Another conversation with Roger Pielke Senior : What causes Earth’s Greenhouse Effect?

Posted: October 14, 2020 by tallbloke in Astrophysics, climate, pressure, radiative theory, research

It’s always good to chat with Roger Pielke Senior. He’s informative, and more open minded than most climate scientists. Here’s a transcript of the conversation we just had on twitter.

 
Rog Tallbloke 
@RogTallbloke
Roger. Mt Everest summit winter avg -30C. Base camp -17C. Air pressure difference 20kPa. What really causes Earth’s ‘greenhouse effect’, 1% of water vapour + 0.04% CO2 or 100% of atmospheric MASS. Think man, think! CC @RogerAPielkeSr
 
Roger A. Pielke Sr
@RogerAPielkeSr
Relative Roles of CO2 and Water Vapor in Radiative Forcing
In the second edition of our book “Cotton, W.R. and R.A. Pielke, 2007: Human impacts on weather and climate, Cambridge University Press, 330 pp”, we present a new analysis completed for…
pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com
 
 

 
Rog Tallbloke 
@RogTallbloke
Thanks Roger, I understand the current paradigm. I want you to lay it to one side and consider another way of looking at the GHE. Then we can compare the two concepts and see their strengths and weaknesses relative to each other. May the best theory win!
 
Rog Tallbloke 
@RogTallbloke
I agree it’s well established, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct: 1) Convection is not properly coupled in models because it is parameterised not calculated in a simultaneous equation with radiation. 2) Everything radiates according to its temperature, not the other way round.
 
Roger A. Pielke Sr
@RogerAPielkeSr
Point #1 is certainly correct & I have published on this as ideal application of machine training. But #2 is grossly incomplete wrt radiative transfer as it is transmission/absorption/reflectivity as a func of wavelength that needs to be determined. In clear air, solidly known.
 
Rog Tallbloke 
@RogTallbloke
Thank you. I ran out of space to flesh out point #2 so let’s take a closer look in the next tweet. Please link the paper you refer to in agreement with point #1. Sincere thanks.
 
Rog Tallbloke 
@RogTallbloke
Excellent: “models are composed of a dynamical core, which represents advection, the pressure gradient force, and gravitational acceleration; and of a set of parameterizations that represent all other physical processes”. You agree the lapse rate is fundamental. Good start.
 
Rog Tallbloke 
@RogTallbloke
Can we agree then, that if the surface air pressure was significantly reduced by a loss of atmospheric mass, the surface temperature would fall until a new equilibrium was reached?
 
Roger A. Pielke Sr
@RogerAPielkeSr
If the mass above is reduced, the optical path length from TOA to sfc associated with radiative absorption and remittance from a gas will, of course, will be reduced. And, if you lower p, T lowers by ideal gas law.
 
Rog Tallbloke 
@RogTallbloke
 
Roger A. Pielke Sr
@RogerAPielkeSr
Vertical radiative flux divergence in the atmosphere is a function of the vertical pressure distribution. The question as to contributions is not well posed. On the moon, sfc T is from balance of solar flux absorbed at sfc, radiative emittance from sfc and ground conduction.
 
Rog Tallbloke 
@RogTallbloke
On the average temperature of airless spherical bodies and the magnitude of Earth’s atmospheric…
The presence of atmosphere can appreciably warm a planet’s surface above the temperature of an airless environment. Known as a natural Greenhouse Effect (GE), this near-surface Atmospheric Thermal…
springerplus.springeropen.com
 
Roger A. Pielke Sr
@RogerAPielkeSr
 
Roger- I don’t want to spend more time on this subject. The “greenhouse gas effect” is fundamental physics and I present the reason why in my modeling book. To falsify that conclusion, you need to refute formally using established framing and publishing peer reviewed papers.
 
Rog Tallbloke 
@RogTallbloke
As you wish. Thank you for the discussion. I hope you’ll read the paper I linked and come back to it sometime, because the empirical data from Vavasada et al is solid (Lunar Orbiter DIVINER experiment) and the 90K greenhouse effect isn’t going away. It needs investigating.
 
Comments
  1. tallbloke says:

    I love this bit. Why would we have to refute the current paradigm in order to propose another one which fits the data better?

  2. tallbloke says:

    Aha, the discussion continues after all.

  3. tallbloke says:

  4. tallbloke says:

  5. tallbloke says:

  6. tallbloke says:

    .
    .

  7. tallbloke says:

  8. tallbloke says:

  9. oldbrew says:

    TB: Why would we have to refute the current paradigm in order to propose another one which fits the data better?
    – – –
    The current paradigm would be upset by not being taken seriously 😉

  10. oldbrew says:

    Another question for the experts:
    If Earth’s surface pressure was the same as that of Venus, what would they expect the effect on its average surface temperature to be – regardless of atmospheric composition?

  11. tallbloke says:

    OB: Pielke Sr is sure that the change in optical thickness caused by the heavier atmosphere of Venus is the [radiative theory] cause for its high surface T.

    I’m just trying to sufficiently pique his interest to read Ned and Karl’s first paper. Baby steps.

  12. pochas94 says:

    It’s not one or the other, it’s both. Radiation is how energy escapes from the atmosphere to space. Greenhouse gases radiate the energy from an emitting altitude that varies widely, but let’s say 15,000 feet. Most of the incoming energy from the sun (shortwave) strikes the surface, heating it, so that it is reradiated (thermalized) and is emitted upward as low energy infrared (long wave). Most of this energy is reflected downward as back radiation (greenhouse effect), which will “kill us all” according to greenies. However, warm air convects upward, transporting heat to the radiating zone en masse. Along the way, following the gas law,it cools and forms clouds, rainstorms, hurricanes, tornados, and all the other phenomena that constitute weather and cause endless headaches for modelers. That’s as simple as I can make it. But yes, surface temperature does depend to a large extent on the mass of the atmosphere and of course solar irradiance and distance from the sun.

  13. Graeme No.3 says:

    How much radiation comes from water (70% of the surface)?
    How much of the atmosphere is radiating?

  14. gbaikie says:

    –oldbrew says:
    October 14, 2020 at 10:53 pm
    Another question for the experts:
    If Earth’s surface pressure was the same as that of Venus, what would they expect the effect on its average surface temperature to be – regardless of atmospheric composition?–

    Earth surface pressure could same Venus, if increased gravity of Earth or added atmospheric mass- It seems there would difference results.
    We will assume added Atmospheric mass of 93 atm of Nitrogen and Oxygen to Earth.
    Since 1 atm is 10 tons per square meter, it now 940 tons per square meter at sea level.
    Air density at 14.7 psi / 1 atm at 20 C is about 1.2 kg per cubic meter what air density be at
    at 94 atm [1,381.8 psi} at 20 C 1000 psi is 82.98 kg per cubic
    83 / 1.2 = 69 times more atmosphere per 1000 meter high elevation
    Or if about same air temperature at surface, troposphere is not much higher than Earth’s current
    troposphere and should same lapse rate.
    And with that air mass it is going to significantly block the amount sunlight reaching the surface.
    And on surface that much density of air should interfere with far you see things, say distance greater
    than 5 km. Or in room it’s not going to make much difference. But should interfere see distance mountains. I guess cloud formation would tend to be a bit higher. Rain would be interesting and driving car would have significant drag. Hot air balloons and other lighter than air balloons work better.
    Unlike Venus the sunlight is not as bright. And I think CO2 is suppose to more transparent than air.
    And Venus is quite dim at it’s surface. Though one blame a lot of that due to Venus clouds.
    If the global average temperature was say 15 C or warmer, could expect more or less clouds as on
    Earth.
    It seem atmosphere temperature would be far more uniform then Earth’s air temperature.
    And it seems it would be colder temperature, and 15 C air seem much colder for human beings- it’s
    similar to 15 C water, which is fairly quickly lethal to humans- so mean without coats or other cold weather gear.
    I also think Venus at Earth distance is much colder.

  15. oldbrew says:

    pochas says: Most of the incoming energy from the sun (shortwave) strikes the surface, heating it,

    That doesn’t work on Venus with its 75% albedo.
    – – –
    Since Maxwell’s earlier work, other scientists have confirmed that the so-called “greenhouse effect” is actually a result of atmospheric mass/pressure/gravity, rather than radiative forcing from carbon dioxide.

    https://saltbushclub.com/2020/09/14/greenhouse-effect-on-venus/

    What does RP think of Maxwell?

  16. oldbrew says:

    gbaikie says: I also think Venus at Earth distance is much colder

    Not necessarily. Radiation falls off by the fourth power:

    Earth:Venus radiation ratio is 1:1.911
    https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/venusfact.html

    4th root of 1.911 is 1.176, so the difference in radiation reaching the top of the atmosphere is about 17.6%.

  17. arfurbryant says:

    [“Everything radiates according to its temperature, not the other way round.”]
    Absolutely correct. And it is this fundamental principle that needs to be fully appreciated by anyone who believes that there is a ‘Radiative Forcing’ effect from any gas in the atmosphere.

    The (Radiative) ‘Greenhouse Effect’ doesn’t exist. An ‘Atmosphere Effect’ exists. The Greenhouse Effect doesn’t act like an atmosphere (or even a greenhouse for that matter). The Atmosphere Effect helps to keep the planet warm on the night side and cool on the day side. Not like a greenhouse at all. Pielke Snr should consider that his Radiative Forcing is no such thing and that his ‘Greenhouse Effect’ actually relies on absorption more than radiation. If a CO2 molecule in the (cold) atmosphere radiates (yes it does) then its average photon energy is simply not enough to be absorbed for energy gain by the planet’s surface molecules. Why? Because the receiving molecule is already at a higher internal energy state than the average photon. Therefore the incoming photon cannot raise that internal energy state. It would be like adding a low-wattage torch beam to a high-water torch beam and expecting the higher beam get even brighter (or to penetrate further). Radiation that is not absorbed for energy gain is either reflected (taken in and instantly re-radiated at the same wavelength) or transmitted through. This means there is no heating effect AT ALL by the backradiation from atmospheric CO2 or any other non-condensing greenhouse gas. The Radiative Forcing from these atmospheric gasses is zero unless the atmosphere is warmer than the surface, which only happens in temporary areas which have an inversion and certainly not globally.

    It doesn’t matter how beautiful one thinks their model is, if they put garbage in, they’ll get garbage out.
    By claiming a Radiative Forcing effect, Pielke Snr is basically saying that if one stands next to an ice statue, one receives radiative forcing from that statue. So in warmist world, if you double the amount of ice statues, then you will increase the radiative forcing and the person standing will get warmer. This is nonsensical. It doesn’t matter how may ice statues you put there, you won’t get any warmer!
    Only radiation that is absorbed for energy gain can contribute to raising the internal energy of the receiving object. Which is why the Sun, not the atmosphere, heats the Earth.
    Any diagram which divides the Sun’s input intensity by four completely misses this point.

    Dancing around the pin head of how much RF blah and GE blah doesn’t – as Rog (Tallbloke) says – make the initial assumption correct.

  18. arfurbryant says:

    erratum… The sentence in the middle of the second paragraph should read:If a CO2 molecule in the (cold) atmosphere radiates (yes it does) then its average photon energy is simply not enough to be absorbed for energy gain by the planet’s surface molecules.

    [mod] comment amended

  19. Peter Norman says:

    @Rog
    Your Earth Energy Budget chart now seems out of date. I notice the Wickedpedia environmental police have up-dated their explanation of the Greenhouse Effect. This is much simpler to follow but, it still does not explain the empirical radiation problem: Last night, I pointed my IR thermometer at the ground it read 0 Centigrade and when I pointed it upward it read -32 Centigrade. This morning with the sun up, the ground is a few degrees warmer but up above is the same large minus figure. Conundrum: Where in the world can I point the IR reader up-wards and measure the atmosphere heat and energy flux warming the ground to 14 Centigrade

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect#/media/File:Greenhouse_Effect.svg

    Chart by Robert A. Rohde (Dragons flight at English Wikipedia) – This figure was created by Robert A. Rohde from published data and is part of the Global Warming Art project.http://www.atmo.arizona.edu/students/courselinks/spring04/atmo451b/pdf/RadiationBudget.pdfOriginal image: http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Greenhouse_Effect_pngarchived: https://web.archive.org/web/20150909201753/http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Greenhouse_Effect.pnghttp://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/abs_temp.htmlconverted to SVG by User:Rugby471., GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2846779

  20. pochas94 says:

    Oldbrew: “That doesn’t work on Venus with its 75% albedo.”

    The earth has a semi-transparent atmosphere with an emissions height well down in the atmosphere. Venus has an opaque atmosphere with absorption and emission at the very top. Its surface pressure is 93 bar as compared with 1 bar on earth. The same physics apply but to a radically different atmosphere.

  21. gbaikie says:

    –oldbrew says:
    October 15, 2020 at 9:09 am
    gbaikie says: I also think Venus at Earth distance is much colder

    Not necessarily. Radiation falls off by the fourth power:–

    Well, I think it matters what elevation the energy of sunlight is absorbed at.
    And everyone seems to agree it matters at what elevation energy is emitted at.

    Earth’s atmosphere extends beyond low Earth orbit, and a upper part of Earth atmosphere
    is called thermosphere which has extremely high temperature but lacks the density for the high
    velocity gases colliding having any temperature- they gases neither heat or cool anything.
    It’s like the vacuum space environment- it’s neither hot or cold and doesn’t have a temperature.
    So I think most people regard the thermosphere’s “hot” gases, as having little effect upon Earth temperature. But at some density of gases the velocity of the gases would matter.
    I am going to argue about what density it begins to matter. Rather I think every one should that
    if air density was say 1/4 of Earth air surface density, it would matter. And quarter of 1.2 kg per cubic meter is .3 kg per cubic meter. And what elevation air .3 kg per cubic meter depends temperature
    of the surface air temperature. On earth at 15 C surface it’s about 40,000 feet or 12 km elevation
    and in terms of air pressure about 2.7 psi.
    And btw, for a human to breath without pressure suit the minimum air pressure is 2.5 psi- they have breath pure oxygen but if one has mask giving pure oxygen one can breath. This called armstrong limit- oh my mistake, wiki says:
    “The Armstrong limit or Armstrong’s line is a measure of altitude above which atmospheric pressure is sufficiently low that water boils at the normal temperature of the human body. Exposure to pressure below this limit results in a rapid loss of consciousness, followed by a series of changes to cardiovascular and neurological functions, and eventually death, unless pressure is restored within 60–90 seconds.” And 2.5 psi is lowest pressure a human can operate safely- and armstrong limit is edge of death and at around 1 psi. Or 2.5 psi is sufficiently high enough above the armstrong limit.
    Anyhow, where the pressure and air density human can function without pressure suit and say matters what temperature the air is, effects air temperature at surface as expressed in terms of atmospheric lapse rate. And air temperature at surface lowers, that elevation [12000 meters} lowers, and if surface air increases that elevation rises.
    And point going to make, is if have big atmosphere like Venus, a change surface air temperature effects that elevation that humans can breath, a lot.
    Or as see, if you warm air at elevation a human can breath with huge atmosphere, it cause surface air temperature to increase, and entire atmosphere expands a lot.
    And if bring Venus to Earth distance, a slight amount reduction in heating at where human can breath
    contracts entire atmosphere a lot. Or the inverse of the runaway effect.
    Or if Earth had huge atmosphere like Venus, and small increase in surface air could make huge difference. But Venus is quite different than Earth.

  22. oldbrew says:

    The 92 bar pressure at the surface of Venus tells its own story to those willing to listen.

  23. oldbrew says:

    The atmospheric experts may look the other way, but the lapse rate profile of Venus shows that at a pressure of 1 bar (for example) the temperatures of the two planets are very similar.

    This is supported by the Russian space probe data.
    = = =
    Robinson and Catling looked at several planetary lapse rates. Compare below the tropopause line, remembering that they all have different atmospheric compositions.

  24. Stephen Richards says:

    oldbrew says:
    October 16, 2020 at 10:08 am

    There must be a graph of the points along the 0.5bar line of your graph. Any idea where ? I cannot extract the precise values from your graph

  25. Stephen Richards says:

    Roger A. Pielke Sr
    @RogerAPielkeSr
    ·
    14 Oct
    I suggest that if it has gone unquestioned for 130 years, you need a very rigorous path to challenge. Formal peer review is the path.

    I don’t think this statement is absolutely correct. I seem to remember that Arrhenius’ proposition was questioned in the early 20th century.

  26. oldbrew says:

    @ Stephen Richards

    The Robinson and Catling 2014 paper – see Fig. 1 notes:

    Click to access Robinson2014_0.1bar_Tropopause.pdf

    The supplementary information is here, or it should be:
    https://www.nature.com/articles/ngeo2020
    – – –
    The published opposition to Arrhenius was largely suppressed by Wikipedia and other sources long ago.

    The Errors of Arrhenius
    applet-magic.com/arrhenius.htm

    Search for ‘Knut Angstrom’. Also:

    Pick Your A-Team: Arrhenius or Ångström
    – by Ron Clutz

    https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2020/10/16/pick-your-a-team-arrhenius-or-angstrom/

  27. konradwp1 says:

    Roger Pielke is of course wrong. The so called “Greenhouse effect” doesn’t exist.

    It is not based on “fundamental physics” at all. At its very foundation is a huge mistake that dates back to Fourier’s flawed 1824 calculation.

    Yes, the radiative gases in our atmosphere do absorb and emit longwave infrared radiation, but their net effect is to cool our atmosphere, not warm it. And the net effect of our radiatively cooled atmosphere is to cool the surface of our ocean planet, not warm as the Gorebullers claim.

    The ocean is a very complex shortwave selective volume, not a “near blackbody”. This is why calculations like Fourier’s showing surface Tav around 255 Kelvin in absence of radiative atmosphere are so horribly wrong. If our atmosphere were pure Oxygen and Nitrogen, average ocean temperatures would reach ~335 Kelvin. They currently average only 288 Kelvin, due to the conductive and evaporative cooling our radiatively cooled atmosphere provides.

  28. gbaikie says:

    –Yes, the radiative gases in our atmosphere do absorb and emit longwave infrared radiation, but their net effect is to cool our atmosphere, not warm it. —

    I don’t think there is a gas which cools an atmosphere.
    What is cooling an atmosphere? Atmosphere temperature is density and average velocity.
    So a gas does not lower velocity or increase velocity of other gases. {water vapor can decrease
    air density by condensing- water vapor is constantly condensing and evaporating in Earth atmosphere}. If one had gas which could lower velocity- and select a container which was transparent to it’s emission- then you have an refrigerator, which does not need power.
    Refrigerators use lot of energy- hence you are rich. People like being rich.

    -And the net effect of our radiatively cooled atmosphere is to cool the surface of our ocean planet, not warm as the Gorebullers claim.–

    Well, our ocean is cooled by evaporation, and evaporating at surface temperature of X, warms air to temperature X. Anyhow, Ocean “cools” and warm land which is colder. Or ocean cools and warms further towards poles, which is cooler.
    Water droplet of cloud can cool to space, but clouds don’t warm much by sunlight and don’t cool much to space. If spray water droplet, it can change air temperature quickly- as has lot surface area. But this conduction/convection/evaporation rather than radiant effect. In terms radiant effect, it’s kind like room of mirrors {spherical mirrors} or has a scattering effect.
    “The ocean is a very complex shortwave selective volume, not a “near blackbody”. This is why calculations like Fourier’s showing surface Tav around 255 Kelvin in absence of radiative atmosphere are so horribly wrong”
    Ocean not like blackbody surface it’s closer to blackbody cavity. SW just goes thru ocean surface, and mostly absorbed in the couple meters below the surface. To Longwave IR, Ocean is surface in which it doesn’t pass thru. If background radiation or Longwave IR was a significant force, it evaporate the top .01 mm of ocean, rapidly. Or sunlight does not warm the top .01 mm of ocean by much at all. Or of 1000 watts of sunlight far less than 1 watt heats the top .01 mm of the ocean and all of longwave “amount’ would be warming the top .01 mm surface of the ocean.

    –If our atmosphere were pure Oxygen and Nitrogen, average ocean temperatures would reach ~335 Kelvin. They currently average only 288 Kelvin, due to the conductive and evaporative cooling our radiatively cooled atmosphere provides.–

    The ocean average temperature is 17 C {290 K} tropical ocean 40% of ocean averages 26 C {299 K} and other 60% averages about 11 C.
    I believe highest ocean surface might be about 35 C {308 K}. Partial pressure of water 61.85 C. 60 C is 0.1967 atm {2.89 psi}. 30 C is 0.0419 atm {0.61593 psi}
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vapour_pressure_of_water

    I don’t Earth at Venus distance from Sun would have ocean surface temperature in the tropics at 60 C.
    I guess around 40 C at most.

    A sidewalk or drive way can heat as much as 70 C. And a garden hose can heat water in it to over 60 C {even near 80 C} . Spray hot water from hose on the hot pavement. I would guess temperature of water would immediately drop to about 50 C, and you get a lot evaporation- it could warm local air at say 40 C to an air temperature of 50 C.

  29. oldbrew says:

    RP: The “greenhouse gas effect” is fundamental physics and I present the reason why in my modeling book. To falsify that conclusion, you need to refute formally using established framing and publishing peer reviewed papers.
    – – –
    Angstrom’s CO2 experiment was peer reviewed:

    Angstrom: ‘The glass tubes were closed airtight by beautiful plates of fluorite; one held pure air, the other was filled with carbon dioxide.
    . . .
    The tests showed no positive result. A greater absorption was not observed by the tube containing carbon dioxide. [bold added]
    . . .
    According to this study, it seems clear, therefore, that the absorption capacity of carbon dioxide in the band Y [~4.3 μm] is so strong that the relevant absorption is already saturated before the radiation arrives to us, and as for the weaker band X [~1.7 μm], then the effect is similarly not noticeable because the absorption bands overlap the absorption bands for water vapor.’

  30. tallbloke says:

    gbaikie: I believe highest ocean surface might be about 35 C {308 K}.

    I think the max is around 30C. Any more energy thrown at it after that is reached just promotes more evaporation.

    However, it is estimated that some areas of tropical ocean surface reached 35C in some paleo studies. This would only be possible if the atmosphere were more massive at those epochs, applying a higher pressure to the surface.

  31. gbaikie says:

    “However, it is estimated that some areas of tropical ocean surface reached 35C in some paleo studies.”
    https://www.seatemperature.org/middle-east/

    Open ocean [most of ocean} probably rarely gets to 30 C. But parts of tropical ocean can get to about 35 C. I would guess most paleo studies aren’t open ocean.

    I say as general thing, Ocean warms land and Land cools the world. But land in limited sense, does warm some parts of ocean.

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