My Thanks to Stephen Wilde, who has submitted this article containing a hypothesis on energy flow in Earth’s climate system.
The Ignoring Of Adiabatic Processes – Big Mistake
Stephen Wilde – December 2012
An attempt is made to reconcile the diabatic and adiabatic processes within a planetary atmosphere and in doing so show how changes in the radiative characteristics of constituent molecules in an atmosphere might not have an effect on the equilibrium temperature of the atmosphere and of the surface beneath it.
Applying the proposed scenario would appear to indicate why and how planetary atmospheres adjust themselves to the ideal lapse rate set by gravity despite divergences from that ideal lapse rate within the vertical temperature profile of the atmosphere.
Essentially, the adiabatic and diabatic processes must always match each other on any given planet at equilibrium because they are then of equal size and run at equal speed but are of opposite sign.
The diabatic process results in warming and the adiabatic process rations the supply of PE in the atmosphere flowing back to the surface in the form of KE thereby maintaining the equilibrium temperature set by mass, gravity and insolation.
If any forcing element acts on the speed of either process alone then
the other process changes its own speed to restore equilibrium.
Equilibrium temperature can only change when a forcing element acts
on both processes together so as to change the amount of energy tied up
in both processes by the same amount.
Only gravity, mass and insolation can achieve that.
The key equation is:
KE + PE = constant.
The established science is that only mass, gravity and insolation can change that constant so if radiative characteristics of GHGs in the diabatic process cause a rise or fall in the atmospheric height then that must be at the expense of either KE (if rising) or PE (if falling) because the constant does not change.
So, the thermal effect of a rise in the atmospheric height must be negated by a fall in KE as KE gets replaced by PE and for a fall in the atmospheric height there would be an increase in KE relative to PE.
The net thermal effect being zero.
For the full article please click here (MS docx format)
The idea of two separate opposite sign loops (diabatic warming and
adiabatic stabilisation) also works for the early faint sun paradox.
As insolation increased, both loops gained in volume equally and
remained in balance as regards speed of throughput so that stability
was maintained albeit with wider equatorial climate zones and a
higher atmosphere. There would have been a rise in surface temperature from the increasing insolation but nothing like as big as one might have expected because gravity and atmospheric mass would have stayed much the same
thus diluting the effect of the increase in solar power.
The atmospheric mass might actually have declined, partially offsetting the increase in solar power.
The issue of DWIR and UWIR is interesting because one can propose
each of them being equal within the diabatic loop whilst within the
adiabatic loop it is the balance of KE and PE in each molecule at
any given height which sets temperature and not DWIR and UWIR.
Two completely different energy transfer and distribution mechanisms
but being of opposite sign as regards their thermal responses to the same forcing element and both being independently capable of variation they keep each other in check.
If the effective radiating height for DWIR/UWIR changes in the diabatic loop then there is an equal change in the height of KE/PE equilibrium in the adiabatic loop but although each changes height the thermal effects are opposite.
A rise in the effective radiating height for DWIR/UWIR would be a
consequence of warming but that would induce a fall in in the height at which KE and PE are in balance which results in cooling because KE falls as a result of more PE forming
at the expense of KE.
All the action occurs at the heights concerned and is rapid so that
if the surface is affected at all it would only be temporary as the
adiabatic response takes a little time to catch up with the
The only way to invalidate this proposition would involve
demonstrating that equilibrium temperature (as defined by KE plus PE) does not solely depend on mass,
gravity and insolation but that would be inconsistent with the Venus comparison and with established science wouldn’t it?