David Bidstrup: How does something at -18 C warm us up by +33 C?

This post looks at the central pillar of the climate change mania, which says that the “greenhouse effect” is responsible for us having a habitable planet by increasing the “global temperature” by 33 degrees C from a dismal -18C to the mythical “global average temperature” of 15C. I write this after a lot of reading and research and certainly do not claim it as an original idea. One of the sources was the book “Slaying the sky dragon”, written in 2010 and available on the net for free in pdf form. There are also numerous blogs where this claim, central to the IPCC propaganda, is examined.

The greenhouse effect posits that without an atmosphere the “AGT” would be -18C or 255 Kelvin. This is computed using black body radiation equations based on a total energy flux impinging on the earth of about 240 watts per square metre. The solar energy flux at earth’s distance from the sun is around 1,340 watts per square metre and at “top of atmosphere” it is 1,000 w/M2.

The classic greenhouse explanation divides the solar flux by 4 to simulate an “average” over the entire surface of the earth and treats it as a static situation 0 no revolutions and no night/day. They take a disc that is equal to the surface area of the earth and “spread” the solar flux over it evenly and declare that this is “equivalent” to the real world. The 240 w/M2 is said to be equivalent to a “black body” temperature of 255 K or -18 C. When the earth re-radiates energy equivalent to -18 C somehow this gets “trapped” by the miniscule amount of CO2 in the atmosphere which then “back-radiates” the “trapped heat” back to the surface of the earth raising the temperature by 33 C. Really??? This is the boiling a kettle on a block of ice scenario.

The days of “heat” being thought of as some sort of mysterious fluid that “flows” are long gone. Caloric and frigoric do not exist. As Flanders and Swan sang, “work is heat and heat is work”. A body’s temperature is changed by doing work on it by energy exchange, not by heat “flowing” from some external source.

The earth is a sphere, (near enough), and it rotates once every 24 hours. The axis of rotation is inclined to the orbital plane by somewhere around 23.5 degrees, depending on where we are with the Milankovitch cycle for axial tilt – it varies from 24.5 degrees to 21 degrees over a 41,000 year cycle. What I looked at was the 24 hour “energy” trip for a place on earth’s surface as the solar flux varies from zero to a maximum and back to zero in 12 hours and then remains at zero for the next 12 hours. Note that in the charts below they refer to a 1 square metre area as it passes through the sun’s radiation in a day. The suns radiation is always parallel to the plane of orbit but the effects on the earth’s surface vary because of the spherical shape.

For simplicity I calculated the solar flux for various latitudes and then used the appropriate value to calculate the changes around a full circle of longitude for certain latitudes. For simplicity again I chose the Equator, the Tropics, 45 degrees, the Arctic/Antarctic circles and the poles. The longitude is divided into 15 degree segments as this is the “distance” travelled in one hour, (360 divided by 24 = 15).

Because the incident radiation from the sun is considered to be parallel and the earth is a sphere the normal and tangential components need to be calculated. The normal component does the work and as latitude increases from the equator the incident normal radiation varies with the cosine of the angle. The sun is directly overhead at the equator twice a year when we have equinoxes and directly overhead one of the tropics once a year. If it is over the tropic of Cancer then it is summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and winter solstice in the southern and vice versa. Note that these are “one day” events as the earth is revolving around the sun at a constant rate so the sun angle changes each day.

The calculation tables for each chart are not included for the sake of space however they are available if anyone wants them.

The first chart shows the situation when it is equinox and the sun is directly above the equator. The chart shows North Pole and Arctic Circle but is equivalent for the southern hemisphere. I have done these as 3D line charts to show the individual lines a bit clearer and to show the 12 hours of night when the solar flux is zero. The vertical axis is solar flux in w/M2 and the horizontal axis is in hours – increments of 15 degrees longitude. The coloured lines show the changing flux over the day for each location, rising from zero at 0 to a maximum at 6 and zero again at 12 staying at zero for the next 12 hours. The maximum flux for each location is shown in the table below each graph. The table also shows the cumulative watts for the square metre over 24 hours and the theoretical “black body” temperature associated with that flux level.

Location Equator Tropic of Cancer 45 N Arctic circle North Pole
Solar flux w/M2 1000 917 707 399 0
Total over 12 hours watts 7,596 6,966 5,371 3,029 0
Equiv BB temp degrees C 91 83 61 16 0

 

Location Equator Tropic of Cancer 45 Arctic circle North Pole
Solar flux w/M2 917 1000 930 731 399
Total over 12 hours watts 6,966 7,596 0 5,555 3,029
Equiv BB temp degrees C 83 91 85 64 16

 

 

Location Equator Tropic of Capricorn 45S Antarctic circle South Pole
Solar flux w/M2 917 682 367 0 0
Total over 12 hours watts 6,966 5,180 2,788 0 0
Equiv BB temp degrees C 83 58 10 0 0

 

Each of the charts shows the solar flux changing with the latitude and also the longitude. This energy is directed at a moving target as the earth rotates and the point at which the earth is normal to the suns energy flux varies from season to season. It is at the equator at the equinoxes and over either the tropic of Cancer or Capricorn at the solstices. As the earth rotates the energy flux above a point on the earth’s surface will change, increasing from sunrise to noon and then decreasing until it reaches zero at sunset and remains at zero until sunrise. This differs significantly from the “classic greenhouse” theory where the earth is depicted as a flat static plate subjected to a constant flux of 240 w/M2 over the whole day – there is no “night” in the classic theory.

The mechanism is that the sun heats the earth which heats the atmosphere. The heated air becomes less dense and is displaced by cooler air descending. As it rises it loses energy and becomes cooler. It cannot “radiate” back towards the earth with any appreciable effect because it would be a cool body warming a hotter one and physics prohibits this. Clearly all the energy is not retained by the earth as the heated atmosphere conveys the energy away as it rises into cooler climes however we all know that surface temperatures increase during the day and then cool off over the night. It is time dependent, when the sun sets it does not become “cold” instantly. The “Slayers” book has a very good chapter on this topic and shows the time delays in cooling.

The analysis above is simplistic and the purists might have a field day pointing out that I have not managed to sort out the change in the length of daylight/dark as seasons change but my maths has been challenged enough to get this far. There are other simplifications as well but the gist of the article is to demonstrate that the solar flux is much greater than the IPCC model shows and to attempt to show the day/night variations. It does show that the solar flux varies greatly depending on the latitude of the location and the season and shows that there is no need for a “greenhouse effect” to stop us from freezing. The primary band where flux is always high is between the tropics. This is the region that drives the “climate”, particularly with cloud formation.

The analysis makes no allowances for clouds which have a significant effect on how much radiation reaches the earth’s surface so any indicative temperatures need to be recognised as such.

I also had a go at summing the total watts received in a day for the region between the 2 Tropics by averaging the flux and multiplying by half the land area – which is around 100 million square kilometres. The numbers are large as shown below. The first table is at equinox.

Location Tropic of Capricorn Equator Tropic of Cancer
Max Solar flux w/M2 917 1000 917
Total over 12 hours w 6,966 7,596 6,966
Equiv BB temp degrees C 83 91 83
Average w/M2 7,176  
Area M2 1,026,222,490,000  
Total watts 7,363,926,218,210,550  
TW 7,364    

 

The next table is at solstice.

Location Tropic of Capricorn Equator Tropic of Cancer
Max Solar flux w/M2 682 917 1000
Total over 12 hours 5,180 6,966 7,596
Equiv BB temp degrees C 64 83 91
Average w/M2 6,581  
Area M2 1,026,222,490,000  
Total watts 6,753,163,286,418,980  
TW 6,753    

 

The total flux received only declines by 8% from equinox to solstice.

It is interesting that solar power systems show the same daily changes. The chart below comes from a study I did for a 100 MW solar farm proposed for SA. The charts show the “best day” and the “worst day”.

 

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25 Responses to David Bidstrup: How does something at -18 C warm us up by +33 C?

  1. Karabar

    A planet has no similarities with a greenhouse. A ‘greenhouse’ simply eliminates heat loss via conduction, while allowing heat transfer via radiation.
    The mystical 33 degrees is just the adiabatic dry lapse rate. All heavenly bodies with an atmosphere exhibit a higher surface temperature than would otherwise be the case with no atmosphere.
    It is the magic properties of the substance H2O i.e. the heat of vapourisation and the heat of fusion, that performs the work is heat function as infrared vapourises liquid water then transports it to the heavens where it cools the air in a descending air column. A paper by Nikolov and Zellers provides the math.
    The silly CO2 hypothesis is thoroughly disproved in four papers in this month alone from the USA, (Berry). Germany (Harde), Japan (University of Kobe, and Finland (University of Finland.
    The entire cockamamy CGAW scam is nothing more than a disgusting fairy tale.

  2. pete m

    I just want to know if it will rain tomorrow, but all I get is “chance of rain – 30%” “up to 10mm”.

  3. stackja

    ‘AGW’ scam for money no real science.

  4. Tel

    The greenhouse effect posits that without an atmosphere the “AGT” would be -18C or 255 Kelvin. This is computed using black body radiation equations based on a total energy flux impinging on the earth of about 240 watts per square metre. The solar energy flux at earth’s distance from the sun is around 1,340 watts per square metre and at “top of atmosphere” it is 1,000 w/M2.

    Yeah … total load of crap isn’t it?

    We already have a big test case, consisting of a roughly spherical object, without an atmosphere, at the same distance from the Sun as where the Earth is … and we have direct temperature measurements. It doesn’t get more real than that. The temperature varies between approx 100K and 400K depending on which part is exposed to sunlight, and which is facing into space. Almost none of the surface is close to 255K other than a small transitional strip between the hot parts and the cold parts.

    Thus, we already know what an atmosphere does: it transports heat sideways, thus cooling the daylight regions and warming the night time regions, also cooling the equatorial regions and warming the polar regions. The Earth’s atmosphere containing both water vapour and liquid water operates as a heat pipe, utilizing the latent heat of water to make it a highly efficient heat transport process. That’s why you see extreme temperatures on the Moon as normal … while on Earth much more moderate temperatures are normal. The “global average” temperature means nothing in terms of surface habitability.

    ftp://public.sos.noaa.gov/astronomy/lro/diviner/scalebar.png

    There’s the temperature scale … and in the same directory there’s slides showing measurement maps of the surface. For example … ftp://public.sos.noaa.gov/astronomy/lro/diviner/4000/tbol_global-01_lroc.jpg

    You can also check dry regions on Earth (e.g. most of the Middle East) where you see extreme swings between day and night temperature, as compared with humid regions (e.g. Southeast Asia) where it’s pretty close to the same temperature in the middle of the night, or middle of the day. Water is the stabilizer.

  5. Tel

    A body’s temperature is changed by doing work on it by energy exchange, not by heat “flowing” from some external source.

    Well radiation “flows” from the Sun to all bodies in the solar system, and that’s the only source of energy for surface heating purposes. If you want to call that “doing work” or you want to call it “heat flow” I don’t see that as particularly important. The Sun is very hot, and it makes other things hot where they are exposed to sunlight, but it never makes anything as hot or hotter than the Sun itself.

    Not worth quibbling over from the point of view of how atmosphere influences surface temperature. The water evaporates in the warm regions, then warm moist air rises and circulates, then comes down as rain in cooler regions. That movement of water (and air circulating as well) is a physical flow of material, but carrying heat along with it. That heat gets released during condensation. Of course the water does not create or “trap” any heat, it merely operates as a transport mechanism.

  6. Good work David Bidstrup.
    Here are some things to consider (and why your numbers will be out substantially).

    This is a water planet. 70% of the surface is covered by it.
    The vast oceans warm in 3 dimensions, but cool in 2 dimensions. Anyone who has a sizeable swimming pool or has lived by the sea well knows that you can go for a midnight swim and find it’s warmer in the water than out of it.
    This means, right from the start the temperature of the planet is warmer than the fraudulent claim of -18DegC.

    The CAGW Scam claim that sunlight passes through the atmosphere unhindered is a lie, and they know it is an outright lie.
    The atmosphere contains water vapour and water/ice droplets. Sunlight DOES interact with these as it heads to the surface. THAT’S WHY THERE IS A THING CALLED THE DIURNAL BULGE.
    This well understood (but ignored by the scamsters) phenom is accounted for by those who send satellites up into orbit. Orbit could NOT be precisely computed without accounting for this bulge.

    The planet warms from the middle (Tropics mostly and where the ‘Bulge’ is thickest) and the heat is distributed towards the poles via atmosphere and ocean circulation.

    Measuring solar flux at top of atmosphere, dividing by 4 and claiming that this is the average temperature of the globe without GHG’s (-18DegC) is dishonest, and a fraud masquerading as science.

    A sparse medium (air) does not warm a dense medium (water), it’s the other way around.
    Fill your bath tub with cold water from the tap. Wait until the (room temperature) air in the bathroom warms the tub of water. You’ll be waiting a long long time.
    However, fill the tub with hot water and the air in the bathroom will warm up within minutes.

    Anyway, enough ranting.
    Good post David, thank you.

  7. Mark M

    Climate experts say that CO2 makes heat sink. It doesn’t.

    My favourite physicist, Dr Julius Sumner Miller shows why.

    Lesson 23 – Heat Energy Transfer by Convection – Demonstrations in Physics

    Demonstrations in Physics was an educational science series produced in Australia by ABC Television in 1969. The series was hosted by American scientist Julius Sumner Miller, who demonstrated experiments involving various disciplines in the world of physics.

  8. Nob

    Didn’t read and don’t care.

    The important thing is that the ruinous climate abatement policies proposed do more harm than good.

  9. mem

    Thank you for your article. Intuitively I know that AGW alarmism is a load of bollocks. However, given the corrupt science and media reporting, mega finances, subsidies, and politics of energy, I am not surprised that this doomsday cult has developed such a following. After all who doesn’t want to save the world? I refuse to roll over and have a strong belief that the Australian public will see through this scam. PS Have you seen this site. There are some excellent articles. https://wryheat.wordpress.com/2019/08/03/climate-madness-13-climate-emergency-scam-and-other-nonsense/

  10. Mitchell Porter

    Do you all also disbelieve in the power of blankets to keep you warm?

  11. Tim Neilson

    Do you all also disbelieve in the power of blankets to keep you warm?

    Blankets can keep you cool if there’s a massive heat source outside the blanket.

    A blanket works because you are creating heat. Your analogy would be more apposite to the cooling effects of e.g. cloud cover, keeping the heat source (the sun) from penetrating to the cooler location (earth). If that doesn’t work for you, maybe your analogy is over simplistic.
    Also, last time I looked my blankets were more than 400 ppm of the space they occupy.

  12. Tel

    Take a ball of rock, put a blanket over the top.

    If it gets warm, you probably want to call the authorities.

  13. Rafe Champion

    On the parallel topic of WindWatching, this evening at the peak (6.30) the demand was 27GW, the sun was off duty and the windmills of SE Australia were providing 0.3GW, that is 4.4% of plated capacity and 1.2% of the total requirement. Not a good look for the unreliables. It has picked up a bit since then to 6.5% of plated capacity. https://www.aemo.com.au/Electricity/National-Electricity-Market-NEM/Data-dashboard#nem-dispatch-overview

  14. Fang

    Show me OPM’s money, Scam!

  15. C.L.

    Brilliant work. I don’t understand it all but I love the effortless (well, you know what I mean), the effortless way you show how science should be done; which is to say, it should continue to be done. The warming hoax is, first and foremost, a political hoax. AGW can never be disproved to the warmist establishment because that would constitute the worst black eye for leftism this century. These people are not wedded to the science, nor even to rigged environmental benevolence (the argument that even if AGW is wrong, it’s still good, consequence-wise). No, they are wedded to political power and actuated by pride.

  16. I_am_not_a_robot

    How does something at -18 C warm us up by +33 C? …

    The atmosphere is transparent to the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight bombarding the surface but partly opaque to the infrared radiation bounced back to space due to the presence of ‘greenhouse’ gases.
    As I understand it if the concentration of greenhouse gases increases the rate at which the infrared passes through the atmosphere back to space slows and the atmosphere warms analogous to way that a layer of clothing at less than body temperature warms the surface of a body, add extra layers and the rate of loss of body heat slows until equilibrium is reached.

  17. struth

    When the anti western UN socialists lead by the anti western Gutterres, and basically anti sovereign nation globalist arseholes of the world stop funding this bullshit to bring the west down, ( only western coal causes climate disaster) then speak to me about objective science.
    What astounds me is that so called “educated” people still argue with the lies of socialism (to destroy the west), regarding the actual science, when exposing the flow of money and the UN, China, M East states and the socialists within our own bureaucracies, which would therefore dismiss their bullshit for what it is, would be far more beneficial.
    But no, they get bogged down fighting climate bullshit figures that those that produce them neither care, or indeed try to be correct for the sake of funding, rather than spending their time looking at the true cause , and exposing , the globalist socialists behind it.
    Basically, globalist socialists ( communists) are throwing that much bullshit out there, and there’s that much money involved, that it’s just a matter of saturation, yet it seems mentioning the root cause of the problem, thereby dismissing all of it, is taboo.
    Lets keep arguing with the bullshit, instead of calling out the bullshitters and their money (which the take from us), as it’s worked so well so far!!!

  18. Bruce J

    None of these calculations of the earth’s surface temperature take into account the nearest heat source which affects every square millimetre of the earth’s surface – the earth’s molten magma core. You only have to dig a hole to feel how the ground warms as you go deeper – go down a mine to really feel the difference! So heat loss from the core must be significant, but nobody seems to take it into account.

  19. Iampeter

    Yep the entire climate alarmist agenda is based on this total ignorance of relatively basic physics and fundamental processes.
    Sadly most prominent “skeptics” agree with this junk science which is how what should’ve been a non-starter became mainstream.

  20. Lutz

    A greenhouse is a closed system – the earth’s atmosphere is an open system.

  21. Mitchell Porter

    Tim Neilson
    #3123379, posted on August 4, 2019 at 8:05 pm
    A blanket works because you are creating heat.

    And the greenhouse effect works because the surface of the Earth is not at absolute zero!

    Also, last time I looked my blankets were more than 400 ppm of the space they occupy.

    Well, I guess that clinches it. If the greenhouse effect were real, the heat trapped in all that nitrogen (3/4 of the atmosphere) would be boiling the oceans… Or wait, could it be that the gases of the atmosphere are highly unequal in their capacity to absorb heat?

    I’m a “warmist”, but I do understand that quantifying the size of the warming effect is a contentious matter. However, when I see people skeptical of the greenhouse effect per se, I know it’s amateur hour.

    It may not be everyday physics on the level of ‘drop a glass and it breaks’, but the alleged vertical redistribution of heat follows from measured properties of these gases, plus a line of reasoning which, for the physical sciences, is pretty elementary. If you’re going to say that the greenhouse effect does not happen in Earth’s atmosphere at all, you need to explain what other effect overrides it or prevents it from happening.

  22. Mitchell Porter
    #3123809, posted on August 5, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    It may not be everyday physics on the level of ‘drop a glass and it breaks’, but the alleged vertical redistribution of heat follows from measured properties of these gases, plus a line of reasoning which, for the physical sciences, is pretty elementary

    .

    This is why this faux science has had such a strong foothold. A theory not yet proven by any stretch of the imagination is considered “elementary” by the ignorant masses, thereby enabling all the shysters, political operatives, enviro activists and sundry clingers to have the courage to upend our energy systems and economies.

    A theory (by Svante Arrhenius) to explain Ice Ages and abandoned shortly thereafter, was reanimated by the UNIPCC fraudsters. Despite actual PROOF obtained by ice cores which show the opposite of what Arrhenius posited i.e. Carbon Dioxide levels FOLLOW temperature increases, thereby Carbon Dioxide is not the cause of the increase, the fraudsters (encouraged by fools such as Mittchel Porter here) continue to cling onto what is essentially a once in ten life times windfall for all concerned. Follow the Money.

    Even the very basics of the errors of this Hypothesis (it’s not even a theory) have been hidden from the ignorant public (many of whom have their hearts in the right place i.e. to keep the planet free of pollution)
    Gasses in a glass tube do not behave the same as gasses in a free atmosphere (duh!!! Warm a gas, any gas in a glass tube and the pressure inside the tube increases. Warm the gasses in the atmosphere and PRESSURE DECREASES).

    So, if the REVERSE of what Arrhenius posited happens in nature (the pressure), and we have irrefutable evidence that the reverse of what he posited is observed in the ice cores (i.e. CO2 follows temperature not the other way around), the hypothesis should be abandoned. THAT’S SCIENCE.

    Furthermore, if the AGW hypothesis was correct, then we should see its signature in the data i.e. if the atmosphere helps keep the surface warm via radiation, then a spot in the atmosphere where CO2 does its work (the upper troposphere) should warm at a faster rate than the surface.
    There is no such hot spot. Despite dozens of alarmist “climate scientists” desperately searching for this signature THAT THEY THEMSELVES CLAIMED SHOULD EXIST, doesn’t exist.

    One would think true scientists would abandon their hypothesis, or at least admit they may be wrong, but one would be wrong because…………..FOLLOW THE MONEY.

  23. Tim Neilson

    And the greenhouse effect works because the surface of the Earth is not at absolute zero!

    Neither is the air outside the blanket.

    As I said, any competent analysis of the issue needs to address why the earth doesn’t fry because of the massive incoming solar radiation.

    I’m a “warmist”, but I do understand that quantifying the size of the warming effect is a contentious matter. However, when I see people skeptical of the greenhouse effect per se, I know it’s amateur hour.

    Why do you assume that my reference to 400ppm means that I think it has no effect at all?

    If you’re going to say that the greenhouse effect does not happen in Earth’s atmosphere at all, you need to explain what other effect overrides it or prevents it from happening.

    If someone said that, maybe they would. And maybe they’d point to convection. Maybe they’d suggest that it’s basic physics that the greater the difference between temperatures at lower and higher atmospheric levels the more convection will work to move hot air to the top where the heat can radiate to outer space. Maybe they’d ask how great an effect convection has as a negative feedback.

  24. Dr Fred Lenin

    Everything is possible in climate sciene politics the driving force is taxpayer grants and fame amongst you socialist peers . Must be some horrible bitch fights amongst the white privelaged climate scammers .

  25. Iampeter

    It may not be everyday physics on the level of ‘drop a glass and it breaks’, but the alleged vertical redistribution of heat follows from measured properties of these gases, plus a line of reasoning which, for the physical sciences, is pretty elementary.

    It IS elementary which is why the nonsense of AGW is so shocking.
    Greenhouses work because the transparent solid prevents convection, trapping the warm gasses inside.
    Our atmosphere has no solid preventing convection so all it does is cool.
    Also the idea that our atmosphere can heat the surface, which is warmer, violates basic physical laws so is nonsense on the face of it.
    Gasses like C02 are pumped into greenhouses at certain latitudes because they are plant food, not because of any “heat flow properties.”
    In other words, there is no “atmospheric greenhouse effect,” there is no such things as “greenhouse gasses” and this entire issue is a non-issue based on absolute junk science, that a high school student should be able to debunk.

    But like I said, even the skeptics got this wrong.

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