Climate Physics

The stable stationary value of the Earth’s global average atmospheric infrared optical thickness

by Ferenc Miskolczi
Presented by Miklos Zagoni
EGU2011 Vienna

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According to the simple-minded or ‘classic’ view of the greenhouse effect the global average greenhouse temperature change may be estimated by the direct application of the Beer-Lambert law moderated by local or regional scale weather phenomena (R. Pierrehumbert, A. Lacis, R. Spencer, R. Lindzen, A. P. Smith, H. deBruin, J. Abraham et al., J. Hansen et al.,and many others)*. This is not true.

The greenhouse effect is a global scale radiative phenomenon and cannot be discussed without the explicit quantitative understanding of the global characteristics of the IR atmospheric absorption and its governing physical principles.

The dynamics of the greenhouse effect depend on the dynamics of the absorbed solar radiation and the space-time distribution of the atmospheric humidity. The global distribution of the IR optical thickness is fundamentally stochastic. The instantaneous effective values are governed by the turbulent mixing of H2O in the air and the global (meridional) redistribution of the thermal energy resulted from the general (atmospheric and oceanic) circulation.


R. Pierrehumbert, Physics Today, Jan. 2011; A. Lacis et al., Science, 330,2010;

R. Lindzen, BAMS, March 2001;

Spencer et al., GRL, 34, August 2007;

A. P. Smith, AOPhysics, February, 2008;

H. deBruin, Idojaras, 114,4,2010;

J. Abraham et al., Letter: To the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate , January, 2011;

J. Hansen et al., Science, 213, 1981

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