U.S. Temperature Update for April, 2012: +1.28 deg. C

May 1st, 2012 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

With John Christy out of the country for a several days and so our global temperature report being delayed, I thought I would update my new U.S.-only surface temperature dataset for April, 2012.

The April, 2012 U.S. temperature anomaly remained above average (+1.28 deg. C), but down considerably from the very warm March anomaly (+3.62 deg. C). That very unusual March warmth was traced to record strong southerly flow, which (as I discussed here) is difficult to blame on “global warming” because it must be matched by an equal amount of anomalously strong northerly flow elsewhere.

A quick recap regarding this new temperature dataset: the area averages for the contiguous U.S. are based upon approximately 300 stations in the NCDC Integrated Surface Hourly (ISH) archive, which is updated daily here. Most of the stations I use are National Weather Service or FAA reporting sites at airports. The stations must have been in continuous operation since 1973 for them to be included.

My computation of a daily average temperature from each station requires 4 observations (at 00, 06, 12, and 18 UTC, which are standard synoptic reporting times), and there must be at least 80% of the days present for a monthly average to be computed for a station. Then there must be 80% of the months available over the 1973-2012 period of record, including all of 1973 and 2011.

I quantified the average increase in station temperature trends with increasing population density, and adjusted all stations based upon that average relationship to a nominal population density of 1 person per sq. km (this involved no extrapolation). Presumably, this is adjusting for the urban heat island (UHI) effect which apparently grows over time (people tend to build more buildings, roads, parking lots, add more AC, etc.)

Here are the resulting monthly temperature departures from the period average (click for large version):

Note that the linear warming trend I get (+0.13 deg. C/decade) is about 50% of that I get from analyzing the USHCN data (+0.26 deg. C/decade).

It is also a considerable reduction below what I get if I perform no population density adjustment (+0.22 deg. C/decade). Since that population adjustment is so large, here are the data supporting it (click for large version):

The regression coefficient (.0422) has a standard error of estimate of about +/- 25%, which gives some idea of the level of uncertainty in the UHI adjustment I have made. The population adjustment is based upon the stations east of 115 deg. W longitude, since there did not appear to be a relationship between temperature trend and population west of that. The UHI adjustment is admittedly simple, being based only upon local population density in year 2000, and it might well be that some other method would do a better job of removing the UHI effect.

If you read my previous post on this new dataset, you might be wondering why I am now getting a warmer trend than I did before. When using hourly temperature data, it turns out you have to be careful because of the increase in the number of “special” (off-hour) reports in recent years, which changes the average local time of the observations. Now, I am only using observations taken in the 10 minutes before the top of the hour, which are the routine hourly reports that have been made for many decades. (I actually took some of those observations myself in the 1970s when I worked at a NWS office, so I have some familiarity with the issue.)

84 Responses to “U.S. Temperature Update for April, 2012: +1.28 deg. C”

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  1. Nikolaj says:

    So, if I correctly understand, your previous widely advertized results claiming almost no warming in the USA are incorrect. And the problem of inconsistency with your satellite data is, by a happy coincidence, also greatly reduced. I suppose that you could now proclaim that the two data sets are “largely consistent within their respective uncertainties”. (Gavin Schmidt 🙂 )

    • Jack Foster says:

      What are you talking about Nikolaj? Look at the long-term linear trend line . . .

    • Espen says:

      Nikolaj, I’m wondering about that too. The trend was 0.013/decade and is now 10x that.

      D. Cotton: Please start your own blog instead of infesting every other blog with a flood of (in this cae fairly off topic) comments!

  2. D J Cotton says:

    And what are we really observing in all this temperature data, Roy? Nothing but superimposed long and short term natural cycles.

    Do you want to know why I say this?

    A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If you cannot point me to even just some review of the various papers which brings it all together, then I can show you why the “warmist” chain has several weak links.

    Do you really want to know just some of the things which are wrong with the Trenberth energy analysis, for example? OK, here goes …

    (1) Order of uncertainty: TOA net radiative flux rarely in practice goes outside the range of plus or minus 0.5% of total incident solar radiation. Yet KT et al seem to think they can put together several “measurements” each of which is acknowledged to have at least 1% uncertainty, calculate a difference and somehow end up with a result like plus 0.5% instead of -0.5%. Basic statistics says the uncertainty in the result is far greater than 0.5% and so they cannot determine whether it is positive or negative with any reasonable certainty.

    (2) TOA net flux is highly likely in the long run merely to reflect what we already know, namely that for the period since the Little Ice Age the World has been warming at a mean rate of about 0.06 C degrees per decade, now reduced to about 0.05 C deg / decade in SST data, based on the gradient of the trend in 60 year moving averages. If there is in fact a 1,000 year natural cycle (probably related in some way to planetary orbits) then KT is telling us absolutely nothing that we could not deduce from the long-term records and historical information about such things as Roman and Medieval warming.

    (3) When thermal energy transfers from the surface to the atmosphere at least 70% does so by non-radiative processes This can be confirmed by the various laws of physics for evaporation, conduction (or diffusion) and radiation. KT diagram shows nothing like this breakdown, because he assumes that when “backradiation” is absorbed by the surface that its energy is converted to thermal energy, but he then assumes that all that new thermal energy acts differently from the other thermal energy in the surface. Apparently this new thermal energy remembers that it came from backradiation and thus exits 100% by radiation alone. (Now if he acknowledged that backradiation is in fact scattered then I would actually agree, but he doesn’t.)

    (4) Now look at the comparison of energy “absorbed by the surface” namely, 161 W/m^2 direct from the Sun and 333 W/m^2 from the atmosphere. With so much more from the atmosphere, why does a wooden table prevent frost forming beneath it when it shields the ground from some of this backradiation at night? Why can frost remain on the ground all day long in the shade of a tree, whilst the Sun quickly melts that which is not shaded? Why can’t we detect any warming whatsoever by backradiation at night, even in the most sensitive instruments? All we can detect in a bolometer, for example, is different rates of cooling of its plates.

    (5) The flux of backradiation is in fact “measured” by mere calculations which have to start with determining the mean temperature of the atmosphere. They then assume that carbon dioxide and its colleagues have a far higher emissivity than is the case, without having any empirical data to support this assumption. It is absurd to assume that a gas like carbon dioxide (emitting just a few spectral lines) can radiate anywhere near as much as a blackbody which emits all frequencies in its Planck distribution. Try inserting emissivity of, say, 0.02 and see how much backradiation you get from carbon dioxide. Obviously the vast majority (over 99%) is from water vapour.

    (6) Likewise KT assumes that the absorptivity of the surface is the same for backradiation as it is for solar radiation. This is absurd, when you acknowledge that absorptivity varies with the brightness temperature of the source, such as we see in a microwave oven.

    (7) At no point are most of my five points even discussed, let alone quantified. It is obviously critical to quantify the cooling effects of carbon dioxide as it captures 2 micron photons from the Sun which have five times the energy of 10 micron photons from the surface.

    Overall, whatever is calculated from energy diagrams and models based on such false assumptions is a matter of garbage in = garbage out.

    If you do not accurately consider the role of long-term and short-term natural cycles you are merely observing that these are happening and wrongly attributing the effect to anthropogenic causes. There is absolutely no basis for assuming from standard physics and statistics that carbon dioxide can have any effect whatsoever.

  3. Scott Supak says:

    You know you can bet on the Global Temperature Anomalies from NASA at Intrade?


    Monthly and yearly.

  4. Climatologists seem hang their hats upon statistical mechanics turning the Second Law of Thermodynamics on its head, so that they and fellow warmists can somehow believe they can have heat transfer from a cold atmosphere to a warm surface as shown in Trenberth energy budgets to which he referred and, apparently, with which he found no fault.

    Let me assure other silent readers that I am quite aware of the statistical mechanics approach to explaining the general Second Law of Physics relating to entropy. My point, however, is that the original Clausius statement of the more narrow Second Law of Thermodynamics is still applicable and far from being “new” simply because it was proposed in 1850 and has stood the test of time.

    We do not need to extend our considerations to entropy when we are merely questioning whether or not thermal energy is transferred from a cooler region of the atmosphere to a warmer region of the surface by radiation or any other spontaneous heat transfer mechanism. The SLoT says it cannot be transferred by such mechanisms, and that is all we need to know.

    We do not need to understand how or why the SLoT works for radiation. Claes and I have discussed a reasonable postulate as to a resonance mechanism causing scattering, but whether anyone chooses to believe this or not, it does not alter the fact the the SLoT cannot be violated.

    Yet Trenberth energy budget diagrams clearly show backradiation “absorbed by the surface” and thus they imply thermal energy is transferred from the atmosphere to the warmer surface. They then make a further blunder in assuming that all this new thermal energy then comes back to the atmosphere as radiation, none of it causing additional evaporation of the water it strikes, or additional sensible heat transfer from the land surfaces it supposedly warms.

    It is standard physics which tells us Trenberth is wrong about this. Physics also tells us about Planck distributions for which the area under the Planck curve represents a continuous spread of frequencies being radiated by a blackbody. And physics tells us that carbon dioxide has very limited frequencies at which it radiates, none of which are at their peaks at typical atmospheric temperatures, so CO2 has no hope of radiating anywhere near as much as a blackbody.

    There is nothing new in the physics mentioned here, which is quite sufficient to demonstrate the fact that AGW is a complete fabrication and travesty of physics.

    • RW says:


      “Yet Trenberth energy budget diagrams clearly show backradiation “absorbed by the surface” and thus they imply thermal energy is transferred from the atmosphere to the warmer surface.”

      How many times do we have to say that the 333 W/m^2 depicted by K&T is not ‘back radiation’ but rather just downward LW incident on the surface. You’re too unreasonable to converse with, which is probably why Roy and others just don’t even bother.

    Yes, RW, I am of course quite aware that it is downward LW (low frequency / low energy) radiation, nearly all of which emanates from regions in the atmosphere which are cooler than the region of the surface which it strikes, and probably less than 1% of it coming from carbon dioxide.

    It is Trenberth who labelled it “Backradiation” in the diagram in this paper.

    So what is your point? In fact the truth is that none of its electromagnetic energy can be converted to thermal energy in the warmer surface without violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    Maybe you’d care to comment on all the seven short comings listed in my first post above.

    • David Appell says:

      Doug: Have you ever noticed the assumption of adiabaticity in the 2nd Law?

    • RW says:


      “So what is your point?”

      I appreciate your passion and tenacity, but by my assessment you still haven’t adquately explained where the incoming power to sustain a surface temperature of 288K (about 390 W/m^2) is coming from. I’m not going to rehash it here. It’s all in the Cargo Cult Science thread.

      I should also point that Trenberth’s depiction doesn’t really explain it either – at least in any discernable way. I have argued this is big part of the problem, but again don’t want to rehash it again.

  6. barry says:

    Dr Spencer,

    Assuming the satellite data are free of UHI contamination, are you inclined to investigate why your methodology obtains such a different trend result to UAH/MSU, especially when omitting your population density adjustment results in a match with the satellite-derived trend for the USA48 (0.22C/decade)?

  7. D J Cotton says:

    Yes David, and there is no energy added by any external source which (in general) affects LW radiation from the atmosphere to the surface.

    What are you imagining? Even when CO2 captures incident IR radiation from the Sun in the 2 micron band (as it does) that radiation first warms it a little, but does not generally raise its temperature above that of the surface below. So when it subsequently emits some radiation to space and some to the surface, there can be no heat transfer to a warmer region of the surface just because the Sun warmed it a bit.

    I am more than happy to discuss any physical mechanism in the Earth / atmosphere system, but will not normally respond to further posts like this and RW’s which do not attempt to discuss any such process, or explain what it is that is troubling them.

    • David Appell says:

      Doug, there are huge amounts of energy entering and leaving the {atmosphere+surface} system — coming in from the Sun, and leaving via radiation to space. This is true even at long wavelengths, but in any case the 2nd law assumes total adiabaticity, not adiabaticity at certain wavelengths.

      The {atmosphere+surface} system simply isn’t thermally isolated, and therefore the 2nd Law does not apply to it.

  8. D J Cotton says:

    The following attempts to rebutt Claes and myself, citing our papers …


    The author of the article is mistaken. The SLoT has to apply (on a statistical basis over many molecules) no matter what. It is not about conservation of energy – that’s the First Law.

    In fact CO2 frequencies correspond to very low temperatures anyway, mostly only found in the mesosphere around -70 to -90 deg.C.

    No solid, liquid or gas can radiate any frequency at a greater intensity than that determined by the Planck curve. If it did it would indeed be possible to violate the SLoT. But this article is just hand waving and the author appears to be unaware of this important fact of physics.

    In fact, the spectral lines for CO2 are off to one side or the other in the Planck curve for its current temperature, and this means its total intensity of radiation is very restricted at atmospheric temperatures.

    Notice how the article fails to mention any of this basic physics.

    The resonating (resonant scattering) process does not require specific heat capacity because the energy that is re-radiated never became thermal energy. Individual atoms are just as capable of doing this radiating as are atoms in molecules of pure gases. There will be of course a statistical distribution involved.

  9. Kasuha says:

    “… adjusted all stations based upon that average relationship to a nominal population density of 1 person per sq. km (this involved no extrapolation).”

    “Note that the linear warming trend I get (+0.13 deg. C/decade)….”

    “Regression: y = 0.0422 x + 0.1318”

    Dear Dr. Spencer,

    According to your regression, average trend for areas with population of 1 person per square kilometer is approximately 0.17°C per decade (0.0422 + 0.1318). Please explain me why after your adjustment the average trend is lower than that and actually suspiciously close to the regression’s constant factor of 0.1318.

    Could you please provide a graph similar to your figure 2 in this article, but calculated from adjusted data? I am interested in how far from reality is my assumption that the regression in such a graph will give something like y = 0 x + 0.1318.

    Many thanks.

  10. D J Cotton says:

    David, I never said that you can apply the SLoT to the whole Earth/atmosphere system all at once – that would be impossible to confirm empirically.

    You are talking nonsense and you have let yourself be far too influenced by the “post physics” promulgated by climatologists to suit their political agenda.

    The original version of the SLoT stated by Clausius in 1850 “No process is possible whose sole result is the transfer of heat from a body of lower temperature to a body of higher temperature.” has stood the test of time and never been proven wrong in any simple heat transfer situation between any two objects or regions anywhere in the universe. The objects or regions can be as small as is possible to measure their temperature – or at least have a mass of several picograms according to statistical mechanics calculations.

    The SLoT applies to each separate independent (one-way) process between any two regions, such as a small region of the atmosphere and a small region of the Earth’s surface. This is why no one has ever been able to demonstrate a case of radiation from a cooler region of the atmosphere actually transferring thermal energy to a warmer region of the surface.

    Consider the figures shown in those energy diagrams. There’s twice as much energy shown as coming from the atmosphere as from the Sun. Yet the radiation from the atmosphere striking a bit of frost shaded from the Sun may not even melt the frost throughout a whole day. Go get your Nobel prize if you can prove any such radiation transfers heat to the surface and thus violates the SLoT.

    • RW says:


      “Consider the figures shown in those energy diagrams. There’s twice as much energy shown as coming from the atmosphere as from the Sun.”

      This is not true. Downward LW incident on the surface has multiple sources – not all of which last originated from the surface.

    • David Appell says:

      Doug: The 2nd Law does not apply to any arbitrary volume! It only applies to thermally isolated volumes — ones that do not have any heat gain or heat loss with their surroundings.

      I’m curious how you would explain home insulation. Installing it, while making no changes to one’s furnace, raises the temperature in a house. Do do you think that violates the 2nd Law?

  11. Doug Cotton says:

    David, this statement in Wikipedia may help you …

    “Spontaneously, heat cannot flow from cold regions to hot regions without external work being performed on the system, which is evident from ordinary experience of refrigeration, for example. In a refrigerator, heat flows from cold to hot, but only when forced by an external agent, a compressor.”

    The whole system does not have to be thermally isolated. You just have to be aware of whether or not work is being done on the system by an external source of energy. That work may or may not be sufficient to cause heat flow. This is why the SLoT is generally stated in negative terms.

    However, you can usually relate the work to warming the cooler object to a point where it is hotter than the other object, at which point heat starts to flow spontaneously to the previously warmer object. For example, electricity generates thermal energy in the filament of an electric jug. Heat then flows spontaneously from the hotter filament to the water, then from the water to the walls of the jug, then to the air in your kitchen and then to outside your house. We know all this will happen because the SLoT does indeed apply.

    • David Appell says:

      A huge amount of work is being done on the {atmosphere+surface} system — by the energy of the Sun.

      When the Earth reaches an equilibrium temperature, it emits an amount of energy equal to the energy being absorbed.

      But if something changes — if there is more or less energy incoming from the Sun, or something happens to block or unblock outgoing radiation, the temperature of the {atmosphere+surface} will adjust until equilibrium is again restored. Adiabaticity does not hold during the adjustment, and it especially does not hold in any arbitrary volume.

  12. Brian D says:

    April UAH I’m guessin round 0.31-0.35. Just havin some fun.

  13. Doug Cotton says:


    I didn’t say that. But I was talking about what the diagrams do in fact show, so my statement was true, thank you. Go back and read my words “radiation from the atmosphere.” There is no “record” carried by the photons as to where the radiation first originated – only information in the frequency distribution of the radiation which can be used to ascertain the temperature of the region in the atmosphere which it last left.

    David and RW

    As you know, radiation coming from the atmosphere originates from various energy sources – incident radiation from the Sun, thermal energy transported by non radiative processes from the surface and electromagnetic energy carried by radiation from the surface.

    The SLoT tells us that ….

    (a) radiation from a region on the surface cannot warm a region in the atmosphere to any temperature above that of the surface where it originated, and

    (b) radiation from the atmosphere certainly exists and some of it certainly strikes the surface, but, as explained in my paper, it cannot transfer any thermal energy to a warmer region on the surface.

  14. Doug Cotton says:

    Roy and other lukes and warmists – you have no answer for this.

    Warmists make the huge mistake of assuming they can add the emissivities of various mixed gases in the atmosphere. If you did that for all the elements in the surface you would get a total above 1.0 which is impossible, because no frequency can be radiated at an intensity of more than that which a blackbody would radiate, and so its intensity is limited by the Planck curve.

    If you think of the total area under the Planck curve as representing true blackbody radiation, then the area of the thin emission lines of a gas represent its emission. If, as is the case, the emission lines for CO2 mostly overlap those for water vapour, then adding CO2 to existing water vapour may have little or no additional effect on the amount of radiation from the atmosphere.

    This paper gives information about just how low is the emissivity of carbon dioxide. If there is one single point that really knocks AGW on the head, it is this.

    • flow in says:

      “because no frequency can be radiated at an intensity of more than that which a blackbody would radiate, and so its intensity is limited by the Planck curve.”

      Where on earth does this false assumption come from. It is actually a bedrock of warmist arguments.

      When IR is absorbed by a slow relaxing gas molecule, and causes a second, fast relaxing gas molecule to become excited due to physical collision, this results in a local loss of equilibrium, so the IR energy output of that fast molecule will be higher than if it was just receiving energy from the underlying black body.

      We can clearly see energy being emitted at above blackbody from spectra of stars. The excuse here is that the star is an ‘active’ process, but then no explanation of what ‘active’ is is given. Any time LTE is broken, there is an oportunity for energy to excede the underlying blackbody.

      If one stops to think about it, whatever energy is absorbed will be frequency shifted and released, in order to (and this is the real law) balance the energy above and below the blackbody curve for that equilibrium temperature.

  15. Doug Cotton says:

    David said “if something happens to block or unblock outgoing radiation, the temperature of the {atmosphere+surface} will adjust until equilibrium is again restored.

    But carbon dioxide cannot and does not “block outgoing radiation” as much as it blocks incoming incident solar radiation in the 2 micron band, which has five times the energy per photon as the 10 micron radiation from the surface.

    In any event, any temporary warming in the atmosphere rarely lasts beyond that night when everything settles back to the original equilibrium as is determined by the solar intensity and the adiabatic lapse rate, the latter depending on the force of gravity. There are weather variations due to variations in humidity, but weather is not climate.

    Before you reiterate any more of the IPCC & Co hoax, I suggest you start by reading my paper so you understand that not even the IPCC is claiming any longer that “blocking” radiation in the atmosphere can have any effect on surface temperatures. That was all dropped over a decade ago because they had to admit it had no empirical support. So then they came up with their conjecture that radiation from the atmosphere warmed the surface, which it can’t, and next to nothing comes from carbon dioxide anyway.


    • David Appell says:

      But Doug, while it’s true that photons with a wavelength of 2 microns have five times the energy as those with a wavelength of 10 microns, there are many, many more such photons from the surface than there are from the Sun.

      You have to compare the spectral radiance as computed from the Planck law. Using an incoming blackbody spectrum of 340 W/m2 from the Sun, and a Earth surface temperature of 288 K, you’ll find that the spectral radiance of 10 micron photons from below is about 10 million times that of 2 micron photons from above.

  16. Doug Cotton says:

    David. Making a general statement Adiabaticity does not hold .. in any arbitrary volume” does not mean you can either write off the SLoT or assume it won’t work or can be violated. You demonstrate no “feel” for physics and have a lot to learn in that regard, which hopefully you may by the time you’ve been involved with it for over 50 years as I have. For example, my hot coffee will still transfer heat to the cooler air in my room even if the Sun is shining in the window and warming the air a bit. The heat flow would only be reversed if the Sun somehow raised the air temperature in the room above that of the coffee. The Sun is not going to warm a region in the atmosphere which might be, say, -25 deg.C to a temperature above that of the surface below which it is also warming. All that matters when determining the direction of heat transfer is the relative temperatures of the region in the atmosphere and the region in the surface.

  17. Gordon Robertson says:

    DJ Cotton “KT [Kiehle-Trenberth] diagram shows nothing like this breakdown, because he assumes that when “backradiation” is absorbed by the surface that its energy is converted to thermal energy…”

    If it is back-radiation, it is not possible for it to be absorbed by the surface. If you read Clausius on that, it is not possible for heat to be transferred from a cooler body to a warmer body, even though radiation goes both ways. KT are obviously confusing thermal energy with infrared energy. There’s no reason why lower energy infrared from the atmosphere should cause atoms in the surface to vibrate harder than they vibrate due to the warmer solar energy.

    I have no doubt that KT have measured something from the atmosphere but they have jumped to the wrong conclusion by presuming it warms the surface.

    Furthermore, energy radiated from the surface is a loss at the surface. Before GHGs can warm the surface more than it is warmed by solar radiation, that fraction of surface energy absorbed by GHGs must make up the losses.

    That’s why the 2nd law applies and positive feedback is not possible. You cannot cycle thermal energy in such a manner as to increase the heat content.

    KT have confused themselves by trying to balance the radiation budget using generous guesses, and they admit to that. Their work is no better than science fiction.

  18. Ray says:

    Brian D says:
    “April UAH I’m guessin round 0.31-0.35. Just havin some fun.”
    Personally I think that’s a bit high.
    My own guess is 0.2c to 0.3c.

  19. Christopher Game says:

    It is disappointing to see that Doug Cotton, RW, and Gordon Robertson still occupy so much of this blog. Each is pushing his own fruit-cake dogma of homespun pseudo-physics, and has been doing so for quite a long time.

  20. Niels A Nielsen says:

    Please moderate Doug Cotton, Roy Spencer. Do not allow him to destroy the comment section of your interesting website with his utter nonsense.

  21. Doug Cotton says:

    It’s disappointing to see people like Christopher Game and Niels Nielsen advocating censorship of those who are in fact discussing real physics as distinct from the “post physics” which has been promulgated by climatologists as part of a political agenda to try to bluff the world into believing the greatest hoax ever aired on this planet.

    I challenge both of them to prove that carbon dioxide, when added to air which already contains water vapour radiating at similar frequencies to CO2, can add any significant amount of radiation to what is already there. I have linked documentation which explains why it does not. Furthermore, even if it did, I challenge them to produce any empirical evidence that any thermal energy is being transferred from a cooler region of the atmosphere to a warmer region of the surface anywhere.

    The garbage put forward by the IPCC & Co is a complete travesty of physics and an example of groupthink and the influence of political agendas which dictate the results they wish this pseudo “science” to confirm. Their arguments are riddled with errors.

    And now that $100,000,000,000 has been promised each year from 2020 so that developing countries can have expensive energy rather than good food, clean water, medicine and hospitals etc, countless lives that could have been saved will perish. Those who for their own purposes and agenda continue to propagate the lies should think about what it is they hope to achieve.

    The world is warming, yes, by about another 1 degree before climate reaches a maximum in a 1,000 year natural cycle – and then it will cool for 500 years – totally beyond the control of mankind. Natural cycles account for and predict all climate variations up to and including the current trend since 1998. IPCC models do not because they are based on utter garbage.

    The greatest contribution Roy Spencer could make would be to look into all this and about face on his luke warm beliefs, setting an example to the rest of the climatologists, few of whom really understand physics.

    There are well over 30 knowledgeable people at Principia Scientific International and any of us would be willing to correspond with Roy or any climatologist open to listening and finding out exactly where and why AGW fails.

  22. David Appell, it would seem that you have had no experience and no understanding of heat transfer. If in a building a thermal fluid at a temperature of 60C is circulated, the maximum temperature that can be obtained in a space is 60C with no heat loss and 100% insulation. Insulation can not increase the temperature higher than 60C. Insulation only reduces the heat loss which mitigates the reduction in space temperature. The same applies in an insulated furnace (used for controlled temperature input to a process such as a drier). Insulation does not increase flame temperature which is the result of fuel/air ratio and burner design.
    Doug Cotton is correct. The heat absorption of CO2 in the atmosphere is insignificant. This can be calculating using the formulae devised by Prof Hoyt Hottel (suggest you look up this great chemical engineer at Wiki) from empirical data obtained over years of research.

  23. Doug Cotton says:

    David thinks the cooling effect of CO2 relates to spectral radiance and he claims a factor of “10 million times” somewhere out of mid air. People need only to look at Charles R Anderson’s paper Do IR Absorbing Gases Warm or Cool the Earth;s Surface?” to read …

    “The term the greenhouse global warming alarmists carry on so much about is only 13% of the cooling effect of IR absorbing gases due to keeping heat away from the surface by absorbing the incoming solar radiation.”

    All the calculations are there for you to see, my friend. And, besides, there is absolutely no warming effect, but the cooling effect is very real, no matter how small.

    Have you ever wondered why the thermosphere is far hotter than the surface? The relatively few molecules up there are certainly absorbing solar radiation.

    Have you ever wondered why the stratosphere’s temperature varies in an annual cycle which is correlated with the solar intensity, being warmest (less cold) at the time of the perihelion around January 3rd or 4th? Nothing else appears to affect its temperature which just keeps following this cyclic pattern year after year, quite contrary to what AGW alarmists think it should.

  24. Doug Cotton says:

    There’s a graphic in Section 6 of my paper which shows the amount of absorption of solar IR by CO2 around 2 microns. It is not hard to see by eye that this is far more than one 10 millionth of the total solar flux at TOA, which is itself several times the flux radiated by the surface to the atmosphere, as shown in this net energy budget which, by the way, is a good representation of how much heat flows in which direction.

    So readers can judge for themselves as to the veracity or otherwise of David’s calculations.

    PS Sorry about the incorrectly labelled link to an item about the thermosphere in my last post.

  25. Christopher Game says:

    Responding to the post of Doug Cotton of May 3, 2012 at 5:11 PM.

    Carbon dioxide absorbs/emits at frequencies that lie within the ‘atmospheric window’, a sort of gap in the water vapour spectrum. Doug Cotton writes of “similar frequencies”. The strong CO2 band encroaching on the low frequency end of the atmospheric window is the dissimilarity of frequencies that gives the lie to Doug’s story here.

    Thermodynamicists do not admit Doug’s “thermal energy” as a well-defined concept; Clausius 1850 explains why.

    No one thinks that there is net radiative transfer from a cooler region of the atmosphere to a warmer region. Doug’s challenge there is a straw man. On the other hand, most people know of Prevost’s 1791 exchange principle, by which net radiative transfer from a hotter region to a cooler region is a net result of real actual radiative exchange both ways, that from the hotter to the cooler outweighing that from the cooler to the hotter. Doug hasn’t read or understood basic textbooks or overwhelming experimental evidence for Prevost’s exchange principle.

    Dr Spencer is very tolerant that he lets Doug Cotton babble on so much.

  26. RW says:

    Christopher Game, you say

    “It is disappointing to see that Doug Cotton, RW, and Gordon Robertson still occupy so much of this blog. Each is pushing his own fruit-cake dogma of homespun pseudo-physics, and has been doing so for quite a long time.”

    Oh come on Christopher. I don’t agree with Doug Cotton, nor do I think the GHE violates the 2nd law. Give me some credit here.

    Yes, I disagree with a few aspects of Trenberth’s energy flow depiction, but I agree with the accepted understanding of the GHE and atmospheric physics.

    I agree with Roy that Trenberth’s depiction is largely correct, but I just can’t accept there is no non-radiative return path from the atmosphere back to the surface. The combination of this and designating all the downward LW at the surface as ‘back radiation’ makes it look like the effect of atmospheric absorption of surface radiation is much greater than it actually is.

  27. Doug Cotton says:


    If there is any overlap of frequencies (as of course there is) then the additional effect of CO2 is reduced. You do not appear to have read the linked paper by a well known professor of physics in an earlier comment above.

    Of course I am aware of what Prevost claimed. I just don’t agree. His was an attempt to explain the effect of incident radiation upon other radiation being emitted. Mathematically he was correct, and his results agree with those of Claes and myself. if you treat his “exchange” as being what is happening in the resonant scattering as the incident radiation supplies EM energy for the re-emission, then we all agree.

    However, there can be one way radiation, and there can be less radiation from hot to cold than from cold to hot. In general, the heat transfer mechanism is in no way explained by Prevost or anything but what Claes and I have been saying.

    When the first rays of the Sun each morning penetrate the oceans and warm the sub-surface layers of water, this can be explained by what we are saying and it obeys the SLoT. But what about the first rays from the dark side of the Moon which may be at a similar temperature to some region in the atmosphere? Is there any warming no matter how minute? Do those rays penetrate the water or not? Is there any corresponding dependent radiation back to the Moon or the Sun? What mechanism in your mind determines whether heat is transferred or not by such rays from the Moon? Think about that one, my friend.

    As for “thermal energy” not being a “well defined concept” well at least in this case I’m happy enough with Wikipedia’s explanation. It’s the energy that gets transferred if and only if there is heat transfer. OK?

  28. Steveta_uk says:

    Cementafreind asked: “If in a building a thermal fluid at a temperature of 60C is circulated, the maximum temperature that can be obtained in a space is 60C with no heat loss and 100% insulation.”

    Can’t see anyone going to argue with that.

    But how about this: If in a building a thermal fluid at a temperature of 60C is circulated with poor insulation, then the maximum attainable with a particular external climate may be perhaps 15C. If the insulation is improved, then perhaps the internal temperature under the same conditions might be 20C.

    Would you argue that since the heating is still running at 60C, then the building isn’t any warmer?

    If so, you really are thick.

  29. Christopher Game says:

    Response to the post of Doug Cotton of May 4, 2012 at 8:29 AM.

    Dear Doug, it is good that you are busy opposing the diabolical IPCC. But we need good science to beat them, not homespun Wikipedia-reliant pseudo-science.

    I have read as much as I could endure of your “well-known professor”‘s chatter. You don’t understand the nature of thermal radiation. You write: “There can be less radiation from hot to cold than from cold to hot.” That shows that you don’t understand the physics. Try reading Planck.

    You should read a textbook of thermodynamics written by a physicist to understand why “thermal energy” is an engineers’ quick-and-dirty patch, not a well-defined physical concept. That you cite the Wikipedia as your support just shows that you are lazy as a scholar, and helps to explain why you put such unjustified faith in your professor, but obviously there are other contributing factors to that.

  30. David says:

    It will be interested to see what the Spencer & Christy’s satellite figures show for April. RSS checked in at +0.333C, the warmest month since September 2010. The Northern Hemisphere (above 20N) experienced its second warmest month in the RSS satellite record, with an anomaly of +0.918C, trailing only August 2010’s +0.976C anomaly. For the continental U.S., RSS shows +1.753C, a bit above Dr. Spencer’s ISH data. March was +3.300C in the contiguous U.S., according to RSS — easily the warmest in the record.

  31. Brian D says:

    My estimate above should be close then for UAH.

  32. Doug Cotton says:

    Christopher. Do you really think that in over 50 years of studying and helping school and university students with physics that I am not aware of what standard physics textbooks say? The problem with climatologists and people like yourself is that you think textbook examples (like two parallel metal plates) are always applicable in the Earth / atmosphere system wherein other heat transfer mechanisms also operate simultaneously.

    Of course you can have more radiation from cold to hot in such circumstances, and I have given examples such as radiation from the dark side of the Moon. Answer that question, my friend.

    Every single process in which radiation travels one way from a small region A to a small region B has to stand alone as an independent process obeying the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Heat is transferred by that one way process if and only if the temperature of B is less than that of A. Just because electromagnetic energy travels from A to B does not mean that there is a heat transfer.

    Hence, radiation from the dark side of the Moon (at say half-Moon) where it is colder than the water in a lake on Earth will not cause any heat transfer at all to, for example, a layer of water just below the surface. Hence all of it is reflected or scattered right at the surface, because if it were not so then the sub-surface water would be warmed. There is no coinciding, compensating radiation from that sub-surface layer. In contrast, solar radiation does warm water below the surface.

    Think, man, think instead of just applying physics formulas all the time without thinking of the prerequisites and applicability or otherwise.!


    • David Appell says:

      Doug: Regarding your statement in bold….

      Do you agree that electromagnetic radiation carries energy?

      If so, what do you think happens to that one-way energy when it strikes region B?

      If you wish, you can divide your answer into three parts, depending on the relative temperatures of the regions:
      1) T(B) T(A)

  33. Doug Cotton says:

    Looks like Steveta is back again with insulation examples which prove nothing. Of course you’re totally correct about the house. So what. Go and read my peer-reviewed paper if you want to understand why your example is irrelevant. I don’t have time to type it all out again here, seeing that there are 6,600 words plus graphics.

    Oh well, at least I have climate facts backing up what I say and proving that CO2 has no warming effect, as explained in the Appendix of my paper. All climate variations can be totally explained by long and short term superimposed natural cycles – the very reason why there will be no warming until at least 2028 and, within 200 years, there will be no more than an extra 1 C degree or so before 500 years of cooling.

    • David Appell says:

      A peer-reviewed paper? Come on. principia-scientific.org was created by those who deny accepted science specifically to manufacture the appearance of legitimacy. The “papers” it publishes have little-to-no chance of appearing in the established, mainstream scientific literature, and the “peers” it uses are all of a similar denialist mindset. It’s a vanity press, and until such “papers” appear in real scientific journals the ideas in them will be seen as nothing but pseudoscience.

  34. Doug Cotton says:

    You can think that if you like, David. You can trust in a manipulated “peer review” system controlled by the AGW proponents if you wish.

    Being on the inside at PSI I am, I suggest, far more aware of the experience, understanding and knowledge of many of the three dozen or so members. But, more importantly, I am aware of what happens, indeed must happen with heat transfer mechanisms. You are always welcome to attempt to publish a rebuttal of my paper. Those who have tried so far have not even got as far as understanding the main points. And has anyone proven Claes Johnson, a professor of applied mathematics, wrong in his computations?

    There will always be people like yourself whose only defence of their position on climate change is to attempt to rubbish those who oppose their view, not with physics but with mere verbal waffle.

    • David Appell says:

      Doug, the mainstream scientific literature is hardly “controlled” by “AGW proponents,” and it constantly publishes papers that question various aspects of climate science. Thinking it’s biased is simply a way for you to maintain the illusion that your ideas have scientific merit, when, as many people point out even here, and as Roy Spencer has written about at length, they do not.

      Have you ever submitted one of your contrary papers to a mainstream peer reviewed journal?

      Claes Johnson seems to disprove about two major scientific findings a week. He scores quite high on John Baez’s Crackpot Index:

      It’s good to constantly question science — in fact, that’s what all scientists do, and it’s precisely what gives science the strong foundation is has. But you have to know and understand that foundation first in order to build on it.

  35. mohammad says:

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  36. mobihci says:

    the light from the moon has little heat due to a lack of intensity. intensity is the amount of photons present of that particular frequency. while the photons may be high energy (up in the visible range), there are so few that the surface that captures them will absorb, reflect them with little change to the energy state of the surface. this has little to do with the surface other than if the surface has so little energy, that the few photons it does absorb are enough to drive it to a higher energy level.

    the co2 effect is a top down event. the warming is supposed to take place in the upper troposphere where co2, water vapour is not as saturated as in the lower atmosphere.

    as there is more blockage to the escaping radiation or as the ghg goes up higher in the atmosphere where it is cooler, the radiation is more likely to be absorbed. another way to look at it, when the molecules are in a cooler area where co2 starts its absorption, there is more radiation absorbed.

    so with a warming upper boundary due to more ghg, the flow on effect is to cascade warming down to the surface, because heat transfer in the lower atmosphere is mainly convection & conduction, not radiative transfer.

    as there is a warmer zone now to transfer heat to, the still warmer surface now does not transfer as much heat as it used to.

    what this also means however is that there should be more warming in the upper tropical troposphere because water vapour is supposed to be the main ‘feedback’ of a warming surface. so does this exist? no

    there is no empirical evidence that the upper troposphere is warming faster than the surface as per ipcc models. so either the water vapour feedbacks according to the ipcc and current models are wrong, or the co2 is just not up there.

    kckitrick did a paper on this showing just how wrong the models are-



  37. Scarface says:

    How is the Global Tempetature Anomaly for April doing?

  38. Doug Cotton says:

    No one has been able to explain satisfactorily why radiation from the warm side of the Moon does penetrate water on Earth and warm it below the surface a tiny bit, whilst absolutely none of the radiation from the cold side penetrates at all, but is 100.000..% either reflected or scattered.

    Mobihci (who is somewhat behind even the IPCC in his thinking about a “blocking ” effect) also thinks “there are so few that the surface that captures them will absorb” but he is mistaken about that also, because “so few” is not the same as zero.

    And David still thinks he can change my mind by waffling on about peer review issues and quoting third parties whom he thinks refuted Claes successfully, but in fact failed to do so, simply because what Claes says about warmer bodies not receiving heat transfers from cooler bodies is correct – just as Clausius said in 1850.

    David and others need to come to grips with the fact that “post physics” is based on assumptions that include theoretical two-way heat transfer with a “net” effect – but this is contrary to the physics of Clausius in 1850. So who’s right?

    But I notice David never wants to discuss actual physics, nor the mechanisms and details explained in both my paper and Prof Johnson’s.

    It has nothing to do with intensity – only frequency matters. When will you guys understand that the microwave oven in your kitchen proves that even very high intensity radiation (far more intense than Solar radiation at the Earth’s surface) will not warm things by atomic absorption because its frequency is too low? So too is the frequency in radiation from the atmosphere. QED>
    By the way, David, several more new members have just joined PSI, and numbers are expected to top 100 within a year. Why do you thing someone like Jim Peden would join? Jim is a member of both the National Physics Honor Society (Sigma Pi Sigma) and the National Mathematics Honor Society (Pi Mu Epsilon) and carries a current Mensa card in his wallet. As an atmospheric physics researcher Jim has been involved in the study of charge transfer reactions between atmospheric gas ions and metallic atoms in the upper atmosphere.

    PSI has two aims, officially stated as …

    (a) to become established as a new independent international science association offering member services (inc. peer-reviewed publishing) while advocating for the traditional scientific method

    (b) Building a petition (somewhat akin to the Oregon Petition) signed by scientists/engineers who wish to formally register their support for the traditional scientific method while denouncing the rise of post-normal science.

  39. Doug Cotton says:

    This is interesting and relevant …
    An internal study by the U.S. EPA completed by Dr. Alan Carlin and John Davidson concluded the IPCC was wrong about global warming. One statement in the executive summary stated that a 2009 paper found that the crucial assumption in the Greenhouse Climate Models (GCM) used by the IPCC concerning a strong positive feedback from water vapor is not supported by empirical evidence and that the feedback is actually negative. Water vapor in the atmosphere causes a cooling effect, not a warming one. Carbon dioxide also causes a slight cooling effect but it so small it could never be measured by man’s instrumentation.

    EPA tried to bury the report. An email from Al McGartland, Office Director of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE), to Dr. Alan Carlin, Senior Operations Research Analyst at NCEE, forbade him from speaking to anyone outside NCEE on endangerment issues. In a March 17 email from McGartland to Carlin, stated that he will not forward Carlin’s study. “The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The administrator (Lisa Jackson) and the administration have decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision. …. I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.” A second email from McGartland stated “I don’t want you to spend any additional EPA time on climate change.”

    McGartland’s emails demonstrate that he was rejecting Dr. Carlin’s study because its conclusions ran counter to the EPA’s current position. Yet this study had its basis in three prior reports by Carlin (two in 2007 and one in 2008) that were accepted. Another government cover-up, just what the United States does not need.

    Eliminate this regulation immediately. This is a scientific tragedy.

  40. mobihci says:


    at the molecular level water and water vapour do absorb-


    some of the observed lines there.


    shows the structure.

    the wavelength does not define the frequencies that will be absorbed, only the structure of the molecule and the many different ways it can rattle about. there are many harmonics/subharmonics there for each freedom.

    intensity is how many photons of that particular frequency exist, so in the case of the microwave oven, there are MANY photons around the 2.45GHz blasting out of the magnetron.

    the possibility of absorption of the photons in the water molecules in the food increases as the number increases, so while the intensity is very low there are few photons, and while there will be some water molecules excited by the photons, the ability of the molecule to warm the surrounding matter will entirely depend on how many other molecules exist that are warmer.

    the same problem the moonlight has, there is a very low intensity, so instead of eg the magnetron pushing out 1kw, we turn it down to 1w, the few photons that are now being pushed out by the magnetron will result in NO warming, well of course there will be some, but you see the problem with trying to warm the earths surface with moonlight.

  41. Doug Cotton says:


    You’d better read my paper as so many things you say are contrary to the real facts explained therein.

    In the paper you will learn that absorptivity is a function of temperature and hence of the frequency (and wavelength of course) of the radiation and the temperature of the target. If this were not the case then the universe would go crazy violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics all the time. Fortunately for us it doesn’t.

    Of course water vapour absorbs under certain conditions. For example, it absorbs quite a lot of incoming solar radiation and thus keeps the surface cooler during the day. But the atoms in liquid water in a microwave oven are not excited to higher energy states. Nor are they in ice cubes or any element on Earth.

    There is absolutely no absorption at the atomic level leading to heat transfer by anything receiving such low frequency radiation in a microwave oven, regardless of how high the intensity. In the same way, there is absolutely no absorption leading to heat transfer by regions of the Earth’s surface which are receiving radiation from a cooler region of the atmosphere.

    The intensity in a microwave oven is not low – it is very high compared with the Sun’s radiation at the surface.

    So why does the Sun warm up those plastic microwave bowls which don’t get warmed in the microwave oven even though it produces radiation of much higher intensity?

    There is some heat transfer to the Earth’s surface from the warm side of the Moon because it is hotter than the surface. There is absolutely no heat transfer from the cold side of the Moon because it is colder than the surface.

    If you want to learn why, read my paper. Feel free to discuss the points made therein, but don’t come back with more assertive statements without even reading it.

  42. mobihci says:


    there are three forms of absorption to consider, in the lower frequencies such as microwave, rotation is the fundamental form, as you go higher to infrared it is vibrational states, higher into the visible and uv, you get electronic transitions. there can be combinations too.

    in the microwave oven situation, the water molecules are rotated about the dipole. this is just another form of absorption. the energy that goes into moving this molecule is the energy carried by the photons/radiation.

    plastic does not heat well in a microwave because there is little water in it.

    if you adjust the frequency up to the visible range by removing the magnetron and placing a laser in there instead, then yes, you would have a much more effective heat source for a wider range of molecules, but at the same time there would be little to no penetration into the food.

    a laser is a fine example of intensity. you can shine a low intensity beam of light and have no warming, by increasing the intensity (more photons, more energy) of the beam, you start to see more absorption at the target, even if that material has few absorbers in it.

    the ‘temperature’ of the target will not change the fact that these photons are present. the absorbers will reach a state where any further energy gained will be lost via the surrounding molecules and a balance is reached.

    when intensity is higher, there is more chance of the photons coming across a molecule in a lower state. when the frequency is higher, there is more chance of coming a cross an absorber. both conditions exist together.

  43. Doug Cotton says:

    As you can read in the Appendix of my paper, a laser is not an example of what happens with spontaneous emission such as happens in the Earth’s atmosphere. A laser does not violate the SLoT simply because energy is being added. The effect of the necessary inversion makes its radiation equivalent to that of a much higher temperature source.

    Yes of course you are correct about the microwave oven heating water molecules by flipping them through 180 degrees as each half of a wavelength passes by. This only happens in a narrow range of frequencies that resonate physically with the whole molecules. Nothing like this happens with spontaneous emission from the atmosphere.

    Aren’t you the slightest bit curious as to why all those photons in the quite high intensity (but low frequency) radiation in the microwave oven don’t heat the plastic, when the much lower intensity solar radiation does? You’ll find the reason in Prof Claes Johnson’s Computational Blackbody Radiation. linked from this page on my website.

    Meanwhile remember that (as advised in a post above) “An internal study by the U.S. EPA completed by Dr. Alan Carlin and John Davidson concluded the IPCC was wrong about global warming.”

  44. Doug Cotton says:

    By the way, you said “if you adjust the frequency up to the visible range by removing the magnetron and placing a laser in there instead” but not all lasers operate in the visible range. What about 15 micron carbon dioxide lasers that can cut metal sheeting? You really do have a lot to learn, my friend.

  45. Doug Cotton says:

    Suppose at night we consider a small region of the atmosphere, A and a small region of the surface, S.

    Say that 60 W/m^2 goes from A to S but S then radiates 70 W/m^2 of which 50 W/m^2 goes to A but 20 W/m^2 goes directly to space through the atmospheric window.

    Hence, between A and S we have net radiation of 10 W/m^2 into the surface. So is there a heat transfer from the cold atmosphere to the warmer surface?

    No, there cannot be because any such heat transfer would violate the SLoT.

  46. mobihci says:


    absorption by water does not just happen in a narrow range of frequencies. eg consider the following-


    this chart here show the atmospheric attenuation over the spectrum from 10GHz to 300GHz.-


    you can see from that that there is quite a bit of loss involved with these frequencies.

    and when it rains you can see here the change in attenuation-


    on this same subject but with satellite communication, it can be seen around the 12.5GHz range (ku band) that rain affects the signal quite a bit, and if on the edge, a signal can be lost. this is just not enough of the photons from the source making it to your dish.

    Aren’t you the slightest bit curious as to why all those photons in the quite high intensity (but low frequency) radiation in the microwave oven don’t heat the plastic

    well no, because as i mentioned before, there are not enough water molecules in the plastic to give any rise in averaged energy (temperature).

    reading a bit of what you quote of claes that wave-particle duality is not a ‘correct’ concept, well i think there would need to be an explanation for the photoelectric effect for that to mean something-


    Einstein’s work predicted that the energy of individual ejected electrons increases linearly with the frequency of the light. Perhaps surprisingly, the precise relationship had not at that time been tested. By 1905 it was known that the energy of photoelectrons increases with increasing frequency of incident light and is independent of the intensity of the light. However, the manner of the increase was not experimentally determined until 1914 when Robert Andrews Millikan showed that Einstein’s prediction was correct

  47. Christopher Game says:

    Response to the post of David Appell of May 8, 2012 at 8:11 AM.

    David, some users, such as I, cannot seem to access the ‘reply’ facility in this blog, no matter what trick we try; and so are forced to start a new thread. That’s why I head my posts as above. Likely, Doug may have that difficulty too. This is not to support Doug’s responses.

  48. Doug Cotton says:

    I am not replying to those who have obviously not read my paper where things such as what happens to the electromagnetic energy are fully explained. I don’t have time to retype the 6,600 words here just because some are too lazy to click a link. There are over 250 comments about my paper on the dedicated tallbloke thread, some of which might help your obvious lack of understanding, David.

    Mobihci says there are not enough water molecules in the plastic to lead to it being warmed. Well, well. I don’t suppose there are any other molecules of any kind that might be warmed, as they are in the Sun. The whole point of my question was to compare what happens in the Sun to what happens in a microwave oven. The radiation is more intense in the oven, but it is not absorbed by most substances because its frequency is too low. So too is radiation from the atmosphere not absorbed by the surface because its frequency is also too low.

    And, yes, Mobihci, you can read about Wien’s Displacement Law in my paper where I also discuss the proportionality of photon energy with frequency. I have no idea, though, why you diverged to the topic of the photoelectric effect and “ejected electrons” when we were discussing electromagnetic radiation, not electric current.

    • David Appell says:

      Doug: Again, have you submitted your paper to real peer reviewed journals? If so, what were the results?

      Your article makes assumptions. You write (Section 5): “However, if one body is warmer than the other, then only that portion of the radiation which corresponds to the area under the smaller curve will experience resonant scattering, whilst the surplus (corresponding to the area between the curves) will be converted to thermal energy in the cooler body, thus warming it.”

      What experimental results support this assumption? Not a theoretical argument based on the 2nd law, since that would be a circular argument — experimental results.

      (By the way, this paragraph would be much clearer with some mathematics.)

  49. Doug Cotton says:

    David – as my paper explains – the energy undergoes resonant scattering, sometimes called pseudo scattering. Please also see this comment.

    I don’t always look for replies up thread and I assume others don’t also. Besides, dates and times are out of order, so it helps if you provide a link as I have here.

    • David Appell says:

      Let’s make the situation in your 5/4 7:12pm statement in bold simpler:

      Assume both A and B are blackbodies.
      Assume body A emits *one* photon towards body B.

      What happens to that photon’s energy when it is absorbed by B?

      • Doug Cotton says:

        It supplies B with electromagnetic energy which B uses instantly for an equivalent amount of its own quota of radiation (as per S-B) and so B does not have to convert some of its own thermal energy into electromagnetic energy. Hence B cools more slowly by radiation.

        The whole process is instantaneous just like reflection. This is why it is sometimes called “pseudo scattering” though I prefer the term resonant scattering because equivalent frequencies resonate.

        Whatever you call it, the effect is that exactly the same radiation comes back in various directions but with the same intensities at each frequency. See the section in my paper discussing the area between the Planck curves.

        The important point is that no EM energy goes through the fairly complex process of being converted to thermal energy (or Kinetic Energy if you prefer to think of it as such) and so none of it can escape to a third body by conduction, evaporation or other non-radiative processes.

        The significance of the above point is explained in Q.7 in the Appendix of my paper.

  50. Doug Cotton says:

    Roy and others

    May I draw your attention to the series of comments on SoD beginning here.

  51. Christopher Game says:

    Thank you for that, Kasuha. This is the trick I needed!

  52. Christopher Game says:

    But it still didn’t work, it seems!!

  53. john parsons says:

    Dr. Spencer, Care to comment on the Po-Chedley / Fu paper? JP

  54. Doug Cotton says:

    You will find your answers in earlier sections of the paper.

    There is ample empirical evidence of quantification of heat flow between two metal plates, for example, in physics textbooks. The mathematical calculations (using difference of S-B values) are as in standard physics and I include a link to such calculations. (There is also a link to Prof Johnson’s computations.) Why should I repeat what is already well known formulas?

    Having been initially peer-reviewed by three other members of Principia Scientific International, the paper is now subject to open peer-review by anyone in the world. There are at least 40 other members of PSI, for example, including climatologists, professors of physics and applied mathematics and many with PhD’s in various fields. Most of us correspond frequently and all are generally in agreement. Do you ever wonder why several new members join every month?

  55. Doug Cotton says:

    David Even though I got the heading “Leave a reply” this post answering yours still appeared as a new one at the end. I wonder where this one will appear.

  56. mobihci says:


    Mobihci says there are not enough water molecules in the plastic to lead to it being warmed. Well, well. I don’t suppose there are any other molecules of any kind that might be warmed, as they are in the Sun.

    yes, there are. other dipole or polar molecules. through molecular rotation.

    neglecting reflection, with a bulk of matter (earth or a chicken in a microwave) the amount of absorption of radiation is according to the amount of absorbers the radiation will come across.

    to microwave, only some of the fats/water in the chicken will absorb the energy, but as the frequency goes higher, there now comes into play other forms of absorption such as molecular vibration and then you have many combinations of rotation and vibration, so in effect there are now many more lines of absorption in many different molecules. as frequencies get higher still, the depth of penetration goes down, and still there are more different ways to transfer energy from the beam to the chicken. eventually in the UV range, there are transitions. at this stage there is little more absorption, only the absorption to transitions, which mean that higher energy particles/photons start to penetrate again. by xray there is considerable penetration etc.

    altering the intensity of the beam down makes no difference to this process other than the chance of photons meeting molecules is reduced, which results in less heating. it is the same for all the frequencies.

    this is why i linked to the photoelectric effect. this effect shows through experimentation and of course practical use in photovoltaic panels that the photon absorbs and emits as a particle, not a wave, but travels as a wave. it also shows that altering intensity does not affect the energy level of the electrons emitted.

    considering this fact of particle like absorption and emission, a molecule of eg water which is 280pm in diameter can see a whole waveform of eg 12cm length and react to it. the photon of that frequency is absorbed to acheive the rotation and warming.

    water is special in that it has many forms of absorption in many different frequency bands. you can see this in the water absorption spectrum that visible light which is what carries energy from the sun is not absorbed well.-


    but in the IR range it absorbs quite well as does co2, co2 has a small section where it absorbs strongly from vibrations and water has many points of rotation, and higher up vibrations and transitions. co2 fails to rotate as water does, so it is limited in that sense.

    to bring this back to the atmosphere, as the earth emits the IR, as you state the atmosphere is cooler(always), so there will be heat transfer of some type(always). the radiation from a warm surface to cool atmosphere will exist, but due to the density of the atmosphere near the surface, the act of conduction then convection will be a larger portion of the transfer.

    as the heat is moved up the troposphere via water vapour, the vapour cools and the heat is emitted to the surrounding molecules. there is a boundary for convection –


    by this time, the air is cooled and density is low enough that radiation starts to take over as the key transfer mechanism (absorption and emission). by adding more molecules that can absorb that radiation in that zone, there should show an imbalance. a warming anomaly higher than the surface.

    due to the fact that the surface is still warmer than this new warmer area 10km up, there is still a transfer of heat going up through the atmosphere, but of course there will be LESS heat moved from the surface to the point of emission because the lower troposphere is nearly saturated.

  57. Nikolaj says:


    “The trend was 0.013/decade and is now 10x that.”

    Obviously we are not going to get an explanation anytime soon. It seems that dr Spencer did not think about the satellite data when he was doing his recalculations of the surface trend. And once the discrepancy between the two data sets was pointed out, he had to choose: either his life work (UAH), or truth (or at least digging further for it). And he had chosen his life work.

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