A Note on the Stefan-Boltzmann Equation

According to American climatologist, Judith Curry, there are plenty of things to be skeptical about when it comes to Anthropogenic Global Warming, but the basic physics of gaseous infrared radiative transfer is not one of them.

Dr Curry, is the chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the co-author of ‘Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans’ (1999), and was speaking out against claims in a book ‘Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory’. 

There has been some discussion of radiative transfer theory at this blog mostly via notes I have posted from Alan Siddons, Holden, Massachusetts, who is a chapter author in the book and is very skeptical about the basic physics of radiative transfer as applied by mainstream climate scientists and in the IPCC reports.  

I was recently alerted to a blog post Dr Curry has started, ostensibly to discuss this physics and its application to global warming theory.   It seems to have stirred up interest again in this issue. 

An occasional commentator at this blog, known as Cementafriend, is also skeptical, in particular about how the Stefan-Boltzmann equation is applied by the climate scientists. 
Following is a note from Cementafriend to resurrect the issue here:

Is the Stefan-Boltzmann Equation used correctly

D Kern in the text book “Process Heat Transfer” states “Radiant energy is believed to originate within molecules of the radiating body, atoms of such molecules vibrating in simple harmonic motion as linear oscillators. The emission of radiant energy is believed to represent a decrease in the amplitudes of the vibrations within the molecules, while an absorption of energy represents an increase.”

But from where does the Stefan-Boltzmann equation come?

It appears that Josef Stefan determined around 1879 from experimental results that the radiative flux (W/m2) was proportional to the fourth power of the absolute temperature. His student Ludwig Boltzmann around 1884 derived a confirming equation and proportionality constant from statistical thermodynamics. This became known as the Stefan-Boltzman law.
Most laws have some boundary conditions i.e. they do not apply universally. Einstein demonstrated that with his theory of relativity.

It was quickly found that the Stefan-Boltzmann law/equation only applies to black bodies.
There is a question mark about the constant as it seems that it was derived from a flat surface inside a hemisphere. That is OK when considering heat transfer been two surfaces but may be inaccurate when considering a radiating sphere.

A different derivation of the Stefan-Boltzmann equation is give by Miles Mathis who the radiant heat flux to electromagnetic fields. This is interesting as one of the criticisms of Boltzman’s work is that he did not consider gravity in his thermodynamics but this is outside the scope of this short note.

Boltzmann proposed a distribution of energy flux which was later developed by Max Planck into Planck’s Law. The Stefan-Boltzmann equation can be derived from Planck’s law with some assumptions. (It seems that Boltzmann has a lot to answer for –one of his students was Arrhenius)

Engineers work differently to scientists. They have to consider best practice, what actually works to give a solution to a problem. They have to take account of boundary conditions and assumptions, which have been applied to give a workable solution for similar problems.
The first modification to the Stefan-Boltzmann equation is to apply an emissivity factor because a black body is a theoretical consideration which does not apply in reality.

The emissivity is the ratio of the actual power to the power of a black body integrated over the whole flux density Planck distribution at a particular temperature.

Engineering researchers have determined the emissivities for many substances over a range of temperatures. Some emissivities are shown in figure 5-12 and table 5-6 of Perry’s Chemical Engineering Handbook (Perry’s CEH). It will be noted that the emissivity varies with temperature. For some materials the emissivity decreases with temperature and for others it increases with temperature.

Perry’s CEH states “According to Kirchhoff’s law, the emissivity and absorptivity of a surface in its surroundings at its own temperature are the same for both monochromatic and total radiation.” However, the emissivity and absorptivity needs to be considered in relation to the temperatures of the source and receiver.

For gases, researchers have determined a wavelength spectrum of emission/absorption.
It can be found that pure 100% CO2, at one atmosphere pressure, absorbs energy in only narrow wavelengths. At 4.2 micron there is approximately 100% absorption over less than 0.1 micron range and in the wavelengths range 14.5 to 15.5 micron there is approximately 60% absorption. Now the sun has less than 1% of its total spectrum in wavelengths greater than 3.9 micron and less than 0.1% greater than 9 micron so the absorptivity/emissivity of CO2 for incoming radiation from the very high temperature sun is practically zero. A black body at 288K has about 0.1% of its spectrum at wavelengths less than 3.9 micron and roughly 8% in the range 14.5 to 15.5 micron, giving an absorptivity/emissivity of radiation from such a body for CO2 of less than 0.05.

While the change in absorptivity in the case of CO2 is small, it will be recognised that the emissivity/absorptivity is temperature dependent.

So far only a single remote radiating source has been considered. From engineering measurements it was found that the temperature of the receiver affected the amount of energy transferred. In other words there was a net heat transfer which requires modification of the Stefan-Boltzmann equation.

Some may call this back radiation. Engineers normally do not care about the detailed mechanism while the equations can give a useful result. However, the concept of back radiation would be in conflict with the second law of thermodynamics. Infra-red radiation is part of the continuum of electromagnetic waves. It is possible that a reduced series of waves set out only in one direction or that incoming and outgoing waves cancel. Professor Claes Johnson, an author of ‘Slaying the Sky Dragon’ gives a plausible explanation with the concept of threshold energy levels.

In heat exchangers the area of surfaces are usually not equal and they may not be parallel.
From measurements and geometry calculations Engineers have introduced View factors.
This is outside the scope of this short note. However, view factors must be a consideration in the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. The heat loss/gain of a bitumen road in a open rural area will be different from the surrounding due to different emissivity but it will also be different to a road in a city where there are adjacent buildings of various heights due to view factor corrections. Anyone saying UHI does not exist is either not telling the truth or has no understanding of heat transfer.

A gas is not a surface and requires a different treatment to determine heat transfer. Engineering researchers have over many years made measurements on combustion products in heat exchangers and furnaces. Hoyt Hottel, Professor of Chemical Engineering MIT in the late 1950’s developed an equation which allows the absorptivity/emissivity of a combustion gas to be calculated from the partial pressures of CO2 and H2O vapour, the beam length, the total pressure and individual emissivity factors from the black body radiation curves. The equation is given in Perry’s CEH as 5-145 and an example 6 “Calculation of Gas Emissivity and Absorptivity”. Text books such as Process Heat Transfer by D Kern have graphs which allow quick selection for temperatures down to 100F (310K).

There are computer programs now to ease calculations (but one must understand what the program achieves and its limitations). My calculations making assumptions such as 8km beam length, average pressure 62kPa, average temperature 262K, surface temperature 320K and CO2 partial pressure 2.4 Pa show the absorptivity of CO2 insignificant (less than 0.01). For water vapour in a clear sky (ie no clouds) I calculated an absorptivity of about 0.4. Clouds have varying emissivities and need separate determination.

In climate discussions the term albedo seems to be frequently used. This is just (1-emissivity). To me as an engineer the term albedo is gobbledegook and shows to a large extent the users do not understand heat transfer.

Beside the modification of the Stefan-Boltzmann equation to fit reality there are other complications. Heat transfer by radiation is really only applicable to a vacuum. Calculations, using appropriate emissivity/absorptivity factors and view factors, work when there is a large temperature difference because the heat transfer relates to the difference of the fourth power of temperatures. However, calculations have large errors because the emissivity is not well known and temperatures may be incorrect especially if measured by instruments which assume black body radiation. For example the sun is not a perfect black body. Measurements have found surface temperature spikes. No one truly knows the surface temperature at any point in time. Similarly no one knows the exact diameter. Calculations of insolation at some point of the earth’s atmosphere need lots of assumptions and there is no way it can be reported to two decimal places.

If there is a fluid between surfaces or above a surface convective heat transfer (natural and forced) and phase change (evaporation & condensation) can be more important with small temperature differences (less than 50K) than radiation. Such heat transfer will change surface temperatures over time. Conduction below surfaces may then become a controlling factor. This needs elaboration at some other time.

In summary there is nothing settled about the Stefan-Boltzmann equation. It cannot be used on its own to determine atmospheric temperatures.

by ‘Cementafriend’.

Judith Curry’s blog

Alan Siddons

Miles Mathis

The book

84 Responses to A Note on the Stefan-Boltzmann Equation

  1. stan February 2, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    Once again. climate scientists demonstrate the wisdom of Mark Twain — “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

    A little humility would go a long way. Hubris is not only unattractive, it gets people hurt.

  2. mkelly February 2, 2011 at 3:38 am #


    This link is to a paper on the radiation heat transfer in the atmosphere due to infrared. On page 23 of the paper he show/states that because CO2 flux is up and down due to heat loss per height the resultant is zero for heat transfer.

    I posted this link on Dr. Curry’s site. I hope she read it.

    Nice job on the explanation and one item I have looking for. The 8% figure for radiated freg in the range of 14.5-15.5 or 200K aprox.

  3. Luke February 2, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    “However, the concept of back radiation would be in conflict with the second law of thermodynamics. Infra-red radiation is part of the continuum of electromagnetic waves. ”

    We’ve been over this about 20 times – the statement is simply incorrect.

    As Eli Rabett and the humble Osram IR reflecting light bulb has shown.

    http://scienceofdoom.com/ has been over this in extreme detail.

    All these theoretical discussions ignore basic field measurements done under global radiation study projects – airborne radiometer studies by the USAF.


  4. val majkus February 2, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    Dr Roy Spencer has an interesting discussion on his blog

    He says (as I understand it) … Except for relatively rare special cases, the total amount of IR energy downwelling from the sky (Ed) will ALWAYS remain less than the amount upwelling from below and absorbed by the sky (Aa). As long as (1) the atmosphere has some transparency to IR radiation (which it does), and (2) the atmosphere is colder than the surface (which it is), then Ed will be less than Aa…even though they are usually close to one another, since temperatures are always adjusting to minimize IR flux divergences and convergences.

    Then there’s this view http://claesjohnson.blogspot.com/2010/07/no-backradiation-no-radiative-forcing.html

    Without atmospheric backradiation there is no radiative forcing. The very basis of the IPCC climate alarmism thus seems to lack physical rationale

    I’m not competent to judge one way or the other but reading the discussion on Dr Curry’s blog was interesting (but difficult for a layman)

  5. debbie February 2, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    I agree with you Stan,
    A little humility would go a long way.
    Obviously the climate scientists have not solved the puzzle yet.
    They are hopefully getting closer but they won’t get there if they keep trying to defend theories that have way too many anomolies that disprove them.
    I hope they keep trying.
    People are going to be hurt if our politicians keep trying to force the issue with AGW and insist that the climate puzzle has already been solved.
    While we would all probably agree that mankind is affecting the weather in some ways, especially in heavily built up areas, AGW theory insists that we are a main player and that we can somehow control climate change. That’s where the problem lies. We have our government lining up to create tax revenue and dictate policy based on AGW and CO2.
    The main player is probably not mankind. It’s starting to look like CO2 is not as big a player as they thought either.
    It will be good to know one day what the main player really is. Let’s hope our scientists practise some humility and get back to the real job of science.
    That would be looking at and testing all theories with some objectivity rather than trying to force feed us with an inconclusive theory.

  6. gavin February 2, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    As I stand ever so briefly behind the left hand roller door down stairs I’m reminded of all the physics, black body radiation and so on then I think of this blog with a sigh.

    That 2nd last parra above realy screws it ” if there is a fluid between surfaces…conduction below surfaces may …” etc while its been IR all the time!

    Some of these bloody theorists could do a great job on Yasi hey. Is it enough a challenge?

  7. kuhnkat February 2, 2011 at 9:43 am #


    I wasn’t clear on who actually wrote this. Whomever did, you or Alan or someone else, thank you.


    I occasionally wonder if you will eventually die mumbling to yourself that you are really right and we deserve to all burn up someday for ignoring you!!

  8. Jennifer February 2, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    Hey KuhnKat

    The piece was written by Cementafriend – the alias of a scientist who posts commentary on various blogs including this one occasionally.

    Judith Curry would probably disagree with his note.

  9. Will February 2, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Hi thank you Jennifer and Cementafriend,

    I have been tying to get this meme to stick for over a year now.

    After I published the following paper in August 2010:


    I received a short critique from Dr Vincent Gray in which he said it was yet another attack on the Stefan/Boltzmann law. I replied to Dr. Gray that it was a mistake to compare the absorptive/emissive properties of a theoretical two dimensional black-body disc with that of a physical three dimensional gas. He didn’t have an argument for that.

    I will archive this post for future use.

    Thanks again.


  10. cohenite February 2, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    What a refreshing article; the heart of AGW is the K&T cartoon:


    And I explain this in the context of gavin’s comment about the 2nd last paragraph of the article which notes convection and phase change [and conduction] are far more important in energy transference than radiation; this is shown by K&T: in K&T 323W/m2 of backradiation or DLW sounds impressive but when you reduce it to a net surface flux the figures become interesting; the 2008 K&T cartoon differs slightly from their 1997 one; a comparison of the net fluxes between the 2 versions is instructive; in the 1997 version the NET fluxes from the Surface are:
    a. Direct Radiation “through the window” to Space is 40W/m^2.
    b. Fluxes into the Atmosphere:
    (1) Evaporated Water Vapour, 78W/m^2
    (2) NET Radiation, 26W/m^2
    (3) Conduction, 24W/m^2

    [Numbers are from Kiehl &Trenberth, 1997. See IPCC, AR4, WG1, Chapter 1.]”

    The 2008 K&T cartoon gives a NET upward radiation flux from the surface of 33w/m2 with a downward adjustment to water vapour to 76w/m2 and conduction to 16w/m2 but the point holds; that point is more net heat is leaving the surface through methods other than radiation, particularly water; that to me means 2 things; water is a dominant mover of heat compared to CO2 and the sun’s 168/166 w/m2 is a far more dominant heater than CO2 backradiation.

  11. Luke February 2, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Glad to see Val has found http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/08/help-back-radiation-has-invaded-my-backyard/

    The graph showing the effect of mid-level clouds moving through sums it all up !

    NEXT !

  12. Another Ian February 2, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    Check out


    Obviously some interesting discussions going on in the Skywalker family!

  13. cohenite February 2, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    You are wrong luke; unfortunately so is Dr Spencer when he says Aa does not = Ed which is Miskolczi’s fundamental point, which also dispels greenhouse warming through backradiation. Backradiation exists but it is incapable of warming the surface because Aa = Ed; where Spencer gets it wrong is through the same mistake that the idea of an average global temperature gets it wrong in energy terms; that is there are 2 ways temperature and energy based on temperature through the application of Stephen-Boltzmann can be calculated; the 2 ways are shown by this:

    (A + B)^4 or A^4 + B^4

    (A + B)^4 is wrong but it is the way GAT is calculated; the total energy/emissions is based on all temperatures added together then powered; the same principle applies to all radiative points in the atmosphere; unless each point has its flux determined before averaging to take into account local events like inversions or the presence of clouds which can temporarily confound Aa=Ed then the overall Aa=Ed equality will be lost; however when each boundary radiative flux is determined then powered by t^4 then Aa=Ed will be maintained; this has been confirmed by both Miskolczi’s radiosonde measurements and in Geiger’s seminal work on radiative flux:


  14. gavin February 3, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    As our cat 5 cyclone gives QLD a severe battering,


    I reckon its high time to deal with this upstart cohenite and come in on the Spenser side with at least a bit of support for his oven door open/closed concept.

    On the other thread I mentioned the intense heat generated behind our metal garage door when the afternoon sun is in it’s element. its a simple question really; am I impacted most by hot air when ambient is around 35-37C or infrared while standing about a meter away?

    Lets see some borrowed discussion on this point before we lurch on down the flux path

  15. Luke February 3, 2011 at 5:17 am #

    “Backradiation exists but it is incapable of warming the surface ” – oh pullease ! Look at the datalogger trace.

  16. val majkus February 3, 2011 at 5:59 am #

    Dr Spencer has a challenge – visit his blog http://www.drroyspencer.com/ or WUWT http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/02/a-challenge-from-dr-roy-spencer/#more-33053

  17. val majkus February 3, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    At another of the blogs I visit there is this interesting comment today (by a physicist) Harry Dale Huffman

    But remember, there are at least two different scientific arguments being played out, the first being “For or Against AGW”, and the second, “For or Against the Greenhouse Effect as the Cause of GW”. The latter has already been resolved scientifically, against the greenhouse effect, by discerning scientists like myself (“Venus: No Greenhouse Effect”), Gerlich and Tscheuschner, and Claes Johnson (and countless others, of widely varying ideas and effect upon others), but not of course in the eyes of the believers, who will only chant their own beliefs, regardless of definitive evidence against them, like mine (see my article, just mentioned). Since there is no greenhouse effect (warming due to increased co2 in the atmosphere), AGW has no scientific basis whatsoever at the present time….


    You can get access to his blog by clicking on his name after reading his comment at the climatecon site or visit http://theendofthemystery.blogspot.com/

    cohenite or cementafriend or anyone else any comments?

  18. cohenite February 3, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    luke; Spencer’s graph shows the dominance of convection as a heat transporter; Spencer knows this which is why he used the example of inversions as a reason for why Aa does not = Ed; I explained why he was wrong and gave you examples; are you critiquing Geiger, the bible of atmospheric process? And what are clouds if not inversions?

    As for the datalogger trace; look at the effect of the midlevel clouds moving through on air temperature cf with plate, bearing in mind that the plate movement is an assumed proxy for temperature but really a measure of LW photons; there is an increase in DLR as measured by the plate but AS I SAY what is the effect on temperature: < 1/20th of a degree? Compare that with the cloud effect during the day in the context of this graph of cloud cover and temperature:


    As George explains:

    "As the temperature rises to freezing, cloud cover increases, but as the temperature exceeds freezing, cloud coverage decreases as the temperature increases, which is somewhat counter intuitive as you would expect more heat means more evaporation which means more clouds.

    Further examination of the data reveals why cloud cover vs. temperature has 2 reversals, one at 273K (0C) and another at 300K. Below 0C, the ground is covered in ice and snow and is as reflective as clouds, thus incremental clouds warm the surface by trapping surface heat. Above 0C, the ground becomes less reflective than clouds and incremental clouds reflects more power than is trapped, thus incremental clouds cause surface cooling. Above 300K, so much water is evaporating, incremental solar power actually causes net surface cooling (at least over the oceans) and incremental clouds again result in warming."

    This actually agrees with Spencer's main thesis that clouds can be both a forcing and a feedback with the difference being not only a factor of time but of temperature; that is above and below certain temperature thresholds to which the clouds may be feedbacks the clouds then force an opposite temperature response.

    The point is that the effect of clouds dwarfs any backradiation effect of CO2 and to a lessor extent water vapor.

    Very sloppy luke; after your good work at Deltoid it is a shame to see you slip back into slapdash form.

    Gavin: "am I impacted most by hot air when ambient is around 35-37C or infrared while standing about a meter away?"

    I don't understand the question; have you lost your door key or what?

  19. el gordo February 3, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    It’s a joy to the heart to see cohenite and Luke arguing over back radiation. Hope these days never end.

  20. Luke February 3, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    Bolsh – response was instant ! That’s the very very simple point.

    It’s all about net !

    Back radiation exists and works as it does. If not publish your paper in Nature (ROFL)

  21. Luke February 3, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Val – how come you never ever google any rebuttals?

  22. spangled drongo February 3, 2011 at 10:33 am #


    I know you been hangin out for this:


  23. spangled drongo February 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    I did like this analogy over at Judy’s re Claes Johnson’s SSD:

    “Will putting clothes on a bronze statue at a temperature of say 350K cause its temperature to rise above 350K if the ambient temperature is say 275K?
    Of course not!
    All the clothes can do is to insulate the body i.e. to reduce the rate of heat loss from the object.”

    700 odd comments. I wonder if SJT is reading them?

  24. el gordo February 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    Louis Hissink may have accidently dropped a comment on the Lewandowsky thread, here’s part of it:

    ‘Night time downwelling of IR does not necessarily mean it’s due to a greenhouse effect. The usual Stephan Boltzmann equation posits that the earth should be 0 degrees Celsius at its surface but the physical error is in the assumption that the earth’s objective surface is the rocky and liquid bit…’

  25. Luke February 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    “Night time downwelling of IR does not necessarily mean it’s due to a greenhouse effect” ROFL – he used to deny it existed. LOL

    Spangled – ponder the humble Osram IR light bulb – how does it work !

    Probably by violating the 2nd law – why don’t drongos understand net

  26. DavidK February 3, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Luke and friends;

    Ponder this Of course, there are those here that think the author doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he is a real climate scientist.

  27. cementafriend February 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    In the transfer of the note above the line starting “A different derivation of the Stefan-Boltzmann equation” got a little mixed up. It should continue “is given by Miles Mathis who relates the radiant heat flux to electromagnetic fields”. Miles Mathis has some thought provoking chapters in his book and additional articles. One does not have to agree with all of calculations and hypotheses but there is still much uncertainty in physics. No one todate has given a reasonable explanation of gravity- electromagnetic forces are a possiblity. In my note I did have some equations which Jennifer thought were too complicated to post. The paper by Pierrehumbert (link from Davidk above) gives the factors of the Stefan-Boltzman constant which Miles Mathis analyses (link at the end of the note above). I think others have commented on Pierrehumbert’s article. I have only read it very quickly but it appears that he has completely ignored gravity and basic thermodynamics which determine the lapse rate on the Earth, Mars and Venus. Here is something about the lapse rate http://lasp.colorado.edu/~bagenal/3720/CLASS15/15EVM-Dyn1.html. Venus has a surface pressure of about 9000 kPa (90 times greater than the Earth) and that is that major reason for the high surface temperature of about 750K another reason is that Venus is closer to the sun. The paper by Chilingar et al is worth reading http://www.google.com.au/#q=chilingar&hl=en&ei=exmSTOSQGdO6ccSmyPAG&start=30&sa=N&fp=4ea4a308ac696def. This suggests that more CO2 will cause cooling. However, proper considerations of the S-B equation, and evidence such as temperature preceding CO2 changes, suggests that the present level of CO2 in the atmosphere and changes in the level make no significant contribution to atmospheric temperature changes.

  28. cohenite February 3, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    Ok Dk, I’ve pondered; now the obvious; noone denies that there is a greenhouse effect although the name is deliberately abused and used as a misleading bit of propaganda by alarmists like Pierre; the [insurmountable] problems for AGW is that the effect of CO2 is limited and under Earth’s conditions dwarfed by the effect of water; until Pierre and his cronies can come up with a rebuttal of Miskolczi they can flux and emit all they like.

  29. Louiis Hissink February 3, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    ““Night time downwelling of IR does not necessarily mean it’s due to a greenhouse effect” ROFL – he used to deny it existed. LOL”

    Another of your non sequitur’s Luke? But you assume that the downwelling IR comes from radiating gases only. I suggest it more likely comes from atmospheric electrical currents, and as CO2 is well mixed in air, it’s remarkable that any IR at all could be picked up from -.03% of the atmosphere – and to make matters worse if CO2 is well mixed, then there should also be IR being directed laterally on the horizontal plane since, in terms of CO2, air can be considered to be isotropic.

    But that it seems to descend from above, do you then assume there is a CO2 layer above our heads emitting this IR? But how can this be – the atmosphere is not partitioned into discrete gas phases – but exists as 1 phase only, air.

    And I still reject the notion of a greenhouse gas effect.

  30. Louis Hissink February 3, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    In addition, as one moves upwards air density decreases, so the further one goes up, the less CO2 is present, so while air might be isotropic laterally, it isn’t vertically, and one should therefore expect that downwelling IR should be weaker than that measured horizontally. Whether this downwelling gaseous IR could be measured in the first place is moot.

  31. Luke February 3, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

    Cohenite 7:26 “noone denies that there is a greenhouse effect ”

    Louis Hissink 8:56 “And I still reject the notion of a greenhouse gas effect”

    Good grief ! ROFL and LMAO

    BTW – Have you guys seen “Meet the Sceptics” on BBC4. What a hoot.

  32. Sphaerica (Bob) February 4, 2011 at 3:14 am #

    This statement…

    In climate discussions the term albedo seems to be frequently used. This is just (1-emissivity). To me as an engineer the term albedo is gobbledegook and shows to a large extent the users do not understand heat transfer.

    … ignores the fact that electromagnetic radiation can be reflected, as well as absorbed, emitted or transmitted (i.e. an object may be transparent to it). That is, an object or molecule can absorb/emit radiation, or be transparent to it, or reflect it. Thus, the idea that albedo = 1 – emissivity is plainly wrong, because it implies that all radiation will be either absorbed or reflected only, and this clearly not the case.

    Concrete examples: O2 and N2 are completely transparent to visible light (they neither reflect nor absorb it). Anything you look at and see obvious reflects some visible light. But anything other than a perfect mirror also absorbs some visible light (and is thus heated by it). Glass partly absorbs, partly reflects, and is mostly transparent to visible light.

    Then of course there’s always Rayleigh scattering…

  33. Gordon Walker February 4, 2011 at 4:49 am #

    A question for Luke.
    If I want to cool a greenhouse should I replace the glass panes with slabs of rock salt or should I open the ventilators?

  34. DavidK February 4, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    @ cementafriend February 3rd, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    The paper by Pierrehumbert (link from Davidk above) gives the factors of the Stefan-Boltzman constant which Miles Mathis analyses (link at the end of the note above). I think others have commented on Pierrehumbert’s article. I have only read it very quickly but it appears that he has completely ignored gravity and basic thermodynamics which determine the lapse rate on the Earth, Mars and Venus.

    Thanks for reading Ray’s most recent, if but briefly. No, others did not comment before you. May I suggest you email him and discuss your ‘reservations’ – it would help.

  35. DavidK February 4, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    @ cohenite February 3rd, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Your venom is noted, thanks.

  36. Luke February 4, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    Cohers – “the effect is limited” – simply rhetorical – the effect is whatever the effect is. Did you enjoy Dessler here on water vapour feedback – http://rabett.blogspot.com/2010/10/andy-dessler-smokes-richard-lindzen.html at 8:05 mins

    As for Miskolczi – now you guys flogged that issue over at Niche for weeks and Steve Short gave it away. When Steve says could be – we’ll listen (some more).

    Thanks DavidK

  37. cohenite February 4, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Dk: “Your venom is noted, thanks.”

    So is your snark; anyway I’m not venomous just exasperated with the rubbish which comes from luke:

    1 I am not disagreeing with Louis; I said the term greenhouse was deliberately abused; CO2 is not an inert gas but its effect is dwarfed by other natural process.

    2 I am not disagreeing with Steve, who has been clear in his dissatisfaction with Miskolczi; I keep telling him to publish; that’s all I can do; in the meantime Miskolczi stands.

    3 Dessler “smokes” Lindzen; yeah right. You mean this Dessler:


    The one who publishes tripe just before Cancun using the same methods he has always used, truncated data? For a measured response to Dessler see the elegant Garth Paltridge:


    To Dk’s Pierrehumbert piece; on page 33-34 Pierre notes that the excitation process of CO2 takes much longer than the deexcitation process; supposedly this prevents saturation with CO2 molecules off-loading their aquired energy much more rapidly than they obtain it so there is always fresh little CO2 soldiers available to sacrifice themselves on the alter of AGW and the greenhouse effect can continue expanding. Pierre then goes onto explain the LTE, a parcel of air which is in internal thermodynamic equilibrium; the LTE is the basis of Miskolczi’s fundamnetal observation that Aa=Ed; that is the amount of upward LW which is absorbed by the atmosphere is matched by the downward LW part of the atmosphere; Miskolczi explains it all here:



    If Aa=Ed then the greenhouse is working at maximum consistent with MEP; variations of the greenhouse constituents, CO2, H2O etc will not change that; only an increase in the external power source, the sun, will.

    Ponder that Dk.

  38. Luke February 4, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    ” I am not disagreeing with Louis” – oh pullease give it away ! (and of course you’d have to define which day as he chops and changes)

    Nobody is listening to sceptics anymore. Unless you’re some tea party type.

    Get published (other than E&E) or sod orf.

  39. cohenite February 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    “Get published”. eh; each of these fine papers were rejected by mainstream journals:




    Do you think they should have been rejected?

  40. Malcolm Hill February 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    Oh dear everythings just the same.

    Davidk shows he likes to dish it out, but cant take it.

    Luke walker is just being himself and like the true village idiot he is trying to score points off a BBC piece of tripe that goes by the title of ” Meet the Sceptics” but mainly features only one of them, and denies him the right of reply.

    All the while the new Preso of the Royal Society displays yet again what an abysmal state that science in the UK has descended to. What a bunch of dimwits these clowns are. It easy to see why all three climate gate inquires where stitch ups by the shonkademics.

    To think they did the try on, assuming that could hood wink the community yet again with their pseudo intellectual arrogance.

    As for Queenslanders wanting everyone else in Australia to dip into their pockets to pay a levy and a donation, when they already had a secret deal with the Feds to NOT self insure(when all other states had do do so) …and for all tax payers in Australia to then pay 75% of any rebuild costs..well tough titties.

    You took the risk now you pay the price.

    No wonder the Red Queen now wants a levy as well.

  41. Malcolm Hill February 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm #


    Here is what Lubos Motl thinks of Lukes favourite TV show and the Preso of the RS comments therein.

    What a hoot indeed heh

  42. Luke February 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Malcolm – you’re just like the reactionary old tea party codgers in the doco. Says something. And frankly I don’t want to subsidise your crowing eating South Aussie lifestyle living in a desert guzzling water like there is no tomorrow with your rust belt crappy manufacturing and shitty quality naval shop building. Qld pays it ways nationally unlike your SA bludger state. Have another pinot grigio and a banana while you can.

    Can we help it if sceptics look the way they do and the audience is all over 70.

    Anyway let’s not get distracted

    Cohenite – yep could be some good reasons. That’s what ever punter with rejected papers says. Mate it’s not like a kids birthday party where everyone wins a prize.

  43. Luke February 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Gordon Walker – sorry didn’t see you there in the barrage of flak. Are we related?

    Anyway – you’d open the ventilators and let the air convect out. But surely you’re not running the ye olde real glasshouse ruse and old R.W. Wood 1909 rock salt vs glass ruse are you.

    You might ponder what this device is doing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_radiometer

  44. Luke February 4, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Tell you what does Lubos look 16 or what – why does his web site give one vertigo – is he on acid? And if you look at his screen pattern for 5 mins and then cross your eyes you can see an autostereogram picture of Al Gore ! WOW !

    And it’s very ironic that faux secptics would get their advice from a “choke” string physicist.

    Oh my aching M-brane – ROFL !

  45. Malcolm Hill February 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Well if Qld can pay its way…as you claim… why the hell didnt it take out some insurance and insure its infrastructure. So demonstrably it is getting a better deal getting everyone else to to pay for it.

    If a rust bucket crap hole ..as you call it… can afford it, why can’t you mob…so much for your claims.. and your logic

    Talking out of your backside again heh …like most faux scientists types.

  46. Carter Usm February 4, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    His name should be Cement head.

    It reads like my cat writing a 1500 word rebuke of why the earth
    can’t orbit around the sun.

    Unless of course you don’t know squat about atmospheric physics.
    Then, it might sound pretty logical.

    So this is a good test. If this seems reasonable, go read a standard
    text book on physics. Then read one on atmospheric dynamics.

  47. DavidK February 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    @ Malcolm Hill

    Davidk shows he likes to dish it out, but cant take it.

    Can’t take what, exactly?

    If Cohenite wants to clash horns with Professor Pierrehumbert, he should do it. It would be nice to see him post the reply here. My guess? Cohenite (or whatever his name is) won’t even ask Pierre to comment, because he won’t like the answer.

    Look Malcolm, I won’t pretend I know as much as Pierrehumbert, unlike Cohenite (or you for that matter). I know enough to understand that what Cohenite thinks is not all that right.

  48. Malcolm Hill February 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    You made the ” venomous” appellation to Cohenites response.. and he called your opening gambit snarky.

    Thats what exactly is..I would have thought that little bit was obvious.

    Whether or not cohenite is right/wrong thats for him to debate in any way he thinks fit.

  49. Luke February 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Nah I wuz only kidding Malcolm – SA is a nice place. Why is everyone that tense about a few bucks to rebuild the infrastructure? And yes maybe we should learn some lessons with insurance and also a disaster fund. But just don’t pick on us OK – coz we’re sensitive. Or we’ll have to resort to bad language.

  50. cohenite February 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    Professor Pierrehumbert, please comment.

  51. DavidK February 4, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    So, Cohenite really thinks he’s watching this blog, and his comments.
    If Cohenite really wants to question a real scientist, challenge him even, he would.
    He knows how to contact him, but he won’t.

  52. ScienceofDoom February 4, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    I notice that some people think that Gerlich & Tscheuschner plus Claes Johnson plus Miskolczi adds up to an attack on the inappropriately-named “greenhouse” theory.

    Well- Miskolczi believes in the “greenhouse” theory, but believes that, for complex reasons, water vapor acts as a strong negative feedback.

    Gerlich and Tscheuschner believe that the “greenhouse” theory is a violation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. They apparently, in their clarification, accept that “back radiation” exists, and that it “reaches the ground”, but don’t feel obliged to explain what happens to it after that. All part of their entertaining approach to physics.

    Claes Johnson doesn’t believe that quantum mechanics is correct. He doesn’t believe that such a thing as “back radiation” exists. (Because EM radiation is only waves and therefore the ground and the atmosphere form something like a resonant system).

    If you accept Claes you write off 100 years of physics including statistical thermodynamics and Gerlich & Tscheuschner and Miskolczi.

    If you accept Gerlich and Tscheuschner you write off Claes Johnson and Miskolczi.

    And if you accept Miskolczi you write off Gerlich & Tscheuschner and Claes Johnson.

    Of three contradictory theories, only a maximum of 1 can be correct.

  53. DavidK February 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Cementhead: Have you been able to get a response to your article posted here?
    Have you challenged his paper?
    Would like to hear back.

  54. DavidK February 4, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    Sorry ScienceofDoom (whacky moniker)
    Science doesn’t work like that.

  55. ScienceofDoom February 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Many people have very confused ideas about thermodynamics and heat transfer basics.

    Much of what people criticize about “climate science” is actually a claim that fundamental radiant heat transfer theory is flawed. This article is no different.

    Books with racy titles like Fundamentals of Heat and Mass Transfer that contain nothing of climate science and have been in print for 30 years through many editions, endorse these basics.
    In fact, surveying all the books in a university library you find that the basics are identical and unquestioned in each. These books are used as a staple of undergraduate courses in heat transfer.

    A few comments:

    But from where does the Stefan-Boltzmann equation come?

    It appears that Josef Stefan determined around 1879 from experimental results that the radiative flux (W/m2) was proportional to the fourth power of the absolute temperature. His student Ludwig Boltzmann around 1884 derived a confirming equation and proportionality constant from statistical thermodynamics. This became known as the Stefan-Boltzman law.
    Most laws have some boundary conditions i.e. they do not apply universally. Einstein demonstrated that with his theory of relativity.

    It was quickly found that the Stefan-Boltzmann law/equation only applies to black bodies.
    There is a question mark about the constant as it seems that it was derived from a flat surface inside a hemisphere. That is OK when considering heat transfer been two surfaces but may be inaccurate when considering a radiating sphere.

    The Planck equation describes the spectral intensity (Watts per m^2 per solid angle (steradian) per um) for any temperature of a “blackbody”. A blackbody is simply the best emitter of thermal radiation – the “gold standard” if you will. Nothing can emit more than a blackbody but some come very close.

    If you integrate the Planck equation emitted from a planar surface over all wavelengths and all solid angles you get the Stefan-Boltzmann equation. It is simple geometry.

    More about this subject at Planck, Stefan-Boltzmann, Kirchhoff and LTE.

    The Stefan-Boltzmann equation is actually defined like this:

    E = εσT^4

    where ε is the emissivity, a value ranging from 0 to 1.

    So the Stefan-Boltzmann equation is not an equation that only applies to black bodies at all. It is well-used in heat transfer for any type of material. It is simply a matter of determining the emissivity for the material in question. This is usually done by measurement.

    What about spheres? If you take the irradiation (incident radiation) received from within a sphere the total value is a increased by a factor of 4, again due to geometrical considerations. Not much practical use, but you find it in more turgid atmospheric physics textbooks.

    What about the particular case of the transfer of radiation through the atmosphere?

    The equation of radiation transfer is known as Schwarzschild’s equation. This considers each wavelength in turn and is a well-proven equation, originally derived for stellar radiation. It isn’t the Stefan-Boltzmann equation and doesn’t use the Stefan-Boltzmann equation. It is based on fundamental physics.

    So apart from the last comment on Schwarzschild’s equation, this is basic stuff you find in any heat transfer textbook.

    And the equations of radiation transfer used to calculate the effects of different radiatively-active gases in the atmosphere don’t rely on the Stefan-Boltzmann equation.

    ..Heat transfer by radiation is really only applicable to a vacuum..

    This is not true. In fact, calculations of heat transfer by radiation in the atmosphere are very successful. See Theory and Experiment – Atmospheric Radiation. Calculating radiant heat transfer through a field with matter simply needs to use the right equations.

    ..However, calculations have large errors because the emissivity is not well known and temperatures may be incorrect especially if measured by instruments which assume black body radiation..

    So how do the theoretical spectra match the measured spectra – Theory and Experiment – Atmospheric Radiation ?

    Who says emissivity is not well known? See Emissivity of the Ocean as an example of some of the very thorough work done to calculate the emissivity of the ocean very accurately for satellite radiometers.

    ..In summary there is nothing settled about the Stefan-Boltzmann equation. It cannot be used on its own to determine atmospheric temperatures.

    In summary, all the heat transfer textbooks are very happy with the equation. It is extremely settled.

    And the calculations of radiative transfer in the atmosphere don’t actually use it.

    And yet another article with random assertions that doesn’t actually show anything wrong with current atmospheric physics.

  56. ScienceofDoom February 4, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Comment from: DavidK February 4th, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    who said:
    Sorry ScienceofDoom (whacky moniker)
    Science doesn’t work like that.

    “Sorry, doesn’t work like that.. QED. Case closed.”

    First you have to state your case, then you have to demonstrate why it’s correct.

    I don’t even know what your case is.

  57. el gordo February 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    ‘First you have to state your case, then you have to demonstrate why it’s correct.’

    AGW is unfalsifiable (sic), because they keep moving the goal posts.


  58. cohenite February 4, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    Hi SoD; I’ll stick with Miskolczi out of your 3 choices thanks; I am not aware of any peer-reviewed rebuttals of Miskolczi and G&T’s rebuttal is a fiasco by eli and his chums.

    In respect of Miskolczi some guy at another site put up this reference as rebutting Miskolczi:

    Rob van Dorland1 and Piers M. Forster2
    1 Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, De Bilt, The Netherlands
    2 School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
    Miskolczi (2010) theorizes that atmospheric CO2 increases cannot lead to an enhanced greenhouse effect and so can’t be a cause of global warming. We show his theory to be incorrect in its application of radiation theory and from direct atmospheric observations.

    But I can’t locate it and I know van Dorland is a Miskolczi hater from way back.

  59. Louis Hissink February 4, 2011 at 8:18 pm #


    “” I am not disagreeing with Louis” – oh pullease give it away ! (and of course you’d have to define which day as he chops and changes)”

    Oh really – I have always been consistent on this – and maintained the physical impossibility of a greenhouse gas effect which G & T demonstrated theoretically – so any variation on a daily basis you seem to observe would have to be attributed to your own changing perceptions, just as Lord Keynes did every time he was confronted with a contradictory fact – he changed his mind.

    What I don’t have a very high KPI score in, is the ability to interlocute idiots, sad to say.

    An idiot is someone who, on repeating the same action, expects a different answer. In your case it’s reading the same statement and getting different conclusions which you state above in my quote.

    And I notice not a peep out of you and your fellow travellers about the fact that if the Stefan-Boltzmann equation is to be applied to the earth, then it applies to the stratopause, the physical boundary between the earth and space, and not the rocky-liquid surface we stand and float on. But then I suppose as a graduate of post-normal science, such details are dismissed by you as another equal valid narrative.

  60. Luke February 4, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    Louis – mate I have a long memory, as does Phil who sends hugs, and you’ve ducked and dodged on this for years. Interesting that an empirical sort of guy like you would go with theory too …. mmmm

    I wonder what all those net radiometers are measuring. What do you think Louis?

    Cohers – http://www.realclimate.org/docs/Rebuttal_Miskolczi_20100927.pdf

  61. cohenite February 4, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    Thank you luke; is that peer reviewed?

    An initial impression: on page 2 they say:

    “As a next step using his quasi radiative equilibrium model, Miskolczi calculates the relationship between outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) and the infrared flux originating from the Earths surface (Su). The relationship is a function of infrared optical depth (τA) only”

    This is wrong; on page 17 of Miskolczi’s 2nd paper, figure 10:


    Miskolczi measures changes in “the true greenhouse-gas optical thickness”. This is made up of two parts which are depicted in Figure 10. The first is τA which is defined as “the total IR flux optical depth” [page 5 Miskolczi 2007]. This is a measure of the total amount of infra-red or LW radiation which is absorbed between the surface and the TOA. The second is A which is the flux absorbance [page 3 Miskolczi 2010] and is a measure of what wavelengths of LW are being absorbed and transmitted in the atmosphere.

    The rest of the ‘paper’ merely restates the SH and OLR disputes.

  62. ScienceofDoom February 4, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    Comment from: cohenite February 4th, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Hi SoD; I’ll stick with Miskolczi out of your 3 choices thanks; I am not aware of any peer-reviewed rebuttals of Miskolczi and G&T’s rebuttal is a fiasco by eli and his chums.

    And so you have missed my point.

    If you stick with Miskolczi then you have accepted that G&T are wrong.

    If you think G&T are correct then you have accepted that Miskolczi is wrong.

    If you are happy with both then you haven’t begun to understand the subject.

  63. cohenite February 4, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    I said I will stick with Miskolczi.

    And that doesn’t mean that eli’s rebuttal of G&T was any good, regardless of what you think of G&T. Personally I have great hopes for G&T; they are witty as their 2nd paper shows:


    They say: “We assume that, as usual, acceleration due to gravity is vertical”

    They are fun guys.

  64. cementafriend February 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    @DavidK February 4th, 2011 at 7:03 am, I have not commented on Pierrehumbert previously. There was a discussion about his views (amongst other things) at http://judithcurry.com/2011/01/19/pierrehumbert-on-infrared-radiation-and-planetary-temperatures/ Only glanced at a few of the comments but the following caught my eye as being from someone who understands thermodynamics :-
    “No one has learned anything here, or from Pierrehumbert’s recapitulation of “The Radiative Transfer Theory,” in capitals to communicate its divine status. The theory ignores convection; it ignores the ideal gas law and the gravity that compresses the atmosphere, and increases the temperature, as a monotonic function (increase) of depth (Pierrehumbert makes the insane claim that “An atmospheric greenhouse gas enables a planet to radiate at a temperature lower than the ground’s” — NO, the thermodynamic lapse rate, depending only on gravitational g and the atmospheric specific heat does that); it ignores the Venus/Earth data that proves there is NO greenhouse/Tyndall effect whatsoever, on either planet. It assumes that anything with a temperature is a blackbody (absorptivity=emissivity), including the surface of the Earth (obscene misunderstanding of basic physics). Pierrehumbert assumes no scattering of IR radiation, because he does not even have an understanding that absorption and re-emission”

    Someone above commented on the emissivity factor- I suggest to look at the definition -the ratio of the actual absorption/emission to that which would occur with a black body. Maybe there are some, who want to confuse the situation, use another definition.

    This article mentions high sun surface temperature spikes http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/44717. Normal quoted temperatures assume the Planck flux distribution relation. The sun’s diameter is based on visible measurement from an arc angle of 31.6-32.7 minutes. Is that the true diameter? Irradience measurements assume the S-B black body equation. The article by Kopp and Lean http://www.leif.org/EOS/2010GL045777.pdf gives a figure of 1360.8+-0.5 W/m2. While the results shows variablity in past measurements how can anyone believe the precision? and what about the Corona? Can thoughts about electro-magnet forces be ignored?

  65. ScienceofDoom February 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    for cohenite February 4th, 2011 at 9:42 pm:

    Oh they are witty, no doubt. They pitched it just right.

    Amazing how performing a few double integrals impresses the punters. I hear that they had a book running in Germany as to 1) how many blogs would endorse their work, and 2) how many government inquiries would cite their work.

    It was off the charts (no one won) so they decided to produce a few more papers.

    If they know anything of the last 5 decades of atmospheric physics they are keeping it to themselves. As described in On the Miseducation of the Uninformed by Gerlich and Tscheuschner (2009).

  66. Louis Hissink February 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm #


    “Louis – mate I have a long memory, as does Phil who sends hugs, and you’ve ducked and dodged on this for years. Interesting that an empirical sort of guy like you would go with theory too …. mmmm

    I wonder what all those net radiometers are measuring. What do you think Louis?”

    What are your blathering about? As for “net radiometers”, what, measuring nets in the atmosphere? More like measuring “Netwits”, no?

  67. Luke February 4, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Thanks Louis – as usual you have simply proved that you’re a total bullshit artist. Never answer a question – just hand wave – you’ll run away soon (as usual).


  68. Louis Hissink February 4, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    Thanks Luke,

    I note that the net radiometers you link to have downward facing sensors, measuring, ……what?

  69. Louis Hissink February 4, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    In Addition there are vertical oriented sensors; Question? Why design parabolic collectors for the reflected signal compared to the primary one?


  70. Louis Hissink February 4, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

    Still here Lukey, waiting Smmmmkiss

  71. Luke February 5, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    It’s a net radiometer – singular. (not radiometers)

    Which has components. two pyranometers and two pyrgeometers.

    Do you really have to ask what the downward sensors are measuring. reflected SW and emitted LW

    Most importantly what is the upward facing pyrgeometer measuring at night.

  72. DavidK February 5, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    @ cementafriend February 4th, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Thanks for replying. That person who caught your eye out of 675 comments was not you, was it?

    Think about it, there is no way “someone who understands thermodynamics” with a moniker like ‘cementhead’ would post on Judith Curry’s site. As a devil’s advocate, that ‘someone’ could have been you. Anyway, with so many comments, it’s hard to tell.

    Judith Curry herself is very impressed with Pierrehumbert’s paper, as are a number of other comenters, but she/they too could be wrong.

    You seem to know what your talking about cementhead, any chance of submitting a rebuttal paper to Physics Today, under your own name of course?

  73. Louis Hissink February 5, 2011 at 1:13 pm #


    the upward facing instruments measure downwelling IR – but I contend that the measured IR is not to be solely from radiating gases but from atmospheric electricity as well. As air is isotropic IR should, at night, be uniform laterally, strongest in the upward vector (heat loss to space) but as air density decreases with height, the downward IR should be lower. That it isn’t doesn’t mean there is a layer of radiating gas over head, a physical nonsense in a well mixed gas, but the presence of another IR producing physical phenomenon.

    It’s atmospheric electricity operating in plasma dark current mode.

    However, as your “science” rejects electricity having any role in geophysics, you then conclude that this downwelling IR has to be exclusively from radiating gases.

  74. cementafriend February 5, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    @ DavidK February 5th, 2011 at 10:08 am
    I would not normally reply to persons who can not make reasoned comments. You could have looked through the Judith Curry’ post yourself. The person who made the critique about Pierrehumbert has a website here http://www.blogger.com/profile/03210275295826050501. You could have found that by clicking on his name. I know nothing about Harry Huffman but his comment about the lack of consideration of the lapse rate caught my eye as it is the same as my initial reaction. Maybe you could look at his website and contact him to find out more about his critique.

    If you would have digested my comment above you would find I have no objection about the article in Physics Today. I said that I found the article by Kopp and Lean (link supplied) interesting but I can not believe the quoted precision. In the paper it will be noted by you and others that the measurement in the most recent satellite is done in a vacuum to improve accuracy. However, think about the result if one assumes the emissivity of the sun is actually 0.99 (or even lower at times) instead of 1.00. The spectrum of the sun does not follow perfectly the black body Planck spectrum at any particular temperature. Is that due to measuring error, some incorrect assumptions, an error in the spectrum relation or something that we do not understand?

  75. Luke February 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Well we’ve progressed (seemingly as we never quite know with Louis) to the point where you agree that one can measure downward longwave radiation on clear nights. All over the world.

    As for what flux is strongest – well that’s up the physics and the net result of the incoming and outgoing longwave is the temperature you get.

    So you’ve raised an interesting hypothesis – let’s test it.

    (1) Do we have any evidence that this atmospheric electricity emits in the bands measured?

    (2) See Figs 1 and 2 here Upward and downward radiation measurements, EBEX 2000, Kohsiek (2007) http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/07/31/the-amazing-case-of-back-radiation-part-three/

    So note the long wave up and down and the diurnal pattern – so you have now introduced some presumably chaotic “atmospheric electricity operating in plasma dark current mode” hypothesis that could produce this radiation budget pattern. An additional source !!

    So in that case measurements (this site and day’s data is just one of many around the world) would look nothing like this. You’ve invented a whole new physics. And you have the temerity to lecture on “post-normal” science. Ye gods man!

    (3) and in this simple experiment on absorption – where does the energy go Louis?

    (And I remind you that serious sceptics like Lindzen and Spencer don’t deny there is a greenhouse effect and that that is about 1C for 2 x CO2 – they dispute the role of water vapour feedbacks and clouds).

    So Louis – Bullshit !

  76. cohenite February 5, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    L&C have a figure for feedback 2XCO2 CS of 0.7C; Spencer and Braswell, 0.6C

  77. Louis Hissink February 5, 2011 at 9:22 pm #


    1. I have never doubted the results from the measurement of downwelling IR. I have never denied the existence of this downwelling IR either, but I don’t think all of it comes from the supposed “greenhouse” gases.

    2. Third sentence – so temperature is the result of two IR vectors, upwelling from the earth, and downwelling from the atmosphere? Bit of a convoluted way of measuring temperature isn’t it? Given that a molecule of CO2 at sea-level is at a higher temperature of another molecule of CO2 100 meters above it, then there is a problem how that cooler molecule of CO2 can affect the thermal state of the hotter molecule, let alone raise the temperature of the hotter CO2 molecule; This is tantamount to asserting that an ice cube is capable of raising the temperature of the water its floating in.

    3. Does electricity emit radiation in the measured bands, ie IR. When passing through matter, ie. air, electric currents raise that medium’s thermal state, or temperature. Plenty of evidence for that.

    4. Your references in (2) are not of peer reviewed scientific literature, and using your own, well stated views, ignored.

    5. Who said that atmospheric electrical processes are chaotic? Not I. Strawman argument.

    5. Your Youtube video is nonsense – the reason the candle extinguished is because of the replacement of O2 by CO2, which caused the candle to stop burning. And another non sequitur you make, by the way.

    6. As for Lindzen and Spencer, I can’t comment, since none of us swap opinions on this apart from the imaginals you and your fellow traveling companions imagine.

  78. Luke February 5, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    1. Oh yes you have !

    2.(a) really dumb – it definitely does – haven’t you heard of net radiation ! perhaps then you can explain http://rabett.blogspot.com/2008/09/light-dawns-there-are-styles-in-science.html or the humble IRC light bulb http://lightingpro.com.au/catalog/osram_irc_halogen_lamp.php or a radiation shield on a furnace. We’re talking radiation not conduction of heat !

    2 (b) so why does the passage of clouds affect Spencer’s night time temperature datalogger trace? http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/08/help-back-radiation-has-invaded-my-backyard/ according to you this can’t happen – colder to warmer

    3. well let’s see the peer reviewed references on the measurements – no hand waving pls

    5. (a) so this is happening uniformly all the time is it – I hadn’t noticed – peer reviewed reference pls

    5. (b) don’t be so STUPID – the candle is outside the tube – for heavens sake man

    6. Utter crap – Spencer has made major blog posts on the topic

    So Louis single handly without any publications has dismantled 100s of scientists doing radiation budget analysis. Pullease ! What a weener.

  79. DavidK February 5, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Thanks cementalink, I will follow up. Obviously, more research is required.

  80. Larry Fields February 7, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    The article mentioned radiative transfer theory. Sorry for being nonpolitical, but THE top person in the field is Mamikon Mnatsakanian, an Armenian-American mathematician and astrophysicist. Mamikon’s health is quite frail, and I hope that he lives to publish a book on radiative transfer theory.

    Mamikon”s website is considerably more accessible than one would expect. Here’s a link to a ‘psychic’ computer animation that he created.
    Yes, it’s a trick. But it’s the most diabolical kind of trick; it’s done with logic.

  81. Vincent Gray February 24, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    I continue to be amazed at the number of people who still accept the IPCC dogma that the earth is flat, static, in equilibrium. and exclusively controlled by radiative energy exchanges.
    I am also amazed by people who cannot accept that the Stefan Boltzmann equation is concerned only with the temperature of an emitter, and not by that of any receiver.of the radiation


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