It’s Christmas 2011, what better place to start than Palestine, a region of many tribes, strife and politics.
Before you start, note I am Tim, not Tallbloke.
If you have read the title of the plots I guess you are wondering whether I have lost it, a fool, a denier in the face of a human social construct: everyone knows.
The Dead Sea region of the near East is the best known area which is far below sea level and is the termination of the Jordan river. Jericho is within the valley at perhaps
550Â 250 metres below sea level. Alas this troubled region has no long instrumental temperature records but there is no question the atmospheric lapse rate just carries on rolling down as well as up mountains.
What is science?
Easy, or is it? There is little science in climatic science, is primarily a matter of faith as I will now show.
- ideas, handwaving, speculation, supposition, scribbling
- some kind of math which describes something, hopefully
- a controlled experiment which proves or disproves (2), helps sort out the math or logic in (2)
That is science. Step (3) is missing from climatic but not always.
An excellent example of true science revolves around Henrik Svensmark’s cosmic ray cloud seeding ideas. Where is step (3)?
That is the CERN CLOUD experiments and similar work.
Compare that where there is no (3) or perhaps a large model, which is not a real world experiment. Also keep this in mind. I am familiar with modelling in other fields so a suggestion that GCM are less than 3D is worrying, they don’t handle mass properly and mass means entropy given gravity and water vapour. One to watch, see how it pans out in time.
Correlation is not causation
We hear that cry often. Everyone knows it is true.
Really? Let’s take an old bloke, how about Newton and his laws of gravity. These laws are universally accepted as true, excluding the limit case (relativity etc.).
There is a problem. Yes the laws describe what happens, we can do a step (3) and it works but we don’t know what causes gravity. Go on then, show me a bucket of gravity, you can’t. How does it work? We don’t know.
The point is that we accept the laws of gravity on faith without actually knowing, there is an abstract factor.
Some mention absolute proofs where they cite mathematics and indeed that is correct, mathematics is a closed world, a human invention and within that closed context a logical proof can be done.
With the natural world there is always some degree of simple acceptance of the unknowable. Maybe that is why scientists must remain always sceptical.
The traditional Christmas star in the East
We do not know whether this is just a story or whether there was such a star so let’s use some words from NASA, A Christmas Star for SOHO published in 2000.
Which leads us to Venus as a pathfinder
A planet is a gravity well where whilst we all live on one it is also an alien concept, everything magically goes downwards, we are too small to see any greater picture from real experience.
Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter are all gravity wells where we live or have sent space probes to measure. All these planets have an atmosphere, an atmosphere has mass and therefore by definition has weight. All have a similar pressure profile. If you need Â a greenhouse lid it is gravity, a very strange situation. (about the only place like this on earth is inside a gas centrifuge, wherein lie tales to do with getting this to work for isotope enrichment by artificial gravity… a Â lapse rate, caused trouble)
I’m excluding Mars from the following, saves many words.
Figure 2 is an overlay of a published plot of some of the data from the NASA Magellan probe. I’ve failed to find numeric data from the Venus probes, hence I have had to extract this from plot and derive a good enough overall dataset.
Note the straight line lapse rate region, above which are high clouds and the thermosphere.
Earth-like conditions exist at ~55km. The cloud tops are sometimes stated at -33C.
There is a comprehensive report on Venus. Results of Venus Missions, M. Ya. Marov, Academy Sciences, Moscow, Ann, Rev. Astron. Astrophysics, 1978. A scan or PDF is available.
This paper is critical. It contains a lot of the Russian Venera information but also contains garbled paragraphs on greenhouse with evidence to the contrary and finally a key, acknowledges C. Sagan.
Note the first sentence. The word “responsible” nicely sits on the wall.
I am not writing about Sagan at length now but there is a very important back story which cast him in a poor light.
Roll the clock back from 1978 to around 1960 and we find that Sagan has just produced his doctoral thesis which is about the solar system planets. His great interest was Venus, more from a sci-fi and biology point of view, a common dream was it might have life or be like earth.
With others he declared from radar studies that Venus has a surprisingly hot surface, where up to that time it was thought possibly habitable.
I wanted to read his thesis but instead of being on a pedestal as a seminal work I could not find a copy, mysteriously absent, especially from a greenhouse warming proponent and given an often shouted opinion that Venus has suffered runaway greenhouse warming.
So I started pressing and a very kind gent emailed a better remain nameless professor who has written about this and it turns out knew Sagan. He replied not with a pointer to the thesis but with a report for NASA dated September 1960 authored by Sagan and about conditions on Venus. Locaton archive.org, not NASA.
Extraordinarily the email reply contains an admission that what the professor wrote 10 years earlier is wrong but never corrected, and that Sagan was wrong in implicating water vapour instead of carbon dioxide and that Sagan is validated (contradiction). Bizarre because what he was asked was completely neutral.
It took a few minutes reading to spot what I suspected, a massive error in the report. Given likely knowledge at that time this has to be excused but should be have known better?
Link to Sagan/NASA report here.
Author: Sagan, C
Subject: ATMOSPHERIC RADIATION; ENERGY BUDGETS; VENUS (PLANET)
Book contributor: NASA
Bottom PDF page 17, document page 10, “at the surface (P = 4 atm, T = 600K).”
The figure of four earth atmospheres also appears elsewhere. Today and as stated in the 1978 data, that figure is quite different, is 23x larger, at 92 atmospheres.
That is a mistake in a primary atmospheric parameter, nevertheless Sagan produces maths which show the high surface temperature is caused by greenhouse gases. As I wrote, didn’t it occur to him to check the figures?
This is already a long article so I will omit pointing out the things in Marov where shows both what a pure radiative atmospheric would look like and what it actually is. I do though state that radiative is aphysical it is impossible in a gravity field.
The lapse rate as we know it is caused by the interaction of buoyant gas and gravity, excess temperature profile, churn starts and removes the excess. Two explanations in ordinary language are here, scienceforums discussion.
So how about Jupiter at 5.2AU?
Data from the NASA Galileo Probe Atmosphere Structure Instrument, which took me some time to track down. Turns out there are a lot of stories about the data and people, including incomplete information, never submitted, people dying, lot of things. This includes as with most major space projects serious malfunctions, in this case the probe leaked gases but fortunately there was sufficient additional monitoring to validate well enough.
Data is here and similar addresses.
I’ve omitted the outer thermosphere data to make it broadly similar to the Venus plot.
Looks to me like a straight line lapse rate.
You will often read about the very cold cloud tops of Jupiter but less often what was actually found. (and sometimes a quick switch to the surface of Venus, omitting to mention the cloud tops there.)
There is wide admission the interior of Jupiter is thought to be extremely hot and then some, thousands or more K. Any material there is under unimaginable pressure and certainly in strange material phases, also sun like.
A comment or assertion is that Jupiter has an internal heat source or that it is still cooling from compressive heating on formation. From this there is an implicit “causal” of the measured atmospheric heat. Venus has a carbon dioxide atmosphere, Jupiter does not.
I’m omitting discussion of the rest of the Venus “carbon” assertion which ties in to earth catastrophe and tipping point.
Missing primary Earth dataset
There is no paleo barometric pressure dataset for earth.
This is new and I am watching for publication.
S. M. Som, D. C. Catling, J. P. Harnmeijer, P. M. Polivka, R. Buick. The maximum air density 2.7 billion years ago determined from fossil raindrop imprints, Nature, accepted for publication, 2011.
- We use fossil raindrop imprints in 2.7 billion-year-old volcanic ash to determine an upper limit on the air density and hence the barometric pressure at that time. The method uses calibration experiments of drops falling into modern, comparable ash. This is the first determination of barometric pressure of a time prior to the modern instrumented era, following Torricelli’s barometer invention in c. 1643-1644.
 A comment by Brian H gives this link as a minderÂ Was the Atmospheric Pressure Different at the Time of Dinosaurs?
I think there are many question marks over atmospheric physics, particularly what is actually a greenhouse.
Normalising conditions to 1AU has been done by others, showing the planets are the same.
Question: If a 112km deep valley existed on earth, what is the air temperature on the valley floor?
The above is a long article where I am sure to have made mistakes, omitted too much. There is also a lot I do not know. Input is welcome.
Venera probes, wikipedia page here