Archive for the ‘Thermodynamics’ Category

We’ve been having a good knockabout on twitter with Patrick Moore concerning Ned and Karl’s Pressure-Insolation theory; their discovery that a simple formula using surface pressure and solar distance will accurately give you the surface temperature on vastly different planets and moons throughout the solar system.


Figure 4: The relative atmospheric thermal enhancement, observed surface T/No -atmosphere T (Ts/Tna ratio) as a function of the average surface air pressure according to Eq. (10a) derived from data representing a broad range of planetary environments in the solar system.

Patrick is a great guy, and a good sport, and has been mostly putting up with Ned’s jibes and arguing his corner. I thought it might help others to understand Ned and Karl’s ideas if we look at a few of the objections Patrick raises and our answers to them.



I was trained as an engineer and then did a degree in the History and philosophy of science.

I know how to calculate forces, I understand thermodynamics and radiative theory and I don’t ignore data inimical to any hypothesis.

After thirty years of monitoring and appraising the data, the global warming hypothesis and working out what really causes climatic change I’ve concluded that it ain’t CO2. The real causes of climatic change at the planetary scale are the enormous forces transferring energy between solar system bodies.

Jupiter and Saturn between them hold over 85% of the angular momentum of the system. Venus has, within an order of magnitude, the same gravitational force on the Earth-Moon system as Jupiter. The two of them have shaped the orbit of our Moon, whose tidal forces have a profound effect on the overturning circulation of Earth’s oceans, which contain 1000 times more heat than the atmosphere of which CO2 comprises 0.04%.


Ken Rice, an Edinburgh University academic who selectively censors dissenting comments at his pro-AGW “and Then There’s Physics” propaganda blog, has another of mine in moderation:
tallbloke says:

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

OK, I’ll drop that subject and deal directly with the subject of your blog post.
You state that:

“If the Earth’s atmospheric pressure is to contribute to the enhanced surface temperature, then that would mean that the atmosphere would need to continually provide energy to the surface. It could only do this through the conversion of gravitational potential energy to thermal energy. This would then require the continual contraction of the Earth’s atmosphere.”

This quote demonstrates that you’ve fundamentally misunderstood Ned Nikolov’s hypothesis. He’s not positing a raised surface T due to an ongoing gravitational collapse producing a compression, generating heat which is then lost to space.

Atmospheric pressure produces a density gradient; i.e. it forces there to be more air molecules per unit volume at lower altitude than at higher altitude. Denser air intercepts and absorbs more of the sunlight passing through it than less dense air, producing more molecular collisions and excitation. It therefore holds more kinetic energy.The more kinetic energy it holds the higher its temperature will be.


I got back from Rome last night following the highly successful World Climate Conference. Quite a number of CO2 sceptics gave presentations, which were politely received and discussed by all present. We even made a few converts. Here’s a short interview I made with Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller where they give their impressions and some insight into their paradigm shifting discovery of the temperature-pressure relationship which holds good across the entire solar system.

Ned and Karl’s two papers are here:

New Insights on the Physical Nature of the Atmospheric Greenhouse
Effect Deduced from an Empirical Planetary Temperature Model

On the average temperature of airless spherical bodies and the magnitude of Earth’s atmospheric thermal effect

They show that the uplift in temperature on Earth’s surface due to the presence of the atmosphere is not 33K as the current greenhouse theory states but 90K, and is due to atmospheric pressure at the surface, not the back radiation from ‘greenhouse gases’.

We’ve been following Ned and Karl’s work since 2010 here at the Talkshop. They are finally getting heard in a wider forum.


This guest post from Stephen Wilde offers a descriptive theoretical and qualitative perspective on the ‘gravito-thermal’ theory. It covers the vertical profile of the atmosphere as well as the surface temperature comprehensively quantified by Nikolov and Zeller’s latest paper.

How conduction and convection cause a greenhouse effect arising from atmospheric mass.
Stephen Wilde


The current scientific consensus is that Earth’s so called ‘greenhouse effect’ is caused by the presence of radiating gases in the atmosphere but many years ago, I learned what  I then understood to be the consensus view that it is actually a result of atmospheric mass such that the radiative characteristics of the atmosphere are either wholly or largely irrelevant.

The ‘greenhouse effect’ is an apt description for the mass based phenomenon because warming, descending air (which is occurring over half the planet at any given moment) will inhibit convection in the same way as does a greenhouse roof and by dissipating clouds it increases incoming sunlight through that barrier to convection just like the transparency of a greenhouse roof.

If the greenhouse effect is attributable to atmospheric mass rather than radiative characteristics then the fact that the vast bulk of Earth’s atmosphere is comprised of mass that is non-radiative is likely to mean that human emissions of radiative gases are not important as a regulator of surface temperature.



Back in late 2011, the Talkshop splashed the story on a ‘Unified Theory of Climate’  developed by PhD physicists Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller. They set out to show that the ‘greenhouse effect’ is not a phenomenon arising out of the absorption and reemission of outgoing long-wave radiation by the atmosphere (as thought for 190 years), but is a form of compression heating controlled by solar radiation and the total atmospheric pressure at the Earth’s surface. Pressure is in turn a product of the gas mass contained in a column of air above a unit surface area, and the planet’s gravitational effect on that mass.

It’s been a long and treacherous road involving many revisions and refinements of the original study. On several occasions the manuscript was rejected unread, but Ned and Karl have finally got their greatly improved and expanded paper published. This latest version is a tour de force strengthened by the rigors of criticism from an army of peer reviewers at several journals along the way.

Using dimensional analysis (a classical technique for inferring physically meaningful relationships from measured data), they show that the long-term global equilibrium surface temperature of bodies in the solar system as diverse as Venus, the Moon, Earth, Mars, Titan and Triton can accurately be described using only two predictors: the mean distance from the Sun and the total atmospheric surface pressure. This type of cross-planetary analysis using vetted NASA observations has not been conducted by any other authors. It represents the first and only attempt in the history of climate science to assess Earth’s surface temperature in the context of a cosmic physical continuum defined by actual planetary-scale observations. The result is a new insight that planetary climates are independent of the infrared optical depth of their atmospheres arising from their composition, and that the long-wave ‘back radiation’ is actually a product of the atmospheric thermal effect rather than a cause for it.



Tim writes,

Enjoy. When I first came across this paper there was a lot of chuckling, can’t be serious, surely?

Well, I can understand someone wanting to quantify the effect, show the laws, make it a warning for any fools who need saving from themselves, ain’t engineers. I’m afraid this paper goes too far off the deep end, hints at meant seriously. Your opinion might differ.

Published PNAS

Harvesting renewable energy from Earth’s mid-infrared emissions
Steven J. Byrnes, Romain Blanchard, and Federico Capasso, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
Contributed by Federico Capasso, February 3, 2014 (sent for review November 1, 2013)

It is possible to harvest energy from Earth’s thermal infrared emis-
sion into outer space. We calculate the thermodynamic limit for
the amount of power available, and as a case study, we plot how
this limit varies daily and seasonally in a location in Oklahoma.We
discuss two possible ways to make such an emissive energy har-
vester (EEH): A thermal EEH (analogous to solar thermal power
generation) and an optoelectronic EEH (analogous to photovoltaic
power generation). For the latter, we propose using an infrared-
frequency rectifying antenna, and we discuss its operating princi-
ples, efficiency limits, system design considerations, and possible
technological implementations.

Actual merit? Works at night.


An Interview Given by Dr. Ned Nikolov (a.k.a. Den Volokin) to Ben Guarino,
a Staff Writer at The Washington Post
Sep. 17, 2016

Research Paper Withdrawal by the Journal Advances in Space Research  

peer-reviewQ1: As succinctly as possible, could you tell me why you chose to publish this work under a pseudonym?

A1: We adopted pseudonyms as a measure of last resort as we could not get an unbiased and fair review from scientific journals under our real names. This is explained in more details in the attached letter we sent to the chief editor of the Journal Advances in Space Research (JASR) on Sep. 17, 2015. In brief, our real names became known to the climate-science blogosphere in 2012 when a poster, which we presented at an International Climate Conference in Denver in 2011, became available online and caused broad and intense discussions. When we later tried to publish elements of this poster as separate articles in scientific journals, we discovered that journal editors and reviewers would reject our manuscripts outright after Googling our names and reading the online discussion. The rejections were oftentimes justified by the journals using criticisms outside the scope of the manuscript at hand.  On two occasions, journal editors have even refused to send our manuscripts for review after reading the blogs and realizing the broader theoretical implications of our results, although the manuscript itself did not explicitly discuss any new theory. For example, our first paper was rejected 4 times by different journals while submitted under our real names before it was finally accepted by SpringerPlus after submitting it under pseudonyms.


sheep-attackIt’s a bit like being savaged by sheep. Anthony Watts and his psychotic sidekick Willis the drug-addled cowboy are at it again. They’re trying to undermine the work of Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller, who gave an excellent presentation at our highly successful London Conference. Their theory covers the underlying physical principles which determine surface temperature across a range of solar system bodies with radically different parameters in terms of insolation, surface pressure, atmospheric composition and rotation rates. There’s not a snowball on Venus’ chance of Watts or Willis understanding it, as they amply demonstrated last time they had a go.


Was Arctic sea ice minimum 2016 on the 2nd Sept?

Posted: September 13, 2016 by tallbloke in sea ice, Thermodynamics



It’s finally happening. Thanks to Herculean efforts by Niklas Morner, we are presenting a two-day conference in central London on the 8-9th September. Speakers are coming from all over the world to present their work, and it is not to be missed!


Take the 8-9th September off work and join us for this historic event. The first UK climate conference in decades which will counter the scaremongering of the IPCC with a cool, rational approach to the study of climate change, presenting alternative explanations, new data, theory and commentary. Topics include solar-planetary theory, causes of ENSO, sea ice extent, sea level, ozone depletion, volcanos, regional forecasting, journal gatekeeping and many more.

The list of contributors is long, we are packing a huge number of presentations into this two day event. Speakers include Niklas Morner, myself, Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller,  Nicola Scafetta, Per Strandberg, Jan-Erik Solheim, and thats before lunch on day one! Piers Corbyn will be there! So will  Christopher Monckton! See the full programme and the extended abstracts in this 35 Megabyte document for full details. There are also some travel and booking details on the website. An updated version is available on reseachgate


From Gizmodo. H/T Richard Cowley

Misaligned mirrors are being blamed for a fire that broke out yesterday at the world’s largest solar power plant, leaving the high-tech facility crippled for the time being. It sounds like the plant’s workers suffered through a real hellscape, too.

Damaged steam ducts and water pipes. (Image: San Bernardino County Fire Department via AP)

A small fire was reported yesterday morning at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) in California, forcing a temporary shutdown of the facility. It’s now running at a third of its capacity (a second tower is down due to scheduled maintenance), and it’s not immediately clear when the damaged tower will restart. It’s also unclear how the incident will impact California’s electricity supply.


NOAA’s vandalism of ERSSTv3b2 (good) to ERSSTv4 (corrupted) hinges on a single point.

Visual catalog of the beautiful natural patterns being systematically defaced:

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1. Secular

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H/T to Paul Vaughan for pointing to a series of comments by Bill Illis on wuwt, which describe and differentiate between the under-ice salt induced sinking which forms Arctic deep water and the Greenland-melt surface waters which flow into the Gulf Stream. These were in response to an alarmist paper which claims that increased freshwater flux could weaken the AMOC and thus global circulation.

Bill Illis responds:

And the salinity in the ocean in the area in question has changed by exactly ZERO. The paper doesn’t address this issue one iota.

The AMOC starts under the sea ice throughout the entire Arctic Ocean basin. Somehow climate scientists have convinced themselves that the deep water formation of the AMOC is next to Greenland. There is no way to correct them because they don’t actually care what the facts are, just what gets them published in the climate theology field.

The sea surface temperatures in the Norwegian Sea range from +2.0C to +10.0C.

The Arctic Bottom Water is -0.5C to -1.0C and is 3000 metres deeper. it has nothing to do with the Nowegian Sea.

The Arctic Bottom Water overflows the canyons and chokepoints out of the Arctic Ocean basin, particularly the Fram Strait canyon, the Denmark Strait and the Greenland-Scotland Ridge.


A few days ago Hockey Schtick brought up Feynman deriving the basic atmospheric gas and temperature profile without mentioning radiation and showing that classical physics fails, quantum mechanics is required.


From Fenyman lectures VOL 1, Chapter 40, showing the contradiction between classic physics and reality, annotated by author. This is one and the same as the ultra-violet catastrophe matter, both needing a quantum physics jump.

Two explanations for one thing might be the food of cats or thought experiments but is not valid in the real world, one planet, although sometimes looking at the state of people I wonder.


Paul Vaughan writes in suggestions:

It’s the wind.

Rial (2012) drew my attention to a fundamental correction that’s underway in oceanography (more notes forthcoming on this later) ….

Lozier, Susan (2010). Deconstructing the conveyor belt. Science 328, 1507-1511.

Though appealing in its simplicity, the ocean conveyor-belt paradigm has lost luster over the years […] the ocean’s eddy field, unaccounted for just decades ago […] figures prominently in the dismantling of the conveyor-belt paradigm. Another player in this dismantling is the ocean’s wind field. The traditional assignation of surface ocean gyres to wind-forcing and overturning to buoyancy forcing has ignored the vital impact of winds on overturning pathways and mechanics. […] the conveyor-belt model no longer serves the community well […] because it ignores crucial structure and mechanics of the ocean’s intricate global overturning.

[…] wind forcing, rather than buoyancy forcing, can play a dominant role in changing the transport of the overturning […]


Over at the Hockey Schtick, Michael has an interesting new angle on determining planetary surface temperature from pressure and gravity – a subject covered extensively here at the Talkshop over the last three years. Here’s an extract. Of particular interest here is his new method of using the centre of mass of the atmosphere as a reference point. Head on over to read the full post.

Step 2: Determine the height at the center of mass of the atmosphere

We are determining the temperature gradient within the mass of the atmosphere and the equilibrium temperature is thus at the center of mass. The “effective radiating level” or ERL of planetary atmospheres is located at the approximate center of mass of the atmosphere where the temperature is equal to the equilibrium temperature with the Sun. The equilibrium temperature of Earth with the Sun is commonly assumed to be 255K or -18C as calculated here. As a rough approximation, this height is where the pressure is ~50% of the surface pressure. It is also located at the approximate half-point of the troposphere temperature profile set by the adiabatic lapse rate, since to conserve energy in the troposphere, the increase in temperature from the ERL to the surface is offset by the temperature decrease from the ERL to the tropopause.

Fig 1. From Robinson & Catling, Nature, 2014 with added notations in red showing at the center of mass of Earth's atmosphere at ~0.5 bar the temperature is ~255K, which is equal to the equilibrium temperature with the Sun. Robinson & Catling also demonstrated that the height of the tropopause is at 0.1 bar for all the planets in our solar system with thick atmospheres, as also shown by this figure, and that convection dominates over radiative-convective equilibrium in the troposphere to produce the troposphere lapse rates of each of these planets as shown above. R&C also show the lapse rates of each of these planets are remarkably similar despite very large differences in greenhouse gas composition and equilibrium temperatures with the Sun, once again proving pressure, not radiative forcing from greenhouse gases, determines tropospheric temperatures.

Fig 1. From Robinson & Catling, Nature, 2014 with added notations in red showing at the center of mass of Earth’s atmosphere at ~0.5 bar the temperature is ~255K, which is equal to the equilibrium temperature with the Sun. Robinson & Catling also demonstrated that the height of the tropopause is at 0.1 bar for all the planets in our solar system with thick atmospheres, as also shown by this figure, and that convection dominates over radiative-convective equilibrium in the troposphere to produce the troposphere lapse rates of each of these planets as shown above. R&C also show the lapse rates of each of these planets are remarkably similar despite very large differences in greenhouse gas composition and equilibrium temperatures with the Sun, once again proving pressure, not radiative forcing from greenhouse gases, determines tropospheric temperatures.

Step 3: Determine the surface temperature

For Earth, surface pressure is 1 bar, so the ERL is located where the pressure ~0.5 bar, which is near the middle of the ~10 km high troposphere at ~5km. The average lapse rate on Earth is 6.5 km, intermediate between the 10C/km dry adiabatic lapse rate and the 5C/km wet adiabatic lapse rate, since the atmosphere on average is intermediate between dry and saturated with water vapor.

Plugging the average 6.5C/km lapse rate and 5km height of the ERL into our equation (6) above gives

T = -18 – (6.5 × (h – 5))

Using this equation we can perfectly reproduce the temperature at any height in the troposphere as shown in Fig 1. At the surface, h = 0, thus temperature at the surface Ts is calculated as

Ts = -18 – (6.5 × (0 – 5))

Ts = -18 + 32.5

Ts = 14.5°C or 288°K

which is the same as determined by satellite observations and is ~33C above the equilibrium temperature with the Sun.

Thus, we have determined the entire 33C greenhouse effect, the surface temperature, and the temperature of the troposphere at any height, entirely on the basis of the 1st law of thermodynamics and ideal gas law, without use of radiative forcing from greenhouse gases, nor the concentrations of greenhouse gases, nor the emission/absorption spectra of greenhouse gases at any point in this derivation, demonstrating that the entire 33C greenhouse effect is dependent upon atmospheric mass/pressure/gravity, rather than radiative forcing from greenhouse gases.