NASA Thermostat Paper – Part 3

I’ve already discussed the fact that the NASA press release was misleading, and that it has no empirical support. Here I discuss the problems with the modeling effort and their conclusions.

The first problem is that climate models are not designed to function properly in conditions far removed from current earth conditions. They use thousands of empirically derived parameters, and by reducing CO2 to zero they probably made the output of the model even more meaningless than the usual output.

The next problem can be highlighted by performing a related thought experiment. Instead of zeroing out CO2, let’s “zero” out temperature. We are going to make the Earth cold – with temperatures at the equator being 0°C. At that temperature, the equilibrium vapour pressure of water is 6 millibars, which is 25% of it’s value at 20C.

This means that the amount of water vapour in the air is about one fourth of current tropical conditions. Let’s use 0.5% of the atmosphere as a conservative value. That is 50,000 ppm – which is more than 100 times greater than the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Even on a frozen planet, H2O would be much more abundant than CO2, and H2O also absorbs a much wider spectrum of LW radiation.

Conclusion – on NASA’s hypothetical frozen planet, H2O would still be (far and away) the dominant greenhouse gas. Claims that CO2 is the Earth’s thermostat don’t work empirically or theoretically. Their assumption that H2O is completely condensable, is bogus. It’s ability to condense tails off logarithmically at lower temperatures, where H2O behaves more and more like “non-condensable” CO2.

About stevengoddard

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9 Responses to NASA Thermostat Paper – Part 3

  1. Lazarus says:

    It wasn’t misleading. A journalist from one media outlet misunderstood it and you chose to share their ignorance.

    Do you know anyone else mislead other than a hapless reporter from AOL and yourself?

    • Other than the fact that it was junk science and presented to the media in an intentionally misleading fashion – I completely agree with you.

    • ChrisD says:

      You can repeat the “intentionally misleading” claim as many times as you want. You still don’t have a shred of evidence. I understood it; why didn’t you, with your science and engineering degrees?

      Personally, I think you’re just projecting.

      • Jimash says:

        Yeah, you understood it.
        I call your attention to this exchange:

        don penman says:
        October 16, 2010 at 6:01 pm
        The article does suggest that without co2 there would be no greenhouse effect.It seems to me that co2 is viewed as the boss molecule ,it has little effect on its own,but without co2 none of the other molecules would know where they were supposed to be or what state they should be in. The water molecule is too dumb to change into water vapour without the help of co2.
        ChrisD says:
        October 16, 2010 at 6:51 pm
        You have got it almost exactly. Well done.
        Wherein Mr. Penman mocks the entire thing and you tell him that his mocking summary is correct.
        You get it.

      • ChrisD says:

        The summary was correct–simplified, but correct. It matters not a farthing whether he was mocking or not.

        You might like to note that I was the first one to point out that the AOL reporter had it wrong.

        So, yeah, I understood it.

      • The AOL reporter wrote exactly what they wanted him to write.

      • ChrisD says:

        Sure thing, Steve. They wanted reporters to think that CO2 is 80% of the greenhouse effect, so they write that “carbon dioxide accounts for about 20 percent of the greenhouse effect, water vapor and clouds together account for 75 percent, and minor gases and aerosols make up the remaining five percent.”

        That makes sense.

        Devious, those NASA guys. They want you to say something, so they intentionally write something completely different. Is there no end to their duplicity?

      • Yes, they wrote several ambiguous statements and got exactly the desired effect from the reporter.

      • ChrisD says:

        [C]arbon dioxide accounts for about 20 percent of the greenhouse effect, water vapor and clouds together account for 75 percent, and minor gases and aerosols make up the remaining five percent.”

        Yes, I can see where anyone could easily misread that as saying that CO2 causes 80% of the greenhouse effect. Not.

        You’re projecting. Misleading statements are a spécialité de la maison, so you think everyone does it.

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