When I ask Roy about evidence of backradiation, after repeating the question several times, this is what he come up with. So I pose the question again: What is your evidence Roy, of the existence of backradiation or downwelling radiation? If it is not an IR-thermometer, what is it?

    • Yes, the IR thermometer DOES sense “back radiation”, or (more correctly termed) downwelling sky radiation.

      I have done this many times, and so can you: Depending on whether you have a dry or humid airmass over you, pointing the IR thermometer toward a clear sky will result in tens of degrees difference, even with little or no change in air mass temperature. (Even though the thermometer manufacturers make IR thermometers with a frequency response which avoids much of the main water vapor absorption wavelengths, they do not do this completely, which is physically impossible because all wavelengths experience some IR absorption/emission).

      Somewhat related measurements are done continuously with expensive upward pointing IR radiometers, and the data are available at several places on the web.

      The IR thermometer is indeed DIRECT evidence that variations in the effective emitting temperature of the sky, which is strongly modulated by greenhouse gases (mostly water vapor) DOES affect surface temperature…in this case, the surface temperature of the thermopile which is pointed at the sky.

      How else can you explain such evidence, Claes? I really cannot tell whether you are serious, because the evidence is so clear.

      While I am tempted to flag your comment as intellectually dishonest, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are just misinformed.

      • Roy, suggesting dishonesty is not very nice. I have written about IR-sensors on

        http://claesjohnson.blogspot.com/search/label/IR%20camera

        The evidence is clear: There is never any direct recording of backradiation. Your IR sensor measures the temperature of the target, or frequency of radiation from target, but never NEVER does it measure any flow of heat energy from a colder target to a warmer receptor, because there is nothing to measure. IT DOES NOT EXIST.

        You must be able to understand that the proclaimed flow of heat energy is the result of applying Stefan-Boltzmann’s radiation Law Q = sigma T^4 with temperature T as input and Q as output. But SB concerns radiative flow of heat energy into a surrounding of 0 K, and thus does not describe the situation between e.g. a cold atmosphere and warm Earth surface.

        Are you not capable of understanding this elementary physics and mathematics?

        Yes or No?

        If No I will explain it once more and continue until you understand.

        Understand?

        • TLM says:

          but never NEVER does it measure any flow of heat energy from a colder target to a warmer receptor
          No but it IS measuring the reduced rate of heat loss from the warmer receptor to the colder target.

          Sure, heat always flows from warm to cold, but it cools less to a “cool” environment than it to an “extremely cold” environment.

          Think of the extreme case. Body 1 at 30C next to Body 2 at 29C. What is the resting temperature of Body 1 after 24 hours? Body 1 at 30C next to Body 2 at -200c. What is the resting temperature of Body 1 after 24 hours?

          I am aghast that otherwise intelligent people fail to grasp this!

        • OK, let me see if I understand you, then.

          You are claiming that a body emits IR radiation at sigma*T^4 only if it’s surroundings are at zero Kelvin. The rate of emission would then be reduced the warmer the surroundings.

          If this is your position (even if this isn’t your position), then answer this question:
          Does the atmosphere reduce the intensity of IR radiation flowing from the Earth’s surface to space, compared to if there was no atmosphere?

          • Yes Roy, it does, but not because of any backradiation. An Earth with fully transparent atmosphere would most likely be cooler than the one we have, but it is not so clear how much cooler, probably something between 15 and 30 C cooler.

            The concept of backradiation is misleading and dangerous because it is non-physical: THERE IS NO FLOW OF HEAT ENERGY FROM COLD TO WARM. Why? Read my paper on blackbody radiation if you are hesitating as to the truth of this fact of physics, also referred to as the 2nd Law.

            The concept of backradiation is used by CO2 alarmists to send an alarm about a very unstable gross exchange of heat energy between the atmosphere and the Earth surface, an exchange greater than the total influx from the Sun, an exchange so gross that just a tiny % change can cause the Earth surface to boil.

            This is the real use of the concept of backradiation which you are selling to the people of the World, and you are thereby contributing to CO2 alarmism. I don’t think this is your intention, but the effect this. Do you understand what I am saying?

            And don’t try by changing terminology to downwelling radiation. It is the same as backradiation, and it is non-physical pure fiction.

          • Hi Roy, I expect you to answer my questions. Do you catch what I am saying?

            Roy’s reply:

            Sorry, I’ve been attending to my job and family.

            It seems your objection is to the existence of any IR radiation flowing from cooler bodies to warmer bodies as part of the radiative transfer process. Without studying the issue more, I cannot think of an immediately obvious way to prove you are wrong.

            But the net effect on radiative transfer might be the same whether you use the concept of back radiation or not…in the usual calculation of radiative flux divergence of radiation in an atmospheric layer, there are radiative fluxes being absorbed by the layer from layers on either side, and there is flux being emitted by the layer. The sum of these is the *net* flux divergence, which you claim is in reality the only flux which is occurring. This is my understanding of your position.

            If you want to think of it that way, then I cannot immediately think of an example which proves you are wrong. But all we are discussing here are the details of the mechanism by which IR energy flows from a warmer body to a cooler body. It does not change the fact that making the cooler body a little warmer will then reduce the rate of IR emission from the warmer body to the cooler body, which through conservation of energy means it will change the temperature of the warmer body. One does not necessarily need to invoke “back radiation” to achieve that effect.

            Since you admit that the presence of an atmosphere reduces the rate of IR emission from the surface to outer space, then you implicitly admit that something like the “greenhouse effect” does exist, at least in terms of its influence on surface temperature. You are just disputing the details of the mechanism usually used to explain the process. Am I correct?

        • RW says:

          Claus,

          I asked this of you in the previous thread. What specifically is your definition of ‘back radiation’?

          • Claes Johnson says:

            The idea that there is a two-way transfer of heat energy between two blackbodies with backradiation the energy transfer from cold to warm. This is also referred to downwelling radiation with transfer of heat energy (about 300 Watts per square meter) from the atmosphere to the Earth surface.

        • Reposting this response to Claes:

          Sorry, I’ve been attending to my job and family.

          It seems your objection is to the existence of any IR radiation flowing from cooler bodies to warmer bodies as part of the radiative transfer process. Without studying the issue more, I cannot think of an immediately obvious way to prove you are wrong.

          But the net effect on radiative transfer might be the same whether you use the concept of back radiation or not…in the usual calculation of radiative flux divergence of radiation in an atmospheric layer, there are radiative fluxes being absorbed by the layer from layers on either side, and there is flux being emitted by the layer. The sum of these is the *net* flux divergence, which you claim is in reality the only flux which is occurring. This is my understanding of your position.

          If you want to think of it that way, then I cannot immediately think of an example which proves you are wrong. But all we are discussing here are the details of the mechanism by which IR energy flows from a warmer body to a cooler body. It does not change the fact that making the cooler body a little warmer will then reduce the rate of IR emission from the warmer body to the cooler body, which through conservation of energy means it will change the temperature of the warmer body. One does not necessarily need to invoke “back radiation” to achieve that effect.

          Since you admit that the presence of an atmosphere reduces the rate of IR emission from the surface to outer space, then you implicitly admit that something like the “greenhouse effect” does exist, at least in terms of its influence on surface temperature. You are just disputing the details of the mechanism usually used to explain the process. Am I correct?

          • Tel says:

            I’ve been watching this back-radiation argument for years now and I’d just like to chip in. If the two methods of calculation give the same answer then there’s no way of proving who is right and who is wrong, nor is it meaningful to do so. After all, consider what physics actually is doing:

            [A] Use some convention of measurement to convert the real world into numbers.

            [B] Use a mathematical formula to process the numbers.

            [C] Convert the result back by the same convention of measurement to a real-world prediction.

            [D] Observe the real world and check if it follows the prediction.

            If steps A, C, and D are the same, and two possible variations of step B are mathematically equivalent (in as much as they give the same answer) then there is no rational reason to argue over which one is the more correct.

            We could argue about the intuitive approach of one way of doing [B] vs another way of doing [B], and this might be valid for purposes of explanation, teaching, etc. However, that’s not really physics, that’s psychology or the like.

            If you can find an experiment where the method of back-radiation (i.e. calculate radiation in both directions w.r.t. absolute zero, then get a nett flow) gives a different numerical answer to Claes Johnson’s method, then you would have at least something to compare. Otherwise, it’s a personal preference and nothing more. Of course, you would also need to select an experiment that you can actually perform; accurately enough to see the difference.

            I might also point out that the surface of the Earth is never in thermodynamic equilibrium. It warms up during the day, and it cools during the night. Climatologists take the hottest point of the day and average this against the coolest point of the night. There’s no particular reason to believe that the resulting average temperature follows any thermodynamic laws at all (other than very approximately), certainly not to a precision of tiny fractions of a degree.

          • This is now starting to get ridiculous.

            I read the second sentence,

            “If the two methods of calculation give the same answer then there’s no [. . . .]”

            And I just stop. I don’t read any further.

            The two methods, of course, theoretically give different answers, and that is of course exactly why there are two methods.

            If you have been “following” this debate for years now, then there really is excuse for you not to know that. If in fact you didn’t know that, then this is your chance to apologize and retract your statement as well as whatever part of what followed depends on it.

            Otherwise, this is just simple defamation of character and should be treated as such by the webmaster.

            RTF

          • Corrections; “no excuse” and “watching” rather than “following”.

            RTF

          • Tel says:

            I apologize if I might have offended anyone. However, maybe you can go to this website:

            http://claesjohnson.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/how-to-fool-world-by-measuring-masive.html

            Scan down to equation (1) and compare with equation (2) and just because I’m a bit stupid, show me some numerical examples where those equations produce different answers.

            Once you have two difference answers, by all means devise an experiment to demonstrate which answer is the correct one.

          • If that is what you think is the sum total of Johnson’s radiative work, then your ignorance is far worse than I even thought. And I did think it was fairly bad.

            Just so we can be clear on whether there is any defamation here, or it’s all just ignorance, can you tell us exactly how many years it took you to read that one page and acquire your current understanding of it?

          • Tel says:

            If you are not interested in discussing the issues, nor answering a simple question, nor even presenting any references or material of you own then there is no discussion happening here.

            I have better things to do with my life than get into a lame slanging match thank you.

          • Richard T. Fowler says:

            You write,

            “We could argue about the intuitive approach of one way of doing [B] vs another way of doing [B], and this might be valid for purposes of explanation, teaching, etc. However, that’s not really physics, that’s psychology or the like.

            “If you can find an experiment where the method of back-radiation (i.e. calculate radiation in both directions w.r.t. absolute zero, then get a [net] flow) gives a different numerical answer to Claes Johnson’s method, then you would have at least something to compare. Otherwise, it’s a personal preference and nothing more. Of course, you would also need to select an experiment that you can actually perform; accurately enough to see the difference.”

            There is not a single valid sentence in those entire two paragraphs. Further, the suggestions that Claes’ theories are nothing more than psychology and trivially give the same results as a model with backradiation is just simply ludicrous.

            I hope you will actually care enough to read Climate Thermodynamics and Computational Blackbody Radiation. Any fair reading of these two papers will immediately make it abundantly clear that there is no good reason to assume that “the two methods of calculation give the same answer”. Until you can articulate something more accurate about Claes’ theories than what you have already written, I don’t see that there is anything more that should be discussed.

            RTF

  3. Baa Humbug says:

    Hello Dr Spencer.

    I hope your daughter and the family are doing well. My thoughts are still with you.

    Dr Spencer the O’sullivan post is just his summary of a more comprehensive paper by a Alberto Miatello

    http://www.tech-know.eu/uploads/Vacuum_space_and_Spencer.pdf

    Whilst I appreciate that you are tired of responding to these claims, I thought the paper was comprehensive enough to deserve a more detailed response since a response has been given (despite your better judgement as you state).

    regards

    • Yes, I have looked through the paper. It is a mish-mash of straw man arguments, diversionary tactics, misrepresentations of my position, and non-sequiturs.

      My current post here, and the one before it, stand alone as a fairly complete conceptual defense of the greenhouse effect. The continual negative emphasis on my previous example of two plates in a vacuum chamber seems to miss the point of the exercise. So, maybe the handheld IR thermometer example is more approachable, since anyone can experiment with these devices and try to explain why they work.

      If it is *numbers* and theoretical details one wants, those are produced routinely by detailed radiative transfer models which are widely published, which we have verified with our own model, contained in climate models which contain the radiative transfer calculations, and (if you hate climate models) weather forecast models which are run every 6 to 12 hours at major weather forecast centers around the world.

      Regarding those weather forecast models, without a proper handling of the greenhouse effect, they would utterly fail in about 24 hours or so, with unrealistic surface cooling and a marked change in weather systems away from reality.

      Do the critics of greenhouse theory ignore tomorrow’s weather forecast because weather forecast models depend critically upon greenhouse effect calculations? I doubt it.

      People who fault the science do not even bother to read the hundreds of published papers on the subject. They think they can reinvent the wheel, and somehow convince themselves that wheels should be square rather than round.

      One of the things you learn early as a research scientist is to understand what has been published before you try criticizing it. Miatello’s attempt strikes me as amateurish, and largely ignores the published literature on the subject.

  4. Steveta_uk says:

    Baa Humbug,

    I suggest you look at the section in the Miatello paper that leads up to this:

    T = 331.24K = 58.14°C
    Thus, it is not true that a colder body can heat a hotter body, as Roy Spencer maintains.

    Then simply redo the exact same calculations but with a reduced temperature on the cooler plate, say 30C.

    You will find that the final value of T is less than 58.14C.

    That’s all you need to know – the “cooler” plate at 37.7C resulted in a warmer resulting temperature than an even “cooler” plate at 30C.

    The difference means that the resulting plate combination WAS WARMER due to the temperature of the colder object. And that’s all anyone has ever claimed.

    The absurd idea that GHE results in INCREASING surface temperatures is simply a misreading of the theory. Think of it as “less cold that it would otherwise be” and it all falls into place.

  5. Kasuha says:

    While we are at ridiculous topics I’d like to ask one question.
    It is clear to me that atmosphere at great heights is very thin but due to laws of statistics there must be certain (low) percentage of particles which exceed Earth’s escape velocity and escape to space. I’m not talking about solar wind giving these particles energy and creating something like earth’s cometary tail but about particles escaping thanks to their energy given by atmospheric temperature.
    Energy lost from atmosphere this way does not go to radiative budget but it’s still lost energy and therefore lost temperature.
    Is there any estimate available of how much energy may be lost this way and how big part of the radiative budget difference may it cover?
    I guess it will most probably be negligible but I’d still like to hear it from someone who knows what he’s talking about.

  6. Mark Pomeroy says:

    Dr. Spencer, some of the things people are posting here are inconsistent with what I learned in thermo and I couldn’t have been too confused as I made one of my few A’s in it. Is it possible that the problem lies in a lack of common understanding of language? It has been implied that nearby cold objects do not influence the rate of cooling of a warmer object. That is inconsistent with basic and reproducible observations, both scientific and casual. It reminds me of people who don’t accept that the earth is more than a few thousand years old. They have their reasons for their belief and throwing observations at them will not change it.

  7. Bubba says:

    Claes, Yes, ignorant people can write a blog. Maybe you should spend your time looking for Elvis.

  8. Turnedoutnice says:

    Climate science’s ‘back radiation’ [for a cooler atmosphere] is really Prevost exchange energy, the oldest of the radiation laws [1791]. For two bodies above absolute zero, it is that part of the radiated energy from the cooler body which is absorbed by the IR density of states for the hotter body.

    It can do no thermodynamic work; its purpose is to regulate net energy flow from hotter to cooler. When temperatures are equal, radiated flux in both directions is equal so there is no net energy interchange.

    This is because for both bodies, the proportion of the IR density of states occupied by arriving radiation is the same as that from conversion of internal kinetic energy; no net conversion to heat energy at either body.

    For the case of the Earth and the atmosphere, the cooler body is the hemispherical assembly of atmosphere, bare aerosols and clouds we call the sky. The assumption by climate science that absorbed IR energy is thermalised in the atmosphere is plain wrong because it’s quantised and can’t be lost in dribs and drabs.

    Instead, to maintain Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium, at the same time as a GHG molecule absorbs a photon, an identical energy photon is emitted, scattering, no local temperature rise. The real thermalisation is at clouds and bare aerosols cooler than the composite-atmospheric, scattered-radiation emitter.

    These aerosols provide much of the Prevost exchange energy to the earth’s surface and this is a measure of the impedance of IR transmission to space from the Earth’s surface. There will be some scattered energy from the GHG molecules as well.

    The apparent emissivity of low level clouds can be ~0.9 whereas for clear sky above a desert, it can be as low as ~0.1. Hence clouds cause temperature rise; a desert cools at night to below zero.

    ‘Climate science’s’ belief in the sky as a provider of imaginary energy is touching. In reality, local warming is set by the hemispherical IR impedance.

  9. Roy Spencer wrote: “…the cooler object (the atmosphere) keeps the warmer object (the ground) warmer than if the atmosphere was not there. That’s the (so-called) greenhouse effect.”

    Two points of simple fact, no three:

    1) That is NOT the greenhouse effect that the IPCC and all of our suborned institutions are foisting upon the public. The greenhouse effect is an increase in atmospheric temperature with increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. You are dissembling (intentionally or not) in refusing to admit that, and adhere to it. (And so is “steveta_uk”, who commented above, “The absurd idea that GHE results in INCREASING surface temperatures is simply a misreading of the theory.” That statement itself, in the face of the public debate over “global warming”, is the height of absurdity, and in a sane intellectual atmosphere, could rightly be called a bald-faced lie. However, I understand that it is just the madness of those whose religiously-held belief in the greenhouse effect–and in the inerrancy of an overwhelming, albeit incompetent, consensus–is being strongly challenged by skeptics.)

    2)I have DISPROVED the greenhouse effect, in my comparison of the temperatures in the atmospheres of Venus and Earth. YOU ARE INCOMPETENT as a physical scientist if you cannot see that simple fact.

    3)You delude yourself by thinking the atmosphere keeps the surface warmer due to “backradiation”, a.k.a. “downwelling longwave radiation”. Since there is no greenhouse effect, I think it should be obvious that the atmosphere at night is keeping the surface from cooling faster, because upward heat transfer is not by radiation alone, with an atmosphere present, but also by convection and conduction, and these are SLOWER THAN RADIATION, and I would think can even reverse direction, against the temperature gradient, and even reverse it locally (downdrafts, precipitation, temperature inversions). That’s what the radiative transfer theory does to you: It makes you forget there ARE even convection and conduction.

    Your miseducation makes you part of the problem, Dr.–and of course you are not alone, climate scientists have been miseducated for, what, forty five years (I have read that 1967 or 1968 is when the current radiative transfer theory, applied to atmospheric warming, was brought out and accepted), and there has not been a competent climate scientist for at least the last 20 years, since the detailed temperature and pressure data of Venus, which should have signaled the death of the greenhouse effect as accepted science, was obtained by the Magellan spacecraft. Of course, the bottom line is, the very idea of “runaway climate”, and thus of looking at climate as something balanced on the knife edge of “radiative forcings”, only came into science through a mass turning away from, or forgetting of, the stability of the Standard Atmosphere (which of course my Venus/Earth comparison confirmed). Climate scientists’ faith in radiative transfer theory is blind to the definitive facts, and has caused the failure–FAILURE, SIR–of their science. I am ashamed of all of you, and of what you continue to do, unseeing and undeterred by the strongest admonitions, to the integrity and natural authority of science.

    • Ron Dean says:

      Harry, in case you are not aware of it: In space, no one can hear your screed.

    • Harry,

      I want to tell you this. (For readers, I have never before written or spoken to Harry.) I do not yet know what exactly to make of your conclusions about the Third Planet. Perhaps I just haven’t yet summoned the mental strength (which is probably a lot harder for me than it is for you) to thoroughly understand them.

      But besides that, I cannot find anything else in your comment to disagree with, and I am thankful you wrote it.

      I spent some time the other day at your website. I will spend some more, soon. If I find evidence that you are systematically ignoring something relevant, I’ll just keep it to myself, because it appears you will censor it. If I do not find such evidence, then at some point I will tell you so.

      A piece of advice for you. Even if you are right, there is one thing about your work that I suspect is a real turn-off for a lot of people. I know it is for me. And that is your repeated insistence that your conclusions are certain and unequivocal. The plain fact is, your conclusions are dependent on the supposition that your data are not being messed with. And there is simply no way you can get around that, no matter how many contortions you stretch yourself into. So, in my personal opinion, you need to get off the high horse of certainty on this matter. For what it’s worth.

      RTF

  10. Skeptikal says:

    Dr Spencer,

    In your IR thermometer experiment, you said: “But if you then point the IR thermometer at the inside of the refrigerator (say at 40 deg. F), then the temperature of the refrigerator-viewing side of the thermopile will rise, even though the refrigerator temperature is colder than the handheld thermometer. So, yes, Virginia, cold objects (the refrigerator) can make warmer objects (the thermopile in the IR thermometer) even warmer still!”

    The temperature side of the thermopile will rise because you’ve just prior had it pointing at the freezer which is colder than the refrigerator. I’m sorry to say that you are in error by saying that “cold objects (the refrigerator) can make warmer objects (the thermopile in the IR thermometer) even warmer still!” as the thermopile is NOT a warmer object after being pointed at the freezer.

    • Mike Blackadder says:

      With all du e respect to Dr Spencer it seems to me that saying ‘a colder object can heat a warmer object’ or ‘make a warm object warmer still’ is arguably an incomplete statement. Nobody here would argue against the fact that there will always be a net transfer of heat from the warmer to the cooler object. This is what the second law tells us and this is obvious from experience.

      Dr Spencer says that a cold object can warm a warmer object. I think that a more complete statement might be that a cold object can cause a warm object to become warmer than it would be if the colder object was not present.

      The first important condition for this to be true is that we’re talking about comparing equilibrium tempertures. If we have a warm plate in outer space that is giving off radiation according to SB equation for a blackbody then in order for it to reach an equilibrium temperature it must have some energy source (such as internal energy or incoming energy from the sun,etc), otherwise it’s temperature would just continue to decrease until there is nothing left. So when we talk about a warm plate at some equilibrium temperature radiating heat in space, it is implied that there is some internal chemical reaction or an external source of energy to balance the energy lost.

      The warm plate’s temperature has increased until it is giving off as much energy as it is receiving and then it has a steady temperature.

      If we modify this scenario by placing a colder plate next to the warm plate I argue that the cold plate will increase the equilibrium temperature of the warm plate above what it was before we added the cold plate. The intuitive explanation is that although the 2nd plate is colder than the first and certainly the warm plate will be losing some amount of heat to the colder plate (and not the other way around) it will be losing less heat in the direction of the cold plate than it did before. You can certainly see that this is the case if we were to introduce a plate whose temperature is only slightly less than the first plate.

      Since the only thing we changed was the addition of a colder plate, reducing the rate of loss of radiation of the warm plate, but that the original source for the warm plate’s temperature remains the same it is actually sourcing more heat energy than it is giving off and so it’s temperature must rise. Note that the cold plate does not directly cause the temperature of warm plate to rise, but rather it is the original steady energy source (when generated internally or from external source) that makes this possible. On the other hand it was the addition of the cold plate that resulted in higher temperature of the warm plate so how wrong is it to say that a cold object can make a warm object warmer?

      • yes, the more complete statement you suggest is almost exactly what I have also said by way of clarification.

        You need to understand that my incomplete statement of the issue is to answer those who also used incomplete statements to claim that a cooler object *cannot* raise the temperature of a warmer object.

        • Mike Blackadder says:

          I apologize. I was only trying to clarify that the influence of colder object can cause a warmer object to reach a higher equilibrium temperature, but does not directly warm the warmer object in the normal sense. It’s because there is a continuous source for the warmer object that it’s temperature will rise as a result of reducing the net loss due to radiation. I realize that you are well aware of this and have probably explained it a million times. Sorry if it seems th at I was suggesting otherwise.

          • no problem, Mike. But I think you still might not quite appreciate a main point: reducing the rate of energy loss is no less important to temperature than increasing the rate of energy gain. Both are ALWAYS involved in determining temperature. It’s not like reducing the rate of energy loss is some sort of unusual case.

  11. Noblesse Oblige says:

    You have far more patience than I.

    I have little time to waste getting people off the wall.

  12. PhysicistAUS says:

    Its really not that hard to understand.

    * Fundamentally. accelerating charges emit electromagnetic radiation.
    * Thus, whether at 1K or 1000K, both objects emit radiations which the hotter object emitting more.
    * Technically, an object at 0K would not emit anything classically (lack of accelerating charges since it is stationary). In reality, quantum mechanics tells us that there is always a minimal ground energy.
    * Space or vacuum, devoid of matter, does not emit anything (excluding virtual short-lived particles). The background radiation passes through it.
    * When you use an IR sensor on a object, you are picking up the photon flux from that object which is related to the objects temperature. Any additional flux adds itself to that count even if the object is cold. A freezer emits less photons than a warmer refrigerator for example.

  13. Claes Johnson says:

    Roy: Ok so we then agree that we can forget about backradiation and that only the net transfer of heat energy from hot to cold has physical reality. Congratulations!

    The reason I insist on removing backradiation from climate science, as I have expressed many times in different forms, is that this is the very basis of CO2 alarmism since it gives a picture of gross heat energy transfer between the atmosphere and the Earth surface which is unstable as two-way flow, and as anything which is unstable can, and in this case, does foster alarmism.

    I believe that you must be capable of understanding that incorrect physics can be very dangerous if used to build human society. In the present case the incorrect physics of backradiation is the backbone of CO2 alarmism threatening to send human civilization back to stone age.

    If you oppose CO2 alarmism, there is no rational reason to insist that backradion is real.

    So, can we now agree to not speak about backradiation anymore, and question those who do?

    Best regards and thanks for not pursuing the idea that I am dishonest as scientist,

    Claes

    • Claes, back radiation is real. It is just that it cannot do anything to the surface of the earth. It just gets scattered back with no warming effect.

      Radiation is NOT heat. It can be used to heat only if the object is of a sufficiently low energy state.

      • Claes Johnson says:

        No backradiation is not real because it is supposed to mean transfer of heat energy in the context of climate science, and there is no transfer of heat energy from cold to warm. There is radiation as waves in different directions but the concept of backradiation is unknown in physics. There are reflected waves but not backradiated waves.

        • Claes, you just agreed with what I said! The back radiation is real but it has no warming effect. Yes, I agree that climatologists mention “back radiation” in the sense that it can warm the earth. I’m glad you recognize the radiation is there yet it transfers no energy as heat.

          • CR, this is not a fair statement. When has Claes ever not recognized that “the radiation is there”?

            With due respect, this statement, posted here, can be misinterpreted by those who still have not bothered to research Claes’ work, and then used against him for more attacks.

            If you can show me an example of where he has not recognized this, then fine. Otherwise, I think you should admit that your challenge to him was not warranted.

            Thank you for your prior work in helping me better understand Claes’ concept of heat flow.

            RTF

    • Claes, I’ve discussed this issue with someone I work with, a physicist, and he pointed out there are photonic IR detectors. I see from internet searches that these can operate at room temperature.

      If such photonic detectors can measure IR photons coming from a cold surface, would you consider that as evidence that IR radiation is indeed emitted by a colder object in the direction of a warmer object?

      • No, not al all. The Photonic detector needs a work input- a voltage across the detector for it to work.

        And besides which, photons are NOT heat, not even IR photons.

      • Claes Johnson says:

        Heat can be transferred by electromagnetic waves. There are no IR photons traveling back and forth. Pure fiction.

        • Claes, it makes no difference to the de-bunking of the greenhouse effect theory if radiation, IR or otherwise is called photons, particles, waves , or wave- particles.

          Quantum physics and chemistry confirms that radiation does indeed exist in discrete packages, i.e. packages of waves and this is part of the undoing of the theory. The terminology is not important here. Whether we think of these quanta of radiation as waves or particles does not matter.

          You may be right or not, but that is a different subject.

    • RW says:

      Claes,

      I’m still not quite sure I understand your position in regards to ‘back radiation’. Can you clarify – do you also think that surface emitted radiation absorbed by the atmosphere is NOT re-emitted isotropically (i.e. half of the re-emission going downward)?

      If so, then where is the +150 W/m^2 of incoming power entering the surface boundary coming from? In the steady-state, there is about 240 W/m^2 entering post albedo and 240 W/m^2 leaving at the TOA, yet the surface is receiving 390 W/m^2 to sustain a surface temperature of about 288K.

      I assume you agree that the Sun is the only significant source of energy and incoming power into the system?

      • RW says:

        Claes,

        Basically what I’m asking is if you don’t think any downward emitted radiative power in the atmosphere is possible, then where is the +150 W/m^2 of net non-incident solar power entering the surface boundary coming from?

  14. Roy,

    Your example of the IR thermometer is bogus. As Claes said, heat can NEVER pass from a cold ojbect to a warmer object. The IR thermometer is detecting IR, yes, but could not do so if it were unpowered. The detector requires a work input, i.e. a voltage to be able to detect IR. The thermometer itself is detecting IR which is as a result of temperature, it is not detecting the colder temperature by absorbing heat from a colder object.

    You are making the classic warmist mistake of confusing IR with heat. One may give rise to the other but they are not the same thing. Radiation itself is not heat. In a vacuum, the IR from any object has no temperature itself. It may only raise the temperature of an object cooler than that of it’s origin. This is new science! That is why you and many others are resisting – this represents a massive paradigm shift.

    A better test would be to use a mercury thermometer that works by directly absorbing kinetic heat and not by IR. So, take a mercury thermometer at room temperature and place it in either the fridge or the freezer and the temperature will drop. The colder fridge or freezer will NEVER warm the mercury thermometer that is at 20C, they will always cool it.

    I suspect this corruption of basic physics is due to ulterior motives. In your case, Roy, your work on cloud feedbacks depends on there being a greenhouse effect due to back/downwelling IR. Take this away and much of your research and that of others becomes worthless. Others, such as Monkton have political motives of “compromise” etc for accepting the greenhouse theory.

    Such is the progress of science, embrace it! You are not right on this, just confused and stubborn, albeit with understandable cause (ie. the validity of your own research).

    regards

    Climate Realist

    • Ron Dean says:

      “The IR thermometer is detecting IR, yes, but could not do so if it were unpowered. The detector requires a work input, i.e. a voltage to be able to detect IR.”

      That statement is very wrong. The power is to bias the semiconductor devices to provide a voltage in response to the sensor indicating reception of a radiated signal. It has nothing to do with the sensor’s detection of the IR itself.

      If what you say is true, then you can build a sensor that can always determine the temperature of objects hotter than the sensor itself – without any power. If you wish to invent this device, you can become very wealthy. I think you will find more challenges than you signed up for tho . . .

      • In which case the detector could work unpowered! Which it does not. I suggest that this biasing is the work input that is needed and without it, the detector could not detect colder IR.

  15. Moving heat from a cold object to a warm object is like expecting water to flow uphill against gravity. It will never do so unless you apply a work input, i.e. a pump.

    Such is the basic level of this physics. Or are you about to challenge the direction of gravity?

    regards

    Climate Realist

    • Ron Dean says:

      Climate Realist, your example fails because of the external force (gravity) continuously applied to the medium.

      A much clearer physical experiment would be thus:

      Have a pool of still water. Simultaneously, start a wave at one end of the pool and a smaller wave at the opposite end of the pool.

      What happens when the two waves meet? Well, they constructively and destructively interfere with each other until the waves completely pass each other. However, once they pass, they both waves will reach the opposite ends of the pool with their original energy and form primarily intact.

      Does the fact the smaller, less energetic wave encounters a larger wave keep it from propagating? No, it does not.

      So a cooler object’s IR radiation (which is energy, not heat), will be emitted, pass by any radiation from a warmer object, and strike the warmer object. Are you then going to say that the cooler object’s radiant energy has no effect on the warmer object?

      • Ron Dean says:

        I misstated when I said:

        “So a cooler object’s IR radiation (which is energy, not heat)”.

        Of course, thermal radiation is heat. I meant to say it is not conductive heat.

      • Yes, I am saying exactly that! The cooler object radiation cannot warm the hotter body radiation because the hotter body is already emitting that colder radiation (and hotter as well). The radiation will merely be back- scattered with no warming of the hotter body. The hotter body is already too excited on an atomic and molecular scale to be heated by the radiation from the colder body.

        Oh and there is analogous principle to gravity in my example with heat and that is entropy. Just as gravity always pulls down hill so entropy always increases. A colder body transferring it’s heat to a hotter body would mean that the entropy of the colder body increases. And that is impossible without work input.

        So in the case of water going up hill we need a pump, in the case of an IR thermometer, we need a voltage across the detector.

        The wave example of yours is irrelevant to the question of a warmer body receiving heat from a colder body. But yes, two IR waves of different wavelengths may pass each other with no effect as in the water waves, however, only the radiation from the hotter body will warm the cooler one. NEVER the other way around.

        • Or in the case of cooling a body, a pump and expansion will work, such as in a fridge or freezer. This is work input and there is no such work input in the atmosphere. CO2 merely scatters IR that (mostly) cane from the ground. And this IR is still being emitted from the ground at the same wavenumbers. Therefore any “back scattered” IR is scattered by the ground back up and does not heat the ground.

          For the cooler atmosphere to move its heat back to the warmer ground is like water flowing up hill. Or in this case heat flowing against entropy. This would mean that the entropy of the system decreases which is impossible. See Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy

          Entropy will increase until the universe stops expanding. At which point, who knows what may happen., Perhaps then, water will flow up hill and the GreenHouse effect become real when the big crunch is on its way.

  16. Answer to Roy’s question:

    How could I possibly object to the statement that “something like the “greenhouse effect” does exist”? Are we talking science or not?

    Can I deny that “something like “creation” does exist”?

    If not, am I then a creationist?

  17. Ask why is it so? says:

    Radiation (i.e.Short Wave and Long Wave)is not heat. Radiation is energy i.e. photons that can only travel in straight lines from the source or reflection and temperature does not determine its direction. Heat on the other hand can travel in any direction as long as it is in accordance with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which BTW means heat from the source through expansion always radiates outwards which is to a cooler place. The two are very different forms of energy.

    The question is not whether back radiation exists because I believe it does, the question is can this back radiation have a positive net effect on the daily maximum temperature of the planet?

    The temperature of the planet is determined by Total Solar Radiation and in accordance with the Laws of Thermodynamics once the energy is converted there is always an amount of energy that is unusable i.e. entropy. With each conversion there is always a loss of usable energy. Back radiation is the result of conversion and therefore contains less energy than the initial conversion. In other words the hotter object i.e. TSR will over-ride the cooler object i.e. re-emission and the effect of this on the maximum temperature achieved by the earth per day/day light hours will be 0.

    Two heat sources in a room at 0 degrees, one warms the room to 30 degrees and the other to 10 degrees, what will be the temperature of the room?

    Even though there are two heat sources the temperature will not exceed 30 degrees.

    If I turn off the 10 degrees heat source the room will still warm to 30 degrees.

    It is the speed at which the room warms that alters not the maximum temperature.

  18. Steveta_uk says:

    Claes Johnson says:

    “If you oppose CO2 alarmism, there is no rational reason to insist that backradion is real.”

    Talk about dishonest – that statement is outrageous!

    There are very large numbers of physical scientists who oppose CO2 alarmism, and I would expect that Dr Spenser would count himself among that group.

    But to try and deny the existence of basic radiative physics because you oppose CO2 alarmism is so dishonest it beggers beleif that you could actually write it!

    “Are we talking science or not?” Very clearly you are NOT!

    • What I meant to say was that if you are an alarmist, then you have a reason to talk about backradiation, because it fosters alarmism.

      I also say that if you are a skeptic/non-alarmist, then you have no reason per se to talk about backradiation, because there is no rational physical reason to do so since it is fiction.

      The conclusion is that alarmism and backradiation are glued together: one comes with the other.

      • Claes, I find it difficult to accept that you really believe that.

        Virtually all scientists who work in the pertinent fields believe that objects of any temperature emit IR radiation according to emissivity*sigma*T^4, no matter what the temperature of their surroundings.

        You instead believe that objects only emit if they are warmer than their surroundings, and that other scientists are somehow irrational in their beliefs.

        There are other reasons to not be an alarmist which do not require one to abandon what has been basic radiation physics.

        And again I point out that your alternative explanation does not remove the fact that the atmosphere reduces the rate of IR cooling of the surface, which you have agreed is true. Thus, since temperature is a function of energy gain and energy loss, reducing energy loss increases temperature. As far as I can tell, your theory does not change this fact, and so does not disagree with greenhouse gas theory in the final (temperature) result.

        • Claes Johnson says:

          Roy, I ask you about reference to the concept of backradiation in physics literature. What is it?

          You speak about “radiation emitted” by a radiating body as if this is the same thing as heat energy
          absorbed by some other body. But it is not: The real issue is if the Earth absorbs heat energy originating from the atmosphere. Does it? If yes, what about the 2nd law?

          You indicate that you can as well give up backradiation, since after all only net counts, right?
          Why do you then continue insisting that there is massive backradiation?

          Judy gave up backradiatiion after a similar discussion.

        • Mario Lento says:

          Dr. Spencer: I have learned more from listening to your extremely patient responses to intelligent people who are angry and perhaps blinded with an agenda. I continue to be humbled by your honest and open style of explaining science like a true scientist should. I think what you are saying makes perfect sense and follows pristine logic. I am thankful this world has people like you available to us!

          By the way, as I am sure you know, the energy used to power sensors can be calculated and removed from the thermodynamics in play. This is part of what we call calibration –and is or should be considered with all electronic temperature sensor devices that measure very tiny effects. Typically, they require very small current to power so that the heating is significantly less than the temperatures being measured. But we still can accurately measure the current flowing through the sensor and correct for these measurements.

          Claes: I understand your frustration with the AGW warmers. You and I know that most of them know they are for the most part deceiving. But this does not make your statement correct – that warmers are mis-using back radiation to prove a CO2 caused tipping point. Perhaps other things make you right, but I have not spent the time to read more on your theories.

          • Mario Lento says:

            I should clarify. When I wrote:
            “But this does not make your statement correct – that warmers are mis-using back radiation to prove a CO2 caused tipping point” I meant the fact that warmers are mis-using back radiation to prove a CO2 caused tipping point, does not prove there is no back radiation. Or said another way, whether there is back radiation or not or whether there is a greenhouse effect (I believe there is) of not, does not mean that the warmists are modeling the greenhouse’s effect correctly. Based on Dr. Spencers and Lindzen’s work, it has been shown to have gaping flaws.

  19. Steveta_uk says:

    Climate Realist, comparing back-radiation to water flowing uphill shows an almost perfect example of your misunderstanding.

    Of course water flows down hill. But is every single individual water molecule in a river flowing down hill?

    No, at any instant there is an almost insignificantly trivial surplus of molecules moving downhill compared to any other direction. But given the stagerringly large numbers of molecules involved, the bulk movement is very clearly down hill.

    This is identical to the back radiation situation. At any given instant the “bulk” heat flow is (normally) from the hotter surface to the cooler atmosphere. But the total number of photons being exchanged IN EVERY DIRECTION is staggeringly larger that the net flux from hotter to cooler.

    So if the atmosphere wwas not present with that back radiative flow, the surface would be losing heat much faster.

    Simples.

    • Steventa, your post shows your mis-understanding! You are again confusing heat with radiation. Radiation, not even IR has a temperature or is heat in itself. It is merely radiation. It can only generate heat when it interacts with a body. And that body has to be of a low enough energy state to be excited by that radiation.

      Radiation has to be turned into heat by the excitation of electron orbitals. If a photon has insufficient energy to excite an electron orbital then nothing will happen heat wise. The body receiving that radiation will merely back scatter it. Electron orbitals (bonds etc) move up and down in energy all the time, this is why all bodies above 0K emitt some radiation.

      However, the atoms and molecules of the earths surface are already excited enough to be emitting IR of wavenumbers that IRIG’s (infra red interacting gasses- I REFUSE to call them greenhouse gasses) can interact with and scatter this radiation in all directions.

      That downwelling component is not new energy, it came from the hot earth and has insufficient energy to heat the earth further as all the IRIG IR states are excited already. So the downwelling radiation is back scattered back up into the atmosphere with no warming of the ground.

      • Pierre-Normand says:

        What you are saying isn’t much different from what Roy Spencer has been saying, Climate Realist. Suppose there is a rock sitting on the floor in the middle of an enclosed room where everything has a 25°C centigrade temperature, including the walls, the air, the other objects, and the rock. Everything radiates towards everything. But as you correctly say, the radiations coming from the walls and other objects are powerless to heat the rock at a higher temperature than 25°C. You are concluding that the radiation (which you claim is merely ‘back scattered’ by the rock) can have no effect on the rock. This is a non sequitur.

        This radiation prevents the rock from cooling down as a result of emitting radiation itself. If you were to remove the walls and ceiling of the room, and the other objects, in order to expose it to cold outer space, the rock would cool down. So the radiation from the other objects at the same temperature had the effect to prevent the rock from cooling down. This is the only kind of effect from downwelling radiation that Roy Spencer is claiming. You are persisting in misunderstanding him (and other scientists) to be meaning something more than that.

  20. Rich says:

    I’ve found this helpful:

    Imagine a surface under 100 Watts/sq m of incoming radiation. At equilibrium there will be 100 Watts/sq m of outgoing radiation.

    Now imagine that we interpose a one-way, half-silvered mirror between the surface and the incoming radiation.

    At equilibrium 100 Watts/sq m of radiation reach the mirror and pass through unimpeded – it’s one-way – so the same 100 W/sq m must be leaving the outside of the mirror. But this is only 50% of the energy reaching the mirror from inside so 100 W/sq m must be reflected back.

    So 200 W/sq m must be leaving the surface, 100 from outside unimpeded and 100 reflected by the mirror. It all adds up.

    This is all posible because the surface gets hotter – must get hotter – until equilibrium is reached.

  21. ClimateOptimist says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    I am so happy that you are spending the energy to debate these basic issues. Too often when I read your site and others like it, the discussion gets hijacked by people making nonsensical claims thinly wrapped in scientific lingo. Your silence is then interpreted as implicit agreement. Even if the IPCC predictions are wrong, not every theory which disagrees with the consensus view of atmospheric physics is correct. How could they be when many arguments are mutually contradictory? Unfortunately for us all, there are way too many self proclaimed experts peddling nonsense on the web and not enough people with your street cred to tell them they are wrong.

    If I understand your position, you are saying that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will affect the energy balance of the full system, but how much and in what form those changes will manifest themselves in the lower atmosphere *should* be considered an open question because of uncertainties in sensitivity (or “feedbacks”). Is that fair?

  22. jonthetechnologist says:

    Another great class with some of the sharpest students and
    greatest professors ever. If only we could get some of
    the ignorant(not necessarilly stupid)to attend. If we could get some of these discussions published in something
    like the WSJ etc..

    • John, to cut through all the confusion the way to approach this is on the sub atomic quantum level. Think about what actually happens when a photon of radiation strikes the electron orbital of an atom or molecule. Sometime nothing happens if the photon has too low an energy (lower wavenumber). Think about energy states and quantum levels of excitation and it becomes clear why heat can never pass from a cold object to a hot object (and also why the vacuum of space has no temperature).

      and it becomes clear why the greenhouse effect is impossible!

      • Pierre-Normand says:

        Cimate Realist, you can think of the temperature of outer space (far away from the sun and other warm bodies) as the temperature a small rock would equilibrate to as a result or its being bathed in the background cosmic radiation.

  23. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    WRT the question of showing that back radiation is “real”:

    The factor which proves back radiation is real is causality. The emitting molecule (eg CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, but could be most anything) has no “knowledge” of where that emitted photon will be absorbed, which is to say, it does not know the identity or temperature of the target. That ultimate ‘target’ might be (for example) a molecule in a planet circling a distant star a million (or billion!) years in the future. A planet which may not even have existed at the time the photon was emitted.

    To believe that emission of photons is controlled by the target, you must also believe that detailed information about the future existence, location, and temperature of the target molecule is ‘known’ by whatever emits the photon. Then you must propose a means by which detailed information about the future is transmitted to the here and now.

    Preserving a logical view of causality demands that photon emission take place independent of the target or its temperature. Emission of a thermal photon is a statistically random process. It happens independent of where the emitted photon will go, and the emitted photons go in all possible directions…. even when that is toward a warmer target. The net energy flux is (of course) always from warmer to colder. That net flux does not exclude the possibility of continuous photon flux in both directions.

    Macroscopic properties (like net heat flow) are always the result of the net of what happens on the very small (molecular/atomic) scale, and to our senses appear completely irreversible. But that is due to the statistics of large ensembles. On the very small scale, irreversibility in most processes disappears. Macroscopic observations (like thermodynamics) represent only statistical averages, they do not accurately describe what happens at very small scale.

    • Claes Johnson says:

      Again: there are no IR-photons busy carrying heat energy back and forth between two bodies of equal or different temperature. Two radiating bodies communicate by electromagnetics waves which allow heat transfer from warm to cold, but not the other way because that would be an unstable process violating the 2nd law. Einstein understood very well that IR photons represent pseudo-science but few physicists are willing to listen to Einsteinn, unless it is something about curved space-time which nobody understands anything about.

      • OK, then if the IR photonic detector measures one intensity of “EM waves” from an object colder than itself, and a different intensity from the object when at a different temperature, would that be evidence that colder objects emit IR radiation toward warmer objects?

        If not, why not?

        • Claes Johnson says:

          Roy: two radiating bodies communicate or stay in contact through electromagnetic waves, like two people speaking on the phone. But it is always the wiser/warmer who transfers knowledge/heat to the colder/dumber, never the other way around. Is this so very difficult to understand?. The term radiation is used with two meanings, as means of communication and as transfer of heat energy, and makes the discussion so difficult. Once this is understood the situation becomes clear, right?

          • are you telling me that the wiser person does not hear the dumber person? That his overpowering intellect prevents the sound from arriving at his eardrum?

          • To Roy (regarding comment at February 23, 2012 5:23 AM)

            Roy, is it not completely obvious to you by now that he is saying that in his metaphor, the information reaches but does not penetrate? Surely you can see that.

            The analog in reality is that, in Claes’ model, the heat from the cooler particle reaches the warmer target particle, along with the relevant information in the same wave. The properties of the heat are the information that we are interested in. This information contacts the comparable information in the target particle, and at that point, the determination is made based on certain rules and on the information (i.e. the variables) whether or not the heat will be absorbed or transmitted. Then, the heat is either absorbed or transmitted.

            Subsequently, the particle’s precise level and type of emission back in the other direction is affected by the question of what happened before (i.e., absorption or transmission, and if absorption, absorption of exactly what).

            Is it really so hard to understand? You have a two-way information exchange, but it is not instantaneous. The results, at the two particles, over time, represent an average. Thus, over a period of time, there can be gross flux in both directions during the same period. But, for a given point in time, a model can be devised (and Claes has devised one) that can approximate reality very well while requiring all modeled flux to be only one-way. This of course only works perfectly if you assume zero distance between the two particles. So it is an idealized concept, just like a blackbody is. But I think it is a lot more accurate than the concept you are defending.

            Your concept seems not to allow for any change in transmissivity based on conditions at a given time with respect to two particles and the emission from each one that is in contact with the other.

            In so doing, your concept essentially causes double-counting of given heat quantities, which, if such double-counting were permitted throughout the entire system, would require a continuous increase in temperature throughout the system, without even any additional solar or cosmic input into the system. But therein lies the catch or the gimmick: the double-counting is apparently not allowed to take place throughout the whole system. Apparently, it is only allowed in a small part of it. Therefore, the amount of extra heat that is “created” improperly is small enough for the model to “handle” without the violation being blatantly obvious to everyone.

            It is now time for all readers to wake up and shake off this delusion. The stark reality is that there apparently are different thermodynamic rules being applied in different parts of existing climate models. That is the essential problem that Claes is trying to expose and resolve with his model that uses finite precision computation.

            The only information one needs to reach Claes’ conclusion about existing models is that the existing text description of the models is internally inconsistent. We don’t need data to reach this conclusion, and we don’t need mathematics. That’s how basic the error is that I am describing. That’s how bad it apparently is!

            I sincerely hope that you and others can see Claes’ point more clearly now than you could before you read this comment of mine.

            RTF

        • Roy, the “intensity” is only the quantity of waves/photons, the wavenumber is what is important here and is the true measure of the energy of the radiation. This is what is important on the electron orbital scale where radiation is actually turned into heat in the atomic/ molecular sense.

    • I largely agree with Steve’s description of what happens as what I *believe* happens, but I still cannot yet disprove Claes’ alternative explanation.

      • Claes Johnson says:

        Roy, the wiser person hears what the dumber is saying but learns nothing from it. Do you recognize this situation?

    • Claes Johnson says:

      Read my books on blackbody radiation, thermodynamics and quantum mechanics and you will get a different picture.

  24. Steveta_uk says:

    Steve Fitzpatrick, I can easily disprove everything you write but simply denying the existence of photons, and quantum mechanics, and most of 20th and 21st century physics, and semiconductors, and computers, and lasers, and come to think of it, since at this point I don’t beleive in the internet any more, I can’t be sending this.

    Matrix, anyone?

  25. Ansgar John says:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/379068main_Temperature_of_Space.pdf

    “Although the vacuum of space has no temperature, objects traveling through space do.”

    Is that incorrect?

  26. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    Steveta_uk,

    Indeed. I remain astounded that people seriously have doubt about something that was clearly described more than 100 years ago. Yes, photons (and everything else!) display the ‘duality’ of being both “waves” and “particles”. But ignoring all of quantum mechanics to satisfy a peculiar wave-only view of electromagnetic waves/photons makes it hard to explain the routine technological uses of quantum mechanics. Weird, just weird.

    • Claes Johnson says:

      There are no IR photons. IR radiation is a collective phenomenon of many atoms interacting on wavelengths much much lager than atomic scales. It is strange that this is not understood by physicists of today, when it was so well understood already by Planck.

      • John says:

        Actually, wasn’t Planck the first one to suggest that light/electromagnetic energy did not solely follow the classic wave mechanics previously offered by Young, Maxwell and others. In fact, Planck originated the idea of packets of energy to explain the light/electromagnetic phenomenon. Max Planck postulated that electromagnetic energy did not follow the classical description, but could only be emitted in discrete packets of energy proportional to the frequency, as given by Planck’s law. The packets of energy would later be called photons. Planck is considered by many one of the founders of quantum mechanics. If you have a different understanding please let me know.

        • Excerpts from The Desperation of Planck: The Birth of Modern Physics by Claes Johnson

          claesjohnsonmathscience.wordpress.com/article/the-desperation-of-planck-yvfu3xg7d7wt-79/

          ——–

          Max Planck: The whole procedure was an act of despair because a theoretical interpretation [. . .] had to be found at any price, no matter how high that might be…I was ready to sacrifice any of my previous convictions about physics..For this reason, on the very first day when I formulated this law, I began to devote myself to the task of investing it with true physical meaning.

          [. . .]

          The work of delivery of modern physics started in the evening of Sunday October 7 1900, when the 36 years old new director of the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt PTR in Berlin, Max Planck “in an act of despair” modified Wien’s displacement law for blackbody radiation to fit with new experimental data for long wavelengths/low frequencies and high temperatures. Planck was desperate because the newly formed German Empire of Prussia demanded results in order to challenge the scientific power of Britain and the US.

          [. . .]

          To come up with a theoretical motivation of his formula Planck had to [sacrifice] his most basic convictions of physics and resort to the probability arguments introduced by Boltzmann in gas kinetics [. . .], and chop energy into discrete chunks of “quanta”. High frequency light would then “as the most essential point of the whole calculation” require assembly of a larger number [of] quanta, which would be more difficult or less probable and thus would explain the exponential cut-off of high frequencies in the formula. But Planck regarded the introduction of the quantum, a smallest packet of energy, as “a purely formal assumption” to which he “really did not give too much thought”.

          [. . .]

          The idea of a smallest quantum of energy thus had been introduced, as an emergency exit, which dates the birth of modern physics to 5 pm December 14 1900, but nobody could at that time see that this was anything but a mathematical trick without physical significance, including the midwife Planck, until the unknown patent clerk Einstein entered the scene in 1905, [. . .] by chopping light into discrete particles later named “photons”. This made Planck promote Einstein, who responded by promoting Planck although Einstein never believed in any quanta of light, as he admitted shortly before his death in 1954:

          * All these fifty years of conscious brooding have brought me no nearer to the answer to the question, ‘What are light quanta?’ Nowadays every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks he knows it, but he is mistaken.

          [. . .]

          In the knol Blackbody Radiation a different route to Planck’s formula is presented, based on determinstic finite precision computation without quanta instead of probability of quanta. It is up to the reader to decide if this approach opens a new beginning…In any case, despair and desperation may not be the best state of mind for scientific work…

          ——–

          • John says:

            To Richard,

            Thanks for the information. When I wrote my post I had not read Claes’s website and writings, just his post. I did not have a clear idea where he was coming from. Now I have a better idea. Personally, I don’t believe in photons either.

          • Richard T. Fowler says:

            John, you’re welcome! Thank’s for sharing your thoughts.

            RTF

      • John says:

        Just a correction to my first reply, Planck wasn’t the first to suggest that light/electromagnetism was not simply a wave phenomenon, after all Isaac Newton did not hold that belief, but Planck was the first modern scientist to offer a significant challenge to it.

  27. Olavi says:

    Has atmosphere some temperature? Yes, so it radiates from the amout of heat it caontains? Yes, Object cools down relatively of what is temperature in surroundig enviroment. Heat in atmosphere won’t ask the molekyle’s name. To heat it’s exactly the same where it lives. If atmospheres mass wont increase or decrease it does not matter what gas there is. CO2 goes to convektion as well as water wapour, oxygen, nitrogen and others. Air is wery good isolation if we stop it’s movement, but in atmosphere we can’t do so. Radiation is always relative to mass of the object. If we don’t increase temperature of the object or add more mass to it the radiation stays the same. Only taking more power from heat source (sun)and increase temperature of atmosphere it can radiate more. Sensitivity to greenhouse gasses is zero.

  28. Leonard Weinstein says:

    Roy,
    I have posted twice and neither shows up. Is it me or you?

  29. Leonard Weinstein says:

    Claes,
    Your claim that there are no IR Photons has put into question anything you have said as having any creditability. All EM energy has both particle (photon) and wave properties. The fact that wavelength is large is no reason to drop the particle feature. IR radiation is EM energy, not something that requires atoms or molecule interacting to exist. The absorption of the energy by matter converts the EM energy into some other form of energy (mainly molecular vibration for thermal wavelengths on Earth). The IR radiation does interact with the molecules, even in space, where molecular separation is so large that multiple molecules are not involved in the interaction. Do you consider visible light not to be composed of photons? Keep in mind that green light has a wavelength of 0.5 microns, which is already much larger than a molecule. Even UV at 0.3 microns is much larger than molecules. What wavelength do you consider photons to exist?

    • Claes Johnson says:

      The later Einstein considered the idea of photons as light particles to be an unfortunate mistake.
      I agree and do not see that wave theory is not enough. Wave-particle duality is just a cover-up of a contradiction. There is no reason to introduce phonons as sound particles, because sound is well described as waves. The same holds for photons as light particles.

  30. Stephen Richards says:

    Ok let me try.

    All bodies above 0K emit waves/particules.

    The emission energy hµ(nµ) will be dictated by the material and it’s energy state at the moment of emission.

    If wave /particule of hµ1 approaches a body at hµ2 it may or may not interact.

    A wave/particule hµ smaller (‘colder’)than the body it approaches has a much reduced probability of being absorped.
    The probability of absorption decreases rapidly as the emmitting body approaches 0K

    A wave/particule of energy hµ greater (‘warmer) than the body it approaches has a greater chance of being absorped.

    100% cannot possibly be absorped.

    So does a colder body provide energy to a warmer body. Yes it can but ‘probably’ very little. Does back radiation exist as postulated by the global warmers. No it can’t. Can you measure radiative energy in the atmosphere, of course you can. Can it heat the oceans. Over millions of years maybe.

    All IR ‘guns’ measure within a very limited band of IR and not always the band that we feel as sensitive heat. We all tend to forget that we do not feel all IR and thermometers measure kinetic energy.
    Some IR guns, the most most most expensive ones, can measure wider bands of IR but all rely on a power source to ignite the receiving semiconducting juction.

    Here endeth my rambling thoughts.

  31. Stephen Richards says:

    Dr Roy

    I trust the familly is doig well.

  32. Mark Pomeroy says:

    “Heat can be transferred by electromagnetic waves. There are no IR photons traveling back and forth. Pure fiction”

    I consider the above sufficient evidence that Claes is a child, a troll, or both. I fell for it again!

  33. Come on Roy Spencer Ph..D cold objects have always been used to cool warm things down.
    But, have you ever noticed how the CAGW crowd always indoctrinate beliefs that are directly opposite to facts? – The biggest and bravest one: “As the Oceans warm they expel more CO2 – But, when the Oceans cool they absorb more CO2!”

    What a lot of rubbish!

    CO2 is a water repellant, it will never volunteer to mix with water, never mind what the temperature is.

    CO2 must be pressurized into water-bottles to make ”The Fizz” You cannot entice CO2 into water just by altering/reducing the water temps.

    Now for the biggest lie of them all, – slow down Sir – and think! -The temperature that is radiated away from the Earth’s surface is said to be re-radiated back to the surface and thus causing a temperature rise at the surface.

    Please explain how that is possible!

  34. Mike Blackadder says:

    Claes, what’s your theory on how IR radiation moves through space? If Radiation doesn’t carry energy (only information as you suggest) then how does the warmer object manage to heat the cooler object. What is the mechanism?

  35. Ron Dean says:

    So I’ve been considering Climate Realist’s position on IR radiation from a cooler body being unable to add heat to a warmer body, and I think he is wrong. Here is the money quote from Climate Realist’s comment:

    “The radiation will merely be back- scattered with no warming of the hotter body. The hotter body is already too excited on an atomic and molecular scale to be heated by the radiation from the colder body.”

    Let’s examine two bodies, one warmer body and one cooler body. The temperature of these bodies will be determined by the average quantum energy level of all the atoms which comprise the bodies. Climate Realist admits that both of these bodies will radiate IR, but claims the IR from the cooler body will have no effect on the warmer body.

    For the sake of simplicity, I am going to refer to an atom at a higher-energy quantized state as “energized” and an atom at a lower energy quantized state as “non-energized”.

    Let’s look at three atoms from each body. In the warmer body, two of the atoms are energized, and one is non-energized. In the cooler body, one of the atoms is energized, and two are non-energized. Thus the warmer body has twice the heat energy of the cooler body.

    If an atom from the warmer body changes from an energized state to a non-energized state, the body will cool, and IR will be radiated. If that radiation strikes a non-energized atom in the cooler body, the atom will enter an energized state, and the cooler body will warm.

    Now if the energized atom in the cooler body changes from an energized state to a non-energized state, it too will emit IR radiation. If that IR radiation strikes an energized atom in the warmer body, then as Climate Realist says, there will be no affect, and the radiation will “back-scatter”. However, if that IR radiation strikes the non-energized atom in the warmer body, that atom will energize, and the warm body will grow warmer still.

    Note that statistically, the warmer body is much more likely to induce warming in the cooler body, than the cooler body to the warmer. This is because there are more atoms that are energized in the warmer body, and there are more non-energized targets in the cooler body.

    This explanation preserves all laws of thermodynamics. The over all warmer body always warms the cooler body, and the “warmer” atom always “warms” the “cooler” atom. At the atomic level, the energized atom can only change the energy level of a non-energized atom. It does not matter if that atom is included in a body that is cooler or warmer over all.

    In fact, it is a violation of the laws of thermodynamics to say that just because an energized atom is contained in an otherwise cooler body, it cannot excite a non-energized atom that is contained in an otherwise warmer body.

  36. Feynman once made the observation that it’s not hard for a critic of a scientific theory to raise complaints about things “not making sense”. The hard part is to find something to replace the current theory, that can also account for all the same observations and do so in an equivalent or more elegant way.

    • You state this, and yet when it is Claes Johnson who has done what you say is expected, you don’t seem inclined to offer any response to that. Or, perhaps you just haven’t read any of his work?

      See last paragraph of this comment:

      drroyspencer.com/2012/02/yes-virginia-the-vacuum-of-space-does-have-a-temperature/#comment-35610

      RTF

  37. PhysicistAUS says:

    There is a lot of misunderstanding of the fundamentals here.

    1) Heat is the movement or transfer of energy in or out of a system. It can by via process like conduction, convection or RADIATION. Radiation clearly moves heat around (remember a photon of light has energy proportional to its frequency). Just step outside on a sunny day with a black t-shirt on.

    2) Heat CAN flow from cold to hot objects. This is obvious because ALL objects emit photons if they have a temperature. Thus, a cold object is bombarding the warm object with photons and vice verse. If the only form of heat transfer is electromagnetic, then via the Stefan–Boltzmann law, the hot object is just emitted far more photons than the cold objects and the NET heat transfer is from HOT to COLD as expect via classical thermodynamics for large ensembles of atoms.

    3) The flow of heat from cold to hot can be seen with a simple experiment. A radiation source (HOT OBJECT..could be a bar heater) and an absorber (COLD OBJECT). The temperature of the radiation source is HIGHER with the cold absorber in front of it than if it were not there. This is simply because of the incoming photons from the absorber (back scattering).

    Just one more statement that is inaccurate.

    ““The radiation will merely be back- scattered with no warming of the hotter body. The hotter body is already too excited on an atomic and molecular scale to be heated by the radiation from the colder body.””

    That is not true. At the molecular level if you have a single atoms, you have discrete energy levels. However, for real materials containing huge numbers of atoms, the energy levels split a huge number of times and become energy BANDS (you can see this from perturbation theory). The BANDS can absorb the usual non discrete classical range of radiation. Low energy photons can and are absorbed as phonons or as lattice vibrations.

    Even without understanding electronic band structure of materials, one can ask WHERE would the photons go from a cold object if placed in front of a spatially massive warm object. The low energy photons coming of Helios spacecraft towards the sun…..do they just pass straight through the sun? Or do they deposit their energy into the sun? Obviously, those photons end up absorbed in the sun along with their energy.

    One need not look further than a IR bar heater with reflective panels to understand that back scattering can increasing the temperature of a hotter object.

    • “[D]o they just pass straight through the sun? Or do they deposit their energy into the sun? Obviously, those photons end up absorbed in the sun along with their energy”

      Why cannot the “photons” (or whatever phenomena represent the same radiant energy) be reflected, or scattered in a direction away from the Sun, without being absorbed?

      “One need not look further than a IR bar heater with reflective panels to understand that back scattering can increase the temperature of a hotter object.”

      I thought you just finished implying that energy cannot be back-scattered, rather must be absorbed, regardless of temperature.

      “That is not true. At the molecular level if you have a single atoms, you have discrete energy levels. However, for real materials containing huge numbers of atoms, the energy levels split a huge number of times and become energy BANDS (you can see this from perturbation theory). The BANDS can absorb the usual non discrete classical range of radiation.”

      Interesting. How exactly can a “band” absorb anything? I thought absorption was determined at the subatomic particle level.

      Moreover, can this concept work if one of the two “real materials” is an atmosphere? And how about if the other is an ocean?

      RTF

  38. Steve Fitrzptrick says:

    Claes Johnson,

    “It is strange that this is not understood by physicists of today, when it was so well understood already by Planck.”

    It is entirely understood, as is the duality of photons as ‘particles’ and ‘waves’. Heck, I learned about this duality 40+ years ago in my sophomore year in college. You have yet to address the issue of causality which I raised above. I assume this means that you can’t.

    As I said in the last thread, I have never seen a single person who claims “back-radiation is impossible” break out of their delusions and think rationally about this subject. I don’t expect I will see that happen any time soon, and based on your comments, that is a virtual certainty. What a terrible waste of people’s time.

    If you want to discredit by association those who offer reasoned analyses for why climate sensitivity is likely much lower than what the IPCC says it is, then you can do no better than continuing to rage endlessly about nonsense like “backradiation is impossible”. Such rubbish is discounted by anybody with half an once of sense. Please stop this.

  39. Tilo Reber says:

    I had looked into this some time ago and found that empty space was, in fact, suppose to have a temperature of 3K. But I’m still a bit confused. I think of temperature as being the kinetic energy that is carried by matter. If there is no matter, then what would carry the kinetic energy. If there is no matter, then what is releasing the radiation? It seems to me that if deep space has a temperature of 3K, then there must be some small amount of matter (probably some hydrogen atoms), even in deep space.

    But, if there is matter or not, or if the temperature is 0K or not, it seems to me that space is a medium that always has some level of radiative energy passing through it. Even radiative energy from distant stars in distant galaxies will eventually strike the earth. When it does, it has the opportunity to be converted to kinetic energy, and therefore temperature, in the earth’s atmosphere, the earth’s surface, or the earth’s oceans. So I have no problem understanding that the earth would cool faster if there was no radiation striking the earth from any of the radiative energy sources that populate the universe.

    Okay, someone disillusion me.

  40. Milton Hathaway says:

    Claes, I think you would have been excellent company about a hundred years ago:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Photon&section=5#Early_objections

    I have to thank you, though, since your persistence has prompted me to find some interesting stuff on the Internet. For example, check out this IR thermometer component:

    http://www.melexis.com/Asset/IR-sensor-thermometer-MLX90614-Datasheet-DownloadLink-5152.aspx

  41. Christopher Game says:

    As for waves versus particles.

    The Hamiltonian description of mechanics allows a so-called optico-mechanical analogy. It means that anything that can be described by Hamiltonian mechanics, and that includes quantum phenomena, can be fully and adequately described by a purely particle model, and just as well fully and adequately described by a purely wave model. Contrary to some opinions, it is not the case that for their understanding, some phenomena need a wave description and others a particle description: no; for its understanding, every phenomenon has an adequate description in terms of waves only, and one in terms of particles only. Whether one uses a particle model or a wave model does not provide real information about whether the objects of description are “really” waves or particles. The real distinction between waves and particles is not made simply on which description seems most comfortable; it is in some degree simply arbitrary.

    As for “heating” things.

    By saying that A heats B, one can in ordinary language mean several different things: (1) a net quantity of heat is transferred from A to B; (2) a process that transfers some moiety of matter or energy either way between A and B also shows a temperature rise of B; (3) a one-way moiety of energy is transferred from A to B as heat, without prejudice as to the net transfer of energy as as work or as heat or with matter from A to B and without prejudice as to the change of temperature of B. Such use of ordinary language, just saying that A heats B, is a playground for the near-endless generation of futile muddles.

  42. PhysicistAUS says:

    “I had looked into this some time ago and found that empty space was, in fact, suppose to have a temperature of 3K. But I’m still a bit confused. I think of temperature as being the kinetic energy that is carried by matter. If there is no matter, then what would carry the kinetic energy.”

    You are right to be confused a little.

    Temperature is related to kinetic energy as you say. So how can space be 3K?

    Well, what they do is use the famous Planck’s black body radiation law and see what temperature matter would have to be, to produce the observed cosmic background radiation (CBR). So essentially, they assume space is a perfect blackbody radiator (which is a good assumption) and then deduce the ‘temperature’ by looking at the frequency spectrum of the CBR.

  43. Christopher Game says:

    The source of the cosmic microwave background is not known with certainty. It gives rise to bold and even doctrinaire speculations that are treated as if they were well-founded but are still just speculations. One oft-believed story is that it originated in the remote past of the universe and has been travelling to us since then.

    The cosmic microwave background does however nearly enough obey Planck’s law, so that outer space and its contents seem to have a radiative “temperature” in accord with Planck’s law. Apart from the faint starlight, and the moonlight, the night sky looks black, not only at visible wavelengths, but also at most other wavelengths. It makes sense to say that the night sky, when observed from above the atmosphere, is very cold indeed. The atmosphere itself is not nearly so cold, and is the source of the thermal radiation that one can measure at night by pointing an infrared thermometer upwards. A radiative thermometer tuned to look through the atmospheric infrared window, looking at a cloudless sky, sees a colder temperature than does one tuned to look at the other parts of the infrared spectrum, or one looking at a cloudy sky.

    I agree with PhysicistAUS that the “temperature” of the cosmic microwave background is derived by use of Planck’s law. I do not agree with his proposal that it is a “good assumption” that “space is a perfect blackbody radiator”; I think this proposal is presumptuous. I would say that we don’t know for sure what is the radiator that generate(s)(d) the cosmic microwave background, and that there is not too much merit making bold assumptions about it.

  44. Claes Johnson says:

    Backradiation is not described in physics literature, which explains why physicists do not take part in the debate of this phenomenon. It is not even described on Wikipedia. It has been freely invented by climate scientists to serve CO2 alarm, because it indicates instability and sensitivity of global climate.

    I ask those who still believe that backradiation belongs to physics to dig out the original reference in physics liiterarure documenting this phenomenon.

    Radiative heat transfer is a collective resonance phenomenon and not a triviality of packets of energy moving back and forth.

    • Claes, you know very well that “back radiation” is simply an alternative term climate researchers have for downwelling IR radiation from the sky, which in turn is just something with mass emitting IR energy. That IS in physics textbooks.

      And why are you now relying on physics textbooks to support your case, when you clearly don’t believe what they teach about all objects emitting IR according to emissivity*sigma*T^4?

      • Claes Johnson says:

        No downwelling radiation is not presented in physics books, only in climate science books.

        Of course I refer to books, since science without books is shallow.

        I ask Roy to give me the original scientific source for backradiation or downwelling radiation.
        Which is it? I am serious.

        Claes

        • Pierre-Normand says:

          Google SKYRAD and “Sky Radiometers on Stand for Downwelling Radiation”. What is it this instrument measures in your opinion?

          • An radio antenna is calibrated to resonate at certain frequencies, and can thus can record the spectrum of the emission from an emitter. The resonance of the antenna is then not perceived as heat because the radiowave resonance is low freq and heat is high freq.

            In particular it does not follow from the spectrum that heat energy is transferred from the emitter to a body as if the body had a temperature of 0 K. The instrument records a spectrum (which can be translated to temperature), but it does not record heat energy absorbed by another body, which by the way is non-existent if the emitter has lower temp than the body and thus leaves nothing to record.

  45. don penman says:

    Does absolute space exist? How would we measure it?The present understanding of space is a confusing mixture of relativity and distorted absolute space.Relativity becomes easier to understand for me if absolute space does not exist.radiation is somehow related to space as space(absolute) expands wavelength of light get stretched.

  46. Pierre-Normand says:

    Nice example Steveta. Indeed, the average speed of water molecules at 25 degrees C is 640m/s. So, the bulk water flow in a river, a couple meters per second, say, will have a relatively small effect on the fractional amount of molecules (nearly half) that are moving against the flow.

  47. Christopher Game says:

    Dr Spencer writes above in the fourth paragraph of his post: “Space emits radiation like a blackbody whose temperature is 2.7 K.”

    I suppose that by “Space” he here means outer space including its history and contents, stars, galaxies, dust, gases, cosmic rays, cosmological historical contents, and other things.

    He heads his post “… the “Vacuum” of Space …”. I don’t suppose that by this he intends to refer to some theoretical truly pure vacuum. I suppose he intends to refer to outer space with its actual history and contents. There is room for muddle here, with his “ ” marks seeming to allow that some kind of language equivocation is going on.

  48. Christopher Game says:

    Responding to the post of Claes Johnson of February 23, 2012 at 1:07 AM.

    Claes Johnson writes: “Radiative heat transfer is a collective resonance phenomenon and not a triviality of packets of energy moving back and forth.”

    In this, Claes Johnson seems to have a private theory of radiative heat transfer not found in the usual physics textbooks of radiative heat transfer such as Planck 1914 or Chandrasekhar 1950 or Mihalas & Mihalas 1984 or Goody & Yung second edition 1989 or Liou second edition 2002, or indeed any physics textbook that I have encountered.

    The term backradiation is not a standard term of physics. It is a commonly used term of climate change theory. AGW climate change theory overall is rubbish, but that doesn’t make every fragment and moiety of it rubbish. That is the point: item by item the AGW story seems right enough, but when all the items are hitched together the hitching is done so as to produce overall nonsense.

    Linguistically, the term backradiation is a loose one, but when reasonably interpreted, it does refer to something real. Claes Johnson is hung up on this term, and wants to attach some special meaning to it so as to make it seem to be entirely nonsense. It is not entirely nonsense, just loose and easily misinterpretable language usage. Claes Johnson wants to insist, in effect though not in his own words, that because he can misinterpret it, the idea that it refers to is nonsense. I think that in so insisting, he is not advancing understanding.

    • yes…you phrased this much more eloquently than I just did in my response, above. Claes is hurting his credibility by resorting to such tactics.

      • Claes Johnson says:

        Science is about truth, and I insist because backradiation is a non-physical concept which in wrong hands is dangerous to humanity. Backradition is not part of known physics theory. To insist that it is still meaningful is stupid and destructive to science.

        • RW says:

          Claes,

          I agree the way ‘consensus climate science’ is being used to achieve political objectives that would not otherwise be achievable is dangerous to humanity.

          I can even agree that the net effect of increasing CO2 and other GHGs could be a wash or zero, but NOT because of any 2nd law violation or because there is no such thing as downwelling radiation (i.e. ‘back radiation’) in the atmosphere. This is silly.

    • Claes Johnson says:

      It is not my private theory. If you read you will find that it is essentially the same as Planck’s theory with a different cut-off argument, but with the same phenomenon of resonance. Read before making statements.

  49. Dol says:

    Just a warning.

    Before reading Claes work on blackbody radiation, do take a look at the discussion between him and Tomas Milanovic in the comments at

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/01/31/slaying-a-greenhouse-dragon/

    That discussion clearly questions the plausibility of Claes theory.

    Everybody should make up their own mind, but I think it is reasonable to say that Claes contribution in this matter is at least questionable.

  50. Ask why is it so? says:

    We all speak English but no-one seems to understand. RADIATION IS NOT, I SAY AGAIN, IS NOT HEAT!!!! Both are energy but in different forms. The net result of any heat transfer is from hot to cold. All objects with a temperature above absolute zero i.e. -273.15 Celsius emit radiation. All objects that absorb radiation emit heat. Heat is entropy i.e. the unusable energy of conversion.

    Why is there is so much misunderstanding about these two forms of energy.

    I’ll say it again, radiation can only travel in a straight line from the source and heat can travel in every direction outwards from the source.

    The direction radiation travels is not determined by temperature. The direction heat travels is determined by temperature.

    It is the absorption of radiation that warms the earth not the radiation itself. It is the absorption that converts the radiation into movement, re-emission and heat.

    Of course there is temperature in space because particles are moving in space i.e. movement means energy conversion and energy conversion means entropy and entropy means heat.

    Temperature does not mean 0 degrees C or K it means anything above absolute zero. To grasp this imagine you’re a creature that can only live at -50C and the temperature increases to say -10C. You are going to feel hot.

    As side question, is there gravity in space? Of course, otherwise the solar system would not be the stable system it is.

    The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics has not to date been disproved.

    Dr Spencer, perhaps the reason you get emission from the fridge outwards is not because cold is traveling towards hot but because the heat in the air outside the fridge is traveling into the fridge and also when you open your fridge radiation, which is everywhere, is entering your fridge being absorbed, converted, re-emitted and producing heat and all at the speed of light. And its the speed that all this happens that voids your results. That is if I understand the experiment?

    But this debate is pointless because back radiation does not rely on the 2nd Law because the direction radiation travels is not determined by temperature, only by the source.

    If you are trying to tell me that the molecular atmosphere forces heat (not radiation) back down to the surface then we have a problem.

  51. Steveta_uk says:

    Steve FP,

    “Such rubbish is discounted by anybody with half an once of sense. Please stop this.”

    It’s a very sad phenomenon, and has been spreading since the “Sky Dragon” days, and it now ubiquitous on all skeptic blogs, and I don’t know what can be done to stop it.

    Certain individuals – Claes here, Doug Cotton on the Air Vent, “mydogsgotnonose” on Bishop Hill, I could go on.

    What I find especially sad is reading some of the confused questions from others who clearly don’t understand why Dr Spenser is proposing a mechanism that is “unphysical” or anti-2nd law, as they’ve fallen for some of the truely anti-science message.

    P.S. Why has “Steve Fitzpatrick” morped into “Steve Fitrzptrick”? Is this an example of the “sincerest form of flattery”?

  52. Mac says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    I am amazed by your patience during these discussions, you are to be congratulated.

    There are many who hold your position in high regard and sincerly hope you will continue to conduct science with clarity and honesty as you have in the past.

    Thank you,
    Mac

  53. Roy,
    Please desist in the name calling. I’m not “silly,” “crazy” or a “supermarket journalist.” Such ill-advised and deprecatory terms merely reinforce the view that you are flat out wrong in your analysis.

    You have wrongly assumed (like many climatologists)that the vacuum of space has a temperature and that it is 2.7K.
    Vacuum space has zero temperature. You may be mistakenly thinking of the cosmic microwave or CMRB generated by the ‘Big Bang’ – closer to 3.7K).

    CMRB is not a thermal temperature of matter. Ergo, you and other GHE believers have made a fundamental and fatal error. There is no GHE ‘keeping us warmer than we’d otherwise be’ because the vacuum of space is a perfect insulator (like a thermos flask) and contrary to your discredited paradigm, our atmosphere acts as a giant air conditioner/refrigerator.

    Why not put some numbers on your hand waving? The question you should now ask yourself is if the void of space has a temperature of 2.7K is it logical to inquire whether it can be raised?

    Alan Siddons explains that if its temperature CANNOT be raised, this necessarily implies that a vacuum has an infinitely high specific heat. Even if we pump zillions of calories into it day and night; a vacuum’s temperature will not budge.

    Ergo, a vacuum must be a heat sponge of unimaginable magnitude. Such a ludicrous conclusion ALONE should make one pause for thought.

    In essence all GHE believers must learn that an absence of matter can have no temperature, neither a high one nor a low. In much the same way, the sound of one hand clapping is no sound at all.

    Indeed, once climatologists speak to specialists more in the know, such as astrophysics, they would comprehend that outer space itself (not our coolant atmosphere) provides Earth with its real ‘blanket’ – the temperature-less vacuum of space.

  54. PhysicistAUS says on February 22. 2012 at 8:36 PM:
    There is a lot of misunderstanding of the fundamentals here.

    1) Heat is the movement or transfer of energy ————.

    2) Heat CAN flow from cold to hot objects —————-.

    One need not look further than a IR bar heater with reflective panels to understand that back scattering can increasing the temperature of a hotter object.
    =======

    Are you sure you know what “Heat” is? You see I am fairly certain that heat is a “bi-product” which is produced whenever energy is used. Heat, in other words can only move by conduction and convection. Heat can never be emitted by radiation – only energy can.

    And what is “a IR bar heater”? – If you mean an “Electric Bar Heater” you will notice that the bar or bars in it will be glowing red which means the temperature of the bar/bars will at least be 500 °C. If you was to point the correct “Thermopile instrument” at the bar and find the temperature to be, say 600 °C and then put a massive block of ice in front of your heater,then what would happen? Would the ice melt – or would the heater get warmer – or would both things happen?

  55. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    Steveta_uk,
    The name morphed because it was typing on an iPad screen and not a keyboard. Easy to hit the wrong keys and not realize it when there is no tactile fedbach.

  56. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    Stevta_uk,
    With regard to what can be done about people who rage about the impossibility of basic radiative physics: the only thing to do is ignore them. You can’t reason with the unhinged. Some bloggers who know something about science might simply block their participation, but most choose not to. I sometimes encounter profoundly disturbed people on the street (suffering from severe delusions, and homeless). Much as you might like to help them, you simply can’t, they are quite beyond help. Similar situation here. All you can do is ignore them.

    • Pierre-Normand says:

      In public fora it is often useful to try and counter claims made by people who aren’t very receptive to being corrected. This can be of benefit to other participants and to mere lurker who are seeking to learn something. The effort one makes to produce an argument that’s a cogent and persuasive as one can possibly make it also is beneficial to one, even if one’s interlocutor may remain unmoved for some reason.

  57. PhysicistAUS says:

    “I do not agree with his proposal that it is a “good assumption” that “space is a perfect blackbody radiator”; I think this proposal is presumptuous.”

    I’ll stick to experiments rather than personal opinions which show that the CBR has a perfect agreement to the Planck equation blackbody spectrum to within 1 per in a 100,000.
    As to its origins, you’re on your own in your claim that physicists don’t know where it comes from.

    “RADIATION IS NOT, I SAY AGAIN, IS NOT HEAT!!!”

    Wrong. Radiation IS heat. Heat is defined as the amount of energy transfer into or out of a system. Clearly radiation can do both and it has been classified as a form of heat along side conduction and convection for well past your lifetime.

    “The question you should now ask yourself is if the void of space has a temperature of 2.7K is it logical to inquire whether it can be raised?”

    You totally misunderstand how this temperature is calculated. Everyone knows that space is largely devoid of matter. So completely empty space has no moving particles and thus no kinetic energy and thus not classical definition of temperature. Using concepts like heat capacity just further illustrate your misunderstanding

    The way a temperature is arrived at is by looking at the frequency spectrum of the photons in the cosmic background radiation (CBR). One then fits this curve to the Plank’s Law and finds a temperature current accurate to 2.72548 ± 0.00057 K.

    This temperature is the afterglow from the Big Bang when free electrons bound themselves to atoms to produce non-ionized hydrogen and will decrease as the universe keeps expanding. It would increase if the universe reverse its expansion.

    Back to the topic, back-scattering is real. Cold objects emit radiation and that radiation can heat warm objects further.

    A simple illustration of this.

    * Imagine two object (H and C) at the same temperature very far away.

    * Object H and C are isolated from each other with some screen VERY CLOSE to H and VERY FAR from C. The screen could be some ultra cooled object intended to emit very little IR radiation or a blackbody cavity that traps the photons.

    * Now increase the temperature of H (hot object) and remove the screen.

    * A stream of photons of IR radiation from the cold object C will bombard H while we have to wait for some time for the photons from H to bombard C. In effect, heat is flowing from cold to warm.

    In reality, for small distance compared to the speed of light, the heat flows from hot to cold as the hot objects emits far more photons. However, the experiment illustrates that there are smaller numbers of photons going from cold to warm also.

  58. Stephen Richards says:

    Correct

    RADIATION IS NOT HEAT. All electro-magnetic radiation is photonic ( at it’s simplest definition ).

    Don’t forget the problem of wave-particle duality. Photons have no mass (again at the simplest definition ) they are part of the Boson family and, as such, are normally categorised as a massless bosons.

    hµ (nµ)h* wavelength describes the energy they carry.

  59. Christopher Game says:

    John O’Sullivan in his post of February 23, 2012 at 7:29 AM writes that “CMRB is not a thermal temperature of matter.” I think no one knows for sure the source of the CMBR, and no one can be sure that is is not sourced originally from matter, the radiation and its temperature then perhaps being transformed somehow in cosmological history.

    According to M. Bailyn (1994), ”A Survey of Thermodynamics”, American Institute of Physics, New York, ISBN 0-88318-797-3, on page 87, a perpetual motion machine of the second kind would transfer an amount of energy as heat from a reservoir of a given temperature to a body that would then put out to an recipient that same amount of energy as work, with no other effect. On page 100, Bailyn says that sometimes a perfectly reversible engine is called a perpetual motion machine of the third kind. He notes that an aspect of the third law of thermodynamics requires that there can be no usable heat reservoir with a temperature of absolute zero. He goes on to imply, more or less as I read him, that even with a reservoir at a given temperature of absolute zero, a perpetual motion machine of the third kind cannot exist.

    As I tried to say above in my post of February 23, 2012 at 4:26 AM, I think that, in the present context, Dr Spencer does not concern himself with a theoretical pure vacuum, and does not mean to refer to the temperature of a theoretical pure vacuum.

  60. PhysicistAUS says:

    “Are you sure you know what “Heat” is? You see I am fairly certain that heat is a “bi-product” which is produced whenever energy is used. Heat, in other words can only move by conduction and convection. Heat can never be emitted by radiation – only energy can.”

    Look in ANY undergraduate physics text book and you will see that heat is the transfer of energy and that radiation is one such process. If this were not the case, that in space, astronaut wouldn’t need thermal regulation in their suits since convention and conduction is non-existent. They cool because heat leaves them via IR radiation to space.

    “And what is “a IR bar heater”? – If you mean an “Electric Bar Heater” you will notice that the bar or bars in it will be glowing red which means the temperature of the bar/bars will at least be 500 °C. If you was to point the correct “Thermopile instrument” at the bar and find the temperature to be, say 600 °C and then put a massive block of ice in front of your heater,then what would happen? Would the ice melt – or would the heater get warmer – or would both things happen? ”

    With a massive block of ice in an atmosphere, you would have to eliminate convention and conduction which could cool things.

    If you did it in space and put a massive bloc of ice in front of the heater, the heater would increase in temperature because the ice would bombard the heater with IR radiation.

  61. PhysicistAUS says:

    “RADIATION IS NOT HEAT. All electro-magnetic radiation is photonic ( at it’s simplest definition ).

    Don’t forget the problem of wave-particle duality. Photons have no mass (again at the simplest definition ) they are part of the Boson family and, as such, are normally categorised as a massless bosons.

    hµ (nµ)h* wavelength describes the energy they carry.”

    It does not matter if photons have mass or not, nor is the duality you mention even relevant here at all. The FACT that photons carry away energy (E=hf) means it is a form of energy transfer.

    An energy transfer in or out of a system is the definition of heat. Look in ANY basic physics text book, they will list conduction, convection and radiation universally as forms of heat.

    • Pierre-Normand says:

      Yes, the energy transferred from one system to another — that performs no work — is, definitionally, some amount of heat being transferred. I assume that you merely neglected or forgot to include the clause about work.

  62. Much talk about text-books here, so let’s see what my textbook says:

    “When a rising air parcel expands it pushes away the surrounding atmosphere, and in doing this work it expends energy. If heat is not added or removed as this hypothetical parcel moves—a scenario called an adiabatic process—the only source of energy is the motion of molecules in the air parcel, and therefore the parcel will cool as it rises. (Recall from Figure 1 that that in the troposphere, temperature falls 6.5°C on average with each kilometer of altitude. The actual decrease under real-world conditions, which may vary from region to region, is called the atmospheric lapse rate.)

    A dry air parcel (one whose relative humidity is less than 100 percent) cools by 9.8°C for each thousand meters that it rises, a constant decrease called the dry adiabatic lapse rate. However, if the parcel cools enough that its relative humidity reaches 100 percent, water starts to condense and form cloud droplets. This condensation process releases latent heat into the parcel, so the parcel cools at a lower rate as it moves upward, called the moist adiabatic lapse rate. “

    =======

    There is no talk of radiative heat-loss or gain here. And – that makes good sense as all air-parcels do not rise vertically at the same speed or rate. Therefore if heat was radiated in or out of any air-parcel there would be no set adiabatic lapse rates – dry or moist.

    To my way of thinking there is no “radiation barrier” around air parcels, therefore what “Warmists and Lukewarmers” call Electromagnetic Heat Radiation (EMHR) from the Earth’s surface to CO2 – and back, cannot happen.

    • Pierre-Normand says:

      From the very same textbook, on the very same page, just a couple paragraphs down, we read: “In contrast, high-altitude clouds tend to be thinner, so they do not reflect significant levels of incoming solar radiation. However, since they reside in a higher, cooler area of the atmosphere, they efficiently absorb outgoing thermal radiation and warm the atmosphere, and they radiate heat back to the surface from a part of the atmosphere that would otherwise not contribute to the greenhouse effect.”

    • Tel says:

      The definition of “adiabatic” in this context is that no nett heat transfers into nor out of the “air parcel”. Thus, both dry and moist adiabatic lapse rates are an idealized approximation… deliberately ignoring radiation.

  63. Christopher Game says:

    Responding to the post of PhysicistAUS of February 23, 2012 at 8:54 AM.

    In response to my post of February 22, 2012 at 11:42 PM:

    “I do not agree with his proposal that it is a “good assumption” that “space is a perfect blackbody radiator”; I think this proposal is presumptuous. I would say that we don’t know for sure what is the radiator that generate(s)(d) the cosmic microwave background, and that there is not too much merit making bold assumptions about it.”,

    PhysicistAUS writes

    “As to its origins, you’re on your own in your claim that physicists don’t know where it comes from.”

    PhysicistAUS is apparently just the kind of presumptuous physicist I have in mind.

    So far as I know, not even the usual presumptuous physicist claims to know the natures of “dark energy” and “dark matter”, which I suppose would have important cosmological effects if they were real. In this light, that PhysicistAUS can feel sure that physicists know for sure the origin of the cosmic microwave background just seems to show that he belongs to a collective of group-thinkers who believe unblinkingly in “bold and even doctrinaire speculations”, as I wrote above, as if they were certainly reliable facts. Our tax dollars support these presumptuous and credulous dogmatists, even though the constitution prohibits the state from selectively supporting a particular religion, such as theirs.

    I am happy to be on my own if it means I don’t belong to that collective of group-thinkers.

  64. ClimateOptimist says:

    I was curious about Prof. Johnson, so took some time to look at his web site. I thought a little background might help those trying to debate Prof. Johnson on his theories. Claes Johnson is a Professor of Applied Mathematics in Sweden. His PhD is in Mathematics (1973), and it appears his expertise was in numerical methods for fluid flow, but his recent work has broadened significantly.

    In one manuscript alone, Professor Johnson proposes resolutions to 4 classical scientific paradoxes (d’Alembert, Sommerfield, Loschmidt, Gibbs). In another he claims to resolve one of the Clay Institute Millennium Challenge problems (OK, actually not exactly. He addresses a related problem in fluid dynamics after expressing his opinion that the Millennium Challenge chose the wrong problem). In another he shows us how Prandtl was wrong. A recent blog states the Kutta-Zhukovsky theory “represents a misunderstanding of mathematical logic”. Another says, “A theory of relativity is presented, which is physical, in contrast to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, which is non-physical.” He has reformulated the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics to rid us of that annoying entropy. And as we see here, he has moved on to radiation and climate.

    I tried to read his paper on Blow up of Incompressible Euler solutions in BIT, which is directly in my area of expertise. The basic idea is that he can answer a formal mathematical question using a finite element numerical calculation by interpreting residuals correctly. This is the basis of many of his recent arguments in fluid dynamics. I won’t give my opinion of this work, but I later found a critique of his work on Emergence at Hmolpedia which will suffice:

    “The general difficulty in the entire treatise is that it seems to be a general hodgepodge of unfounded derivations, grave mathematical typos, such as the use of dT verses dU in the first law of thermodynamics, misapplied substitutions of terms, such as D, dissipation, forQ, in the combined law of thermodynamics, and a weak attempt to give a Prigoginean-like solution to the theory of emergence, references to information theory, Maxwell’s demon, as well as Loschmidt’s paradox, amid a general slew of quotes as to how confusing the entropy concept is for many, particularly to mathematicians.”

    Draw your own conclusions.

    • Dol says:

      He also holds the view that standard quantum mechanics and quantum field theories are wrong and should be replaced with something new based on classical mechanics.

  65. Christopher Game says:

    Response to the post of O H Dahlsveen of February 23, 2012 at 9:18 AM.

    O H Dahlsveen writes about the usual discussion of “adiabatic” movement of an air parcel:

    “To my way of thinking there is no “radiation barrier” around air parcels, therefore what “Warmists and Lukewarmers” call Electromagnetic Heat Radiation (EMHR) from the Earth’s surface to CO2 – and back, cannot happen.”

    It seems that he has not read about polytropic expansion, for example in Sections 2.8 and 7.11 of Iribarne, J.V., Godson, W.L. (1973/1981 reprinted 1989) second edition, D. Reidel Publishing, Dordrecht, ISBN 90-277-1296-4.

  66. Climate scientists like Dr. Roy Spencer and those on this thread who support are assuming who say that space has a temperature of 2.7 K . They have no clue about thermodynamics. They wrongly assumed that the so-called cosmic ‘microwave’ – the background radiation (or CMBR, generated by the ‘Big Bang’) is what the rest of vacuum space registers as temperature (the CMBR is quoted at around 2.7K).
    Even pro-green wikipedia knows there is no ‘real’ temp in space – they refer to the “‘color temperature’ of the decoupled photons” which they say “has continued to diminish ever since; now down to 2.72548 ± 0.00057 K,[3]”
    Believing that the CMBR is the temperature OF space appears to be the product of stupidity or deception as believers struggle to defend argue the bogus greenhouse effect.
    Astrophysicists are better qualified on this than the ‘generalists’ that call themselves climatologists. Astrophysicist, Joseph Postma who works for the Canadian and Indian space agencies is utterly perplexed at Roy Spencer’s ignorance on this issue. Postma, like his space scientist colleagues are saying Spencer (and all GHE religionists) are utterly wrong.
    Space does not have a temperature, only matter has a temperature… only matter can make a sound. The radiation which is found in space might indicate a temperature, but radiation is NOT space. To say that the radiation which is found in space IS the temperature of space is convoluted nonsense; it is either lack of knowledge or purposeful misdirection.
    Everyone who has studied thermodynamics knows space doesn’t have a temperature. That’s the first trick question you get on the first day of the first semester of introductory thermodynamics. That 2.7K is the “temperature” of the CMB radiation found in space. It is not the temperature OF space! See the logical difference? Of course academia can’t handle that level of logic anymore; 2.7K would be the induced temperature of a physical body in space with no other heat sources, but it is not the temperature of the empty space itself.
    To prove his/her point an astrophysicist will ask you: ‘Does anyone hear you if you clap in space?’ Of course not. There is no matter in space – therefore no one hears the vibration of your two hands slapping together propagating outwards and making a sound.

  67. Christopher Game says:

    Forgot to give the title of Iribarne & Godson ISBN 90-277-1296-4. It is “Atmospheric Thermodynamics”.

  68. Christopher Game says:

    Responding to the post of PhysicistAUS of February 23, 2012 at 9:11 AM.

    PhysicistAUS writes: “An energy transfer in or out of a system is the definition of heat.”

    He is being culpably negligent here.

    There are two main lines of thought for the definition of heat in physics, and PhysicistAUS has missed them both. One line of thought is the historical one of calorimetry. The other line of thought is that introduced probably by G.H Bryan in his text “Thermodynamics. An Introductory Treatise dealing mainly with First Principles and their Direct Applications”, B.G. Teubner, Leipzig, 1907. On page 47, Bryan writes: “When energy flows from one system or part of a system to another otherwise than by the performance of mechanical work, the energy so transferred is called ‘heat’.” This definition works well for closed systems, which are not allowed to transfer matter, in which processes do not happen too fast.

    But for open systems, which are allowed to transfer matter, the definition of work and heat is not quite so simple. For example, in R. Haase’s Chapter 1, ‘Survey of Fundamental Laws’, of editor W. Jost’s 1971 “Physical Chemistry. An Advanced Treatise”, volume 1, “Thermodynamics”, we read: “But the total work done on the open system remains indefinite.” The difficulty that Haase refers to can be dealt with, but is not fully logically and consistently, so far as I know, in any standard textbook of physics or thermodynamics, though half-baked efforts can be found in several; what seems to be a good version is available on the internet, at http://vixra.org/pdf/1111.0024v1.pdf.

    Our PhysicistAUS obviously has no such problems!

  69. Steveta_uk says:

    There is no matter in space.

    Interesting. So where is it?

  70. Christopher Game says:

    Responding to the post of John O’Sullivan of February 23, 2012 at 10:13 AM.

    John O’Sullivan rightly tells us that the temperature 2.7 K refers to the CMBR (cosmic microwave background radiation). He goes on to chide us that this is not the temperature of “space”, and here he apparently means some theoretical pure vacuum. I accept his view that such a theoretical pure vacuum is not of interest to us.

    But I would be grateful if he, or any other reader of this blog, would very kindly tell me about how he would assess the electromagnetic radiation coming from space, as viewed on a moonless night by looking directly away from the sun from a spaceship well above the earth’s atmosphere, measuring with a spectrally resolving radiometer with a poor geometric focus, so that it blurs the stars and only a general more or less direction-independent radiative spectrum can be measured. By this I intend to refer to the background to which we might imagine the earth to be radiating its infrared thermal emissions, and which we might regard as representing the thermal radiation to the earth from “space” including its contents and history. For all I know, this might be different from the 2.7 K CMBR, and I would be glad to learn about it.

  71. Leonard Weinstein says:

    John O’Sullivan says:
    February 23, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    John,
    A vacuum is a conduction and convection insulator, since atoms and molecules carry the energy by their motion in air. However, radiation travels freely through vacuum. How do you think the Sun heats the Earth otherwise? A perfect vacuum itself has no temperature. It is not 0 K, it is not any, which is different. Temperature is a measure of atoms and molecules motion. However, space is not a perfect vacuum. It has very small amounts of matter concentration, but over vast distances, the molecular motion would defines the temperature. Due to the low matter concentration, local measurements can’t be directly made of the motion, so radiation average inputs from the vastness shows the background level, which approximately is like a black body at a few degrees K.

    Regarding the back radiation issue, you are correct that back-radiation is not the cause of the warmer ground. However, the back-radiation does exist. It can be best described as radiation insulation, and insulation does not heat, it slows cooling. For continual energy (from the Sun) input, this insulation would result in a hotter surface. However, for the atmosphere, the case is more complex than a simple insulation case. This is due to free convection transporting the energy up even though the radiation is partially insulated. The result is that the radiation insulation does not result in more heating. The actual process is that it raises the location of radiation to space to a higher altitude. The lapse rate then does the heating as adiabatic compression of atmosphere below the outgoing location heats the surface higher than if radiation to space were at the surface.

    • Mike Blackadder says:

      I like the way that you describe greenhouse gases as a form of insulation which prevents cooling via radiation. This is maybe more correct than the more common description, since I don’t that it is strictly correct to suggest that because greenhouse gases prevent cooling that they actually heat the surface. It is the continual source of energy from the sun that actually increases the temperature of the earth when the earth is unable to cool at the same rate.

      Your point about the irrelevance of radiation for establishing surface temperature is interesting, but I’m not totally convinced. It seems to me that the amount of greenhouse gases, particularly water vapor and clouds do impact surface temperature. My understanding is that the effect of CO2 on surface temperature begins at top of atmosphere where radiation is escaping on average and not yet saturated with CO2. Would you agree with this or am I missing something?

  72. Turnedoutnice says:

    The non-physicists are showing a serious lack of physics’ knowledge. You can only measure ‘back radiation’ [defined as the energy emitted radiatively from the cooler body to the hotter] because you have shielded exactly the same energy coming in the opposite direction.

    Above I have given a photonic analysis to make it easier for non-physicists to understand. In reality, there is a stanfing wave which communicates information between the IE density of states of the two bodies.

    ‘Back radiation’ can do no thermodynamic work and the its measurement is an artefact of shielding.

    Unlearn it ASAP because it does not exist as an energy source when the shielding is not there.

  73. PhysicistAUS

    Thanks for your answer on February 23, 2012 at 9:04 AM. It has made me think that we are “talking at cross purposes” – In the context of Global warming or “Heat Retention” I never talk about what happens in space – or outside what I call “The Earth System” (our globe and its atmosphere) apart from maybe echoing Joseph Fourier’s 1824 writings i.e.:

    “The heat of the earth is derived from three sources, which should first be distinctly mentioned.

    1. The earth is heated by the solar rays; the unequal distribution of which causes diversities of climate.
    2. It partakes of the common temperature of the planetary spaces; being exposed to the radiations from the innumerable stars which surround the solar system.
    3. The earth preserves in its interior a part of that primitive heat which it had at the time of the first formation of the planets.”

    And:

    “The interposition of the air very much modifies the effects of the heat upon the surface of the globe. The solar rays traversing the atmospheric strata which are condensed by their own weight, heat them very unequally: those which are rarest are likewise coldest, because they extinguish and absorb a smaller part of the rays. The heat of the sun, coming in the form of light, possesses the property of penetrating transparent solids or liquids, and loses this property entirely, when by communication with terrestrial bodies, it is turned into heat radiating without light.”

    One must take into account that in Fourier’s time (and John Tyndall’s for that matter), “radiation” needed The Aether to propagate or transmit. – In those days electromagnetism was only ‘suspected’ to exist. (discoveries of Franklin, Galvani, Volta, Řrsted, Amp`ere, Coulomb and Faraday.)

    Maxwell’s theory of Electromagnetism was published in 1865. It predicted the existence of EM waves moving at the speed of light. And – that light itself was indeed such a wave was later verified by Heinrich Hertz (1857 – 1894)

    Like Fourier I have seen no evidence anywhere that radiation (EM or otherwise) from the Earth’s surface can penetrate transparent solids or liquids, i.e. glass & water vapor (WV). (Arid deserts in this world that have very little atmospheric WV content usually have very cold nights)

    Thought experiments that contain mainly assumptions, unknowns and omitted facts are, in my opinion, useless.

  74. pochas says:

    Christopher Game says:
    February 23, 2012 at 10:44 AM
    Responding to the post of John O’Sullivan of February 23, 2012 at 10:13 AM.

    “But I would be grateful if he, or any other reader of this blog, would very kindly tell me about how he would assess the electromagnetic radiation coming from space, as viewed on a moonless night by looking directly away from the sun from a spaceship well above the earth’s atmosphere”

    I would simply place an object in that space and measure its equilibrium temperature.

  75. No Christopher Game, you’re correct, I have never read Sections 2.8 and 7.11 of Iribarne, J.V., Godson, W.L. (1973/1981 reprinted 1989) second edition so I know not what it is all about. But I do know what compression and expansion of gases (i.e. a polytropic process) is all about and if IR radiation CANNOT warm the WV and CO2 present in any air-pockets then it cannot warm the WV and CO2 anywhere else in the Troposphere.

    In Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polytropic_process one can read all one need to know about it.- And there it tells you nothing about IR radiation warming any part of any air-pockets.

  76. Alan D McIntire says:

    Regarding energy flowing from a cooler to a warmer surface, Steve Milloy’s ” Junk Science” website has an entertaining post.

    Everyone has noticed that lightning sometimes strikes the ground from the cool air higher in the atmosphere, everyone has noticed wind blowing sailboats or making waves on water, so of COURSE energy can flow from a cooler to a warmer surface- of course NET energy flow is from the warmer to the cooler surface, but that doesn’t invalidate the greenhouse effect.

    • Richard T. Fowler says:

      Alan, you are apparently claiming that in a lightning strike, the “net” energy flow is from ground to clouds, even as the electricity moves from clouds to ground.

      Since this is obviously not the case, it must be the case that electrical discharge cannot be equated with heat flux in thermodynamics.

      Therefore, the argument you present does not invalidate Claes Johnson’s theory of radiation.

      RTF

  77. Christopher Game says:

    O H Dahlsveen in his post of February 23, 2012 at 1:26 PM refers us to the Wikipedia. That tells us a lot about him, especially when he adds that there “one can read all one need to know about it.”

  78. commonsensemajority says:

    Dr Spencer,

    One of the strengths of “rationalists” is free-thinking and vigorous debate as opposed to mob “groupthink” and appeals to authority which appears to be the norm amongst the warmists taking their cues from the likes of (un-)realclimate in a top-down manner.

    I am currently aligned with your line of thinking that there is a self-regulation of sorts via. clouds (bi-directional feedback/forcing), hence a dampening effect (or negative feedback), resulting IMO in CO2-AGW of no more than 0.7 degC per doubling of [CO2]. Beyond this I am by no means a thermodynamics expert, and am enjoying the ongoing debate here within these threads.

    I understand why the likes of yourself, Viscount Monckton, Prof. Lindzen, Judith Curry, etc. may wish to brush off John O’Sullivan et al. because we all know that this field is hyper-politicised and the warmists will stop at nothing to try to discredit us and cause ruptions.

    However, why don’t we just all agree on the following as an umbrella for *all* rationalists:

    (i) sceptics/rationalists in the tradition of *normal* science are engaging in vigorous debate, demonstrating that we do not engage in “groupthink” and appeals to authority unlike the warmists.

    (ii) theory put forward by Prof. Lindzen describes the upper limit of CO2-AGW feedback as per the overwhelming majority of sceptics/rationalists/lukewarmers. This is consistent with no catastrophic event, and also consistent with any ‘mitigation measures’ having a minimal/meaningless effect on ‘global temperature’ (CO2-AGW does not predominate over natural forcings). This is in stark contrast to warmist theory which still stands by highly sensitive positive feedbacks (unproven in the real world) ŕ la hockey schtick theory.

    Therefore, whilst I respect you highly both as a scientist and as a human being, I wish we could all work under the “umbrella” above and then proceed to continuing a constructive and civilised (but lively) discussion amongst ourselves. I don’t agree with John O’Sullivan, primarily because I am yet to be convinced, but you and I should not treat him in the same manner that we criticise the warmists for treating us (and neither should John O’Sullivan do the same wrt. yourself).

  79. Ron Dean says:

    Re: commonsensemajority says:
    February 23, 2012 at 11:42 PM

    I think this is a poor idea. This idea creates political boundaries, not scientific ones.

    This is a science blog, and Dr. Spencer is a respected scientist. While he does occasionally engage in the political side on this blog, his main purpose should be pursuing where the science goes, and not worrying about umbrellas or doctrines of others.

    Dr. Spencer is right to criticize both O’Connor and Shmidt in his postings, based on his knowledge and research of the science. If his science ends up showing that “back-radiation” is impossible, then he should follow that. Likewise, if it turns out his research shows high positive feedback in clouds, then this too he should follow.

    I would be disappointed to see yet more political division and talk going on in what should be a blog grounded on science.

    • commonsensemajority says:

      actually I disagree, and what I was referring to in a roundabout way was the type of stuff mentioned on the vein of “it still feels like I’m being challenged by a supermarket tabloid to offer proof that Elvis was not abducted by space aliens”. I know this was partly in response to certain actions, but what I would really like is a *normal* scientific discussion where we don’t treat John O’Sullivan et al. in a similar manner to the way that warmists treat us (“denier”, etc., etc., etc.). Therefore I am actually encouraging a scientific discussion whereby things are thrashed out.

      • commonsensemajority says:

        … also I was not trying to create political boundaries. I was actually describing in scientific terms what is the *worst-case* that we all agree on amongst ourselves, i.e. no / neutral feedback, and hence a total refutation of any suggestions/innuendo of *c*AGW.

  80. Dr. Strangelove says:

    Mr. Sullivan,

    Where did you learn your science? It’s incomprehensible.

    “CMRB is not a thermal temperature of matter. Ergo, you and other GHE believers have made a fundamental and fatal error. There is no GHE ‘keeping us warmer than we’d otherwise be’ because the vacuum of space is a perfect insulator (like a thermos flask)”

    You mean heat cannot escape into space? It was already established since end 19th century that radiation can travel in a vacuum and heat also transfers by radiation. Don’t you know that?

    “and contrary to your discredited paradigm, our atmosphere acts as a giant air conditioner/refrigerator.”

    I don’t understand this. Air conditioners and refrigerators are heat pumps. They use work to force heat out of a system. What on earth is producing mechanical work to force heat out and lower the temperature of the system?

    “Why not put some numbers on your hand waving? The question you should now ask yourself is if the void of space has a temperature of 2.7K is it logical to inquire whether it can be raised?”

    What’s the point? Since space is a gigantic heat sink, it can take out heat from earth via radiation without any detectable increase in temperature of space particles. Are you suggesting that the temperature of pure vacuum space must increase for heat to flow? The sun is losing an enormous amount of heat energy into space but pure vacuum space is not getting any hotter.

    • Mario Lento says:

      Well done… well done! It’s amazing that the moon ever cooled off with that insulation of space all around it. Maybe it was born cold. Now that’s a new theory eh?

  81. The issue is better adjudged by space scientists who are the experts, not climate scientists. I am in constant discussions with several highly credentialed space scientists, including NASA Apollo space program engineers. They tell me Roy Spencer is wrong.Astrophysicist Joe Postma who works for the Canadian and Indian space agencies sums it up:
    “Everyone who has studied thermodynamics knows space doesn’t have a temperature. That’s the first trick question you get on the first day of the first semester of introductory thermodynamics. That 2.7K is the “temperature” of the CMB radiation found in space. It is not the temperature OF space! See the logical difference? Of course academia can’t handle that level of logic anymore; 2.7K would be the induced temperature of a physical body in space with no other heat sources, but it is not the temperature of the empty space itself.”

  82. Man Bearpig says:

    So if I put an ice cube in my Vodka, does the vodka get cooler or the ice get warmer ?

    • Both, man bear pig. However, the ice cannot warm the Vodka, that is impossible for reasons I and others have detailed.

      If the greenhouse effect were real (and think about this please Dr Spencer!) then the ice would warm the vodka and the wamer vodka could cool the ice.

      clearly ridiculous, by whatever means the heat is transferred.

  83. J.E. Lorenzo says:

    Gentleman,

    This thread illustrates how difficult is to verbally articulate a given (complex or not) issue and how sterile is the game of convincing each other with words, *alone*. Personal views expressed through examples and/or analogies are just simplifications and very often a poor description of the reality. Paradoxically, words have different meanings for scientists of disparate venues notwithstanding personal issues or stand points that affect the finding of a common viewpoint or simply answer a given question.

    The problem of heat transport/radiation in space, vacuum or any other object is a matter that have been settled a long time ago. It can be easily transcribed into simple *linear* equations and and you can give it to students as a homework. As most of you are scientists I leave you the weekend to calmly think about what you have written in your and others posts. I believe everybody (except for some obvious contributors) is mostly right but you have failed to create a proper wording.

    But this is not important, it is just a dogfight. However, and this is important, if the very same actors of this thread that are embarked in this endless, sterile discussion and no-winner confrontation on a so-well known matter, how on earth are you going to settle whether AGW is a serious issue or not for mankind. I do not have to tell you that the weather problem is not an easy problem, it can not be solved with equations, we do not know to which extent approximations work or do not, and a long long etc. Unless we put a little bit more of science-as-usual (equations, references to previous work, etc.) and less ego we are not going to accomplish much progress. A pity.

  84. Joss says:

    Hi Dr Spencer,

    “Yes, Virginia, the “Vacuum” of Space Does have a “Temperature”

    I agree with many of your statements. But not with this one.
    Strictly speaking empty space has no defined temperature whatever the radiation which goes through it.

    If you use an IR thermometer (a blackbody) in space, of course, it will indicate the 2,7K of CMBR, but that’s strictly equivalent to setting a thermometer in full view of the sun.

    Then the measurement depends ont the thermometer (black, grey etc.) and you certainly will not claim that you are measuring the ambient temperature. That’s the reason why they use Stevensons screens.

    BTW, this discussion about the temperature of space is useless.

    • Dol says:

      Joss:

      “BTW, this discussion about the temperature of space is useless.”

      Read up on a text on astro-particle physics and you will see that this statement isn’t true.

  85. Joss says:

    @Dol “Read up on a texte on astr-particle physics… you will see your statement isn’t true”

    I agree. But, of course, I meant “In the context of the global warming issue, this discussion is useless.”

    • Dol says:

      Joss:

      “I agree. But, of course, I meant “In the context of the global warming issue, this discussion is useless.””

      Please motivate the difference.

      I can’t really see why there be a difference in context of interstellar space if we consider a process of global warming or not.

  86. Bevan says:

    During the above discussions, Claes Johnson emphasised the importance of the written word, books, in science. May I make a plea for the experimental method? It could be beneficial for contributors to provide experimental evidence for their points of view in these discussions.
    In an earlier article on this site, I pointed out that there were hundreds of data files on the WMO site “World Data Centre for Greenhouse Gases”. Further I presented the results from a comparison of CO2 concentration data for the CSIRO recording station at Cape Grim, Tasmania, with temperature data from the nearby Australian Bureau of Meteorology weather station at Marrawah, 25 km to the South-East. The data covered the period 1976 to 2010 at monthly intervals. The correlation coefficient for 12 month changes in temperature verses
    those in CO2 concentration was 0.0258 with a t statistic with 392 degrees of freedom providing a 2 tailed probability of 61% for the acceptance of the null hypothesis that the changes over a 12 month period in temperature and CO2 concentration are independent
    variables.
    A summary of NOAA/ESRL data from Barrow, Alaska, from the listing gave a correlation coefficient of -0.0084 for 12 month changes in hourly temperature and CO2
    concentrations for the period 2003 to 2007 and a t statistic of -1.258 with 22,216 degrees of freedom providing a two tailed probability of 21% for the null hypothesis.
    A summary of KMA data from Anmyeon-do, Korea, gave a correlation coefficient of -0.26 for 12 month changes in monthly temperature and CO2 concentrations for the period
    1999 to 2009 and a t statistic of -2.926 with 118 degrees of freedom providing a two tailed probability of 0.4% for the null hypothesis.
    With results such as these what has happened to the Greenhouse Gas Global Warming phenomenon? What is the point of all of the previous discussion about “back-radiation” if, possibly, we cannot even measure its presence?
    Note that the differences have been taken over a 12 month period in order to eliminate the strong seasonal effect in the data strings. In particular the Anmyeon-do data displays a six month phase difference between the temperature and the CO2 concentration values with the temperature falling as the CO2 concentration rises and the temperature rising as the CO2 concentration falls. The exact opposite to the predictions of the IPCC and the Greenhouse Gas Global Warming conjecture.

    • Dol says:

      Yes of course, empirical results should have the final saying, does anybody disagree with this?

      I think that Claes is pushing the limit quite far when claiming that his model proves things in the real world.

      As long as he himself and others have not done verification of the model in connection with measurements in the real world, and also validation of the model from fundamental theory, the model can’t prove anything at all.

      I took a look at his model of “black bodies” and there are big question marks over what he means when he calls something heat. What is work in his model and what is heat? Where is his system boundaries?

  87. RJP says:

    I am finding this discussion bizarre. If I have understood John O’Sullivan’s position correctly, he is accusing Roy Spencer of not having understood that space has no temperature and that the space surrounding the Earth is acting as a thermal insulator to prevent heat from leaving the Earth, which is why the Earth’s actual mean surface temperature is higher than its theoretical ‘black body’ temperature. I can well appreciate Roy Spencer’s feeling that he is being challenged to offer proof that Elvis was not abducted by space aliens!

    Apparently John O’Sullivan has not understood that his position is completely unsupported by the accepted laws and observational findings of modern physics and that he is way out on a limb here. I am wondering why he appears not to know this. He says that his scientific advisers at NASA have agreed with him. If that is so, I think those NASA scientists need to have their heads examined. Either that or they are playing a joke on Roy Spencer via John O’Sullivan.

  88. I have commented on Roy’s idea that vacuum has a temperature in

    http://claesjohnsonmathscience.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/the-temperature-of-empty-space/

    indicating that vacuum has no temperature. I hope Roy will comment and not as in the case of backradiation simply disappear into a vacuum.

    • Dol says:

      Claes, could you please sort out what definition you use for heat, heat energy and so on?

      It’s not clear at the moment, and highly important. There is no room for ambiguity.

      An other question to. Why is it interesting to discuss the temperature of a theoretical classical vacuum?

      First of all, it doesn’t exist…

    • Dol says:

      And when your at it, throw in your definition of temperature to :)

  89. Louis Hissink says:

    The late Fred Hoyle remarked that when science ends up in endless argumentation over some detail then it’s likely that its proponents are thinking with the wrong ideas, here the measured fact of downwelling IR being solely attributed to CO2.

    We know from satellites that millions of amperes of electric current pass in and out of the earth via the polar Birkeland currents (which produce the auroras during solar wind surges). These currents do not stop at the ionosphere but being magnetic field aligned have to continue in the same direction into the earth as well as moving laterally into more conductive routes via the atmosphere and oceans, land being a little more resistive.m It is likely that wind is actually en electrical phenomenon rather than due to thermal effects.

    Electric currents when passing through matter emit IR so atmospheric electric currents, even in the pica-ampere levels, will also be emitting IR.

    Is this, then, the source of the measured downwelling IR ?

    • Louis, to try to claim that atmospheric heat cannot cause wind is like trying to claim that thermal energy cannot cook food, or burn your skin, or keep you alive during freezing weather.

      Whatever you want to call such speculation, to call it science is simply baffling. You are actually managing to make O’Sullivan and Postma look comparatively good, which I can tell you is not a fortunate turn of events for the AGW skeptic community.

      Please sir, if you have any inclination to continue to do this, do consider confining such activity to non-science-related sites. In the somewhat unlikely event that there should happen to be another person living on Earth who shares your belief about wind, I am confident that you are much more likely to find them there than here.

      May you have peace as you walk the path that has been placed before you.

      RTF

  90. Dr. Strangelove says:

    Mr. Sullivan,

    I’m sure NASA scientists know what they’re talking about but I don’t think you do. Of course the pure vacuum space has no temperature. That’s irrelevant to climate science because radiation (heat) from earth and the sun can travel in the vacuum of space.

    “Indeed, once climatologists speak to specialists more in the know, such as astrophysics, they would comprehend that outer space itself (not our coolant atmosphere) provides Earth with its real ‘blanket’ – the temperature-less vacuum of space.”

    As already explained, this is irrelevant. You don’t need a climatologist. A 12th grader will know why.

    “To prove his/her point an astrophysicist will ask you: ‘Does anyone hear you if you clap in space?’ Of course not. There is no matter in space – therefore no one hears the vibration of your two hands slapping together propagating outwards and making a sound.”

    Irrelevant too. Heat is not a sound wave. Sound cannot travel in space but heat can. BTW it’s wrong to say no one hears the sound of clap in space. An astronaut may hear it but the clap does not make any sound. You need a medium of propagation for the sound wave. No medium, no sound. You don’t need an astrophysicist. A 7th grader knows that.

  91. Iceskater says:

    Here is an experiment that shows backradiation in action.

    Backradiation is part of a cooling process. It cannot work without that cooling process.

    http://solarcycle24com.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=globalwarming&thread=1917&page=1#79519

  92. Turnedoutnice says:

    I do not dispute the existence of radiated energy from a colder body to a warmer body. However, it can do no thermodynamic work because that part intercepted by the warmer body is a standing wave communicating information between the emitter/absorber states on both bodies.

    When the cooler body is at absolute zero, the Prevost exchange energy to give it its proper name is zero. When the temperatures are equal, it is the same as the radiation emitted by either body.

    However, it can still do no thermodynamic work and it can only be detected by blocking the energy from the warmer body to the colder body. By counting ‘back radiation’ with the energy emitted by the warmer body, Trenberth is increasing the S-B constant by a factor between 1 and 2. Think about it. It’s fantasy physics.

  93. Dr. Strangelove says:

    @Sullivan

    “if its temperature CANNOT be raised, this necessarily implies that a vacuum has an infinitely high specific heat. Even if we pump zillions of calories into it day and night; a vacuum’s temperature will not budge.”

    It’s more correct to say that pure vacuum has no temperature and no specific heat. Only matter has those. However, your hypothetical pure vacuum does not exist in the universe. Space is filled with cosmic radiation. Hence if you go to space, you can measure a temperature due to radiation.

    Because of this, you can heat space. The space near the sun is hotter than the space far away from it. Apparently the sun is heating space.

    A simple thought experiment. Get a big glass jar. Pump out all the air in it to form a vacuum. Place a thermometer inside floating in the center of the jar. Even if the thermometer is reset at absolute zero degree kelvin, it will record a temperature of about room temperature (assuming the jar is inside a room)

    Why? The inner surface of the jar radiates heat towards the thermometer until the jar, the thermometer and the room are in thermal equilibrium. Now you can heat the vacuum by heating the room (turn on a heater) The thermometer will record a higher temp.

    Of course you can argue philosophically that is not the temperature of the vacuum, that is the temperature of the thermometer which happens to be in a vacuum. Likewise, all air temperature measurements are not the temp. of air but the temp. of the thermometer which happens to be in air.

  94. Turnedoutnice says:

    Thermodynamic temperature is average kinetic energy.

    Your thermometer in a vacuum receives radiation form the outside which is converted to heat locally,

    The temperature you measure is the temperature of the thermometer.

    Think about it!

  95. Greg F says:

    An radio antenna is calibrated to resonate at certain frequencies, and can thus can record the spectrum of the emission from an emitter. The resonance of the antenna is then not perceived as heat because the radiowave resonance is low freq and heat is high freq.

    Oh My. An antenna is “calibrated” to resonate over a band of frequencies. An antenna does not “record” anything. A antenna is essentially a transformer. The resonant frequency of an antenna is the point where the capacitive and inductive reactance are equal and therefore cancel. The impedance of a capacitor or inductor is called ‘imaginary’ due to the fact that capacitors and inductors can only store energy and therefore cannot do any work. For an antenna to work it must also have a ‘real’ impedance. A EM wave induces current in an antenna. That current flows through the ‘real’ impedance which is converted to ‘heat’. IOW, an antenna converts EM radiation to heat.

    • Greg F writes, “An antenna does not “record” anything.”

      A cassette recorder records sound by what means?

      By transmitting the information carried by the sound from the device’s point of input to its point of output. The information is then stored in the cassette.

      Thus, while it is appropriate to say that the cassette records the sound, it is also appropriate to say the recorder records the sound.

      Is that reasonably clear to you? If so, will you agree that Claes was not mistaken to write that a radio antenna “can record the spectrum of the emission from an emitter”?

      Then that way, your choice of words above can be seen as a simple oversight on your part, with no intent to harm.

      RTF

      • Greg F says:

        Richard,

        Please look up the definition of the word ‘record’. An antenna does not store or record anything.

        • I think you are splitting hairs. Claes is Swedish, and from his writings it is clear that English is not his first language. Most people are not as good in their second language as Claes is in English. Please give him a little leeway on this. Thank you.

          RTF

  96. Dr. Strangelove says:

    @turnedoff

    “The temperature you measure is the temperature of the thermometer”

    If you can understand English, that’s what I said. Your science is good but your reading comprehension is bad. BTW any matter you put in that vacuum will have the same temperature as the thermometer. The vacuum has no temperature but contains heat in the form of radiation.

    @sullivan

    Where are you? Be honest to admit your mistake.

  97. don penman says:

    Is the thermometer in a gass not in thermal equilibrium with the gass unlike the thermometer in the vacuum which is not in thermal equilibrium with the vacuum.If the thermometer in the vacuum was shielded from outside radiation and the thermometer still showed a temperature in the vacuum then I would have to conclude that their was some non atomic particles in the vacuum causing the thermometer to have a temperature.

  98. Dr. Strangelove says:

    Mr. Sullivan,

    I read Alberto Miatello’s horrible paper from where you got your ridiculous ideas. Tell him to read my comments here on his three assertions and quotations from his paper.

    1) Vacuum outer space is not “cold”

    “But in vacuum outer space, where there are almost no atoms or molecules (just very few atoms/molecules having just a “kinetic temperature”, in comparison with the dense
    planetary atmosphere) you have no detectable temperature and so no cold/heat!”

    Your hypothetical pure vacuum does not exist in the universe. Outer space contains microwave background radiation. It has a detectable temperature of 2.7K. That’s 2.7 degrees above absolute zero. You think that’s not cold?!

    “Vacuum outer space surrounding our atmosphere is neither cold nor hot, it is neutral and it makes no sense at all even to say “vacuum at 0°F”!

    The space surrounding our atmosphere contains infrared radiation from earth and solar radiation from the sun (if facing the sun). It has a touch temperature range of -129C to 120C. Any matter placed in this space will either be cold or hot depending on its location relative to the sun.

    2) Earth’s atmosphere is neither a “blanket” nor a “greenhouse”

    “On the contrary our atmosphere (which in Spencer’s model should play the role of the blanket) is not at all in contact with a cold body, outer space being totally neutral, i.e. neither cold nor hot, being almost void of all matter – a perfect insulator.”

    Almost void of matter – yes. But filled with radiation. A perfect insulator – nonsense. If space were a perfect insulator, no heat would escape from earth. A simple calculation will show the absurdity of this assertion. Earth receives 342 W/m^2 solar heat. Multiply that be earth’s surface area, you get 10^17 W. The total mass of the atmosphere is 10^18 kg, specific heat of air is 1000 J/kg-K. If heat cannot escape earth, air temperature would rise from 15C to 100C in just 700 hours or 29 days. Since we’re not yet cooked, heat must be escaping into space (at a fast rate).

    “And so this is the reason why our atmosphere is acting like a refrigerator/heat pump, cooling earth’s surface (through the water cycle) and not like a “blanket” or a “greenhouse”

    If you understand how refrigeration works, where in the atmosphere is air compressed in order to force heat to flow from lower to higher temperature region? The atmosphere is not a heat pump. It is the reverse process – a heat engine. It converts heat (solar energy) into mechanical energy (wind, convection current, tornado, typhoon).

    The water cycle does not cool earth’s surface. The latent heat of vaporization of water is the same for evaporation and condensation. It means the heat absorbed by evaporation is equal to the heat released by condensation. There is no net cooling or heating by the water cycle.

    “Without the atmosphere and the oceans, our Earth would not be colder; it would be even hotter than the Moon (which is receiving the same solar energy, up to 1367 W/m2 max.),having a faster rotation on its axis.”

    All these statements are wrong. If you know Stefan-Boltzmann law of radiation, you can calculate that earth would be colder by 33C without the atmosphere. Even with an atmosphere, earth is hotter than the moon. The average surface temperature of earth is 15C. Moon’s surface temperature ranges from 107C to -153C or an average of -23C.

    Moon does not receive the same solar energy as earth because the former’s surface area is only 1/16 that of earth. Hence its solar energy is 16 times smaller than earth’s. Moon is not rotating faster on its axis than earth. It is slower. Earth rotates every 24 hours, moon every 27 days.

    3) Calculation of the real heat exchanged between a hotter and a colder body: a colder body doesn’t heat a hotter body”

    Since you are trying to disprove Spencer’s thought experiment, your calculations are all wrong since your equation is for heat conduction. Wrong equation. If you understand a little physics, you will notice that the two plates in Spencer’s thought experiment are in a vacuum and not touching each other. Therefore he is demonstrating radiative heat transfer not heat conduction. You should use Stefan-Boltzmann law of radiation, not calorimetric equation.

    “At this point we can assume that both bodies A (copper) + B (pvc), receiving from the external source no more heating to keep them at a constant temperature (we switch off the heat source), will start to radiate no more than 363 j/sec. in the vacuum.”

    Your wrong equation gives you wrong result. Using Stefan-Boltzmann law, a one cubic meter copper plate, 5 cm thick, 0.7 emissivity of copper, at 58C will radiate 19,056 j/sec. That’s 52 times higher than your maximum value!

    Next you used Newton’s law of cooling to demonstrate that the atmosphere is cooling earth’s surface. Wrong equation again! Newton’s law of cooling is used in convective heat transfer between solids and fluids (air). There’s a problem here. In weather stations, they don’t stick the thermometer through solid rocks. Instead they measure air temperature. Therefore what they call surface temperature is really air temperature.

    The air is cooling the ground but what’s cooling the air? (the surface temp.) In fact, air near the ground is cooled by convection via mass transfer to the upper atmosphere. This is not the process described by Newton’s law of cooling. You have to use Navier-Stokes equations for fluid motion.

    “In my opinion it is necessary to promote a new “Copernican revolution” in the usual and mediatic approach (after all we live in a mediatic era) to our atmosphere and climate vision.”

    After reading your terrible paper, I conclude you’re not promoting a new Copernican revolution. You are promoting a new Flat Earth theory.

  99. Christopher Game says:

    Here is an updated version of the article on the definition of heat transfer for open systems that I linked to in this thread in my post of February 23, 2012 at 10:30 AM, for those interested in thermodynamics: http://vixra.org/pdf/1111.0024v2.pdf

  100. Charlie Young says:

    It seems to me what most are missing with this discussion about the vaccum of space is this. The reason that a thermos works, is of course the vaccum, but also the inside of glass thermos is refective. This mirror finish slows the radiation transfer of heat out to the outside surfaces of the thermos. Deep space will allow an object to radiate its heat, because there is no mirror finish to obstruct the radiation.

  101. Tilo Reber says:

    PhysicistASU: “You totally misunderstand how this temperature is calculated. Everyone knows that space is largely devoid of matter. So completely empty space has no moving particles and thus no kinetic energy and thus not classical definition of temperature.”

    Okay, I think we can come to an agreement here. The actual temperature of empty space is zero. The computed temperature, using Planks law and the radiation passing through that space is 2.7K.

    If Plank’s law is computing, basically, what must be the radiative temperature of a black body that would put out the radiation that is measured at some point in space, then I have a problem with Plank’s law. The radiation that is passing through any part of empty space is radiation that comes from all the radiative sources in the entire universe. Unless a radiative source is intercepted by matter, it will travel from the source, in all directions, as a three dimensional wave. So any point in empty space has radiation from sources all over the universe traveling through it.

    But the problem is that that point in space is not the radiative source of any of that radiation traveling through it. Rather the radiation traveling through it originated millions of light years away. So what sense does it make to compute temperature at some point due to the radiative density when the source of that radiation, or the imaginary black body, is millions of light years away? In other words, there is no radiating black body at the point in space where we wish to measure temperature. So what sense does it make to compute its temperature.

    Getting back to the babbling John O’Sullivan, space is not a perfect insulator. The methods of heat transfer, as was stated in my first year undergraduate physics text, is conduction, convection, and radiation. And empty space is not the perfect insulator for radiation, it is the perfect conductor for radiation. But let’s also keep in mind that conduction, convection and radiation are not heat. They are simply methods for transfering heat.

  102. “And empty space is not the perfect insulator for radiation, it is the perfect conductor for radiation.”

    I think this may be the key statement for rebutting O’Sullivan. I predict that neither he nor his fellow travelers will reply to this.

    Thank you, Tilo.

    RTF

  103. don penman says:

    I agree that the Earth has a rate of flow of energy in and a rate of flow of energy out to space and these flows can be different,the earth can get hotter and the earth can get colder.An object in space in sunlight will be very hot on its sunlit side and very cold on its shaded side,a spacecraft is made to rotate slowly because of this effect.The computation of the rate of flow of radiation to space from the Earth is complicated by the Earth having an atmosphere.

  104. Gordon Robertson says:

    Roy…”No laws of thermodynamics are broken, because the net flow of radiation is still from the warmer object to the cooler object, despite the fact that the cooler object (the atmosphere) keeps the warmer object (the ground) warmer than if the atmosphere was not there. That’s the (so-called) greenhouse effect”.

    Roy…please…the 2nd law is not about radiation, it is about heat. The surface has heat due to warming from the Sun, and that heat is represented by increased agitation of molecules and atoms. The surface atoms emit a radiation at any temperature but emit radiation of a higher frequency when warmed by the Sun. The surface radiation causes certain molecules in the atmosphere to radiate, giving them heat.

    You know as a meteorologist there is more to it than that. The atmosphere is 98% nitrogen and oxygen, and I refuse to accept they are warmed by a greenhouse effect. The oceans are a far more likely cause of atmospheric warming.

    The 2nd law is about the difference in heat between the atmosphere and the surface, not about the radiation between them. The amount of heat in the atmosphere is lower than the amount of heat in the surface, and cannot radiate sufficient energy to raise the surface temperature beyond what it is warmed by solar energy.

    I don’t know why you are arguing against this because it backs your theory that positive feedbacks are not occurring in the atmosphere. You are arguing based on clouds, but the 2nd law has already ruled out positive feedback. If such a feedback could exist, the Earth would have been toast long ago, due to much higher levels of CO2.

    The positive feedback of models is proved wrong by the 2nd law. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Models are describing a perpetual motion machine.

  105. Christopher Game says:

    Response to the post of Gordon Robertson of March 1, 2012 at 3:31 PM.

    Gordon Robertson writes: “the 2nd law is not about radiation, it is about heat.”

    If Gordon Robertson will look carefully at reliable texts about the second law he will find that it is about more than heat alone. It is about radiation too. The second law can be said to be about entropy, which is a more abstract concept than heat. It might be said that the zeroth law is only about heat, taking the zeroth law to be what James Clerk Maxwell (1872) called the law of temperature, and what Planck (1903) stated in that regard, before the fancy name “zeroth law” was, apparently a little jocularly, applied to a rather careless statement of it by Fowler and Guggenheim (1939).

    I am not defending the dirty IPCC propaganda trick of talking about “positive feedback and amplification by water vapour”. I think such talk is scandalous nonsense. They cite the language of Bode’s book on amplifiers with feedback, but what they mean is nothing of the sort. In Dr Spencer’s eloquent term, they “bastardize” the Bode theory. The Bode theory in itself is of course admirable and excellent for its purpose.

    The Bode theory requires a circuit diagram, and the arbitrary tracing of a signal path and a feedback path. The amplifier is considered to be AC coupled, and to respond to all frequencies (some frequencies may have zero response) in a Fourier domain. The zero frequency represents the DC offset and does not admit change. The theory is dynamical and is properly regarded as amplifying the frequencies in its pass-band.

    An entirely different theory is needed for what the IPCC cheatingly calls its “feedback” and “amplification”. They are talking about a DC shift with no concern for a frequency response. A suitable theory for their story is that of the moderations and anti-moderations of the fixed points of steady states of open systems as described for example by Prigogine and Defay in “Chemical Thermodynamics”, (1954), translated by Everett, chapter 17, especially Sections 3 and 4. There is there no suggestion of feedback or amplification in the sense used by Bode’s admirable text. It is true that in the earth’s energy transport process the water-vapour/radiative coupling leads to what appears to be some degree of anti-moderation, that is to say an appearance opposite to the usual understanding of the LeChatelier-Braun moderation principle. But that is only one factor in the overall balance, and is probably outweighed by cloud processes, contrary to IPCC propaganda.

    If, instead of rabbiting on with a half-baked reminiscence of his student days’ “second law”, Gordon Robertson would spend some time studying serious thermodynamics such as Prigogine and Defay 1954 he would be in a position to contribute usefully to the struggle against the evil IPCC.

  106. Gordon Robertson says:

    Christopher Game…never mind reliable texts, read Clausius, he wrote the law. Everything he talks about wrt to the 2nd law is about heat. He also coined the term entropy, and it is nothing more than a number that tells you something about the relative state (deviation from mean energy state) of the atoms or molecules in a body which is subjected to changing temperatures.

    http://www.humanthermodynamics.com/Clausius.html

    see the part near the bottom of the page on dS = dQ/T

    “We might call S the transformation content of the body, just as we termed the magnitude U its thermal and ergonal content…..I propose to call the magnitude S the entropy of the body, from the Greek word ?????, transformation”.

    The transformation is defined in the 6th memoir as the transformation of heat at one temperature to heat at another temperature. It’s all about the equivalence of work and heat. He refers to an equivalence transformation as Q/T.

    “In order for one body to impart heat to another by conduction or radiation (in the case of radiation, wherein mutual communication of heat takes place, it is to be understood that we speak here of a body which gives out more heat than it receives), the body which parts with heat must be warmer that [sic] the body which takes up heat; and hence the passage of heat between two bodies of different temperature can take place in one direction only, and not in the contrary direction”.

    I am astounded at your revelation that the IPCC used Bode’s theories on amplifiers and feedback. Did they not see ‘amplifiers’ in the material. Positive feedback requires an amplifier unless you are talking about DC servo-mechanisms where feedback merely refers to the sign.

    In an AC feedback system, an amplifier is mandatory. The amplifier works by running current from a power supply through one junction or channel of a transistor and controlling it with a smaller voltage or current applied to another junction. The key is the external power supplied by the power supply. Without it, amplifiers cannot work, obviously.

    Positive feedback is enabled when a small portion of the output is fed back to the input in such a phase that it increases the input signal. That cycle becomes amplified at the output and when the same portion is fed back, it increases the input signal again. Under the right conditions, you get a runaway output signal which is the tipping point in Hansen’s theories.

    That cannot happen in the atmosphere because there is no amplifier and no external power supply. Case closed. Engineer Jeffrey Glassman has already taken Gavin Schmidt of realclimate and NASA GISS to task on that because Schmidt plainly does not understand positive feedback and the requirement of gain.

  107. Gordon Robertson says:

    Don Penman…in the video on this page, which is fairly long, Dr. Tim Patterson and colleagues explain 4 variables in the Earth’s orbit and rotational properties, which when aligned in certain ways, could affect the Earth’s temperature drastically.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/01/canadian-senate-testimony-skeptic-side-now-being-heard-in-canadian-politics/

    This video is a hearing by a Canadian Senate committee who are hearing Canadian skeptical climate scientists. I was not overly impressed by their performance because I thought they lost the audience with far too much detail. I was encouraged by the fact that our government is listening, and they have taken certain actions based on the skeptic POV.

  108. Christopher Game says:

    Responding to the post of Gordon Robertson of March 3, 2012 at 2:19 PM.

    Thank you Gordon Robertson for your response.

    Gordon Robertson writes: “never mind reliable texts, read Clausius, he wrote the law. Everything he talks about wrt to the 2nd law is about heat. He also coined the term entropy, and it is nothing more than a number that tells you something about the relative state (deviation from mean energy state) of the atoms or molecules in a body which is subjected to changing temperatures.”

    Christopher responds: It is good to see that you have looked at the work of Clausius, which is most admirable. Your link to the Clausius page is valuable. It is true that thermodynamics really became a subject in its own right with the recognition of both the first and second laws around the middle of the 19th century. It is true that thermodynamics is mostly about the transfers of energy in ways labeled as ‘heat’ and ‘work’. Nevertheless, your remark that entropy is “nothing more than … ” does not do justice to the concept. The formula you cite is of course only for a thermodynamically reversible process. Your citing Clausius does not excuse your cavalier and half-baked appeals to the “second law” as you see it. You need to lift your game there.

    In writing that the IPCC gang cites Bode I am only reporting their crimes, not endorsing them. I regret to say that my report is true, I am not making it up, ridiculous as it may seem. This is easy to check in the literature.

    As you rightly say, for an amplifier, a power-gain circuit-element is needed, supplied with an arbitrarily available auxiliary power source. And there is no such power source in the atmosphere. I have said this so often on this blog in the past that I don’t think I should expand on that again now. Like your engineer Jeffrey Glassman attacking Gavin Schmidt, as I read you about him, I have on this blog repeatedly attacked the IPCC “positive feedback” story as a vicious abuse of language and of their citation of Bode.

    But I think the idea of anti-moderation, and its comparison with the LeChatelier-Braun moderation principle, as outlined by Prigogine and Defay 1954 for open systems, cited above, is relevant here. I think if you are really interested in a thermodynamic approach to this subject, that text would be very useful to you, and to us, if you would follow it up.

  109. Dr. Strangelove says:

    “for an amplifier, a power-gain circuit-element is needed, supplied with an arbitrarily available auxiliary power source. And there is no such power source in the atmosphere”

    The analogy is inapproriate because the atmosphere is not an electrical circuit. The source of heat in the atmosphere is ultimately the sun. The so-called positive feedback is simply reducing radiative heat transfer from atmosphere to space resulting to more incoming solar radation than outgoing radiation. Surface temperature will increase until outgoing radiation equals incoming (hence warming).

    There’s no violation of 2nd law of thermodynamics because net heat is always flowing in one direction from hot earth to cold space. Only the rate of heat flow is changing not the direction.

  110. Christopher Game says:

    Response to the post of Dr. Strangelove of March 4, 2012 at 9:45 PM.

    Dr Strangelove writes: “The analogy is inapproriate because the atmosphere is not an electrical circuit.”

    It would be ok for them to make such an analogy if it were a fitting one. The point that we agree on is that it is not a fitting analogy.

    An analogy to a system with an input and output of energy thinks of signal transfer from input to output. It may be that the signal is a weak one, such as a radio message, or a strong one, such as a grid mains power supply. The sun’s signal is obviously strong, and no power supply on earth can add significant power to it, as would be needed for amplification.

    The relevant electrical circuit analogy is to a filter, which dissipates some of the input signal power to heat. It does not amplify as deceptively suggested by the IPCC, but attenuates, of course, and radiates the dissipated heat to space.

    Of course there’s no violation of the second law, but just because one says “second law” those words alone don’t make one’s physics valid. More is needed. Anti-moderation is in accord with the second law and valid physics overall.

  111. ChrisGreen says:

    One problem with this article. The blackbody radiation of the atmosphere will emit radiation to the ground, heating it up. Furthermore, the kinetic energy of air molecules will, sometimes impart more kinetic energy to the ground molecules than they take from them. However, on average, the molecules of a colder atmosphere will absorb a lot more kinetic energy from ground molecules than they impart. Shouldn’t this effect dwarf the radiative effects of the atmosphere? If that is the case, than a colder atmosphere will take more energy from the ground than if there were no atmosphere at all. Of course, it all probably all depends on HOW much colder the atmosphere is.

  112. Dr. Strangelove says:

    “The relevant electrical circuit analogy is to a filter, which dissipates some of the input signal power to heat. It does not amplify as deceptively suggested by the IPCC, but attenuates, of course, and radiates the dissipated heat to space.”

    The more relevant electrical circuit analogy is to a bare copper wire, which dissipates some of the input power to heat. It does not amplify but attenuates and radiates the dissipated heat to space. Now put a rubber heat insulator around the wire. The rate of radiation to space decreases and the temperature of wire increases.

    @green

    “The blackbody radiation of the atmosphere will emit radiation to the ground, heating it up.”

    Net heat flow from atmosphere to ground is possible only if atmosphere is hotter than ground. That is not true for earth because atmosphere is largely transparent to white light of sun but the ground is not.

    “Shouldn’t this effect dwarf the radiative effects of the atmosphere?”

  113. Dr. Strangelove says:

    @green

    “Shouldn’t this effect dwarf the radiative effects of the atmosphere? If that is the case, then a colder atmosphere will take more energy from the ground than if there were no atmosphere at all.”

    No. The fact that the atmosphere has temperature means it is absorbing some heat from solar and earth radiations. Without atmosphere, earth surface is exposed to space and no barrier to outgoing radiation. Radiative equilibrium temperature is -18C.

  114. Iceskater says:

    Dr Spencer, are you able to confirm that you think that radiation transfer to space is the same with or without the backradiation idea, because heat loss to space is in any case reduced by the temperature differences, where such reductions in heat losses are just part of basic engineering knowledge?

    You suggested this was the case in response to Claes Johnson who claims backradiation cannot exist.

    Does a climate model need the backradiation idea?

    (I realise if a person disputes backradiation then they need an elaborate alternative explanation for the basic engineers radiation heat loss curves, along the lines that bodies in space communicate with each other in some manner, by some method that nobody is aware of, or has evidence of at present)

    • Richard T. Fowler says:

      Iceskater,

      I don’t get why you are so concerned with what Spencer, who has not worked on Claes’ model, thinks about the outcome of a model that has not yet been calculated, or for which the results haven’t been reported.

      Has Spencer tried to calculate with Claes’ theories of climate thermodynamics and computational blackbody radiation? I think not. Have you? Based on our discussion over at Claes’ blog, I doubt it.

      I haven’t.

      The only person I am aware of who has is Claes.

      You seem somewhat interested to get Spencer on record now, before results are reported, deprecating the climate model as trivially giving the same results as existing ones, even while we know that calculations are in progress, and that results should be reported at some point. At that point, I would say it becomes highly relevant whether Spencer thinks that a climate model needs the backradation idea, because his answer is properly predicated on his analysis of Claes’ calculations and results.

      But with nothing solid to look at yet, why is it so critical to get Spencer on record once again deprecating the theories? Why can’t people just be happy that Claes is doing this work? Why do his theories have to be attacked as being trivially non-novel? I don’t understand it. I have been willing to admit on occasion, or at least suggest, that his theories might not work better in a climate model. Why can’t skeptics of his theories just say, “We’ll see”? Why is it so important that they go on record now deprecating the idea that the theories could work well and be novel? It comes across as rank censorship by chilling effect, and it comes across as people being desperate to stop the calculations for some strange reason.

      Do you not realize how that comes across to a typical outside observer who has a basic understanding of the theories? If not, I’ll tell you: it comes across very much like some critics actually suspect that the theories may indeed work and be novel and more accurate, but that they are for some reason afraid of this fact becoming public knowledge — so they are trying apply peer pressure to Claes.

      I just find this whole affair quite baffling. If people are so sure the theories are garbage or non-novel, why do they suddenly seem so anxious to stop the calculations? What are they so afraid of?

      RTF

  115. Iceskater says:

    Richard, It has nothing to do with Claes. I was having a long running unpleasant conversation with a person on the internet who said I was a crook and liar because I was trying to explain to him how the greenhouse effect worked using the established scientific principles of the last two hundred years, where a warm body kept warm by a hotter body will act to slow down radiation heat loss from the hotter body. The unknown issue to me is if the backradiation idea increases the situation in the earth situation or makes no difference.

  116. Gordon Robertson says:

    Dr. Strangelove …”The analogy is inapproriate because the atmosphere is not an electrical circuit”.

    The only place I can think of that positive feedback can exist is in an electrical circuit. Positive feedback REQUIRES amplification of an input signal that is augmented by a fraction of the output signal.

    It can happen in naturally resonant systems, as witnessed by the collapse of the Seattle-Tacoma Bridge, but the amplification comes through natural resonance. It can also happen with an electric guitar but not with an acoustic guitar. With an electric guitar, the output signal is broadcast by speakers and causes the guitar body and strings to vibrate. Adding that vibration to the guitar pickup, when re-amplified, produces a positive feedback Same with a microphone.

    That’s what positive feedback means. It refers to the additive effect, in a system with gain, realized by adding a signal to an input signal that is in phase with it. If the signal added is out of phase, it is negative feedback, and that is used in amplifiers to stabilize them.

    No such mechanism is available in the atmosphere. It is impossible for the surface to warm cooler gases in the atmosphere and have those gases radiate enough energy back to raise the temperature of the surface.

    You misunderstand the 2nd law. It was developed by Clausius when he noted a problem with the work of Carnot, who had claimed there were no losses when heat did work. We know now, thanks to Clausius and others, that there are always losses in a system, otherwise we would have perpetual motion machines.

    Claiming that the net flow of radiation from the warmer surface to the cooler atmosphere does not contradict the 2nd law makes no sense. Radiation is not heat, but radiation is produced by the heat in bodies. One would expect there to be a positive flow of radiation from a body with a higher heat content to one with a lower heat content. However, that radiation from the warmer body is due to it’s heat content and has nothing to do with the small fraction of GHG’s in the atmosphere.

    The GHGs slow nothing down, since EM radiation moves at the speed of light and there are simply not enough GHGs to make a difference. I think Roy mentioned that in another article, that most surface radiation bypasses the GHGs. There is simply no quantitative data that measures how much of the surface flux is absorbed by GHGs, and all we have are calculations based on blackbody equations.

    Claes has claimed there is no back-radiation, but Clausius suggests there is. Technically, I agree with Claes. GHGs are not back-radiating, they are simply radiating, as all bodies do with temperatures above absolute zero. Only a portion of what they radiate reaches the surfaces, and in the case of CO2, only in a very narrow band of frequencies.

    However, Clausius makes it clear that the back-radiation could never raise the temperature of the surface. That makes perfect sense for the simple reason there are losses. You cannot have a warmer body radiate energy to warm a cooler body, and reuse that energy to raise the temperature of the warming body. That is absurd, and the product of a thought experiment gone wrong.

    The other argument, that GHGs slow down the release of heat comes across to me as nonsense. Physicist/meteorologist, Craig Bohren, referred to that trapping theory as a metaphor at best and at worst, plain silly. If you consider that all GHGs make up only 1% of atmospheric gases, and compare that to a 100 pane greenhouse, you would need to remove 99 panes of glass to get the equivalent effect of the atmosphere.

    Anthropogenic CO2, with a density close to 1/1000 of 1% of atmospheric gases, would have no chance of warming anything, let alone causing a positive feedback.

  117. Iceskater says:

    Gordon, If a naked women is surrounded on all sides top to bottom by naked men at a distance from her, and the air flow can pass easily between the men, and the men are exposed to a -20C environment then she is going to live longer than they can.

  118. Myrrh says:

    H Dahlsveen says:
    February 22, 2012 at 4:32 PM
    Come on Roy Spencer Ph..D cold objects have always been used to cool warm things down.
    But, have you ever noticed how the CAGW crowd always indoctrinate beliefs that are directly opposite to facts? – The biggest and bravest one: “As the Oceans warm they expel more CO2 – But, when the Oceans cool they absorb more CO2!”

    What a lot of rubbish!

    CO2 is a water repellant, it will never volunteer to mix with water, never mind what the temperature is.

    CO2 must be pressurized into water-bottles to make ”The Fizz” You cannot entice CO2 into water just by altering/reducing the water temps.

    =====================

    All pure clean rain is carbonic acid, water and carbon dioxide; so is fog, dew – that’s why iron rusts outdoors..

    They have an irresistable attraction for each other.

  119. Myrrh says:

    Dr. Strangelove says:
    February 27, 2012 at 9:26 PM
    The water cycle does not cool earth’s surface. The latent heat of vaporization of water is the same for evaporation and condensation. It means the heat absorbed by evaporation is equal to the heat released by condensation. There is no net cooling or heating by the water cycle.

    ===============

    Of course it does – think deserts. The Earth with our real atmosphere, our heavy ocean of fluid gas mainly nitrogen and oxygen, but without water, so no water cycle, would be around 67°C. Water cools the Earth by 52°C.

    There is no AGW claimed ’33°C greenhouse gas warming from -18°C to 15°C’ it doesn’t exist, it’s an illusion created by taking out the water cycle.

    It’s an imaginary fisics you’re all arguing about.