1. With this summary as a kickoff, I will begin to present the key papers by Ferenc Miskolczi in Climate Clash, because they relate to other posts in this G-series and because I personally believe Dr. Miskolczi is on the right track in understanding how our atmospheric greenhouse effect really works. Dr. Miskolczi has presented powerful, comprehensive, physical insight that no one else has presented in the peer-reviewed climate science literature.

    In keeping with a goal of Climate Clash to present information that is understandable by the general public, the above is a short, non-technical summary by Dr. Zagoni of Miskolczi's work. This simple summary may be the closest the general public will ever get to understanding the earth's atmospheric greenhouse effect. While the physics behind Miscolczi's work gets very deep, the conclusion described here is simple: Our atmosphere is stable, additional CO2 does not change the earth's greenhouse effect.

    Miskolczi's published 2007 paper is a difficult scientific paper to read and understand. Therefore, many have ignored his significant work. I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Miskolczi personally two years ago specifically about his 2007 paper. I have communicated with Dr. Zagoni and there is a possibility he may be available to respond to questions about Miskolczi's theory.

    Meanwhile, use the above post to comment as it may relate to the other G posts. Don't get too technical yet as we will publish Miskolczi's more technical papers in the future.

  2. Dr. Ed,
    I am sorry but this is wrong. Ferenc Miskolczi and Dr. Zagoni are correct in much of what they say, but they miss the critical point of the atmospheric greenhouse effect. While the CO2 absorption may be saturated near the ground, and back radiation does not heat the ground (back radiation is an effect, not cause of the greater heating, and on the average never gives a NET heat transfer down), nevertheless the added CO2 will increase the ground temperature. The cause is the increase in concentration that exists near the top of the atmosphere. This local concentration increase moves the altitude of effective average outgoing radiation to space to a slightly higher altitude. the adiabatic lapse rate does the rest. See the writeup by me and AL that give more details. Venus is also hot due to the location of average outgoing radiation and lapse rate, and clouds only contribute to the average location of outgoing lapse rate. The temperature would only change a modest amount if there were no clouds.

  3. Dr. Weinstein,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I would like to note three things:

    1. In my 2009 paper, cited here, I did not make it clear that decrease in the total amount atmospheric water vapor is not necessary to counterbalance the effect of increasing CO2. There are several ways and degrees of freedom for the system to accommodate itself to the constraints. (One possible way is change in the water vapor vertical and meridional distribution, and also in the surface and air temperature distributions.)

    2. "Saturation" here does not intended to mean that the absorption effect of CO2 would be saturated (in its ordinary sense). Here I simply wanted to point out that the greenhouse effect itself, as a whole of several contributors and constituents, cannot grow higher than it is now. If this naming is misleading, better not to use it.

    3. Explanations and interpretations without numbers can always be a subject of misunderstanding. Miskolczi gave detailed calculations on real measured, observed data archives, and the constancy of the absorption was a numerical outcome. I am really interested in your numbers, either against his values, or supporting your conclusions.

  4. @ 4 Miklos,
    The best numbers available do not support positive feedback increasing the CO2 sensitivity, and do seem to indicate a negative feedback greatly reducing the sensitivity, but the negative feedback is likely not near perfect. Since there are several wild cards such as natural variability (probably mainly solar and long period ocean effects), and possibility variable aerosols, and since the lag and lead of slow effects tend to uncouple even decade balance, I would just be less positive on there being no significant effect. I can't supply numbers (and no one can at this level of accuracy) to be sure, but it is very likely that the accuracy of the upper atmospheric water vapor content, temperature, and other data are not sufficient to say there is or is not a net atmospheric greenhouse effect increase with more CO2.

    The main effect of more CO2 would be to raise the average altitude of the location in the atmosphere where the radiation to space occurs. If the average lapse rate did not change, this would increase the ground temperature. If the lapse rate dropped some in part of the atmosphere due to more water evaporation and condensation, this would tend to decrease the effect.

    I don't know how complete the negative feedback is and I don't think a simple model is capable of sufficient accuracy to give more than a trend at this point. My personal opinion is that a sensitivity of up to 0.5 C is possible, based mainly on the work of Roy Spencer. It is possible that it is smaller, but not much larger. In other words, I do not reject the possibility of 0.1 C, I just think it is not that supportable at this time.

    Venus is a totally different case, with no land based water. The clouds do enter the location of average altitude of outgoing radiation, but the altitude of of the outgoing radiation would still be very high due to the huge atmospheric gas mass and optical absorption properties, and the lapse rate would still result in a high temperature, although somewhat changed from present.

  5. Leonard:

    I think Roy Spencer sees that Miskolczi's new basic equality of the atmospheric absorbed and back-radiated longwave radiations, found on several measured atmospheric data sets, verified also in the CERES observation, and reported in detail in Miskolczi's E&E article ("The stable stationary value of the earth’s global average atmospheric Planck-weighted greenhouse-gas optical thickness". Energy & Environment Vol. 21 No 4, 2010 August Special Issue: Paradigms in Climate Research), together with other constraints reported there, serves a sufficient ground to state that the system counter-balances the effect of the CO2-increase and maintains a constant, GHG-invariant atmospheric absorption and optical depth. As far as the physical conditions in our ocean-atmosphere system hold, no surface warming is possible simply from the rise of CO2.

    The other factors you mention – solar variability and long period ocean effects – of course may affect the global temperatures. But this is independent of the atmospheric GHG-composition.

    For data and further details, please see http://miskolczi.webs.com

  6. Miklos,
    I agree best data shows no large CO2 atmospheric greenhouse induced heating, but limited data accuracy does not allow the small level I think is possible (0.1 C to 0.5 C) to be rejected per doubling. Absorbed and back radiated energy is not the issue. The issue is not the degree of transmission in most of the atmosphere, but the small increase in average altitude of the outgoing radiation to space. This later increase is a fact, since the quantity of CO2 above a given fixed altitude increases with concentration, so a slightly higher altitude is needed to go to an equal mass of CO2 above it as before the increase (it is the partial pressures of greenhouse gases that are important). At these altitudes, water vapor content is much lower due to low temperature, so is less a factor than CO2. However, the possible change in wet lapse rate at lower altitudes could partially compensate for the increase in altitude of radiation out (since the net temperature gain due to all greenhouse gas effects is: effective average outgoing altitude time the integrated lapse rate), but I do not see any physics why it should nearly exactly compensate. The system seems to indicate a strong negative feedback, but likely not perfect. The result is that it is very likely the sensitivity is low, but not necessarily real close to zero.

  7. Leonard,

    You are talking about CO2 atmospheric greenhouse induced heating, but you say, absorbed and back radiated energy is not the issue. How can we think, then, the heating of the surface, if absorbed and transmitted and back radiated energy do not change?

    Further, you admit that the possible change in wet lapse rate at lower altitudes could partially compensate for the increase in altitude of radiation out, but you say you do not see any physics why it should nearly exactly compensate. – The physics are in the energetic constraints of the system, revealing themselves in the structure of the energy flows, especially in the new flux relationships found by Miskolczi on thousands of measured air columns, and reported in his papers.

    The compensation really seems to be perfect as both the average lapse rate and the optical depth is exactly equal to the theoretically predicted equilibrium value, see Fig. 5. of Miskolczi 2007 and Figs. 9-10-11. in his 2010.

    But again, if you have observed or computed data contradicting of his, I am really interested in them.

  8. Miklos says:
    You are talking about CO2 atmospheric greenhouse induced heating, but you say, absorbed and back radiated energy is not the issue. How can we think, then, the heating of the surface, if absorbed and transmitted and back radiated energy do not change?"

    The absorbing of long wave radiation is a necessary factor to move the location of outgoing radiation from the surface to a higher altitude. With out any greenhouse gases and clouds, all radiation to space would be from the surface, independent of the atmospheric gas temperature or profile. The atmosphere would still initially heat (by conduction and convection) in that case, but once it initially heated, it would not on average continue to heat, as no loss to space would occur.

    Back radiation is a consequence of this absorption and globally directed re radiation by the absorbing gases, but is not the cause of the heating any more than a blanket heats a person rather than decreasing cooling rate. It is radiative insulation but combined in this case with free convective heat transport. This is not a contradiction. There is no NET energy flux down, only a decrease in radiation up. However, convection then dominates transport of the energy up to where it is radiated to space.

    The high effective altitude of radiation combined with the adiabatic wet and dry lapse rate cause the temperature increase at the surface compared with no greenhouse gases. This will be a fairly small effect for Earth due to the small atmospheric mass, and domination of the lapse rate effect, but it is the cause of the very high temperature on Venus. Venus would still be nearly as hot with significantly less CO2 (but replacing it with a gas like Argon), due to the large atmospheric mass, but would not be nearly as hot if All of the atmosphere were replaced by an equal mass of Argon. That is, a small amount of greenhouse gas with a massive atmosphere is needed, but more fraction of greenhouse gas has less added effect.

  9. @8 Miklos,
    The mechanism for cloud variation may be solar variation effecting cosmic radiation effecting cloud formation. If cloud formation is the main negative feedback for CO2, it seems to me an exact balance of two events from different causes (human caused increase in CO2 and solar caused cloud extent) is not in general to be expected. I have to be skeptical as to this occurring generally. Add human caused aerosols, etc., and I would be very surprised. I don't necessarily disagree that in the absence of these external events that CO2 might be well balanced by more normal clouds activity, but that is not what I am referring to.

  10. Leonard:

    I still suggest to turn from verbal descriptions to numbers and equations of the measured atmospheric profiles. Just write down the well-known energy balance equations for the atmosphere, the ground, and TOA (Eqs 1-3 in Miskolczi2007), add the relationship he found on thousands of observed profiles (Eq. 4), look at its immediate consequences for the convective-conductive heating and for the surface temperature (Eqs. 5. and 6.); utilize the energy conservation (Eq.7.) and see how you get the constraint for the surface temperature as a function of the available incoming (or outgoing) energy, and for the lapse rate (Fig.5.).

    These rules determine (in the real, observed atmospheric profiles) the connection of upward and downward atmospheric LW emission to the conduction-convection process and the GHG-absorption. You may find a functional relationship there for the average cloud cover as well. Understanding all of these, we can go into the details of their interpretation.

    Again, if you have not only textual explanations of these processes but own measurements, calculations or equations, I am happy to contrast them to Miskolczi's. That's where a meaningful discussion could start.

  11. Miklos,
    I will (re)read Miskolczi2007 carefully and try to find why I think it limited. It will take a while for me to do the detailed review. However, I repeat that it is not always necessary to refute a detailed analysis for the analysis to be wrong. There are always assumed physical principals and approximations that are made that may miss some critical detail, but if the data seems to fit the analysis, wrong conclusion can be made that are not easy to spot. That is why I have tended to look at what the basic atmospheric greenhouse effect is, not the details. In the end it is nothing but the lapse rate combined with the effective altitude location of outgoing radiation, and the level of absorbed radiation. Since the radiation out is actually spread over a range of altitudes, it is much more complex in detail, but not in concept.

  12. To Miklos:
    When it is appropriate and convenient, could you address in more detail the following concerns I have:
    (1) How does an increase in atmospheric CO2 result in/cause a decrease in water vapor? (Of course, if this is true, there is no positive water vapor feedback.) Or is it that Miskolczi doesn't actually provide a detailed account of the causal mechanism of this effect, but rather argues that it is implied by his theoretical account and is confirmed by TIGR and NCAR/NCEP reanalyses data?
    (2) The most common criticism I have seen of Miskolczi is that his account is heavily dependent on the NCEP reanalysis radiosonde data, and that, at least prior to around 1973, it is very unreliable. And this is the crucial data which indicates a decrease in globally averaged specific humidity in most atmospheric levels.

  13. I'm sorry, but in regard to (1) above, I forgot to add the following: If an increase in CO2 would cause a decrease in specific humidity, is the converse true: Under Miskolczi's theory, would a decrease in CO2 (say due to a significant drop in solar irradiance leading to colder oceans, etc.) cause an increase in water vapor, and if so, how would that work?

  14. Leigh B. Kelley :

    Re your (1), may I just repeat here what I said above @4:

    "1. In my 2009 paper, cited here, I did not make it clear that decrease in the total amount atmospheric water vapor is NOT necessary to counterbalance the effect of increasing CO2. There are several ways and degrees of freedom for the system to accommodate itself to the constraints. (One possible way is change in the water vapor vertical and meridional distribution, and also in the surface and air temperature distributions.)"

    I would add: an increase in atmospheric CO2 results in a decrease and/or redistribution in water vapor and/or temperatures because of strict physical constraints: limit of the available energy, energy minimum principle, and the rules directing the radiative structure of the atmosphere.

    Re your (2), see a figure that shows his answer to this "NCEP data unreliable" problem: http://miskolczi.webs.com/NOAA-187.jpg

    Re you @15: a decrease in CO2 due to any cause would result in a change (redistribution) of the most important (and redundantly available) greenhouse gas, water vapor to satisfy the physics and to maintain the long-term stationary equilibrium greenhouse effect. Any tiny change in the hydrological cycle will do the job. The evaporation-precipitation process and the tropic-polar heat transfer (driven by the physics that determine the cooling of the Earth) is the tool.

    But this is only the explanation, the interpretation. If you do not like that, use another one. The facts are in the radiative structure of thousands of measured and analyzed vertical air column profiles.

    Let me repeat here: Since the Earth’s atmosphere is not lacking in greenhouse gases, if the system could have increased, or wanted to increase its surface temperature, it would have done so long before our emissions. It need not have waited for us to add CO2: another greenhouse gas, H2O, was already to hand in practically unlimited reservoirs in the oceans.

  15. @ 16 Miklos,
    The amount of greenhouse gas induced temperature increase basically depends only on three things:
    1) Amount of absorbed solar energy
    2) Lapse rate
    If the case 3) is greatly changed, but not 1) or 2), there would still be a large change in average temperature. Water evaporation is limited to a maximum amount by the value of 1). Also at modest altitudes, the temperature drop is large enough to condense and remove most water vapor. Thus water vapor alone is limited in greenhouse effect possible, and this is why it has no potential for runaway or even a large increase. Other greenhouse gases that do not condense (CO2, Methane, Nitrous oxide, etc.) persist above the region of most of the H2O removal. There is no limit to the temperature other than 2) and 3). The lapse rate at lower altitudes is essentially independent on anything but -g/Cp, modified by phase change of water (wet lapse rate), and is going to be nearly constant near -6.5 K/km. At higher altitude, the dry adiabatic lapse rate would tend to rise toward -9.8 K/km, but radiation to space will tend to lower it, so it may not vary much from -6.5 K/km until near the Tropopause.

    Note that the lapse rate is still present above the average location of OLR, but the temperature is below -15 C. Now consider sufficient greenhouse gases including CO2, Methane, Nitrous oxide, etc., such that the "window" for direct radiation to space is much smaller, and the partial pressures of these gases is significant to raise the location of average OLR. Simply increasing the location of OLR a significant amount will increase the temperature if the lapse rate is not changed as much. Due to the limitation of water vapor increase and limited altitude it goes before mostly condensing, compensation will be limited. Thus the greenhouse heating can increase significantly for Earth. At some altitude where atmospheric density becomes small enough (typically about 0.1 bar, based on the location of the Tropopause of several planets), radiation to space dominates so that the temperature is limited to match outgoing radiation at an altitude below this. This is the only limit to the greenhouse heating. Since the present location of the effective OLR for Earth is about 5 km, present values of about +33 K result. This could possibly raise to 7 or 8 km with a sufficient quantity of a combination of the gases mentioned, and so an additional +15 K or so is possible (but that would be about the max possible). However, just CO2 increase alone could not cause this large an increase due to it's limited bands of absorption.

    I agree doubling CO2 is limited in temperature increase on Earth, but we do not have accurate enough data to nail it down closer than about 0.1 C to 0.5 C or so. This is not to disagree with the data or analysis, only to repeat that data is not accurate enough to get closer. However, other gases that close the "transmission window" more CAN raise the temperature more, although they eventually reach a limit as stated.

  16. Leonard,

    You say: "This is the only limit to the greenhouse heating."

    What is the only limit to the velocity of a body in empty space? Surely the time as long as a force accelerates it. F/m=a, v=a*t, if you have enough time, v will cross every limit.

    But no. According to special relativity, there is other constraint to the velocity. Why? If you asked Einstein for a brief answer, he would say: Because of the structure of space-time. There is a Minkowski-geometry of space-time.

    I must say: There are other constraints to the greenhouse heating. Why? Because of the structure of the fluxes. There is a Miskolczi-geometry of the fluxes.

    How much is the constraint? His Eq. 4 and Eq. 7 in M2007, true for the real observed atmosphere, leads to Su=3OLR/2, or, g=1/3. This is a theoretical prediction in this sense, purely from the flux relationships. This is a MUST for the clear-sky greenhouse effect, a long term equilibrium constant, NOT depending on the particular GHG composition.

    You may ask now for the observed value of g. How far are we from that theoretical limit?

    The book titled “Frontiers of Climate Modeling” (Cambridge University Press, 2006, eds. J. Kiehl and V. Ramanathan) gives measured quantities. They say: “the normalized g is 0.33, i.e., the atmosphere reduces the energy escaping to space by a factor of 1/3”. We are at the limit.

    Finally, you say: other gases that close the “transmission window” more CAN raise the temperature more.

    The transmission window (St, Surface Transmitted) shows no change in the past 61 years, and its "width" equals to the theoretically predicted equilibrium value. The key parameter here is the optical depth,

    tau = – ln (St/Su)

    Tau has a GHG-invariant time-stationary constant value at 1.86756……

    Miskolczi's empirical tau-s are here: http://miskolczi.webs.com/NOAA-187.jpg

    I am waiting for yours.

  17. Miklos,
    I now understand more why we seem to be at a disagreement. Before I go on, I do not understand why you brought up the point about limiting velocity. I am aware of gas velocities and relativity, but they are not factors in the present discussion. I am only talking about practical and real limitations to greenhouse effects (when I say somethings are the only factors, I mean it in that limited context).

    The first basic point I was trying to make is that the atmospheric optical depth is not as important at lower altitudes as at higher altitudes beyond the fact that it greatly decreased radiation net heat transfer. This limitation in radiation heat transfer resulted in most of the energy transported to higher altitudes by water evaporation, thermal conduction, mass convection, and condensation. Since most of the water vapor condenses out at fairly low to intermediate altitudes (typically 2 to 3 km), the non-condensing gases become relatively more important at altitudes above the main portion of the water vapor.

    It is true that some radiation goes directly from the surface to space, and some radiation is absorbed and re-radiated (net radiation heat transfer up) as a significant part of the final energy radiated to space, but most of the surface energy is convected up and then radiated from moderate to higher altitudes to space (where there is much less water vapor). Thus the overall optical depth is not the factor that determines the change in average altitude of outgoing radiation due to changes from initial CO2 levels to later values, it is the change in optical depth from near 3 km and above.

    The effective average altitude of outgoing radiation would not change drastically with even a large change in CO2 concentration (say doubling from 300 to 600 ppm), but if the average outgoing altitude increase by only 150 m, the surface temperature would increase by about 1 C (if lapse rates stayed the same). This might not even be a significant effect on total atmospheric path length, but the lower atmospheric portion, with most of the water vapor, and which contributes most to the total path length, is not as important for the increase, as stated. I do not know if the path above 3 km changes as much as I indicated, I only point out that using total optical thickness is not the correct term to use.

  18. @20 Leonard,

    I hesitate to inject a question into your and Miklos' excellent discussion, so please ignore this question if you wish. You commented:

    Since most of the water vapor condenses out at fairly low to intermediate altitudes (typically 2 to 3 km), the non-condensing gases become relatively more important at altitudes above the main portion of the water vapor.

    While "most" is true, still a significant amount of water vapor is deposited by convective storms at higher altitudes of 6 to 10 km. Would not this higher water vapor be important in this discussion?

  19. @ 21, Dr. Ed,
    Water vapor is important, even to the Stratosphere. However, the vast majority is located only up to 3 km. My point is the total optical path is not representative of what dominates where the effective outgoing radiation leaves from, due to the dominance of convective heat transfer at the lower altitudes, and the greatly reduced water vapor content at higher altitudes. For example, at sea level and 390 ppm CO2, typical water vapor (50% sat) is about 12,000 ppm, or 31 times as much as the CO2. By 5 km, it is only 4 times as much. By 8 km, the CO2 is twice the water vapor concentration, and at 10 km, the CO2 is 11 times as much as H2O! It should be obvious that even though H2O totally dominates the average atmosphere absorption to ground, that CO2 and other non condensable gases become increasingly important at the altitudes that control much of the outgoing radiation. Obviously doubling CO2 will have an effect. I think it is cloud negative feedback that reduces the CO2 effect, so the result is still small.

  20. @ 21, Dr. Ed,
    The comment: "While “most” is true, still a significant amount of water vapor is deposited by convective storms at higher altitudes of 6 to 10 km. Would not this higher water vapor be important in this discussion?" is valid, but since the temperature is so low at the higher altitudes, the deposited water vapor condenses to drops, and if cold enough freezes. This is part of the cloud feedback I was referring to. It can't exist at higher vapor pressure long (supersaturated), and quickly condenses.

  21. @ 21,
    Look at the atmospheric temperature profile to get a better idea of how cold it gets at altitude, and look at water vapor pressure tables vs. temperature.

  22. Leonard and Miklos,

    Here I am referring to almost all of your comments above. Please comment on my summary as I attempt to follow your arguments so far.

    1. Data support a Climate Sensitivity (CS) = 0 to 0.5 C.
    2. Miskolczi theory (MT) predicts CS = 0
    3. Therefore, we cannot reject MT based upon known CS data.
    4. MT predicts Optical Depth accurately.
    5. Therefore, we cannot reject MT based upon Optical Depth.
    6. We do not fully understand how our atmosphere responds to the Greenhouse Gas Effect (GGE).
    7. Leonard's arguments against MT are based upon our best present knowledge of physical details but they do not reject MT.
    8. MT uses simple principles such as energy minimum to make its predictions.
    9. MT energy minimum and other constraints are more fundamental than the physical details that seem to contradict MT but which we know are not complete explanations.
    10. MT predicts some strong negative feedbacks operate to compensate for the effects of adding CO2.
    11. The inability of MT to explain exactly how negative feedback effects may operate under various scenarios does not negate MT.
    12. Ultimately, MT may help atmospheric theoreticians to find better ways to explain the details about how our atmosphere responds to added CO2.
    13. Meanwhile, MT is the best overall explanation we have.

    I compare this discussion of MT to the classical physics laboratory experiment of rolling a ball down an incline plane. Those of us who did this in physics lab know our data never was accurate as desireable but neither could we reject the theoretical explanation calculated from the acceleration of gravity and the moment of inertia of the ball.

    I see MT as the theory to explain our experimental data. Presently, we do not have another comprehensive theory to compete with MT.

  23. Dear Ed,

    Thank you for your summary.
    My comments:

    Miskoczi’s work is not a theory.

    In 1997, when the Kiehl-Trenberth global energy budget was published, he realized that they used the U.S.Standard Atmosphere 1976 for they purpose. However good mid-latitude profile the USST76 may be, it's not apt for global average studies. (Serious problem: the IPCC 2007 AR4 still uses that profile as global annual mean).

    In 2001, Miskolczi has published some details of his data selection method on how to build a realistic global average atmosphere.

    In his 2004 article he gave the results of his analysis of his profiles, and described some newly realized relationships between certain flux components.

    In his 2007 paper he adds these new relationships to the old known energy balance equations, and presents the solution of the new set of equations. The solution, from the point of view of the greenhouse function, is a constant equilibrium value. This constant equals to the independently and directly measured empirical greenhouse factor. (The paper contains some historical-theoretical considerations and also physical interpretations of this constancy as well. This might me a source of misunderstandings.)

    In his 2010 article repeats his calculations on a time-series data set, and proves that it produces the same equilibrium constant.

    Miskolczi gives no theoretical prediction on how much is the “climate sensitivity” or the “negative feedback”. These are not the proper terms to describe his results—or, even to describe the operation of the system.

    Sorry, but Leonard’s arguments against MT are not based upon “our best present knowledge of physical details”, as you say in your point 7. (Instead of MT, I would use MF: Miskolczi’s Findings.) Leonard picked up a very small portion of the whole physics determining the system, gave a special interpretation to it, and argues (without numbers) as if it were the complete description.

    As far as the critics do not produce their own calculations for the full structure, their partial verbal explanations and interpretations remain what they are: speculations. The last sentence of Miskolczi’s 2010 paper states: “These empirical results could well be challenged by a comparable empirical method.”

  24. Miklos,
    Nothing I have stated argues that the CO2 doubling effect could not be small. I stated that since the CO2 rise over the last century is about 1.4 times, and doubling could cause as much as 0.5 C or so (or less), that present effects should be 0.25 C (or less) rise due to CO2. I do not believe data is accurate enough to contradict that low level, or lock it down much closer, especially since the early part of the century was not even measured well. Data over the period where numerous profiles were taken would only show 0.15 C (or less) rise, and this is compatible with what was observed.

    I contend that the theory that the level is saturated is wrong, and I will expand more on that later. The point is that some assumptions were made for the theory that are too simplistic. The main one has to do with the use of radiation in the analysis at lower levels where water vapor dominates. This region is controlled by convection, and increasing greenhouse gases would only make the convection a more dominate term. The higher altitudes are dominated by CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and significant increase of these would raise the effective location of outgoing radiation. This would increase the ground temperature, but the effect is limited, so there would eventually be a limit due to saturation, but we are not near there yet.

  25. Comments on Miskolzki 2010 paper
    I looked at the 2007 paper and found it very difficult to understand, and thought the 2010 paper would be more current. I found it easier to read, but still difficult. However, what I did understand I think may raise some serious questions about it application in the real world and what the data means, although it seems very thorough.

    These are some concerns that perhaps someone can help me with.

    Clouds are mostly ignored.

    The atmospheric window seems to be ignored.

    My understanding is that the greenhouse gases absorb over only certain bands of wave lengths and the absorption probability over a path length varies with the wavelength, and of course the density of the gas molecules. For example at 15 microns at low altitudes, CO2 will absorb virtually everything in a very short path (about 100 meters if I remember my Spectra Calc results correctly). So it is virtually saturated here. Outside 15 plus/minus 3 microns, or outside the 12 to 18 micron range, it absorbs very little even after traveling many km. Water vapor covers much wider wavelength intervals with varying degrees of probability of absorption vs. path length. However there exists the “atmospheric window” around 10 plus/minus 2 microns where no present gases absorb anything of significance. So in our atmosphere it is my understanding except in this window there is virtually no infrared transmission through the atmosphere. All the outgoing emittance is from an upper layer of atmosphere, and all the downwelling is from a lower layer, and these two layers do not overlap. Miskolzki 2010 paper seems to ignore these facts or at least the atmospheric window. Using the concept of a single “optical thickness” does not apply unless to a narrow band of wavelengths. On page 2 he does say that over a very narrow band the equation
    St = Su(exp(-tau))

    applies where St is the transmitted portion of the incoming Su radiation.

    A better equation would be St = Su(exp-(n/No))

    where n = the number of molecules in the path and No is the number of molecules that results in exp(-1) or about 0.3679 probability of transmission. Or No is close to 100 times the number that has 1% absorption. But again only over a very narrow wavelength and one gas at a time.

    So this means that and “No” must vary with wavelength and hence his “tau”, but he seems to treat it as a single parameter for the entire atmosphere.

    These seem to cast doubt on his analysis, even though his data seems correct.

    In Table 2, “Ranges and the global averages of the different physical quantities.”
    on page 6, except for the GAT data, none of the values match the equation
    St = SuTa and some are off quite a bit. This puts his analysis in question.

    On page 6, I have a problem understanding if the following statement applying to the atmosphere:

    “… exchange equilibrium between two specified regions of space (or bodies) as meaning
    that for the two regions (or bodies) A and B, the rate of flow of radiation emitted by A
    and absorbed by B is equal to the rate of flow the other way, regardless of other forms
    of transport that may be occurring.”

    I can see that the transmittance and absorption fractions from A to B and from B to A are equal since both paths encounter the same total number of molecules, but if they are at different temperatures such as from different altitudes, the radiation strength at the origins will be different. Hence it seems heat will flow upward similar to convection.

    In the limit as the thickness of each layer goes to zero, the temperature difference would also go to zero, but that does not mean that limit of dT/dz is zero.

    From the quoted paragraph, later I think he says that the absorbed surface radiation will equal the downwelling and hence there is no net radiation between the two. Much data shows otherwise such as from Chuck Long. Besides surface temperature, downwelling varies with greatly with surface humidity. And why does it cool off at night much more with clear skies than cloudy ones. I have seen water in bird baths freeze at night when the ground surface temperature never got lower than a few degrees above freezing. Only very low clouds emit nearly as much as the surface. In fact their height can be easily estimated with a low cost infrared thermometer since they act as a black body.

    While he shows data with water vapor dropping over time when CO2 was rising, I did not see claims of the source or cause of some natural maximum greenhouse effect. Are others beside him making these claims?

  26. The data for sensible water vapor is limited in accuracy, but the best sets I have seen show an increase close to the ground, and near constant at altitude as CO2 increased over time. The relative humidity has been decreasing, but it is absolute levels that matter. This is disagreeing with what was stated. Also, the relative amount of water vapor becomes very small above 3 to 5 km due to the very low temperatures. Thus there is a strong variation in water vapor fraction in the relative composition of greenhouse gases with altitude. Since outgoing radiation levels depend strongly on concentration at the higher altitudes, I do not see the assumptions made as being realistic. There clearly could be an increase in greenhouse gas caused heating with increase in concentration unless the cloud albedo compensates almost exactly.

  27. Comment to Leonard re comment 29.

    I do not understand your comment about water vapor sensible heat. I did not know that was involved in this topic. Water vapor sensible heat is just a small part of the gas portion of the atmosphere. At 15 C and a typical RH of 60%, I estimate water vapor at about 0.0064 pounds per pound of air. Moist air is slightly less dense than dry air, but this effect mostly aids evaporation at the surface when there is no wind.

    I think you are over simplifying things by only considering outward radiation and required balance at the entire planet level. That is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one to explain surface temperature changes. The other condition is that heat flux in and out of the atmosphere itself must also be in balance. If these two conditions are met, the 3rd condition, that the surface be in balance will also be met. Ignoring this is the same mistake IPCC and most climate scientists are making. That is the point in my G7 post, but it seems you missed it. I have just submitted a simple version to this site that should be posted soon that hopefully will better explain this. Please read it.

    Your method (balance at the TOA) seems to be correct for the main factor for CO2, which dominates at higher atmosphere levels for greenhouse gases. So for changes in CO2, I agree your method is correct (but not for resulting feedback). Also, it should be pointed out that with little or no water vapor at the higher altitudes, the atmospheric window goes up from about 25% of the longwave spectrum at the surface, to about 80%. (CO2 capture window is only about 20%, going up to about 22% at doubling). When this happens, cloud tops are the major radiator to space with 80% of their radiation bypassing CO2.

    With water vapor being the dominant greenhouse gas at the lower levels, once the atmosphere absorbs more heat from the surface from more water vapor greenhouse action, it cannot be "unabsorbed" later. Increased water vapor reduces the size of atmospheric window near the surface. The added heat there must be radiated down or out to space to keep the atmosphere as a separate object in balance, regardless of what CO2 is doing. Through convection and radiation flow, this added heat will be moved upward. Does this added heat then do all or part of the job of upper level warming needed to offset reduced amount loss from any more CO2?
    This is one case (an increase in low latitude water vapor) where an increase in downwelling is the initial thing to change, not a response to a warmer surface which comes from most forcings. Just as in the upper atmosphere where more CO2 causes the emission point to move upward, more water vapor in the first 1 to 2 km forces the downwelling emission point to move down closer to the surface where the temperature is higher, hence the radiation increases. But some of the added heat moves upward through convection and radiative transfer, and finally gets released to space.

    The portion that moves downward to the surface will cause its temperature to increase which adds more heat to the atmosphere, but with a delay time for the soil to warm.

    Chuck Long has taken years of downwelling data over all the seasons for clear sky and partially cloudy skies. For clear skies he has an equation for downwelling that is calibrated to surface temperature and surface water vapor partial pressure. For example see,

    Long, C. N.: (2004) The next generation flux analysis: adding clear-sky LW and LW cloud effects, cloud optical depths, and improved sky cover estimates, Fourteenth ARM Science Team Meeting Proceedings, Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 22-26, 2004


    Long, C. N. and D. D. Turner: (2008) A method for continuous estimation of clear-sky downwelling longwave radiative flux developed using ARM surface measurements, Jour. Geophsical Res. Vol 113, D18206, 2008.

    Using his equations for clear sky conditions, I get the following for a typical situation:

    Surface at 15 C and 60% RH (vapor pressure = 10.22 mb), Downwelling = 309.3 Wm-2
    Surface at 16 C and w/ constant vapor pressure at 10.22 mb), Downwelling = 312.8 Wm-2
    Surface at 16 C and 60% RH (vapor pressure = 10.90 mb), Downwelling = 315.3 Wm-2

    The increase from 15 C to 16 C with constant water vapor is simply from the warmer air following the surface. However, the increase at 16 C with the water vapor rise to maintain constant RH (the usual assumption that I think is a little too much) causes a substantial additional increase because the additional water vapor has lowered the typical emission value which means it has also added to the radiation being absorbed. This happens regardless of the water vapor content at the 6 km region. This will cause the surface to warm, but also the upper atmosphere to warm via the lapse rate from the added heat at the surface and the added radiation absorption. This added heat at the TOA will compensate for the loss through the atmospheric window reduction.
    My estimates show that 2x CO2 also increases low altitude absorption about 0.65% of 390 Wm-2 or about 2.5 m-2 under clear sky condition. However this effect is diluted, since cloud cover (estimated by Trenberth at 62%) and absorbs everything when present not already captured by the GHGs below the clouds. But this effect probably does not add to the temperature rise at the emission level, but just reduces it to keep the final rise the same as if there were no low level action by CO2 increase.

  28. @ 30 Richard,
    You do not get the point I was making. The actions of the lower atmosphere (not including changes in cloud effects) only have two net effects. They act as partial radiation insulators, and they change lapse rate if more evaporation from the surface occurs due to the lower value of the wet lapse rate vs dry lapse rate. If the radiation insulation value changes due to more or less water vapor, CO2 and other greenhouse gases, the portion convected increases, so that all of the absorbed solar energy is raised to the upper atmosphere. Convection may only slightly dominate the total energy transfer (which includes the combination of radiation "window" and radiation heat transfer up), but it controls the net energy transfer to match the incoming solar energy (less radiation up, more convection). Back radiation may result in downward energy transfer in special cases (temperature inversions), but otherwise is NOT a contributor to surface heating . You can radiate energy down, but not get a net radiation heat transfer down with a temperature gradient of decreasing temperature with increasing altitude. The back radiation does not heat the surface, it is just a result of the radiation insulation, and not the cause of the increased heating. The effective location of the outward going radiation and the lapse rate do all of the surface heating. If the lowering of the lapse rate from more water vaporizing then condensing is the larger effect than the increase in effective altitude of outgoing radiation, the CO2 may not increase the ground temperature. If the increased clouds from more water vapor decrease albedo, the negative feedback may reduce the heating from increased CO2. Otherwise, the CO2 will SLIGHTLY increase the ground temperature.

  29. Cannot resist, @28:

    "In 2001, Miskolczi has published some details of his data selection method on how to build a realistic global average atmosphere."

    Temperature and velocities of atmosphere are FIELDS. The globe is not spherically symmetric, it has an equator and poles with temperature difference of about 100K. A three-dimensional field of such inhomogeneity cannot have "realistic average", it is a trivial mathematical (== formal logical) fact. Any "global averaged atmosphere" is therefore unrealistic.

    From FM-2007:
    " According to the Kirchhoff law, two systems in thermal equilibrium exchange
    energy by absorption and emission in equal amounts, therefore, the thermal
    energy of either system can not be changed. In case the atmosphere is in
    thermal equilibrium with the surface, we may write that: (Eq.4 follows)"

    Atmosphere is not in thermal equilibrium with the surface. The system has a continuous flow-through of energy, SW from Sun => Surface => Atmosphere => IR to Outer Space, therefore it CANNOT BE IN THERMAL EQUILIBRIUM. The atmosphere is highly turbulent entity, which is a classic signature of a system being FAR FROM EQUILIBRIUM. Therefore the main assumption of the FM work is invalid.

    The "experimental confirmation" of the AA = ED hypothesis is not actual (direct) measurements. The chart on Fig.2 (FM-2007) is a plot of "simulated" back-radiation of air column calculated for particular radiosonde profile, all as a function of ground temperature at that launch spot (presented as AA= SU-ST). So, in effect, both axes are derived from HARTCODE simulations.

    Upon close inspection, it seems apparent that most open circles are shifted to the left of diagonal by about 20W/m2, at least in low-temperature part of the spectrum, meaning that the size of atmospheric window is over-estimated (even if a fudge factor of 0.96 was applied). According to estimations of Kiehl and Trenberth, AA=356W/m2, and Ed=333W/m2, a difference of 23W/m2. I am sure both estimations have certain errors, so I would not wage on who is right on the actual "global averaged" size of atmospheric IR window. I just want to point out that the data presented in FM-2007 are not accurate enough to declare absolute validity of "Kirchhoff law" in this particular situation, especially when we KNOW that the system is not in thermal equilibrium, and the law will not hold. This 15-20W/m2 difference is an order of magnitude bigger than the entire alleged AGW effect, currently at 1.7W/m2. Therefore, this 15-20W/m2 "imperfection" in Fig.2 is enough to dismiss the FM theory as not sufficiently supported by observations.

    In short, the FM theory is based on crude simplifications that produce errors much bigger than the expected radiative imbalances of AGW theory, which throws the entire effect out.

  30. Al Tekhasski: I did some basic calculations using the U of Chicago's online radiation model called MODTRAN ( moderate resolution atmospheric radiation transfer code ) and used their mid latitude summer profile with no clouds. I used the "portable radiometer" in the program and summed the upward and downward fluxes after taking CO2 from zero to 375 ppmvs'. I used 12 Km of depth, about the height of the mid summer troposphere ~39,000ft.

    The difference in the change in upward vs. downward flux is fairly close, differing by
    5.8 Wm-2, and I would bet the difference is due to the allowable water vapor contained within the profile. More interesting is the fact that if you layer the troposphere into 2 Km slabs and compute the radiation convergence/divergence of the slabs, I noted that above 4 Km, the radiation from CO2 becomes divergent and causes radaitive cooling above those layers.

    This would have important consequences to the saturation vapor pressure of water, causing it to tend to decrease as more CO2 is added. This cannot cause the positive feedback in water vapor claimed by modelers, but in fact, the opposite effect.The feedbacks would have to be negative as this either decreases water vapors optical depth or increases the magnitude of the hydrological cycle. Because of the enormous range of absorbing wavenumbers by water vapor and cloud, it would only take a small change here to completely offset the effect of CO2.

    The founding work in atmospheric science also suggests this as calculations were made with Elsasser's work with water vapor alone that proved its radiational effects alone cause auto convective overturn of the lower troposphere with just an average amount such as 2 prcm's and the overturn causes moist convection to 8 Km with a 2 Km overshoot of the resulting cumulonimbus clouds.

    This suggests strongly by simple modeling that water vapor creates its own mitigating cycle within the troposphere caused by its absorptive and emissive properties that combine with atmospheric hydrostatics. Water vapor can create its own hydrological cycle WITHOUT CO2.

    Regardless of whether Miskolczi's eqautions supply an exact solution in all cases seems irrelevant to me. I would bet his median optical depth from observations he used to derive it is very close to reality. The founding work suggests strongly that CO2 acts more as a proxy to what would otherwise be a larger optical depth of water vapor without its presence, rather than a constituent that causes a positve feedback as modelers claim.

    I also would like to ask how one could defend the presumed "radiative forcing" by CO2 of anywhere from 1.7 Wm-2 to 4 Wm-2 when there is no attempt to calculate the response from water vapor and its optical depth. Right now, the 300 millibar specific humidity is declining and has been for several years as CO2 rises. This most certainly increases atmospheric emission by water vapor to a lower pressure altitude. A small change in this wipes out the presumed forcing and warming by CO2.

    I personally believe the CO2 warming claims are frivolous because they are focused solely on CO2 and not spectrally integrated radiation or the summed OLR.

    Miskolczi is on the right track and I think his work is very important in quantifying how the earth atmospheric radiation system really works.

    Chuck Wiese

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