Our Chaotic Climate System

December 14th, 2012 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Over the last quarter century, mainstream climate science has changed dramatically, from a paradigm where climate changes naturally to one where climate forever remains the same unless humans meddle with it.

The reasons for this paradigm shift are clearly not based on science. Sure, you can always analyze some dataset in such a way that it gives the appearance of climate stasis (e.g. the hockey stick), but there is plenty of published research over the last 50 years supporting the view that climate changes naturally, and on all time scales…decadal, centennial, millennial, etc.

The claim that the Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age were only regional in extent is countered with considerable published evidence to the contrary. Besides…why is it that the pundits who claim these historic events were only regional in extent are the same people who place global significance on a U.S. drought or a heat wave in France? Hmmm?

No, the reasons for this paradigm shift are mostly political. Scientists play along for a variety of reasons which would take a series of blog posts to cover.

But they have been pretty successful at convincing the science-savvy public that climate will only change when we fire up our SUV, or turn on our incandescent light bulbs. The scientists say things like, “We tried putting natural forcings in our models, but we can get the models to produce the observed warming only when we include anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.”

Well, they only put in a few forcings which they know about: total solar irradiance changes, ozone depletion, and maybe a couple others.

But what about changes which are not “forced”?

Our Chaotic Climate System
Chaos theory was originally developed by Ed Lorenz during early experiments with computerized weather prediction models, the forerunners of today’s climate models. Lorenz found that, for example, even tiny changes in the initial state of the atmosphere can completely change how weather patterns evolve in the coming weeks. Chaos is what limits the predictability of weather to 10 days or so.

Chaotic behavior is a characteristic of most nonlinear dynamical systems, that is, systems which evolve over time and are governed by rather complex physical processes. We usually think of chaos in the atmosphere operating on time scales of days to weeks.

But the ocean is also a nonlinear dynamical system. And it has time scales ranging from years up to hundreds or even thousands of years…time scales we associate with climate change.

El Nino and La Nina can, for example, be thought of as a chaotic fluctuation in the climate system. Like the famous butterfly-shaped Lorenz Attractor, El Nino and La Nina are the two wings of the butterfly, and the climate system during Northern Hemisphere winter tends to alternate between El Nino and La Nina, sometimes getting “stuck” in a multi-year pattern of more frequent El Ninos or La Ninas.

Now, while El Nino and La Nina are the best known (and most frequently occurring) ocean-based climate phenomenon, what other longer-term modes of climate variability might there be which are “unforced”?) By unforced, I mean they are not caused by some external forcing mechanism (like the sun), but are just the natural results of how the system varies all by itself.) Well, we really don’t know, partly because so little research is funded to study the problem.

But How Can Chaos Cause “Global Warming”?
It is my belief that most climate variability and even climate change could simply be the result of chaos in the climate system. By how would changing ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns cause “global warming”?

One potential mechanism is through the impact of those circulation changes on cloud formation.

Clouds are the Earth’s natural sunshade, and very small (but persistent) changes in cloud cover can cause either warming or cooling trends. I know that scientists like Trenberth and Dessler like to claim that “clouds don’t cause climate change”…well, chaotic changes in ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns can change clouds, and so in that sense clouds act as an intermediary. Of course clouds don’t change all by themselves, which is how some people disingenuously characterize my position on this.

Unfortunately, our long-term measurements of global cloud cover are not yet good enough to determine with a high level of confidence just how much recent warming was caused by climate chaos. Our experiments with a simple 1D energy budget model suggests that more frequent El Ninos since the late 1970s caused some of the warming we have seen (a position also taken by Bob Tisdale), but just how much of the warming remains uncertain.

Part of the El Nino warming seems to be through reduced cloud cover, which precedes peak warming by 7 to 9 months. But it is also through a decrease in the rate at which the ocean mixes heat vertically. Chaotic changes in ocean mixing alone can cause global warming or cooling, even without any cloud changes, the result of the fact that most of the depth of the ocean is very cold, and only the near-surface is relatively warm. If the ocean was vertically uniform in temperature, changes in ocean mixing would have little effect on climate.

This is the basis for Trenberth’s “missing heat” argument. If recent warming has indeed been caused by our greenhouse gas emissions, but there has also been an increase in the rate of overturning of the oceans, then surface warming will be reduced as colder deep water is brought to the surface and the deep ocean is slightly warmed from the warm surface waters being mixed deeper than usual. Unfortunately, since the oceans are SO deep, the deep ocean warming we would be talking about verges on being unmeasurable…thousandths of a degree.

While such a “missing heat” explanation for a lack of recent warming is theoretically possible, I find it rather unsatisfying basing an unwavering belief in eventual catastrophic global warming on a deep-ocean mechanism so weak we can’t even measure it. Larger changes in individual ocean basins might be measurable, but it is the global average deep-ocean temperature that we need to know very accurately.

The Need for Natural Climate Change Research
This issue of natural mechanisms of climate change is so important it boggles my mind that the U.S. Government has had almost zero interest in funding it. But I don’t see how we will ever confidently determine just how much of recent warming is human-induced without determining how much was natural.

If, say, 50% of the warming in the last 50 to 100 years has been natural, then this profoundly impacts our projections of human-caused warming in the future, slashing them by about 50%.

In my talks to groups around the country over the years, I find widespread public support for the idea that climate does indeed change naturally. For the scientists who the public supports financially to largely ignore the issue, I fear that there will eventually be a public backlash which will end up hurting taxpayer support of climate research.

Unless they start behaving a little more like objective scientists, I predict that global warming researchers are living on borrowed time.

297 Responses to “Our Chaotic Climate System”

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  1. Excellent. You have hit it. I will read it again.

  2. Philip Richens says:

    Very nice essay, thank you.

  3. Bret says:

    It seems to me that Trenberth’s missing heating argument implies the oceans are likely to damp warming for hundreds or even thousands of years. In which case it’s a good argument to do nothing now. No?

  4. Mike says:

    So little time so much to learn about our Global
    Climate. Thank you Dr. Spencer for your important

  5. Paul Barys says:

    It is so sad that weather and climate have become political. I never thought this day would happen. Thanks for the concise article!

  6. I want to say again how sensible this article is that Dr. Spencer did.

    His approach is the best, because he looks and thinks about everything.

    I wish I was more like that.

  7. Douglas Hanes says:

    An excellent article! There is one other explanation that seems to be totally ignored. Qing-Bin Lu’s 4 published peer reviewed papers on a different cause of the warming that occured since 1950 to 2002 and has now seemingly stopped.

    I have been following Lu’s work since 2009 and it seems to explain everything in our most recent history. Basicly it says CFC’s which have been banned since 1996 caused the warming and as they slowly are destroyed by cosmic rays and ozone the earth has begun a cooling phase in 2002. Back to normal, so to speak and will continue cooling for the next 50 years. Here’s a link to his 4th and probably final paper on this subject. He finds it a “very dirty science” as do most of us.


    All the Best to you and thanks for your body of work in this area!

  8. Christopher Game says:

    That a process shows mathematically deterministic chaos does not mean that physical causes are not essential to the process. Indeed, the physical causes are the real causes, and the chaos is the appearance in which they show themselves. Mathematically deterministic chaos was discovered in the nineteenth century by Poincare in studies of classical mechanics, and re-discovered by Lorenz in fluid motion as mentioned by Dr Spencer.

    Mathematically deterministic chaos is a concept entirely different from that of random noise. Random noise may be due to mathematically deterministic chaos, but the essence of random noise is that its precise mechanism is unknown to the observer, and entirely beyond known and calculated prediction. Mathematically deterministic chaos, strictly speaking, can be predicted by known mathematical calculations, but numerically only for a short time ahead, as for example, in the case of the weather as mentioned above by Dr Spencer, about 10 days.

    The ocean tides are caused largely by the gravitational effects of the moon’s orbiting the earth, but the tides do not show simple periodicity. This is because the motion of the earth around the sun is also relevant, and the two motions are not related by a ratio in small integers. The observable result is a show of mathematically deterministic chaos. Besides tidal effects on the ocean, the motion of the moon can cause tidal effects in the atmosphere. Besides these effects that show themselves in chaotic appearances, there are effects of the internal motions of the sun on the earth’s climate. As has been mentioned here, a prediction has been proposed by some solar physicists that solar cycle 25 will be exceptionally inactive, and it is also believed by some that this will very much affect the earth’s climate. An extreme phenomenon of this kind was in the Maunder minimum from 1645 to 1715, during which the Thames froze and crops failed because of the cold.

    At http://www.benthamscience.com/open/toascj/articles/V006/49TOASCJ.pdf one can find a paper by Ian Wilson which examines the effect of the motion of the moon, on a time-scale of years and decades, on the earth’s climate. Ian is continuing to examine these phenomena and we may expect further results from him.

  9. Ulric Lyons says:

    El Nino unforced? I don’t think so. Check for the big drops in solar wind speed in 1997 and 2009: http://snag.gy/UtqpX.jpg

  10. You raise many interesting points here.

    A philosophical point is that if people believe that all climate change is anthropogenic, when it is actually governed by natural factors that are essentially chaotic, then people will end up being incredibly dogmatic and intolerant. They will explain away any anomalies that contradict their view of the world, whilst being fiercely resistant to any questioning of that view.

    Your comments on Trenberth’s missing heat is relevant to this human-caused view of climate. There is a developing strong belief in warming oceans, that in the leaked draft AR5 SPM assumes a prominent position, even whilst recognizing that is is based on “sparse sampling”. For instance, on page 4 lines 36-37:-

    It is very likely that the Southern Ocean has warmed throughout the full ocean depth since the 1990s, at a rate of about 0.03°C per decade.

  11. GregS says:

    Roy Spencer wrote:
    “Scientists play along for a variety of reasons which would take a series of blog posts to cover.”

    I’d really appreciate it if you could in fact write that series of blog posts, because some of my friends and colleagues don’t *really* seem to believe me when I try to explain that we’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes for so long. “Why would they do it?” my friend asked me just the other day. I said “for the funding”, which seems a bit weak and simplistic.

  12. Noblesse Oblige says:

    Under the tumult of contention between the skeptics and those who accept and promote the doctrine of AGW is the real climate debate. It centers on the question: “What does cause natural climate change.” It goes on, or rather should go on BETWEEN skeptics; Skeptics agree that humanity has a very small effect on climate, or at least that greenhouse gases have a neglible impact. But they disagree on what does cause major climate change over timescales of decades or centuries.

    Roughly speaking, skeptics divide into two groups: the “forcers” who believe that external forcing of some kind is at work in observed climate change, and the “nonforcers” who contend that the earth is quite capable of changing climate on her own via unforced chaotic fluctuations. For example Roy Spencer and Dick Lindzen belong to the second camp. Nir Shaviv and Henrik Svensmark belong to the first. In a sane world with a healthy science process, this would be the center of scientific debate. Instead we have the bizarre mutation of science that we observe being peddled by AGW advocates.

  13. Mario Lento says:

    Good news is that a leaked draft of the IPCC AR5 lets out that they do not understand water vapor. The quote is: “Therefore, at this time, we can neither prove nor disprove a robust trend in the global water vapor data.”

    The problem is that ALL of their models that project warming are based on water vapor as an important factor. Of course, they say CO2 causes initial warming which then leads to more water vapor and conclude that water vapor “is” a greenhouse gas… so it accounts for much of the warming. CO2 is the direct driver in their statements, but water vapor has a positive feedback.

    Who knows if this statement will be removed from the draft.

    Also – they show all of their previous projections, all of which projected varying degrees of higher level warming than their observations. Their observations have become more pertinent to their cause since they have corrected (cooled) the past of course.

  14. Christopher Game says:

    Mario Lento, I think water vapour is considered a greenhouse gas simply because it is radiatively sensitive in the infrared, without regard to questions of man-made change. True, the IPCC thinks it is partly driven by CO2 effects and they call this “feedback” with a reference to Bode, who does not use the term in the way they do.

    I think addition of CO2 to the atmosphere must have a primary virtual uncompensated effect on global radiative balance, that must primarily and virtually before compensation move the global radiative balance, adding internal energy to the climate body. I think this must secondarily lead to a virtual contributory anti-compensatory increase in water vapour column amount. I think there must be other virtual compensatory and anti-compensatory effects that more or less partly offset each other and the water vapour effect. The actual outcome is not precisely predictable on the basis of present knowledge. That “we can neither prove nor disprove a robust trend in the global water vapor data” is not an argument that idea of the water vapour secondary virtual anti-compensatory effect is wrong; if this quote is correct, it would just mean that the idea is neither proved nor disproved by the data on which the quote is based. It cannot be ruled out that other secondary virtual effects might virtually reduce, nullify, or reverse the virtual secondary contributory water vapour increase.

  15. Doug Cotton says:

    Roy has addressed the possibility of natural causes quite well. I would like to have seen some recognition of the various papers which find correlations with planetary orbits in some way or another. The planets possibly affect what happens in the Sun via their magnetic and/or gravitational forces. This in turn affects Solar radiation and cosmic rays, each of which can affect Earth’s climate, possibly via cloud formation and/or more directly through changes in insolation levels.

    At the very least, we know that insolation levels are affected when mean distance from the Sun varies, as happens due to the effect of Jupiter’s orbit on the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit. This may have something to do with the ~100,000 year spacing of glacial periods, for example. Roy talks about the Medieval Warming Period, but seems to overlook the possibility of it being a maximum in a natural ~1,000 year cycle, perhaps governed by planetary orbits.

    But we also need to attack the whole issue from the other side, and look closely at just how valid, or otherwise, is the claim that carbon dioxide levels can have any effect whatsoever on Earth’s climate. This can be addressed with well established physics.

    I believe I have shown it to be a false interpretation of atmospheric physics, but it takes quite a few pages to document the reasons, as I have in two published papers and an article.

    So I would encourage you, Roy, and others to heed what Joe Postma, Claes Johnson, Alberto Miatello and others including myself are saying, in unison with most of about 150 members of Principia Scientific International.

    Perhaps you could study my latest paper here in which I endeavour to bring it all together.

    I genuinely seek valid point-by-point criticism from anyone, provided it is soundly based on physics, and on what I have actually written in the paper. Where my evidence depends upon other papers I have cited, those papers also would require a valid assessment of the relevant points.


  16. Doug Cotton says:

    May I also suggest you download the leaked IPCC report after reading this article.

  17. Mario Lento says:

    Chris: I am somewhat familiar with theories on CO2 being a greenhouse gas. There is a lot of good evidence that it absorbs and releases radiant energy at specific wavelengths and that any temperature that remains on earth as a result leads to other changes, which affect water vapor. There is not much conclusive evidence that water vapor acts as a major greenhouse gas to degree that it tends toward a net positive or negative forcing. The climate is more complex than the IPCC gives credence to – Their motive is to prove their premise that CO2 drives water vapor which is the primary cause of the increase in temperature. I am very sceptical of the IPCC and think they largely ignore other science which suggests they drastically overestime CO2 and water vapor’s affect.

    Doug: I will take a look at your links and try to understand them. I believe in the past you dispel the greenhouse effect.. but I might be confusing you with someone else.

  18. Mario Lento says:

    Doug I quickly read the abstract and need more time to get past this question. Would you say that an atmosphere, which obviously holds latent heat, does not hold on to energy and keep it there to some extent when the sun is NOT shining?

    A planet’s surface without an atmosphere heats up very quickly and cools very quickly one the sun is not shining on it. Dry areas with little moisture tend to act that way too, with wild day to night temperature swings due to lack of water vapor. The composition of the atmosphere indeed slows down the radiation back into space and keeps more energy near the surface. Without getting into too much detail of the science, I have a hard time believing that the atmosphere does not have the effect of warming, from direct radiation from the sun, as well as giving of energy to keep the surface warmer when the sun is not shining.

    I think Roy Spencer is one of the authorities I give much credence to.

    Perhaps I am too simple in my understanding. Before I delve deeper, do I misunderstand the abstract?

  19. Ray says:

    For a while I have had the niggling suspicion that “chaos” may only exist in computer simulations, as a result of rounding errors.
    To an extent, *all* data used in computers is rounded, because the space available to store numbers is finite, and I believe that is what produces “chaos” in the simulations.
    However in the “real world”, there are no rounding errors, and hence no “chaos”.
    If we could produce computer models in which there were no rounding errors, then there would be no “chaos”, but that is not possible, no matter how large the storage space available.
    At the moment, this is only a hypothesis on my behalf, and I don’t know if it has been suggested before.
    Can anyone convince me otherwise?

    • MBin says:

      Too long to explain in detail, but the situation is just about opposite of your idea. Rounding errors produce all sorts of problems in trying to simulate chaos. The chaos is quite clearly apparent in the underlying equations if one has studied math long enough.

      Here is the simplified, but accurate picture:

      Imagine flat ground interrupted by a single hill. Roll a ball towards the hill with the precise amount of force to make it end up at exactly the top of the hill. The hilltop is an unstable fixed point. (a valley would be a stable fixed point). In principle, the ball could sit on the hilltop, but in reality there are always fluctuations that make it impossible. Because you can not know everything in precise detail, you do not know whether the ball will roll back towards you or to the other side of the hill.

      Equations like the Lorenz equation describe a “countable infinity” of unstable fixed points. The future depends on a hair’s breadth of difference over and over again. The analogy in everyday life is like when a person barely misses a flight but then the plane crashes. Their future changes drastically as a result of a tiny delay on the way to the airport. Perhaps not a great example, but if you think about it, you will see that life is full of such instabilities, as is the weather and many other aspects of nature.

  20. Doug Cotton says:

    The reason the Abstract is written the way it is will only become apparent when you have read the whole paper, as well as Sections 1 to 5 of my March 2012 paper, Q.1 of the Appendix thereof, and also the cited Section 8 of Alberto Miatello’s paper about Venus.

    Your questions are all answered in the above.

    I say to you and everyone, don’t try to take shortcuts. This needs time and thought with an open mind and an understanding and “feeling” for the physics of the situation. I have put in thousands of hours (for no remuneration) and I ask you and any reader to invest at least one hour studying it all before asking questions that are probably already answered.

    This is not a matter of who is or is not an “authority.” Maybe you should also read this article which cites my paper. I quote …

    Principia Scientific International (PSI), a research group asserting solar impacts are ill-considered and human impacts trivial, expressed delight at these latest revelations.

    The news is a timely boost for those climate researchers who have recently published papers pointing to solar, not human, impacts on climate. Among them are PSI experts Canadian astrophysicist, Joseph E. Postma and Australian Douglas Cotton. [3,4]

    With such stark contradictions in interpretation of the raw evidence woven into IPCC “science” we should remind ourselves that the mainstream media has consistently misrepresented the IPCC as “the world’s top scientists.”


  21. Christopher Game says:

    Good question, Ray.

    The mathematically determinisitic chaos that Dr Spencer refers to is called chaotic by mathematicians not because of the rounding error thing. The reason is that in strict and exact mathematics the trajectories never settle towards simple periodic orbits nor towards fixed points; they go on doing some non-self-repeating thing for ever, though still staying in a bounded region.

    It depends on the dimension of the phase space. If the phase space is two-dimensional, like that of a simple pendulum, any trajectory must eventually settle either towards a perfectly periodic limit cycle or towards a fixed point. If the phase space is three-or-more-dimensional, a third possibility must be considered: deterministic chaos–endless non-self-repeating motion within a bounded region. It is true that when there is deterministic chaos there is always also a massive problem with numerical rounding errors in following the trajectories, that when there is determinitic chaos, any error in calculation, however small, must eventually lead to a large error in prediction of the trajectory. But that is not the reason why the motion is called chaotic. You can follow this up in standard textbooks of the theory of dynamical systems.

  22. Christopher Game says:

    Mario Lento, it’s a matter of the conventional usage of words. The conventional usage of words is not the one you propose. You propose that a greenhouse gas is one that does things the way the IPCC wants; that is your own private idea. Amongst both opponents and supporters of the AGW scam, the conventional usage of the term ‘greenhouse gas’ is as I mentioned above, that it has strong radiative emission and absorption in the infrared range of wavelengths. It is customary amongst people on our side, against the IPCC, to say that water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas. There is no implication in that of support for the IPCC rubbish.

    Forgive me for offering another piece of advice: Doug Cotton’s “physics” is loaded with serious errors and you would waste you time to try to “study” it.

  23. Otter says:

    Good morning, Dr. Spencer!

    I would like to ask permission to repost your article to another site? (I am a lone skeptic in a sea of closed minds over there).

  24. A very welcome post by Professor Spencer. Slowly it is becoming more widely understood that natural forces, often apparently chaotic, drive Earth’s climate. As such, it is dawning on us all that the physics of latent heat and the miraculous (and as yet poorly understood) phase change properties of water may explain better our climate than the increasingly discredited ‘greenhouse gas effect.’

  25. Doug Cotton says:

    Following on from what John O’Sullivan (CEO of Principia Scientific International) has just written above, Mario and others, may find this article by John and myself a good place to start.

    Then you’ll appreciate that my new paper adds a discussion of the empirical data and physical computations of others, notably Roderich Graeff and Alberto Miatello, to explain not only Earth’s surface temperature, but also those on Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

    A radiative greenhouse model may appear to be valid on Earth for those who do not understand the somewhat advanced physics of people like Prof Claes Johnson and Joseph Postma, also discussed in my review paper. But it certainly cannot explain what happens on Venus and other planets, whose atmospheres hardly allow any solar radiation to reach their surface, let alone be re-emitted from the surface in order to produce significant back radiation.

  26. Christopher Game says:

    It is sad to read, as I interpret the above, that johnosullivan thinks that the greenhouse gas property of water vapour is unimportant. If my reading is right, that thought of johnosullivan gravely discredits the group of which Doug says John is CEO. It is hard enough for us to use real science to fight the IPCC, but with “friends” like that group if it is exemplified by Doug and John, who would need enemies?

  27. lemiere jacques says:

    Sure when they say we are pretty sure of our conclusions about climate they just forget to mention they did a lot of assumptions..crazy equilibrium, stability without external forcing and so on…

    95% of certainty ..under conditions.

  28. Dr. Spencer is on to to something. Where I strongly disagree with him is I think it is external factors that determine the climate of the earth, not internal factors.

    I see no way the many climatic changes on earth could not be caused without the aid of an external source (the sun) to get the process in motion.

    The sun drives the climate,therefore it should follow any changes in the sun through solar irradiance, UV light emissions, strength of the solar wind , must have an effect on the earth’s climate,through direct effects, and more importantly secondary effects.

    In addition if one goes back in the past without exception every prolong solar minimum episode corresponds to lower temperature values here on earth, while every active prolong solar period corresponds to higher temperatures here on earth. Again without exception.

    Just go back the last 2000 years and you will see this to be the case. It just can’t be a coincidence.

    With the present prolong solar minimum in progress, I expect the same results will manifest themselves once again,as the temperature trend should revert to a decline well before this decade ends.

    I say this decline will commence post 2014, once the weak maximum of solar cycle 24 passes by,ohc lag effects waine, and the accumulation of sub-solar years increases, while solar readings themselves revert back to extremely quiet values. Condiitons we have not had since the Dalton Minimum which ended in 1820.

    This is so important because we have NOT had cooling solar impacts present to effect the climate in this manner since 1820, until this present solar minimum started, in late 2005.
    It is way to premature for anyone to conclude solar does not drive the climate, given the fact we had an active sun from 1820-2005,in contrast to less then 10 years of an inactive sun.

    Let’s see what the present inactive sun translates to the climate, following so many years of a very active sun.

    I say some effects have already been showing up in that the atmospheric circulation is much more meridional, but let’s see when the temperature decline really starts to take hold.

    If that happens, we who believe in solar, will be proven correct.

  29. Christopher Game you are so correct. How could anyone suggest the greenhouse property of water vapor is not important. It is beyond comprehension, and that is why that group of people will be gong nowhere fast.

    They are harming the cause in trying to show the AGW theory is wrong, by their ridiculous assumptions.

    The radical views of Doug and the like are just hurting our cause, that I agree with you on, 100 percent.


  30. Dr No says:

    Prof Spencer appears to be drifting off-message. he writes:
    “If recent warming has indeed been caused by our greenhouse gas emission….”
    The problem is that there is no warming – as many of us have been claiming for so long. To refer to recent warming is to give comfort to the alarmists and he should know better. Please Professor, stick with us.

    • Kasuha says:

      That depends how do you understand the word “recent”. On climatic scales, warming in the second half of last century is still quite recent event. And there’s little discussion about whether it was real or not.
      Apart of that, even if we agree that the last 16 years there was no clearly distinguishable warming on global scale, the first about 8 years of that period connect pretty well to the warming slope preceding it, too – it just depends where do you start, whether it’s from today going back or in 1950s going forward.

  31. Doug Cotton says:

    Principia Scientific International is “exemplified” by about 150 members, including people with biographies like these, as you could all have read on our website.

    I’m still waiting for a valid explanation (other than that in my paper) for the surface temperature on Venus, when so little energy from the Sun gets through to it, and so little energy is thus available from any back radiation from any evaporating oceans.


  32. Doug Cotton says:

    Of course water vapour can slow the component of local surface cooling which takes place via radiation. Everyone knows that low clouds can make you feel warmer at night, for example. I wrote about this in the above mentioned article by John and myself.

    But why are we talking here about local weather conditions? If you were talking about variations in the mean cloud cover or mean cloud altitude for the whole planet, then I would understand the connection with climate.

    The physics is really quite straight forward, as explained in Wikipedia (under “Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate” in this item) and in my current paper “Planetary Surface Temperatures. A Discussion of Alternative Mechanisms.

    So here is some data on specific heat measurements at 250K (more or less the mid-point of the temperature plot) and the approximate percentages in the atmosphere in brackets.

    At a temperature of 250K .. .
    SH of carbon dioxide = 0.791 (0.04%)
    SH of oxygen = 0.913 (~20%)
    SH of nitrogen = 1.039 (~78%)
    SH of water vapor = 1.855 (~1%)

    You can do the computations quite easily, altering the percentages if you wish. Just work out the weighted mean SH, then use the standard formula for the adiabatic lapse rate = g/Cp where g is the acceleration due to gravity and Cp the weighted mean Specific Heat. That gives you the gradient, so that you can plot the temperature trend, swivelling around the mid point to get to the right gradient. Where it meets the surface will of course be 33 degrees warmer than the mean – if you believe the flat Earth calculation.

    So now you can see that carbon dioxide makes it warmer at the surface by about 22% of 0.04% of 33 degrees, whilst water vapour makes it cooler by about 80% of 1% of 33 degrees. So there you have it. Just work out how much extra water vapour you think you’ll get with double the carbon dioxide and you can work out whether there’s a net warming or cooling effect.

  33. Bevan says:

    Do not worry about Kevin Trenberth’s fabrications, Dr. Spencer, he has apparently misplaced his basic high school physics, in particular, the law of conservation of energy.

    In the paper “Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget” by J. T. Kiehl and Kevin E. Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 78, No.2, February 1997, pages 197 to 208, the concluding Figure 7 shows more than twice as much radiant flux being emitted by the Earth’s surface as impinges on the Earth from the Sun, which is the only significant source of energy for the whole thermodynamic system. That means that all one has to do to produce a doubling of energy is to pass sunlight through a column of every-day atmospheric gases. If so then why are we wasting our time generating electricity via hydro-, nuclear and coal-fired power stations? Further, as the Earth is estimated to have existed for 4.5 billion years, surely this doubling of incoming energy would have caused the Earth to be a shining, hot star by now.

    Unfortunately this erroneous figure has been reproduced in the IPCC WG1 AR2 – 1995, AR3 – 2001 and AR4 – 2007. There is also an attempt to refine the estimates in the paper “Earth’s Global Mean Energy Budget” by Kevin E. Trenberth, John T. Fasullo, and J. T. Kiehl, in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 90, No.3, March 2009, pages 311 to 323, but this continues the error of displaying twice as much energy being radiated from the Earth’s surface as there is irradiance from the Sun. Even worse, apparently the Figure 7 is also reproduced in some text books. Pity the poor students who try to rationalise this with what they are taught to be the basic laws of physics.

    Now it appears that a form of the Figure 7 is part of the draft of the IPCC AR5 – 2013.

    Scientists the world over should hang their heads in shame that they have allowed this gross error to be promulgated throughout society. That possibly billions of dollars of public money have been wasted on this scam is an utter disgrace.

  34. Doug Cotton says:


    If you have a chance to read my March 2012 paper you may understand why not all the radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface is transferring thermal energy out of the surface.

    I quote below from the above linked article by John O’Sullivan and myself …

    the incident radiation provides the energy required for an equivalent amount of radiation to be immediately re-emitted by the warmer body. The target finds it easier to use that energy (which is already in the form of electromagnetic energy) for the corresponding portion of its “quota” of radiation as per the S-B Law. Hence it does not have to go through the more involved process of converting a corresponding amount of its own thermal energy into electro-magnetic energy. And, because it is not using up so much of its own energy, it transfers less of its own energy to the atmosphere, and thus the rate of cooling by radiation is slower than it would have been without the backradiation.

    So this is the process involved when low clouds at at night slow the radiative cooling, and the non-radiative processes don’t accelerate fast enough within the short time frame involved. They do however compensate very soon afterwards, and these events are only weather events anyway, which average out when total cloud cover for the planet remains about the same. The reason for the compensation is explained in my current paper also linked above.

    So, the main forcing factor in climate has to do with the radiation from the Sun and, to a lesser extent perhaps, the cosmic ray intensity which may have an effect on cloud formation. The Sun itself can be affected by planetary fields (mostly magnetism and gravity) and the mean intensity of incident insolation can also vary when the mean distance of the Sun varies, as it does in cycles of the order of 100,000 years between glacial periods. This periodicity happens to roughly coincide with the effect of Jupiter upon Earth’s eccentricity. Shorter term solar cycles will of course also have an effect on earth’s climate, in keeping with what I have written in my current paper.


  35. Terry says:

    Yes this is very much along the lines of the analysis done by Tsonis et al


  36. Doug Cotton says:

    Yes, Terry. That is yet another paper which detects the 60-year natural cycle …

    Notice the years (rounded to 5 years) 1910, 1970, 2035 in their conclusion …

    The standard explanation for the post 1970s warming is that the radiative effect of greenhouse gases overcame shortwave reflection effects due to aerosols [Mann and Emanuel, 2006]. However, comparison of the 2035 event in the 21st century simulation and the 1910s event Figure 3. Same as Figure 1 but for a control run of GFDL CM2.1 model with 1860 pre-industrial conditions. See text for discussion. L13705 TSONIS ET AL.: MECHANISM FOR MAJOR CLIMATE SHIFTS L13705 4 of 5 in the observations with this event, suggests an alternative hypothesis, namely that the climate shifted after the 1970s event to a different state of a warmer climate, which may be superimposed on an anthropogenic warming trend.

  37. Mario Lento says:

    In simple terms, using high school terminology:

    The atmosphere slows down the rate of radiation entering and leaving the planet. It makes sense that any slowing down of radiation leaving the planet holds more energy near the surface than otherwise would have been there. When the sun shines, more energy radiates in to warm the atmosphere and surface. When it does not shine, some but not all of the energy leaves the atmosphere and surface until the sun shines again. Earth does not have enough time to lose all of its energy before the sun shines again. At some point – net energy leaving equals net energy received and a sort of equilibrium occurs. The earth does not have a constant equilibrium.

    Through various processes, heat is circulated around and things get complicated fast. Energy is stored and released in water (and other items of mass). Water changes state to exchange forms of energy – and where it changes state affects where the energy can either stay or leave the planet.

    I cannot imagine how water in our atmosphere (which contains all states of water) could not affect the energy balance of our planet’s atmosphere or surface temperatures.

    A vacuum stores no energy… and has no temperature, so a planet without atmosphere can not have a climate in the sense that earth has.

    On the flip side, an orb with no atmosphere should have the same overall average energy as one with an atmosphere… The orb will warm and cool much faster. The hotter it gets, the more radiation it would radiate out… the cooler it gets the less radiation it would radiate out. The swings in temperature would be much more extreme.

    I am not sure I am actually disputing anything here. But in the simplest of terms, does this make sense?

  38. Mario Lento says:

    My second sentence was incorrect: I changed it to mean what I understand.

    In simple terms, using high school terminology:

    The atmosphere slows down the rate of [temperature change as] radiation [is] entering and leaving the planet. It makes sense that any slowing down of radiation leaving the planet holds more energy near the surface than otherwise would have been there. When the sun shines, more energy radiates in to warm the atmosphere and surface. When it does not shine, some but not all of the energy leaves the atmosphere and surface until the sun shines again. Earth does not have enough time to lose all of its energy before the sun shines again. At some point – net energy leaving equals net energy received and a sort of equilibrium occurs. The earth does not have a constant equilibrium.

    Through various processes, heat is circulated around and things get complicated fast. Energy is stored and released in water (and other items of mass). Water changes state to exchange forms of energy – and where it changes state affects where the energy can either stay or leave the planet.

    I cannot imagine how water in our atmosphere (which contains all states of water) could not affect the energy balance of our planet’s atmosphere or surface temperatures.

    A vacuum stores no energy… and has no temperature, so a planet without atmosphere can not have a climate in the sense that earth has.

    On the flip side, an orb with no atmosphere should have the same overall average energy as one with an atmosphere… The orb will warm and cool much faster. The hotter it gets, the more radiation it would radiate out… the cooler it gets the less radiation it would radiate out. The swings in temperature would be much more extreme.

    I am not sure I am actually disputing anything here. But in the simplest of terms, does this make sense?

  39. Milton Hathaway says:

    Doug Cotton – I’m not a climate scientist, but I try to follow along here and understand what I can. In your explanation of EM radiation from a cooler body to a warmer body, it sounds like you are saying that the warmer body essentially acts as a mirror and simply reflects the EM radiation without affecting it’s wavelength/intensity/energy, which is how the Second Law of Thermodynamics is preserved. But then you add that the warmer body “uses” that energy to source a portion of the EM radiation emitted by the warmer body needed to satisfy the Stefan-Boltzmann Law.

    I find this very confusing. Isn’t energy fungible? What’s the point in making a distinction about which bit of energy experiences what sort of transformation (or lack thereof) when it appears to make no observable difference? Either the cooler body warmed the warmer body by it’s (the cooler body’s) presence, or the cooler body ‘insulated’ the warmer body by it’s presence. Why do we care? I.e., what’s the significance to the debate?

  40. Doug Cotton says:

    IPCC = I Promulgate Chaotic Consensus

  41. Quondam says:

    I’ve expressed the view that a basic understanding of climate atmospherics begins with the dissipation of its energy. The number of elementary dissipative mechanisms is small – thermal, viscous, diffusive, electric. Lorenz formulations of chaos contain no frictional terms, although they can lead to some fascinating graphics. The same can be said for the Euler equations of fluid transport which, after addition of a viscous matrix, lead to Navier-Stokes. While textbooks note that NS may be useful for analysis of isothermal, forced convective problems, they also observe that, for natural convection driven by thermal gradients, thermal dissipation mechanisms dominate (Landow & Lifshitz, “Fluid Dynamics”).

  42. Doug Cotton says:

    Mario Yes, the atmosphere absorbs and re-emits some radiation. It also transfers energy from the surface by non-radiative processes, and then radiating molecules (like water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane etc) radiate away to space that energy that rose by convection, or as “latent heat” in suspended water droplets and water vapour.

    So more carbon dioxide will make that cooling process more efficient, and help ensure that the temperature plot stays where it’s meant to, according to standard physics. You can read what I’m talking about here, because this intentionally laconic statement is merely intended to whet your appetite.

    Earth does not have enough time to lose all of its energy before the sun shines again. Indeed, it would take quite a while to get down to 0K which is about -273C. But it would cool faster if it didn’t have an atmosphere of mostly nitrogen and oxygen acting like a blanket at night, and an umbrella by day. And lots of little molecules diffusing around in that atmosphere setting the surface temperature based on gravity and specific heat, and of course the level of insolation from the Sun.

    And no matter what we humans think we can do, physics tells us it’s all natural. Funny how real physics keeps on putting a spanner in the works. But at least it gives the right answers for the surface temperatures of six planets in our Solar system which have significant atmospheres, like Earth, Venus, Jupiter … without including any radiation or convection rates.

    an orb with no atmosphere should have the same overall average energy as one with an atmosphere. Does it make sense you ask? No. Atmospheres contain energy.

    It’s getting late at night here in Sydney, so how about you just read my website and the linked peer-reviewed papers I have had published on all this – just click my name above to open it.

  43. Doug Cotton says:

    Milton asked What’s the point in making a distinction about which bit of energy experiences what sort of transformation?

    My response is in my first paper published in March 2012. Click here and you will find your question answered as “Question 7” in the FAQ’s in the Appendix.

  44. Doug Cotton says:


    Natural temperature plots with natural adiabatic lapse rates (gradients) form first and then determine planetary surface temperatures. These plots (and the resulting surface temperatures) have nothing to do with convection or radiation rates, as indicated in the derivation of the Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate g/Cp – Wikipedia has it here.

    This process which determines surface temperatures is the “Second School of Thought” in my review paper here.

    Are you in agreement, or do you have another explanation for the surface temperature of Venus?

    • Quondam says:

      I would commend to you §4 of Landau & Lifshitz, Fluid Mechanics, in which you’ll find a proof that a fluid is unstable wrt convection when its thermal gradient exceeds the adiabatic. Convection is a much better transport mechanism than linear thermal conductivity and it follows that when a system is trying to get rid of more energy than the latter can support, its thermal gradient will increase until the adiabat is reached, at which point further small increases lead to large increases in energy transported towards the tropopause.

  45. Doug Cotton says:

    I have been saying similar to Quondam. There is a propensity for the temperature gradient to approach that of the dry adiabatic lapse rate. It does quite well on Venus, for example, when one takes into account the 30% variation with temperature for the specific heat, and this is probably because of the lack of much convection and other movement in the lower and mid troposphere.

    The natural temperature gradient is determined by the “(PE+KE)=constant” requirement for molecular free flight between collisions, as discussed in my paper.

    The fluid mechanics Quondam talks about, I believe, result from (and can be explained by) these considerations at the molecular level. We discuss these things in internal emails within a core group of PSI members, so I am aware of the processes you describe in broad terms, but don’t believe they are in any way contradictory to the “Second School of Thought” in my paper.

    But the important thing in “graduating” from the “First School of Thought” to the “Second School of Thought” is that it requires a paradigm shift in thinking about what causes what. We can learn a lot from Venus, for example.

    (1) Energy imbalance at TOA is not the cause of climate change, rather it is the result of climate change.

    (2) Earth’s climate is correlated primarily with insolation from the Sun and possibly also affected by variations in cosmic rays, in that they may affect cloud formation. These processes set the level of the temperature plot in the troposphere.

    (3) The gradient of the temperature plot is “supported” by natural processes which occur at the molecular level, and are even evident in laboratory experiments with enclosed columns of air which exhibit the same temperature gradient -g/Cp – contrary to what Graeff derived.

    (4) The temperature at the base of a planet’s atmosphere “supports” the surface temperature, reducing energy loss as the surface temperature approaches that of the base of the atmosphere in its regular day/night cycle. The non-radiative processes play a greater role than radiative processes at the boundary.

    (5) Because of the fact that the dry adiabatic lapse rate is a function of g and specific heat only, the temperature gradient, and the whole temperature plot are primarily set by molecular processes as PE and KE interchange. Thus these processes determine the surface temperature of all planets with significant atmospheres.

  46. sigmundb says:

    An excellent explanation of why the climate is just as hard to forecast as the weather. And a timely reminder why both the large AGW community and tiny/no AGW crowd should not rely on trends over a few decades or even a century to claim victory or speak to confident about the CO2 climate sensitivity. The temperature trend since the first IPCC forecasts appear to prove they have significantly overestimated the sensitivity and I’m disapointed the responsible scientists are more concerned with saving face then admitting mistakes.
    Hopefully our understanding of the climate will improve so that combined with better and longer trend data we can eventually determine the climate sensitivity with so small uncertainty that we all can trust it.
    A big thanks to Dr spencer for his efforts to contribute to this.

  47. Doug Cotton says:

    Milton – There is also a further reason relating to the fact that the rate of non-radiative cooling cannot be affected by back radiation. Hence diffusion (conduction) and evaporative cooling are free to accelerate and compensate, thus nullifying any effect of back radiation. This is covered in Sections 1 and 2 of this new paper. Then Section 3 in that paper becomes the last nail in the coffin, explaining the reason for the compensating effect, and opening up a whole new paradigm.

  48. Doug my friend, you are disregarding that Venus doesn’t have oxygen & nitrogen – you are making same mistake as any Warmist. Horizontal winds on the earth are cooling the surface – vertical winds /O&N are shuttling the heat up, to waste it; which is not the case on Venus.

    ignoring the two elephants O&N in the earth’s atmosphere; will always give you false presumption / results.

    P.s. regarding blacklisting by tallblocke and Watts; the real reason is: they are getting donations and popularity – if the truth is exposed, they will instantly become yesterday’s news. Exposing the truth, is NOT in their interest. If it gets to the ears of their Donners, that they are silencing important facts – donations will stop; they will have to face reality.

  49. Doug Cotton says:

    If there’s one thing I agree with you about it is your last paragraph. They also own domain names which in themselves have become quite valuable, so yes, they obviously have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, as do many receiving research grants.

    But no, I’m not ignoring the composition of the atmospheres of either Venus or Earth. The specific heat of carbon dioxide is lower than those of oxygen and nitrogen, so the 96% carbon dioxide atmosphere of Venus will indeed have a slightly higher mean lapse rate (and thus surface temperature) than would a pure nitrogen and oxygen atmosphere.

    What you are ignoring is Section 3 of my current paper. You are still reiterating the “First School of Thought” rather than the more recent “Second School of Thought” which requires a paradigm shift in thinking. That is why you still can’t come up with a quantitative explanation of the Venus surface temperature which is so hot, despite the very low energy input from the Sun at the surface.

  50. Doug Cotton says:

    You see, this is the Venus dilemma you have to explain. I have done so, but could not have done so with the type of “thinking” that is prevalent among climatologists.

    There is less than 10% of the energy which Earth’s surface receives getting through the atmosphere to the Venus surface. It would be quite easy for that energy to be conducted back into the atmosphere at the boundary (and some radiated back as well) and, once this small amount of energy is in that atmosphere, there sure is plenty of carbon dioxide to radiate it away. It doesn’t need convection or wind or any movement of the atmosphere at all. So what physical process obeying the laws of physics could possibly maintain a surface temperature over 700K? There is no way that this small inflow of Solar energy could possibly do so.

    Think about it before you look up the answer in my paper
    Planetary Surface Temperatures A Discussion of Alternative Mechanisms which is in the PROM menu at PSI.


  51. Bevan says:

    While there has been discussion above about Venus, an interesting topic is that of Mars.

    The IPCC First Assessment Report, WG1, 1990, stated
    “We are certain of the following:
    ….Secondly, we know that the composition of the atmospheres of Venus, Earth and Mars are very different, and their surface temperatures (shown in the table below) are in good agreement with those calculated on the basis of greenhouse effect theory. ………”
    The accompanying table gives the properties of Mars as having its “Main Greenhouse Gases” as >80% CO2, a “Surface temperature in absence of Greenhouse effect” of -57deg.C, an “Observed Surface Temperature” of -47 deg C and a “Warming due to Greenhouse Effect” of 10 deg C.

    In IPCC 2AR 1995 WG1, on page 58, it states
    “1.2.3 Mars and Venus
    Similar greenhouse effects also occur on our nearest planetary neighbours. Mars and Venus. Mars is smaller than the Earth and possesses, by Earth’s standards, a very thin atmosphere (the pressure at the Martian surface is less than 1 % of that on Earth) consisting almost entirely of carbon dioxide which contributes a small but significant greenhouse effect. The planet Venus, ……………” Note that there is no longer a temperature for Mars.

    Since then Venus and Mars have not rated a mention, neither in 3AR 2001 nor 4AR 2005. But what has happened elsewhere? Simple, the USA Mars lander program is exploring the surface of Mars with vehicles actually on that surface. Results from the program have shown, to date, that the atmosphere on Mars is composed of 95.3% CO2 and the average temperature is estimated at -63 deg C.

    Strangely the world’s foremost climate research publisher has not noticed this inconvenient fact whereby the Mars 95.3% CO2 is causing Martian freezing of 16 deg C below their temperature calculated “on the basis of greenhouse effect theory” of which they were “certain”, that is, the data shows CO2 causing cooling.

    Taken in conjunction with my posting above, December 15, 2012 at 11:04 PM, this points to a grave bias and a lack of integrity in the reporting by the IPCC.

  52. Doug Cotton says:

    And what the IPCC has never done to my knowledge is construct one of those “Energy Budget Diagrams” for Venus. Can you just imagine it? Energy reaching the surface from the Sun – maybe 2 W/m^2 – could be more (some say 2.5% of TOA insolation) but very little either way. Now they are very confused, because S-B Law tells them there will be a huge amount of radiation coming out of the surface which is over 700K. So they are left scratching their heads as to where the radiation gets the energy. Someone tell then to read the various PSI papers which explain the dilemma, summarised in my review-type paper on planetary surface temperatures – linked two comments above.

  53. Christopher Game says:

    Not too much has been said here about the chaos story. I would like to say that there is not the slightest possibility of finding a simple mathematical proof to decide the issue for the earth’s climate. I would also like to say that it seems scarcely credible that a clear empirical demonstration of the presence of absence of deterministic chaos as a major element of the climate story could be produced until the major external forcings are clearly known. The effects of the moon and sun on the tides are amongst those, even if they are very small. But with chaos, small matters. The motions of the sun an moon are themselves deterministically chaotic, in accord with Newton’s laws. With a chaotic external driver in action, no matter how weak the driving, purely internal chaos would be very very hard to prove or disprove, and perhaps scarcely meaningful. I infer that the external drivers are worth investigation.

  54. Steveta_uk says:

    Dr. Spencer, very interest view on chaotic climate behaviour.

    I’ve been following Bob Tisdale’s ideas for some years, but have only recently come to accept that the distribution of El Nino and La Nina events over a number of decades can result in a warming or colling trend for the entire globe.

    The problem that I and many others had with the idea was that it appeared that a period dominated by El Ninos would result in a warmer Earth, without any apparent heat addition being responsible.

    However as you also note, the pseudo-random El Nino distribution can also impact cloud cover, and thereby allow additional solar heating to do the work of increasing the global temps, without needing to rely on 100% AGW causes to drive the warming.

    As an aside, can I suggest you moderate the contributions of Doug Cotton? He has in the past been responsible for so much disruption of other skeptical blogs that he is largely banned. If you allow him to commandeer your site, I suspect you will lose many of the regular contributors who have input of some real value, rather than just real volume!

  55. Doug Cotton says:

    Christopher Game

    Of course the external drivers are worth investigation. After all, climate correlates reasonably well with long-term mean Solar insolation and possibly cosmic ray intensity, but has nothing to do with back radiation from carbon dioxide.

    Furthermore, physics is universal, so it should be possible to use the same concepts for understanding planetary surface temperatures for all the planets with significant atmospheres in our Solar system, – Earth, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

    That is why it is important to see if the “First School of Thought” in Section 2 of my paper can possibly apply to other planets.

    The IPCC claims Earth’s surface would be 255K and that its temperature is raised 33 degrees (somehow) by radiating molecules. However, the energy doing the warming of the surface is assumed to enter the surface (from the Sun of course) then exit into the atmosphere and perhaps have that rate of transfer slowed by the radiating molecules making up less than 2% of the atmosphere.

    Well that just won’t work on Venus, now will it? The Venus surface receives less than 10% of the insolation received by Earth’s surface – Alberto Miatello calculated far less at only 2.1 W/m^2. Take your pick – it’s still nowhere near enough energy to create all the radiation coming from the surface which is over 700K. What enters the surface in the day has plenty of time to diffuse or radiate back into the atmosphere at night. Then there’s an atmosphere with plenty of carbon dioxide to radiate away that energy.

    Yet a surface at 700K should be radiating quite a lot by S-B Law, so where would it get the energy to do so day after day, even maintaining its temperature (within 5 degrees) during the four month long Venus night? Why isn’t the carbon dioxide radiating half of the energy away to space? Or is there really that much energy coming out of a surface into which so little entered?

    If you can’t answer these questions, Christopher, then none of us at PSI will have any confidence in your understanding of what physical processes really do determine planetary surface temperatures.

    Other readers can judge for themselves if Christopher Game even makes an attempt to argue the physics of planetary surface temperatures right here in open debate.

    So until you can explain this (with any other process than that in my paper) then you have no grounds for assuming the “First School of Thought” is correct for Earth either.

    So next time you write to PSI about what I say, maybe you had better sort this one out first and present evidence why you think Roderich Graeff’s experiments were invalid, or Prof Claes Johnson is wrong. It was Claes who wrote that I was one of only a few who understood what he was explaining. He and several of us are in contact almost every day discussing the real physics of planetary atmospheres and radiation.


  56. Steveta_uk says:

    DC asks:

    “Yet a surface at 700K should be radiating quite a lot by S-B Law, so where would it get the energy to do so day after day, even maintaining its temperature (within 5 degrees) during the four month long Venus night?”

    Since DC doesn’t believe in back radiation, DC would be incapable of understanding the answer. So were I Mr Game, I’d complete ignore the trolling.

  57. Doug Cotton says:

    Steveta (and Christopher)

    Where in my papers or comments have I ever said back radiation doesn’t exist? Ironically, I discuss in great detail what happens to the energy in back radiation.

    In case you didn’t notice, I was talking about Venus where only a very small amount of Solar radiation supplies energy to the surface. So less energy comes back out of the surface by radiation – right? And the back radiation related to that energy would have even less energy – right?

    On Earth the IPCC thinks back radiation transfers about as much energy again to the surface as does the Sun in the first place. Well, even though that’s wrong, I’ll allow you to double the energy reaching the surface of Venus and let you work with 10% of what the IPCC say reaches Earth’s surface. So you’ll be doubling the energy (incorrectly of course) but I won’t let you get away with multiplying it by a few hundred.

    So show me the figures for a Venus Energy Budget Diagram similar in concept to typical K-T and IPCC diagrams.

    Now, you ask Roy to moderate my comments, yet you then write something which obviously calls for a reply. Do you just want last say here, or something?

    I believe Roy has the decency not to be concerned about the financial “value” of his blog site or domain name, and, instead to allow open debate in the interests of science.

    Perhaps if either of you actually read my current paper on planetary surface temperatures you might change your tune.


  58. Doug Cotton says:


    Could I suggest that the well accepted Solar cycles of around 11 to 13 years could not be the result of pure chaos. Yes, chaotic events could cause variation in sunspot activity, I agree, but the fairly uniform periodicity over hundreds of years would be just too coincidental if the cause were of a chaotic nature.

    Likewise, the fairly regular period of about 100,000 years between glacial periods could have a very logical explanation. The gravitational force between Earth and Jupiter affects the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit in such a way that the annual variation in distance from the Sun varies between about 5% and zero in a ~100,000 year cycle. This in turn affects the mean annual radiative flux reaching Earth simply because of the variation in distance.

    There is growing evidence of correlations between climate and planetary orbits or events. It is not really surprising that there can be interactions between magnetic fields which easily span the distance between the Sun and several major planets.

    You must be aware of the research done on all this by Nicola Scafetta, and, whether he be right or wrong, such research ought to capture the attention of those dishing out Government research funding. If it weren’t for the totally incorrect “physics” dominating funding for research on carbon dioxide’s assumed role, then we may have seen progress well before now.

    For those readers who doubt my statement about why carbon dioxide has no effect whatsoever, I can only say please take the time to read a mere seven pages here.


  59. Leonard Weinstein says:


    Search at: Arctic Hurricanes Play Large Role in Climate
    This is the result of new higher resolution models, and shows all previous models missed a major climate driver in the Northern hemisphere. Combining this with the miss on solar effects (the IPCC leak), the models are shown to be worthless.

  60. Doug Cotton says:

    Arctic Hurricanes mentioned by Leonard above, also play a significant role in both the formation and the melting of ice.

    As they stir up waves the more rapid motion of water in contact with ice leads to more rapid melting. You can see it happen with ice cubes from your frig. Just place some in a glass of water, and others in a sieve under running water at the same temperature as that in the glass. This is why it is important to know the rate of flow of ocean currents under the Arctic ice sheet.

    But the air flowing over the ice will contribute to making it colder. This has to do with the process of conduction or, as it is more appropriately called, diffusion. When molecules of air collide with a solid surface the process transfers kinetic energy (KE) sharing it more equally between each pair of colliding molecules. Normally the air molecules just above the surface of an ice sheet will be colder than the ice itself, and so if wind removes those that have just acquired energy from the ice, then more will be available to “extract” more energy by diffusion.

    Diffusion also happens in any gas, and thus in any region of the atmosphere. No-one disputes that warm air on one side of an enclosed room will appear to spread out evenly across the room by such diffusion processes. This is because of a propensity for KE to “even out” in a horizontal plane.

    Physics tells us that, when we measure the temperature of a gas we are in fact measuring the mean KE of molecules impinging upon our measuring device, such as a thermometer.

    But the big debate in physics since the late 19th century has been to do with whether or not diffusion causes a temperature gradient to develop in a vertical plane. This “debate” has huge significance in atmospheric physics, and thus climate change considerations.

    The IPCC (and all who talk about that 255K being raised by 33 degrees at the surface) are following what I call in my new paper the “First School of Thought” for indeed all it is comes down to a thought process. They are assuming that, in the absence of radiating molecules (in water vapour, suspended water droplets, carbon dioxide, methane etc) there would be a uniform temperature from the surface to the top of the troposphere at least. The whole “Greenhouse effect” conjecture hinges upon whether this is true. Being true would not prove there is an effect due to back radiation, but being false certainly proves there is a huge mistake involved in those flat Earth models.

    Modern science now has the instruments available to detect small changes of temperature even in a closed cylinder of air in a laboratory. Such differences have been detected, with slightly warmer air at the base of the column. The temperature gradient is, not surprisingly, able to be calculated with the same formula g/Cp used for the dry adiabatic lapse rate in the atmosphere. Here g is the acceleration due to gravity, and Cp is the weighted mean specific heat of the gases involved. The derivation of the formula is (still) in Wikipedia. Note that there is nothing in the formula relating to energy input or rates of convection.

    The physics can be explained by the fact that potential energy converts to kinetic energy when objects (even molecules) “fall” in a gravitational field, and these are the same considerations used in the well known development of the theory of lapse rates. There is no violation of the Second Law, because it says entropy cannot decrease and it doesn’t in this process. If the temperature gradient were zero (as assumed by the IPCC) then the Second Law would be violated, because entropy would in fact decrease in some regions.

    This is nothing particularly new in physics, but the implications are enormous because, as my paper explains, this “Second School of Thought” not only has to be the correct one (and the only one which can explain the temperature of the Venus surface) but, being the correct one, it is beyond any shadow of doubt the last nail in the coffin for the GHE conjecture. Carbon dioxide cannot affect the lapse rate, not even on Venus where it is over 96% of the atmosphere.


  61. Dr No says:

    It has been pointed out to you many times before that nobody (at least climate scientists) claim an effect on the lapse rate. But, you need to answer the question as to where you anchor the lapse rate prior to calculating the surface temperature. That is how GHGs have an effect, on any planet. I bet you will not answer this simple question.

    Secondly, if the climate models are all so fundamentally wrong- please specify the specific equation involved. It should be no problem to correct the model solutions. I bet you cannot nominate the equation.

    Thirdly, I will not be visiting this site again since I am tired of scrolling through your excessively long posts. I bet you will not desist.

  62. Doug Cotton says:

    Dr No, Christopher, Steveta et al
    Well I will respond to Dr No’s points for the benefit of silent readers, even if he doesn’t return here or read my paper with an open mind. Not to do so is his prerogative.

    The points he raises are of course all answered in the paper. The level of the temperature plot is anchored by the requirement for radiative equilibrium. I other words, it is such that, over the whole Earth plus atmosphere system, energy in equals energy out in the long term when averaged over many years. In the short term we can expect slight imbalance (rarely more than plus or minus 0.4%) as a result of whether the climate is in a warming phase of about 30 years or a cooling phase usually of similar length. There are also much longer term natural cycles, notably one of about 1,000 years which is close to a maximum. Climate itself is the forcing factor, not radiative imbalance.

    There is a good discussion of Roderich Graeff’s meticulous work relating to vertical temperature gradients here. It is totally impossible to explain the surface temperature on Venus with any typical GHE calculations, because there is nowhere near enough energy input from the Sun into the surface. This fact in itself also proves Loschmidt and Graeff correct, and my “Second School of Thought” likewise.

    What is wrong with the climate models is that they start from a wrong assumption that the temperature gradient in the troposphere would have been uniform in the absence of water molecules and other radiating molecules in the atmosphere. Loschmidt postulated this would not be the case in the late 19th century. Graeff proved him right empirically. My thought experiments in the paper provide physical reasons as to why he was right. The evidence on Venus and other planets is overwhelmingly compelling in its proof that a natural temperature gradient forms, and thus Loschmidt was right after all. Take the time to study the tallbloke article linked above, and my paper.

    If you still think vertical temperature gradients do not develop, then find empirical evidence for your belief, and some other explanation for the surface temperature on Venus. But bear in mind that you will be assuming that molecules (when they move upwards) will be gaining potential energy whilst still retaining the same kinetic energy. Thus they would be losing entropy which is a complete violation of what is arguably the most fundamental of all physical laws – if you were right.

  63. I call strawman! Cite one article wherein a climate scientist states climate remains constant absent human meddling. I don’t care about the ‘media.’ I thought this was a science website. Guess not.

  64. Christopher Game says:

    Dr No is not exactly right at http://www.drroyspencer.com/2012/12/our-chaotic-climate-system/#comment-67186 when he writes: “that nobody (at least climate scientists) claim an effect on the lapse rate”.

    The usual IPCC story is that, arising from addition of CO2 to the atmosphere, there is a secondary effect on the lapse rate. It is related to the secondary effect on the water vapour content of the atmosphere. The IPCC story is that the secondary effect on the lapse rate (in IPCC-speak the “lapse-rate feedback”) is what I would call a virtual contributory compensatory effect. That means that it tends to offset the initial virtual primary uncompensated warming effect of adding CO2. It seems to me that this IPCC story is more or less right in this respect.

  65. Entropic man says:

    Doug Cotton

    “And what the IPCC has never done to my knowledge is construct one of those “Energy Budget Diagrams” for Venus.”

    I recently had occasion to construct an energy budget diagram for Venus.

    Using the Kiehl and Trenberth template and mainstream climate assumptions these are the figures I came up with, all in Watts/Metre^2. A couple of minor unknowns have been subsumed into other figures. Others may be able to add detail.

    Solar insolation 654.5
    Reflection by clouds, aerosols, atmosphere 496.5
    Reflectied by surface <1
    Absorbed by atmosphere 155
    Absorbed by surface 3

    Thermals Unknown(incorporated with surface radiation)
    Latent heat 0 (no water)

    Surface radiation 16100
    Emitted by atmosphere 158
    Atmospheric window 0

    Back radiation 16097
    Absorbed by surface 16097
    Reflected back radiation Unknown(assumed to be 0 for simplicity)

    Outgoing longwave radiation 158

  66. Entropic man says:

    Regarding my December 17, 2012 at 7.04 PM.

    The figures for solar insolation, Reflected from atmosphere and OLR came from orbiter measurements.

    The figures for Absorbd by surface and the surface temperature of 733C came from lander measurements.

    16,100 W/M^2 is the calculated emission for a surface at 733C

  67. Mario Lento says:

    A@Doug Cotton:

    you wrote: “an orb with no atmosphere should have the same overall average energy as one with an atmosphere. Does it make sense you ask? No. Atmospheres contain energy.”

    This does make sense to me since the atmosphere, which has mass, is part of the orb. In thermodynamics, mass at temperature contains energy.

    I would change my statement though to:

    an orb with no atmosphere should have the same overall average energy (given the same albedo)as one with an atmosphere.

    I am not saying you are wrong. I am saying I do not understand. And thank you for your patience, as I can be thick headed getting stuck on the basics before I move on to the more complex issues.

  68. Mario Lento says:

    @Doug Cotton: I will present a simple analogy of the absurdly extreme to get past what is confusing me. But I must get past this to proceed.

    Let’s say that the earth’s atmosphere looked dark and therefore absorbed energy at virtually all wavelengths. It, the earth, would indeed be hotter than it is today.

    Assuming this is true, then the composition of an atmosphere with differing molecules would absorb different wavelengths of energy at different rates ranging from absorbing great amounts of energy and reflecting little, to reflecting great amounts of energy and absorbing little.

    Assuming this is true, I have a hard time believing that what is in our atmosphere does not affect the overall temperature of the earth, whether or not it slows down or speeds up energy transport.

  69. Mario Lento says:

    @Dr. No:

    You wrote “Secondly, if the climate models are all so fundamentally wrong- please specify the specific equation involved. It should be no problem to correct the model solutions. I bet you cannot nominate the equation.”

    You are asking the wrong question. The answer is simple.

    The models are created to prove some cause and effect and project an answer based on assumptions. The model outcomes do not hold up to observations. It’s not that the models don’t calculate something, it’s that they fail to model this planet’s climate system. Can you show that they do?

  70. Doug Cotton says:


    I’m glad to see your estimate of insolation absorbed by the Venus surface to be 3 W/m^2. That is close enough for me to Alberto Miatello’s estimate of a mean of 2.1 W/m^2.

    So I hope others will take note of Entropic’s estimate that only 3 W/m^2 of Solar insolation enters the surface of Venus.

    Now, if that is the only energy which enters the surface, then no more than 3 W/m^2 can exit the surface, unless you prove there is a significant terrestrial flow.

    If only 3 W/m^2 is radiated or conducted back from the surface into the atmosphere, then there is no more than that same 3 W/m^2 which could return to the surface as back radiation, getting us back to where we started.

    So how on Venus does such a small flow of energy account for the surface temperature getting above 700K and staying there?

    Yes, S-B Law tells you there is about 16,100 W/m^2 of radiation coming out of the surface. But I asked for an energy budget and there is nothing like that amount of energy to come out of the surface, now is there? There’s only 3 W/m^2 going in from the Sun, and I think we can assume the Sun is the major source of all energy for the planet. As you have shown, about 99.5% of the insolation is either reflected by the atmosphere, or absorbed by the atmosphere and re-emitted by the atmosphere. That’s why less than 0.5% (3/654) gets into the surface itself.

    Are you trying to say that all the back radiation is extra radiation that is really getting through the atmosphere from the Sun? Hardly – you only had 654.5 W/m^2 entering at TOA. So your 16,097 W/m^2 of back radiation cannot possibly represent an energy flow of such magnitude, which would indeed heat the surface as required, but simply has no source of energy, now does it? But you would indeed have needed that much energy flow to heat the surface to its current temperature in the first place.

    This is the epitome of how climatologists tie themselves in knots with the S-B Law and their misunderstanding of how radiation transfers thermal energy. Go and read my peer-reviewed paper on this published in March 2012 here.

    I suggest you have a huge discrepancy, which can only be explained with a totally different paradigm, as in the “Second School of Thought” in my paper, where no radiative greenhouse effect at all is needed to achieve the observed temperature.

    I hope, in the interests of valid atmospheric physics (which I have studied extensively) this will make all readers stop and think of the implications for our own planet Earth.

  71. Why you people don’t ask yourselves: does it need GLOBAL warming, or GLOBAL cooling, for the climate to change?! B] was the climate perfect 151 years ago? c] why is climate better around Kyoto city, Detroit, Stuttgart; than in the deserts? Answer on that question will give a clear picture, what controls the climate.

    Confusing the real big / small, good / bad climatic changes, with any phony global warmings -> prevents people of IMPROVING the climate. More water on land and in the air = better climate. Ask the trees, they don’t use warm cloths and artificial air-conditioners. Trees are experts for climate. Trees don’t tell lies

  72. Doug Cotton says:

    Mario If a model is based on a totally wrong assumption that there is no naturally forming thermal gradient in any body of gas in a gravitational field, then their 255K figure is wrong, so their 33K figure is wrong, so their assumed sensitivity to carbon dioxide is wrong. Do you really believe that the atmosphere would by 255K at all levels in the troposphere if you just removed those 2% or so of radiating molecules, along with the clouds that shade us? That’s exactly what the IPCC wants you to believe.

    In your dark atmosphere example, if the atmosphere had the same mass and thickness (height) and the gases had the same mean specific heat, there would be no difference. That’s real physics – always putting a spanner in the works regarding what some people think would happen. My paper explains why – try understanding it. I’m happy to explain any of the text in more detail, but really would prefer to keep comments in future based on what is written therein.

  73. Mario Lento says:

    Doug: I think the IPCC is selective junk political science at best. I believe their models are baseless for use as evidence. I do not believe CO2 drives climate – or have not seen a shred of evidence that it can drive climate. I have seen good evidence that the climate can be affected by that big ball in the sky, and the various frequencies of energy coming down through our magnetosphere. There is also good evidence that cosmic rays can have an effect on the way clouds and aerosols form.

    I am agnostic as to what affect CO2 has on Climate temperature. Perhaps your theories have shown this.

    Specifically regarding CO2, I don’t think there is any good evidence that the increase of CO2 has had a measurable effect on our climate’s temperature. Nor do I think we can measure the temperature of the climate with any sort of precision given that the heat is moving all over the place all the time… and it mostly goes where we can’t measure it.

    I do think my absurd analogy has merit, that an atmosphere has an affect on the temperature of the planet. The challenge is to believe we can accurately measure the temperature of the surface of the earth especially through all these gradients and through the land and water.

  74. Mario Lento says:

    @Doug Cotton:
    I will not be offended if you criticize me here.

    I cut and pasted an excerpt from your work directly below in quotes.

    “If. for example,radiation from a cooler atmosphere were to somehow penetrate a warmer body of water and warm it even more somewhere beneath the surface, then this would be a completed, independent process which would be in violation of that law.”

    I agree… but I want to make the following comment.

    I would say: radiation energy from the cooler atmosphere would cool the warmer water LESS than a (cooler-x) atmosphere.

    where cooler is > than (cooler-x).

    Of course, energy is not transferred from the cooler atmosphere to the warmer water or below. It’s that the delta-t between the cooler air and warmer water is smaller than the delta-t between the cooler-x atmosphere and the warmer water.

    That there is some energy in the cooler air, the warmer water retains more energy than had the cooler air had no energy at all in it.

    None of what I said has gotten past thermodynamics 101… To me, one could say that the cooler atmosphere led to the water being warmer than it otherwise would have been had the atmosphere been even cooler than cooler atmosphere.

  75. Doug Cotton says:

    Mario. You are getting very close to what I’m saying about the problems with the “First School of Thought” but I would suggest you read about the “Second School of Thought” in the new paper.

    Of course I recommend such reading for others too, especially those who understand Entropic’s dilemma regarding Venus, as discussed a few comments up thread.

  76. Steveta_uk says:

    Entropic man says (7:14 PM):

    “Solar insolation 654.5
    Absorbed by surface 3

    Back radiation 16097
    Absorbed by surface 16097”

    DC says (9:39 PM):

    “I’m glad to see your estimate of insolation absorbed by the Venus surface to be 3 W/m^2.

    Now, if that is the only energy which enters the surface, then no more than 3 W/m^2 can exit the surface, unless you prove there is a significant terrestrial flow.”

    PRECISELY as I predicted – DC doesn’t believe in back radiation, so in his response he simply ignored this section of the data and pretends that the 3 W/m^2 is the only possible heat source for the surface.

    This man is either seriously disturbed or a lying troll. I suspect the former.

  77. Doug Cotton says:

    Steveta – How about you read the rest of the comment? Of course the back radiation is there. But it is not able to supply the surface with any energy above the original 3 W/m^2 that went into the surface now is it?

    You tell me where the energy comes from to raise the surface to over 700K. It can’t come out of the back radiation from what are less hot regions of the atmosphere than the surface.

    If you think the back radiation is supplying thermal energy up the temperature gradient, sourced from nowhere then you are welcome to your thoughts. Nor is it slowing the rate of surface cooling, because there isn’t enough energy to heat the surface above 700K in the first place.

    Why doesn’t the surface cool much faster right down to negative C values which would correspond with 3 W/m^2? Why isn’t the top of the Venus atmosphere warmer than the base and the surface also as cold as that base?

    There’s more solar energy reaching the floor of many deep rivers and lakes on Earth than there is on Venus where only 0.5% of the solar energy gets into the region of the surface. It’s not much more than Moonlight.

    You can’t create energy out of 3 W/m^2 that could go anywhere near heating the surface that much. That should be intuitive. No more than the original 3 W/m^2 can be returned by the back radiation, because there never was more input at the surface in the first place, and so never was more coming out to supply energy for the back radiation.

    It seems like all other readers can understand what I’m saying, so please try to because I don’t have the time to keep repeating what is in my paper, just because you refuse to read it here.


    • Rick says:

      Doug, your contention that 3 w/m^2 can not heat the surface of Venus to 700K is not intuitive. If something is insulated well enough it’s equilibrium temperature can be very high with very little energy input. Just as Venus’ atmosphere limits the energy flow in, it limits the flow out.

  78. Tim says:

    It reminds me of the hockey stick theory that broke. Oh dear.

  79. Doug Cotton says:

    In my paper you would have found a link to Alberto Miatello’s paper in which the three pages in Section 8 begin as below.

    Quoting PSI: “Alberto Miatello, is an independent researcher in the field of physics of the atmosphere/meteorology. Originally a law graduate, for many years Alberto worked as a business consultant, dealing with plants and machinery and specializing in the fields of technical physics, heat transmission and thermodynamics. This experience informed his spare time research, since 2002, into climate study and the physics of the atmosphere.”

    Alberto writes ..

    8. Analysis of Venus’ heating denies the GHE hypothesis!

    Venus has become, in the collective imagination, a symbol of the GHE, but an analysis of this planet’s temperature conditions reveals some surprising results. A simple Internet search for planet Venus in the texts, articles, and websites produces a huge number of responses which link the word “runaway” with Venus and its “greenhouse effect,” appearing in numerous sources with monotonous repetition. Hence, not only is Venus considered a symbol of the GHE, but it is also commonly believed that this phenomenon is so obvious as to be out of control precisely due to its magnitude. Venus is a planet quite similar to Earth in size, with 81% of its volume, and an atmosphere composed of ~96.5% CO2. And thus, with the widespread belief in CO2’s GHE abilities, Venus = CO2 = an impressive greenhouse effect!

    However paradoxical, accurate physical and thermodynamic analysis of Venus blatantly belies the assumption that the hot temperatures (>460°C average) of Venus are due to an alleged GHE or the trapping of IR radiation by the Venusian atmosphere. Venus may paradoxically play a role in our universe as being one means of clearly showing to terrestrials that the GHE does not exist, despite the clichés and widely accepted misinformation

  80. Entropic man says:

    Doug Cotton

    “December 17, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    I’m glad to see your estimate of insolation absorbed by the Venus surface to be 3 W/m^2. That is close enough for me to Alberto Miatello’s estimate of a mean of 2.1 W/m^2”

    That 3W/M^2 was measured by the Venera 8 and Venera 9 landers as was the 733K ( not C, my mistake ) The light level was described as like a very overcast day.

    The 16,100 W/M^2 surface radiation is calculated, as you say, from the S-B equation. If that is wrong, so is a lot of other well demonstrated physics.

    With the lower troposphere conditions over 700K and 93 bar, the atmosphere will also be radiating enormous amounts of infra-red, so the calculated back radiation is not impossible.

    How do you get 733K at the surface from 3W/M^2? Add an atmosphere almost opaque to IR and wait a few billion years for it to reach equilibrium.

    I note your negative attitude. That Venus energy budget took 20 minutes of research and 5 minutes of arithmetic tops.You could easily have done it yourself.

    Rather than this negativity, why not summarise the same energy budget for us using your hypothesis. Solar insolation, reflection from the atmosphere, surface temperature, surface illumination,surface radiation and OLR have all been measured or reliably calculated and would be the same for us both.

  81. Entropic man says:

    Doug Cotton

    I’ve seen a similar hypothesis to yours also discussed by bloggers Stephen Wilde, Wayne and tallbloke. None have reported any experimental data.

    May I suggest an experimental test for your hypothesis that kinetic energy is converted to potential energy in an air mass transported to higher altitude.

    Take two thermos flasks.

    Drill the lids and glue in place temperature and pressure sensors to monitor the interior. Wire the sensors to a portable datalogger.

    Seal both flasks. Leave one in place as a control and take the other to a higher altitude. This is probably better done at your local flying club or the Snowdon mountain railway. An aircrew friend tells me that attempting to take such an assembly aboard an airliner is likely to get you arrested.

    Compare the two outputs.

    If your hypothesis is correct the flask taken to altitude wouldshow a drop in pressure and/or temperature during the climb as kinetic energy in the contained air is depleted and a return to ground level conditions during the descent.

    If your hypothesis is incorrect, conventional physics would predict that conditions inside both sealed thermos flasks should remain constant.

    Let us know now how big a change in pressure and/or temperature your hypothesis would predict for this experiment; and your results.

  82. Doug Cotton says:

    How about you all just read my latest paper. Pressure itself does not maintain temperature.

    I have never, ever disputed the Stephan-Boltzmann Law. I have in fact had published a peer-reviewed paper about it and how, when and why radiation transfers heat. But I do dispute Boltzmann and Maxwell on one issue in which they disbelieved Loschmidt, though could never prove him wrong empirically in those days.

    Of course the figures Entropic provides on radiation are close enough to being correct – as are the figures on back radiation.

    It is only because Entropic, Steveta amd others have not read all the papers by Joe Postma, Alberto Miatello or myself on PSI that you make such irrelevant comments and totally misunderstand the points we are making.

    Go back up three comments or so and read about Miatello’s background in atmospheric physics, and how he proved that the Venus temperature cannot possibly be explained by any radiative greenhouse effect.

    It is an absolute physical impossibility for 3 W/m^2 to raise the surface temperature itself, even in a billion years. The energy would easily be radiated away, especially during each 4-month Venus night.

    I didn’t ask you to do an energy diagram because I couldn’t do it. It was to (hopefully) help you to understand why it can’t work.

    You have not done an energy diagram. You have done a radiation diagram. The only energy flow due to radiation is a flow of 3 W/m2 of energy into the surface, and then 3 W/m^2 of energy out of the surface. All the remaining energy just flows into the atmosphere from the Sun, and then back out of the atmosphere. The surface temperature is maintained primarily by diffusion at the boundary, that boundary temperature having been raised by processes occurring at the molecular level, not by radiation.

    And, yes, there is empirical evidence cited in my paper regarding over 800 separate experiments carried out over several years this century with far more sophisticated techniques and equipment than you suggest.

    Then there is the evidence that the laws of physics provide, in that entropy never decreases.

    And thirdly, there is evidence on Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune that’s staring you in the face.

    You only have to read, study and understand, rather than let yourself be brain-washed by “greenhouse” mentality for which Michael Mann did not produce a scrap of evidence in his recent court case, and ended up blowing about a million dollars in costs in that case against our Chairman of PSI, Timothy Ball, retired professor of climatology.

    Yes, Venus has a massive atmosphere. But you need to understand the process by which its surface is maintained at over 700K by that atmosphere. That process is not a radiative greenhouse and has nothing to do with the back radiation which, despite its magnitude, does not transfer heat to the hotter surface.

  83. Dr No says:

    Amazing. Doug expects us to pay attention to an unemployed lawyer, who once worked as a business consultant (sounds like he was selling farm tractors for a while), who has been doing research in his spare time for just on 10 years. He must surely be a genius.

  84. Doug Cotton says:

    No Dr No.

    I expect you and others, first and foremost, to study empirical evidence (which I have linked) and the laws of physics, such as I have been imparting to my students for over four decades. That experience helps me to determine whether someone commenting here, or writing a paper, has an understanding of physics. Those who do understand physics will understand the physics in the hundreds of pages in various papers and articles on the PSI website. Those who don’t, like yourself, Steveta and Entropic will never influence my thinking, no matter who they are, what they have studied or where they have spent their career. There are people in this world of the internet and other information sources who keep studying in their field well beyond the level of the material they may have learned in their formal education. There are people with the intelligence and rational thought processes required in a law practice, for example, who have learned how to think.

    Entropic suggested taking a sealed vacuum flask of air to a higher altitude whereby he expected it all to cool as kinetic energy converted to potential energy. Did anyone else here pick up his error? No, Dr No. This is such an elementary mistake that I should hardly have to explain that the extra potential energy came from the fuel in his vehicle which elevated the flask to such heights.

    Indeed it is colder on average up in the snowfields, but on a calm day you can still feel the warmth of the Sun getting to you through less atmosphere and potentially giving you sunburn. Why doesn’t the ground get warmer there than in the plains? Anyone in Sydney knows it’s colder at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, than in Penrith at the foot of those mountains. The physics in my paper can easily be used to explain why, and it has nothing to do with convection or winds from elsewhere.

    When people display such a misunderstanding of elementary physics, it is no surprise to me that Michael Mann and company could easily brainwash the public with their greenhouse fraud for which, I remind you, they produced not a word of evidence in court – not even to save themselves a million dollars in costs.

  85. Dr No says:

    Calm down.
    A simple answer concerning Venus is as follows:

    Distance from Sun (A.U.) 0.72
    Flux, W/m2 2643
    Albedo 0.8
    Effective Temperature, K 220

    The height at which this temperature occurs is near the top of the Venusian atmosphere ~60km.
    A lapse rate of 8 degrees per kilometer gets us to about 700 K at the surface.

    Observed surface Temperature, K 730

    Try reading and understanding:

  86. Doug Cotton says:

    That’s close enough. That’s similar to what Alberto calculated in Section 8 of his paper, though he used a mean lapse rate of 9K/Km and a temperature measured at 50Km. In fact the lapse rate varies because the specific heat of CO2 varies by at least 30% over the range of temperatures involved. So the theoretical temperature plot is not linear but curved.

    But you still don’t understand what I’m saying in my paper (or what Alberto is saying in Section 8 of his paper) because you haven’t explained why there is a lapse rate in the first place. It has nothing to do with the surface first being heated to over 700K and then energy flowing from it by convection. There’s only 3 W/m^2 of energy going into and coming out of the surface by way of radiation. This is nothing remotely like the amount of insolation being absorbed by Earth’s far cooler surface.

    So, if my “Second School of Thought” were not correct, you are left with no valid explanation. So how about discussing the content of my paper and Miatello’s paper and any of the cited references?


  87. Doug Cotton says:

    By the way, Science of Doom (which you linked) is easy to fault over and over again, so much so that, when I kept doing so last year, all he could do was ban me or get a red face and lose money.

    You and I both agree the surface of Venus receives about 3 W/m^2 from direct insolation.

    What does SoD say in the article you linked? I quote …

    The surface receives radiation from the sun, S. In the case of Venus this value would be (averaged across the surface), S = 158 W/m²

    Then he assumes, as he always does quite incorrectly, that he can deduce energy flows from radiation flows, and that back radiation can transfer heat to a warmer surface.

    Effectively SoD is saying the backradiation has heated the surface of Venus because we know there is more radiation coming out of the surface. But there is only more coming out because the surface is so hot in the first place – a circular argument if ever there was one. And all that back radiation somehow getting through the Venus atmosphere back to the surface is supposedly having over 5,000 times the heating effect of the Sun, is it SoD?

    This in itself shows how you cannot legitimately apply the concept of radiative greenhouse effects supposedly caused by radiation to any planet, including Earth.

    Physics is universal: it applies throughout the universe.

  88. Entropic man says:

    Doug cotton

    “Entropic suggested taking a sealed vacuum flask of air to a higher altitude whereby he expected it all to cool as kinetic energy converted to potential energy.”

    On the contrary, I expected it to make the round trip unchanged, as classical physics would predict. Your hypothesis implies that it should change.

    “This is such an elementary mistake that I should hardly have to explain that the extra potential energy came from the fuel in his vehicle which elevated the flask to such heights.”

    Again, this is classical physics. Why, in your hypothesis, does KE turn to PE and back again when it convects to altitude and comes back down, but not if it is moved artificially? Your statement here contradicts your own argument.

  89. Douglas Hanes says:

    All of you ignored my post on Lu’s findings. You are all stuck in a rut. Prove Lu wrong. You can’t. For 3 years many tried to no avail. Many of you are smart but stuck in a rut. CO2’s warming effect is saturated so human effects on it’s concentration have no effect on global heat exchange.

    If you read Lu and understand his work then you will no longer have anything to talk about that will be of intrest to 99.99999% of the world.

  90. Doug Cotton says:

    Entropic says: Your hypothesis implies that it should change. My “hypothesis” says nothing of the kind. You don’t have a clue what it says because you haven’t read my paper. Try reading about Graeff’s 800 experiments on “tallbloke’s talkshop” and see if you think they could be done with vacuum flasks.

    Then you say Why, in your hypothesis, does KE turn to PE and back again when it convects … I’m not even talking about convection. There’s no convection in Graeff’s experiments, for example, and hardly any in the thick atmosphere of Venus.

    But the process that I am talking about is explained in detail and backed up with empirical evidence in my paper.

    Come back one day when you understand the real physics agreed upon by about 150 members of PSI. It’s there on the website in papers by Joe Postma, Alberto Miatello and myself, as well as some articles like this one.

    Douglas Hanes I’m not saying that I disagree with you regarding the saturation issue. But in my papers you’ll find reasons why it doesn’t matter whether carbon dioxide is saturated or not, as it can’t affect the overall rate of cooling of the surface, because it can’t affect the lapse rate or the temperature plot at all, whatever it’s concentration in the atmosphere.

  91. Dr No says:

    The lapse rate is a given: g/Cp .

    So, what is the problem?

    The question you should be asking is why the radiative temperature occurs at such a great height.

  92. Doug Cotton says:

    The calculations of the radiative temperature are incorrect for similar reasons to those in Q.2 of the FAQ’s in the Appendix of my paper published March 2012.

    I am still asking anyone for any valid explanation for the surface temperature of Venus which is different from mine in the current paper which is being subjected to open review. (Don’t quote Science of Doom, because I have explained the errors in SoD conjectures, not only in his Venus article, but also throughout his “Back Radiation” articles.) This is a genuine request in the interests of science and humanity.

  93. Dr No says:

    The radiative temperature calculation is correct. It is simply the black body temperature required to balance (via Stefan Boltzmann) the net solar radiation received by Venus.

    I thought we were on the same page there for a moment.

    So, again I ask, what is the problem?

  94. Doug Cotton says:


    Dr No thinks there is no “problem” involved in explaining the high temperature of the Venus surface.

    His explanation was based on the article in “Science of Doom” which he linked in a comment above.

    My response to that comment of Dr No’s was in this comment, pointing out how SoD was, in effect, assuming that the back radiation in the Venus atmosphere of over 16,000 W/m^2 was all getting through to the surface (even though only about 3 W/m^2 of Solar radiation does so) and that the temperature of over 700K found on the Venus surface is so high because this back radiation supposedly transfers more than 5,000 times as much heat (up the temperature gradient) to the Venus surface as does the Sun.

    Dr No would have found similar explanations of the “problem” in my paper and Alberto Miatello’s paper.

  95. Dr No says:

    Dr No says no, and no.
    My simple explanation is not based on any one article.
    It does not refer to back radiation.

    Try again, and tell me where it is faulty.

    You are thrashing around when you start arguing about the lapse rate, then dispute the calculation of the radiative temperature.

    Have you heard of adiabatic warming?

  96. AlecM says:

    What you all must understand is that there can be no CO2-AGW. Yes, zero, zilch.

    This is because the lower atmosphere is a near black body emitter in the main GHG bands and the earth’s surface is near a black body. As any engineer or competent physicist will know, the two radiation fields cancel each other out at radiative equilibrium, so little if any UP CO2 band IR from the surface, no absorption.

    The only reason the climate people claim there is CO2-AGW is by using the two-stream approximation which is physically wrong because only net radiative flux can do thermodynamic work. The result of this is they exaggerate IR absorbed [the 23 W/m^2 net IR is mainly water vapour side bands, not in self absorption] by 5.8 times at least, hence the imaginary positive feedback.

    They justify this by mistakenly imagining pyrgeometers measure a net energy flow. This is balderdash: they measure temperature. If the other body is the same temperature, there is zero net flux in the direction of that body If the other body is at absolute zero, the temperature signal flux is the level.

    Yet a pyrgeometer will measure the temperature field in both cases because the shield stops IR coming the other way – a pyrgeometer reading is always an artefact. They even work differently than claimed with much of the internal heat transfer by convection because the sensor plate can never equilibrate radiatively with a clear sky, because of the atmospheric window.

    This has been the worst ever scientific project I have come across with 7 errors in the physics, a desperate story of scientific incompetence dressed up by the modelling as pretend valid. The IPCC claims are entirely baseless and the organisation needs closing down at once to be replaced by a science based body.

  97. Doug Cotton says:

    Dr No wrote: The radiative temperature calculation is correct. It is simply the black body temperature required to balance (via Stefan Boltzmann) the net solar radiation received by Venus.

    Your definition (second sentence) is correct, but the method of calculation using a flat Venus and only 25% of actual insolation (night and day) is invalid, as I wrote last March in the Appendix of my paper to which I have already pointed you upthread, and as Joe Postma has also explained in far more detail. Why do you continue to make such assertive statements with complete disregard for the arguments we have already presented?

    In any event, why should it surprise you if the radiative temperature is found closer to the top of the Venus atmosphere which is, after all, where most of the absorption and re-emission takes place? Have you really integrated over all altitudes, taking into account the curved thermal plot (due to that 30% variation in specific heat) and the impedance Z as explained by Alberto Miatello in the Section 8 to which I have referred several times? Have you taken into account the fourth power relationship in SBL when doing such integration? Have you further integrated over a rotating sphere, or do you still believe in flat-Earth, flat-Venus pseudo physics?

    In short, Dr No, answers to all your questions are already in our published literature.



  98. Doug Cotton says:

    Dr No writes: Have you heard of adiabatic warming?

    You have given no physical explanation of the process involved in adiabatic warming. How are silent readers going to understand just exactly how the thermal energy gets into the surface in the still atmosphere of Venus?

    For those who don’t know, “adiabatic warming” requires downward movement of regions of an atmosphere which then warm temporarily by compression. However, pressure does not maintain temperature. Furthermore, for any volume of air that moves downwards some extra external energy is required (such as in turbulence) and, in addition, there must be a compensating upward moving volume of air cooling off. So, at best, there is no net effect on climate.

    Find out what I’ve “heard of” in my paper, Dr No.

  99. Doug Cotton says:


    Well said in your comment above, which all should read.

    You make very similar points to those in my March 2012 paper Radiated Energy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics.”

    Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can have but a minuscule effect only on that component of surface cooling which is effected by radiation. The reasons are in the above paper. Other non-radiative cooling processes dominate radiative cooling at the surface/atmosphere boundary and accelerate and/or last longer in order to compensate. The reasons for this nullifying effect pertain to the molecular processes involved in maintaining the thermal gradient.

    All this is explained in my current paper which presents a paradigm shift to a totally different school of thinking – a process which is universally applicable for all planets with significant atmospheres, and in complete contrast with the radiative greenhouse conjecture.


  100. Doug Cotton says:

    If you were consistent, Dr No, you would not have linked to such a flawed document on “Science of Doom” – a site which very clearly promulgates the radiative GHE conjecture, and the incorrect physics of its anonymous puppet author.

    Do you, or do you not believe what SoD continually says that radiation from a cooler atmosphere can actually transfer heat to a warmer surface?

    If you don’t believe this obvious violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, then why refer people to SoD? What a mess of an “explanation” then had to be developed by SoD to try to explain the Venus surface temperature, using back radiation as the primary source of energy, supposedly 500 times that provided by the Sun. If ever the greenhouse got smashed it would have to be on Venus.

    I’ve explained above why your “adiabatic warming” does not provide a solution to the Venus dilemma. It requires a paradigm shift to a totally different concept, now established empirically using modern equipment in over 800 painstaking experiments only carried out in the last 10 years – experiments which Maxwell and Boltzmann could never have done in their day.

  101. Dr No says:

    Tell me then, what is “the correct” estimate for the radiative temperature of Venus?

    Did you know that adiabatic warming, by definition, does not involve a transfer of heat. Have you heard of potential temperature?

    “Furthermore, for any volume of air that moves downwards some extra external energy is required (such as in turbulence) …”
    Are you also implying extra energy is required to cause a parcel of air to rise?
    What do you imagine convection is ?

    “..and, in addition, there must be a compensating upward moving volume of air cooling off. So, at best, there is no net effect on climate.”
    What are you talking about? Where did “climate”” come into this?

    Dr No must give you an F on this topic.

  102. Doug Cotton says:

    Dr No (and for info of others)

    Neither you nor I have the data on Venus that would be required for an accurate calculation of the planet’s radiative temperature, but it is what it is, and rough calculations based on a flat planet are highly unlikely to be near the mark.

    Any temperature measurement at a known altitude is sufficient to help determine an approximate surface temperature using the calculated gradient g/Cp integrated over the resulting curved temperature plot. Rough estimates, such as you and Miatello have done, are sufficient for the current discussion, and certainly support “The Second School of Thought” and cogently disprove the “First School of Thought” in my paper.

    All discussion of convection and adiabatic warming is also a red herring. These processes affect “weather” on Venus, just as they do on Earth, in other words, local conditions only that tend to “average out” over time to produce climate which, by definition, relates to the “meteorological conditions, including temperature, precipitation, and wind, that characteristically prevail in a particular region.”

    Nowhere in my paper do I imply that such processes are the cause of the elevated surface temperature on Venus. In any event, you have not described any physical concept whereby they even might be, let alone a concept which is quantified, as mine is in Section 3 of that paper.

    In complete contrast to your own comments above, my paper provides a detailed discussion of molecular processes which cause the temperature of the surface of Venus and all other planets with significant atmospheres.

    The “Second School of Thought” is supported by empirical evidence (produced in the last 10 years or so) using over 800 separate experiments of exceptionally high calibre. As explained in the paper, it is also supported by probability theory relating to observations on Venus and other such planets in our Solar system.

    I will not be discussing further red herrings, Dr No. I only have time to respond to genuine questions and/or counter arguments to what is written in the paper. Arguments which merely cite the thought experiments of Maxwell and Boltzmann regarding temperature gradients in gravitational fields will be dismissed on the grounds that such were not able to be verified empirically at the time, and never have been since. The contrary is the case. They have been disproved by the modern experiments referred to in my paper. Such experiments are of fundamental importance in consideration of the physical mechanisms which lead to all observed planetary surface temperatures, as should be evident upon detailed study and understanding of the arguments presented in my paper.

    No one in the world has as yet presented any valid counter argument, other than an attempt to use results based upon the very hypotheses of Maxwell and Boltzmann which have now been soundly dismissed with the cited empirical evidence.

    Temperature gradients do in fact develop in sealed, insulated cylinders of gases and liquids (as well as in the solid walls of such cylinders) in laboratory experiments – due to the effect of gravitational force upon individual molecules.

    It is those experiments which you would have to disprove, Dr No, in order to dismiss my “Second School of Thought.” So be the first in the world to do so, or otherwise discontinue any discussion with myself which has no bearing upon what is documented in my paper and the cited literature.

  103. Dr No says:

    Let us make it easy for you.
    Forget Venus, and simply tell us what the effective radiative temperature of Earth is. And how you calculate it.
    That is one of the easiest things to do in climate science.

    However, I bet you cannot do even this simple task correctly.

    Just to make it easier, just tell us how much solar radiation is absorbed by Earth.
    Then tell us how much long-wave radiation is emitted by Earth.
    Are there any other sources of heat involved ?

  104. Christopher Game says:

    There were times past when experiments were used to check the accuracy of proposed laws of thermodynamics. Nowadays it is more usual that the laws of thermodynamics are used to check the proposed accuracy of experiments.

  105. Entropic man says:

    I read your paper and was no wiser. I read Graeff’s paper and was in awe. I’ve rarely seen anything as inept.

    1) His apparatus has a much higher thermal conductivity at the bottom than at the top, due to metal balls in the base.This invalidates any attempt to study vertical temperature differentials in the tubes.

    2) The apparatus is not capable of inversion, the standard way of demonstrating that the two ends of a vertical system behave identically.

    3) He uses thermocouples witha sensitivity of 0.1C to measure temperature changes of <0.01C.

    4) He reverses the connections on thermocouples apparantly at random. Has he not heard of the Peltier Effect, in which a thermocouple with reversed connections generates heat?

    5) The apparatus runs about 0.5C cooler than the room in which it sits (not always by the same amount), without any explaination given.

    6)The soi-disant Graeff effect is perfect. The differential in temperature is constant and follows the variations in apparatus temperature exactly. No physics apparatus ever functions with this degree of accuracy or reliability.

    If 150 members of PSI accept this guff, it says a lot about their gullability.If you have built an entire atmospheric physics on this supposed effect, you have probably (99.99%?) been wasting your time.

  106. Doug Cotton says:

    Dr No I’m am not responding to questions that are irrelevant to my paper, whether or not it would be an easy matter to do so. Such computations are set out quite clearly in other papers published by PSI, notably those of Joseph Postma. Please read all of my last comment above.

    Christopher Game I’m glad you have visited here and had the opportunity to read my last comment above which included reference to your correspondence with PSI. What you say has an element of truth – but it is indeed unfortunate that this “post physics” has become a travesty of true physics which should always be confirmed empirically wherever such is possible. Anything not thus confirmed remains in the “hypothesis” category, never qualifying as “theory” of physics. Well that’s my view, and that of PSI. And that’s why I write what I can support with empirical evidence. No radiative GHE can be.

    Have a Happy Christmas.

  107. Doug Cotton says:

    Entropic You will have seen in my paper that I disagree with Graeff in one very important respect. Let me know if you agree with what I said about his equation for the temperature gradient.

    Then tell me where you think my detailed explanation of the molecular processes could be in error, and give detailed reasons why.

    There may be something in what you have said which could have led to the exaggerated results Graeff had with some experiments. I am primarily interested in what is relevant to climate, namely his experiments with air. I am still convinced that there is enough evidence that the temperatures were always warmer at the base, even though the next shell out had a reverse gradient due to conduction from the exterior. Your point (5) for example helps confirm just how good his insulation was. There is ample discussion regarding your point (3) and you would do well to read all four of the articles on Tallbloke being, as they are, from someone who has visited Graeff. You could always communicate with him yourself and consider his response to your points.

    We do in fact have compelling empirical evidence (based on probabilities) of the (revised) Graeff equation, as is explained in my paper.

    The reasons why Venus, and other planets, provide such empirical evidence should be easy to understand. Venus in particular completely demolishes the radiative GHE conjecture, with or without Graeff’s work.

    With all the money available, I suggest the onus is upon the IPCC to arrange to have someone carry out similar experiments to support, or otherwise, their claim that no thermal gradient would have existed in Earth’s atmosphere but for radiating molecules making up less than 2% thereof. Are we really spending all this money just because Maxwell and Boltzmann disagreed with Loschmidt, despite a lack of any empirical evidence at the time?

    If you, Entropic, believe you have an alternative proof (with a clearly explained physical process) which explains the surface temperature in some way other than in my “Second School of Thought” then be the first in the World to be forthcoming with such.

  108. Doug Cotton says:

    Because Graeff’s experiments were carried out in a basement, the air at the top of the basement room would have been warmer due to conduction from rooms above, compared with the more stable cooler sub-surface temperatures under the floor. This is of importance in the experiments because, in all circumstances, the thermal gradient of the internal cylinder was the opposite sign.

    Graeff writes: Also very important is the gradient on the inner wall of the aluminium housing, curve 8 (uppermost blue curve) with a value of +.15 K/m. It is always positive, warm at the top and cold at the bottom. Only under these conditions does the gradient at the inner axis of tube 1 or 2 — cold at the top and warm at the bottom — become meaningful.

    Measurements showed equal inflow and outflow of heat at top and bottom of the cylinder when there were seasonal variations. The effect of such seasonal variations was only 0.75 degrees in the well insulated cylinders, and those measurements ensure no net seasonal effect on the thermal gradient.

    In light of the above, if his apparatus has a much higher thermal conductivity at the bottom, as Entropic claims, then the outside is cooler at the bottom, and so there would have been a tendency to make the gradient more positive, rather than the negative gradient observed.

    Entropic must have missed reading the second paragraph above. And if he actually carried out a few calculations of the Peltier Effect, and realised measurements were only done hourly at the most, then he would realise the insignificance of such a point. And, finally, even if the whole apparatus could not be turned upside-down, the symmetry of the construction makes this a very mute point.

  109. Douglas Hanes says:

    Douglas Cotton.
    Thanks for at least considering Lu’s work. My main concern is insane economic policys that could destroy jobs and hurt many people. I will read your work! You seem to be a very bright guy. CO2’s effect is saturated and CFC’s at 1ppb are not, but they are now banned except India which produces HCFC’s. All the best to you!

  110. Doug Cotton says:

    Thanks Douglas. There are many “bright guys” among our 150 members at Principia Scientific International, including professors and a Nobel Prize nominee. I guess my job is to try to explain their somewhat esoteric cogitations to the general public, or at least to those with some understanding of physics. In the process of studying their writings there are occasions when “the penny drops” so that perhaps I can bring it all together, filling in the gaps so to speak.

    Regarding what you said about government insanity, there will be more than just jobs destroyed. A key concern is also the likelihood that humanitarian aid funds will be diverted to so-called clean energy conversion costs in developing countries. Governments do these things – in Australia overseas aid funds have just been diverted towards detention centres for the illegal boat people.

    If developed countries can start raising $100,000,000,000 a year for developing countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (as is agreed from the year 2020) then it makes you wonder just how many lives that money could have saved.

  111. -hv says:

    As someone else wrote above, I think that solar radiation changes influence quite much the weather, cloudiness and the climate. You can find many publications, which show the correlations of global temperatures and solar radiation changes.

    Many good refafrences are given in the article by Dr Theodor Landscheidt in this link:



  112. Douglas Hanes says:

    Doug, couldn’t agree with you more. That’s why I’m trying to get Lu’s work out. Global temp correlations 1850-2010, CO2=.02 and CFCs=.98. His work is not easy for an average person to read but I think it’s right up your alley.

    Thank you for your work in this important area!

  113. -hv says:

    I wrote: “Many good refafrences are given in the article by Dr Theodor Landscheidt in this…”

    Sorry for the strange typo. I meant: “Many good hints are given…”

  114. Doug Cotton says:

    Douglas I’m sure Lu would be very welcome as a member of PSI. He just needs to write to John O’Sullivan whose email address is at the foot of this page and we can take it from there.

    hv Yes, it’s pretty much all about solar activity and natural cycles. Magnetic fields from planets can affect sunspot activity and solar intensity. One of the interesting points in the article you linked is this …

    The variation in radiation between extrema of the 11-year sunspot cycle reaches 35% in the EUV- range [119], 20% at 1500 Å [21], and 7% around 2500 Å [34,97]. At wavelengths above 2500 Å, the variation reaches still 2% [21]. At the time of energetic solar eruptions, the UV-radiation increases by 16%. At a sunspot maximum the EUV-radiation raises the temperature in the Ionosphere by 300% in relation to the minimum [21]. Yet most important is that the UV-radiation below 2900 Å is completely absorbed by ozone in the stratosphere. The resultant rise in temperature is augmented by positive feed-back, as the UV-radiation also generates new ozone.

  115. Douglas Hanes says:

    I don’t think Lu needs to apply to anything. He is simply a truth seeker appointed to the departments of Physics, Chemisty, Biology, and Astronomy with a PHd of course.

    He is sick of the dirty science of climate change and is going back to cancer research.

  116. Doug Cotton says:

    Yes, Douglas, all of us at PSI are “sick of the dirty science of climate change” and we are making progress towards wiping it out, especially in the recent court case against Michael Mann et al.

    A couple of comments and an article linked below are relevant to the earlier discussion

    (a) About molecular processes in gravitational fields …


    (b) About the accuracy of Graeff’s measurements …


    (c) About Graeff’s calculations, which I say incorrectly introduce a multiplication by the number of degrees of freedom. If the gradient of the thermal plot on Venus were multiplied by the number of degrees of freedom of CO2 the surface temperature would be far, far greater.


  117. Doug Cotton says:

    Entropic and others

    On closer examination of Graeff’s experimental set up shown in this article there is, in the first enclosure containing the two cylinders, more air space above the cylinders than below. However, this larger enclosure has already developed a less negative gradient. This extra air space would thus act as a heat sink, cooling the top more than the bottom of the inner cylinders. However, I suggest that this merely explains the extra gradient which Graeff incorrectly “explained” by multiplying by the number of degrees of freedom.

    I stress that the overall concept of such columns being cooler at the top and warmer at the bottom is still established by the fact that the very outside container wall had a positive gradient, whereas the innermost enclosures each had a negative gradient.

    All I am saying here is that I believe this gradient should not be as steep as Graeff claimed. In fact it’s gradient is the same formula as for the dry adiabatic lapse rate, namely g/Cp as in my paper.

    So, I stand corrected in saying above that there was symmetry, and Entropic was right on just one of his points regarding turning it upside-down. But, as I said in the first response to him There may be something in what you have said which could have led to the exaggerated results Graeff had with some experiments.

    So Entropic has actually helped me prove my point that the process that happens in the experimental cylinders creates a gradient, but (if the experiment is set up correctly) this gradient does not exceed that of the dry adiabatic lapse rate in the atmosphere. So I very strongly suggest that what happens in the atmosphere is merely the same molecular processes, but on a much grander scale. There is no violation of the Second Law because, in its more general form, it says that entropy does not increase. And that is the case in my formula (because it is based on PE+KE=constant) though Graeff’s multiplication by the degrees of freedom violates both the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, decreasing entropy and creating energy.

  118. Thanks, Dr. Spencer,

    Very good article!

    Under the title “Dr. Roy Spencer, 2012: Our Chaotic Climate System”, I have published an extensive extract from this article at http://www.oarval.org/ClimateChangeBW.htm
    It is also available in Spanish at http://www.oarval.org/CambioClimaBW.htm

    Merry Christmas!

  119. Entropic man says:

    Doug cotton

    “With all the money available, I suggest the onus is upon the IPCC to arrange to have someone carry out similar experiments”

    I think you misunderstand the role of the IPCC. It is not itself a research agency.
    It’s job is to summarise our present understanding of climate processes based on current research. It advises governments on possible future trends, as an aid to formulating future national and international climate-related policy.

    Regarding proof, there’s not room in this margin!

    This summarises the current mainstream understanding of atmospheric behaviour.


  120. Doug Cotton says:

    Entropic (and others)

    There is nothing to stop the IPCC saying to those mainstream “scientists” who first proposed the fictitious GHE (which IPCC publishes) that the IPCC now wants some empirical evidence, perhaps because of Michael Mann’s recent failure to produce any evidence whatsoever in court in his action against Timothy Ball, retired professor of climatology and Chairman of Principia Scientific International.

    I have spent thousands of hours studying the type of propaganda you keep linking, but I can see what’s wrong with it, whereas perhaps you can’t.

    May I suggest you wait a day or so until an Appendix which I have just written is added to my paper. That may help you to understand how radiation between radiating molecules at different altitudes reduces the theoretical lapse rate from about 9.8C/Km to about 7C/Km as is well known. Then, once you’ve understood the rest of my paper, you’ll see why, in the long term, this radiation by water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane etc not only lowers the absolute value of the lapse rate, but also, as a consequence, lowers the surface temperature. Yes, you will think this a crazy conclusion, but I challenge you and anyone in the world to rebut the physics in my paper, which is supported by empirical evidence. Such evidence is further discussed in the new Appendix soon to be published.

  121. Doug Cotton says:


    The paper Entropic links does calculations using “L = heat of condensation” for the saturated lapse rate. Implicit in that is the assumption that phase change has to be taking place simultaneously. But that is not necessarily the case. Furthermore, there’s not much convection or water vapour in the Venus atmosphere, yet the measured absolute value of the lapse rate is still lower than the theoretical g/Cp value, where Cp is approximately the weighted mean specific heat of all substances in the region.

    Yes, phase change does indeed “dump” extra energy in the atmosphere in the region where it occurs, and convection will thus be generated by the raised temperature, thus spreading the extra energy further upwards. But even when the phase change ceases (perhaps the clouds move away) there can still be a high relative humidity, and that in itself will reduce the absolute value of the lapse rate in that region.

    Wet or dry, there will always be radiation emitted from warmer regions of the atmosphere and absorbed in higher regions, and this will transfer some heat down the temperature gradient. Because it keeps on happening, some of the extra energy does not disperse fast enough, so the effective lapse rate is reduced in absolute value to about 70% of the -g/Cp value. (Localised latent heat deposits probably are the cause of further reduction to around 6.5C/Km in the world-wide mean.) This appears to happen on all planets with significant atmospheres. But many of those atmospheres have no water and very little convection. The lapse rate is maintained, not by convection so much, but rather by the molecular diffusion processes discussed in my paper.

    Each process (diffusion and convection) can be shown to have a propensity to develop a lapse rate of -g/Cp simply because it is all about keeping the region isentropic with (PE+KE)-constant. There is no violation of the Second Law which, in its more general form, says entropy cannot decrease.

    Unfortunately Roderich Graeff did his reputation harm when he thought there was a need to multiply the gradient by the number of degrees of freedom. I have shown why that is wrong in my paper, and the new Appendix (which I have written and which will appear soon) explains why Graeff’s experiments do not in fact support his claim that we should multiply by the DOF. But they do support the existence of a temperature gradient caused primarily by diffusion processes.

    So, as you will read in the new Appendix to my paper, all such non-radiative processes (conduction, diffusion and convection) have a propensity to produce a thermal gradient -g/Cp in solids, liquids and gases. Radiation between different altitudes tends to reduce the absolute value of the gradient toward the effective rate, and “latent heat” energy deposited by phase change does likewise to some extent in a localised region.

    It follows that the thermal plot of a planet’s atmosphere is determined by (a) a gradient established by these processes and (b) a level determined by Solar insolation and some other natural causes. The thermal plot then fixes the surface temperature at the point of intersection.

    It does not require a hot surface first, followed by convection. That could not possibly have happened on Venus and so the processes I have described must be the cause of the Venus surface temperature, as well as other similar planets. There is no reason to assume that the same universal physics would not also apply on Earth.
    I hope this helps some of you have a happier Christmas.


  122. F. Maxwell says:

    If Mr. Doug Cotton is such a great scientist, why
    has he never published any of results?

    Where are the papers Doug? Dr. Spencer has many?


  123. F. Maxwell says:

    Doug Cotton:

    You said:

    “I am still asking anyone for any valid explanation for the surface temperature of Venus which is different from mine”

    Here are just a view papers on the subject from 2011-12.
    There are many, many more, and have been for many, many years.

    Have you read even one of them?

    Did you know we have been sending probes to measure the Venus atmosphere for decades? Are you aware of how different the circulation patterns are there than those of earth? Do you grasp that the same climate model methodology used for earth can also reproduce the observed profiles from Venus? There are people that spend their lives doing this. They are called scientists. Unlike you, they publish papers on their results.


    Thermal structure and CO distribution for the Venus mesosphere/lower thermosphere: 2001–2009 inferior conjunction sub-millimeter CO absorption line observations
    RT Clancy, BJ Sandor, G Moriarty-Schieven – Icarus, 2012 – Elsevier

    Atomic oxygen distributions in the Venus thermosphere: Comparisons between Venus Express observations and global model simulations
    AS Brecht, SW Bougher, JC Gérard, L Soret – Icarus, 2012 – Elsevier

    Temperatures In The Venus Mesosphere And Thermosphere: Comparison of SOIR and VTGCM Profiles at the Terminator
    SW Bougher, J Fischer, G Hicks… – AAS/Division for …, 2012 – adsabs.harvard.edu

    Dayside thermal structure of Venus’ upper atmosphere characterized by a global model
    AS Brecht, SW Bougher – Journal of Geophysical Research, 2012 – agu.org

    The vertical distribution of the Venus NO nightglow: Limb profiles inversion and one-dimensional modeling
    A Stiepen, L Soret, JC Gérard, C Cox, JL Bertaux – Icarus, 2012 – Elsevier

    Non-LTE CO limb emission at in the upper atmosphere of Venus, Mars and Earth: Observations and modeling
    G Gilli, MA López-Valverde, B Funke… – Planetary and Space …, 2011 – Elsevier

    Characteristics of planetary-scale waves simulated by a new venusian mesosphere and thermosphere general circulation model
    N Hoshino, H Fujiwara, M Takagi, Y Takahashi… – Icarus, 2012 – Elsevier

    Modelling the atmospheric CO 2 10-?m non-thermal emission in Mars and Venus at high spectral resolution
    MA López-Valverde, G Sonnabend, M Sornig… – Planetary and Space …, 2011 – Elsevier

  124. F. Maxwell says:

    Doug Cotton:

    P.S. I am sorry to keep posting. I realize that posting more than 3 times is a bit rude, but I wanted to make another important point. Actually, this is only my third, so I am not rude, yet.

    You have never compared your theories to observation. You should get the data from the Venus probes and see how your predictions match the data. There is a lot of data to match:
    Vanera, Magellen, Cassini, Vega, Venus Express, and others. We have so much data now. You have lapse rate and temperature and comments on blog posts (until being banned) with no numbers. When you have something that can explain the data, then maybe you could write a paper or something.

    Since you have never written anything to explain Venus, it isn’t even a theory.

  125. Doug Cotton says:

    F. Maxwell

    I shall only comment on the content of my published papers and articles, in response to those who show signs of having read them. I don’t need links to papers that I’ve probably studied previously, and I’m very well aware of the old school of thought, which I have proven false in my papers.

    You can start here with my current paper (which is under open peer-review) if you wish, and also read the references including an earlier peer-reviewed paper and article of mine, But don’t feel obliged if you are not interested in the ground-breaking research being carried out by several of us at PSI.

    There is no need for further comment as my response to all your questions has already been written in my papers and earlier comments on this thread.

  126. Doug Cotton says:


    For those who have been following the research by myself and others from among the 150 members at Principia Scientific International, I’d like to draw your attention to an Appendix now added to my current paper and also this comment I made regarding measurements made by the Russians from the surface of Venus.


    All should read the breaking news here, from which I quote:

    ” This story is huge. America’s prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and related government bodies found no greenhouse effect in Earth’s atmosphere. Evidence shows the U.S. government held the smoking gun all along – a fresh examination of an overlooked science report proves America’s brightest and best had shown the White House that the greenhouse gas effect was not real and of no scientific significance since 1979 or earlier.


  127. Entropic man says:

    doug cotton

    I went to your PSI link, but the onward link to the NAS report didnt work. Please ask them to correct it.

  128. J Williams says:

    Doug—Your latest comment has shattered what little credibility you had in my mind. For a change, I actually agree with you on one point. I think people *should* read the 1979 report from our National Academy of Sciences (…and that includes you, Doug). They should also read the reports on climate change published by NAS in the years since.

    Here are a few relevant quotes from the Summary of the 1979 report: “When it is assumed that the CO2 content of the atmosphere is doubled and statistical thermal equilibrium is achieved, the more realistic of the modeling efforts predict a global surface warming of between 2C and 3.5C, with greater increases at high latitudes.” And: “The primary effect of an increase of CO2 is to cause more absorption of thermal radiation from the earth’s surface and thus to increase the air temperature in the troposphere.” Also, I encourage people to read the names of the scientists who contributed to that report—some of the greatest scientists at the time, in my humble opinion (e.g., George Revelle).

    For you to label this report as a “smoking gun” is quite comical, and a little sad, quite frankly. I will wait for the contortions to begin: for you to tell everyone that we don’t understand your point, for the need for us to read your “papers,” and so on.

    For the sake of everyone that visits this website, I hope that you have a nice, long break over the holidays.

  129. J Williams says:

    Correction to previous post—*Roger* Revelle. And, for everyone’s benefit, here’s the link to the NAS report mentioned in Doug’s comment:


    I strongly encourage people to take a look and decide for yourself if this report (which has been publicly available for years) truly represents a “smoking gun” in climate change science.

  130. Doug Cotton says:

    You seem to miss the point of the report (of which I am not the author) that the terminology “Greenhouse Effect” was not to be found anywhere until the 1980’s.

    From here on I will comment on my paper (including the Appendix just added) only in response to any genuine questions from those who have clearly attempted to understand the physics included therein, and the evidence for such.

  131. Doug Cotton says:

    One of the points made in the new Appendix in my paper is that radiation between water vapour (and suspended water droplets) at different levels in the atmosphere reduces the surface temperature in the long run. My paper (when understood) provides evidence for this, totally rejecting the claim “A strong positive feedback mechanism is the accompanying increase of moisture, which is an even more powerful absorber” in the above-mentioned report.

  132. J Williams says:

    As predicted, the contortions have begun.

    Doug: *I* missed the point? Please…

    Let me return to the words from *your* post. You said (quoted) that the NAS found “no greenhouse effect in the atmosphere.” However, that’s *exactly* what they found, though they may not have used the same terminology as scientists use today. You also quoted that “America’s brightest and best had shown the White House that the greenhouse gas effect was not real.” That is an incredibly dishonest synthesis of what those esteemed scientists actually reported.

    The NAS report is anything but a smoking gun. If anything, the report should be required reading for anyone interested in learning the history of climate change science.

  133. Well said J Williams, I read the report and found quotes like:

    “It follows that if a rise in global temperature results in an increased amount of low or middle clouds, there is a negative feedback, and if a rise in global temperature results in an increased amount of high clouds, there is a positive feedback.
    The effect of cloud albedo by itself gives a negative feedback.
    Thus if clouds at all levels were increased by 1 percent, the atmosphere-earth system would absorb about 0.3 m-2 less solar radiation and lose about 0.5 W m-2 less thermal radiation.
    The net effect would be a cooling of about 0.4 W m-2, or, if this occurred together with a doubling of CO2, a decrease of deltaQ from 4.0 to 3.6 W m–2.”

    “Our confidence in our conclusion that a doubling of CO2 will eventually result in significant temperature increases and other climate changes is based on the fact that the results of the radiative-convective and heatbalance model studies can be understood in purely physical terms and are verified by the more complex GCM’s.”

    “We believe, therefore, that the equilibrium surface global warming due to doubled CO2 will be in the range 1.5°C to 4.5°C, with the most probable value near 3°C.
    These estimates may be compared with those given in our discussion of feedback effects in one-dimensional, radiative-convective models.
    There the range was 1.6°C to 4.5°C, with 2.4°C estimated as a likely value.”

    No silly “Greenhouse”, but plenty of CO2 induced warming.

  134. Doug Cotton says:

    Firstly, some quotes from the 1979 report …

    “It follows that if a rise in global temperature results in an increased amount of low or middle clouds, there is a negative feedback, and if a rise in global temperature results in an increased amount of high clouds, there is a positive feedback. The effect of cloud albedo by itself gives a negative feedback…”

    “How important the overall cloud effects are is, however, an extremely difficult question to answer.

    “Unfortunately, cloud observations in sufficient detail for accurate validation of models are not available at present.

    “When empirical adjustments of parameters are made to achieve verisimilitude, the model may appear to be validated against the present climate. But such tuning by itself does not guarantee that the response of clouds to a change in the CO2 concentration is also tuned. It must thus be emphasized that the modeling of clouds is one of the weakest links in the general circulation modeling efforts.

    The above uncertainties, and others such as those connected with the modeling of ground hydrology and snow and ice formation, create uncertainties in the model results…”

    “Existing numerical models of the atmosphere, which treat the ocean as having no meridional heat transports of its own, may give somewhat improper accounts of the CO2 impact.”

    “Because of the required overall radiative heat balance of the total system, the atmosphere would then be required to compensate for reduced oceanic heat transport by steepening the equator-to-pole temperature gradient, thus ameliorating somewhat the predicted polar warming, However, the total atmospheric warming would not likely be greatly affected, merely its distribution in latitude.

    “The connections between upper and lower ocean are generally presumed to have response times of the order of 1000 years …

    “Heat transport by ocean currents is neglected in both model oceans. This is one of the weaknesses of all the predictions …

    Nowhere do I see reference to the process of back radiation supposedly slowing the rate of radiative cooling of the surface. This is the only dubious foundation stone left in the current “greenhouse effect” description. So I see no parallel with the old thinking described in the paper about a heated atmosphere somehow sending heat back to the surface and what is now described as the Greenhouse Effect. In general, as said in the article, I see a lot of uncertainty expressed throughout the paper which is hardly expressing “settled science.”

  135. Doug Cotton says:

    Once you come to grips with the whole new “Second School of Thought” in my paper you may begin to realise that the “blanket” is not made of water vapour and carbon dioxide, but rather of oxygen and nitrogen, which support the surface temperature, primarily by reducing diffusion (conduction) and evaporative cooling when the temperatures of the surface and the base of the atmosphere approach each other at the boundary.

    You will also come to realise that, whilst Roderich Graeff’s 800 or more experiments were not perfectly designed, there was sufficient evidence in some of his work to provide proof of the fact that diffusion (not convection) produces the thermal gradient of all planetary atmospheres. Furthermore, the atmosphere is the forcing factor, not a pre-heated surface, which could never have been the case on Venus and other planets.

    As explained in Section 3 and the new Appendix, Graeff made a serious error in his calculations, when he multiplied by degrees of freedom, due to a misunderstanding of the Equipartition Theorem – and an admitted lack of much formal training in physics. Once I corrected for that error, the whole puzzle fell into place, as explained in detail that anyone with a degree in physics should be able to understand.

    The paper has been there on the “Peer Review in Open Media” menu on the PSI website since late November and, so far, nobody in the world has been able to submit a valid rebuttal to PSI.

    I have been asked to write an article on it for its official release early in the new year, so you only have two weeks or less to submit your rebuttal.

    As I have said, I am willing to answer questions here that are from those who have read the paper and understand an appropriate level of atmospheric physics, such as I have studied extensively, built on a background in helping students to understand physics for over 50 years.

    There is going to be a paradigm shift in thinking because the truth must eventually prevail. I hope it doesn’t take as long as the 20 years during which the medical profession continued to reject the discovery of penicillin. But I fear it will take at least 10 to 15 years, and hope I live to see the day.


  136. J williams says:

    Doug: Your post and the PSI “press release” are horribly dishonest representations of the NAS report, no matter how many quotes you pluck from the document. The sad part is that I think you very well know this.

    And what about your promIse to only comment here further in response to people with questions about your “paper”? I knew that would last about 15 minutes.

    Let the contortions continue…

  137. Doug Cotton says:

    Well, responding to F Maxwell above (Dec 21, 2:02am), who said I’d never written anything about Venus, maybe, after reading my paper on Planetary Surface Temperatures, you or he can be the first to come up with an alternative valid explanation of the physical heat transfer processes that maintain the surface temperature of Venus at over 700K. So far no one else has.

    I am not seeking links to published papers, no matter who the authors. The vast majority, if not all of them, talk about a “runaway greenhouse effect” which simply could not have been the cause.

    For a greenhouse effect the surface would have to be heated first, so the backradiation could slow the radiative cooling of the surface. But, the solar radiation reaching the surface of Venus has been estimated (from measurements of less than 3 W/m^2 made by Russian probes on the surface) to have a mean of about 5 to 10 W/m^2 for the whole planet. As I have said in my paper, that is less than 10% of the insolation reaching Earth’s surface.

    To maintain the temperature of over 700K there would be a need for over 16,000 W/m^2 if there were no atmosphere. Greenhouse philosophy would have it that the 10 W/m^2 entering the surface would rise again (back into the atmosphere) and then be magnified by back radiation 1,600 times. Is that the kind of physics you believe in?

  138. Doug Cotton says:

    J Williams In that you have accused me of being “horribly dishonest” I am replying. No I don’t “very well know this” at all, thank you.

    You appear to be a “conclusions” reader, not giving any consideration to the large number of errors and uncertainties that I have simply copied from the text.

    You “lap up” the conclusions along with the error estimates without realising the errors should have been acknowledged to be far, far greater in magnitude in the results as they are expressed. It is the paper which is horribly dishonest.

    Firstly, as I tried to explain, the whole concept which they used which was not based on back radiation slowing the rate of radiative cooling – this whole concept was thrown out by the IPCC before the turn of the century because they had to admit there was no evidence for it. Surely those writing the report could have realised that physics doesn’t work that way and they could not explain anything with the current physics of the day. The whole thing was a fabrication.

    Secondly, all the water vapour can easily be shown to have at least 100 times the effect of all the carbon dioxide in terms of slowing radiative cooling. The whole argument about carbon dioxide sensitivity hinges on a feedback assumption that increased water vapour will amplify the sensitivity. That was why I picked out several quotes about clouds. They admitted that clouds could cause a negative feedback, and they had no information to confirm whether they did in fact produce a positive feedback, or that water vapour in general did so. (I have proven with physics that it lowers the surface temperature, for example.)

    With them admitting to all these uncertainties, it should be blatantly obvious to anyone with a background in physics and statistics, that the errors stated and the results themselves were so inaccurate that they could just as easily have implied zero sensitivity, or even negative sensitivity to carbon dioxide.

  139. J williams says:

    Well, Doug, you actually don’t know the first thing about me. But, you now seem to be telling visitors to this site that you know more than the NAS and true thinkers like Revelle. I think your comments truly speak for themselves.

    Hijacking someone else’s website is not my style, so I will move on for the holidays.

  140. Truthseeker says:

    Doug, I think that you and Stephen Wilde are saying the same things. His discussion is at Tallbloke’s Talkshop on the following thread;


  141. Doug Cotton says:


    J WilliamsYes I’m saying that in respect to the topic of my paper. Get any you know to read the comment below and perhaps study the new article by Stephen Wilde.

    Truthseeker: Yes, I’ve been aware of Stephen Wilde’s thinking on this, and the similarity in our general approach. It is similar in principle, but there is a subtle difference. He is still talking about actual movement of bodies of air, whereas I am saying it can happen at the molecular level where we would see no actual movement of any body of air. The whole body of air doesn’t have to move, because kinetic energy can be passed from one molecule to another.

    In some ways, convection is a bit like this molecular diffusion “stretched out” with a general movement of a body of air in one direction, even though some molecules will still move a little against the general direction.

    In order to see that it can happen at the molecular level we needed Graeff’s experiments, and Stephen is just working with standard convection equations. Graeff made a mistake and multiplied by degrees of freedom, because he did not correctly understand the process of equipartition, and how that process must happen at the time of impact, not during the free path. Once I discovered that problem, I then looked more closely at his data and found that the only valid data did not need the DOF factor – see Appendix.

    I’m banned from tallbloke, which is somewhat annoying seeing that I did Rog a favour letting him publish my first paper and get many hundreds of comments thereon. Maybe you could mention my paper on his thread and point out the further refinement that I have introduced getting this down to the molecular level. It has to be that way, because there’s not much convection on Venus.

    Here’s the full link to the paper ..


  142. Entropic man says:

    Doug cotton

    Congratulations. You have just discredited PSI in the eyes of at least two posters here.

    I had been willing to give them the benefit of the doubt until I compared their version of the 1979 NAS report with the actual document.

  143. Truthseeker says:

    Doug, I did link your paper on the Tallbloke thread so that Stephen could easily respond.

    In a global atmosphere, air does move and this movement can be caused by global rotation and/or temperature differentials. While molecular transfer obviously does occur, the actual movement of air is much more powerful and efficient means to change temperature (cool breeze or hot wind anyone?).

    Personally I think that getting two physicists to agree to anything is like herding cats …

  144. Douglas Cotton says:

    Yes, convection when and where it happens will produce the same thermal gradient as we now see that diffusion can do. However, diffusion is everywhere, all the time, whereas convection is either almost non-existent in the lower troposphere on Venus, or very irregular on Earth, with wind also mixing things up somewhat.

    They key point is that, up till now, diffusion has been overlooked. Sure, Loschmidt considered it would create a vertical thermal gradient in a gravitational field, but he got stomped on by the “heavies” Boltzmann and Maxwell. And there it lay until some like Jelbring and Graeff (maybe others) took a second look, and Graeff confirmed it empirically.

    As I see it, diffusion sets up a stable mass of air (or whatever is in the atmosphere of other planets) but it has a thermal gradient. Then convection (as well as the release of latent heat and also intra-atmospheric radiation) form temporary humps or waves on top of this supporting thermal plot. Radiation may be the main factor reducing the effective (absolute) rate to about 70% of the g/Cp value.

    The main point in all this is that convection does not do it alone, and is more likely less effective than diffusion. Think of the surface of the ocean, for example, which is primarily shaped by the curvature of the Earth’s surface, but can have fast or slow moving, small or large waves making relatively small variations in the overall spherical shape.

    Personally I think it would be very hard to physically confirm Stephen Wilde’s concept of convection going from the surface to the top of the atmosphere, and then back down again somewhere, somehow in these huge loops. Even if found on Earth, where are they on Venus? Why is the Venus atmosphere above the poles, and on the dark side, all at similar temperatures at similar altitudes? I say this is due to diffusion, which of course also works in a horizontal plane keeping such temperatures equal. Venus rotates so slowly and the atmosphere is so thick that the atmospheric (and surface) temperatures established over many years remain fairly constant over the whole planet. We can understand downward air movement on Earth because we know it is so much colder near the poles, but Venus seems to put a spanner in the (convection) works.

  145. Douglas Cotton says:


    Thank you for linking my paper on TB. I note that Stephen Wilde brushed it off briefly “Doug Cotton’s contentions are very similar but I think he goes wrong in relying on simple diffusion rather than adiabatic processes.”

    My response (which you are welcome to copy there) would be that diffusion is an adiabatic process, and in fact an isentropic one, which thus obeys the Second Law. The initial heating of the base of the Venus atmosphere did not require any heat travelling up the temperature gradient. All that needs to happen is that some molecules a little closer to the surface get heated more by the Sun (which it can do) and this extra energy is then dispersed into a (small) local region, forming a part of the required temperature plot, with the diffusion process ensuring that the correct vertical gradient sets in.

    As an analogy, imagine a load of sand dumped in a pile. The sides of the pile tend to take on a certain gradient. Each grain of sand plays a part in supporting all those above it. In the same way, molecules at cooler temperatures support the slightly warmer temperatures of molecules just a little closer to the surface. This means not much extra solar radiation is needed to raise each successive layer of molecules to a slightly higher temperature.

    Now, what I suggest asking Stephen Wilde is, how did the high temperature of the Venus surface originate in the first place without the diffusion process doing just this? If the surface were, say 300 to 400K initially in an imaginary situation without any atmosphere, then how could convection alone start the extra 400 or so degrees of heating?

    It is important to understand that diffusion and convection are similar. The adiabatic warming and cooling in convection is really just this diffusion process happening in motion and being accelerated because the air is moving. If the air stops the diffusion still happens. Over the life of any planet, there has been plenty of time for diffusion to do the whole job without needing any acceleration by the movement of convection.

    Remember, the calculations for the gradient g/Cp are based on the same PE+KE=constant relationship which is both my paper and Stephen’s. So convection is just motion added to diffusion, the latter being what controls the temperature.

    It’s a shame that Roger doesn’t allow direct discussion of this very important issue between Stephen and myself, in the interests of science. I challenge Stephen to come over here to Roy’s thread and communicate directly. Tell him I suggested such!


  146. Doug Cotton says:

    Stephen Wilde’s post on tallbloke discusses the same general concept that I have, namely that a temperature plot develops in the atmosphere of the planets Earth, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and the plot (which is actually a curve) has a mean gradient determined by g/Cp where Cp is the weighted mean specific heat of gases at the temperature in each region. Simultaneously, Solar insolation (and a few other natural factors) set the level of the plot. The end result is that surface temperatures are pre-determined by those at the base of the atmosphere, and these are determined by extrapolation of the above thermal plot.

    Up to this point Stephen and I are in agreement, but Stephen fails to describe the correct mechanism, and this is extremely important to the whole argument as to whether the process can or can’t happen.

    Stephen does not tend to use physical terminology in quite the correct manner, and this leads to an apparent difference in what we are saying. For example, his statement “the adiabatic and diabatic processes must always match each other” makes no sense physically. There is no energy added in an adiabatic process, but there is energy added or removed in a diabatic process, so how can zero match an (absolute) value > 0 ???

    Then Stephen refers to the supply of PE in the atmosphere flowing back to the surface in the form of KE which is quite strange. Energy is either one or the other. My paper describes what happens as PE converts to KE during the free path of molecular movements between impacts. That is the only place in which it can occur, and it is vitally important to understand this process. The actual process of diffusion takes place during the molecular collisions, at which point kinetic energy is shared between the two molecules involved and between the degrees of freedom of each molecule.

    Having made the above comments (based on the Abstract) I do agree with some points that he makes in the body of the text, but I don’t agree that significant regions of air rise significant distances and then fall back to the surface. There would have to be some reason for the change of direction. This is not like throwing a ball into the air so that it subsequently falls back.

    All interchange of PE and KE happens at the molecular level, whether you call it convection or diffusion. Convection is just diffusion in which there is also a measurable general movement of the air molecules. The expansion amounts to just more molecules moving out further ahead because there is more space above.

    What is measurable is a matter of opinion, or perhaps the degree of accuracy of the measuring device. If you suspended a hot metal ball at the top of a room of cool air, you may very well be able to detect downward movement of air. Is that downward movement convection, or just diffusion? What if the ball is on the floor? As it cools and you can no longer detect upward movement is that the point when convection becomes diffusion, assuming the ball is still warmer than the air?

    In an atmosphere energy from the Sun, and some coming back from the surface is absorbed somewhat randomly at various levels in the atmosphere. For example, water vapour can release energy due to phase change.

    You can visualise what happens if, instead of a sloping thermal plot, you tilt it to the horizontal and imagine it represented by a horizontal sheet of metal. Now drop some water (representing absorbed energy) in various quantities at several random points. The water will spread out in all directions from each point. So too does the heat absorbed at various points in the atmosphere. But the effect of gravity turns the level playing field (the metal sheet) into a sloping playing field. But the heat still flows out as it did on the horizontal sheet. If you pour enough water in at any point you may create a significant flow, which would be a measurable flow of air you would call convection, and some can be downwards. But plenty of other absorbed energy does not cause measurable air movement, especially in the dense atmosphere of Venus. The energy flowing by diffusion from the ground to the air rarely causes a noticeable updraught of air, and so I feel that the term convection is greatly overused in climatology, and it is really just diffusion. Updraughts from mountains are more to do with diverted wind than convection, for example.

    What is certain is that no particular group of molecules all travel a significant distance. They pass on their KE in collisions, rather like runners in a relay race passing the baton. In general, everything happens more often than not in small localised regions where absorbed energy spreads out in all directions, with a propensity to establish a “pseudo” lapse rate. There is also intra-atmospheric radiation exchanges which have a propensity to create uniform temperature. Thus the “pseudo” lapse rate tends to be about 10% to 30% less (in absolute terms) than the theoretical one on the above planets.

    But, overall, what was said at the beginning of this comment, has to be the mechanism which determines planetary surface temperatures, as in my November paper.

    This is reality: the so-called greenhouse effect is not.

  147. Stephen Wilde says:


    You may not have noticed but I did previously say that in my opinion diffusion processes would be dominant in a thick atmosphere and convective processes would be dominant in a thin atmosphere.

    I agree too that convection is a form of diffusion because it relies on temperature differentials to get started and uneven diffusion creates temperature differentials.

    So I don’t see that we are far apart.

    The one refinement I would suggest is that perhaps we should both talk about atmospheric circulation (my huge loops) because that emphasises the need for movement to negate the effects of GHGs whereas just referring to diffusion suggests in the mind of readers that you are relying on eergy transfers within a more or less static atmosphere which I think is misleading if uneven diffusion contributes to the broader circulation.

  148. Stephen Wilde says:

    Doug said:

    “For example, his statement “the adiabatic and diabatic processes must always match each other” makes no sense physically. There is no energy added in an adiabatic process, but there is energy added or removed in a diabatic process, so how can zero match an (absolute) value > 0 ???”

    That works because in effect solar input gets a free pass through the system leaving energy in balance at top of atmosphere.

    Thus the diabatic loop does indeed have a zero value at top of atmosphere and the adiabatic loop has zero value within the atmosphere.

    It is only when one or other of the two loops nets out to other than zero that compensating circulatory adjustments occur. In practice that is all the time because the large number of internal system variables is constantly trying to destabilise the system but the negative system response always keeps the system within narrow parameters.


    “I don’t agree that significant regions of air rise significant distances and then fall back to the surface. There would have to be some reason for the change of direction. This is not like throwing a ball into the air so that it subsequently falls ”

    If one ignores temporary inversions the fact is that at any one moment half the atmosphere is rising within low pressure regions (less than 1000mb) and half is descending in high pressure regions (more than 1000mb.

    The initial kick is supplied by insolation at the surface whereupon energy diffuses unevenly to the air above resulting in convection and that then develops into a full global diabatic loop or loops with different loops at different levels (such as the Brewer Dobson circulation in the stratosphere and the water cycle in the troposphere).

    Conceptually it is helpful to regard the entire global atmosphere as containing a single diabatic loop.

    I think my concept of two separate loops each being independently variable and of oppositely signed response to any forcing element is potentially a major step forward in explaining how the system maintains balance so as to leave mass, gravity and insolation as the only determinants of surface temperature.

  149. Breck Henderson says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    Heard a guy on NPR this morning, Michael Lemonick formerly a science writer for Time I believe, who said 2012 was the warmest year on record. Is that true? It’s hard for me to tell from the graph you posted earlier of 2012 data. What data are they looking at to conclude that 2912 was the warmest year on record, and where does it go wrong?

    Breck Henderson

  150. Doug Cotton says:


    Stephen (and others)

    Have you read the new Appendix to my paper? There is a very important point in Section 3 and the Appendix about why Graeff should not have multiplied by degrees of freedom in his calculation for the vertical thermal gradient caused by diffusion. Thus the formula should have been the same as for convection, namely -g/Cp.

    Hence, diffusion does in fact create a thermal gradient in a completely static atmosphere. The Venus atmosphere is close to such. So it is diffusion which sets the gradient in what is actually a curved plot (because Cp varies with temperature) and both convection and radiation help remove additional energy that is absorbed rather irregularly at various altitudes.

    And, no, the process of diffusion does not violate the Second Law as there is no decrease in entropy, because PE+KE=constant. In many cases the original energy is absorbed from Solar insolation in very small amounts at a warmer layer slightly closer to the surface, and then diffusion (and perhaps some convection sometimes) spreads it out, forming the correct gradient in the process. But I don’t believe there are large loops of convection up and down. I feel you are confusing the effect of wind and weather conditions such as variations in pressure which certainly do cause totally different air movement in such loops.

    This is what is new science, because Graeff is the first to confirm the process empirically, just in the last few years. Prior to that we had only Loschmidt’s hypothesis which Maxwell and Boltzmann dismissed. And even so, we had wrong calculations done by Graeff which made his work seem implausible. As far as I know, I am the first to point out the DOF error, so that the jigsaw is now complete, and we can prove that diffusion can do the job all on its own.

    There’s been ample time in the life of planets for diffusion to set up the “right” gradient. Convection on its own would have made a very irregular job of the vertical plot, and I suggest that only horizontal diffusion could have produced isothermal layers right around Venus at all latitudes, even above the poles.

    I would also suggest that it is only because diffusion “puts the brakes” on the gradient, preventing radiation cooling it too quickly, that the atmosphere acts as a blanket – on Earth it is of course a blanket of mostly nitrogen and oxygen – oh, and yes, one molecule in 2,500 of CO2.

    I suggest that only diffusion can autonomously set up the thermal plot on any planet, because only diffusion can raise the temperature of the base of the atmosphere (and then the surface) without the surface having to be warmed prior to that.

    Try explaining how convection could raise the temperature of the Venus surface by over 350 degrees if it had been, say, 350K without an atmosphere, and then its atmosphere introduced, blocking out all but about 5 to 10W/m^2 of insolation reaching the surface.

    How is convection going to get started without a hot 700K surface first? It can’t build up slowly, gradually making the gradient steeper. So it must be correct that diffusion autonomously creates the gradient even in a perfectly calm atmosphere. No physical law is violated just because PE and KE interchange equally during molecular free flight between impacts.

    So please read my paper in full on Principia Scientific International in the PROM menu at present, as well the linked references.


  151. Max™?? says:

    In case you missed it, Doug, I was showing the different behavior of coloring dripped into glasses of warm and cold water, which rather effectively shows the difference between diffusion and convection.

  152. Doug Cotton says:


    Only diffusion allows the atmosphere of Venus to heat its surface. The Sun cannot directly heat the surface of Venus to a mean temperature over 700K, nor can the Sun directly heat the Earth’s surface to a mean temperature of about 288K.

    So there’s no “kick start” that Stephen would like to make the surface hot enough to set in motion the initial convection for his big loops. It’s all done in very small local regions. No particular molecules travel any great distance in the same direction, because collisions send them on random walks. Likewise, no “pocket” of molecules travels even a few metres in the same direction by convection.

    Convection is not driven by pressure – it requires a higher mean kinetic energy than that in adjacent small regions. And it requires a continual supply of new energy to keep it going. Eventually, like ripples on a pond, it slows down to a point where it cannot be detected as “moving air” whilst diffusion continues night and day, in all directions, creating a vertical thermal gradient -g/Cp in a gravitational field.

    Pressure does not maintain higher mean kinetic energy, even if a change in pressure temporarily produces such.

    From the atomistic point of view, diffusion is considered as a result of the random walk of the diffusing particles. In molecular diffusion, the moving molecules are self-propelled by thermal energy.

    Heat conduction, also called diffusion, is the direct microscopic exchange of kinetic energy of particles through the boundary between two systems.

    Diffusion, with its autonomous thermal gradient caused by gravity, provides the only possible solution for the “Venus Dilemma” and those of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune … and Earth.

    No more questions please – it’s all in my paper.

    Happy Christmas all.

  153. Stephen Wilde says:


    The upward cooling gradient is set by gravity.

    As one goes higher the pressure on each molecule from the atmosphere above it declines. The reduction in pressure allows expansion, kinetic energy becomes potential energy and the temperature drops. The rising process continues to the tropopause in the case of Earth but there are also large slow convective circulations in the stratosphere and I suspect also in mesosphere and thermosphere.

    The temperature gradient caused by gravity then encourages upward convection because warmer air is lighter air but I do accept that diffusion/conduction from surface to air gets the process going and is also a continuing influence during the course of convection.

    However I have to say that the process of rising and falling is critical within any atmosphere that is not as rigidly stratified as a solid would be.

    That appears to be quite a large difference between us and it will only be resolved by observations, measurements and passage of time.

  154. Stephen Wilde says:

    “And it(convection) requires a continual supply of new energy to keep it going.”

    Not once the parcel of air lifts off the ground it doesn’t. The simple pressure difference above and below the air parcel keeps it rising to the tropopause. Hence the term ‘adiabatic’.

    New energy isn’t required on the way down either until it regains contact with the ground because the downward portion is a result of the need for a complete circulation once rising begins anywhere.

    Generally, rising air removes energy from the ground and descending air returns it to the ground. That is how the Atmospheric Thermal Enhancement keeps the night side of a planet warm. Nothing to do with radiation (except in so far as radiation from the surface is thereby regulated) and wholly omitted from AGW theory.

    In effect the adiabatic process removes the need for DWIR in the AGW theory and thus invalidates the proposition that DWIR from GHGs reduces the cooling rate of the surface.

    What reduces the cooling rate of the surface is returning KE as PE is reconverted to KE in the descending column.

  155. Doug Cotton says:

    The temperature gradient caused by gravity then encourages upward convection

    No it doesn’t actually. If we start with a static region somewhere in the troposphere, it will already have a vertical thermal gradient which is continually being maintained by diffusion without any new supply of energy.

    Because the gradient -g/Cp established by diffusion is exactly the same as the gradient which convection produces, there is no additional propensity for convection unless there is additional thermal energy added.

    In an earlier comment I drew an analogy with a metal plate having water added in various amounts at various locations. Please try to follow what I was describing there.

    When the thermal gradient is already -g/Cp (actually slightly less steep due to an equalising effect of intra-atmospheric radiation) then no more convection would autonomously start flowing down the temperature slope. When the slope is right, it’s like a level playing field.

    Kinetic energy doesn’t become potential energy just because the gas expands. It happens with every single movement of every single molecule between collisions, whenever there is a vertical component in the trajectory, as explained in my paper. That’s why it happens with diffusion in any direction in a totally static atmosphere, or even a sealed cylinder of air in Graeff’s laboratory.

    Try to understand what I’ve explained here and in the paper, whether or not you choose to believe it.

  156. Doug Cotton says:

    Implicit in the definition of diffusion is that it cannot be “uneven” whatever you mean by that. It is a purely random walk process (as in a comment above) and that has a propensity to be nice and even, if you know a bit about statistical mechanics. So it produces a nice and even vertical temperature gradient in the atmosphere of any planet, not just Venus or those where you think diffusion dominates or only causes a thermal gradient if it is uneven.

    Diffusion is the only possible mechanism that could have raised the surface temperatures to what is observed. This is the new paradigm and obviously does away with net any effect from back radiation, and any mechanism that bears any resemblance to a greenhouse.

    It’s 11.30pm on Christmas Eve, so signing out now.

  157. Breck Henderson says:
    December 23, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    “Dr. Spencer,

    Heard a guy on NPR this morning, Michael Lemonick formerly a science writer for Time I believe, who said 2012 was the warmest year on record. Is that true? It’s hard for me to tell from the graph you posted earlier of 2012 data. What data are they looking at to conclude that 2912 was the warmest year on record, and where does it go wrong?”

    2012 is not yet over, and …
    even the thermometers data show Mr. Lemonick is wrong.

    Please check the HADCRUT3 temperature data at

  158. J Williams says:

    Breck: I suspect the NPR story was referring to 2012 temperatures in the United States. If that is the case, the statement is correct and consistent with what NOAA has recently reported. Globally, 2012 will not be the warmest on record, as Andres just commented.

  159. “November 2012 global temperatures were fifth highest on record

    The globally-averaged temperature for November 2012 marked the fifth warmest November since record keeping began in 1880. November 2012 also marks the 36th consecutive November and 333rd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average.

    Most areas of the world experienced higher-than-average monthly temperatures, including far eastern Russia, Australia, the central and western United States, northern Africa, and most of Europe and western Asia. Meanwhile, central Asia, Alaska, much of western and central Canada, and the eastern United States were most notably cooler than average.”

    From NOAA’s “State of the Climate”, at

  160. Doug Cotton says:

    Andres: That shouldn’t be any surprise. The ~1,000 year cycle is still rising at about 0.05 C degree per decade with a decreasing rate of increase (ie negative second derivative) until that rate reduces to zero and the world goes into 500 years of cooling.

    It’s only the superimposed 60 year cycle which is causing the net trend to be about level so far this century, but slight net cooling will begin after 2014 until about 2027 or 2028. Other minor cycles may delay subsequent net warming until 2034, but the next maximum in the 60 year cycle would still dominate around 2059. That will probably be about the maximum in the ~1,000 year cycle as well.

  161. No surprise here, just sadness when twisted words about statistics are used to deceive the public.
    NOAA’s NCDC shows a 0.1°C cooling from 2005 to 2011. See http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/cmb-faq/anomalies.php
    The Met Office HADCRUT3 shows a 0.1°C cooling since 2003.
    UAH shows about the same from 2002.

  162. Doug Cotton says:

    There was a typo above and the bold type paragraph in a comment above should have read …

    Diffusion is the only possible mechanism that could have raised the surface temperatures to what is observed. This is the new paradigm and obviously does away with any net effect from back radiation, and any mechanism that bears any resemblance to a greenhouse.

    Just as gravity forms the overall shape of the surface of the ocean (being a part of a sphere) so it also works through diffusion to form the overall (slightly curved) sloping thermal plot in the atmosphere. Waves on the ocean are like weather effects in the atmosphere that create relatively cooler and warmer pockets of air.

    If a fire fighting helicopter takes a scoop of water from the ocean, we easily observe adjacent water rushing in from all directions to fill the hole, just as warmer air could move in by convection to warm up a cooler region of the atmosphere. But, just as the ocean surface is really curved, so too is the playing field of the atmosphere actually sloped in the vertical plane. Hence, as far as convection is concerned, a region (above, below or to the side at any angle) only appears cooler if its temperature is below the theoretical temperature based on that sloping plot. As for the ocean, we might think (as we watch a ship disappear over the horizon) that distant locations are “lower” but there is no propensity for water to flow there because gravity has already “set the level” and can’t do any more. So it is with temperatures in the atmosphere. When gravity has already done its work through diffusion and created the “right” temperature gradient, there is nothing more it can do through pressure differences. You would have to add extra energy to create any actual movement of air.

    Yes, the surface during the day does get warmed by the Sun and energy passes through the boundary by diffusion. Then this continuous supply of energy does “kick start” convection which will mostly move upwards. But some of that energy is also being radiated away and the air may cool down to a point where convection stops, or disperses more in horizontal directions, perhaps from regions above land to cooler regions above the ocean.

    In general, movement of a body of air by convection requires an addition energy source. The air will only move downwards in turbulent weather conditions or situations where energy has been removed in lower regions, making such regions cooler than the expected temperature that would have been the case (due to diffusion) in a static atmosphere.

    In a nutshell, an atmosphere can remain perfectly static (as is almost the case on Venus) and yet diffusion will still “do its job” in ensuring that the right vertical temperature gradient is maintained. We can leave the surface considerations out of it (as is almost the case on Venus anyway) and just realise that Solar energy is being absorbed and re-emitted at all levels. When the Sun “switches off” for the four-month long Venus night, the whole temperature plot from the surface to the TOA gradually moves down by about 5 degrees, keeping the plot at the same gradient. The energy which is represented by the area between the warmest and coolest plots is that which is radiated away at night, and re-absorbed in the next 4-month long Venus day. A similar process must happen in our atmosphere each day and night.

    All the while, diffusion is maintaining the right thermal gradient due to gravity, just as gravity maintains the right curvature of the ocean surface.

  163. Stephen Wilde says:

    “Implicit in the definition of diffusion is that it cannot be “uneven” whatever you mean by that”

    An uneven solid surface such as that of a planet and even the uneven irradiation of a spherical planet or atmosphere from a point source of light will result in an uneven energy distribution across the surface or within the air above the surface.

    Consequently diffusion (conduction) will also be uneven.

    And then there is rotation which would also tend to introduce unevenness within any diffusion process.

    I don’t seek to persuade Doug, merely introduce to him and others my way of thinking on the basis of the evidence available.

  164. Stephen Wilde says:

    “In a nutshell, an atmosphere can remain perfectly static (as is almost the case on Venus”

    “Winds at the surface are slow, moving at a few kilometers per hour, but because of the high density of the atmosphere at the Venusian surface, they exert a significant amount of force against obstructions, and transport dust and small stones across the surface. This alone would make it difficult for a human to walk through, even if the heat, pressure and lack of oxygen were not a problem.

    Strong 300 km/h winds at the cloud tops circle the planet about every four to five earth days. Venusian winds move at up to 60 times the speed of the planet’s rotation, while Earth’s fastest winds are only 10% to 20% rotation speed.”

  165. Doug Cotton says:

    Why do you keep talking about winds, Stephen? These are weather events and have nothing to do with diffusion or convection. In fact convection has next to no chance to do anything at all in an air mass which is blowing in the wind.

    And an “uneven energy distribution” does not make the process of diffusion act in any other way. It just has a bigger job to do creating an even temperature plot, which it will do as soon as a stable state is achieved, as quickly happens just above the surface of Venus.

    Yes, convection can help speed the diffusion process, just like wind helps to speed up evaporation. But winds will just muck up the whole thing, and neither convection nor diffusion will achieve the right thermal gradient in anything but prolonged calm conditions. However, things do tend to “average out” over the whole planet.

    Think of the ocean: just below the surface we can imagine a boundary below which there will always be some water. That boundary has the shape of part of a sphere, and its shape is formed by gravity. In the same way, diffusion forms a “base temperature plot.” Above that boundary in the ocean we have waves, currents, tsunamis – all of which make the surface uneven, yes, but have no impact on the overall shape of that boundary beneath.

    Likewise, “uneven” contributions of energy are like the water being poured onto the level metal plate I have mentioned twice above. Diffusion sets the effective angle of the plate, but we represent it as being horizontal to understand the effect. Turn your camera to the g/Cp gradient and you can visualise what happens when random packets of thermal energy are deposited. Just like the water, they spread out in all directions. Some water evaporates (some energy is radiated away) but, in general, not much water goes all that far unless there is a significant continuous stream of water, and even then it will eventually get dispersed in various directions and some will evaporate. But nothing makes it want to turn around and go back to its source. Only wind, air currents etc make air do that, not upside-down convection. And even when such air reaches the surface (which is usually a degree or two warmer) how can it add thermal energy to that surface which is warmer?

    The movement of air by pure convection is very, very slow when compared with the speed of wind and air currents. It is all too easy to confuse these weather events with convection, as you seem to do. When air which is moving by convection meets a static region (where diffusion has been operating and has already created the “right” thermal gradient) then the convection virtually stops and its energy will be dispersed in any direction, just like the water dropped onto that level metal plate.

    Think too of what happens in the day/night cycle and compare what I described about this process on Venus. You don’t need convection or weather induced air movements in order to form the correct thermal gradient. Diffusion just keeps on doing it everywhere, day and night, on any planet in the universe with a significant atmosphere and a star to warm it.

    It’s still apparent that you haven’t studied my November paper. I know Roger (Tallbloke) and Clive Best on his thread keep talking about convection, but convection is not necessary, whereas diffusion is.

    Assuming the 255K figure is roughly correct (if anything, proper integration over a rotating sphere gives a somewhat lower figure) then the GH proponents are flatly denying that any thermal gradient develops by any process, because they want the whole atmosphere to be 255K if there were no backradiation. So they don’t get off Square One, and are wrong to start with.

    Now consider whether convection could have got the surface of Earth or Venus to the observed temperatures. Direct Solar insolation could not have done it unless the 255K were higher than 288K on Earth, or well over 700K on Venus. On Venus it would require over 16,000 W/m^2, for example, but there’s less than 20 W/m^2 at the most.

    So how would convection get “kick started” and then continue to maintain the surface temperature?

    Unless you can answer this question satisfactorily, with a valid physical explanation of the processes at molecular levels, I rest my case because I have done so in my paper.

  166. Doug Cotton says:


    Stephen this is where your argument goes wrong …

    You say in your paper throughout the subsequent falling process heat in the form of KE is progressively being added back to the exchange of radiation.

    That is strange physics language, but I assume you mean “PE is progressively converted to KE. Then some (but not all) of that extra KE may be radiated away, and some may remain and increase the temperature.” Well, whether that’s what you mean or not, it is what would happen in the fairly rare event of downward convection near the surface.

    However, on Earth, in general (let’s say 99% of the time) the surface is warmer than the base of the atmosphere at the boundary. So, both day and night, there is usually diffusion (conduction) of energy from the surface to the atmosphere, not vice versa. This has a strong propensity to cause upward convection, which nullifies any weaker downward convection.

    Hence there is an overwhelming propensity for any convection in the first 1.5 to 2 metres of the atmosphere to be more away from the surface than towards it. This is where official temperature records are made.

    Now, we need to be clear to all readers that the interchange of KE and PE, which keeps (PE+KE)=constant, is only significant in adiabatic processes, namely diffusion (where no body of air moves, just molecules) and convection, where diffusion is still happening, but there is also a greater movement of the region of air in one particular direction, rather than equally in all directions.

    As soon as you start adding energy, as in wind or turbulence, you no longer have an adiabatic process, and anyway, the energy you are adding eclipses the much smaller effect of interchange between KE and PE. For example, in the first 1.5 metres the adiabatic process only causes a temperature change of about 0.01 degree. Compare this with the temperature change which some wind off the ocean could cause on land.

    So in general (at least 99% of the time) air does not fall (near the surface) in an adiabatic convection process, because there is a continual heat flow out of the surface as it cools, both day and night, from the insolation received during the day. Downward air movement requires the addition of energy, as in turbulence and downward air currents which can be caused by pressure differences. Such pressure differences originally required energy in the generation thereof.

    In contrast, diffusion keeps on happening “underneath” all the time at every altitude. It can also transfer energy to the surface, whereas convection in gases cannot transfer heat to any solid. That’s why I say in my paper that there would originally have been a ratchet effect between day and night, with the warm temperature at the base of the atmosphere supporting the surface temperature and preventing it cooling too fast, even when the surface was a little hotter. This is why oxygen and nitrogen are the real blankets acting to slow diffusion and evaporation when the temperature gaps reduces at the surface/atmosphere boundary.

    Diffusion fully explains that 33 degree rise (or whatever the value really is) as well as the >400 degree rise on Venus, and back radiation has nothing to do with it, for reasons explained in my paper, Planetary Surface Temperatures. A Discussion of Alternative Mechanisms, which is on the Principia Scientific International website, currently in the PROM menu there, but may be in the main Publications Menu later in January.

    And that has to be the way it all works.

  167. Doug Cotton says:

    The geoid is a surface which is always perpendicular to the force of gravity at any location. Obviously this force varies because of variable density and mass beneath the surface. So this is a red herring in so far as the point I was making in the example. Do you have anything to say on the topic of the comment?

  168. James Shutiak says:

    Another excellent article Dr. Spencer! Keep up the good work, your efforts are much appreciated by all of us who appreciate unbiased truthful information about the subject of “global warming” (not climate change!). It appears the only thing proven about the UN IPCC theory of “CO2 causes global warming” is that many of the lead IPCC researchers are crooks, cheats and charlatans. No wonder I can not get any supporter of the theory to debate their “science is settled” theory even though I offer substantial prizes to the winner and loser. To me that settles the “science” more than any paper or experiment. They do not put THEIR money where their mouths are! They want to put more of YOUR money where their mouths are. THAT appears to be the reason for their false beliefs.

  169. Doug Cotton says:

    They don’t put their mouth where their money is either, James.

    Michael Mann and Andrew Weaver failed to produce evidence in court to support their claims, even though they had about a million dollars of their money invested in their case against our PSI Chairman, Dr Tim Ball.

    Just search “courts mann” for the article on the Principia Scientific Imternational website which I can’t link here.

  170. Doug Cotton says:


    Please watch this video which I have recorded in easily understood terminology.



  171. Stephen Wilde says:


    If one excludes inversions which are local and temporary then at any given moment 50% of the atmosphere is rising and 50% is falling.

    Anywhere with surface pressure below 1000mb is rising and anywhere above 1000mb is descending.

    I consider that to be a far more powerful process than simple diffusion/conduction.

  172. Stephen Wilde says:

    “convection has next to no chance to do anything at all in an air mass which is blowing in the wind.

    Convection is the cause of wind.

    As air rises then air from elsewhere flows in to replace it.

    As air descends it flows out towards regions of uplift.

    Hence the Hadley and Ferrel cells and pretty much every other atmospheric feature.

  173. Doug Cotton says:

    Climatologists attempt to expand the strict definition of convection used in physics. All along I have been talking about only adiabatic convection.

    It’s clear from this http://www.thefreedictionary.com/convection that “convection” has a different usage in meteorology than in physics, which doesn’t really surprise me. Climatologists think of nearly everything differently from what physics describes must happen.

    Note this quote from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/convection

    “convection [k?n?v?k??n] (noun)

    1. (Physics / General Physics) a process of heat transfer through a gas or liquid by bulk motion of hotter material into a cooler region Compare conduction [1]

    2. (Earth Sciences / Physical Geography) Meteorology the process by which masses of relatively warm air are raised into the atmosphere, often cooling and forming clouds, with compensatory downward movements of cooler air”

    So physics says it only goes from hot to cold. Meteorology likes it also to go downwards from cold to hot. It can’t do that adiabatically – it requires external energy. The vast majority of air movement in the atmosphere is by winds, jet streams and turbulence, all of which require an external source of energy and have nothing to do with creating a temperature gradient. They are not taken into account when calculating the lapse rate which is based on adiabatic assumptions. In a local region they could temporarily produce a gradient far different. Consider how quickly the local air temperature can change when hot or cold winds blow in at low altitudes near the surface, and imagine how much that temporarily changes the thermal gradient between the surface and the lowest layers that were not affected by such winds. Let me summarise …

    The movement of a body of air downwards against the temperature gradient is never adiabatic and it does not contribute to the calculated -g/Cp lapse rate, because, implicit in that calculation is an assumption that the process is adiabatic.

    You have no physical evidence for what you are saying, because all you are talking about is weather events causing downdrafts, turbulence or whatever, all of which require added energy.

    The real truth of the matter is that there is very little true adiabatic convection. Diffusion plays the major role, and adiabatic convection only happens when weather conditions mess up the job done by diffusion, so that a temporarily steeper gradient leads to a propensity for spontaneous adiabatic upward convection.

    You cannot explain the physical mechanism that maintains the temperature of the Venus surface, unless you describe the same diffusion process which I have in both my November paper and the Christmas Day video. Spend 10 minutes watching it.

    As I said above, I have rested my case – terminology which you, Stephen, with your LLB (and no university degree in science) ought to understand.


  174. Stephen Wilde says:

    “The real truth of the matter is that there is very little true adiabatic convection”

    A portion of the energy transported upward and downward is indeed truly adiabatic.

    Once a parcel of air leaves the surface it continues to rise wth no added energy simply because of the gravity induced reduction of pressure with height.

    That parcel then warms adiabatically all the way back down again until it regains contact with the surface

    There can be no rising air unless it is matched by descending air elsewhere.Hence the development of a global circulation.

    That adiabatic portion can be isolated as the portion that returns to the surface when air descends under increasing pressure and warms as a result of the conversion of potential energy back to kinetic energy.

    About 50% of the entire global atmosphere is in the process of descending at any given moment.

    That is where we must look for the true reason for warmth at a planetary surface under an atmosphere.

  175. bob paglee says:

    “Unless they start behaving a little more like objective scientists, I predict that global warming researchers are living on borrowed time.”

    The problem is not so much a deficiency of objectivity as it is a surplus of ideology. The time-loan is already in default as it becomes increasingly apparent that the real world is not responding in accordance with those idiological projections.

  176. Doug Cotton says:

    A portion of the energy transported upward and downward is indeed truly adiabatic.

    Yes Stephen, and that portion is which determines the adiabatic lapse rate. All the rest is wind, and it requires energy input, because, as you say, we are talking now about the portion which is not adiabatic. And that portion thus has nothing to do with creating the adiabatic lapse rate, by definition of such. In fact, that portion disturbs the lapse rate in that region.
    Consider the poles of Venus. Virtually no solar energy enters the surface there directly from the Sun. Despite the temperature being over 700K at those poles, and despite the fact that (using the Stefan-Boltzmann Law) there is over 16,000 W/m^2 of radiation coming out of the surface at the Venus poles – yes, despite the above, there must be thermal energy balance between the atmosphere and the surface at those poles. So where is the source of energy that must be provided to maintain the temperatures of the poles? Using the strict definition of convection from physics (an adiabatic process in a gas or liquid) then convection does not supply the energy from the atmosphere to the solid surface. Where is there energy for convection up from the surface at those Venus poles?

    You see, you still haven’t described the process of heat transfer required to explained Venus temperatures, Stephen.

    How much “wind” do you feel rising from an oil filled convection heater in your room? You may detect some air movement with a small piece of paper, but it is orders of magnitude less than the movement in a hurricane. Do you think adiabatic convection produces hurricanes?

    Wind, hurricanes (and the associated atmospheric cycles) are all created because of

    (a) rotation of a planet

    (b) the gravitational force of any moon(s)

    (c) pressure differences in (approximately) horizontal planes which can result from (a) and (b), as well as uneven energy transfers into and out of the surface. The latter can be due to different altitudes of the surface, different composition and even the effect of moving cloud shadows.

    None of the above reasons for wind are adiabatic processes.

    The upward and downward compensation happens at the molecular level. Molecules move in (approximately) random directions, so there are always some moving up and some moving down, meaning their motion has a component in that direction. But in the absence of non-adiabatic wind, they also disperse with horizontal components in their motion. You can only get parcels of air if you have non-adiabatic wind, which almost completely dominates the random walk motion and sweeps the vast majority of molecules along with it. Such wind, if there is a vertical component in its direction, does not cool or warm adiabatically, because it does not have a chance to do so in the restricted time frame. In other words, its velocity is orders of magnitude greater than that associated with air moving as a result of adiabatic convection.

    If you had an imaginary “perfect planet” with a perfect spherical homogeneous surface, with no moons and no rotation, then, if it had the same atmosphere as Venus but no movement in that atmosphere, and if it were the same distance from the Sun as Venus, would the surface temperature be over 700K as it is on the real Venus? What physical process do you rely on to explain your answer? Give a brief verbal description of how the energy gets into the surface in order to have heated it in the first place, and then maintained it.

    When you’ve thought about your answer, then my response is in my 10 minutes video here.

  177. Dr No says:

    “So in general (at least 99% of the time) air does not fall (near the surface) in an adiabatic convection process,..”
    “This has a strong propensity to cause upward convection, which nullifies any weaker downward convection.”

    Have you not heard heard about conservation of mass?
    i.e. what goes up must come down.

    What do you think is happening when you see clouds?

  178. Doug Cotton says:

    Whenever and wherever I have used the word “convection” I am referring to the adiabatic process in liquids and gases as defined in physics for centuries, not the new “post physics” wherein climatologists add wind etc to convection, which is orders of magnitude less. On a calm night, can you detect the upward convection from the warmer surface, even though we know it is there? Maybe you would like to compare such with a hurricane.

    Much of the external energy originates up in the currents heading towards the poles and the jet streams, mostly flowing west to east. Suspend an outboard motor propeller just below the surface in the middle of a suburban swimming pool, pointing to one end. Voila! You have circulating currents, all carrying KE originally from the petrol in the engine. So when those currents push water up or down at the ends of the pool, that water is using some of the KE from the motor, not from its own PE.

    Circulating air currents, Dr No, are likewise using energy originally from the currents developing near the tropopause, such as jet streams which acquire energy from Earth’s rotation as it very gradually slows down. So PE+KE is not constant, because these circulating air currents are not adiabatic processes.

    You would all do well to consider my thought experiment above about a “perfect planet” just like Venus, but without rotation, with a perfectly spherical homogeneous surface and no movement of any small regions or “parcels” of the atmosphere. Would the surface near the equator still be over 700K? Would the surface at the poles still be over 700K? Would the surface on the permanently dark side still be around 700K? (Answers below.*)

    Furthermore, heating by compression (as per Ideal Gas Law) is not a permanent temperature gain. (By the way, Roger, Boyle’s law talks about a confined gas at constant temperature. It is only one of four laws which combine to give the Ideal Gas Laws, so you quoted the wrong law anyway in your email.)

    Heating a gas increases the propensity for it to lose heat to its surroundings by diffusion and radiation, which it does. This is yet another epitome of a lack of understanding of physics on both Roger and Stephen’s part.

    Answers: Yes, yes and yes. Reasons: See papers and video linked from my dot com website climate-change-theory.

  179. Doug Cotton says:

    And, by the way, unless you can constrain the volume of a parcel of air which is undergoing an increase in pressure, then there need not be any increase in temperature. Read about the Ideal Gas Law here and note the isothermal equations ..

    V2 = V1/(P2/P1)
    P2 = P1/(V2/V1)

    Being isothermal, T2 = T1 in each case, of course.

    So how are you going to stop the “parcel” of descending air from spreading out sideways (thus expanding its volume) when it is not constrained in a physical cylinder?

    I hope I am starting to encourage you all to try to understand what I am saying, and to be careful that any contrary imaginings on your part are in fact kept within the constraints of real physics.

    I am not wishing to brag, but I think you need to know that I have been helping students understand physics (in private tuition) for nearly 50 years, having gained a high position in physics in the state of NSW while in High School, and then studied it at Sydney University for four years in the early 1960’s under Profs Harry Messel, Wernher Von Braun and Julius Sumner Miller who were all well known to bring a “revival” of physics to Australia.

    Julius would ask in his popular TV series “Why is it so?” That you should all do likewise.

  180. Doug Cotton says:

    How and why air descends

    This NASA page talks about winds in the three cells with latitudes in brackets: Hadley (0-30), Ferrel (30-60) and Polar (60-90).

    The assumed boundaries at 30 and 60 degrees latitude are, in my view, just a modelling consideration. I would suggest that the majority of the upward air movement is in equatorial regions, and indeed the lapse rate there is about right, suggesting that the upward movement is mostly adiabatic convection, this being what we would expect. Temperatures go from around 25 to 30 deg.C at the surface, to as low as -80 deg.C at the tropopause, which is about 17Km above.

    Now, because of the inversion at the tropopause, it puts a cap on convection, and effectively provides a lid on the troposphere, so we can ignore what’s above and assume no significant amount of air crosses the tropopause.

    To keep it simple, let’s assume that virtually all the air which hits this ceiling above the equator then starts to move along under the ceiling, half of it towards each pole.

    Howvever, the altitude of the tropopause comes down to about 7Km at the poles, and its temperature increases to about -50 deg.C if we can assume the linked source is about right. But the surface temperature in Antarctica is about -57 deg.C, so there is virtually no temperature gradient in the 7Km of the troposphere above Antarctica.

    This means that, as I have been saying, at least down there there is no adiabatic warming as air “falls” because it all happens at the speed of winds. The winds from all directions converge on the poles. The air is forced down to some extent by the reduction in the tropopause altitude, and of course air has converged from all directions on its way from the equator. It has nowhere else to go, so it is forced down at the speed of wind (not adiabatically) and spreads out along the surface, setting out as winds going back up towards the equator.

    I acknowledge that the surface is closer to freezing point in the Arctic, but there would still be a similar effect from winds converging from all directions and having nowhere to go but downwards and then back along the surface towards the Equator.

    I suggest this explains what I have been saying that it requires external energy to force air to go downwards against the normal upward flow by adiabatic convection at the North Pole. At the South Pole there isn’t even a declining temperature gradient at all, so there’s no opposition whatever to downward winds.

  181. Doug Cotton says:


    Note that there is a funnel effect moving from the Equator to the poles. Firstly, the height of the tropopause is reducing, and secondly, the circumference of the Earth is reducing. So more air has to fit into a small space. This increases pressure under the tropopause “ceiling” and has a propensity to force air back to the surface by downward wind. Once at the surface it takes a short cut back to the Equator. This downward process probably does in fact start at around 30 degrees latitude, both north and south. Note, however, as they say in the NASA article, some air continues on towards the poles. In the 30-60 latitudes there is probably a mixture, maybe more upward movement during the day, and more downward movement at night. Then in the Polar cell it would be mostly all downwards as the available volume of the troposphere decreases rapidly going towards the poles.

    The point I want to emphasise is that all the downward air movement is caused by the winds near the tropopause being forced to go downwards as the available volume decreases when they are heading for the poles. Even the thermal gradient levels out approaching the South Pole.

  182. Dr No says:

    “Circulating air currents, Dr No, are likewise using energy originally from the currents developing near the tropopause, such as jet streams which acquire energy from Earth’s rotation as it very gradually slows down. ”

    Very interesting. I thought that the Coriolis force (on the winds) was an apparent force and did not create energy. i.e it conserves angular momentum on a rotating sphere.
    My lecturers also told me that it operated everywhere, not just near the tropopause.

  183. Bob Tisdale says:

    Roy: Many thanks for the reference.

  184. My only question is ,who is worse Doug Cotton or Al Gore?

  185. Stephen Wilde says:

    “And, by the way, unless you can constrain the volume of a parcel of air which is undergoing an increase in pressure, then there need not be any increase in temperature”

    Air descending to the surface of a planet in the shape of a sphere is necessarily being constrained by the force of gravity compressing it into a smaller volume as it approaches the surface.

    I don’t see any reason to revisit or revise my comments.

  186. John says:

    I wish the moderators would do us a favor and not allow Mr. Cotton to co-op Dr. Spencer’s blog any further.

  187. John says:


    Please don’t ban people from websites for trivial annoyance reasons.

  188. John says:

    John, you make a fair point. I would however like to point out Mr. Cotton points back to Dr. Spencer’s blog for individuals to comment regarding his paper on his web site.

    Unless it is me, I cannot find a blog where Mr. Cotton allows comments on his website regarding his paper. He is advertising his paper on Dr. Spencer’s blog and then becomes pugnacious to respondents. I find that to not be trivial but disingenuous.

  189. Doug is ridiculous, that is why I quit responding.

  190. Doug Cotton says:


    Dr No. Of course the Coroilis force acts at all altitudes. That’s why the arrows (showing wind directions) are curved in the NASA diagrams linked in this comment above. No force “creates energy.” But even a “pseudo” force like this can allow variations in potential energy. Jet streams (which are also affected by the relative position of the Sun) result in planes using more fuel in one direction than in the other, just like a car going uphill rather than downhill. However, as in my latest two posts above, the main air currents that lead to descending air are those from the Equator to the poles, where a “funnel effect” forces air downwards as the volume available in the tropsphere decreases.

    Stephen and Roger (Tallbloke) To restrain a pocket of air in a sphere you need a balloon. A balloon applies inward force in all directions, perpendicular to its surface. Gravity applies force in only one direction. Burst the balloon and the air spreads out in all directions, unless there is an overpowering wind sending most of it in one direction. The concept of increasing pressure maintaining higher temperatures, as Roger claims, is completely disproved at the South Pole, where the tropopause appears to be slightly less cold than the surface, and so no significant thermal gradient is apparent anywhere in the troposphere down there. Yet there is plenty of air descending to the surface. Such descending air is primarily moving at the speed of wind due to the funnel effect discussed in above, and the obvious fact that all high winds are coming in from all directions at both poles and have nowhere else to go but downwards. It is true that, when the absolute value of the thermal gradient is less than about 6.5 K/Km it is possible to get very slow moving downward adiabatic convection, but winds at the poles completely dominate such adiabatic falling.

    My comment thread: I do have a comment thread on youtube under the above-mentioned video, which is linked from both my dot com websites earth-climate and climate-change-theory, but I would ask that you keep comments based on the material in the video and/or my published papers. This is not a “good-bye” from here, as I am quite willing to answer questions, and will respond to any comments on this thread pertaining to what I have explained in anything written here or elsewhere.

    The “Perfect Planet” question (in this comment) has not produced any response, so unless someone describes a valid physical reason as to why the answers are not all “yes” then I will assume no-one is able to do so. This is a question of fundamental importance to a proper understanding of atmospheric physics. Those who agree with the three “yes” answers are those who truly understand planetary surface temperatures, the subject of my November paper – and much research.



  191. Stephen Wilde says:

    Ho hum.

    Has it not occurred to Doug that the surface temperature of Venus might have nothing whatever to do with current solar input at TOA ?

    The necessary energy was present at the formation of the planet and has been retained ever since, locked into the ‘adiabatic loop’ which I described previously.

    Ever since then the energy in that adiabatic loop has remained there, constantly recycled up and down, and only added to or subtracted from in the event of any variation in atmospheric mass, strength of gravitational field or level of solar input.

    Any other factor that might seek to influence surface temperature is simply dealt with by a change in atmospheric circulation.

    It appears that, having started with basic agreement with Doug about the significance of surface pressure on surface temperatures, our views about causation seem to be widely divergent.

    Ah well, that’s science for you and in due course observational data will resolve the issue.

  192. Doug Cotton says:


    The Arctic would be as cold as the Antarctic if there were land underneath. This is because such land can be cooled also by the winds which blow the air at about -50 deg.C near the tropopause down to the surface (only 7Km below) without enough time for it to gain temperature by adiabatic processes.

    The Arctic is less cold because of ocean currents coming into the Arctic Circle (past Norway and Iceland) with warmer water originally from much further South. Of course all such water is not well below freezing point, as is the land under the Antarctic ice.

    The process of wind transferring temperatures from the tropopause to the surface in Antarctica verifies what I say that wind overrides the effect of adiabatic processes.

    In complete contrast, the IPCC says the opposite on this page, where “mass flux” appears to relate to wind.

    “whereas mass flux schemes achieve the adjustment to a near-adiabat as a consequence of equations governing the parametrized convective heating field.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but if they do mean wind, hurricanes etc, then such wind does nothing of the sort, as is obvious at the South Pole. Diffusion does it slowly, when given the chance without much wind. Adiabatic convection from Earth’s surface helps ensure “warm air rises” on Earth (though not much on Venus) and this then leads to the winds discussed above.

  193. Doug Cotton says:


    Ever since then the energy in that adiabatic loop has remained there,

    Why doesn’t the energy just get radiated away? Do you think your “adiabatic loop” exists in my “perfect planet” like Venus, but without any movement in the atmosphere?

    Does it send hot air right down to the surface at the (real) Venus poles, and around the corner to the dark side for four months of night up there?

    Convection does not transfer heat from a gas to a solid – that’s physics.

    To keep the surface at its temperature (which is well over 700K) you need over 16,000 W/m^2 of energy input into the surface, because that’s how much it radiates out. The Sun provides directly no more than about 10 W/m^2 of that 16,000 W/m^2.

    So, in a nutshell, how did the surface get so hot in the first place? We both agree it wasn’t back radiation, so then tell me how any adiabatic convection got “kick started” and then keeps going, especially at the poles and on the dark side.

    So, Stephen, what would happen on that “perfect planet” without any atmospheric movement? Are your answers to my three questions all “yes” and if so, since there is no adiabatic convection on the “perfect planet” where are your big loops?

  194. Doug Cotton says:

    The reference to the 16,000 W/m^2 into and out of the surface is of course just to make people think about the application of the Stefan-Boltzmann Law. That is far more radiation than what is received from the Sun at the TOA of Venus. So is the SBL calculation wrong, Stephen, or just exactly how much thermal energy does cross that boundary between the Venus surface and the atmosphere?

    The only (mean) thermal energy from the Sun into the surface is of the order of 5 to 10 W/m^2 this being half what the Russians estimated from probe data for the sunlit hemisphere.

    So, if Stephen wants “warm air rising” by adiabatic convection, then the surface would have to be just a little hotter than the adjoining atmosphere at the boundary. This would enable that 5 to 10 W/m^2 to be conducted back into the atmosphere and start upward convection, though hardly an impressive amount. But then, given that there is a small step down in temperature at the boundary, his downward convection (if it could exist) hits a wall at the surface and cannot transfer heat to it. So he needs to find out how I explained that dilemma.

    Secondly, I have explained in two comments above how air only descends on Earth because of the funnel effect of the reducing volume of the troposphere as high winds take the air towards the poles, and then have to head towards the surface. There is no thermal gradient at the South Pole of Earth. But there sure is at the South Pole of Venus, and it’s almost the same temperature as its equator. So Stephen needs a different explanation for downward driven atmospheric “parcels” on Venus. We saw that extra pressure at the South Pole on Earth does not lead to higher temperatures, but Stephen would like to say higher pressure causes higher temperature on Venus, and that convection in the atmosphere transfers heat up to a warmer solid surface.

    Do I hear the physicists laughing at what Stephen and Roger (tallbloke) have been postulating? They have been at PSI.

  195. Doug Cotton says:

    And, no, Stephen. The Venus surface temperature has very little to do with the original core heat of Venus. If the atmosphere were only as high as Earth’s then the surface temperature would be a lot less than 700K. Likewise, if there had been no original core heat, the surface of Venus would still have been nearly as hot, and there would have been a flow of solar energy into the crust and eventually towards the cold core, probably warming it to about 700K eventually, maybe a different temperature because of the effect of gravity on thermal gradients, even in solids.

    If you read about the physics of conduction in solids, you will find that the thermal gradient adjusts to the temperatures at each end, because of a feedback mechanism at the molecular level, almost identical in concept to how diffusion forms a temperature gradient in a gravitational field.

  196. Dr No says:

    “The Arctic would be as cold as the Antarctic if there were land underneath. This is because such land can be cooled also by the winds which blow the air at about -50 deg.C near the tropopause down to the surface (only 7Km below) without enough time for it to gain temperature by adiabatic processes.”

    Very interesting. Has this anything to do with Special relativity? i.e. when things appear to take longer as you approach the speed of light. Certainly the air would have to be moving pretty fast to avoid warming adiabatically.

    I would hate to be standing underneath such a downdraft in the Arctic. I would be sure to catch a cold.

    p.s. Please don’t ban Doug – he is priceless!

  197. Rick says:

    An air compressor is nearly adiabatic, works very quickly and heats the air quite a bit. I think Doug is confusing adiabatic with reversible.

  198. Doug Cotton says:

    How fast does the air move up from an oil filled convection heater in a closed room by adiabatic convection, Dr No? This has been mentioned in an earlier comment, but it seems you only read parts of some of my comments, and thus miss the logical development, which is based on sound physics.

    Well, anyway, that’s about the same speed that it can move down by adiabatic processes also, only if there is air that is warmer than expected at some altitude. Whatever the speed of the winds, I would say they are somewhat faster than such adiabatic cooling when warm air rises above your convection heater. Maybe you have another explanation as to why Antarctica has a mean temperature of about -57C and yet the tropopause above is about -50 C (just a little warmer) but let’s say there’s about a zero lapse rate – why Dr No?

    How are you getting on with those three questions about a “perfect planet” that no-one else has been able to answer?

    Who is going to either admit the three “yes” answers are correct, or explain with detailed physics why one or more might be incorrect?

  199. Doug Cotton says:

    Well Rick (and Dr No), it might be argued that Wikipedia should say “energy” rather than “heat” here, but it’s not too bad a definition …

    “An adiabatic process is any process occurring without gain or loss of heat within a system (i.e. during the process the system is thermodynamically isolated- there is no heat transfer with the surroundings). “

  200. Massimo PORZIO says:


    “An air compressor is nearly adiabatic, works very quickly and heats the air quite a bit.”
    Air compressor is nearly adiabatic?!?!?!
    Oh yes… It’s the same to say that my car once has reached the speed needed, it didn’t suck any fuel to stay that speed.
    If it was true, my pockets were inflated of banknotes which is not.
    Please return your feet on the ground, return to the real world.

    As said many times before, I’m just an engineer, and maybe I’m missing very important details, but what I really like of Doug, it is that he is the only one here that when asked for it, he give his explanation to how the things should work.
    Long time ago I said that I feel unpleasant when scientist approaches their field of competence by mere statistic. In my modest opinion, he is the one who switched the discussion to a more scientific ground.

    “Doug is ridiculous, that is why I quit responding.”
    I’m really deluded about your statement.
    Why don’t you tell us where he is wrong instead?
    By physics argumentation of course, leave apart statistical massaged databases from this or that authoritative agency.

    My mother is going to live her last days in a very unpleasant way because she is one of the thousands people in the “wealthy western civilization” which was “cured” for depression via the so powerful anti-depressive drugs. The doctors who validated the functionality of that drugs, used the very same argumentation used by the climatologist to switch to the statistical approach their drugs validation job:

    “too complex to be approached in another way”.

    So now, the result is that some psychiatrists start to admit that those drugs never worked (some ridiculously say that those drugs work no-more because it is the depression of the people that has changed) and the thousands ends their life in drugs addiction.
    The Stock Exchange works on statistic too, don’t let me tell you what I think about those who plans their life making incomes that way.
    Have a nice day.

    I’m not entitled to say if you are right or not, but reading your statement and listening to your video, I returned to the time of the college, and many of your statements seem reasonable to me.

    @Dr. Spencer
    Thanks to keep this blog available to any opinion.

    Have a nice day

  201. Rick says:

    Doug, the next paragraph in that Wikipedia article says:
    “Adiabatic processes can occur if the container of the system has thermally-insulated walls or the process happens in an extremely short time, so that there is no opportunity for significant heat exchange.”
    The point is that in an adiabatic process when a gas is compressed work is done on the gas and it heats up and when a gas expands and does work on it’s surroundings it cools down. The only thing that makes a process adiabatic is the lack of HEAT transfer. Energy in the form of mechanical work is ether added to or taken away from the system and can take place at any speed.

    Your other point that is intuitive that 3W/m^2 cannot heat the surface of Venus to 700K is not so intuitive to me. It just depends on the insulation value of the Venetian atmosphere. At some point the energy in equals the energy out and on Venus that point is 700K.

  202. Stephen Wilde says:

    “The Venus surface temperature has very little to do with the original core heat of Venus”

    I never mentioned the core heat.

    Planets start hot either as a result of the aggregation of gases or as the result of multiple collisions and volcanic activity.

    Either way there is lots of convection going on, even today on Venus but because of high density it is slow near the surface.

    The adiabatic loop is presenton everey planet with an atmosphere from when the first gas molecule leaves the surface and the amount of energy the loop contains is set by atmospheric mass, gravity and insolation.

    The adiabatic loop quickly establishes a balance with incoming solar energy by reconfiguring the planet’s air circulation pattern.

    Having achieved top of atmosphere balance the amount of energy in the adiabatic loop remains the same indefinitely until there are changes in atmospheric mass, gravity or insolation.

  203. Stephen Wilde says:

    “We saw that extra pressure at the South Pole on Earth does not lead to higher temperatures, but Stephen would like to say higher pressure causes higher temperature on Venus, and that convection in the atmosphere transfers heat up to a warmer solid surface.”

    The descending air at Earth’s South Pole is merely warmer than it would have been had it not been warmed adiabatically on the way down.That still leaves it around
    -50C or colder for a lot of the time.

    Higher pressure at the Venusian surface adds to the insulation properties of the atmosphere by increasing density at the surface.For Venus that means that a temperature of around 700C is required to achieve balance at top of atmosphere.

    The air at the surface does not transfer energy to the surface it simply insulates the surface by reducing outward radiation to space. The rate at which a surface can radiate to space is determined by the optical depth of the atmosphere.

    If any solar energy reaches directly to the surface at all then convection will begin, because surface heating on a sphere from a point source of energy is not even, so parcels of air will always become warmer and less dense than adjoining parcels of air which will start the process.Especially if the surface is uneven as well.

    Once warm air has risen and cooled it then circulates laterally to an area where it finds itself above air which is not dense enough or buoyant enough to restrain its descent and it begins to sink.

    That gives a global air circulation transferring energy from the day side to the night side.

    As it sinks it converts PE to KE and gets warmer.

    On a slowly rotating planet like Venus most of the descent occurs on the night side where there is less buoyancy from solar heating of the atmosphere.

    On a rapidly rotating planet like the Earth the rising columns and descending columns get jumbled up between day side and night side.

    The descending warming air helps to insulate the surface from further cooling but if the optical depth of the atmosphere is low enough energy can still radiate out from the surface more efficiently than the descending air can provide insulation and so inversion layers can develop beneath the descending air column.

    I think a lot more thought needs to be given to such processes both on the AGW alarmist side and by certain sceptics.

  204. Doug Cotton says:

    Massimo: Thank you for your encouragement. It’s been a long hard struggle fitting the pieces of the jigsaw together, but with the help (and encouragement) from like minded professionals at PSI, and the work that they have done, I believe we’ve put the last piece in place now. Those here, most of whom haven’t even devoted 10 minutes to look at the video, let alone a couple of hours to read my peer-reviewed papers and the cited references, really don’t have any understanding.

    I can always pick those who don’t understand physics, and can’t even use physical terms correctly, let alone understand when (and when not) to use certain equations from physics. Most of them have probably not progressed beyond first year physics.

    Rick – I see that you would not have had time to read Messimo’s comment, which I would echo. Nor do you have any idea of what I’m talking about in the video or my papers. You really do not have any concept of how entropy must not decrease in any adiabatic process, nor how equipartition works at the molecular level, so you are not off Square One. Your concept of “insulation” is also way off for an atmosphere on Venus that can radiate energy away far more easily than Earth’s atmosphere. Explain why it’s still hot at the Venus poles and during the four-month long night. Your statement “in an adiabatic process when a gas is compressed work is done on the gas” is an oxymoron.

    Stephen Wilde LLB: I apologise for interpreting your statement The necessary energy was present at the formation of the planet as meaning the energy was in the core or somewhere beneath the surface.

    You haven’t answered what you think would happen if there were no movement of any atmospheric region in a stationary, imaginary Venus with a perfectly spherical, homogeneous surface.

    You haven’t explained why there is no thermal gradient (ie no lapse rate) at Earth’s South Pole.

    You don’t need to keep repeating what you have written in your paper. I know what’s in yours, even though you don’t appear to know even the key points in my video or papers.

    A CO2 atmosphere is the best radiating atmosphere in the Solar system, quite able to radiate away all the solar energy received, as it does. And it could easily radiate more from the hot surface if it were not for the mechanism described in my video and paper.

    Your “loops” would not hold together physically because they do not have forces all around them, nor would they embrace every cubic metre of the atmosphere, and nor would anything stop them joining in on the radiation act, getting rid of energy to space. You make them sound like a string of many balloons filled with CO2 getting cooler on the way up and somehow then deciding to come back down again, like a ball thrown in the air.

    When you make the assertive statement “For Venus that means that a temperature of around 700C [sic]” there are about ten steps left out in you logic. I don’t know how to get across to you why pressure does not maintain temperature. You seem to just grab the Ideal Gas Law, glance at the equation and apply it without any understanding whatsoever of the limitations and prerequisites required for it to apply.

    If your air begins to sink, then it will soon get back to the location where it was previously rising. So why should it not rise again from there? Does air sink straight back to the Earth’s equator after it rose there? Even if it moves somewhere else, why will any other location be a better sinking place on Venus either? Where is your evidence for Venus that there are good spots to sink? What happened to the spots where nothing rose or sank?

    If I roll my car down a steep hill and then turn around, I need energy to drive back up. When air flows down the temperature gradient, it needs energy to go back up.

    The temperature gradient on Venus is almost certainly very homogeneous in all vertical planes. It certainly would be in my “perfect planet” so what would happen on such a planet with no convection? You still haven’t answered this Stephen.

    Finally, you are quite wrong about where air sinks on Earth, and why it does. Go back up thread and read my explanation, because it is an important part of the jigsaw.

    Your statement As it sinks it converts PE to KE and gets warmer would be correct for the very slow sinking which is a true adiabatic process. For such to happen, there needs to be air at a height which is warmer than the normal temperature at that height as per the normal lapse rate. However, with winds causing most of the descending air on Earth, where most is in the Polar cells, there is no time for such adiabatic warming, and the evidence is that it does not occur, especially in Antarctica.

    Finally, the “air” on Venus that rises in the day time does not have a hope in Hades of getting around to the night side in order to descend. The thermal gradient is still just as steep there anyway. And even if it does descend, it can’t get any warmer than the air that’s already there at the base of the atmosphere.

    Stephen, I’ve been holding back on saying this, but I feel I need to now. With my experience, and that of several other members of PSI, we all realise you have no degree in physics and you do not understand how the laws of physics must apply. In short, you are out of your depth, and we can all see it. I am not prepared to respond to your repetitive, assertive cogitations any more. By all means, ask genuine questions about my video and papers.

  205. Stephen Wilde says:

    Doug, I have a lifetime of study and observation of weather and climate plus a reasonable understanding of basic physical principles.

    I fully understand your emotional responses and desire to discredit my work because if correct it would cause problems for you and PSI as well the AGW proponents.

    I must continue to call it as I see it until I get a proper rebuttal which you have not yet provided in my humble opinion. I see that many others are not convinced by you or your PSI colleagues either.

  206. Stephen Wilde says:

    “If I roll my car down a steep hill and then turn around, I need energy to drive back up. When air flows down the temperature gradient, it needs energy to go back up.”

    It doesn’t work like that.

    A parcel of air is heated by conduction from a surface irradiated by the sun.

    That provides the energy to cause the molecules to move further apart which reduces density.

    The parcel is then less dense and lighter than the air around it so it starts to rise and detaches itself from the surface.

    Once detached from the surface it receives no more energy yet it continues to rise because right up to the tropopause there is a lapse rate which results in air pressure above the parcel being constantly lower than air pressure below the parcel.

    That is basic physics and settled science.

    Due to conservation of mass what goes up must come down so one sees a circulation set up and as the air returns to the surface it warms again without any added energy, merely adiabatic compression.

    Only when it reaches the surface again does the adiabatic process cease.

    All very basic stuff.

  207. Doug for your informatin Stephen can run circles around you when it comes to climate and why it may or may not change.

    Doug, you are a complete fool, when it comes to climate. You essentially do not know what you are talking about.

    My only question is who is worse Al Gore or Doug Cotton.

    They are both full of BS. BS which needs to be exposed , which I will be doing over the coming months .

    We need to have the science of climate done correctly which Dr. Spencer is doing. I agree with everything he is doing. The only diference between him and myself is I think external forces are needed to bring about major climate change, he thinks it can be done internally, but other then that we agree, on much.

    Also Christopher Game is right on with much of what he has to say.

    Stephen ,has put forth great theories on the climate. Wonderful ones.

  208. Doug you can have all the degrees you want and all the knowledge you think, but if you don’t know how to apply it (which you don’t) it is worse then having no knowledge at all.

    You have convinced yourself that you are correct ,when the reality is you are incorrect.

  209. Stephen Wilde says:


    I don’t see anything in your post at comment 67439 that is inconsistent with my general overview in so far as it relates to the troposphere but I note that your comment focuses entirely on the equator to pole gradient and ignores day/night and the disruptive effects arising from Earth’s rapid rotation.

    The troposphere is only one part of the atmosphere and I aver that each layer has its own adiabatic loop to some extent such as the Brewer-Dobson circulation in the stratosphere and I suspect similar circulations exist in mesosphere and thermosphere but they are very hard to discern due to the low densities involved.

    Anyway, it is conceptually useful to subsume all the loops at different levels into a single adiabatic loop between surface and top of atmosphere.

    The importance of proposing such an adiabatic loop with fixed energy content but variable speed is that it provides a means whereby the flow rates can be adjusted so as to prevent GHGs from raising surface temperature.

    If GHGs do have a warming effect within the diabatic loop then the adiabatic loop simply accelerates the upward portion of the diabatic loop via a faster water cycle and the lifting of molecules sooner and faster to a higher level for more efficient radiation to space.

    The effect being to cancel out the warming effect of GHGs.

    That supports the PSI position as regards the invalidity of the greenhouse gas scenario but leaves open the older concept of surface warming from atmospheric mass, gravity and insolation.

  210. Rick says:

    Doug, I have a degree in mechanical engineering so I understand adiabatic and isothermal processes well. Mechanical engineering is concerned with the production, conversion and use of energy.
    The atmosphere of Venus only radiates to space from the top because it is opaque so that radiation from the surface cannot go directly to space. It’s high molecular weight makes CO2 a poor conductor of heat so along with the heat shield effect Venus’ atmosphere is a very good insulator.

  211. Doug Cotton says:

    Rick There is massive intra-atmospheric radiation within the Venus atmosphere because of all the CO2. So radiation makes its way into and out of the atmosphere in perhaps trillions of trillions of random walk transfers between one molecule of CO2 and another nearby one. Less than 10 W/m^2 of incident solar radiation gets through to the surface which could not of itself heat the surface. In fact, use S-B Law for 10 W/m^2 and you get 115K. Surface temperature is about 600 K more than that. How did it get there? Insulation (like a blanket) does not raise temperature. There is a totally different reason explained in just 10 minutes in this video and in more detail in my paper published a month ago.

    Stephen wrote The troposphere is only one part of the atmosphere. Yes Stephen, the troposphere is indeed only one part of the atmosphere containing only 80% of its mass and 99% of its water vapour. But I don’t see any reason to discuss the stratosphere (where upward convection stops because of inversion) nor the mesosphere, thermosphere or exosphere above that. Do you?

    As you have no empirical evidence of the existence of your balloons of air rising by adiabatic convection and holding together without dispersing into adjoining regions on the way up, and as you have no proof that what is described in the NASA document (linked in my comment about why air descends) is incorrect in its description of winds, such as Trade winds etc, and as you have not in any way countered my argument about the funnel effect, I continue to rest my case. Here is some geometry regarding the funnel effect:

    Consider the volume of the troposphere between successive latitudes 1Km apart. At the Equator it is about 40,075 x 17 = ~680,000 cubic Km. At 60 degrees it is about 20,000 x 11 = ~220,000 and at the South Pole it is 7 cubic Km. Quite a funnel effect I suggest as high winds head that way, down to the surface at Pole and back along the surface to the Equator, some making a U-turn anywhere after about 30 degrees.

  212. Frank Kosmakos says:

    I am the extreme of a global warmest. I have stayed away from it for a year or so because I just had too much to do. Now I am ready to slowly enter back into my non-business world. I started by clearing out stored videos on my DVR from PBS.org. I watched one from March of 2009 called Extreme Ice. I watched and listened and had a hard time taking a position against what they said. In essence, they claim there is ‘universal’ melting of the ice sheets, which seems to be caused by warming temperatures of 2 to 4 degrees along the areas, which is releasing more CO2 into the air, and causing the ice to melt faster and faster. And they project a 3 foot raise of the world oceans by 2100.

    Tell me where to go or what to read. I need to start slowly and gear up. I was so busy last year or so, I was going crazy trying to be intelligent with non-intelligent people.

    thanks for your time and thoughtful articles

  213. Doug Cotton says:

    Frank You could start with the long-term temperature analysis in the Appendix of my peer-reviewed paper published in March 2012 on the website of Principia Scientific International, which is an organisation of over 200 members who are all aware of cogent reasons as to why the carbon dioxide threat is not based on correct atmospheric physics.

    The rate of increase of global temperatures has reduced from 0.06 C degree per decade about a hundred years ago to about 0.05 C degree per decade in recent times, as proved in that Appendix. This is because we are almost to the top of another 1,000 year natural cycle.

  214. Doug Cotton says:


    Contrary to what Stephen says, I aver that if GHGs do have a warming effect within “ any part of the troposphere, then the autonomous adiabatic diffusion process in a gravitational field, which has been proven to establish a vertical temperature gradient in a sealed cylinder, also does so in the atmosphere in order to correct any variation from the calculated thermal gradient* at that location. This occurs at the molecular level, and the balance between upward and downward movements of molecules is adjusted therein. Obviously mass is conserved.

    Should there be a continuous supply of energy from the base of the atmosphere, whole sheets of warm air (with areas such as the whole of the Pacific, Indian or Atlantic Oceans between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn) rise by adiabatic convection, following the stabilised thermal gradient which is set by the diffusion process, as individual molecules retain entropy during molecular free path motions between impacts.

    Additional radiation from warmer areas will have a cooling effect, whilst the flow of energy by convection will warm areas that are cooler than the calculated value. Diffusion itself at the molecular level will also self-correct the thermal gradient, AKA lapse rate.

    Trade winds are “sucked” in to fill the gap left by rising air in Equatorial regions. When the rising air reaches the “ceiling” at the tropopause, it has nowhere to go except towards each pole, and it does so in the form of wind, which is not an adiabatic process and which has far greater velocity than air moving by adiabatic convection.

    Such winds enter a “funnel effect” as the volume of the troposphere (above each cubic metre of the surface) reduces, this being due to both a reduction in height and a reduction in the circumference of the Earth when approaching the poles.

    This funnel effect forces some of the high winds to head downwards (maybe at an angle rather than vertically downwards) and, as they approach the surface, their direction is changed by the predominance of low winds heading back to the Equator. This appears to start to happen at latitudes higher than 30 degrees, and continues to the Poles where any remaining high winds must be sent back to the Equator at lower levels.

    The Coroilis effect (due to Earth’s rotation) adds a small curvature to the paths relative to the surface, but this is irrelevant. Of course local regions will experience winds in other directions, but the predominant movement is as outlined and also explained in this NASA document. http://kids.earth.nasa.gov/archive/nino/global.html

    The thermal gradient must form autonomously in all six planets with atmospheres in our Solar system. The level of the thermal plot is determined by the need for radiative balance. Hence the intersect of the thermal plot with the surface is pre-determined, and so the surface temperature approximately matches that predetermined temperature at the base of the atmosphere, because of energy exchanges at the boundary.

    * That thermal gradient is calculated at any location by -g/Cp and then adjusted for intra-atmospheric radiation, as well as relative humidity, latent heat release and variability of the specific heat Cp due to temperature and average composition of that region of the atmosphere. The resulting thermal plot has some degree of curvature, especially on Venus.

  215. Doug Cotton says:

    Rebuttal of Stephen Wilde’s “parcels” of air concept.

    I’m not saying that Stephen Wilde’s “parcels” of hot or cold air (as in his paper) don’t exist in some locations in Earth’s atmosphere. But they don’t all hold together (like carriages in a train) to form continuous loops which are warming and cooling adiabatically, for reason explained below.

    What I’m saying is that they can only “hold together” when energy is being added, primarily by wind, so they are being swept in one general direction, rather than having time to spread out in all directions.

    In perfectly calm conditions hot “parcels” would disperse outwards in all directions by diffusion and convection, like ripples from a stone dropped in the middle of a calm lake.

    In contrast, peaks and troughs in temperatures can be like those in waves on the ocean, which are also produced by wind and other external sources of energy. So ripples from a stone dropped in the ocean are dominated by the waves.

    Genuine adiabatic convection is a very slow moving process, like the warm air rising from an oil filled convection heater, or the imperceptible rising air from the ground on a calm night. The thermal gradient g/Cp is calculated with the assumption that there is no added energy. If there is added energy, such as wind blowing air up the side of a mountain, then there is no need for the molecules to lose KE just because they are gaining PE. The energy in the wind is providing the extra KE and of course the velocity of the wind would be reducing if no other factors were involved. This is a fact, observed in Foehn “winds” because the air that flows over the top of the mountain is warmer than it would have been if it had just risen by adiabatic convection. This is why I now think we need to qualify “that convection which contributes to the lapse rate” as “adiabatic convection.” I still prefer to call any other faster movement of air “wind” – whatever the direction of such. It does not contribute to the lapse rate to any significant degree, because it breaches the assumptions (prerequisites) implicit in the computations.

  216. Doug Cotton says:


    In the paragraph in the Summary reading

    Such winds enter a “funnel effect” as the volume of the troposphere …

    it would be more precise to say

    Such winds enter a “funnel effect” as the volume of the troposphere (between successive equally spaced lines of latitude) reduces, this being due to both a reduction in height and a reduction in the circumference of the Earth when approaching the poles.

  217. Dr No says:

    Doug, you have omitted an important heat transfer process – that associated with the release of latent heat when clouds form and water vapour condenses into a liquid. This manifests itself as the moist adiabatic lapse rate which causes the temperature gradient to be less than that in dry air. This heat transfer is relatively large on the global scale. Diffusion can not compete with this.

  218. Doug Cotton says:

    See the reference to latent heat in the footnote (with *) and the reference to warm regions in the first line of the third paragraph in the Summary. I suggest that this covers your point, with which I do not disagree as you can see. Latent heat contributes to the well known fact that the lapse rate above the rather moist Equator (with all its oceans beneath) is only about 6.5 to 7 compared with the dry rate of 9.8 K/Km. Extra intra-atmospheric radiation between H2O molecules at different altitudes also levels out the thermal gradient.

    On closer investigation, I will acknowledge a probable error in the wind altitudes. Broadly, the high altitude winds heading towards the poles at latitudes (0 to 30) probably mostly descend (at an angle) to surface level in the (30-60) latitudes, creating prevailing westerlies, and then I suggest they rise again at around 60 and remain high from (60-90) latitude, because, in that polar cell the surface level “polar easterlies” are heading to the equator. These easterlies must have got their air from higher winds heading to the poles.

    The Coroilis effect gives these westerlies and easterlies an apparent curve, so their direction relative to the surface is about 45 degrees towards the west or east respectively.

    So, in the two cells (30 to 60) and (60 to 90) latitudes there is an approximate figure 8 (on its side) effect.

    This does not negate my main point that it is winds which return the air to the surface, not “sinking” cold air coming down very slowly by inverted convection.

    So I disagree with what the NASA item says on that point. After all, why would the obvious winds that we see on the surface not keep up the same momentum when moving up or down at perhaps an angle around 45 degrees? There must be winds of similar speeds in the opposite directions up near the tropopause.

    Downward winds at the South Pole (as the air does a U-turn) explain why the lapse rate disappears altogether in that part of the troposphere which is only 7Km high. So we know the winds are doing that there. As I have said in the rebuttal, you cannot (by definition) get adiabatic warming or cooling when much higher speed winds dominate. The calculations of the lapse rate assume there is no extra wind – ie calm conditions.

    Genuine adiabatic convection (and diffusion) works best in the tropics. So if you imagine a funnel which is square shaped at the top, and blocked at the narrow bottom, then lay it horizontally and then squirt a stream of air in near the top edge. Obviously the air gets stirred around in the narrow region and comes back out mostly on the lower side below where you are squirting it in. So the wide opening is where warm air rises adiabatically near the Equator, and in the real world you have two such funnels joined and pointing in opposite directions.

  219. Doug Cotton says:

    Correction in third paragraph: 45 degrees away from the west or east respectively.

  220. Dr No says:

    But, you have not explained why the air moves away from the equator once it has risen. According to your model, there is no incentive for the air to move towards the poles or any other direction – it could just as easily come straight back down. Therefore you have no explanation for the existence of winds at all.

    i.e. there is nobody around to “squirt the air” into your funnels.

  221. Stephen Wilde says:

    No convection = no winds.

    I think Doug would be well advised to give up his reliance on simple diffusion/conduction for a multitude of reasons.

  222. Doug Cotton says:

    No, while there is a continual supply of energy from the surface (because it is virtually always a degree or two warmer than the adjoining air) this “tips the balance” in favour of upward adiabatic convection. That’s why (as in the NASA page) we can be confident there is only upward convection in the tropics.

    This upward convection moves huge amount of air because the tropics (between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn at 23° 26? 16? south) represent more than a quarter of the Earth’s surface. All this air is trapped under the “ceiling” of the tropopause (because inversion start there) and half of it goes each way to the poles. It has nowhere else to go. But the sheer volume arriving up there (from over 45 degrees of latitude) leads to winds of significant magnitude directed towards the poles.

    Of course there is no sharp dividing line at the edge of the tropics, and at greater latitudes I believe that, in calm conditions, adiabatic convection gets less and less in magnitude, and diffusion just maintains the gradient, as it can even in a sealed cylinder of air in a lab experiment.

    Over many years, the diffusion process (KE shared in molecular collisions and PE+KE=constant between collisions) has automatically created a stable “base” thermal plot in the atmosphere, though the calculated value of g/Cp needs to be adjusted for intra-atmospheric radiation, which reduces the gradient because some heat is transferred at the speed of light to higher altitudes.

    Release of latent heat and other weather events are like mere waves on the top of the ocean. The underlying shape of the ocean surface remains approximately the same, its surface in calm conditions being perpendicular to the force of net gravity (from Earth and Moon and Sun) at any point.

    Diffusion is also affected by the force of gravity, but gravity introduces a propensity for the “normal” thermal gradient to be about the calculated mean lapse rate, rather than a level (zero) gradient.

    All this is a new paradigm, because, as in the Summary (and my video and November paper) it is apparent that the temperature of the base of the atmosphere is established primarily by gravity, specific heat and mean solar insolation.

    So the atmosphere of any planet takes on the calculated thermal gradient independently of the amount of direct solar radiation reaching the surface, or the energy exiting the surface, or the back radiation.

    This is in agreement with observations on Earth, Venus and other planets.

    This means the base temperature is predetermined, and the surface cannot do anything other than adopt a very similar temperature, with a possible ratchet effect keeping it just a little warmer because of day/night variations. In the case of Earth, nitrogen and oxygen are the key players in all this, with water vapour reducing the slope and thus leading to lower surface temperatures. So much for the assumed feedback of H2O.

  223. Doug Cotton says:

    The trade winds provide evidence that there must be corresponding winds at the top in opposite directions. If you consider the system between vertical boundaries located at the Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer (right around the globe) then it is known that trade winds enter this at the base, but slow down to nothing in the Doldrums when they meet opposing winds from the other hemisphere. They slow down because more and more air is being warmed from the surface (heated more than world-wide means by the stronger Solar insolation in the region) and transported upwards by adiabatic convection. So, what goes in at the base of that system comes out at the top as winds heading towards the poles.

    All the energy diagrams show significant mean transfer of energy from the surface to the atmosphere by non-radiative processes, notably conduction (which is diffusion between the solid surface and colliding air molecules) and evaporation. Latent heat leap frogs the lower layers but can continue its upward climb by convection when it is released further up in the atmosphere. In a nutshell, everything goes up except for some energy in precipitation.

    There can be no equal passage of energy straight back down again in the tropics, as in Stephen’s conjecture about loops, which don’t even consider the energy in the winds we all know about.

  224. Doug Cotton says:

    Here is a NASA Energy Budget diagram referred to in my last comment.


  225. Tim says:

    In spring in the UK, they were saying that it would take years to fill up our water table, it hasn’t stopped raining since. We have had record rain fall for a year, in just 9 months. People keep saying that the world is warming, then America gets massive snow storms. Weather can’t be modelled, it has a mind of its own, you have to accept its variability, over 100’s of years cycles. C02 if a red herring, real pollution the greatest danger.

  226. Stephen Wilde says:


    None of your comments relegate convection to a lesser force than conduction. In fact the opposite.

  227. Stephen don’t waste to much of your precious time, with this fool, Doug Cotton.

    I for one will not waste any more of my time with him.

    I am just concentrating on how I see the climate changing for the rest of this decade and why.

    One last item, VENUS proves there is a greenhouse effect despite Doug’s constant counter view about this.

  228. Dr No says:

    The average rate of verical motion is about 1 centimeter a second – which means that it only takes a few days for air to (on average) rise from the surface to the tropopause. And only a few days to descend back to the surface. Therefore the atmosphere is overturning fairly rapidly. Therefore air undergoes relatively rapid changes in temperature. This is due to convection and descent, adiabatic cooling and warming, absorption of heat near the surface, release of latent heat and radiative cooling.
    All very straight forward (if you study a text book).

    Diffusion has no role at all in this.

    Adiabatic warming explains the surface temperature of the planets, including Venus.

    You cannot try and avoid this fact by making the nonsensical claim that adiabatic warming is not instantaneous.

  229. Doug Cotton says:


    Natural Climate Cycles and Projections

    From this page of my paper published March 2012 you can see why the climate will continue with very slight net cooling till about 2028 and then a rise similar to the 30 years prior to 1998 until about 2058. That maximum may be about 0.3 degree warmer then 1998, or maybe no warmer at all. Then there will be 30 years of moderate cooling back to about 2028 levels followed by 30 years of warming which may also reach 1998 levels again, or maybe less. But, at least by then the world should start long term cooling (about 0.5 C per century) for about 500 years, though the superimposed 60 year cycle will of course continue to create variations around the long term trend.

  230. Doug Cotton says:

    Rebuttal of Stephen Wilde’s paper (continued)

    Roger (Tallbloke’s Talkshop) invited (in private email to PSI) a rebuttal of Wilde’s paper here.

    I commenced such in this comment above, and continue below.

    Wilde’s diabatic and adiabatic loops are not able to be separated in the real world. This is because, as this NASA Energy Budget diagram shows, there is only a process of conduction from the surface producing rising air, not falling air as Wilde postulates happens by inverted convection. Then, as discussed below, the air returns by wind, not by convection.

    I do not in any way dispute that convection is important and that it assists in producing the “lapse rate” which I prefer to call more correctly the thermal gradient in the troposphere, that being the only part of the atmosphere we need to consider for this exercise. The stratosphere above it effectively puts a lid on the troposphere, preventing further rising convection above the tropopause.

    Although it may be shown that molecular motion and collisions (diffusion) also creates the same thermal gradient, even in still air, both this diffusion and adiabatic convection play a role in maintaining the calculated thermal gradient.

    However, Wilde makes a serious error in assuming that the upward rising adiabatic convection somehow can be reversed at high altitudes, physically sending the air back downwards all the way to the surface, and even transferring thermal energy into the surface, which is nearly always slightly warmer than the base of the atmosphere.

    In fact the NASA energy diagram confirms that the surface is warmer on average because it shows conduction (same as diffusion) from the surface to the atmosphere.

    It is important to understand that genuine adiabatic convection is a very slow process, such as you probably cannot even detect by way of upward air movement from the surface in calm conditions. The calculations that derive the thermal gradient of -g/Cp (where Cp is specific heat) are based on a prerequisite that no other energy is being added or removed. So any wind would be adding or removing energy, and thus the process would not be adiabatic in that region. So the calculated thermal gradient is not produced in that region when wind persists. For example, warm wind from a valley can then go up a mountain side, without the air it transports cooling off to the degree that it would have in adiabatic convection.

    The main area where this upward convection is strongest is in the tropics, which include about 26% of Earth’s surface, centred around the Equator. The level of upward adiabatic convection reduces as you approach the poles. In the long-term the diffusion process probably plays a greater role in maintaining thermal gradients than convection does, at least in the polar cell with latitudes above 60 degrees. But it really does not matter which process dominates, and we may never know. It is not an argument that supports Wilde’s paper just to say that convection dominates.

    The serious error in Wilde’s conjectures is that he does not correctly describe the process whereby air must return to the surface. This process is not by any form of adiabatic process that moves air back to the surface, from which (except in Antarctica and the Arctic in winter) there is a continual flow of energy back into the atmosphere virtually everywhere else on the globe. For downward adiabatic convection into the surface you would have to stop that flow, and provide a new flow from the tropopause.

    It is important to understand that wind is not adiabatic convection. Air does in fact return to the surface layer of the atmosphere by downward moving wind, not necessarily perpendicular to the surface and, more often than not, probably at an acute angle to the surface.

    The mechanism by which these downward winds occur is what I have called the “funnel effect.” We know that the highest levels of convection occur in the tropics, because the Sun is always directly above at least some latitude between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, each at about 23 degrees North or South. We also know that trade winds enter the tropics from both north and south at near surface levels. These winds slow down as they approach the “Doldrums” around the Equator, because the air they carry is being progressively drawn upwards by convection.

    However, when this rising air reaches the tropopause, upward convection stops because of temperature inversion above that level.

    The tropopause is at an altitude of about 17Km at the Equator, and this reduces as you go towards the poles, where it is only about 7Km. The total volume of the troposphere between lines of latitude 1Km apart, varies from about 680,000 cubic Km at the equator, to about 22,000 cubic Km at around 60 degrees latitude, right down to a mere 7 cubic Km at the poles. So the troposphere in each hemisphere may be thought of as a funnel that is effectively blocked at its narrow end.

    The air rising in the tropics reaches the tropopause and has nowhere else to go at the top except towards the pole in its hemisphere. So there are winds at the top in roughly the opposite direction to the trade winds which carry the same volume of air back out of the tropical region.

    Now, it is not hard to understand why the funnel shape of the troposphere forces some air back towards the surface. And that air which gets as far as the pole, certainly has to come down and spread over the surface at the pole, then commence its passage back to the tropics. These wind movements such as the “Polar Easterlies” are well documented.

    So, there is nothing unexpected about how and why the air which rises by adiabatic convection, mostly in the tropics, subsequently returns to the surface layers of the atmosphere. It does not return by adiabatic downward convection as Wilde incorrectly postulates, and therein lies the error in his paper. Instead it returns via winds which can in no way play any part in the role of establishing the adiabatic lapse rate, because their far more rapid motion, and the energy they add is totally contrary to the prerequisites in the computations of the lapse rate.

    In fact, winds in general would have a tendency to cause huge variations in the thermal gradient, but fortunately, when they subside, diffusion and adiabatic convection (where is does happen) correct the variation from the theoretical temperature plot in the atmosphere.

  231. Rick says:

    Doug, I understand adiabatic processes like the ones in engine cycles such as gas turbines where the air undergoes adiabatic (no heat transfer) compression, is then heated isobarically (no pressure change) and then adiabatic expansion in the turbine. In the compressor work is done on the gas and in the turbine work is extracted from the gas. All of this takes place very rapidly.

    I can find no reference that says that there is a limit to the rate at which adiabatic processes can take place. Do you have a reference that
    explains why the following quote is true?

    “Instead it returns via winds which can in no way play any part in the role of establishing the adiabatic lapse rate, because their far more rapid motion, and the energy they add is totally contrary to the prerequisites in the computations of the lapse rate.”

    It seems that the energy of the wind is pretty much equivalent to the energy applied to the compressor or extracted from the turbine which are both adiabatic processes.

  232. Dr No says:

    “So, there is nothing unexpected about how and why the air which rises by adiabatic convection, mostly in the tropics, subsequently returns to the surface layers of the atmosphere. It does not return by adiabatic downward convection as Wilde incorrectly postulates, and therein lies the error in his paper.”

    Doug – you are wrong again. You are implying that the air can cool as it rises, but, for some reason, does not warm as it descends. This is nonsense.
    Please read and study the topic: “potential temperature”.

    The air which rises has to come down. It cools as it rises, and it warms as it descends. It is all one big overturning process – like you would see in a heated saucepan of water (rises in the middle, and descends at the edges). It is all convection – irrespective of where the air comes down.

  233. Doug Cotton says:

    Rick: Let’s start with a quick summary of the computations involved. We are talking about potential energy (PE) and kinetic energy (KE) interchange at the molecular level. It doesn’t matter whether we work with a group of molecules, or just one.

    The change in PE as a molecule rises a distance H is the work which is done (force x distance) where force = mass x acceleration, so we can deduce that, for mass M and acceleration due to gravity = g the extra …

    PE gain = M.g.H

    but there will be a loss of KE equal to the gain in PE if the process is adiabatic (either diffusion or convection) and this loss equals the negative of the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature by T degrees. From the definition of specific heat Cp this energy is ..

    KE loss = -M.Cp.T

    So, equating the PE gain and KE loss and cancelling M we get

    g.H = –Cp.T

    so the absolute value of the temperature gradient is

    T/H = –g/Cp

    Now, note that we assumed that the energy for the PE gain was entirely from the loss of its own KE.

    If you add additional KE with any external wind then you don’t have an adiabatic process because the extra PE can come from the KE in the wind and/or the total KE can be increased significantly, so you don’t end up with an adiabatic lapse rate.

    Think about where on Earth you would expect the most significant convection. I suggest the middle of a hot dry desert on a hot sunny day. I’ve been in outback Australia when it was 43 deg C in the shade and much more in the Sun, but I’ve never noticed feeling the air moving up from the ground in calm conditions. But it does by convection, and that’s about as strong as natural convection gets anywhere in Earth’s atmosphere.

  234. Doug Cotton says:

    Dr No You are implying that the air can cool as it rises, but, for some reason, does not warm as it descends. This is nonsense

    No it’s not nonsense. Study carefully the calculations in the post above to Rick which I wrote before reading your comment. I am saying that the process involving wind is not adiabatic and the temperature change is nothing like that which would be calculated using a thermal gradient of -g/Cp, and so such wind is not a contributing factor to the adiabatic lapse rate.

    A good example is the downward winds at the South Pole, where the tropopause is 7Km above the surface. Do we see a change of about 45 to 50 degrees? No. The tropopause is about the same temperature, maybe less cold at -50C compared with a mean of -57C in Antarctica. Also, warm winds from hot plains can blow warm air up the side of a mountain without it cooling anywhere near as much as it would if it had risen by adiabatic convection.

    Maybe before you ask more questions you could try to understand my papers and the real physics explained therein, as well as in my video and the comments in this thread. I can answer, and am happy to answer any relevant question, but you will learn more if you think about the physics of the situation first.

  235. Rick says:

    Doug, I follow your derivation and your formula, T/H = -g/Cp, is correct. The following quote from the Wikipedia article on Lapse Rate agrees with my understanding of adiabatic lapse rate and the term adiabatic. This explanation does not make a distinction between natural convection and forced convection, ie. wind.

    “The dry adiabatic lapse rate (DALR) is the rate of temperature decrease with height for a parcel of dry or unsaturated air rising under adiabatic conditions. Unsaturated air has less than 100% relative humidity; i.e. its actual temperature is higher than its dew point. The term adiabatic means that no heat transfer occurs into or out of the parcel. Air has low thermal conductivity, and the bodies of air involved are very large, so transfer of heat by conduction is negligibly small.
    Under these conditions when the air rises (for instance, by convection) it expands, because the pressure is lower at higher altitudes. As the air parcel expands, it pushes on the air around it, doing work (thermodynamics). Since the parcel does work but gains no heat, it loses internal energy so that its temperature decreases. The rate of temperature decrease is 9.8 °C per 1,000 m (5.38 °F per 1,000 ft) (3.0°C/1,000 ft). The reverse occurs for a sinking parcel of air.”

    Following this quote is a different derivation from yours that arrives at the same T/H = -g/Cp. Again I would like to point out that the term adiabatic only refers to the lack of heat transfer. Work is done by the expanding air on the way up and work is done to the air as it is compressed on the way down.

  236. Doug Cotton says:

    Dr No Yes, I’m quite aware of what potential temperature is. Maybe you should read the very first line about it in Wikipedia

    The potential temperature of a parcel of fluid at pressure is the temperature that the parcel would acquire if adiabatically brought to a standard reference pressure , usually 1000 millibars.

    Everyone should note that this is yet another example of how climatologists tend to pick out physics equations and laws (like Stefan-Boltzmann Law) and use them without remembering (or perhaps without understanding) that there are only certain conditions under which they apply. In this case, Dr No has forgotten that potential temperature is only relevant to adiabatic processes, not to thermal energy transferred by wind. which is certainly not an adiabatic process. If he had read what I said in comments above about the funnel effect, he could not have missed my point.

  237. Doug Cotton says:

    Rick and Dr No

    Heat transfer is a transfer of kinetic energy, because temperature is a measure of mean kinetic energy. There is no doubt that wind adds kinetic energy. Hence, wind affects the end result regarding the temperature after the air moves through a certain distance.

    Go back to first principles, and try to understand what I am saying about internal transfers of PE and KE within and between molecules. I have also given real world examples of how wind helps to retain constant temperatures, regardless of vertical components in the velocity. In my comment above to Dr No, I have pointed out the error he made in his failure to understand that potential temperature only relates to adiabatic processes. So too does the adiabatic convection (and adiabatic diffusion) which establish the calculated thermal gradient.

    The lapse rate (thermal gradient) is the rate of change of temperature of dry air that is being raised or lowered adiabatically in the atmosphere. There can be absolutely no transfer of kinetic energy from outside the region being considered, into or out of that region.

    Don’t lose sight of the now proven fact that the surface temperatures of planets with atmospheres, like Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune – and Earth – can all be calculated by merely using observed temperatures anywhere in their upper atmosphere, together with thermal gradients all calculated with the same equations and formulae. The probability of this happening at random is infinitesimal, so that in itself proves that what I have written in the November paper is beyond reasonable doubt.

    I am by no means the first to discover this fact, which has been well known for several years. I am just trying to help people understand the physical process that causes this to be the case – a process involving not only adiabatic convection, but also adiabatic diffusion, which has also now been confirmed with empirical tests with sealed cylinders of air and water.

    It is also important to understand the huge significance of this, in that it is a whole new paradigm regarding what processes and parameters determine planetary surface temperatures. This is 21st century physics. The “greenhouse” conjecture is left behind in the 20th century.



  238. Stephen Wilde says:

    “There is no doubt that wind adds kinetic energy.”


    Wind is a result of temperature differentials (kinetic energy differentials) in different locations so winds simply try to equalise an uneven distribution of KE in the atmosphere.

    Winds neither add nor subtract KE, they just redistribute it.

    No convection – no winds.

    Temperatures are lower than they otherwise could be on a windy day.

    Doug is confused between the form of kinetic energy acquired by a water source in the form of waves and by a solid surface by way of movement caused by wind pressure such as of sand on a beach as against the kinetic energy held by molecules which gives them their temperature.

    I am finding it common in the minds of physicists like Doug, whether alarmists or sceptics that they may be fine on the physics that they have used or taught all their lives but when it comes to applications to meteorology they are out of their depth and know not how to apply their knowledge correctly.

    That is why there are so many physicists and astrophysicists now engaged in the field of climate who get it wrong whilst meteorologists generally get it right and as a group tend not to support AGW theory.

    I think my lifetime of meteorological study gives a distinct advantage over narrower physicists like Doug who have come to weather and climate relatively recently.

  239. Massimo PORZIO says:

    #Stephen Wilde
    “Wind is a result of temperature differentials (kinetic energy differentials) in different locations so winds simply try to equalise an uneven distribution of KE in the atmosphere.”

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe Doug is talking about the formalism of the “air parcel”, when he talk about KE added by the wind.
    I believe he and all the other physicists, are pointing out that the climatologist can’t use physics laws, which are valid only for adiabatic systems, into the “air parcel” formalism.
    That because, if considered in a wider windy field, the abstract object of the “air parcel” is not an adiabatic closed system. It’s just a sub-system which kinetically interacts with many other surrounding unknown diabatic sub-systems of “air parcels” which, as you implicitly stated above, mix together.
    I think Doug agree with you that, considering the tropospheric layer as a whole, the winds just mix-up the KE adding nothing to it. But I agree with him that computing the adiabatic lapse rate considering the wind effects should be wrong and shouldn’t be done.

    Have a nice day.

  240. Stephen you hit it spot on. Doug knows physics , but can’t apply it to the climate or meterology.

    He is lost in both areas, has no concept of how the climate system works or changes.

    I don’t think he has ever had formal training in either discipline, or if he has, he sure has been taught wrongly.

    I disagree (thankfully) with almost everything he says, when it comes to the climate.

  241. Rick says:

    Doug, I think you have a basic misunderstanding of the meaning of adiabatic processes. All definitions that I have found say that the only thing that makes a process adiabatic is the lack of heat transfer into or out of the mass of air expanding (work out) or being compressed (work in). What definition are you using?

    If there is no heat transfer and no work being done to or by a mass of air you have a static condition and no process- adiabatic, isothermal or isobaric- is taking place.

  242. Doug Cotton says:

    Stephen The KE held by molecules that gives them their temperature is represented in their degrees of freedom. The energy is shared equally (as per the equipartition theorem) between the degrees of freedom (DOF) which include (for diatomic molecules such as oxygen and nitrogen) vibrational, rotational and translational DOF’s. The three translational DOF’s represent the three dimensions of space – that is, the x-axis, y-axis and z-axis in a three dimensional representation of their position. In any event, even additional translational KE (added by wind) is then shared (during molecular collisions) with the other DOF’s, namely rotational and vibrational.

    Convection over a large area (such as all the tropics) raises a mass of air to the tropopause region, having a concentration effect up there that creates strong winds, which have velocities that are orders of magnitude more than the velocity of the original slow upward air movement by adiabatic convection. The funnel effect also has a concentration effect, creating extra pressure which forces some wind towards the surface, where it then takes a short cut back towards the tropics.

    No significant portion of the downward component of the translational KE (as the winds move air to lower altitudes) has anything to do with an adiabatic process, such as in your wild conjectures, Wilde.

    If you can’t detect the difference in the velocity of air rising from the hot ground by adiabatic convection (in calm conditions without extra wind in the vicinity) and the velocity of air moving in a hurricane, then I give up trying to explain physics to you.

    How do you think the KE in the wheels of your car makes your brakes get hot as that energy is shared during molecular collisions causing “friction” Stephen? Go and sail your boat with the invisible energy of the wind, and see whether or not the wind imparts translational KE to that boat. Then go to the South Pole and marvel at the fact that the temperatures in the whole 7Km of the troposphere above are (fairly) uniform around -50C without any significant thermal gradient (lapse rate) whatsoever.

    But I repeat myself: it seems I need to. Go and study my video and papers before you display any more lack of understanding of atmospheric physics to the many silent readers here. Same goes for Dr No. And, thanks, Massimo – you are correct.

    It’s already December 31 here, so have a Happy and Cooler Cooler New Year everyone.

  243. Doug Cotton says:

    Rick Heat transfer is a discipline of thermal engineering that concerns the generation, use, conversion, and exchange of thermal energy and heat between physical systems.” “Thermal energy” is kinetic energy in molecules. Temperature is a measure of the mean KE in molecules in a region.

  244. Stephen Wilde says:

    “No significant portion of the downward component of the translational KE (as the winds move air to lower altitudes) has anything to do with an adiabatic process”

    All upward and downward movement involves an element of adiabatic decompression and compression.

    Winds do not move air to lower altitudes. Density differentials do that.

    Winds are a consequence not a cause.

    That applies to sea breezes as much as hurricanes.

  245. Entropic man says:

    Let us return to Dr. Spencer’s hypothesis that climate change is chaotic.

    How can you determine whether and to what extent the climate changes over the last millennium have been chaotic, as opposed to forced?

  246. Doug Cotton says:

    All upward and downward movement involves an element of adiabatic decompression and compression.

    In calculations in an earlier post I demonstrated that the lapse rate -g/Cp can be derived without any reference to compression and decompression. Only climatologists like to do it the long way round so as to make it look as though different pressure causes warming or cooling. It doesn’t. Only specific heat and the acceleration due to gravity end up appearing in the formula.

    But I agree that adiabatic processes have a small effect in air being moved by wind, but only in roughly in the same proportions that we observed (a) the very slow speed of air rising from the surface in calm conditions and (b) typical velocities of wind. What I am saying is that wind predominates in the ratio of about b:a, which means the adiabatic process in air carried by wind is absolutely negligible. In contrast, you are assuming it is 100% so that it autonomously forms a gradient the same as the lapse rate formed by upward adiabatic convection mostly in the tropics. It isn’t anywhere near 100%, as is proved in the 7Km troposphere above the South Pole.

    Winds do not move air to lower altitudes. Well, air that moves far faster on average than that drifting upwards by adiabatic convection certain does. Here’s proof (reiterated from a previous comment you must have missed reading):

    The volume of the troposphere between two lines of latitude 1Km apart is about 680,000 cubic Km at the Equator. Let’s say the uppermost one third of that becomes high wind heading for the South Pole. At 60 degrees latitude all the air has only 220,000 cubic Km to move into, and it gets worse as it approaches the Pole where there is only 7 cubic Km left. And yet you try to tell me that none of that wind would go downwards. Well it started in the region of about 11 to 17Km above the surface at the Equator, and the top of the troposphere is only 7Km at the Pole. Do you still think it all accumulates at the South Pole without any of it finding an easier passage back towards the Equator, such as in the Polar Easterlies or the Trade winds further up?

    Give up, Stephen! You have no science degree, let alone nearly 50 years’ further private post graduate study of physics to call upon, as I have.

  247. Doug Cotton says:

    Entropic You could start by going back to this comment.

  248. Doug Cotton says:


    The autonomous establishment of a thermal gradient in an atmosphere results from the same molecular processes that have been empirically confirmed to occur in still air in a sealed container. This confirmation has only been this century, well after the greenhouse conjecture was assumed to have caused the gradient, raising surface temperature by 33 degrees and all that nonsense.

    It is not a greenhouse effect which does that, partly because back radiation can only slow radiative cooling. It cannot transfer extra heat to a warmer surface. But the Sun cannot have warmed the surface of Earth to a mean above 288K in the first place, let alone the surface of Venus to well above 700K. So there is no issue relating to cooling from such temperatures. The same goes for other planets, namely Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

    On all these planets the thermal gradient of the atmosphere can be calculated in the same way. The surface temperature also then “works out right” by extrapolation of the thermal plot from measured temperatures in the upper tropospheres of both Earth and Venus, with some reasonable evidence that similar results are obtained for the other planets.

    But there is a lot of confusion among climatologists as to the processes that establish the gradient. These processes involving adiabatic diffusion of KE and adiabatic convection (nearly always upwards) can only create the correct gradient in purely adiabatic conditions in which, by definition, there can be no extraneous movement by air, not even the slightest breeze.

    Dr No mentioned that the average rate of adiabatic convection is about 1cm per second, and I accept that as reasonable. That is 0.036 Km per hour, which is a lot less than even the slightest noticeable breeze. So even winds with vertical components of a mere 3.6 Km per hour in their velocity prevent 99% of the effect on temperature of the simultaneous adiabatic processes.

    This is simply because of the various time factors in molecular motion, such as time between collisions and the mean free path travelled in that time. You can’t speed up the process just by raising or lowering a body of air more quickly than 0.036 Km per hour by any process. Pressure at different altitudes (or “density differentials”) do not enable you to speed up the process, because they are not the cause. There just appears to be a correlation, because gravity plays a role in each. But, I repeat, they are not the cause and you can see this from the fact that I was able to derive the same “lapse rate” without any reference to pressure. It is all to do with molecules in free flight exchanging PE and KE between impacts with other molecules. During such collisions, KE is diffused, which amounts to a sharing of KE between the two colliding molecules and their individual degrees of freedom.

    That, my friends, is how it all happens, as in my November paper “Planetary Surface Temperatures. A Discussion of Alternative Mechanisms.”

  249. Rick says:

    Doug, what happens to the temperature of a volume of air in a well insulated container that has an opening to the atmosphere if I raise the container 1km in 15min?

  250. Doug Cotton says:

    Assuming you do this in perfectly calm conditions (eg in the Doldrums near the Equator where the lapse rate is, say, 6.5K/Km) then it would depend upon dimensions of the container and the opening, because a lot of cooler air from outside would easily replace some of the air inside within 15 minutes.

    If, however, you placed a rubber membrane over a wide necked vacuum flask to prevent much escape of air, whilst allowing pressure differences to have an effect (ie the membrane would stretch out like a balloon above the container) and you then measured the temperature at the higher altitude before removing the membrane, there would be no immediately obvious change in temperature for the air inside, though it would adjust to the outside temperature reasonably quickly (that being 6.5K cooler) as outside air diffused in through the opening and air from inside escaped.

  251. Doug Cotton says:

    PS The change in volume (as the “balloon” expands) can be calculated from the ideal gas law when the temperature remains constant using the equation V2 = V1/(P2/P1) as you can see here.

  252. Rick says:

    I thought about a rubber membrane and a cylinder with a frictionless piston (well insulated like the cylinder) so we are thinking alike.

    Now suppose I didn’t raise the cylinder but I quickly pulled the piston out to put a slight vacuum on the air so that the absolute pressure in the cylinder was the same as the atmosphere 1km higher. What would happen to the temperature of the air in the cylinder?

  253. Doug Cotton says:

    Rick: Nothing significant would happen to the temperature because the mean kinetic energy of the molecules would not change in such a short time. No significant energy has been added or removed, so why would it? With all respect, Rick, this is not a thread for basic physics lessons. I gave you a link to the information about the ideal gas law, where you could easily have seen that, for constant temperature, the pressure change can be calculated from P2 = P1/(V2/V1). Now it’s nearly 6pm and I’m off to the Sydney fireworks, so Happy New Year.

  254. Rick says:

    Doug, I understand ideal gas law and thermodynamics very well, they have a big part of my job since I received my BS in Mechanical Engineering 40 years ago next June.

    The reason for my questions has been to understand why you think an adiabatic process can not take place rapidly. Reversable processes are generally disceibed as taking place very slowly so that entropy does not increase and make the process irreversible. Adiabatic expansion and compression is not necessarily reversible and there is no reason why the up and down flow of air that causes the adiabatic lapse rate can not happen as fast as the wind.

    Look up the P-V and T-S diagrams for the Carnot cycle.

  255. Rick says:

    Sorry, I ment Brayton cycle not Carnot. The Carnot cycle is defined as reversible.

  256. Rick says:

    Ok, Wikipedia shows idealized diagrams for both cycles where the compression and expansion are adiabatic and isentropic but adiabatic does not imply isentropic.

  257. Stephen Wilde says:

    Atmospheric mass subjected to insolation establishes the surface temperature from which the ideal lapse rate then travels upward.

    The strength of the gravitational field establishes the slope of the ideal lapse rate gradient because that controls the rate at which pressure declines with height.

    The level of insolation sets the height of the atmosphere through which the ideal lapse rate must travel.

    Composition of the atmosphere can make the actual slope of the lapse rate diverge from the one set by gravity.

    If it does so then circulation changes occur to remove the divergence but to achieve that removal one needs to involve the entire vertical column of the atmosphere.

    Both diffusion (conduction) and convection are involved in the removal process and their relative contributions depend on atmospheric density. Thicker atmospheres such as Venus will rely more on diffusion than thinner atmospheres such as that of Earth.

    However, in the end, it is the reconfiguration of the entire circulation that ensures that the average net outcome of all the various actual lapse rates up through the atmosphere equals the ideal lapse rate set by gravity.

    Gravity and not molecule to molecule diffusion creates the slope of the ideal lapse rate but in individual layers diffusion and convection result both in a divergence from the ideal lapse rate and provide the means by which the atmospheric dirculation can be reconfigured to remove that divergence overall.

    Doug’s error in my humble opinion is to suggest that the diffusion process has any bearing on the ideal lapse rate which is in fact set by gravity. Additionally he underestimates the importance of convection in thinner atmospheres.

    At most, diffusion only combines with convection to alter actual lapse rates in individual layers and then also provokes the circulation changes needed to remove the divergences from the ideal lapse rate thereby restoring top of atmosphere balance.

  258. David MacDowell says:

    Greetings Dr. Spencer,

    I was relieved to read through some of your articles. My contention with the hype surrounding global warming is not with the notion of global warming itself, rather with the supposed causes.

    I ask simple questions of my friends when they get hysterical about the subject; “Was there an ice age? Is there an ice age now?” I then follow up with…”Yeap! I guess it was all those saber tooth tigers and mammoths driving those darned SUV’s.”

    However, I have heard of one thing that does concern me. The increased CO2 levels could change the acidity of the oceans. Is this a concern to you? I’m not sure of the balance of deforestation and reforestation, agriculture, and desertification.


  259. Dr No says:

    Entropic man raises a very good question. I think that we can move on from demolishing Doug’s latest theories to discussing chaos – which even Roy seems to misunderstand. It is often dragged out as an argument that the climate system is unknowable and behaves beyond the understanding of mere men. This borders on religious conviction with some people but represents an error in thinking which conflates chaos with randomness (which it is not).

    Chaos simply says that, because we can never know with 100% accuracy the initial conditions, the future of a non-linear system becomes unpredictable.

    The prime example is weather forecasting, where although the system obeys the laws of physics, it cannot be predicted accurately more than about 10 days ahead in time.

    Another simpler example is the case of two moving objects in space. They both attract each other due to gravity. We can estimate their trajectories in the short term, but not in the very long term because tiny errors in measuring their initial positions eventually have large effects.

    In fact, everything in the universe could be described as chaotic, since no matter how well we can use physics to calculate a trajectory, quantum effects means we never know the position of anything 100% accurately. Ultimately, this means the trajectory is unpredictable.

    Now comes the big BUT.
    Even though most things are chaotic, this does not mean we cannot estimate trajectories in the short term. It only means we cannot do it in the long term.
    We can predict the weather out to about 10 days.
    We can predict the motion of objects in space out to (probably) many millions of years.
    We can also estimate the evolution of the climate system for thousands of years.

    The climate system behaves the laws of physics and, although its behaviour (such as El Nino events) appears random, it is not. The so-called “natural” fluctuations of the climate occur because of actual physical behaviour – not randomness. Hurricanes, for example, cannot be predicted a long way ahead but, once monitored, their behaviour can be estimated in the short term. Roy is trying to explain away the behaviour of the climate system as though it is unknowable. It is in the very long-term, but that does not mean we cannot understand what it is doing in the short term – it still obeys the laws of physics.

    Therefore, while the climate has fluctuated in the past, it will have done so in response to specific forcing. That is why we can estimate the general effect of greenhouse gases on the climate system (but not the precise details).

  260. Titus says:

    Take into account that:

    There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
    There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we now know we don’t know.
    But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.

    My experience of 10 day forecast is that they are continually refined right up to a day or two out. The original forecast was just a best estimate which is continually refined by the dynamics of unknown changes.

  261. Doug Cotton says:

    Neither Stephen nor Rick will understand the diffusion of KE at the molecular level until they actually watch my video and/or read the November paper.

    How on Earth (or Venus) could a molecule travel with an upward vertical component in its velocity during its free path motion and retain the same KE whilst gaining PE?

    How could such a process act as quickly as a change in pressure, or have much to do with pressure anyway?

    The fact is that, in the 800 experiments with air and water in sealed cylinders (as referenced in my paper) it does take a long time for the molecular diffusion of KE to create a thermal gradient in still air in a gravitational field. Some of the experiments extended over 6 months. Also, according to Dr No, the rate at which convection moves warm air upwards is only probably less than 0.04 Km/hour. The rate of the adiabatic redistribution of PE and KE is limited by the molecular velocities in free flight, the mean free paths and probability considerations.

    It has nothing to do with expansion and contraction. Did you see any reference to such, or any mention of pressure in my straight forward calculation of the -g/Cp gradient?

    Please study my video and November paper more carefully. There is no other source of information to my knowledge which brings this altogether into a cogent explanation of planetary surface temperatures. 


  262. Doug Cotton says:

    Footnote: Of all Stephen’s statements this one “Doug’s error in my humble opinion is to suggest that the diffusion process has any bearing on the ideal lapse rate which is in fact set by gravity” demonstrates most obviously that he has no concept of the physics I am talking about. Others who have actually read what I’ve written in my November paper and watched what I’ve said in last week’s video (as over 200 silent readers have already) will be stunned by Stephen’s lack of understanding of how gravity acts in a process involving diffusion of KE which creates a thermal gradient in still air (even in a sealed cylinder) and how that gradient is derived using the acceleration due to gravity g which is in the result -g/Cp. My error, Stephen?

  263. Rick says:

    Doug, I watched your video last week when there were only about 40 viewers. Nothing in your video has changed what I have said about adiabatic processes.

    When a gas is expanded in an adiabatic process and work is extracted or compressed and work is applied the temperature goes down or up depending on the mass of gas involved, the work done (+ or -) and the pressure change. The rate of change is not important, except if you want to have an isentropic, reversible, process. If no work is added or subtracted from the system the temperature change will be less (maybe zero depending on the gas).

    Moving a mass of gas up (expanding) or down (compressing) in the atmosphere does involve work exchange between the mass of gas and the atmosphere.

    Happy New Year!

  264. Doug Cotton says:

    Rick Well now it’s time for you to read the paper and the linked research, noting the empirical results of over 800 experiments which showed that diffusion of kinetic energy in a gas is a slow process in a sealed cylinder in a lab experiment – some of which took 6 months. What makes you keep talking about expansion and compression? There was absolutely no expansion or compression in these experiments with a fixed volume of air and water maintained at the same pressure. You seem to be talking about totally different processes, such as when a car tyre gets a bit hotter for a while when you pump it up. What has that to do with what I spoke of in the video, or wrote about in Planetary Surface Temperatures. A Discussion of Alternative Mechanisms?

    You and Stephen need to go back to this comment and see if I mentioned pressure, or expansion. No, I only mentioned the effect of gravity in the process of diffusion of KE, now didn’t I?

    Dr No and anyone who believes the surface would have been 255K without water vapour and certain radiating molecules needs to explain how the whole troposphere could have had uniform temperature, which would mean that every time any molecule moved upwards during its free flight between collisions, then it would have to retain the same kinetic energy, even though its potential energy was increasing in the gravitational field.

    So those who still believe the old 20th century paradigm about a greenhouse effect need to explain how their uniform 255K troposphere could exist with molecules that are apparently expected to create energy every time they rise.

  265. Stephen Wilde says:

    I think the point that is being missed here is that although the adiabatic loop has a zero effect on net energy flow at equilibrium it can have a non zero effect when the system is in the process of moving from one point of equilibrium to another.

    That is implicit in my assertion that an expanded atmosphere changes the relationship between KE and PE.

    If the atmosphere expands then the same amount of KE and PE is being cycled over a greater distance so the time delay between energy leaving the surface and arriving back at the surface increases and during that extra time more energy can leak out to space via the diabatic loop.

    Thus an expanded and less dense atmosphere will return less KE to the surface after the adjustment process than it was doing before the initial disruption.

    That makes sense if one considers extreme scenarios. Substantially contracting an atmosphere to make it more dense would return more KE to the surface and substantially expanding an atmosphere to greatly reduce density would return much less KE to the surface.

    Venus gets lots of KE returned to the surface and Mars hardly any.The Moon, none at all.

    Jupiter and Saturn as gas giants have more KE returned to their cores from the atmosphere than they receive from solar input.

    The fact is that an atmosphere with more GHGs will energise the adiabatic / thermodynamic processes giving a higher atmosphere so the amount of KE being returned to the surface will reduce and it is that reduction of KE to the surface that offsets any additional warming at the surface that would otherwise have occurred from more GHGs.

    Perhaps I should explain it this way:

    i) The surface actually receives energy from three sources, solar input, DWIR and returning KE.

    ii) Solar input comes straight in and goes straight out at equilibrium hence radiative balance high up in the atmosphere.

    iii) All else remaining the same any increase in DWIR reaching the surface via the diabatic loop will result in an equal reduction in KE returning to the surface via the adiabatic loop because of atmospheric expansion and increased energy leakage to space.

    Of course the position is different if the atmospheric expansion results from more energy circulating through both of the two loops but one can only achieve that from more insolation, more atmospheric mass or a stronger gravitational field.

    Just changing composition only involves a shift in the balance between DWIR and returning KE and that in turn is mediated by the KE / PE balance up through the vertical column.

    That is why it is wrong to focus on DWIR as a significant driver of surface temperature. Changes in DWIR alone are irrelevant to the temperature that a surface can attain beneath an atmosphere.

    A faster adiabatic loop, as provoked by more GHGs, then results in less KE returning to the surface as a result of atmospheric expansion.

    So we now have a clear mechanism whereby a slowing down of energy throughput by GHGs can be offset by a speeding up of energy throuhgput by thermodynamics.

    The speeding up of the thermodynamic processes within an expanded atmosphere results in a reduction in the amount of KE getting back to the surface via the adiabatic loop.

  266. Doug Cotton says:


    Roy, Dr No and others:

    Planetary orbits are not chaotic, and modern science can predict such many thousands of years ahead. So we can predict when Earth’s eccentricty will be greatest and least in a cycle of about 100,000 years. We can predict that Saturn and Jupiter will align with the Sun about every 60 years.

    We can see patterns in planetary orbits and angular momentum such as these which are calculated from such orbital data, not the climate.

  267. Doug Cotton says:

    The surface has been generally accepted as being warmer than the adjoining air at the boundary. All the energy diagrams thus correctly show thermal energy (KE) flowing out of the surface by conduction and subsequent “rising air” (ie convection) not falling warm air or cold air or whatever you imagine falls by upside-down convection.

    No thermal energy will pass by convection from a cooler gas to a warmer solid surface. (Second Law of Thermodynamics)

    If the atmosphere expands in height, whilst the force of gravity and the mean specific heat of the gases remains the same, then the thermal gradient will also be the same calculated value, namely about two thirds of -g/Cp for Earth. I have explained in my paper why that would mean there is a longer “run” for the thermal plot, and this leads to the surface temperature being warmer. This is why Venus is so hot – our atmosphere is only just over 1% of the height of the Venus atmosphere, and just as well.

    If Stephen were right, Venus should freeze with its expanded atmosphere.

    Water vapour increases mean specific heat, thus reducing -g/Cp and so having a cooling effect via lower surface temperatures at the intersection of the pre-determined thermal plot and the surface.

    I agree with you on one point it is wrong to focus on DWIR as a significant driver of surface temperature but the thermal gradient over the life of the planet has been established at the molecular level due to the gravitational effect on molecular free flight which must maintain PE+KE=constant, and thus create a gradient which I proved to be -g/Cp even in a sealed cylinder of air. The gradient is reduced in absolute magnitude primarily by intra-atmospheric radiation, which you have completely neglected, by the way.

    The maintenance of the thermal gradient is assisted by convection (which “fills in” and warms regions that are temporarily cooler than they should be) but convection is not necessary to establish the thermal gradient. This has been proven with over 800 experiments.

    Do you not believe it necessary to prove your conjectures empirically Stephen? Have you demonstrated falling convection all over the world, somehow overcoming the rising air from the surface which climatologists and physicists all agree happens? Do you have 800 experiments of your own that disprove what Loschmidt postulated in the 19th century, and which has now been proven correct empirically with the modern technology available in the 21st century?

    I have provided proof in cited papers in my papers. So I will keep asking you Stephen for your contra evidence.

  268. Stephen Wilde says:

    “If Stephen were right, Venus should freeze with its expanded atmosphere”

    That isn’t correct because it is density that matters most.

    If the Venusian atmosphere were to expand (reducing density) whilst leaving total mass the same then the surface would become cooler but if it were to contract (increasing density)whilst leaving total mass the same it would become hotter.

    A dense atmosphere returns more KE to the surface via the adiabatic loop whereas a less dense atmosphere returns less.

    The heat of the Venusian surface is thus a result of atmospheric density which is a consequence of mass and gravity subjected to insolation. The mechanism is ultimately the conversion of KE to PE and back again within the adiabatic loop. The longer KE stays in PE form and the more there is in PE form the hotter the surface temperature becomes because more KE then gets returned to the surface by descending air whichthen needs to be added to any solar energy or DWIR reaching the surface. The primary factor is density and not radiative characteristics.

    Expansion and contraction can then affect the amount of KE getting back to the surface for any given level of mass, gravity and insolation because the expansion and contraction alters the amount of energy that can leak out to space from the less dense or more dense atmosphere.

    Of course the greater the density the more viscous the atmosphere and the more important diffusion becomes relative to convection so to that extent Doug is right but one cannot ever rely only on diffusion as Doug tries to do when one is dealing with a liquid or a gas rather than a solid.

    I believed the density issue to have been settled science over 30 years ago before the radiative gas theory came to the fore.

    Observations of the planetary gas giants are adequate empirical evidence. All the explanations for their internal temperatures relate to mass and gravity with no consideration given to the radiative characteristics of the constituent gases.

    Where my suggestions are novel is to show why radiative characteristics alone cannot change the surface temperature set by mass, gravity and insolation.

    Quite simply, radiatively active gases expand the atmosphere making it less dense so that more KE leaks to space and less is returned to the surface.

    The reduction in KE returning to the surface through the adiabatic loop offsets the thermal effect of any extra DWIR in the air which would otherwise have increased the insulating properties of the atmosphere to warm the surface.

    GHGs might hold more energy but in the process they reduce the insulating properties of the atmosphere to an equal extent.

  269. Doug Cotton says:

    Stephen wrote ”If the Venusian atmosphere were to expand … the surface would become cooler”

    ”Observations of the planetary gas giants” Stephen, confirm that the thermal gradient in all their atmospheres is generally about 65% to 90% of -g/Cp.

    OK Stephen, triple the height of any planet’s atmosphere. Maintain the gravity induced thermal gradient. and then the thermal plot has a longer distance to climb to a higher temperature at the surface. That seems like warming of the surface to me, not your cooling.

    So you, Stephen, would have it that the lapse rate would become even less than about a third of what it should be, and all the molecules moving upwards would only need to use a third as much KE to produce the extra PE, thus multiplying energy by three.

    So I see you favour the “creation of energy” perpetual motion concept. You seem a little confused by physics, Stephen, to say the least.

    I’m still waiting for any evidence from you which conflicts with my evidence. With a law degree (and no science degree) you should know all about conflicting evidence. Let’s just keep it to finding evidence of cooler air at Earth’s surface/atmosphere boundary transferring thermal energy to the warmer surface, contrary to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Then you can produce evidence that no thermal gradient develops due to gravity in still air in a closed cylinder, contrary to evidence in over 800 experiments this century. Once you’ve done that, you can explain the mechanism behind your conjecture, showing why entropy would not be kept constant during molecular (frictionless) free flight between impacts, but entropy would be reduced, contrary to physics, which applies throughout the universe.

    Come on, Stephen, evidence please or your case will be thrown out of court. Meanwhile, have your “paper” peer-reviewed by a few physicists – after all, it is about the physics of the atmosphere.

    PS Let’s continue this on Roy’s new thread which is more appropriate.

  270. Doug Cotton says:


    It is quite true the Stephen Wilde has not produced evidence as I asked for in this comment.

    He has, in his December paper, echoed the broad concept that I explained in detail in my November paper, namely that gravity causes a thermal gradient in an atmosphere.

    In contrast to Stephen, I have produced evidence in “Planetary Surface Temperatures. A Discussion of Alternative Mechanisms” because the physical process which I describe is totally different from Stephen’s conjecture which I have shown to be self-contradictory. You need to remember that Stephen has no science degree in any discipline. I could pick this well before I found out the details about him having only an LLB.

    If you think anyone anywhere has posted a comment based on genuine physics that I have not commented upon, please draw it to my attention and I’ll study it and pinpoint any fallacy, just as I have in Roy’s post here.


  271. Stephen Wilde says:

    “OK Stephen, triple the height of any planet’s atmosphere. Maintain the gravity induced thermal gradient. and then the thermal plot has a longer distance to climb to a higher temperature at the surface. That seems like warming of the surface to me, not your cooling.”

    The slope would then diverge from the lapse rate set by gravity.

    If one alters the height without adding more mass, gravity or insolation then the slope set by gravity cannot be mantained.

    That is why GHGs do change the slope from that set by gravity. They interfere with the throughput of energy so the system circulation changes elsewhere to negate it.

    GHGs hold more energy so they make the lapse rate shallower than that set by gravity but that is then offset by a slower global circulation for a zero net effect because that slower circulation delivers less KE back to the surface via adiabatic compression.

    If maintained the thinner atmosphere would allow more energy out to space than is coming in and the surface, the whole system, would cool.

    Thus there has to be an offset elsewhere in the vertical column.

  272. Doug Cotton says:

    If one alters the height without adding more mass, gravity or insolation then the slope set by gravity cannot be mantained [sic].

    If the slope set by gravity is altered, for reasons other than compensating intra-atmospheric radiation, then entropy must decrease every time a molecule moves with an upward component in its velocity.

    I’m still waiting for proof that convection goes against the thermal gradient and transfers heat to a warmer surface. Where is your allowance for air transported downwards by the funnel effect when it runs out of space in the troposphere which gets smaller towards the Poles? Where is your evidence and computations showing why you think increasing pressure is all you need to do to make a gas stay warmer? Where is all the pressure in the thermosphere, Stephen?

    Why do experiments with air in a sealed cylinder still show a thermal gradient without convection?

  273. Entropic man says:

    Dr. No

    Weather forecasters use repeated model runs to determine whether the the complex system that is our atmosphere is in a relatively stable “attractor” state or is in a critical state.

    If the former, different runs agree on the near future state of the system and reliable forecasting several days ahead is possible.

    If the runs rapidly diverge, the system is critical and liable to flip states unpredictably.

    Climate models do not show this unpredicability, suggesting that once you get past the timescale of cycles such as ENSO, long term climate behaviour is not chaotic.

    If climate does change between states, it is because of genuine forcings, rather than flipping between attractors.

  274. Entropic man says:

    Doug Cotton, Stephen Wilde.

    Both of you are predicting KE/PE conversions along gravitational gradients.
    Since the largest gravitational gradient observable locally is that of the Sun, can you suggest solar observations which might show differences in behaviour betwee the predictions of classical physics and your own hypotheses, or even between you two hypotheses?

  275. Doug Cotton says:

    The gravitational “tidal” effect of the Sun is about 48% of that of the Moon. Neither comes anywhere near the local gravitational attraction of the Earth, or we would all float off into space. What on Earth (literally) are you talking about, Entropic? If you are saying that the Sun and the Moon have an effect on the lapse rate, then I suppose I would have to agree, but to a very small extent, just as they make you weigh less when they are overhead – but not much less.

    I agree that planetary orbits have an effect on Earth’s climate via their effect on the Sun. I used to think this was primarily gravitational, and it is to some extent in that, for example, Jupiter’s gravity alters the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit in ~100,000 year cycles that may cause glacial periods at similar intervals. But I also believe the magnetic fields of planets have an effect on the Sun and on cosmic ray intensity which may affect cloud formation. All this needs more research, and on that I do agree with Roy.

  276. Stephen Wilde says:

    I actually agree with Doug on those points.

    Our differences only relate to the mechanics of energy transfer within an atmosphere with a lapse rate.

    I’m not so sure about the power of magnetic fields or cosmic rays or gravitational factors because I can see pretty much all observations accounted for by variations in the mix of solar particles and wavelengths altering atmospheric composition differentially at different heights thereby causing circulation changes as the atmosphere responds negatively to those composition changes in order to retain balance of energy in and energy out over the long term.

    Other factors may have an effect but in my view too small to matter.

  277. Entropic man says:

    Doug Cotton, Strephen Wilde

    I’m not talking about the Sun’s effect on the Earth.
    I was wondering if you hypothetical processes would be distinguishable from classical physics in the convective layer, photosphere and chromosphere of the Sun, where convection takes place on a much more massive and energetic scale than on any planet, and over gravity gradients which dwarf anything we experience.

  278. Stephen Wilde says:


    As far as I can see my propositions are based on such classical physics which have relevance on or in the Sun, in planetary gas giants and on rocky planets with atmospheres.

    Universal principles apply universally.

    And it isn’t all about radiation once one goes inside the outer boundary of a gas cloud whether there is a rocky planet inside or not.

  279. Dr No says:

    Stephen and Dr No also fail to read and understand my previous comments. For example, they each talk about the height where radiation equals the mean radiative input and output, without realising that this physical altitude has no physical significance, ..”

    Lets make it easy.
    Imagine you are looking down at the Earth from outer space.
    You can measure the amount of long-wave radiation being emitted.
    Some (not all) of this comes from the surface where the temperature is close to 300K.
    Some (not all) comes from the intervening atmospheric layers because they are radiatively active. The temperature of these layers can be anywhere between zero (near the very top) to near 300K (near the surface).

    The total radiation you measure must therefore correspond to a black body temperature less than 300K.
    In fact we know it corresponds to 255K since this gives the amount needed to balance the incoming absorbed solar radiation.

    This temperature (the radiative equilibrium temperature) will correspond to the temperature of the atmosphere at some height far above the surface.

  280. Dr No says:

    Then we agree. Roy is mistaken in trying to explain away climate change as due to chaos.

  281. Dr No says:

    The only relevance that the moon has in these discussions is the looney – I mean lunar – effect.

  282. Bill Hardman says:

    One fact that has been overloked by all commentators in the “Climate Change” debate, is that many decisions and conclusions have ben made without knowing all the true facts of the argument. Conclusive proof either way has been brought into question. In all other aspects of the decision making process throughout life, rarely are decisions made and a direction taken without a proper debate, where all the relevant information is made available so that an informed decision is made.

    In the area of climate change, the emotion has taken control, to the point where those who support the arguement, will not admit that they may be wrong, conversley, those who do not,and are in the minority at this point in time, will have great difficulty in reverwsing the decisions that have been made globally, at all levels of governement. It is true to say, that in life no one will admit to making a mistake.

    We shall endeavour to persevere.

  283. Doug Cotton says:

    The point which I make, Dr No, is that there is no physical significance that can be attached to the “radiating altitude” because it is not the altitude around which the thermal profile (plot) would pivot. It’s not like a weighted mean radiative altitude. This has relevance when trying to calculate how much cooler the surface is due to the less steep thermal gradient caused by water vapour. I suggest that the altitude is probably around 3 or 4Km, but it would be a very complex calculation which would require integration using the SB Law and emissivity varying with density

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