In addition to the greenhouse effect, there is an anti-greenhouse effect.

This has been sent in by Dr Douglas Hoyt to promote discussion – what do readers think?

The greenhouse effect works by having an additional CO2 molecule absorb radiation and re-emit it back to the surface resulting in a net warming of the system.
The anti-greenhouse effect works by having an additional CO2 molecule being struck by an oxygen or nitrogen molecule which –
1) excites the CO2 molecule which then, in turn, emits radiation, some of it to
space, resulting in a net cooling of the system.
2) The oxygen or nitrogen molecule has lost energy in the process, so is now slower, which is how the cooling is manifested.

Increased greenhouse gases have an absorber/heating function and an emitter/cooling function. It is not clear if the two functions are perfectly balanced but they should probably both be about the same.
The presence of both processes happening could provide an explanation for absence of the tropical hot spot. It could also explain the fact that the effective temperature of the earth has remained at about 255 K to within the accuracy of the measurements ever since it has been observed by satellites.

I haven’t seen any mention of the anti-greenhouse effect in any discussions. If one performs the greenhouse calculations with an instantaneous doubling of CO2, you will overlook the anti-greenhouse effect. This plot at – THE HOCKEY SCHTICK – is supportive of the above remarks.

35 thoughts on “In addition to the greenhouse effect, there is an anti-greenhouse effect.”

  1. Convective and conductive heat transfer?
    You will get into trouble with the AGW mob.

    So will I while I keep noticing things in the sky, sometimes white, fluffy looking but lately dark grey. They’re called clouds but under the IPCC Radiation Theory they cannot exist as transient entities, because they are obviously formed by water evaporating (absorbing heat), rising and then condensing (releasing heat). Conduction and convection are not used in the IPCC process; they insist that all heat loss is radiative.
    It must be so at the top of the atmosphere (wherever that is), but by simplifying the heat transfer process and using a black body assumption, the AGW have to introduce Back Radiation (down dwelling IR) to explain the Earth’s temperature by a 33 ℃ greenhouse effect.

    If we accept that heat lost from the Earth’s surface is 20% radiation and the rest conduction or convection, then the greenhouse effect drops to ~7 ℃, somewhat similar to the drop or rise in the earth’s temperature over the last 450 million years. Obviously I’ve made a mistake, so feel free to point it out to me.

  2. there’s an interesting summary here
    of anti-greenhouse CO2 evidence from NOAA, Spencer, et al., proving that negative feedback
    from H2O, which evaporates from the ocean and rises to increase “natural” cloud cover (global dimming)
    due to the buoyancy of sunlight-warmed humid air, totally cancels out the CO2 AGW “greenhouse effect”

  3. Well, I and some other non-experts have brought this up in discussions at Curry’s and other blogs. The big boys try to talk around it.

    Another issue is that the CO2 absorbs the IR but, in the lower trop, is more likely to have a collision before emitting again. This would seem to set up a situation where more CO2 increases the speed of warming of the atmosphere and therefore the start of and intensity of convective activity in the lower trop and increases the radiation in the upper trop!!

    The big boys try and tell us that extra CO2 raises and cools the average emission altitude, but, have not been able to demonstrate this with observations and measurements. In fact, warming will expand the atmosphere, which IS documented, reducing the density and allowing the lower warmer levels to continue emitting to space while increasing the emissions due to more emitters at all altitudes.

    We seem to have a thermostat operating in a number of respects.

  4. there’s an interesting Climategate e mail which mentions the anti greenhouse camp

    Email 951 – Keith Briffa, 1999

    We need to and are, doing much more work to explore these questions and Hoyt’s simplistic statement about borehole data reflecting only temperature forcing simply shows a naive at best and dishonest at worst attitude to the many problems that afflict these , and all ,palaeodata. I for one still believe that we are seeing the manifestation of greenhouse warming but I know the evidence presented to date leves many questions still unanswered . I too believe that solar variabilty is a potential forcing factor that has likely contributed to the variability of 19th and 20th century observations . The extent of the effect surely requires much more model-based research. Simply correlating Hoyt’s series against observations or reconstructed temperatures does not get us far. I also believe we have major uncertainty surrounding global or hemispheric estimates of centennial or millennial reconstructions , and real problems with spacial patterns on long timescales. Saying this does not make me an outlaw in the palaeo family – I hope! – just someone anxious to maintain our objectivity. We should all resist the attempts of those who try to push us into the pro or anti greenhouse camps. I think Hoyt’s comments betray someone who is perhaps lacking the degree of objectivity I had previously thought him to have.

    link to the e mail from the link for more info

  5. There MUST be negative feedback for the IPCC theory is garbage.

    “a little bit of heat (or CO2) causes the oceans to warm slightly, releasing CO2 and water vapour. This causes more warming, which releases more CO2 and water vapour” etc.
    Since there is 10-11 times as much CO2 in the top 150m of sea water as in the atmosphere, ad obviously no shortage of water, there can only be one end. The seas heat to boiling. See James Hansen who is saying this very thing.. (unless they’ve put him on medication).

    If I understand you kuhnkat, the excited CO2 or other molecule (in the lower troposphere) is likely to collide 4 or 5 times with “non Greenhouse gases” before it can emit radiation. The net effect is to warm those gases (which outnumber GH gases around 100:1) causes the air to be warmer (just like a Greenhouse effect?), and causing more evaporation and convection. At higher altitudes the collision rate reduces, so there is more radiation emitted, until at the top of the atmosphere the outgoing radiation matches the incoming radiation and the “blessed state” of the IPCC of radiative equilibrium is achieved.

    Dr. Hoyt’s suggestion may well apply. Extra CO2 must increase the chance of more radiation going up, but I think that this will only manifest itself at the Top of the atmosphere.

    Off topic, but I have always wondered how the Earth can warm with radiative equilibrium going on. I obviously don’t know any physics.

    Equally, quite how the Earth can warm, anywhere except at the surface is beyond me. The oceans might be ‘a great store of heat’ but that heat is hard to extract, particularly as we are told that the depths of the oceans are at 1 – 4 ℃. That’s going to require an awful lot of energy to warm. As it slowly circulates it will act as a giant “flywheel” on the climate. Given a long period of moderate temperatures, say a million years or so, then the earth could well have a “tipping point” and switch to a warmer climate, such as in the Cretaceous. But there is some evidence that the Earth has been cooling slowly for the last 7 -9,000 years, so it looks like another Ice Age is on the cards sometime, possibly as soon as 800 years.

    Dr. Hoyt a quote for you; “with this foolishness given that any Engineer worth his/her salt can disprove CAGW in 5 Minutes. Particularly by observing that the IPCC assumption assumes a Net Loop Gain of +0.64 and a feed-forward gain (Positive Feedback) loop gain of +0.95 or so to achieve. Any engineer, should be able to deduce that the climate system would be grossly unstable to transients such that even the Sun going down would lead to massive oscillatory behaviour. Electrical Engineers represented by the IEEE should recognise that in a heartbeat.”
    So, not only physicists but engineers, chemists (re stupid “ocean acidification”), historians, geologists and astronomers don’t believe the IPCC. Scepticism is becoming an overcrowded profession!

  6. Another way of stating what I said above would be to say that the two effects offset each and the net effect on upwelling radiation would be equivalent to incoherent scattering – that is, absorption at one wavelength and then re-emission at another wavelength. The heat content of the Earth would be little changed in such a process.

    The temperature gradient could then be explained by the Loschmidt Effect rather than greenhouse gases.

  7. The comments at this post may be of interest.

    Personally I see little relevance in the Trenberth/IPCC theory, as it assumes a static atmosphere at radiative equilibrium, and ignores the major routes of heat transfer. And, from the little time I’ve spent on it, doesn’t seem to allow for incoherent scattering. That is if their claim that the warming black body earth causes CO2 to radiate at a slightly shorter wavelength, which corresponds with an absorption band of H2O, thus trapping the IR radiation in the atmosphere. They also concentrate only on the ‘classical’ IR spectral band, and make no allowance for radiation at longer wavelengths. Or indeed shorter ones – those photos of the Earth at night always call the light escaping into space as “pollution”.

  8. I recall the study that showed a measurable increase in the methane emission frequencies over the satellite era, but not in the CO2 emission frequencies. It is touted by Real Climate and others as direct proof of GHG AGW, which I believe it is, with the usual caveats. But I’d be happy if someone corrected me on this.

    I can’t find the study using google, which is a little surprising.

  9. Philip Bradley Says:

    Is this a fairly recent article? Are you sure that it was IR frequencies, not emissions measured by frequencies? Methane isn’t a wide ranging emitter in the infra-red.

    Methane levels in the atmosphere stabilised around 1.7 – 1.8 ppm for 10-15 years, but have shown a slight increase again in the last 2 years. This has led to an outburst from the usual suspects that it is all due to coal seam gas, therefore frakking should be banned. I note also that the (times worse than CO2) factor has increased in the last 10 years from ~14 to 25 (and some want 43).

    Any reliable way of cutting CO2 emissions that is cheaper than PV solar, is immediately set upon by the Greenies as dangerous.

  10. BTW, the recent small increase in methane levels may well be due to Obama substantially defunding of George Bush’s Methane to Markets program to limit methane emissions. The implementation of the program coincided with the levelling off methane emissions 10 or so years ago and was likely a significant contributing factor.

  11. Perhaps it is worthwhile pointing out that the Sun is composed mostly of hydrogen and helium which are not greenhouse gases. According to Allen’s Astrophysical Quantities, the temperature gradient is about 7 K/km in its upper 3500 kms. This implies that Loschmidt is correct and it is not necessary to have greenhouse gases to have a temperature gradient in an atmosphere.

    Also I thought the Harries paper had been withdrawn, because a valid comparison of spectra is not possible when two spectrometers have different bandpass properties.

  12. There has been quite a deal of comment in the wilder areas of scepticism about the temperature gradient without anyone mentioning Loschmidt. Those comments have been based on planetary atmospheric pressures, partly to explain surface temperatures on Venus.

    The fact that Loschmidt’s idea has been around for so long, without anyone being able to refute it, would seem that his idea deserves more attention. I particularly liked the explanation in one of the comments on the link I posted above where the writer explained away the apparent breach of the Second Law, as a failure to account for more than one form of energy.

    But flowing on from your original post: what effect does the declining level of water vapour in the upper troposphere have? Surely with decreasing “greenhouse” gases there, why and how does the radiation rate to space remain the same? The effect of water vapour in the atmosphere (given its concentration and 5 times CO2 rating) has to be 70 times that of CO2. Any noticeable change in water concentration would far outweigh any effect of CO2. If you argued that the reduced water concentration reduced the absorption and amount of back radiation, so the radiative flux remained constant, you have the problem then that back radiation is supposedly warming the Earth’s surface, so you would expect a drop in temperature. Or is my logic not so?

  13. There are a large number of issues raised by this post and the comments.
    Can I encourage everyone to read John Nicol’s excellent paper at ?

    In that paper John makes clear that the collision rate at STP is about 10^10 per second. The natural line bandwidth of a CO2 emission line is thought to be around 10^5 Hz, and 1/this (ie 10 microseconds) defines the time that 1/e of excited molecules will emit a photon. So a CO2 molecule energised by absorption of a photon has only 0.1 nanoseconds to emit it before the energy is stripped away by a collision, and transferred into the ensemble as kinetic energy. So ABSORPTION heats the whole gas.

    At the same time, collisions energise CO2 molecules into the emission state, and there is a very small but finite chance that a photon will be emitted before another collision strips away the energy. EMISSION is governed by Temperature and Concentration. ABSORPTION is governed by Concentration (temperature has only a minor effect.)

    A cold gas absorbs strongly but emits weakly. As it heats up it still absorbs strongly at about the same rate, but emits more and more.

  14. The following is an explanation why back radiation is not the cause of heating with greenhouse gases. However, greenhouse gases do cause some increase in temperature, simply by raising the average level of outgoing radiation to space. Some of the equations in the following did not carry over well, but I think the points are clear.

    Why Back-Radiation is not a Source of Surface Heating
    Leonard Weinstein
    July 18, 2012

    The argument is frequently made that back radiation from optically absorbing gases heats a surface more than it would be heated without back radiation, and this is the basis of the so-called Greenhouse Effect on Earth. The first thing that has to be made clear is that a suitably radiation absorbing and radiating atmosphere does radiate energy out based on its temperature, and some of this radiation does go downward, where it is absorbed by the surface (i.e., there is back radiation, and it does transfer energy to the surface). However, heat (which is the net transfer of energy, not the individual transfers) is only transferred down if the ground is cooler than the atmosphere, and this applies to all forms of heat transfer. While it is true that the atmosphere containing suitably optically absorbing gases is warmer than the local surface in some special cases, on average the surface is warmer than the integrated atmosphere effect contributing to back radiation, and so average heat transfer is from the surface up. The misunderstanding of the distinction between energy transfer, and heat transfer (net energy transfer) seems to be the cause of much of the confusion about back radiation effects.
    Before going on with the back radiation argument, first examine a few ideal heat transfer examples, which emphasize what is trying to be shown. These include an internally uniformly heated ball with either a thermally insulated surface or a radiation-shielded surface. The ball is placed in space, with distant temperatures near absolute zero, and zero gravity. Assume all emissivity and absorption coefficients for the following examples are 1 for simplicity. The bare ball surface temperature at equilibrium is found from the balance of input energy into the ball and radiated energy to the external wall:

    To=(P/σ)0.25 (1)

    Where To (oK) is absolute temperature, P (Wm-2) is input power per area of the ball, and σ=5.67Ε−8 (Wm-2 T-4) is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant.
    Now consider the same case with a relatively thin layer (compared to the size of the ball) of thermally insulating material coated directly onto the surface of the ball. Assume the insulator material is opaque to radiation, so that the only heat transfer is by conduction. The energy generated by input power heats the surface of the ball, and this energy is conducted to the external surface of the insulator, where the energy is radiated away from the surface. The assumption of a thin insulation layer implies the total surface area is about the same as the initial ball area. The temperature of the external surface then has to be the same (=To) as the bare ball was, to balance power in and radiated energy out. However, in order to transmit the energy from the surface of the ball to the external surface of the insulator there had to be a temperature gradient through the insulation layer based on the conductivity of the insulator and thickness of the insulation layer. For the simplified case described, Fourier’s conduction law gives:

    qx=-k(dT/dx) (2)

    where qx (Wm-2) is the local heat transfer, k (Wm-1 T-1) is the conductivity, and x is distance outward of the insulator from the surface of the ball. The equilibrium case is a linear temperature variation, so we can substitute ΔT/h for dT/dx, where h is the insulator thickness, and ΔT is the temperature difference between outer surface of insulator and surface of ball (temperature decreasing outward). Now qx has to be the same as P, so from (2):

    ΔT=(To-T’)=-Ph/k (3)

    Where T’ is the ball surface temperature under the insulation, and thus we get:

    T’=(Ph/k)+To (4)

    The new ball surface temperature is now found by combining (1) + (4):

    T’=(Ph/k)+(P/σ)0.25 (5)

    The point to all of the above is that the surface of the ball was made hotter for the same input energy to the ball by adding the insulation layer. The increased temperature did not come from the insulation heating the surface, it came from the reduced rate of surface energy removal at the initial temperature (thermal resistance), and thus the internal surface temperature had to increase to transmit the required power. There was no added heat and no back heat transfer!
    An alternate version of the insulated surface can be found by adding a thin conducting enclosing shell spaced a small distance from the wall of the ball, and filling the gap with a highly optically absorbing dense gas. Assume the gas is completely opaque to the thermal wavelengths at very short distances, so that he heat transfer would be totally dominated by diffusion (no convection, since zero gravity). The result would be exactly the same as the solid insulation case with the correct thermal conductivity, k, used (derived from the diffusion equations). It should be noted that the gas molecules have a range of speeds, even at a specific temperature (Maxwell distribution). The heat is transferred only by molecular collisions with the wall for this case. Now the variation in speed of the molecules, even at a single temperature, assures that some of the molecules hitting the ball wall will have higher energy going in that leaving the wall. Likewise, some of the molecules hitting the outer shell will have lower speeds than when they leave inward. That is, some energy is transmitted from the colder outer wall to the gas, and some energy is transmitted from the gas to the hotter ball wall. However, when all collisions are included, the net effect is that the ball transfers heat (=P) to the outer shell, which then radiates P to space. Again, the gas layer did not result in the ball surface heating any more than for the solid insulation case. It resulted in heating due to the resistance to heat transfer at the lower temperature, and thus resulted in the temperature of the ball increasing. The fact that energy transferred both ways is not a cause of the heating.
    Next we look at the bare ball, but with an enclosure of a very small thickness conductor placed a small distance above the entire surface of the ball (so the surface area of the enclosure is still essentially the same as for the bare ball), but with a high vacuum between the surface of the ball and the enclosed layer. Now only radiation heat transfer can occur in the system. The ball is heated with the same power as before, and radiates, but the enclosure layer absorbs all of the emitted radiation from the ball. The absorbed energy heats the enclosure wall up until it radiated outward the full input power P. The final temperature of the enclosure wall now is To, the same as the value in equation (1). However, it is also radiating inward at the same power P. Since the only energy absorbed by the enclosure is that radiated by the ball, the ball has to radiate 2P to get the net transmitted power out to equal P. Since the only input power is P, the other P was absorbed energy from the enclosure. Does this mean the enclosure is heating the ball with back radiation? NO. Heat transfer is NET energy transfer, and the ball is radiating 2P, but absorbing P, so is radiating a NET radiation heat transfer of P. This type of effect is shown in radiation equations by:

    Pnet=σ (T4hot-T4 cold) (6)

    That is, the net radiation heat transfer is determined by both the emitting and absorbing surfaces. There is radiation energy both ways, but the radiation heat transfer is one way. This is not heating by back radiation, but is commonly also considered a radiation resistance effect. There is initially a decrease in net radiation heat transfer forcing the temperature to adjust to a new level for a given power transfer level. This is directly analogous to the thermal insulation effect on the ball, where radiation is not even a factor between the ball and insulator, or the opaque gas in the enclosed layer, where there is no radiation transfer, but some energy is transmitted both ways, and net energy (heat transfer) is only outward. The hotter surface of the ball is due to a resistance to direct radiation to space in all of these cases.
    If a large number of concentric radiation enclosures were used (still assuming the total exit area is close to the same for simplicity), the ball temperature would get even hotter. In fact, each layer inward would have to radiate a net P outward to transfer the power from the ball to the external final radiator. For N layers, this means that the ball surface would have to radiate:

    P’=(N+1)Po (7)

    Now from (1), this means the relative ball surface temperature would increase by:

    T’/To=(N+1)0.25 (8)

    Some example are shown to give an idea how the number of layers changes relative absolute temperature:

    N T’/To
    1 1.19
    10 1.82
    100 3.16

    Change in N clearly has a large effect, but the relationship is a semi-log like effect.

    Planetary atmospheres are much more complex than either a simple conduction insulating layer or radiation insulation layer or multiple layers. This is due to the presence of several mechanisms to transport energy that was absorbed from the Sun, either at the surface or directly in the atmosphere, up through the atmosphere, and also due to the effect called the lapse rate. The lapse rate results from the convective mixing of the atmosphere combined with the adiabatic cooling due to expansion at decreasing pressure with increasing altitude. The lapse rate depends on the specific heat of the atmospheric gases, gravity, and by any latent heat release, and may be affected by local temperature variations due to radiation from the surface directly to space. The simple theoretical value of that variation in a dry adiabatic atmosphere is about -9.8 C per km altitude on Earth. The effect of water evaporation and partial condensation at altitude, drops the size of this average to about -6.5 C per km, which is the called the environmental lapse rate.
    The absorbed solar energy is carried up in the atmosphere by a combination of evapotransporation followed by condensation, thermal convection and radiation (including direct radiation to space, and absorbed and emitted atmospheric radiation). Eventually the conducted, convected, and radiated energy reaches high enough in the atmosphere where it radiates directly to space. This does require absorbing and radiating gases and/or clouds. The sum of all the energy radiated to space from the different altitudes has to equal the absorbed solar energy for the equilibrium case. The key point is that the outgoing radiation average location is raised significantly above the surface. A single average altitude for outgoing radiation generally is used to replace the outgoing radiation altitude range. The temperature of the atmosphere at this average altitude then is calculated by matching the outgoing radiation to the absorbed solar radiation. The environmental lapse rate, combined with the temperature at the average altitude required to balance incoming and outgoing energy, allows the surface temperature to be then calculated. The equation for the effect is:

    T’=To -ΓH (9)

    Where To is the average surface temperature for the non-absorbing atmospheric gases case, with all radiation to space directly from the surface, Γ is the lapse rate (negative as shown), and H is the effective average altitude of outgoing radiation to space. The combined methods that transport energy up so that it radiated to space, are variations of energy transport resistance compared to direct radiation from the surface. In the end, the only factors that raise ground temperature to be higher than the case with no greenhouse gas is the increase in average altitude of outgoing radiation and the lapse rate. That is all there is to the so-called greenhouse effect. If the lapse rate or albedo is changed by addition of specific gases, this is a separate effect, and is not included here.

    The case of Venus is a clear example of this effect. The average altitude where radiation to space occurs is about 50 km. The average lapse rate on Venus is about 9 C per km. The surface temperature increase over the case with the same albedo and absorbed insolation but no absorbing or cloud blocking gases, would be about 450 C, so the lapse rate fully explains the increase in temperature. It is not directly due to the pressure or density alone of the atmosphere, but the resulting increase in altitude of outgoing radiation to space. Changing CO2 concentration (or other absorbing gases) might change the outgoing altitude, but that altitude change would be the only cause of a change in surface temperature, with the lapse rate times the new altitude as the increase in temperature over the case with no absorbing gases. One point to note is that the net energy transfer (from combined radiation and other transport means) from the surface or from a location in the atmosphere where solar energy was absorbed is always exactly the same whatever the local temperature. For example, the hot surface of Venus radiated up (a very short distance) over 16 kWm-2. However, the total energy transfer up is just the order of absorbed solar energy, or about 17 Wm-2, and some of the energy carried up is by conduction and convection. Thus the net radiation heat transfer is <17 Wm-2, and thus back radiation has to be almost exactly the same as radiation up. The back radiation is not heating the surface; the thermal heat transfer resistance from all causes results in the excess heating.
    In the end, it does not matter what the cause of resistance to heat transfer is. The total energy balance and thermal heat transfer resistance defines the process. For planets with enough atmosphere, the lapse rate defines the lower atmosphere temperature gradient, and if the lapse rate is not changed, the distance the location of outgoing radiation is moved up by addition of absorbing gases determines the increase in temperature effect. It should be clear the back radiation did not do the heating.

  15. Colin,

    thank you for the paper. It is way over my head, but, I can still get the general sense of it.

  16. Colin, Leonard;

    thank you for your respective papers. I can see a lot of work ahead.

    However, a quick reading indicated that both agree that the IPCC process of “back radiation heating the ground” and “radiation is the only way heat is lost” are very doubtful propositions,

  17. Colin, perhaps a one sentence summary of your essay would be:

    A cooler body cannot heat a warmer body, if the cooler body gets all its energy from the warmer body.

  18. Douglas Hoyt Says:

    A cooler body cannot heat a warmer body, if the cooler body gets all its energy from the warmer body.

    Oscar Wilde “I wish I’d said that”. Whistler (with knowledge of Wilde’s plagiarism) “You will, Oscar, you will”.

  19. I think the counter-argument to my statement above will be the argument that the upper atmosphere will warm quickly due to the greenhouse effect (i.e., the hot spot) and this quicker warming will cause the surface to warm, but at a slower rate.

    There are two problems with this counter-argument:
    1) The surface is observed to be warming at a faster rate than the upper atmosphere, opposite of what the greenhouse effect predicts.
    2) If both the surface and the upper atmosphere are warming due to the greenhouse effect, then the outgoing IR at the top of the atmosphere will decrease as temperature increases. That is the only way to get a source of energy to do the heating. Indeed, Lindzen showed that all the climate models behave this way. However, looking at the data, the outgoing IR increases as temperature increases, again opposite of what the greenhouse effect models predict. A plot of the measurements can be found at the link in my original comments.

    In short, it does not look good for the greenhouse hypothesis.

  20. Douglas, Hello.

    I have an example of warmists applying the anti-greenhouse to explain inconvenient real world observational data on Titan.
    Titan: Greenhouse and Anti-greenhouse.

    It seemed to me a bit groping. Particularly the bit about the anti-greenhouse masking the “strong greenhouse” of methane vapor. This might be an incidental outcome of McKay’s basic ignorance, rather than a rebuttal of anti-greenhouse in general.
    McKay says:

    The anti-greenhouse effect on Titan is half as strong as the greenhouse effect. If there was no greenhouse effect, Titan’s temperature would be 82 Kelvin. (minus 191 C, minus 312 F) The greenhouse effect would raise it to 105 Kelvin. The anti-greenhouse effect takes away half of the greenhouse effect.

    {Point of fact, Titan’s surface temperature ranges from 93.7 K on the top end, to something above 91 K at the bottom (the bottom being divined by me from the freezing point of liquid methane [90 k] – there would be highly reflective methane ice skating rinks at Titan’s poles, rather than light swallowing lakes of methane if it were much colder).}

    By invoking 82 K as the Titan temperature without greenhouse effect McKay as much as lied to protect the idea of methane as a powerful ghg. It is (82 k) the idealized black body radiation temperature for a body at Saturn’s distance from the sun. Definitely dishonest to call that 11 K difference the greenhouse effect.

    Now how about this. The next moon over from Titan,
    Hyperion, has no atmosphere and has roughly the same albedo (between 0.2 and 0.3). The temperature for this moon ~ 93 k.
    Same as the balmy Titan, resting as it is in the bosom of it’s deep methane atmospheric blanket.

  21. James, good point but one only has to look at the absorption spectrum of methane to realise that it is not a powerful greenhouse (which is misleading) gas. The absorption spectrum is very much less than CO2 which in turn is very much less than H2O.
    Maybe soon I will have some time to write some more on my blog. I will put up definitions of of black & gray bodies which will make it clear that the Stefan-Boltzman equation applies to surfaces in a vacuum and not gases.

  22. While CO2 absorbs a little IR, how much does it? I note that IR observatories are largely high in the mountains, but I believe that is to get above water vapour. In any case they are only a small way up in the troposphere, so if CO2 absorbs strongly there would be evidence of that.

    I see that the “greenhouse” molecules absorb energy, there is exchange of energy between molecules, but one collision time (on average) after a “greenhouse” molecule loses energy it regains it from another collision, so the molecules are almost “permanently” energised. If I read John Nicol’s figures right, over 99% of the time. Surely this increases the chance of radiation.

    More CO2 would mean a higher temperature, but most of the greenhouse effect is due to water, so the radiation time(s) of water would be more important.

    I still don’t think much of the radiative theory. Granted that emission to space has to equal incoming sunlight energy if the Earth is in equilibrium, this still doesn’t mean that the radiation must be from the ground, only at the tropopause (if that is defined as the top of the atmosphere). The energy could be transferred up the troposphere by evaporation or circulation.

    In any case the Climatologists assume the Earth is a black body (in a vacuum) and don’t actually measure the ground temperature, but rather the air temperature at about 1.5 metres. They also assume a fixed cloud effect, and a constant relative humidity. As for the ground radiating IR it must lose energy. If that is absorbed by gas molecules and radiated back to the ground to warm it etc. it would seem to have the makings of a perpetual energy machine.

  23. Over at
    Hans Schreuder also disputes the existence of the greenhouse effect, saying in part:
    “Delaying the cooling does not equal warming, as is the case with water vapour. No heat is ever added other than that which was added to the (earth + atmosphere) system via geo-thermal and solar energy. Carbon dioxide does not even delay any cooling, it accelerates it! [3] Sending its own energy back to its source can never make the source produce yet more energy, if it could, engineers would by now have designed machines that produced more energy than the input allowed for. Does a thermos delay the cooling? Yes. Does it make the contents warmer than they ever were? No, never.”

  24. Douglas Hoyt:

    I wrote above: a “greenhouse” molecule loses energy it regains it from another collision, so the molecules are almost “permanently” energised. If I read John Nicol’s figures right, over 99% of the time. Surely this increases the chance of radiation.

    I must have had my brain in neutral. If the “greenhouse” molecules are energised, then they couldn’t absorb any more radiation, could they? Further, if the air heated by conduction/convection then those molecules would still be energised, and still useless as a type of greenhouse.

    Radiation would still occur at the top of the atmosphere where the times between collisions is much greater. With the much lower level of water vapour, CO2 would indeed speed up cooling.

  25. Graeme,
    If the molecules are energized that simply means they are in one rotational or vibrational state. It doesn’t prevent from going to a higher energy state by absorbing radiation, or dropping to a lower energy state by emitting a photon.

    My original post was made to point out there may be missing physics in the models, namely a path for cooling that isn’t accounted for. The missing physics potentially could be strong enough to completely offset the standard greenhouse effect theory.

  26. I am sorry, it is so long since I was involved in radiation theory. In that case wouldn’t the “super excited” molecule have a much shorter radiation time, and that way speed up the rate of transmission? But aren’t you assuming lossless transmission of energy by collisions? And how does the radiation theory cope with the seas? After all 70% of the Earth is covered by it.

    When speaking of holes in the theory perhaps this is what you have in mind?
    Miller, M., Ghate, V., Zahn, R., (2012) The Radiation Budget of the West African Sahel 1 and its Controls: A Perspective from
2 Observations and Global Climate Models. in press Journal of Climate.

    Their claim is that the models treat clouds wrongly, and they found a loss of 70 watts per square metre reflectance, not zero as in the models.

  27. Interesting post at

    They are making thge same point I am making but from a different perspective. One quote from their entry:

    “So now it’s demonstrated the “33 degrees” claim is bogus what other hard and fast numbers exist to prove of the GHE? Well, none actually. All climatologists have left are hand waving assertions that “greenhouse gases” trap or delay the exit of energy from the atmosphere. Some even claim energy gets “back radiated” adding additional heat to the system. But no tests, no observations, no experiments in our atmosphere have adduced any verifiable numbers for those claims. It is all a matter of unproven belief.”

    The way I would put it as follows:
    1) If the surface of a planet with an atmosphere is unevenly heated, then the atmosphere will flow in such a direction as to offset the uneven heating.
    2) If a planet is spherical, there will be an unvene heating from equator to pole with winds generated along lines of longitude. These winds will converge at the poles and cause an updraft – hence there will be convection.
    3) Similarly, day and night temperature diference will cause east-west winds. They will converge at some point and cause updraft and downdrafts – hence convection will commence.
    4) Similarly, any differences in surface albedo will drive winds (like sea breezes) leading to convection.
    5) Similarly, uneven topography will also cause convection.
    6) Once convection starts, clouds will form. The planet will be in a permanent state of uneven heating which also time dependent.

    The net effect is convection will commence and there is no need for any greenhouse gases to be present. The convection will set up vertical temperature gradients with the surface being warmer than the rest of the atmosphere, again without the need of any greenhouse gases.

    Since the perfect gas law is valid, the atmosphere will adjust to follow the Loschmidt Effect. It will deviate somewhat from this effect if there are phase changes going on, such as condensation.

    There is no need for greenhouse gases to explain the higher surface temperatures. It appears that greenhouse gases, as absorbers and emitters, act much like incoherent scatterers.

  28. I agree that circulation is far more important than radiation.

    Re the claim that only CO2, methane CFC’s (and water vapour which gets little mention) can absorb the sun’s energy, what about atmospheric glow? OK it involves UV, oxygen and nitrogen, and occurs no where near the surface of the Earth, but it is another way that solar energy is absorbed. There has been speculation that UV is in some way affecting the climate.

    I wonder whether the quieter sun giving out less UV is resulting in less atmospheric glow?

    Also, it seems that the ozone “hole” gets bigger when solar activity lessens. I cannot quote a reference, and am not certain that this observation wasn’t the result of a “one point graph”.

  29. In addition to the points made above, it should be noted that the AGW folks claim that without greenhouse gases, the atmosphere would have a uniform 255K temperature from the base of the atmosphere on upwards. Basically, they are claiming that without greenhouse gases, there would be no convection or winds. I am just trying to point out that on a spherical rotating planet, it is impossible to have a static atmosphere. Thus, the 33K warming due to greenhouse gases is fallacious.

  30. Douglas,

    I would not only agree with your assessment but add to the pot the new evidence uncovered by my colleagues at Principia Scientific International. They studied the “33 degrees” number from the oft-cited claim that the GHE “makes our planet 33 degrees warmer than it would otherwise be.” We find that the number is merely the product of a botched equation performed by James Hansen in the ’80’s. Lindzen first adopted the number unquestioningly in a paper he wrote for the AMS in 1990. Thereafter, Spencer took Lindzen’s word for it but went further to claim (crassly) that the number offers a “real-world observed radiative-convective equilibrium case.”

    It appears Hansen made the fatal error of combining a vector temp value (255K: the product of outgoing IR and a 3D value) with a scalar temp value(288K: the product of averaging surface weather stations temps: a 2D value).

    My colleagues put this matter to Roy Spencer and Dick Lindzen months ago during a private email debate but neither would comment on it. Most odd we thought. Read more on this here:

  31. John,

    The rotating spherical Earth is unevenly heated, so it is a heat engine. Winds, followed by convection, try to redistribute the absorbed heat. The ideal gas law must also be obeyed, so the Loschmidt Effect arises, because the atmosphere is restrained by a gravitational field. There is no need to say that any of this is a perpetual motion machine, as some claim, because there is a constant input of solar radiation driving the heat engine.

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