## Greg Elliott: Use of flow diagrams in understanding energy balance

Posted: January 20, 2012 by tallbloke in atmosphere, climate, Energy, methodology

OK you lot, sit up and pay attention. It may look like a dull title, but the conclusion, if correct, is groundbreaking. My head is too stuffed full of adiabats and Gibb’s energies to tell, so help me out.  My thanks to Greg Elliot for a nicely presented piece of work, and good luck to him in comments!

Introduction

In the late ‘60’s the world was gripped by a seemingly unsolvable puzzle.  “Instant Insanity” was similar to the better known Rubik’s cube, but with a difference.  Unlike Rubik’s, there were multiple versions of “Insanity” shipped.  The solution to one set of cubes only worked on a sub-set of cubes.  Countless hours were devoted to finding a solution.

The solution to the problem emerged in graph-theory and representational-theory.  Powerful yet often overlooked branches of mathematics.  With publication of the solution interest in “Insanity” quickly waned  until it was lost to history.

A decade later the world was gripped by another seemingly unsolvable puzzle.  Software complexity was increasing exponentially as computers grew in capacity.  “Spaghetti code” was an all too often end result of massive development efforts.  If trends continued everyone in the world would soon be programmers.

What emerged was the concept of Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) as part of “Structured Programming”.  DFD’s are strikingly similar to the solution to “Instant Insanity”.  DFD’s abstract and encapsulate complexity in a representational form that is easily understood through the use of graphical notation.  This allows us to take complex, seemingly unsolvable problems and reduce them to simple, easily understood solutions.

Flow diagrams are found in many practical applications outside of puzzles and computer science.  The examples presented here are intended by way of introduction; to the concept of flow diagrams as a means to reduce complexity and increase understanding.

This paper examines the use of flow diagrams in understanding the planetary energy balance.

Energy Balance

It is generally recognized that CO2 in a planet’s atmosphere warms the surface through the “greenhouse effect”, also known as back-radiation.  However, some scientists dispute the existence of such an effect, claiming that back-radiation is unphysical.  This paper finds that back-radiation does exist and plays a surprising role in the planetary energy balance.

Consider first a planet with no atmosphere:

Diagram 1

 Legend A gross flow of energy from sun to earth gross flow of energy from earth to space

The total energy reaching the surface is A units and the total energy leaving for space is A units.  Incoming and outgoing energy is equal and the system is in balance.

Diagram 2

 Legend A gross flow of energy from sun to earth gross flow of energy from earth to space X gross flow of energy from surface to atmosphere gross flow of energy from atmosphere to surface

The added atmosphere contributes nothing to the energy balance.  The total energy reaching the planet’s surface is still A units, not A+X units.

This is a critical point in the understanding of what follows.  Unlike the sun, the atmosphere is not a source of energy.  As a result, the flow X observed is a result of the energy flowing into the earth from the sun, not the cause.

Thus, the energy flowing into the atmosphere from the earth and from the atmosphere back to the earth does not increase the energy reaching the earth.

Otherwise, in the absence of any GHG, a planet with an atmosphere would be substantially warmer than a planet without an atmosphere, in direct proportion to the amount of energy conducted back to the surface by the atmosphere, without regard for how much was conducted away,

Incoming and outgoing energy is equal and the system is in balance.

Now let’s consider what happens to the incoming energy as we add CO2 to the atmosphere:

Diagram 3

 Legend A gross flow of energy from sun to earth gross flow of energy from earth to space X gross flow of energy from surface to atmosphere gross flow of energy from atmosphere to surface B gross incoming energy from sun intercepted by CO2 and reradiated

As we add CO2 to the atmosphere, B units of incoming energy will interact with the CO2.  For reasons of clarity this is split into two flow lines.  B/2 units will interact with the CO2 and be directed towards the surface.  B/2 units will interact with the CO2 and be radiated into space.

Many models miss the critical point of dividing the flows that interact with CO2 in two.  This leads to an unnecessary complication in the calculations, as you can end up with the sum of an infinite series.

The total energy reaching the planet’s surface will be reduced to A – B + B/2 = A – B/2 units.  This would have the effect of reducing the surface temperature of the planet without CO2 back-radiation, which we will cover shortly.

It is interesting to note that adding CO2 to the atmosphere has increased the planet’s effective albedo by B/2 units of energy.  This suggests that CO2 models that assume a constant albedo with increasing CO2 are incorrect, and will overstate the amount of warming.

Incoming and outgoing energy is equal and the system is in balance.

However, our model of incoming energy is incomplete.  In addition to the B units of energy intercepted by CO2 and re-radiated, E units of energy absorbed by CO2 will be conducted to the atmosphere, and G units of energy absorbed by CO2 will be conducted to the surface

Here is the revised model showing these flows:

Diagram 4

 Legend A gross flow of energy from sun to earth gross flow of energy from earth to space X gross flow of energy from surface to atmosphere gross flow of energy from atmosphere to surface B gross incoming energy from sun intercepted by CO2 and reradiated E gross incoming energy from sun intercepted by CO2 and conducted to atmosphere G gross incoming energy from sun intercepted by CO2 and conducted to surface

The total energy reaching the planet’s surface will remain unchanged at A – B – E – G + B/2 + E + G = A – B/2 units.

As can be seen, the energy absorbed by the CO2 and conducted to the atmosphere and thereby to the surface of the planet has no net effect on the surface temperature.  The total amount of energy reaching the surface remains unchanged.

Incoming and outgoing energy is equal and the system is in balance.

Now consider the effect of CO2 on outgoing energy

Diagram 5

 Legend A gross flow of energy from sun to earth gross flow of energy from earth to space X gross flow of energy from surface to atmosphere gross flow of energy from atmosphere to surface B gross incoming energy from sun intercepted by CO2 and reradiated E gross incoming energy from sun intercepted by CO2 and conducted to atmosphere G gross incoming energy from sun intercepted by CO2 and conducted to surface C gross outgoing energy from surface intercepted by CO2 and reradiated

In this case, C units of outgoing energy interact with the CO2 in the atmosphere and are reradiated.  For the sake of clarity, as with the case of incoming energy the energy flow has been divided into two parts.  C/2 units of outgoing energy interact with the CO2 and are radiated downward.  C/2 units of outgoing energy interact with the CO2 and are radiated outwards to space.

By dividing the ingoing and outgoing flows that interact with CO2 in two, we avoid the unnecessary complication in the calculations that can result in the sum of an infinite series.

Incoming and outgoing energy is equal and the system is in balance.

Consider what is apparent by dividing the CO2 flow in two:

Diagram 6

 Legend X gross flow of energy from surface to atmosphere gross flow of energy from atmosphere to surface C gross outgoing energy from surface intercepted by CO2 and reradiated

As we found with the atmosphere, the energy flowing back to the planet from CO2 in the form of back-radiation, is exactly balanced by half the flow of energy outward that is interacting with the CO2 and being reradiated.  Since the CO2 itself is not an energy source, the flow observed is a result of the energy flowing into the earth from the sun, not the cause, and contributes nothing to the surface energy balance.

Otherwise, if the CO2 energy flow C/2 in this portion of the model is heating the surface, then the non-radiating atmosphere itself with the energy flow X above must also be heating the surface.  The reason for this is that thermal energy is equivalent.  Whether it is conducted or radiated, there is no physical difference.

We have already shown that the non-radiating atmosphere cannot warm the surface by conducting energy back that has been lost.  Otherwise the planet would warm considerably as compared to a planet without an atmosphere.  Thus by the same reasoning it is not possible for CO2 to warm the surface by back-radiating energy that has already been lost from the surface.  Otherwise, if CO2 does contribute to the greenhouse effect by back radiation, then a non GHG atmosphere contributes to the greenhouse effect through conduction.

The total energy reaching the planet’s surface will remain unchanged at A – B – E – G + B/2 + E + G = A – B/2 units.

Incoming and outgoing energy is equal and the system is in balance.

However, we still have some other energy flows to take care of.  For example, energy radiated/conducted from the earth to CO2 and from there conducted to the atmosphere and back to the earth.
This is flow D in the model below.

Diagram 7

 Legend A gross flow of energy from sun to earth gross flow of energy from earth to space X gross flow of energy from surface to atmosphere gross flow of energy from atmosphere to surface B gross incoming energy from sun intercepted by CO2 and reradiated E gross incoming energy from sun intercepted by CO2 and conducted to atmosphere G gross incoming energy from sun intercepted by CO2 and conducted to surface C gross outgoing energy from surface intercepted by CO2 and reradiated D gross outgoing energy from surface intercepted by CO2 and conducted to atmosphere

The total energy reaching the planet’s surface will remain unchanged at A – B – E – G + B/2 + E + G = A – B/2 units.

Incoming and outgoing energy is equal and the system is in balance.

We also have energy conducted from the atmosphere to the CO2 and thereby reradiated.
As before we divide this flow into F/2 radiated outwards and F/2 radiated inwards:

Diagram 8

 Legend A gross flow of energy from sun to earth gross flow of energy from earth to space X gross flow of energy from surface to atmosphere gross flow of energy from atmosphere to surface B gross incoming energy from sun intercepted by CO2 and reradiated E gross incoming energy from sun intercepted by CO2 and conducted to atmosphere G gross incoming energy from sun intercepted by CO2 and conducted to surface C gross outgoing energy from surface intercepted by CO2 and reradiated D gross outgoing energy from surface intercepted by CO2 and conducted to atmosphere F gross outgoing energy from surface to atmosphere to CO2 and reradiated

As can be seen, none of these additional flows have any net effect on the planetary energy balance.

The total energy reaching the planet’s surface will be A – B – E – G + E + G + B/2 = A – B/2 units.

Incoming and outgoing energy is equal and the system is in balance.

Conclusion

Flow analysis shows that, CO2 back-radiation does exist, but is no different than conduction from the atmosphere back to the surface.  If one warms the surface, then both warm the surface.  If one doesn’t warm the surface, then neither can warm the surface.

Flow analysis specifically shows that if CO2 contributes to the greenhouse effect, then convection back to the surface from a GHG free atmosphere also contributes to the greenhouse effect.

This results in a logical contradiction, in that flow analysis shows an atmosphere free of GHG contributes to the greenhouse effect in in the same manner as CO2, by returning energy to the surface that has been lost from the surface.

However, flow analysis does show that adding CO2 to the atmosphere increases the effective albedo by a factor proportional to B/2.  This suggests that climate models that assume a constant albedo may over-estimate warming due to CO2.

Increasing albedo with increasing CO2 is consistent with the leveling of temperatures post 1945 and 1998, consistent with the post WWII industrialization and the more recent industrialization of China and India.

1. Stephen Wilde says:

“This results in a logical contradiction, in that flow analysis shows an atmosphere free of GHG contributes to the greenhouse effect in in the same manner as CO2, by returning energy to the surface that has been lost from the surface.

However, flow analysis does show that adding CO2 to the atmosphere increases the effective albedo by a factor proportional to B/2. This suggests that climate models that assume a constant albedo may over-estimate warming due to CO2.”

I think this means that:

i) A non GHG atmosphere heats the surface just as effectively by downward conduction and convection as would an entirely GHG atmosphere via downward radiation.

ii) In the case of downward radiation the effect is offset by the albedo increase whereby the cooling effect of upward radiation effectively cancels out any warming effect of downward radiation.

Perfect 🙂

However that is only the baseline position. Lots of other factors such as changing albedo from other causes or changes in oceanic rates of energy release are in play in the real world.

2. TerryS says:

Correction: The equations should have “B/2” instead of “B2”

PS. About the clearest explanation I’ve seen.

3. Stephen Wilde says:

“We have already shown that the non-radiating atmosphere cannot warm the surface by conducting energy back that has been lost. Otherwise the planet would warm considerably as compared to a planet without an atmosphere.”

Observations show that it does warm.

Thus the ATE and the Ideal Gas Law.

The effect of ATE is to hold the warmest molecules at the surface so that conduction and convection fail for a period of time to flow AWAY from the surface until the surface temperature has risen sufficiently to restore the upward conductive/convective flow.

Gravity, pressure and density work on the surface temperature by altering the rate of flow away from the surface.

4. Paul-in-UK says:

Just learning:

As far as I know thermal radiation is emitted by all matter (which obviously includes all gases).

From Wikipedia:

“Thermal energy is the collective mean kinetic energy of the random movements of atoms and molecules in matter. Atoms and molecules are composed of charged particles, i.e. protons and electrons and their oscillations result in the electrodynamic generation of coupled electric and magnetic fields, resulting in the emission of photons, radiating energy and carrying entropy away from the body through its surface boundary.”

A gas, if it’s warmed up say by conduction, will have thermal energy to radiate. So I can’t see how you can have an atmosphere that doesn’t radiate thermal energy.

Visible light, infrared, UV are all examples of thermal radiation. People are thinking infra red is the only form of thermal radiation. The sun emits thermal radiation, not just infra red.

5. tallbloke says:

Terry: Which equations? There are B/2 everywhere in this text and on the diagram. Thanks

6. TerryS says:

Example
A – B – E – G + E + G + B2 = A – B/2
should be:
A – B – E – G + E + G + B/2 = A – B/2

The LHS of all the equations have B2 instead of B/2

7. Stephen Wilde says:

“A gas, if it’s warmed up say by conduction, will have thermal energy to radiate. So I can’t see how you can have an atmosphere that doesn’t radiate thermal energy.”

Oxygen and Nitrogen forming the bulk of the atmosphere have a very limited ability to radiate even when warmed by convection and conduction.

That is why AGW alarmists say that GHGs can make so much difference.

As soon as one can involve Oxygen and Nitrogen in the Atmospheric Thermal Effect/ Greemhouse Effect then the significance of GHGs disappears.

I dont think the AGW proponents are going to give up easily even though the science about gases (ALL gases) warming up under pressure has been well established for 150 years or so.

8. wayne says:

Greg Elliot, what an EXCELLENT logical analysis! Thanks for finally drawing all of those vast relations together with the equations. All have heard or said many of those same points one by one, lost in the fast flow of blogs, but it looks like it took you to finally conquer it. Touché warmists! That’s gotta hurt! ;=)

9. tallbloke says:

Terry: Thanks, sorted.

Wayne: High praise indeed from you!

10. I think Fig 3 and onwards are wrong
GHG receive little heat from the sun. Most is radiated from the earth. And this changes everything.

A from sun to earth
X from earth to non GHG by conduction
X from non GHG to earth by conduction (balanced)
B from earth to GHG
B/2 From GHG to space
B/2 from GHG to earth
this gives earth receiving A+B/2
Earth in “equilibrium” so A+B/2 radiated
Only way this can happen is if earth is hotter

11. ChemEng says:

Every equation where ‘B2’ appears should be ‘B/2’- it must have been copied & pasted throughout the text.

12. tallbloke says:

Hi Chemeng, I fixed that 30 mins ago! At least you’re taking your time to read and that demonstrates a span of attention. 🙂

13. steveta_uk says:

Couple of things wrong here, I beleive.

First, all references to CO2 relaly mean GHG – water vapour has far more impact than CO2, but the flows remain valid

Secondly, the albedo impact of CO2 is greatly exagerated – incoming SW is not intercepted by CO2, so there is no reason to add the B/2 reflection term in diagram 3.

Finally, I don’t understand the “convection back to the surface from a GHG free atmosphere also contributes to the greenhouse effect” – the flow diagram shows F out == F in, so no contribution there.

14. P.G. Sharrow says:

Nice clear, logical argument, with pictures to assist in the logic flow. No need to call to authority for justification of points and formula. We need to present clarity and not smoke and mirrors.

Now if someone can present a simple argument that 0.035 percent is too small an amount to have any useful effect on any heat flow calculation. We can ignore the effects of CO2 on weather/climate and get on with real science. pg

15. Stephen Wilde says:

“GHG receive little heat from the sun. Most is radiated from the earth. And this changes everything.”

Wherever GHGs get their energy from they send half up and half down. Non GHGs cannot radiate to space so they send 100% down.

Anything sent out to space by GHGs is therefore a setoff against the energy they send down.

I think that a flow diagram is of use but the proper interpretation depends on lots of other stuff because internal features of the Earth system can skew the weightings for any or all of the flows that are pictured.

16. I posted this just yesterday at B.H. Basically the same conclusion.

“Non dimensional inverse relationship of CO2 and temperature.

A planet with atmosphere, when in a state of equilibrium, will emit the same quantity of energy as it receives from an external source. Consider a photon leaving the sun in the IR absorption band of CO2. As it enters an atmosphere with CO2, it has a chance of interception and a further chance, ~50%, of being reflected to space rather than passed along to the surface. Over time ~50% of that intercepted will be reflected and therefore, the presence of CO2 in an atmosphere reduces incoming energy at this stage. For equilibrium, outgoing energy must also be less. If all else remains equal, it would seem intuitive that the temperature attained by the system to cause outgoing to balance incoming flux will be lower than would have been the case if CO2 had been absent.

Daytime (net inflow);
Consider photons arriving then leaving the surface in the IR absorption bands of CO2. In these bands there will be no net incoming flux as a photon has the same chance of continuing its journey outwards after interception by CO2 as one intercepted while incoming. However, as these interactions are within the system, energy resides in the atmosphere in the form of the raised energy state of CO2 molecules. It should be seen that with no net inward flux at the absorption bands, surface temperatures themselves do not rise. The surface warming that does occur and which maintains equilibrium must therefore be (at least primarily) from radiation outside the frequencies of the CO2 absorption bands.

Night-time (net outflow);
Consider photons leaving the surface in the IR absorption band of CO2. The chance of reflection of a photon back to the surface by any CO2 has not changed but net flux is outward from both surface and atmosphere. Because of rotation of the system, the daytime raised energy state of the CO2 molecules is lost to space within that flux.

Day / night cycle;
Accepting that IR at the CO2 absorption frequencies does no work within the system if intercepted in the atmosphere but does have an impedance effect on outgoing IR at those frequencies then it only indirectly warms the surface by reducing outgoing flux. IR that is not intercepted in the atmosphere and all other frequencies reach the surface and that which is not directly reflected is absorbed there by conduction and spread to the atmosphere by convection. It is that process that does direct work on the system and is the primary driver of temperatures.

The non-dimensional question is: does the impedance of additional atmospheric CO2 to outgoing radiation overcome its partial blocking of incoming and lead to higher temperatures?

A small increase in CO2 concentration would lower day-time temperatures by the initial partial reflection to space. Lower initial night-time temperatures would follow. Taking the increase in concentration alone, it can be seen that the equilibrium average temperature must also be lowered. Therefore, changes in GAT (global average temperature) correlate inversely with increasing CO2 concentrations.

For that to be false, the amount of energy in the system to cause an increase in GAT would require an increase in emissivity to allow equilibrium. As the only change is a reduction in emissivity due to the impeding presence of increased CO2, then the conclusion is true.”

Perhaps I should have used ‘albedo’ instead of ’emissivity’ but the result is the same I believe.

17. wayne says:

steveta_uk says:
January 20, 2012 at 4:24 pm
“Secondly, the albedo impact of CO2 is greatly exagerated – incoming SW is not intercepted by CO2…”

Hi Steve. Have you checked the spectrums lately? Even NASA finally admits most (>50%) of solar radation is infrared. I hate words such as ‘no’, ‘not’, ‘always’ and ‘never’ in subjects such as radiation. Such are usually wrong. For example, look at argon’s real spectrum, I mean taken by an astronomical telescope, not HITRAN, MODTRAN, and other model computer programs… there are lines spread all over the entire visual spectrum! I’m sure the same for CO2.

18. Mike WIlliams says:

Are there not at least 2 different “atmospheres” to consider: the H2O dominated troposphere with its ability to store and move energy (e.g. the jet stream); and the “dry” stratosphere where radiation is king?

Also DFDs don’t reflect time (in this case energy storage causing delays between in/out) this limits their use in distributed real-time computer system design where data writers and readers aren’t synchronized.

19. malagaview says:

I stopped reading at “Diagram 2” as this is clearly wrong.

The atmosphere encapsulates the Earth

Therefore:

1) The flow from the Sun is to [or thru] the atmosphere [not the Earth].

2) The flow to Space is from [or thru] the atmosphere [not the Earth].

I assume this is the “Windows Version” of the diagrams as they don’t work 🙂

20. steveta_uk says:

Wayne, is this wrong?

21. Paul-in-UK says:

“Non GHGs cannot radiate to space so they send 100% down.”

So if we put hydrogen gas or oxygen gas into space and it formed into a ball due to gravity would it stay hot forever?

22. wayne says:

steveta_uk, most low res spectrums on the web, especially roughly drawn ones as your example are in a very, very rough example ‘right’ but are still not accurate. Here’s the example of Ar: http://astro.u-strasbg.fr/~koppen/discharge/argon.html (courtesy of anna v) and for some reason the ionized spectrum fails to show but the neutral one displays. Now, I have to rely on your gut reasoning, if a mono-nuclear inert noble gas – that so many say never absorbs or radiates – actually has such numerous lines in the visual spectrum, don’t you imagine that co2 will have even more and probably stronger? I don’t have a co2 in hand to show you but you would have to just believe me that co2 does, just like h2o. I have seen them but would have trouble relocating the exact site, always either a university or science research site.

23. malagaview says:
January 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm

“1) The flow from the Sun is to [or thru] the atmosphere [not the Earth].

2) The flow to Space is from [or thru] the atmosphere [not the Earth].”

Diagram 2 is for a transparent atmosphere and for the purpose of the argument is shown to have no effect. Seems reasonable.

24. malagaview says:

simpleseekeraftertruth says: January 20, 2012 at 5:52 pm
Diagram 2 is for a transparent atmosphere and for the purpose of the argument is shown to have no effect. Seems reasonable.

The whole purpose of Flow Diagrams is to show the FLOW.

These don’t show the FLOW… they are wrong… so why bother?

These have nothing to do with the real world or any world come to that… why bother?

GIGO – Garbage In Garbage Out

25. steveta_uk says:

malagaview, you are aware I assume that diagram 1 had even less detail? So why go all loony about diagram 2? Read to the very end.

26. tchannon says:

Perhaps comments about the notation used should be resisted because there is no universally understood method. If what is used here does not work for you, move along, sorry. There will be other explanations in due course.

The form used does not include sequence/time as several have pointed out, it doesn’t, we have to accept that. (things like Jackson do but few have heard of such things, I have my own notations for realtime and for that matter maths has various languages, no-one does everything,
brief text showing one size does not fit all http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=67931)

27. malagaview says:

Diagram 3 is also WRONG

CO2 is encapsulated within the Atmosphere as a gas and disolved in water.
C02 is encapsulated within the Earth as a gas, solid and disolved in water.

CO2 FLOWS into the Earth from the Atmosphere
CO2 FLOWS from the Earth into the Atmosphere
Perhaps some CO2 FLOWS from the Atmosphere into Space…

H2O is also FLOWing and changing states…

The physical flow of CO2 and H2O are not a zero degrees Kelvin.

I could go on…

The FLOW diagrams are WRONG – END OF STORY.

28. malagaview says:

steveta_uk says:
January 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm
So why go all loony about diagram 2?

If the Flow Diagram is wrong then everything that “flows” from it is wrong.

The same applies in algebra:
If an equation is wrong then everything that follows it is wrong.

The same applies in programming:
If a function is wrong then everthing that replies upon it is wrong.

END OF STORY.

29. malagaview says:

tchannon says:
January 20, 2012 at 6:29 pm
Perhaps comments about the notation used should be resisted because there is no universally understood method

I think the notation was clearly defined up front:

What emerged was the concept of Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) as part of “Structured Programming”.

If THE FLOWS ARE WRONG
Then the SYSTEM IS WRONG.

END OF STORY.

30. Stephen Wilde says:

“So if we put hydrogen gas or oxygen gas into space and it formed into a ball due to gravity would it stay hot forever?”

No because it isn’t quite 100% but it is a lot less than that 50% for GHGs.

31. malagaview says:

Please use caps sparingly. They hurt my ears. Thanks.

Apologies…

accepted 🙂

32. P.G. Sharrow says:

@Malagaview; calm down, it is just a simplified energy flow chart. Could have been boxes or triangles or just underlines. pg

33. Stephen Wilde says:

malagaview,

If it helps, my initial enthusiasm for this thread has waned.

The flow chart though pretty and helpful in some respects tells us nothing about the relative weights to be allocated to each portion in the real world.

The downward IR from CO2 molecules might or might not be offset by the upward IR from CO2 molecules. I personally think it is and the N & Z data if confirmed suggests that it is but for the purposes of the flow chart it ain’t necessarily so.

It is just a cartoon like the Trenberth effort.

Chill.

34. Nick says:

Garbage. Boy the people on the pro AGW web-sites could have a field day ripping this to shreds.

Diagram 1 is OK.

Diagram 2 is, sort of OK. Though if heat moves from the earth to the atmosphere (and back again) the atmosphere would have some temperature. And then it would radiate at least some heat out to space. So there ought to be an arrow from the atmosphere to space showing some small value. And this value should be subtracted from the amount going from earth to space.

Diagram 3 is nonsense. The CO2 has been drawn in the flow of heat from sun to earth. CO2 is largely transparent to visuble light (if it wasn’t you’d be able to see the stuff). CO2 should be shown absorbing outgoing heat, and the amount it absorbs should be deducted from the outgoing earth to space figure.

After that it just gets really messed up with multiple separate CO2 ‘bubbles’. The diagram only has one earth, one atmosphere, one suin, one space. There should just be one CO2 container.

Drawn properly, you can assume the atmosphere and CO2 are transparent to visible light, so no need to include them at all on the incoming side. CO2 and atmosphere appear on the outgoing side. There is also heat exchange between the two (mixed together – they will be at the same temperature).

Nick.

35. Nick has sort of got it right. Another point to consider is the direction of of energy flow. Energy can only flow from high potential to low potential (in the case of heat from high temperature to low temperature – there can be no flow of heat from a low temperature gas cloud in the atmosphere to a high temperature earth surface). Work input can change a low potential to a high potential so that energy can flow in the other direction but only to the extent that the low potential plus the work input exceeds that of the high potential. This applies to heat energy, electrical energy, kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy.
I do not know enough about magnetic energy but I do know that a magnetic field is directional. If two magnets of exactly the same type are brought together at the same pole, the magnets will repel each other and work needs to be done to hold them together. If they are brought together at opposite poles, they will attract each other and the fields will be added. ( I think that if held together for sufficient time a strong magnet can overcome a weak magnet and reverse the direction in it)
I would suggest that heat fields has similarities to electrical and magnetic fields and that opposing fields (at various wavelengths) either cancel or repel each other. Certainly, in all measurements I have performed there is only a net heat flow or if the temperatures are the same no heat flow.

Diagram 2 is wrong in the net. It is necessary to divide the earth surface into two -roughly night and day. During the day the warmer earth surface can heat the cooler atmosphere, at night (includes month long nights at the poles) a warmer atmosphere may be able to heat a colder earth surface. Diagram 6 is wrong.

36. Nick says:

cementafriend:

…Another point to consider is the direction of of energy flow. Energy can only flow from high potential to low potential (in the case of heat from high temperature to low temperature – there can be no flow of heat from a low temperature gas cloud in the atmosphere to a high temperature…

That’s true-ish. But probably not the best way of thinking about it. The argument is different depending on whether the heat transfer is by radiation or by convection/conduction. For conduction the amount of heat the flow is proportional to the temperature difference. So, you’d normally just draw one arrow. The direction of the arrow would be from the warmer to the colder.

But radiation is slightly different. The equation for radiation doesn’t include the temperature of the body that the radiation falls onto. Say you have two metal spheres close but not touching. (In a vaccum if you want to get really fussy). One at room temperature, and one you’ve stuck into a furnace and brough out so it’s glowing red-hot. Both would be emitting radiation, and in both case, radiation from one would be falling on the other. The net effect is of a flow of heat from the warmer to the cooler. But radiation would be flowing in both directions. How can it not? This would require the red light coming out of the hotter object to somehow decide not to emit itself in the direction that happens to fall on the other cooler object.

If anyone wants to draw these diagrams properly, I think it would make sense to use different kinds of lines for radiation and for convection/conduction transfers. And maybe use upper/lower case letters to differentiate.

Nick.

37. Lawrie says:

I thought the diagrams were helpful, so thanks. While simplifying a procedure makes it easier to understand it doesn’t and usually can’t explain the myriad interactions that take place within the atmosphere. I have always admired the way the earth regulates localised heat build-up. Living in a temperate zone and watching how clouds build on a hot day conveying heat to space I realised long ago that the Trenberths of this world should get outside more. Convection not only distributes heat around the globe, it also helps dissipate it to space as well.

38. Sorry, Nick radiation is not different. That is what the alarmists and lukewarmers who do not understand heat and mass transfer (mostly non-engineers with no experience) would like you to believe. Have you ever made measurements in processes & examined errors? Have you ever designed heat exchange equipment.? Thought bubbles do not work unless they have been proved by measurement in real situations.
Maybe I should have put it more clearly- there is no radiant heat absorbed by a hot surface from a cooler surface source.

39. AusieDan says:

I hate to throw rain on your parade, but you cannot discuss climate in a meaningful manner if you insist in ignoring the main GHG (Water vapor) and the impact of clouds in the atmosphere.

Forget all about CO2, it’s a bit player and its impact, whatever that may be, is vastly overshaddowed by the fluctiating humidity and cloudiness.

The little thought bubbles in the present posting are very pretty, but tell us very little about what controls the temperature in either the short or the long term.

First to the short term. From the initial results of the ongoing series of CERN experiments, we already know that intergalatical cosmic rays can seed the very beginnings of cloud formation. I’ll leave it to others to decide what causes humidity to fluctiate wildy from place to place and from time to time.

As to the long term – it is quite possible that the new theory proposed by N&Z will provide a completley new Paradigm which will enable us to understand that the temperature is ultimately controlled by distance from the sun (illuminosity) and atmospheric pressure at the surface,
In doing so, we will all achieve a better understanding of how the various laws of physics fit togerther to determine the climate.

GHGs certainly do have an effect but the nature of that effect is at present very uncertain.
At present it is high summer in Sydney, Australia, where the weather is usually regarded as reliably hot and that the skies will always be blue as can be. We can usually expect many days with maximums well over 30C.
This year it has been cool, rainy and cloudy all the time.

There are long term statistics for daily maximum and mininum temperatures going back to 1859, with monthly average max for January of 25.9C and min 18.7C.
For the first 20 days of January 2012, the max has averaged 25.8C and the min 18.6C.
Go figure.
Then try to fit all that into your though bubbles.

40. AusieDan says:

On reflection, “thought bubbles” may sound quite rude.

I was just trying to point out that reality is very complicated and cannot be viably modelled, if the main factors are ignored.

By the way, flow diagrams do seem to be a good way of sorting the grain from the chaff.
Just don’t throw away the all the grain before you reach for your pen and paper.

41. tchannon says:

cementafriend,

Wording is very critical.

“there is no radiant heat absorbed by a hot surface from a cooler surface source.”

Incorrect.

No net heat is transferred by thermal radiation (flux) from a hot body to a cooler body.

As a consequence of non-availability of time travel a surface emits thermal radiation and does so without knowledge of incoming radiation. Two surfaces both continuously emit and receive thermal flux.

If they are the same temperature this balances exactly and no net heat is transferred.

Now, one effect of the presence of another body is attenuation of heat loss, ie. net transfer to a third party is slowed.

Bet that still isn’t clear.

42. tchannon, maybe we are saying the same thing but from a different perspective. I do not like thought bubbles but try this as a way of explanation. A near black body very flat large area surface (say emissivity =0.9) say at 1000K radiates in isolation (ie no other sources of heat flux) to a similar size parallel shiney polished metal surface (say emissivity 0.1) at 300K. There will be some heat flow from the hot surface to the cooler one but it will be small because most is reflected back to cancel incoming flux. Now turn the situation around let the polished surface be 1000K and the other surface be 300K. The net heat flux should be the same assuming that emissivities do not change with temperature (they actually do which changes the calculations) but the outflow from the hotter source is less and less is canceled by outflow from the colder source.
Maybe the difference in perspective comes about the mechanism of heat exchange. The AGW believers say that the heat is actually absorbed by both the source and receiver which I say violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics. I say that back heat flow either never occurs or is cancelled just before it reaches either surface or somewhere between. How otherwise can one explain reflection or transmission.
Please note reflection and transmission are part of the definitions of emssivity and absortpivity. It is nonsense to talk about an Albedo which covers part of e-m spectrum and use a separate emissivity for the remaining e-m spectrum. You then need to define the wavelength range of the separate parts and a function that allows the parts to be integrated.

43. Further to the above read the next post about Fourier. He talks about rays. There are no photons only energy waves which when concentrated can act as quantums of flowing energy. I have previously mentioned Nobel prize winning physicist WE Lamb Jr the following is an article refuting the existance of photons http://www-3.unipv.it/fis/tamq/Anti-photon.pdf / This is further amplified in this http://arxiv.org/abs/1009.5119 Also note the practical engineering side in this http://www.worldsci.org/pdf/abstracts/abstracts_5711.pdf

44. These are flow diagrams. By another name, flux diagrams.

Dia 1 shows equilibrium state which is the state used (correctly) in the expanded explanations that follow in the consecutive diagrams.

Dia 2 shows the flux between Earth – atmosphere in that equilibrium state where the atmosphere is transparent to the full spectrum of radiation from the sun. The Earth – atmosphere flux is convective only and this is because the atmosphere is transparent and cannot itself radiate.

Dia 3 introduces CO2 to the atmosphere which renders it semi-transparent. This causes half of the radiation in the absorption band of CO2 to be reflected to space. That is not controversial as it is a known characteristic of a CO2 molecule. The incoming spectrum has been divided into A and B components so that B, the frequency of absorption of CO2 can be considered. The system is in equilibrium but the flux through it is less by half of B.

Dia 4 If you are with me so far then you will be able to work through the remainder of the diagrams.

If you are still with me you will be able to recognise that adding more CO2 will increase the value of B and further reduce the flux through the Earth – atmosphere system. The take-away message is that increasing the concentration of CO2 in an atmosphere has a cooling effect on its overall temperature.

You might then want to take the leap to the conclusion that CO2 is a refrigerant gas (which ironically is one of its uses in commercial refrigeration plant) in an otherwise transparent atmosphere. The final conclusion by Greg Elliot may or may not be a step too far but is a good observation. If he does not mind me adding an observation of my own then consider the CO2 lag over temperature shown in ice core data: CO2 released to atmosphere in a warming world would be a refrigerant restoring balance.

Thank you Greg.

45. I should perhaps add the obvious which is that this broadly supports the work of Nikolov and Zeller creating much interest elsewhere at Tallbloke’s.

46. Nick says:

cementafriend,

“there is no radiant heat absorbed by a hot surface from a cooler surface source.”

No. Not quite.

“there is no NET radiant heat absorbed by a hot surface from a cooler surface source.”

I can live with 🙂

An equation for heat conduction looks something like:

H = k(T1-T0)

The amount of heat that flows is proportional to the difference in temperature. k depends on the conductivity of the material – the area of the material and the thickness of the material. In fact, heat probably is flowing in both directions – but it cancels out. The equation gives the NET heat transfer.

For radiation, the equation for one body is:

H = ekT^4. e is emissivity and k is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant.

T is the absolute temperature of the one object for which you are calculating the radiated heat. Note – the temperature of the other body, or the rest of the universe does not appear. To calculate the net heat flow between two bodies you’d have to do something like:

H = ekT1^4 – ekT0^4

And because of that pesky ^4 it is probably a mistake to try and combine the terms. The amount of heat transfered does not depend on the difference between T1 and T0. It depends on their actual values. if T1 is 1 degK and T0 is 0deg K, the heat transfer is small. if T1 is 1000 deg K and T0 is 999 deg K the heat transferred will be much, much, much larger.

Nick

47. Hans says:

I don´t see much use of this diagram since it suffers by a reductionistic treatment of a complex system. Carbon dioxide is chosen as the one relevant factor. Another choice could have been
1. ice chrystals in the atmosphere, 2, nanodroplets in the atmosphere, 3. water vapour, 4. dust particle, 5, rain drops (clouds) 6. salt particles and even more. All these factors are affecting IR radiation. Just chose one of them and replace carbon dioxide. You will reach similar results.

A reductionistic system approach is one of the most common faults when trying to treat complex systems. IPCC has developed that method for PR purposes. It is hard to “sell” and explanation that involves more than one independant variable to the average laymen.

48. A. C. Osborn says:

If and it is a massive If, you accept diagrams 1 to 3, in diagram 4 aren’t energies E & G the same as B which has already been counted. If not then B must be changed to B- (E+G) and then halved for re-radiation.
Of course much more than half gets re-radiated away from the surface.

49. A. C. Osborn says:
January 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm

“…in diagram 4 aren’t energies E & G the same as B which has already been counted.”

The direct flow of Sun to surface is reduced to become A-B-E-G. Nomenclature in the text under.

50. Greg Elliott says:

I’d like to thank the reviewer for their comments and encouragement and to personally thank Roger.

Some observations:
1) In general, the simplest model able to answer the question is preferred.
2) The model is an energy flow diagram, not a data flow diagram.
3) Real-time systems such a day/night and weather can be modeled by state diagrams, which are concerned with transition.
4) State diagrams, data flows and energy flow diagrams are all forms of directed graphs.
5) Time was purposely removed from the model to study the question in equilibrium, not transition.
6) Magnitude was purposely excluded from the model, because in that direction lies madness. If you place 10 experts in a room and ask them to quantify the flows, you will receive 20 different opinions and be arguing until doomsday.

Some of the reviewer were perhaps unfamiliar with flow diagrams:
7) Abstraction and representational notation allows us to model CO2, earth, the atmosphere as one or more bubbles to aid understanding.
8) There is no requirement to limit the atmosphere for example to one bubble, simply because there is only one physical atmosphere.
9) Each bubble represents a process or entity, which many contain many processes or entities.
10) There is no requirement to draw the earth inside the atmosphere simply because of its physical location. The earth is not located on your computer screen.
11) An equivalent graph can be drawn with the earth’s bubble inside the atmosphere, and the CO2 bubbles inside the atmosphere. For clarity this was not done.

Conclusions:
12) As noted, the model was inspired by the N&Z paper and in my opinion either broadly supports their conclusion, or indicates that the GHG model is incomplete.
13) Specifically: the model shows that conduction between the atmosphere and surface is no different than radiation between CO2 and the surface.
14) Specifically: if back-radiation contributes to the greenhouse effect, then back-conduction must also contribute to the greenhouse effect.
15) Specifically: if back-conduction does not contribute to the greenhouse effect, then back-radiation cannot contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Secondary conclusion:
16) Models that assume constant albedo with increasing CO2 likely overstate warming

feedback is welcome

Greg Elliott

51. Greg Elliott says:

Stephen Wilde says:
January 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm
I think this means that:

What the model shows is that if a NON GHG atmosphere does not increase surface temperatures by way of back-conduction, above what is predicted for a black-body temperature, then a GHG atmosphere cannot raise the temperatures by back-radiation.

Since one of the criticisms of N&Z is that a NON GHG atmosphere CANNOT increase surface temperatures above what is predicted for a black-body temperature, the model broadly supports the N&Z position that something other than the greenhouse effects warms the planet above what is predicted for a black-body temperature.

Otherwise, by claiming that only GHG can warm the planet above what is predicted for a black-body temperature, this leads to a contradiction of physical laws. It requires that radiant energy be capable of slowing cooling, while conducted energy not be capable.

While this argument might be hard to see on a planet where the surface temperature is uniform, on a planet such as the earth it is rather self-evident. Energy that is conducted away from a hot spot on the surface and carried to a cold spot (either by the wind or day turning to night), some of that energy must be conducted back to the surface and thereby slow the cooling of the surface.

This is the exact same process that is predicted for the greenhouse effect. Yet, the model shows it will occur in an atmosphere totally without GHG.

What this means is this:

1) Either the greenhouse theory is wrong and something else about the atmosphere other than GHG warms the planet. (gravity?)

or:

2) The greenhouse theory is partially correct, and back-radiation and back-conduction both warm the planet above what is predicted for a black-body temperature, by returning to the surface energy that would otherwise be lost.

Point 2 does not preclude gravity also taking part in the warming. If the greenhouse theory is wrong about conduction, that is evidence that it could be wrong elsewhere.

52. dp says:

The presence of a radiating gas in the atmosphere (and which also absorbs) has a larger diameter than the planet surface and that changes the area of absorption and radiation. I don’t see where CO2 transfers energy from the surface by conduction but that is a lot of balloons to keep track of.

53. steven mosher says:

Nice. except you’ve misunderstood the mechanism entirely.

back radiation does not warm the surface, that is, there is no net warming.

The GHG effect is simply this: As the atmosphere is made to be more opaque to IR, the effective radiating height increases. This means that energy returns to space from a HIGHER and consequently COOLER altitude. This, effectively SLOWS the rate cooling at the surface.
that slowdown in the rate of cooling at the surface is refered to as “warming”

If the earth re radiated from a lower altitude ( ie a warmer altitude) then the rate of energy loss would be higher. remember hot bodies lose radiation faster than cool ones. So, when GHGs create a more opaque atmosphere, the result is that energy is radiated from cooler higher region in the atmopshere. That, recall, means the rate will be lower. It is basic radiative physics (GHGs are opaque to IR) and energy balance. To keep the earth in energy balance the surface must ‘warm”.

Back radiation isnt “additional” energy. it doesnt produce a net warming of the surface. Its an EFFECT of the atmospheres opacity.

Of course, this is explained clearly in textbooks and most AGW folks have butchered the explaination in the mass media.

54. kdk33 says:

Actually…

The more opaque the atmosphere, the higher the characteristic emissions altitutde (CEA). The temperature at the CEA is always the characteristic emissions temperature. Because the atmosphere has a temperature gradient set by the lapse rate, raising the CAE raises the surface temperature by an amount equal to delta-CEA * lapse-rate.

The rate of cooling (or heating) doesn’t change. Except during the transient while the temperature is changing. Otherwise, the cooling (or heating) would never stop.

I think

55. Brian H says:

The “F” flows don’t match the conclusion (‘balanced’). F/2 comes back to the Earth, and is not subsequently accounted for.

56. dp says:

Mosher sed: “Nice. except you’ve misunderstood the mechanism entirely.

back radiation does not warm the surface, that is, there is no net warming.”

I’ve given up on that point – an amazing number of people repeat this and then complain when you point out this fact. I’ve decided they’re describing the right outcome the wrong way and move on. TB’s new best friend Willis got rather pissy when I pointed this out, frinstance. It seems it would be easier to teach someone to lose their accent when speaking.

57. Brian H says:

kdk33;
At last someone fingers this! There’s also the greater “emitting surface area” effect of R^2 when you raise it.

58. billhunts09@yahoo.com says:

This is an excellent approach! I tried this last year on another blog to get an AGW proponent to fill in the values of the various arrows but he refused to do it. Your explanation does a much better job of presenting it.

I would suggest the only way to get a greenhouse effect would be to provide a non-radiative function that has a difference in the in and out values change fundamentally the temperatures of a number of components. For example, cooling of the atmosphere by the surface radiating faster than the sky and then equalizing via conduction is a much slower process than conduction working hand in hand with convection to transfer surface heat into the atmosphere. When time is not allowed to equilibriate in one direction you will have an inbalance. That inbalance with faster atmospheric heating (from the surface) than cooling would cause the atmosphere to be warmer than it would be at equilibrium.

59. tallbloke says:

dp: It’s not many months since Willis was bloviating and imprecating on this site berating me that back radiation got mixed down into the ocean and warmed it up.

No amount of explanation and logic and simple maths was able to make a dent on his belief.

I’m in the same situation with him now regarding the laws of thermodynamics and ultra simple energy calcs which show why in the atmosphere there will be a thermal gradient proportional to pressure matching the dry adiabatic lapse rate g/Cp when energy is at equilibrium.

You’d think that with gravity being right there in the simple relationship that he’d work it out for himself.

60. tallbloke says:

steven mosher says:
January 22, 2012 at 3:40 am

Nice. except you’ve misunderstood the mechanism entirely.

back radiation does not warm the surface, that is, there is no net warming.

The GHG effect is simply this: As the atmosphere is made to be more opaque to IR, the effective radiating height increases. This means that energy returns to space from a HIGHER and consequently COOLER altitude. This, effectively SLOWS the rate cooling at the surface.
that slowdown in the rate of cooling at the surface is refered to as “warming”

I agree that if the opacity did increase, that the effective radiating height would increase and that this would slow the rate of cooling.

Fact is though, that the empirical evidence provided by Doug Hoyt’s work with pyrheliometers shows that opacity didn’t change over the course of 70 years or so of observations during the C20th. It seems that while co2 increased, something else (probably water vapour/cloudiness) decreased to maintain the overall opacity.

Miskolczi comes to the same conclusion from a theoretical perspective.

Over on the Nilolov and Zeller update thread, Ned says that a consequence of their theory is that opacity is a function of T, not the other way round… whether this is caused by water on Earth, or pools of evaporating Methane on Titan.

It will be interesting to see how it shakes down as their theory develops.

61. tallbloke says:

Greg, many thanks for finding the time to come and respond to the points raised in comments. I hope this is assisting you in developing your analytic method and that we’ll see an update before long.

62. Tallbloke, glad you picked up Steven Mosher. He makes a claim spread through much of AGW believers about the absorption of “greenhouse?” gases.
He should look at the following http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absorption_band and specifically at the diagram http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Atmospheric_Transmission.png. Unfortunately the diagram and article have been exaggerated to help the “Greenhouse” case. But there is no getting away from the measurements that CO2 is a very small absorber and emitter.
The absorption of infrared radiation in the wavelength 0.7 to 70 micron by CO2 is very small and by CH4 almost non-existent. In range 8 to 12 micron in which radiation from the earths surface peaks there is practically no absorption and that is the major part of the radiation “window” which has been measured by satellite to be 66 w/m2 ( acknowledged by Trenberth) not the 40 w/m2 often bandied around.
In the window range of course clouds can absorb radiation but clouds have been ignored by AGW believers. They are not a gas. AGW believers also ignore water vapor which of the gases in the atmosphere is by far the largest absorber of IR.

63. The diagrams are an excellent way of visualising the flux of the system, whatever the outcome. I have used the following argument before only to be told that the maths does not concur;

CO2 when added to the atmosphere, reduces the incoming radiation from the Sun and will, after equalisation, reduce the outgoing. The flux is therefore reduced. The quantity of energy in the system defines the temperature of it and with reduced flux, temperature is reduced. For that not to be true, albedo has to decrease to allow a higher energy state at equilibrium. The effect of CO2 on albedo is to increase, not decrease it and therefore, the current GHG hypothesis is falsified.

Greg Elliot does not state that conclusion directly. I would like to ask him if he supports it?

64. Greg Elliott says:

steven mosher says:
January 22, 2012 at 3:40 am
The GHG effect is simply this: As the atmosphere is made to be more opaque to IR, the effective radiating height increases.

Thanks Steve, doesn’t this lead to two problems however:

1. Observations contradict this prediction as noted elsewhere, which suggest that the GHG effect is a failed theory.
.
2. Temperate varies linearly with (kinetic) energy. You cannot change the temperature of an object without there being an energy flow.

It is this second point that the flow diagrams are addressing. To remove the complexity introduced by RT theory, by analyzing the problem in terms of energy flows rather than radiation.

65. Greg Elliott says:

dp says:
January 22, 2012 at 3:29 am
I don’t see where CO2 transfers energy from the surface by conduction but that is a lot of balloons to keep track of.

In general the model does not distinguish how energy flows from a source to CO2, except when it will aid understanding. If the energy flow is via conduction or radiation, it is still energy.

A distinction arises when the atmosphere is the target of the flow, because we specify the atmosphere itself is non-radiating (thus non-absorbing). Thus, energy can only transfer into and out of the atmosphere by conduction.

The reason we have so many CO2 balloons is because the model is trying to specifically analyze the question of CO2. By breaking out the CO2 balloons we are attempting to reduce the cyclomatic complexity of the CO2 process.

66. Greg Elliott says:

dp says:
January 22, 2012 at 3:29 am
The presence of a radiating gas in the atmosphere (and which also absorbs) has a larger diameter than the planet surface and that changes the area of absorption and radiation.

The model specifically avoids the question of the magnitude of the flows.

67. Greg Elliott says:

Brian H says:
January 22, 2012 at 5:15 am
The “F” flows don’t match the conclusion (‘balanced’). F/2 comes back to the Earth, and is not subsequently accounted for.

In the original version I has two flows marked F/2 from earth to atmosphere so that the balance would be obvious. I ran out of room for the arrow-heads so I collapsed these two flows into one marked “F” from earth to atmosphere.

To explain the balance:

F units of energy are conducted from earth to the atmosphere. These F units of energy are then conducted to CO2 (can’t be radiated because the atmosphere is non-radiating). F/2 units of this energy is radiated to space, F/2 units of this energy is radiated back to earth.

Any of the F units of energy from the CO2 that is conducted back to the atmosphere or surface simply reduce the original value of F to a lower value of F, so to simplify the analysis they need not be drawn.

This leaves us with a net -F+F/2 units of energy on the earth, which we show leaving the earth for space as -F/2. Balancing that we have the F/2 units radiated from the CO2 to space as noted earlier.

68. Greg Elliott says:

tallbloke says:
January 22, 2012 at 8:47 am
Greg, many thanks for finding the time to come and respond to the points raised in comments. I hope this is assisting you in developing your analytic method and that we’ll see an update before long.

Thanks Rog, I appreciate your help and all the feedback from the reviewers. While it is easier to agree with the positive reviews, the negative reviews can be more valuable from an analysis point of view, as they point the way forward in developing the model.

69. Greg Elliott says:

simpleseekeraftertruth says:
January 22, 2012 at 9:55 am
The effect of CO2 on albedo is to increase, not decrease it and therefore, the current GHG hypothesis is falsified. Greg Elliot does not state that conclusion directly. I would like to ask him if he supports it?

I agree that CO2 increases the albedo, by a factor of B/2 for incoming energy as shown in the model. This really is indisputable. Thus any model that assumes a constant albedo when calculating the effects of CO2 is wrong.

To the extent that this falsifies the GHG effect, I don’t think the model can answer that as yet until I address the issues raised. Which means discussing the pros and cons of the model, analyzing the results, and then modifying the model itself to better answer the questions.

In the end I believe we all have the same intention. To try and explain the world around us in terms that make sense to us. For the vast majority of the population, a graphical solution is much easier to understand and validate than either verbal or mathematical models.

70. TerryS says:

Re: Greg Elliott

by a factor of B/2 for incoming energy as shown in the model. This really is indisputable.

This is the Internet where everything is disputable 🙂

B/2 is only true at ground level because the Earth is a sphere. Simple trigonometry shows that at 1km 51% gets radiated into space. At 10km it’s 52%, 30km it’s 53%. Should any CO2 molecules happen to make into the Thermosphere then between 56 and 64% will be radiated into space.

71. tallbloke says:

Terry: Are you neglecting the effect of gravity on those photons?

Tut Tut. 🙂

72. Bob Ryan says:

Greg: many thanks for your post and your simple energy flow diagram. Having become concerned about this topic some three or four years ago I have kept coming back time and again to the question you address. I have always assumed I have been missing something very obvious. So, to clarify my thinking: the presence of GHG’s should increase the albedo of the planet with respect to incoming as well as upwelling IR compared with a planet with no GHG’s. A CO2 molecule is quite oblivious to the direction a photon is coming from, nor does it care where it happens to be in the atmosphere. It re-radiates that photon and given that part of the solar emission spectra is at the relevant frequency that GHG molecule will be just as efficient in returning that photon to space as it will at bouncing it back to earth What this implies is that the net effect of increasing CO2 concentration (and this applies to H2O, O3 and CH4) will either be warming or cooling depending on the relative energy balance radiated at the relevant frequency by the sun and the earth respectively. Have I got this right?

73. Greg Elliott says:

TerryS says:
January 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm
This is the Internet where everything is disputable 🙂
B/2 is only true at ground level because the Earth is a sphere. Simple trigonometry shows that at 1km 51% gets radiated into space. At 10km it’s 52%, 30km it’s 53%. Should any CO2 molecules happen to make into the Thermosphere then between 56 and 64% will be radiated into space.

Good spot, thanks Terry

I should have said a minimum of B/2. The same would apply C/2 and F/2. Actually this is good because I can replace the equalities with inequalities and see it I can’t use this to help gain insight.

74. Greg Elliott says:

Bob Ryan says:
January 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm
What this implies is that the net effect of increasing CO2 concentration (and this applies to H2O, O3 and CH4) will either be warming or cooling depending on the relative energy balance radiated at the relevant frequency by the sun and the earth respectively. Have I got this right?

That’s the way it looks to me, with a proviso.

My thinking is that regardless of earlier discussions about cause and effect, energy flow (the effect) should still provide a measure of the cause, without us having to decide the cause. And in analyzing the effect, we should be able to then rule out causes that are inconsistent with the effect.

The problem for me is that there are two flows. X and C/2. X is “back-conduction” and C/2 is “back-radiation”. I can’t for the life of me see how they have any different effect on the energy balance, regardless of cause.

Given the lower value of BB temperature calculated by N&Z, this doesn’t rule out the possibility that back-conduction is the explanation as an alternative explanation to gravity, or indeed if “back-conduction” is simply a different name for what N&Z are describing. I’m trying to think of ways to improve the model to answer this question.

But right now I’m off night skiing and will ponder the question while enjoying a foot of fresh global warming.

75. Bill Hunter says:

This is a very worthwhile thread. I would like to introduce a mental diagram refinement to the above to deal with other misconceptions about the greenhouse effect besides these flows.

A blackbody surface of 288K is believed to emit 390watts of radiation in one direction. So logically if you look at the underside surface of something thats another 390watts of radiation going in the opposite direction.

A fundamental mistake in the greenhouse theory is the neglect of storage capacity and the notion that gases have two surfaces and everything else does not.

Version 1: Surface description correct, atmosphere description wrong:

Thus while a surface at 288K may emit 390 watts in one direction, it is also emitting 390watts on the underside of the surface given a mass thickness of one molecule.

Version 2: Surface description incorrect, atmosphere description correct. (here we apply the concept of backradiation uniformly)

In Version 2 the 390 watts is almost entirely generated by the 173 watts estimated to be the insolation of the surface by NASA. Take that figure and estimate backradiation from it by multiplying 173 times the earth surface emissivity of .89 and you get 154 watts. That equals 327 watts which puts us within 20 watts of the estimated radiation of the surface as a blackbody with no greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (per Modtran) 347 watts.

That 20 watts is calculable from the average emissivity of the atmosphere figuring emissivity factors of .55 for water and water vapor, .125 from CO2 and a.0005 average for other gases.

In this scenario the atmosphere greenhouse effect is 20 watts from backradiation and in this version atmospheric backradiation makes up less than 12% of the greenhouse effect (or about 4K total) and the soil under the surface accounts for 88% of it.

This version 2 would be compatible with radiation theory if that theory is also applied universally to conductive materials. Remember radiation theory does not go into this and assumes that all that is radiated on a surface comes off that surface. . . .it doesn’t allow loses. AGW alarmist scientists have twisted the theory and treated gas molecules significantly different than their cousin states of liquids and solids.

Therefore under a consistent theory of backradiation the doubling of CO2 would be negligible.

A flow diagram shows this better:
Take a near surface gas (near enough that the lapse rate is immaterial). We are told it intercepts something like 350 watts of the 390watts surface radiation and then radiates 175 up to the next level and 175 watts back to the surface. (of course this is modified across the entire equation by an emissivity factor).

Of course under such a scenario there is no mechanism for the gas to store heat and the gas is condemned to have half the energy of the surface. What almost certainly happens is the gas intercepts the 350 watts (modified by emissivity) and energizes to an equilibrium with its surrounding gases and then emits 350 watts (modified by emissivity) upward to the sky. The 350 downwards nets to zero energy flow.

76. Greg Elliott says:

Here is what an evening of very pleasant night skiing revealed:

Consider sunlight reaching the earth’s surface. This heats the surface and energy is radiated back to space. The incoming and outgoing energy must balance.

Add GHG to the atmosphere and some of the outgoing radiation will be intercepted and prevented from reaching space. Thus the surface temperature of the earth must increase to increase the out-flowing radiation and restore the balance.

Now, consider what happens if at the moment a molecule of the earth’s surface is about to emit a photon to space, instead a molecule of N2 comes into contact with the surface and the energy from the surface is instead conducted into the molecule of N2. This flow of energy through conduction will reduce the surface temperature and prevent the photon from being radiated to space.

This will have the effect of decreasing the out-flowing radiation from the surface, in a manner that is for all intents and purposes indistinguishable from the effects of GHG. Thus, the temperature of the surface must rise to restore the out-flowing radiation that is being lost to conduction. The greater the atmospheric pressure, the more N2 molecules, the greater the likely-hood that conduction will take place limiting radiation from the surface to space, the more surface temperatures must rise.

But what about the energy absorbed by the N2 some might ask. Indeed and what about the energy intercepted by the CO2? Both must either heat the atmosphere or be returned to the surface and thus are indistinguishable in their effects.

However, the GHG theory tells us that only radiative transfer is responsible for warming the surface, that conduction cannot have this effect. Yet it is clear to see that convection limits radiation to space in a manner that is for all intents and purposes equivalent to GHG. The greater the pressure, the more likely this becomes, the more surface temperatures must rise.

77. Brian H says:

Greg;
AFAIK, it is many orders of magnitude more likely that the CO2 will be impacted by another molecule than that it will get to re-emit its absorbed photon’s worth of energy. OTOH, this is counter-balanced by the fact that it also gains energy by the same route, so it will emit thermally-acquired energy in about the same amount.

Net-net, the tracking of the energy “gain” amounts to a time-lag calculation: how long till the photon’s worth of energy makes it to the upper reaches where interception is less likely, and it thus escapes?

Do you have any good guesstimates?

78. Greg Elliott says:

Brian H says:
January 25, 2012 at 4:13 am
Net-net, the tracking of the energy “gain” amounts to a time-lag calculation: how long till the photon’s worth of energy makes it to the upper reaches where interception is less likely, and it thus escapes?

I have some follow-on sections for this paper planned as a result of the questions raised by the reviewers.

1) A step-wise analysis of the GHG theory by introducing Time to the flow analysis to demonstrate that information theory arrives at the exact same answer as physical theory.

Specifically I will address the question of opacity limiting outgoing radiation as the cause of warming. What I believe this will show is that the “time lag” issue is already fully accounted for in the flow analysis. Thus, the flow model simplifies understanding by eliminating the timing problem.

2) Following the method in 1) A step-wise analysis of the conclusions of this paper regarding conduction. To analyze in detail the method by which conduction (and convention) working together produce the so called GHG effect in the absence of any GHG.

3) Further, that as pressure increases and the density of the atmosphere increases, then conduction (and convection) will replace radiation as the primary source of warming. This I believe broadly supports N&Z.

79. Brian H says:

Greg;
Sounds like a good analysis; I’ll be very interested!

I keep having “flow diagrams” of a sort wander thru my head about what is going on as a “result” of gravity. Taking a “cold start” of a (lets say) cold blob of gas in a huge “gravity neutral” void, it then starts to collapse under its own gravity. This accelerates, till the whole zoo of star-and-planet formation events occurs. The kinetic energy of this infalling is the “source” of any heat in the planets’ atmospheres, of course with the ongoing addition of input from the star’s radiation (which is “new” energy of fusion).

Compression of a gas (or other fluid; even water is slightly compressible) by gravity is work, traceable back to the “fall” from the heights of displacement of the molecules of gas in the original cloud from its COG, perhaps. The temperature of the compressed gas arises as the process proceeds — but does it stop and stabilize?

Here’s where my flows and vectors get fuzzy. Kinetic energy in a gravity well …

80. tallbloke says:

“Compression of a gas (or other fluid; even water is slightly compressible) by gravity is work”

It’s not ‘work’ done by gravity. Gravity is not a type of energy, it is an intrinsic property of mass. The compression is produced by the acceleration of mass towards the centre of gravity, but this is a result of the re-arrangement of the total energy of the infallen mass (the ratio between kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy), not as a result of any work done by gravity itself.

If gravity had to do work to affect things, Earth would end up with less gravity every time a comet went past and had its path deflected by its gravitational field. It would ‘get used up’.