Ben Wouters: How the Earths surface maintains its temperature

Posted: February 23, 2012 by tallbloke in atmosphere, Energy, general circulation, Ocean dynamics

My thanks to Ben Wouters, who posts as Ben AW here at the talkshop. He has been patient and easygoing throughout the N&Z debate, injecting his own perspective in various comments, some of which I’ve pulled together here to form a loose narrative of his line of thought. To my own way of thinking, his ideas don’t actually conflict with N&Z’s theory. I’ll explain why in comments.

Lets call the earth + atmosphere ‘SYSTEM earth’.

Looking from space system earth is a sphere that receives ~1364 W/m^2 on a disk with the same radius as system earth and radiates away to space from all sides.
Just draw a sphere (circle in 2D) and show incoming from one side, and outgoing everywhere.
If anywhere in this system radiation is 100% reflected, it doesn’t influence the energy of system earth, and may as well not be there.
So in my opinion albedo is the same as throttling down the sun, or placing a partly reflecting mirror outside system earth.
Assuming 30% reflected radiation incoming solar is 955 W/m^2 on the mentioned disk, distributed over the whole sphere makes ~239 W/m^2. If the averaged outgoing is also ~239 W/m^2, sytem earth is radiatively in balance with incoming solar, and the total energy (and temperature) doesn’t change over time.

What happens inside system earth and what the temperature is at some places is what everybody is arguing about. I have a very simple model in mind, that explains to me all kinds of processes, without going into much details initially. Everything that happens INSIDE system earth is just redistribution of energy, having no influence on the total energy.

Incoming solar is either:
- absorbed somewhere and transported or re-emittted and thus part of the energy budget of system earth
- or it is reflected without doing anything and may as well not exist for system earth.

I’m not interested in black, gray or purple bodies in whatever flux field you can imagine. It’s not relevant for my system earth.

It seems 239 W/m^2 IS the average outgoing radiation, so incoming HAS to be reflected partly to match this number.
Can we continue and use 70% of incoming solar after albedo as realistic and have a balanced radiation budget?

Next step in the creation of a simple model for system earth.

Initially system earth was a sphere of molten material, radiating away like crazy and thus cooling down, not much the sun could do to stop this.
A very thin solid layer formed on the outside, and by outgassing an atmosphere formed, containing ao water vapour. Raining out ( and perhaps some help from the occasional meteor) formed the oceans, initially very hot.
New phase for system earth, hot mantle “sealed” by a thin layer of rock, covered by a hot ocean.
Lets say 350K or so, way above what the sun seems capable of doing and more or less evenly distributed over the surface and into the deep of the oceans.
(will add the continents later, they mostly just create weather)

So in this phase we have a hot mantle covered with a solid crust keeping the heat inside, and still very hot oceans. Since there is no more heat coming from the hot mantle, the oceans cool down.

Next phase for system earth. It rotates, receives 70% of solar at the surface and has no tilted axis yet.
By conduction, evaporation, radiation the oceans lose heat to the atmosphere.
Lets assume convection hasn’t been invented yet.
By conduction only the atmosphere will develop a nice lapse rate towards space. May take a couple of million years but earths is not in a hurry.
We need some components of the atmosphere to radiate away to space, otherwise system earth can’t cool down at all.
I think that water vapour will do the trick, but anything that works is fine to me.
So the oceans are cooling through the atmosphere, and the sun is shining over the equator during daytime. Most of the cooling will be near the poles, less near the equator since the sun slows the cooling there.
Since before climate science came along cold water went down, and warmer water came up, I’ll assume this still to be true, so eventually all the warm water from the bottom came up and the deep of the oceans get colder and colder.
Earth is still radiating away more than it receives from the sun, and is thus still cooling.

Simple model, present time.

See: http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/earthguide/diagrams/woce/
eg. the Pacific profile.
Most of the oceans have cooled down to just above freezing, lets say 275K or 277K on average.
Only a small surface layer, where all the warm water from below has ended up, is still above this temp.
Reason being that incoming solar and cooling through the atmosphere cancel each other out.
So we have radiative balance with the sun, and a temperature at the surface that is at least 275K in the polar regions, and higher at the equator (~300K)
(to keep the temp near the poles ~275K, we need to begin adding ocean currents, warm at the surface, cooler down below.)
Band of warm water
This “band” of warm water that spans the earth is all that is required to prevent the deep oceans from cooling down.

This warm band is about 750m deep at the equator, and reduces to 0m around the polar circles.

So this simple model explains imo why we have a temperature that is above the GHE 255K greybody temperature without the use of backradiation or similar constructs.

Let’s start adding some complexity.

Axis tilt. The warm band moves north and south, following the sun with a delay of about one month.
This allows the polar seas to freeze over during winter, and the sun melts the ice again during summer.

Everything that changes the amount of incoming solar, changes the volume of the warm band.
eg. change in TSI, Milankovitch cycles, volcanic eruptions etc. etc.
Less solar, the depth and width of the band decreases, more solar the opposite.

Ocean currents transport warm water from the equator towards the poles. Warm water at the equator expands, so this water will probably flow “downhill” towards the poles, turning east due to the corriolis effect. Backflow will be in the deeper oceans probably.

Continents. They will disrupt the simple ocean currents from equ. to poles.
They will create “weather”, since they heat up easily, and cool down rapidly without sun.

I have hardly mentioned the atmosphere, since it’s heat capacity is equal to about 3,2 m of ocean water, so rather a minor player. They’re basically a gaseous extension of the oceans.
But a lot of the weather (and thus climate) can easily be explained using this simple model as base.

Some loose ends.

- The incredible stability of the oceans surface temps. during day and night surprised me.
Explanation is here: http://www.terrapub.co.jp/journals/JO/pdf/6305/63050721.pdf
Less than 1K variation between day and night, except in very calm weather.

- The very small influence that the hot inner parts of the earth are supposed to have.
(< 1 W/m^2 if I remember correctly)

We may be in for a surprise here. Apart from ocean vents, under water vulcanic eruptions etc.
we also seem to have places where the crust is totally gone, exposing the oceans to the hot mantle.
http://www.livescience.com/1317-mission-study-earth-gaping-open-wound.html and http://dro.dur.ac.uk/8919/
Should have some influence on the earth’s temperature, since the heated water will show up at the surface sooner or later.

Comments
  1. Paul Bahlin says:

    As a first order approximation I would throw in another part to your model.

    First principles say that long wave radiation is a SURFACE phenomenon only. So here’s a possible suface model. There are two cases that need to be considered. I call them the ‘hot plate’ and the ‘oven’.

    The ‘hot plate’ is land. Land is a dimensionless surface bounded by dirt on one side and air on the other. Dirt is about three meters thick bounded by a constant temperature on the bottom and the land surface on top. It’s a hot plate because insolation energy can’t get out very well by conduction downward so during the day the surface has lots of excess energy available to cause surface temperature rise. The vast majority of this surface energy is removed by either radiation or conduction. At night the hot plate surface cools very rapidly since it can’t be supplied much energy from below and in a low convection night time regime it also can’t get much energy from the atmosphere.

    The interesting and confounding thing about the hot plate is that it sheds energy by three methods; conduction down (very low flux), conduction up, and radiation. Conduction up can be very high, even up to the incoming energy level, in high air flow conditions across the surface or in very calm conditions (think dew) very low (even less than conduction down). So the hot plate has a well understood energy loss mechanism (radiation out), a very low and well understood but highly variable (constituent based) downward flux, and a less well known and highly variable (velocity based) upward conduction energy loss.

    The ‘oven’ is the case represented by the oceans. This is another dimensionless surface, bounded on one side by a very mobile fluid and the atmosphere on the other. I called this the oven because for all practical purposes it has the interesting property of a relatively constant surface temperature. because it is largely transparent to incoming energy from the sun, the source energy can be thought of as coming from inside the ‘oven’. It’s like an oven in your kitchen cooking away on a big roast. The surface gets to some equilibrium temp that is utterly unaffected by anything going on in the kitchen. You can model this as a ‘body’ of constant surface temperature that is based upon only very long term (spatial and decadal?) changes outside the ‘body’.

    Of course the oven surface has the confounding property that it gets the vast majority of its energy from an ‘infinite’ source below and sheds it by three methods; well understood (and nearly constant value) radiation, poorly understood and highly variable (velocity based) conduction, and well understood but highly variable phase change (based upon velocity, atmospheric conditions).

    Lastly I’m not convinced we really understand the temperature behavior of the actual dimensionless water surface. There’s no data for it that I’m aware of so I hesitate to claim that it doesn’t also have some sort of hot plate effect where the incoming radiation can’t get away fast enough to prevent a very thin layer of temperature above the oven itself, sort of a boundary layer.

  2. BenAW says:

    Paul Bahlin says:
    February 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Paul, I hope for the moment we can stick to the very basic things my model postulates:
    - radiative balance with incoming solar
    - temperature explained by oceans “base”temp + solar heating a shallow band of water spanning the earth + the atmosphere above it.

    If this works as I think, we have no more need for backradiation, and can go back to classic meteorology for most of the processes. (and have eliminated any serious influence of CO2)
    I’m sure your remarks will fit in this broad picture.
    Same for eg. atmosphere being heated by part of incoming solar. This will disrupt the base environmental lapse rate, and cause “weather”.

  3. greg elliott says:

    In scale the crust of the earth is much thinner than the skin of an apple. The human body is roughly the same 30/70 mix of solid and water as the oceans and continents. Imagine holding an apple with a molten core in your hands.


    Click for supporting USGS web page

    [image added -Tim]

  4. Tenuc says:

    Thanks, Ben, for stripping things back to basics…

    “…Everything that happens INSIDE system earth is just redistribution of energy, having no influence on the total energy.

    Incoming solar is either:
    - absorbed somewhere and transported or re-emittted and thus part of the energy budget of system earth
    - or it is reflected without doing anything and may as well not exist for system earth…

    This is why the temperature of the Earth is stable for long periods and is one of the main factors that allows for our thriving biosphere.

  5. Brian H says:

    Re the exposed mantle: I found an update from exploration
    Click for story at NERC

    team mentioned in your link:

    Slippage lubricated with talc! Who’d’a thunk?

  6. Doug proctor says:

    The balance “problem” that Trenberth or Hansen claim to have is 0.58 – 0.85 W/m2. The purported radiative impact of 394 ppmv CO2 vs 282 ppmv with a 3.4 W/m2 forcing factor is about 1.35 W/m2. In order to find either, we need total errors to be in the order of 0.3 – 0.7 W/m2, depending what you are looking for.

    First, assume that the TOA TSI is 1364.0 W/m2, or 341.0 W/m2 averaged over the Earth. Is the albedo of the Earth 0.30 or 0.296? Difference in non-reflected (0.70 to 0.704) is 238.70 to 240.06 W/m2. The difference is 1.36 W/m2. The albedo change in the last 10 years has been (I printed the graph at home, where I am not right now), a decline of 5%, i.e. 5% MORE sunshine is coming in (smaller albedo, more sun). 5% takes us from 0.30 to 0.285, or 238.70 to 243.82 W/m2. The differerence here is 5.12 W/m2.

    So unless the albedo of the Earth can be nailed down to, say, 0.12% ( of the 238.70 value), the uncertainty in the absorbed energy is greater than reasonably found.

    Second, let us assume that the albedo is constant, what of the TOA TSI? The warmists say that the TSI has varied by only 0.1% over the years, and that is true, a variation of 0.34 W/m2 from the average. But during the year the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit changes the TOA TSI that the Earth receives by 6.8% (just over a 3% variation in Earth-Sun). This means that from aphelion to perihelion the variation is 23.2 W/m2 (11.6 W/m2 around the average).

    During this time clouds come and go, some at night and some during the day. The landmass-ocean-snow/ice component changes as the world turns and during the year. A cloudy planet Earth today is not the same as a cloudy planet Earth tomorrow. If there are months of cloudless skies in the Canadian Prairies (as occurred during the 1930s), the impact on solar heating will not be the same if those cloudless skys happened, say, over the Pacific (the albedos of prairie and ocean are quite different). Where and when the changes in TOA TSI occur is important (and we already know that cold in Europe is, well, in Europe, and not spread equally around the globe).

    So for the calculations of “missing” energy, we have to have the actual TOA TSI known for the planet within 0.3 W/m2 when natural variation orbitally changes by 23.2 W/m2. The averaging process that the Earth goes through has to be less than +/-1.29% over a period of time to see the energy we are looking for. Do we even have that sort of information?

    Without thinking too much more, it seems difficult to imagine that we have enough information to determine either the actual albedo of the Earth or the time-place TOA TSI to determine the energy being absorbed by the Earth to a 0.3 W/m2 level. Or a 1.5 W/m2 level.

    Help me out here: where is the data on these two variables to a sufficient, 30-year level of detail (let alone a 150 year level)?

    This isn’t even the models. It’s the two bits of initial data.

  7. BenAW says:

    greg elliott says:
    February 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    “In scale the crust of the earth is much thinner than the skin of an apple.”
    Very correct. To be sure I DON’T NEED the hot inner parts of earth in present time.
    I you draw an image of earth in scale:
    - hot inner parts ~63mm
    - crust under ocean ~0,05 – 0,1 mm
    - oceans ~ 0,05 mm
    - atmosphere ~ 1mm (Karman line at 100 km)

    The heat capacity of the atmosphere is equal to ~3,2 meter of ocean water.

  8. BenAW says:

    Doug proctor says:
    February 23, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Pse lets stick to the basic setup first.
    Variations in albedo, TSI, cloudcover etc etc are neatly buffered by an increase or decrease in the volume of the “band of warm water” that is the base of my hypothesis.
    This + the “base” temp of the oceans of ~275K (already 20K above the 255K of the GHE) is imo perfectly capable of explaining the present surface temps we experience.

  9. BenAW says:

    Tenuc says:
    February 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks, Ben, for stripping things back to basics…

    I’m pretty confident that this basic setup will accept a lot (all?) complicating matters we throw at it.
    And it gives us back classic meteorology: sun heats earth, earth heats atmosphere > weather.
    (slight oversimplification ;-) )

  10. BenAW says:

    Brian H says:
    February 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    I accidently ran into this. Fascinating. If any heat escapes from the hot inner earth, this will warm deep ocean water, warm water rises and is added to the “band of warm water”.
    Buffering in action.

  11. Genghis says:

    Albedo doesn’t affect the equilibrium temperature of the system. It only hinders or speeds the rate of flux into or out of the system getting to equilibrium, but the equilibrium temperature will remain the same regardless of the albedo, because in equilibrium the absorptivity equals the emissivity.

    Anyone can do this simple experiment. I took two identical metal bars and covered half of one of them with aluminum insulating tape, put them under a heat lamp and went skiing. When I got back from skiing I measured the temperature of each bar with a meat thermometer, they were identical. The aluminum insulating tape merely slowed down the rate at which the metal bar took to reach equilibrium.

    The Earth is in equilibrium temperature, the Sun has been roasting it on a spit for 4.5 billion years. Flux absorbed is precisely equal to flux emitted.

    The S-B calculations for the temp of the earth putting it at 279 K is correct. The measured surface temps of 288K are correct and the greenhouse gases account for the 9˚ difference, not the 33˚ difference claimed by the IPCC.

    The AGW’ers sensitivity claim is off by 366%.

  12. Jim Crews says:

    The macro-view and simplified approach is like a structural frame to build from.

    It really shows how DP explaining details of radiation here was out of perspective.

    I appreciate Tallbloke allowing posts on the fundamentals that regulate macro-climate. I think discussion and “arguing” about first order principles controlling climate will be more productive than heated debates about minute second or third order factors of much less importance. I think you have showed us we need to have the fundamentals right in order to make sound progress. Discussions that always gravitate back to radiation and CO2 lack a first order framework.

    jc

  13. BenAW says:

    Genghis says:
    February 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    “The Earth is in equilibrium temperature, the Sun has been roasting it on a spit for 4.5 billion years. Flux absorbed is precisely equal to flux emitted.”
    Imo the sun is barely able to prevent the earth from cooling down further. Incoming solar and outgoing radiation SEEM to be approximately equal (satelite measurements), but even slight changes in eg. solar will create a difference between the two, causing cooling or warming.
    Takes a very long time for system earth the reach a new balance.

    In my view a reduction in incoming solar is enough to trigger an ice age (Milankovitch ?)
    I don’t think the sun has enough power to END an ice age and another mechanism is needed, most probably involving release of some of the internal heat of the earth. I have a speculative idea how this might work.

    “The S-B calculations for the temp of the earth putting it at 279 K is correct. ”
    The calculation may be correct, but is irrelevant imo.

    “The AGW’ers sensitivity claim is off by 366%.”
    I think CO2 may be helping earth’s surface to COOL, so climate sensitivity for CO2 (who cares?)could be negative for my system earth.

  14. tallbloke says:

    Jim C: Thanks for that. We’re pretty sure now that radiative considerations within the troposphere are a false focus. So it’s time to open up the debate and try to build a new framework. With recenmt posts from David Hoffer and Stephen WIlde among others, and the big discussions of the Nikolov and Zeller theory, I think a paradigmatic redefinition of climate understanding is long overdue.

  15. BenAW says:

    Jim Crews says:
    February 24, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    “The macro-view and simplified approach is like a structural frame to build from”

    Exactly, so I’m anxious to see if there are serious problems with my approach.
    Personally I don’t see any, but that doesn’t say much ;-)

  16. Stephen Wilde says:

    BenAW says:

    “Same for eg. atmosphere being heated by part of incoming solar. This will disrupt the base environmental lapse rate, and cause “weather”.”

    Be careful with the lapse rate concept.

    I suggest that the base lapse rate is the one set by pressure, the dry adiabatic lapse rate. The environmental lapse rate is the actual lapse rate observed in different layers of the vertical temperature profile of the atmosphere. A sideways ‘W’ for the Earth.

    The environmental lapse rate is sensitive to composition and weather is the result of the difference between the two as the air circulation configures itself to get the same thermal outcome from the mix of different environmental rates at different levels as would be observed if the DALR prevailed from surface to top of atmosphere.

    “We need some components of the atmosphere to radiate away to space, otherwise system earth can’t cool down at all”

    At a stretch I think it could work with conduction convection lateral winds and an emission height for radiation from the surface but it would be a seriously windy world to arrange adequate energy transfers from surface to air and back again. As you say, GHGs especially water vapour make it a whole lot easier. But anyway I don’t think a GHG free atmosphere is capable of existing due to the distribution of types of matter in the universe. Every planet capable of attracting or retaining an atmosphere seems to have enough to take the load off conduction and convection.

    I agree wth the rest. You are clearly on the right track and between all of us under Rog’s fine efforts at keeping it on track I do think a workable non GHG dependent climate description is becoming clearer.

  17. Aussie says:

    Ben, I am an interested observer and a Christian :) but not a Creationist. As I was reading the explanation for your model I found myself casting my mind to the first chapter of Genesis which gives the order of creation. Your model fits perfectly with that order of Creation that took millions if not billions of years to evolve.

    Your model and explanation is the first time that I felt that I can actually understand something. It is complex but the explanation is simple enough.

    Please keep going….

  18. Doug proctor says:

    BenAW says:
    February 23, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Ben, I am not disagreeing with what you are saying. My point is that we spend a lot of time discussing something that is at odds with the warmist community not because the basic math doesn’t work, or the basic principles are in question, but because the very fine details are said to prove CAGW. It is the very fine details that I question are or have been determinable.

    CAGW or Not-CAGW is like a curling game, a matter of inches. If we look to basic radiative balancing, there is no ground for argument. It is only in the finest of details that we disagree, as it is the balance that counts, not the actual weights. What I am saying is that we don’t have the ability to know what is going on to the precision, let alone accuracy, that allows a Trenberth or anyone to say one way or another.

    My comments are about the limits of knowledge and how the world’s economies are being attacked for “truth” that doesn’t exist at the levels required.

    I meant no offense.

  19. tchannon says:

    There are systems in engineering which make little direct sense but work.

    Refrigeration plant, say a dehumidifier has to adjust to the conditions temperature of dewpoint varies. Gas pressure varies, doesn’t work when cold. Talking here about balancing systems.

    Bit like the lattice filter problem. Works very well but is impossible to diagnose a fault without breaking it apart. Point here is it intentionally spreads value tolerances so that it is maximally tolerant… spreads faults too.

    If we drew the planet system as a water flow showing linked in/out flow valves, try and figure the level of an intermediate reservoir. Move the valve control moves both, only changes the flow, not the level.

  20. Doug Proctor says:

    Speaking of balances: a system can be in balance over a longer or shorter term. Engines, like my Jeep, seem to have some movement in temperatures, pressures, RPM for the same output. The planet Earth is clearly in an equilibria in general, and ones that last thousands of years, perhaps, but it is not a static equilibrium. It is more like my Jeep, a dynamic equilibrium.

    Are we in conflict with the IPCC models because of the time-frame of equilibrium, of balance? That the planet moves back and forth around a small centre, like my Jeep engine, and at times is, in fact, releasing more heat than it takes in, or taking in more heat than it releases?

    The entire CAGW threat is of less than 1.0 W/m2. As I expressed above, the amount we are worried about – missing or too much – is a fraction of what is naturally varying, and may not, on the short-term of 30 or 50 years. Do we have the detail of knowledge to KNOW the input (let alone output) that is actually (not theoretically) warming Earth? It seems to me that the uncertainty in the albedo and TSI time-of-impact numbers are handled with assumptions for the purposes of calculations, but do not, for good reason, reflect the precision we’d need to know something. For discussion purposes, yes, but not for knowledge, i.e. calling them “facts”.

    How about this: is climate science a deterministic or probabilistic thing? If chaos theory is involved, I guess determinism is out. If probabilistic, then is the uncertainty of true input and output of the 0.3 W/m2 level? Is the certainty of BALANCE at any given moment or decade, that close?

    I walk down the street consistently. I get here to there. I do it many times. I don’t end up in the wrong town (though sometimes in the wrong bar). If you charted my course, though, you would say I walk in a probabilistic way, my path certain only within a few centimetres regardless of how many times you measured me. Is that not also true of the energy balance of the planet?

    I don’t think we have an elephant in the room that we are ignoring. I think we have a bored dwarf in the corner who listlessly pulls on an extension cord to see the lights flicker now and again.

  21. You need to read about how the massive amount of thermal energy in the core, mantle and crust stabilises climate for thousands of years because the terrestrial heat flow is so low. See my website for details and note the ‘Explanation’ page..

    I agree that the atmosphere cools the surface in daylight hours, of course. Here is more on that …

    Note this chart of the breakdown of solar insolation. http://climate-change-theory.com/insolation.jpg
    and the reference to most of the infra-red being absorbed by the atmosphere. Clearly that radiation in the visible spectrum is by no means “most” of the energy. For a start, the UV, X-rays etc have much higher energy than light as you all must know. So the atmosphere has a significant cooling effect during daylight hours, and water vapour has a net negative feedback partly because of this absorption and also due to reflection off clouds.

    Seeing that backradiation does not affect climate in any way (as proved on my website ‘Radiation’ page), there is no way WV could have a positive feedback as assumed by IPCC, thus amplifying CO2 effects they claim.

    There simply cannot be an atmospheric radiative greenhouse effect without violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics, as I have proved on my website, and also because every ray of radiation has to be treated as a separate process.

    There is no physical meaning associated with, and no physical entity corresponding to “net” radiation. Radiation rays do not combine like, for example, force vectors.

    The concept that this spurious “net radiation” is directed out of the surface cannot be used to excuse what is really a violation of the Second Law resulting from the conjecture that radiation from a cooler atmosphere can increase the rate of warming of the surface in the morning and decrease the rate of cooling in the evening.

    A warm body will not absorb any radiation from a cooler source, no matter how much of such radiation is sent in its direction, as shown in my funnel experiment. And all such radiation has no effect on the normal spontaneous outgoing radiation, let alone the heat loss by evaporation and diffusion followed by convection.

    [Reply] Douglas, have you ever heard of something called ‘The wave-particle duality’? The ocean doesn’t absorb downwelling longwave, but this isn’t because of the temperature of the radiating mass, or because rays don’t hit each other. It’s because longwave doesn’t penetrate water beyond its own wavelength.

  22. BenAW says:

    Stephen Wilde says:
    February 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    “I suggest that the base lapse rate is the one set by pressure, the dry adiabatic lapse rate.”

    I continuously get the feeling that you’re talking about a totally different DALR then I do.
    In the end the DALR on earth is Gravity divided by the specific heat for dry air.
    Pressure is ELIMINATED from this simple formula.

    On earth with only oceans the temp. differences aren’t extreme, and convection isn’t occuring much.
    Lets assume only conduction and radiation set the Environmental Lapse Rate (ELR).
    Since the oceans surface is the heat source, temp will decrease with altitude in such a way that at every altitude the sum of kinetic and potential energy is equal.
    This is valid for the troposphere. Higher up incoming solar heats the atmosphere (ozone) and the lapse rate becomes very different.
    Since ~80% of the atmospheric mass is found below the tropopause this is the most relevant part imo.

    This ELR is the base lapse rate I assume, and which is continously disturbed by all kind of processes.

  23. BenAW says:

    Aussie says:
    February 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    “Ben, I am an interested observer and a Christian but not a Creationist. As I was reading the explanation for your model I found myself casting my mind to the first chapter of Genesis which gives the order of creation. Your model fits perfectly with that order of Creation that took millions if not billions of years to evolve.

    Your model and explanation is the first time that I felt that I can actually understand something. It is complex but the explanation is simple enough.”

    Thanks. I didn’t have Genesis in mind when stating that my simple model could accomodate a lot of processes. If it does, great ;-)

    “Please keep going….”

    I need discussion on this model to check for any discrepancies or fatal errors.
    I none are found this model imo clears CO2 of any guild in the warming of the earth.

  24. BenAW says:

    Doug proctor says:
    February 24, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Ben, I am not disagreeing with what you are saying. My point is that we spend a lot of time discussing something that is at odds with the warmist community not because the basic math doesn’t work, or the basic principles are in question, but because the very fine details are said to prove CAGW. It is the very fine details that I question are or have been determinable.

    My comments are about the limits of knowledge and how the world’s economies are being attacked for “truth” that doesn’t exist at the levels required.

    I meant no offense.

    I think my model shows that the basic math IS wrong.
    In the end the GHE claims that to explain why the avg. surface temp on earth (irrelevant property imo) is 33K higher than the sun could ever achieve on a blackbody, backradiation from greenhouse gasses is needed.
    I show that the surface temp. can easily be explained by using simple processes and widely available measurements. My model is flexible enough to accept a wide range of TSI changes etc. etc. and can explain a lot of the occuring processes on earth.

  25. BenAW says:

    Douglas Cotton says:
    February 25, 2012 at 6:11 am

    “You need to read about how the massive amount of thermal energy in the core, mantle and crust stabilises climate for thousands of years because the terrestrial heat flow is so low.”

    I think we disagree here. My model uses the 1.3 billion km^3 of ocean to stabilise our climate, by letting the sun heat only a shallow layer of warmer water, “floating” on top of the bulk of the oceans which are at a temp of ~275K – 277K.

    Current thinking indicates that the crust mostly isolates the hot inner earth from the rest of the world.
    I think that is mostly correct, except in some exceptional situations.

  26. Doug Proctor says:

    A person raised on a belief in science, the scientific methods, and mathematics could and probably does get very perturbed these days. Blogs such as this underline the idea that, even on basic principles, we have not nailed the universe down as we were taught in school. That must be as disturbing to many (think Romm, McKibben) as those who found the refutation of the Noahian Deluge as a source of fossils disturbing.

    I have taken the Royal Society’s motto, Nullius in verba, as a life principle. I’m a geologist, 34 years in, and I have found that every time I relook at a play, I see things I never saw before, and see how what I was told/understood, is contradicted in many ways by data – old as well as new. The prior theories are very comforting, however, as they are simple to understand and implement. Probably one of the big reasons why we drill so many “dry holes” in my profession.

    The world of science: it seems that the “citizen” scientist is reclaiming a position that all the 17th and 18th century professional scientists were. People wondering why the simple ideas of how the world operates don’t fit what they saw every day. (Without computers and complex statistical analyses to “prove” they saw clearly).

    I’m beyond impressed.

  27. BenAW says:

    Doug Proctor says:
    February 25, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    “I’m beyond impressed.”
    Blushing slightly ;-)

    Could you help me out since you’re a geologist?

    I think my model can easily explain the onset of iceages. I doubt the sun is able to END an ice age.
    Is it thinkeable that the weight of ice that came fom the oceans water supply can “topple” a continental plate, exposing the hot mantle and releasing large amounts of heat?
    We’re talking 120 – 140 m of ocean level in the last ice age.
    Afaik eg Finland is still rebounding (rising) since the last ice age.

  28. Aussie says:

    Ben, the point that I was making is that your model complies with the order of Creation as found in Genesis. Since I am not a Creationist, as I do not believe in the theory of a young earth. The reason that I picked up on Genesis is your explanation like this:

    “Initially system earth was a sphere of molten material, radiating away like crazy and thus cooling down, not much the sun could do to stop this.
    A very thin solid layer formed on the outside, and by outgassing an atmosphere formed, containing ao water vapour. Raining out ( and perhaps some help from the occasional meteor) formed the oceans, initially very hot.
    New phase for system earth, hot mantle “sealed” by a thin layer of rock, covered by a hot ocean.
    Lets say 350K or so, way above what the sun seems capable of doing and more or less evenly distributed over the surface and into the deep of the oceans.
    (will add the continents later, they mostly just create weather)”

    This is the most logical explanation that I have ever seen on how everything came together. All of these factors seem to be very relevant in explaining our planet.

    Since I am not a scientist it is quite hard to express my thoughts in scientific terms, but I will try. The theories being used by the scientists associated with the IPCC hover around blaming mankind for any so-called deviations in our weather patterns. I find it difficult to accept the concept of man-made global warming because of the mere fact that the patterns that we are seeing on a daily, weekly, monthly, annually, etc. basis are patterns that repeat themselves. Over the long period in which earth evolved (and your simple explanation explains the evolution quite well), those patterns have repeated themselves over and over again.

    Whilst I picked up on the unintentional relationship between what you are saying and the first chapters of Genesis, I am personally not all that into using Scripture to explain science, but I do see that it is useful for historical purposes. In this case, I refer to the number of times that Scripture mentions famine. Abraham and Sarah went to Egypt because of famine. Joseph was in Egypt when his brothers came to Egypt looking for grain because of famine due to drought. The story of Elijah also involves drought and famine in the land. Elish performed a miracle for the widow at a time when there was no rain and famine in the land…. In other words Scripture is full of examples of times when there was a drought… so nothing is new… and man did not cause the drought conditions!!

    That means that there have to be other factors involved and it also means that there needs to be a better model in explaining earth’s climate and atmosphere.

  29. Aussie says:

    @Doug,

    whilst there has been no evidence for the existence of Noah’s Ark to date, I for one, do not agree with the statement that the Noahian flood has been refuted. To the contrary, there are many countries were there is evidence of civilizations being wiped out by a flood, or there are stories of a great flood.

    In Australian Aboriginal culture there is a story about a big flood. In the USA a flood wiped out the Hopewell Indians from Ohio and surrounding regions. In the Middle East, the area where the flood most likely happened, the ancient Sumerian civilization was wiped out by a flood. What is interesting about the Sumerian civilization is that it was based in Ur which is between the Euphrates and the Tigris riviers. What is even more interesting is that Abraham came from Ur before he journeyed to the area that is known as Israel, as well as to Egypt.

  30. BenAW says:

    Aussie says:
    February 28, 2012 at 7:52 am

    “That means that there have to be other factors involved and it also means that there needs to be a better model in explaining earth’s climate and atmosphere.”

    Absolutely agree. I see my model as a base, on which atmospheric processes are build.
    It’s a paradigmic departure from current thinking imo.
    - we arrived at the current situation by cooling down, the sun being barely able to prevent further cooling
    - to understand system earths energy budget, the atmosphere is insignificant (equal to 3,2 meter of ocean, vs 5km or more of ocean)
    - IF incoming solar and outgoing radiation cancel each other, system earth isn’t losing or gaining energy, so we just have to look how heat is distributed around.

    Our pre-occupationwith the atmosphere in our thinking is understandable, but not relevant.
    Had we been intelligent fish, nobody would have bothered with the atmosphere.
    Perhaps only some daring youngsters splashing above the water occasionally ;-)

  31. Aussie says:

    Ben, I might not be a scientist yet I totally agree with your opinion!! Yes, we are too pre-occupied about the atmosphere. We cannot fix the weather. On the other hand we can make the effort to reduce real pollution.

    This is a real issue for me because I happen to be one of the few who suffer from the pollution that used to belch out of cars, as well as from oil refineries based in poor locations. Sydney for example used to be full of smog, but not any more. My first trip to New York was literally a very severe headache brought on by breathing in the carbon monoxide fumes from cars!! My next visit to New York more than 20 years later was a very pleasant one and there was little in the way of pollution!!

    It is the scaremongering that is really getting me angry… but then I live in Australia where the stupid government run by an incompetent as Prime Minister has introduced a tax on the air that we breathe which is going to cost us billions of dollars… and that is before calculating the cost of lost production that will shift to overseas countries such as China.

  32. tchannon says:

    Aussie, science is practiced by many who are not formally working in science, many engineers for example, perhaps in commerce where publishing is rare except by real world products working reliably as intended.

    I agree with you about making things better, although we might disagree on how and particularly about enviro excesses, via legislation, imposed without regard for reality.

    CO? Sorry to be opinionated, I very much doubt that was your problem. Are other things, guessing. HC, detail doesn’t matter here.

    An old classic, do not impose how. Rules are riddled with this stuff, and extremely harmful.

    Peripheral to vehicles, an example of stupidity.

    For a variety of emotionally led reasons many have a “thing” about engine (swept) capacity, how large, always trying to force tiny. In reality this should be a free design parameter because there is an optimum for some particular task, otherwise it is just a size, has no effect whatsoever on anything.
    The wrong thing is being addressed, is indirect. As engineers we cannot optimise, hard political constraint.

    Carbon control is the same, is just C. What actually is the bone of contention?

    Almost always this stuff goes into terrible human behaviour, about stupidity and manipulation of others. Addressing the real issues means the real issues have to be voiced, actually say, admit it and only then can addressing take place.

  33. Aussie says:

    Tchannon,

    we are not in disagreement but I can only go by anecdotal evidence. I have definitely been affected by diesel fumes. I suspect that carbon monoxide was the problem and whilst I had a distate for the regulations I did notice the difference. You are correct that there were other factors, including a sensitivity to so called natural fly spray with the pyrethrins (am ok with the synthetic pyrethrins – weird), as well as paint fumes. It was not asthma but it was similar. Long story short, is that there was an incident that I believe to have been the cause of the problem and it involved the release of insecticide into the air at around the same time that we were driving close to the factory….. I cannot prove anything!!

    The problem with the legislation that was introduced, which effectively banned lead in petrol was that car engines were not built to make the adjustment. This came with the invention of the catalyctic converter and the rotary engine. The experiment with ethanol has been an absolute disaster. I was using it sometimes and it nearly wrecked the car because that car with its fuel injection system was not built for the ethanol mixture…..

    I totally agree about those rules. We do not need them. Industry needs to be able to get on with its job without so many regulations. A lot of the regulations do more harm than good.

    I am not familiar with all of the engineering talk although I am married to an aeronautical engineer!! :)

  34. Chris M says:

    Aussie, lead was introduced to petrol as an anti-knock agent for engines, and from memory lead levels in air were negligible prior to its introduction. Which meant that human (and presumably general vertebrate) biology was not designed to cope with its toxicity, having had no previous exposure. In retrospect it was a very bad idea, which was by no means rare in 20th century science, and hopefully the future application of science will benefit from the experience.

  35. BenAW says:

    Aussie says:
    February 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    “Ben, I might not be a scientist yet I totally agree with your opinion!! Yes, we are too pre-occupied about the atmosphere. We cannot fix the weather. On the other hand we can make the effort to reduce real pollution.”

    Since my model (when validated) explains the current surface temps everybody is so worried about, the role of CO2 becomes negligable, probably even a cooling one.
    This would mean we can stop throwing away money for this CO2 fetish, and start worrying about real problems again, like clean water, food, cheap energy, REAL pollution etc. etc.
    Perhaps start thinking about how to ADD more CO2 to the atmosphere, since we were pretty close to the lower limit of CO2 concentration, below which plants stop the photosynthesis process, and we run out of food.

  36. Stephen Wilde says:

    BenAW said:

    “I suggest that the base lapse rate is the one set by pressure, the dry adiabatic lapse rate.”

    I continuously get the feeling that you’re talking about a totally different DALR then I do.
    In the end the DALR on earth is Gravity divided by the specific heat for dry air.
    Pressure is ELIMINATED from this simple formula.

    My mistake, I meant Gravity not pressure.

    We are virtually in agreement but I would go a step further:

    You must distinguish between the adiabatic lapse rate set by gravity and the environmental lapse rate set by composition.

    The energy flows through the system are juggled between the two until solar shortwave in matches longwave out.

    When GHG quantities increase, the atmosphere expands a bit so that the thermal effect of the reduction of density at the surface offsets the thermal effect of a rise in effective radiating height so as to leave surface temperature unchanged but a slight change in atmospheric circulation due to an altered slope for the environmental (not adiabatic) lapse rate.

    Only the sun irradiating the surface alters surface temperature.

    Warmer air doesn’t alter surface temperature. It just alters the effective radiating height.

    Apply the Ideal Gas Law for any thermal phenomena within the atmosphere.

    Only apply the S-B Law from a point outside the atmosphere.

    The effective radiating height has already been affected by atmospheric composition and so cannot be used as the ’surface’ for the purpose of applying the S-B Law.

  37. BenAW says:

    Stephen Wilde says:
    February 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Stephen, I have great difficulty following you.
    See: http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/nikolov-and-zeller-reply-to-comments-on-the-utc-part-1/#comment-14693
    Now suddenly the Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate (DALR) is gravity based. Pse make up your mind.

    As a glider-, airline- and parapent pilot I feel I have a good understanding of lapse rates. It’s the stuff that determines thermals and cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds ao.
    The DALR and WALR are ONLY relevant when parcels of air are moving up or down in a static atmosphere. It’s the reason for my continued asking about the N&Z explanation of the Chinook winds they consider a manifestation of their theory. Imo they make the same mistake as you do.
    In a static atmosphere the DALR and WALR are not relevant !!!

    The Environmental lapse rate (ELR) in a static atmosphere with the surface being the heat source will be decreasing temp with increasing altitude.
    After a long stabilisation and NO disturbances, the temp. distribution imo will be such that at every altitude the sum of potential and kinetic (temperature) energy will be equal.
    This can imo be reached by conduction only given enough time.

    This simple setup won’t work higher up where the atmosphere gets thinner and incoming solar heats eg ozone.

    The most relevant part of the atmosphere is imo the lower part (tropopause and a bit above there),
    which constitutes ~80% of the atmospheric mass.

    An let’s not forget that the heat capacity of the whole atmosphere is equal to just 3,2 METER of ocean ;-)

  38. Stephen Wilde says:

    BenAW,

    I see that the terms have become confused.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapse_rate

    “the term applies ambiguously to the environmental lapse rate and the process lapse rate, and the meaning must often be ascertained from the context.”

    I’ll review my use of the terms since usages by others seem to have affected mine.

    However, the point is that there is one theoretical lapse rate determined by gravity and another actual lapse rate determined by other features of the atmosphere and the latter adjusts the energy flows to comply with the former otherwise the system would be unstable

    The points you make in your post are correct and as far as I can see do not detract from my work once the ambiguity of the different lapse rate terms is resolved.

  39. tchannon says:

    Aussie,
    Diesel of any age produces essentially zero CO, is inherent (fuel burns in a large excess of air, plenty of available oxygen, gasoline engines have a restricted air supply where incomplete burn is a problem, hence CO and unburnt fuel (HC)). In many countries with testing it isn’t even measured. Kind of difficult for suicides.
    NoX is about a very hot burn good for efficiency but nitrogen and oxygen in the air start to combine.
    A side effect of lead was lubrication, same applies to sulphur, hence as ever, trouble.

    I could give a rundown, don’t think that is appropriate here. Daft thing is that like climate, many parts of engineering are jam packed with interesting things, yet hardly anywhere discusses properly and sadly neither does the media.

    Flyspray probably uses HC as a propellant. Hence fire warning. Affected by hairspray?
    There are some pretty severe irritants in horticultural stuff.

    I’d better drop this, looks bad a co-mod going off topic.

  40. adolfogiurfa says:

    @tchannon: I’d better drop this, looks bad a co-mod going off topic. It´s difficult sometimes to set parameters to an intelligent brain….so just unplug the Earth so we may see how fast it cools down! :-)

  41. BenAW says:

    Stephen Wilde says:
    February 29, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    There can be NO ambiguity when the term adiabatic is used. Can only be applicable when “isolated” parcels of air are moving up or down without exchanging heat with the surrounding atmosphere.
    The atmosphere as a whole is obviously NOT adiabatic.

    “However, the point is that there is one theoretical lapse rate determined by gravity and another actual lapse rate determined by other features of the atmosphere and the latter adjusts the energy flows to comply with the former otherwise the system would be unstable ”

    Pse expand. An ELR is just a “description” of how the temp varies from the surface up. How can this “adjust energy flows”?

  42. Stephen Wilde says:

    “An ELR is just a “description” of how the temp varies from the surface up. How can this “adjust energy flows”?”

    Temperature differentials are relevant to the rate of energy flow and influence the power of all energy transfer processes.

  43. Stephen Wilde says:

    This source

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troposphere

    distinguishes the lapse rates thus:

    “The environmental lapse rate (the actual rate at which temperature drops with height, dT / dz) is not usually equal to the adiabatic lapse rate (or correspondingly, ). If the upper air is warmer than predicted by the adiabatic lapse rate (dS / dz > 0), then when a parcel of air rises and expands, it will arrive at the new height at a lower temperature than its surroundings. In this case, the air parcel is denser than its surroundings, so it sinks back to its original height, and the air is stable against being lifted. If, on the contrary, the upper air is cooler than predicted by the adiabatic lapse rate, then when the air parcel rises to its new height it will have a higher temperature and a lower density than its surroundings, and will continue to accelerate upward.”

    So the environmental lapse rate is the one actually observed in the real world whereas the adiabatic one is that which is predicted from gravity and pressure.

    That was the way I was using the terms.

    That also helps to describe why the way the temperature varies from the surface upward can adjust energy flows by accelerating or decelerating the convective process.

  44. BenAW says:

    Stephen Wilde says:
    March 1, 2012 at 3:05 am

    “Temperature differentials are relevant to the rate of energy flow and influence the power of all energy transfer processes.”

    You seem to forget that the atmosphere is 3-dimensional.
    Given the ELR of 6,5K/km a parcel of air at the surface, temp.288K, will have the same TOTAL energy as a parcel at 1km with temp. 281,5K. Potential energy makes a difference.
    So there is no “unbalance” in a static atmosphere.

    “The environmental lapse rate (the actual rate at which temperature drops with height, dT / dz) is not usually equal to the adiabatic lapse rate (or correspondingly, )”
    No, and why should it?

    “So the environmental lapse rate is the one actually observed in the real world whereas the adiabatic one is that which is predicted from gravity and pressure”
    What has pressure to do with the adiabatic lapse rate? It’s derived from gravity divided by the heat capacity of (dry) air for the DALR.

  45. Stephen Wilde says:

    “What has pressure to do with the adiabatic lapse rate?”

    Taken with solar input it sets the surface temperature at which the lapse rate starts.

    “You seem to forget that the atmosphere is 3-dimensional.”

    I don’t know what gave that impression.

    Could you reveal where you are going with these points ?

    There is much that we agree on and a bit of confusion over terminology but nothing substantive as far as I can see.

  46. BenAW says:

    Stephen Wilde says:
    March 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    “What has pressure to do with the adiabatic lapse rate?”

    Taken with solar input it sets the surface temperature at which the lapse rate starts

    eg a parcel of dry air at the 400 mB level and temp 250K and a parcel at the surface 1030 mB, temp 300K, when they rise, BOTH will cool according the DALR. So irrespective of pressure. The DALR is valid for at least the troposphere. Much higher up not any more imo.
    Don’t get hang up on the numbers, they’re just examples.

  47. Aussie says:

    @ChrisM, yes I know why lead was introduced into petrol. On top of that, when the legislation was put in place to get rid of the lead, it meant that the car engines were back to having the same problems with the “knocking” and then some.

    The good news was the invention of the catalyctic converter and the rotary engine, meaning that they found a way to overcome that problem.

    The other issue was the introduction of ethanol in the fuel. It was first introduced into some very cheap and nasty brands. I know from experience that the stuff was no good for engines!!

  48. Aussie says:

    @tchannon, pretty interesting stuff, but does not explain why some people do get affected by diesel fumes…. and the rest of those fumes… it is a mystery….

    However, I might add that I see this as a reason to scoff at the nonsense that comes from the warmists. They are not even close.

  49. BenAW says:

    Stephen Wilde says:
    March 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    “What has pressure to do with the adiabatic lapse rate?”
    Taken with solar input it sets the surface temperature at which the lapse rate starts.

    Could you reveal where you are going with these points ?

    I may be wrong but I get the strong impression that you think the (dry) adiabatic lapse rate describes somehow the state of the atmosphere from the surface up, or that the atmosphere tries to reach an ELR that “follows” the DALR.

  50. [...] with important contributions from Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller, Stephen Wilde, David M Hoffer, Ben Wouters,  Doug Proctor,  Tim Channon and [...]