I was riding my bike over to Whole Foods down a flooded bike trail earlier, when I had a Eureka moment. (Something about water seems to stimulate those.) I realized that is possible to empirically disprove global warming theory.
Venus has a fixed lapse rate of about 8ºK/km through its troposphere, which is similar to Earth – despite very different atmospheric chemistry. This in itself is strong evidence that temperature is not closely tied to atmospheric composition, but is not the basis of this proof.
Venus Atmosphere Temperature and Pressure Profiles
The atmosphere of Venus is about 95% CO2, and at 1 bar pressure (50km elevation) the greenhouse effect is weak – because there is little water vapor. Note that the absorption bands of CO2 are very narrow compared to H2O, which means that Venus has a weak greenhouse effect at one bar pressure.
Radiative Physics – Yes CO2 Does Create Warming « the Air Vent
However, the pressure at the surface of Venus is almost 100 bars, and that does something to the CO2. The absorption bands broaden and occupy much more of the LW spectrum. What this means is that the greenhouse effect on Venus is much stronger near the surface than it is at 50km.
If the greenhouse effect controlled the temperature profile of the Venusian atmosphere, we would necessarily have to see a greater lapse rate closer to the surface – where the greenhouse effect is stronger. This is because the increased resistance to radiative heat transfer closer to the surface, would create a larger temperature gradient. But we don’t see that – the lapse rate is fixed throughout Venus’ troposphere . This means that the temperature profile of Venus troposphere is not controlled by the greenhouse effect. There is no way to get around this argument.
Conclusion : Even a huge increase in the greenhouse effect as we approach the surface of Venus, has no impact on the lapse rate. Observations on Venus demonstrate that increasing the greenhouse effect even by a large amount, has little impact on the temperature profile of a convective atmosphere. i.e. greenhouse gas driven global warming theory simply does not work in a convective atmosphere.
David Appell told me that I would get a Nobel Prize if I could disprove global warming. I expect him to nominate me.
BTW – here are some pixs I took on my flooded bike ride in Fort Collins this evening. The air here smells like drowned campfire.
Outstanding post. I have also tried to disprove it using the AGW’s own OLR measurements. All the papers I saw required ‘tweeking’ with models to get the data to fit their theories. Raw data shows no decrease in OLR in the spectrum that CO2 absorbs. http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/the_agw_smoking_gun.html
Thanks. It suddenly occurred to me that the answer was right in front of me all along, just a matter of putting the pieces together.
Show us your Nobel prize when the air is out of your tire.
Sure, and you can show us your McDonald’s uniform when you are out of your mom’s basement.
Curious and interesting argument, Steve.
However, it seems to me that if there is greater heating down low, the atmosphere would just continuously overturn, and the lapse rate would be re-established … no? What am I missing? I mean, the lapse rate is a function inter alia of the atmospheric overturning.
Exactly right. The temperature gradient is determined by the convective lapse rate, which is what you have been saying all along.
Steven, please help me here. I know I saw an article recently which claimed to disprove AGW by demonstrating that the temperature on Venus at various pressures up and down the air column could be fully explained by its proximity to the sun. The argument was that if CO2 created the Green House effect, we should see a marked increase in temperature at various altitudes and pressures on Venus as compared to the same altitudes on earth, once the different distances from the sun are taken into account.
This seemed like a very neat and logical theory to me. Unfortunately, I have no ability to replicate or verify the data presented since I’m not a scientist. More unfortunately, perhaps, a Google search of the author’s name turned up some bizarre theories he has promulgated, one being a “mathematical” proof that the tectonic plate theory is wrong and the earth’s continents were, instead, created by “design”. Obviously, my enthusiasm of his Venusian “proof” diminished markedly once I learned of his other theories.
Can you comment on this?
Venus has very thick cloud cover, which negates any effect of the sun being closer. I’d stay away from that argument.
Thanks, Steve, but that doesn’t really help. The usual claim is that changes in the GHG content change the slope of the lapse rate. I don’t see how you’ve shown that this is not occurring on Venus.
My allied question is, if the reason is not GHGs, why is the surface of the earth warmer than blackbody Stefan-Boltzmann calculations would indicate?
The point is that the greenhouse effect varies tremendously through the troposphere of Venus, but the lapse rate doesn’t.
If heat was being trapped in the lower levels of the atmosphere, the lapse rate would be higher there than at higher elevations where the greenhouse effect was less.
What would produce “greater heating down below?” The heat coming from the Sun is fixed. If greenhouse gases make it harder for the heat to move back into space, we would see a greater lapse rate in that part of the atmosphere. That is exactly what we are not seeing.
Thanks, Steven. I still don’t get why you would get different lapse rates at different altitudes. Presumably, whenever there is an imbalance, it is restored by overturning. The lapse rate exists precisely because the atmosphere is heated from the bottom.
You also have not answered my question. If the greenhouse effect doesn’t do anything as you claim … then what is making the Earth as warm as it is?
All the best,
I didn’t say that the greenhouse effect doesn’t do anything. The first few tens of ppm of greenhouse gases are indeed important.
The fact that the lapse rate is identical throughout Venus troposphere indicates that it is not affected by variations in the greenhouse effect, which is much stronger at lower elevations.
The heat is provided by the Sun, and the temperature is regulated by convection.
Willis, it is not necessary to provide an alternate supposition to disprove another. Concentrate on what is being stated. We don’t have to know the secrets of the universe to understand the GHE is bollocks.
I should clarify….. the GHE as it is currently espoused.
All you have discovered is a numerical coincidence, that others have noticed — and misinterpreted — before.
You didn’t read my article carefully before commenting.
I am not comparing Venus to Earth – I am comparing the lapse rate at different elevations in the Venusian atmosphere which have very different LW absorption characteristics.
Great post, and the photos are great also!
It’s huge to debunk a main propaganda point of the climate clowns — Venus. I add that there is exactly zero empirical evidence that CO2 affects climate scale temps; the ipcc, before 2000, had claimed a causal correlation between CO2 and temps, but click my name to see the 3 minute video that succinctly rebuts the ipcc claim.
There is no actual evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate scale temps, but instead there is only a theoretical model, but the model is subject to a huge amount of ambiguity and argument. For example, there are many that maintain that over 200ppm CO2 has no effect, period. If CO2 did have strong greenhouse effects at the higher PPMs, as in the past we went to as high as 7000ppm, we would have long ago experienced a runaway greenhouse effect where the oceans would have boiled away. But it wasn’t so. A good article & comments on the theorized 200ppm limit of CO2’s GHE is this:
You should study this in more detail and write this up and publish it in a journal.
Does it matter what wavelengths of sunlight across the electromagnetic spectrum make it down to different altitudes on Venus? I don’t know the answer.
CO2 is almost completely transparent to SW radiation.
Off topic, but California is bankrupt and they just approved high-speed rail:
Here is my prediction:
It will cost at least 5 times as much as stated, and take 10 more years to build. That is, if it is even completed, and assuming no big earthquake hits the route.
And if completed, it will not generate enough revenue to break-even.
At best, it will be another Amtrak.
It will make the Big Dig http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Dig look like a well-run, inexpensive, underbudget project that was completed years ahead of schedule.
Why would anyone take a train from SF to LA through the Central Valley? That is idiotic, Hop on a SW Airlines flight and you are there in an hour.
I agree, it will go from $68 billion to a quarter trillion, and achieve little.
My comment at the Sacramento Bee:
You can drive LA to SF in barely over 5 hours. Or fly. Now they want to raise sales tax to, what, 10%? Will it go to 12% if they don’t stop spending on public unions and the endless morass of pointless state agencies. Don’t lend our support to these spending addicts. Enough is enough. Oppose the tax increase.
It is insane. Airplanes completely cover the need, are much cheaper and much more convenient. What problem are they trying to solve?
In Florida, Rick Scott (our Governor) tried to kill our high speed rail project but it went ahead with federal money. There won’t be enough customers to pay for the service so it will turn into another millstone around our necks.
If you want to understand the dire effects of such projects take a look at Portland, Oregon.
Well Californians keep voting in politicians that favor big government spending and high taxes. What a shame – it used to have the best university system in the world. I read recently that UC San Diego is eliminating their masters program in electrical engineering to make sure they have enough money to fund their diversity and multicultural programs.
Like they say as California goes so goes the rest of the US – everyone else will be taxed as much as they are at some point if people don’t wake up.
July 7, 2012 at 4:58 am
Why would anyone take a train from SF to LA through the Central Valley? That is idiotic, Hop on a SW Airlines flight and you are there in an hour.
Not if fossil fuel-based flight is banned, or carbon-taxed to death…
As Yogi Berra would say……..”Deja vu all over again”.
You made this excellent argument two years ago on WUWT, stimulating a highly educational exchange of views on several web sites. Here is the one I like best (perhaps because I spoke up to support you). If you read through you will find the Jenkins et al. paper based on the Magellan satellite measurements and much more.
I actually have never made this argument before, as I didn’t think of it until today. This is different from the Earth vs,Venus lapse rate discussion because the argument is confined to a fixed composition atmosphere on a single planet.
Please accept my apologies for being impressed by the brilliance which you now disavow. That leaves me impressed by your humility!
I am wondering, back here on earth would this insight help dispel ideas of tropospheric hot spot (that has never been identified)? And help explain why the stratosphere is cooler than (broken) theories dictate? I think it’s a good candidate.
There certainly doesn’t appear to be a tropospheric hot spot on Venus.
Much later, thanks to “Nullius in Verba” on Roy Spencer’s site I found out that Carl Sagan correctly analysed the surface temperature of Venus many years before James Hansen got it wrong:
When it comes to what causes Ice Ages I like Svensmark and his cosmic rays that may (or may not) be responsible for temperature swings of 20 Kelvin at the Earth’s surface.
Nevertheless there are “drivers” that have even greater effects, namely TSI and atmospheric pressure. How anyone with any scientific training can doubt this puzzles me. Recently, Nikolov & Zeller drew attention to relationships that apply with striking accuracy no matter what planet or moon you choose:
The probe into the Jovian atmosphere found a near perfect adherence to the the adiabatic lapse rate based on Cp/g. Likewise on Venus thanks to Magellan. Coincidence? I think not!
David Appell won’t have to pay you a dime for “disproving global warming”.
Global warming or global cooling is inevitable so how could anyone “disprove” it?
This is a great post and was something Joe Bastardi had mentioned before, but I’m glad you explained it.
You say ” the lapse rate is fixed throughout Venus’ troposphere .” In fact, from the graph you show, it varies considerably at altitudes from 60km-100km. It is regular from 30-60km. And the graph give an extrapolation from 30 down to zero, which is the critical area for your argument. The Shade Tree Physics site speaks of “additions and extensions” to the graph.
Is there some other data that gives evidence for your claim that ” the lapse rate is fixed throughout Venus’ troposphere”?
Above 60 km is not the troposphere
The Engineering Toolbox lists the thermal conductivity of some common materials determined experimentally at 25 degrees C except water vapour at 125 degrees C.
Air, athmosphere (gas) 0.024
Carbon dioxide (gas) 0.0146
Insulation materials 0.035 – 0.16
Water, vapor (steam) 0.016
They all seem to be pretty good insulators with water and air as the most conductive.
So if absorption and re-emission of radiation is a source of the large energy flows attributed to GHGs at low concentrations in the atmosphere why doesn’t it show up in the conductivity figures ?
Because I cannot for the life of me figure out how these properties do not include radiative effects – how would one measure these experimentally and exclude radiation from the measurement ?
Even water vapour has a much lower conductivity than normal air – although this is determined at 125 degrees C.
If CO2 or water vapour absorb IR radiation and radiate it to the extent claimed shouldn’t their thermal conductivity be higher than air ? After all radiation is supposed to be the most significant energy transport mechanism in the greenhouse effect.
Or am I missing something here ?
I never like to criticize but I cannot let this one go – “My allied question is, if the reason is not GHGs, why is the surface of the earth warmer than blackbody Stefan-Boltzmann calculations would indicate?”
The surface of the Earth could reach temperatures approaching 80 degrees C using 878 W/sq m in the Stefan-Boltzman equation as the solar insolation at points on the Earth’s surface in the tropics at the equinox – 1368 W/sqm solar constant x 70% ( 100 % – albedo) x cos 23.5 = ~878 W/sq m – this is a minimum from tropic to tropic with a potential maximum approaching 87 degrees C.
The solar insolation necessary to produce a surface temperature of 15 degrees C is 390 W/sq m and the cosine of 390/ 957 (957 = 1368 X 70 %) = about 65 degrees N or S. So a significant portion of the globe – 72 % is subject to solar insolation capable of heating the surface to temperatures much higher than 15 degrees C during the day. And let’s not forget that it is always daytime somewhere on the Earth.
Clearly the surface of the Earth is not warmer than the figures given by the Stefan-Boltzmann equation unless one imagines the sun shines 24 hours a day at one quarter of the power.
To try to prove a theory using average calculated temperatures is simply wrong. The temperature swings on the moon prove this.
On Earth the much higher insolation than allowed for using averages produces dynamic effects in the climate system which an average value simply fails to give.
There can be no doubt that without an atmosphere and the oceans the Earth’s surface temperatures would be much hotter during the day and it is during the day when the sun is shining that matters – during the night the surface is cooling – lucky it issurrounded by an atmosphere that has low thermal conductivity and receiving energy from vast oceans of warm water.
The surface is warmed by Sun which radiates LW which in turn is absorbed by greenhouse gases, and that is what drives the convection. I am not disputing that.
My point is that the lapse rate is determined entirely by convection
There is even evidence that using an albedo of 0.7 may not be correct in calculations.
How did “Langley’s greenhouse experiment on Pike’s Peak in Colorado (mentioned by Arrhenius, 1906b)” record such a high temperature if the correct figure for solar insolation – as quoted by Kiehl & Trenberth – is 342 W/sq attenuated to less than 170 W/sq m ?
This should give about 234 K or minus ~40 degrees C given that the glass most probably filters most incoming IR.
How did terrestrial observations of the solar constant made well before the space age as quoted by the IPCC give figures close to the average solar constant quoted to day ?
So there is no evidence that the Earth’s surface is warmer that what is evidenced by the Stefan-Boltzmann equation unless one uses averages and this is demonstrably wrong as numerous physicists point out.
I’m not disagreeing with your point of view.
I disagree entirely with the proposal that the Earth radiating at 240 W/sq m over a sphere whilst illuminated over a hemisphere at a flux at least 4 times that proves the greenhouse effect. The minus 18 “effective” temperature is simply the temperature at which the Earth “needs” to radiate in energy balance – it has nothing to do with the surface temperature but a lot to do with the incoming energy flux and the density of the atmosphere and the fact Earth has masses of water – especially in the tropics where the land masses are relatively small compared to ocean area.
The world would be quite different if the bulk of the land mass was in the tropics.
Jenkins et al., 1994 used the Magellan satellite measurements.
So how do satellite measurements compare to measurements made by probes descending by parachute? The Russians had ten probes that transmitted data all the way to the surface of Venus and many more that failed before reaching the surface. Somebody must have taken the trouble to plot temperature vs. altitude for every one of those probes.
I would like to see how the Russian probe measurements compare with Jenkins et al.
I think you are saying that the atmosphere of Venus is more opaque to IR at lower elevation where the pressure is highest and so the temperature gradient should be higher there than at higher elevations.
At higher elevations on Venus, as the troposphere thins, and becomes more transparent to IR radiation what you suggest does occur. The lapse rate starts to decline, then goes to zero and the then becomes negative in exactly the same way as it does in the Earth’s stratosphere, at a height of about 70km.
But the lapse rate isn’t proportional to opacity. But the opacity does have to be above a certain threshold value to maintain the environmental lapse rate of approx 10deg C/km on Venus which depends on the standard gravity on Venus and the specific heats of the gases in the Venusian atmosphere. The Venusian lapse rate isn’t hugely different from the one on Earth.
If we could adjust the opacity of the Venusian atmosphere we would see the height of the troposphere vary rather than its lapse rate.
If the opacity to IR radiation on Venus were zero, the troposphere would shrink to zero height, and we could directly measure the temperature of the Venusian surface from IR emissions. If the albedo was still 0.8 and given that we know the Radiation is 661W/m^2 we know that 132W/m^2 of optical light makes it through and is absorbed on the Venusian surface (with some in the Venusian clouds) . We’d actually measure about -60degC, which is surprisingly low because of Venus’s high reflectivity. This is the black body temperature needed to maintain thermal equilibrium.
We’d still see -60degC if we measured the IR emissions of the real Venusian atmosphere. But instead of measuring the surface temperature we are measuring the temperature of the upper layer of the troposphere at a height of some 60km. We can’t see any deeper because the atmosphere is opaque. Multilpy that height by the lapse rate and its easy to see why the surface temperature is very hot indeed.
Hi, I have been thinking about this too, I saw one article which said Venus is 2.5 times hotter than earth because of CO2, but it seems they had not accounted for it being hearer, which is stupid.
Accounting for distance it is 1.3 times (30%) hotter by my calcs.
That does not seem much given is has (according to another site) 1185 times more green house gases and 90 time the atmospheric pressure of earth, I also just found that the height of the atmosphere is 3 times that of that on earth.
Actually this is the site:-
Did a university really fail to adjust for distance or did I screw up (lol), my money is on the Uni!!
Now taking that all into account it being 30% hotter does not seem much, indeed I thought the mere fact the pressure was 90 times as much would increase the temperate, however I am not sure about this, I know if you squeeze a gas it gets hotter, but I guess you could say the gas on Venus came pre-squeezed
Also convection affects cooling and it is 3 times as far to go, when I look at all the numbers it surprises me it is only 30% hotter I think it should be 10 times hotter with out any green house gas at all!!
Then there is something else, the earth has an ozone layer high up where a lot of heat is dissipated, a lot of it straight back out into space as far as I can see?
So there is a lot of complexity there but all in all I don’t rate CO2 as a greenhouse gas.
I am also told that the CO2 levels in the earth’s atmosphere is pretty much saturated, ie doubling it only make a few percent increase in temp, if that. Same must apply to Venus ( I actually ‘bidding against my self here) because that might explain why Venus is not as hot as *I* expect.
One other thing, on a clear might the temp drops rapidly on earth, that CO2 does not seem to hold the temperature up well!!! Is that because it only captures a narrow band of radiation?
Anyhow interesting reading your post, some is a bit complicate/new to me ( the lapse rate thing)
and I am a bit tired, but I am rather sceptical about this CO2 warming thing.
Don’t think I am mad but I think wind-farms are causing the current climate change, I calculated they remove about 2 hurricane of energy from the winds, that has gotta affect climate!!
The jet stream has gone a bit loopy apparently, fits in with my theory!!
NIce theory. Let’s expand this a little: If it so that gas which is under pressure has a higher temperature, this would give us a very nice source of energy for heating. Just pressurize air to 10 bar and you would have a container that has 10 times higher temperature excess than air at 1 bar (the current pressure at sea level). This would give us a few hundred degrees of temperature excess. Bring such a container inside a house and you have lots of energy to warm your house, indefinitely.
And think those bottles of pressurized air or CO2 that you can buy for making bubbled water. They are hot, aren’t they?
Never bought one however I doubt they are hot unless recently filled. The heat would radiate and convect away pretty quickly.
OK second reply, I have only just read what I posted before. lol I do not recall writing it untll I read it again plus I though I made that post years ago not 8 months ago!!
I am beginning to doubt what I wrote earlier now, would the heat simply dissipate? Ie you only get it on the initial compression? Otherwise we would have a source of energy in infinite source of energy which is not going to happen so I think my initial idea is invalid..
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This might help: http://theendofthemystery.blogspot.ca/2010/11/venus-no-greenhouse-effect.html
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