Challenging Arrhenius Again

Posted on behalf of Peter Morcombe

Consensus climate scientists contend that the GHE (Greenhouse Effect) amounts to 33oC.  My definition of the GHE is the change in the average temperature of a planetary body that can be attributed to its atmosphere.  In an earlier post the theories of respectable climate scientists such as Scott Denning were compared to the theories mavericks such as Nikolov & Zeller.

The two sides agree that Earth’s average temperature is ~288 Kelvin.  However they can’t agree about the temperature of an airless Earth, so one says the GHE is 33 Kelvin while the other says 134 Kelvin.   Both parties apply the same principles of physics so how can they arrive at such different answers?   The explanation lies in the assumptions that they made in an attempt to simplify their analysis.

“Climate Scientists” don’t seem to care whether the GHE is 33 or 134 Kelvin, but the blogosphere has taken up the challenge.

Scott Denning’s calculation assumes that the surface of an airless Earth would be at a uniform temperature.  Given that solar energy is not evenly distributed over the Earth’s surface the planet would have to be composed of a thermal superconductor to achieve this.  So does that mean that the mavericks are right?   While I am inclined to encourage the underdog, it turns out that N&Z are wrong too.  Their calculation would be correct if an airless Earth was a perfect insulator!  One interesting result of their simplifications is that the temperatures they predict are not affected by the rate of rotation (see Ned Nikolov’s explanation here).

It should be possible to decide which approach comes closest to explaining reality if we had some experimental data from a real airless body.  Fortunately the Diviner LRE mission took care of that by mapping the Moon’s surface temperature with the first data sets released to the general public in 2010.

So can we explain the Diviner measurements in terms of the properties of radiation and the lunar surface which mostly consists of “Regolith”?  This is no simple task given that the regolith properties vary according to depth.  There is a peer reviewed simulation of the Diviner measurements.  Following the Chinese CE-1 mission a lunar surface temperature profile was published using regolith properties determined by the Apollo landers.  The Chinese models are in good agreement with the Diviner measurements at the lunar equator:                             

              Latitude = 0o             Diviner     CE-1

Maximum temperature (K)        385            395

Minimum temperature (K)          95              95

A model by Tim Channon that accurately reproduces the Diviner data can be found on Tallbloke’s blog.  It turns out that the average temperature of the Moon is 197.3 Kelvin.  Why bother with a model produced by an amateur?  Remember that neither Denning nor Nikolov can tell us anything about rotating objects and the Diviner team’s models are behind paywalls.  Tim Channon’s model tells us that the average temperature of the Moon would not change if it rotated once per day as the Earth does.


Thanks to the CE-1 and Diviner missions we now know that the Moon’s average temperature is ~197 Kelvin.  It is plausible that the temperature of an airless Earth would be the same, so the Greenhouse Effect is 288 – 197 = 91 Kelvin.  This is a major problem for the Arrhenius theory that can’t explain a GHE of 33 Kelvin, much less one that is three times higher.   Even so, another stake through the heart of the Arrhenius vampire won’t make any difference.  It never mattered that the theory was demonstrably false as long as it served a political purpose.

Sagan was able to predict the surface temperature of Venus without knowing the composition of the atmosphere, using only Newtonian mechanics/gravity and thermodynamics.  The same approach works for Earth and all of the other planets in our solar system that have significant atmospheres. So why do “Climate Scientists” cling to the crazy Arrhenius theory with its nonsensical doublings? Does this make them SINOs (Scientists In Name Only), working hard to keep their place on the government funded gravy train?

Given that the primary determinant of planetary temperatures is atmospheric pressure rather than trace gases we need to stop wasting billions “mitigating” CO2, while redirecting the funds to real problems such as making electricity cheap and available to everyone.

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36 Responses to Challenging Arrhenius Again

  1. tallbloke says:

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Peter Morecambe AKA ‘Galloping Camel’ has replicated Tim Channon’s successful replication of Vavasada’s lunar equatorial average temperature result, using a different software package using similar principles. This is a positive result for citizen science, boldly going where co2 theorists fear to tread. How will they explain a surface temperature enhancement of 91 Celcius? Not with co2, that’s for sure.

  2. PeterMG says:

    This is very good science. Now that we can calculate the temperature at the surface of any of the rocky planets or moons with or without an atmosphere with a common formula we can finally kill CAGW or what ever they want to call it. Despite all the excellent work that has gone into proving that the temperature record has been fudged, or that paleoclimatologists and statics don’t mix, this is the ONLY discussion that gets to the very nub of the scientific argument over man direct influence on the climate and the role CO2 (none) plays in this. Sweepstake anyone that the BBC will run this in a science special next week?

    My only concern is that some of our leading sceptics have allowed the fame and popularity of their web sites and blogs to turn them native and they themselves have become mainstream and of little use to challenging the political construct that has witnessed some of the most destructive and power grabbing policies of modern times.

  3. Sleepalot says:

    In the last sentence, I suggest replacing “while” with “and start”.

  4. Sleepalot says:

    (Imho, I am not a scientist.)
    Ground temperature and air temperature are apples and oranges: you can’t subtract one from the other and get the GHE.
    When I hit the beach, the hot sand burns my feet, but the air doesn’t scorch my nipples off!
    What you need is av. ground temp (no atmos) minus av. ground temp (with atmos) = effect of atmosphere.

    Having an atmosphere lowers maximum ground temperature – a little.
    Tmax Moon, ground: 385K (from you above)
    Tmax Earth, ground: 367K Death Valley

    Having an atmosphere raises minimum ground temperature?
    Tmin Moon, ground: 50K Where? 95K at lat 0 (equator, I guess.)
    Tmin Earth, ground: Don’t Know. (Tmin air 179K, Antarctica) Help!

  5. PeterMG,
    Hard scientific observations (Diviner LRE) that can be explained in terms of three independent mathematical models constructed by Vavasada (one dimensional heat flow model called “TWO”), Tim Channon (PSPICE model) and this camel (Finite Element Analysis using QuickField) should be hard to refute.

    Will the CAGW folks care? Probably not as long as the gravy train keeps rolling.

    However global temperatures have been static for over a decade. Unless there is a sudden uptick in temperatures the good ship CAGW is going down regardless of what we do or say.

  6. Sleepalot,

    In areas on our planet where humidity is low, radiative transfer can cause extreme temperatures, both high and low.

    With regard to that low temperature at the Moon’s north pole, it was measued in a place that never receives any solar radiation so the temperature is defined by outgoing thermal Infra-Red radiation in equilibrium with incoming galactic radiation and heat conducted from the bedrock.

    The galactic radiation has an effective “Black Body” temperature of 2.7 Kelvin so it can safely be ignored. The bedrock of the Moon is at ~240 Kelvin. Above that is a meter or two of “Regolith” that has an amazingly low thermal conductivity (less than 1% of the bedrock) which explains why the surface temperature can fall as low as 50 Kelvin.

  7. Robert JM says:

    I suspect Black body equations can’t deal with energy storage or an uneven temp profile.
    Consider earth, energy is stored in various forms such as latent heat and movement of fluids, this stored energy would otherwise be going in thermal heating and subsequently result in a high temp and greater rate of radiation.
    Similarly low thermal conductivity means a very thin layer of soil heating up rapidly and radiating strongly whereas something with a greater conductivity/larger heat capacity will take longer to heat up. The oceans take this process one step further as the solar energy is absorbed at depth but radiation only take place on the surface.

    Of course when you model earth as an average you effectively trying a model a sphere inside another sphere that is both 6000K and 4K at the same time:)

    • The Diviner LRE observations proved to be relatively easy to model with good accuracy by three different methods because only radiation and conduction had to be considered. The contribution from conduction is small so Stefan-Boltzmann dominates.

      Modeling Earth’s surface temperature if far more complex owing to convection, phase changes (ice to water, water to water vapor), huge heat sinks (oceans) with complex heat transfer properties and on and on. We are not close to being able to construct models that can backcast Earth’s climate even though we know what the answer should be. Yet people who should know better act as if the IPCC’s models can predict future climate.

  8. Roger Clague says:

    Many of us have flown at 200K and 12km, at the top of the atmosphere..
    That is 88K above the 288K on the ground.

    200K is the average surface temp of the Earth/ atmosphere system. Similar to the average moon temp.
    88K is the GHE. Not the usual 33K.

  9. geran says:

    The maximum temp of the Moon should tell us something as compared with the SB calculation, as the exposure to the Sun is much longer than Earth. The Earth never has time to reach its maximum SB temp before it rotates away from the Sun and begins to cool. For this reason, trying to come to a conclusion based on comparing Earth/Moon average temps is fraught with hazards.

    Moon ,max = 390K Moon SB calc. = 394K

    The IPCC SB calculated temp for Earth, 255K, is wrong. Therefore, the 33K GHE is also wrong.

    • The IPCC is wrong by more than 50 Kelvin but don’t expect them to admit it. They have failed to admit all kinds of major errors including vanishing polar ice and vanishing glaciers. CAGW is based on the absurd Arrhenius (1896) conjecture that trace gases such as CO2 significantly raise global temperatures.

      None of the IPCC’s “Catastrophies de Jour” such as rising temperatures, ocean acidity, rising sea level are remotely plausible. They need to wake up and admit that the advantages of higher CO2 levels far outweigh any negative consequences.

  10. Sleepalot says:

    The IPCC divide the incoming solar by 4 because the Earth is a tetrahedron.

  11. GabrielHBAY says:

    I find this unconvincing. So-called ‘GHE’ carries all sorts of connotations related to so-called ‘up-welling’ and ‘down-welling’ and ‘where-ever-welling’ radiation as presented ad nauseum by certain bloggers and so-called scientists alike. (Sorry about the the ad nauseum ‘so-called’). Atmosphere comes packaged with all sorts of other ‘effects’ other than GH-effect. To simply ascribe the difference between no-atmosphere moon and atmosphere earth as due to GHE is, well, simplistic. From the above I cannot see whether or not the final GHE number arrived at includes or excludes adiabatic effect. Does it? Maybe it is just my perception of the terminology. If we called it Total Atmospheric Effect, or TAE. my soul might come to rest…. (I am SO tired of all this)

  12. GabrielHBAY says:

    Well, that will teach me not to skim over the first paragraph. I see that that GHE was in fact defined there as my TAE. But the connotations of the terminology continues to sting..

  13. geran says:

    Of course, they would say it is because the Earth is a sphere, but tetrahedron is funnier. Either way, their “divide-by-4” is wrong, for purposes of applying SB equation.

    • Roger Clague says:

      There is a good argument that Earth is a tetrahedron. Oceans ( Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic ) on 4 faces. Land along edges and at corners.

      • geran says:

        Good find Roger! The first line of the wiki link indicates it is “obsolete” thinking. But, as in most “science” these days, a “good argument” is merely a means of further confusion.

    • Roger Clague says:

      Wikipedia says the tetrahedral Earth theory ( TET ) is obsolete because it is replaced by the theory of continental drift. I think continental drift is the means by which the tetrahedral arrangement formed. The two ideas are consistent and complimentary.

      A tetrahedron gives most surface area, needed for cooling, for a given volume. The TET is not confusing. It is based on simple observation and theory.

  14. Hans Jelbring says:

    GabrielHBAY says: March 25, 2014 at 8:09 am (some facts so you get more curious than tired)

    The average temperature of earth is warmer than the average temperage at the average altitude of IR emission to space. Hence there is an effect (physical medhanism) that creates this difference.

    It can be called “Greenhouse Effect” (GE) or something else. Personally i use the GE since it is a well known concept. Observe that the causes of GE have to be verfied and quantified.

    The definition of GE I use is that it is the difference of the the average temperature of the surface of earth Tearth and the temperature of earth as seen from space (Temission). It means that it is based on observations only.

    T(GE) = Tearth – Temission

    An approximate value of T(GE) = 288 – 255 = 33 K or Celsius.
    The 255 K is derived from Stefan-Boltzmann law assuming that all absorbed solar effect (upon a circle) is radiated as IR radiation from a average altitude above the sea level (around 3000-4000m) from a sphere. The major physical mechanism causing the 33 GE is the dry adibatic temperature lapse rate (ATLR). Influence from CO2 will hardly be detected since the ATLR = -g/Cp. g = gravity (m/s^2) Cp = specific heat capacity (Joule/kgK). ATLR in the atmosphre of earth and Venus is about the same but the surface of Venus is much warmer than earth´s surface since its atmosphere is much much more massiv..

  15. Hans Jelbring says:

    gallopingcamel says: March 25, 2014 at 2:48 am

    “The Diviner LRE observations proved to be relatively easy to model with good accuracy by three different methods because only radiation and conduction had to be considered. The contribution from conduction is small so Stefan-Boltzmann dominates.”

    I basically comply with Tim´s and your calculations along the equator of moon but reallity is somewhat more complicated which I realized trying to compute the “averge lunar” temperature some years ago. That concept is an oxymoron for several reasons.

    Rotation of moon is essential to consíder as well as rotation ot earth if you want to understand the details of the “Greenhouse Effect”. You will directly realize it if you calculate the temperature of moon if 1) it would always turn the same side towards sun and if 2) It would rotate very fast (try 1 hour).In the first case the back side ot the moon will be very low. Actually it will be decided by the earthshine which has to be included in that case! Temperatur is a very unlinear phenomenon according to the Stefan-Boltzmann law.

    • It bothered me that neither Denning’s or Nikolov’s analysis included the rate of rotation. Knowing that Tim Channon was using PSPICE (a circuit analysis tool) it was certain that he could answer the question and he did on March 16:

      So I changed the rotation rate in my Quickfield model from 27.3 days to 1 day. The average temperature rose from 232 K to 236 K. Please note that the Diviner observations show the long term equatorial average temperature as 214 K so my model is 18 Kelvin high. Clearly some room for improvement.

      The great thing about models is that you can do crazy things so I increased the rate of rotation by a factor of 100,000. This raised the average temperature to 290 Kelvin.

      Since I started using this model less than two weeks ago it has been aprocess ow rooting out one dumb mistake after another but there is always one more bug! Thus, please take these numbers with a grain of salt.

  16. geran says:

    Hans Jelbring says:
    March 25, 2014 at 9:19 am

    “…Rotation of moon is essential to consíder as well as rotation ot earth if you want to understand the details of the “Greenhouse Effect”. You will directly realize it if you calculate the temperature of moon if 1) it would always turn the same side towards sun and if 2) It would rotate very fast (try 1 hour)…”
    1) The Sun “sees” both sides of the Moon as it revolves around the Earth. So the Moon would NOT always turn the same side to the Sun. (It does however only have one side facing the Earth.)
    2) I’m not sure what “it would rotate very fast” is referring to. The Moon takes almost a month to make a full revolution around the Earth, or “apparent” rotation to the Sun.

    I think I am trying to agree with you, but just don’t understand your phraseology about the GHE. However, if you are trying to imply that the GHE “heats” the planet over and above what is provided by the Sun, then I would disagree.

  17. Hans Jelbring says:

    geran says: March 25, 2014 at 1:58 pm
    “However, if you are trying to imply that the GHE “heats” the planet over and above what is provided by the Sun, then I would disagree.”

    That is for sure not what I am trying to tell and I might not be clear enough. I am suggesting a thought experiment making it fairly easy to calculate the temperature in the way Tim and Peter have done and are very able to do.

    If a celestial body (moon or earth) rotates “fast” all the absorbed energy will be emitted as IR radiation only as a function of latitude. If one side faces sun all the time the emitted (IR radiation)
    will be a funtion of both latitude and longitude, The direct conclusition is that any genral model not including rotation rate has to be more or less wrong.

    Given a real situation such as the one for moon or earth it is a fact that earth has an atmosphere and moon has none. In a long time perspective (1000 years) both celestial objects are in a STEADY STATE system. Energetically there has to be periodicities shorter than for example 1000 years. This actually means that input effect = output an average which I think we agree on.

    Now comes the clue. The atmosphere retain an long term average pool of energy which is very much depending on the atmopsheric mass per area unit on any atmosphere bearing celestial body. That pool of energy is also a funtion of the rotation rate of the celestial body.

    This means that there is no proper model calculating the surface temperature on the moon or on earth if it dosn´t include their temperature as a function of the rotation rates of the same bodies. Such a model is needed to answer the question about a GE which is either around 33K or about 134K. Thanks for your intererest which will help to move the logic reasoning forward.

  18. Hans Jelbring says:

    gallopingcamel says: March 25, 2014 at 3:16 pm
    “It bothered me that neither Denning’s or Nikolov’s analysis included the rate of rotation”.

    In my opinion you are on target! See my comment to geran.. Just make sure your model is mathematically correct. Test it by the extreme situations I have suggested above. You know the temperature where where no sunlight is reaching today.

  19. Hans Jelbring says:

    Roger Clague says: March 24, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Your observation is fairly correct. The average tempearture at 11000 m ( a more common air line altitude) is -60 to -70C.
    Your misstake is that the IR emission from earth as seen from space originates from an AVERAGE altitude between 3000-4000 m, not 12000 m. This emission altitude is pressure dependant as well dependant on atmosphere mass per area unit.

    • Roger Clague says:

      How do you calculate your average emission height?

      I think emissions from the Earth/atmosphere system originate from all heights and the surface ( reflected SW ).
      However they all leave the system at height 12km and temperature of 200K. So we do not need to consider where they originated.

      We can use a model in which all emissions originated at the top of the troposphere ( TOT ) Then apply the law of conservation of energy at this surface.
      And the S-B law. The TOT is a B-B surface. It is all radiation at 1 temperature. Unlike the Earth surface.

  20. Hans Jelbring says:

    gallopingcamel says: March 25, 2014 at 2:51 am
    “The GHE is much greater than 33 K. Your 88 K is in the ball park while 33 K is not.”

    How is your GHE definbed?

  21. Jeff Id says:

    ” It is plausible that the temperature of an airless Earth would be the same, ”

    How is that possible when the color (albedo) of the surface is so different?

    • The short questions are often the most difficult ones.

      Imagine that the Earth magically becomes airless. The water is still there raising the Albedo so Earth is even colder than the Moon (average temperature = 197 K). Over billions of years our planet would suffer impacts that would create a regolith similar to that on the Moon. The oceans (ice) might still be in place but they will be covered by a blanket of regolith that is a very poor conductor of heat (0.001 to 0.0078 W/m/K).

      Thus it is likely that the Albedo of an an airless Earth will be similar to our Moon.

      The Earth rotates (relative to the Sun) 27.3 times faster than the Moon. Would that have an effect on the average global temperature for an airless Earth? My calculations suggest that the effect will be quite small (~4 K).

    • Roger Clague says:

      Color is not the same as albedo.
      Albedo is the fraction of intensity reflected.
      Intensity W/s = J/s/s
      Joules reflected does not depend on color.

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