The Other Night

Some nights are humid and warm. Other nights are dry and cold. Deserts can vary 60 degrees from day to night, when the humidity is very low.

People who don’t believe in the greenhouse effect, aren’t thinking clearly.

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90 Responses to The Other Night

  1. geran says:

    Drastic differences between night and day temperatures should convince you that the greenhouse effect does not work. But, “belief systems” trump “real science” every time….

    • When there is no water vapor, there isn’t much greenhouse effect, Homer. Use your brain.

      • Anything is possible says:

        The lack of water vapor is also the reason why daytime temperatures in the desert are much higher than they are in more humid locations.

        IOW, there is a COOLING aspect of the GHE that no-one (including skeptics) ever seem to want to talk about

        • That analogy doesn’t work for CO2, which is transparent to shortwave radiation and doesn’t provide evaporative cooling effects.

        • Herve D says:

          CO² has everywhere the same concentration, hence same (minor) effect. Geran said by himself that H²O is the key warming gas, as its abscence creates huge temperature fall at night in desert.

      • geran says:

        Do you understand the “greenhouse effect”, as promoted by AGW, or are you talking just about humidity? (The IPCC does not like to talk about humidity.)

        There seems to be three different phenomena:

        1) The IPCC/AGW greenhouse effect, as defined in their papers.
        2) A REAL greenhouse, as is used by gardeners/commercial growers.
        3) Localized humidity.

        They are all very different. Which are you talking about?

        And, don’t call me “Homer”, unless you want me to call you “Toby”. 🙂

        • squid2112 says:

          I don’t believe many people understand the so-called “greenhouse effect” because there are so many versions of it. Also, this is the way the people that want you to believe in AGW would like to keep it. As long as you don’t understand the so-called GHE, then they can pull any sort of shell game with you they wish, and they will always win.

          But for the record, there is not a single version of the GHE hypothesis that can work without violating the fundamental laws of nature. An not only that, one can simply look around them at many examples (one that Tony points out right here) that shows precisely that the so-called GHE is bullshit, in all its forms and connotations.

        • squid2112 says:

          I’m also curious how people still believe that -80C (the temperature of 15u that CO2 “radiates”) can warm anything … oh, they will throw back at you “it slows cooling” .. which in and of itself is bogus, not to mention that fact that “slowing” cooling is not capable of “heating” anything. Just because you slow cooling, doesn’t mean you have added energy to the system to increase “heating”.

          It’s all completely absurd. I have few things I disagree with in terms of what Tony posts here on his blog, but this subject is most certainly one of them. I find it remarkable that someone with his background can still hold on to the myth and religion that is the GHE, despite the enormous mountain of empirical evidence all around that refutes it. Remarkable…

        • Maybe because I live in the real world?

        • squid2112 says:

          ROFMLAO … riiiight .. good answer ..

        • squid2112 says:

          Funny that nobody in the world, despite the infusion of billions upon billions of dollars, has ever been able to actually demonstrate this magical phenomena … of course, I believe in Santa too, but nobody has ever been able to show him to me either … ROFL

      • Humid nights have another reason for cooling slowly. When the temperature drops to the dew point it can’t get any cooler….temperature can never go below the dew point. You need some water vapor to condense, but condensation is a warming process, so it’s a vicious cycle.

        It’s really hard to get rid of latent heat without a good honest thunderstorm.

    • Tel says:

      You average the max and min temperature with a 60 degree day/night variation and you get a meaningless average temperature, which tells you nothing about what it’s like to live there.

      If that meaningless average goes up a degree, who cares? No one lives in an average temperature.

      What the water is doing is reducing the variation, which is very valuable because then we don’t experience those extremes. This redistribution of heat is what makes the world liveable, nothing to do with global average.

  2. Are the water molecules trapping heat radiated from the ground during the night or simply holding more heat because they increase the atmospere’s relative density?

    • Humid air is less dense than dry air. Molecular weight of H2O is 18, which is lower than other gas species.

      • Password protected says:

        Nitrogen is only 14.

        • N2 is 28. H2O is 18

        • Andy Oz says:

          This thread is funny. Like watching table tennis. 🙂

          Warning!: boring coal mining science coming up.

          Molecular weights of gases are very important in underground coal mines.
          CH4 is 16 – nicknamed “fire damp” for obvious reasons.
          Stays in roof spaces of underground voids.
          H2O is 18 – “rising damp”
          N2 is 28
          O2 is 32
          Air is (0.8 x 28 +0.2 x 32) = 28.8
          (28.97 for the pedantic)
          CO2 is 44 – nicknamed “black damp”. It settles in low stagnant places in underground mines

          Click to access doc_QMRSGasBook.pdf

          So methane and water vapour are lighter than air, and CO2 is heavier than air.

    • Tel says:

      If there’s cloud cover at night, it radiates downward, and you can measure the difference between a cloudy night sky and a clear night sky using a cheap pyrometer (it won’t give a calibrated answer, but it shows the difference). Dr Roy Spencer did this experiment.

      Clouds also keep you cooler during the day by blocking direct sunlight.

      In theory humidity in the air should also radiate but I haven’t heard of a successful direct measurement of this.

      • dp says:

        Radiation happens in all directions, not just downward, and it does not require a cloud for the atmosphere to radiate. The well identified GHG family radiates LWIR.

  3. I remember that Claes Johnson (who I haven’t been keeping current on lately) did not like the term GHE, because he felt that the term was misleading, that the authors of the theory, who he said were not physicists, had used it to mislead, and because the degree of sensitivity to CO2 was significantly overestimated due to perceived errors in quantum “theory” and Einsteinian relativity. However, when pressed by Roy Spencer, he finally admitted what his arguments had implied all along: that “something like” the greenhouse effect must exist, or else experimental results could not be explained. He clearly preferred a different name for it, but to my knowledge he has never stated what that name is. So I guess we’re kind of stuck with GHE. I myself wonder what is wrong with Tyndall effect, and I know that some have criticized the use of this term. But it seems that its use might avoid some of the pitfalls of the term GHE.

    I try to refer to so-called GHGs as heat-trapping gases (when I have cause to refer to them at all, which is not very often). Climate Realist had proposed the term IRIG which, IIRC, stands for IR inhibiting gases. He said he refuses to use the term GHG, apparently just because he is offended by the warmists’ polemical coloring of the term. But he made clear that to him the two terms mean the same thing. I think he has a point about that, but I have hesitated to use IRIG because hardly anyone seems to be aware of it. So I prefer “heat-trapping gases”.

    The more important thing for people to know is that the actual CO2 sensitivity may be much smaller than commonly believed, depending on how exactly gas molecules react to contact with EM waves in the bands that they are sensitive to, which is a question that is still every bit as tentative as quantum mechanics. (That is to say, very much so.) But experiment has shown that there is a reaction for some gases at some wavelengths and temperatures. It is simply a question of to what degree.


    • mkelly says:

      The only gases in the atmosphere that can “trap heat” as you say are N2 and O2 which have limited capability to emit IR the same way H2O does. H2O has a higher specific heat so can have latent heat above the other gases. But as Steve points out its mass is smaller than others.

      • One of the reasons we have thunderstorms is because humid air is less dense, and rises forming thunderheads.

        • mkelly says:

          Absolutely true and by doing that the moist air rising removes heat from the lower troposphere. The rain that falls will in turn also cools the air it falls through and the ground it lands.

        • there is no substitute for victory says:

          If you’ll spend enough time in nature like Steven has you’ll find that fog rises out of low lying areas at dusk, slowly moving to high ground by Midnight but then the dew falls by Sunup.
          The reason being that hot air holds more moisture than cool or cold air so regardless of the humidity hot but moist air rises. Air falls and as it cools, even moist air. Excess moisture is now wicked out of the water saturated air by cold things like grass, spider webs, and the windshield of your parked car. You can toss around words like radiation, convection, and conduction all daylong but Maw Nature…. well

          “she ‘ain’t’ a paying you no attention!!!”

    • Would you prefer the term “heat-absorbing”?

    • Tel says:

      An actual greenhouse blocks convection, so it traps heat by trapping the hot air. You control the temperature of the greenhouse by opening and closing some vents to allow limited convection.

      The Earth has no equivalent convection blocking. The troposphere is completely free to circulate and it does circulate.

      There may be some other effect related to radiation, but this has nothing to do with warming in a greenhouse.

      • Correct. That’s why I think of the radiative phenomenon as Tyndall effect.

      • there is no substitute for victory says:

        Yea, you open vents in the top of the green house where the hot air is trapped. You may also turn on one of them there Poley Bear drowning devices known in some less sophisticated circles as an electric fan. Not trying to be to simplistic about it but these three phenomenon, vents in the roof or eves of the green house as well as an un-natural pane of glass, and the fact that hot air rises is really all there is to the green house effect in nature except for the forcing effect of them there gall-darn electric fans spinning round and round.

        In nature the same thing is basically happening. Hot air rises in different bands staring at the Equator. The air cools then falls is reheated rises and then falls repeatedly until it ends up in Al Gore’s imagination dis-comforting the Poley Bears or maybe Batman’s nemesis the Penguin. In the meantime the rotation of the Earth creates both the Sunrise and the Trade Winds or heat re-distributing forcing effect. Our whole planetary system is nothing but one large self regulating greenhouse writ large and like a manmade greenhouse the temperature waxes and wanes depending on how much heat is conveyed through the glass panes that we call our atmosphere by that big glowing orange thingy up there in the sky.

        • Terrestrial convection increases cooling, not warming. Exactly the same effect as in a greenhouse, but that is not why people use a greenhouse as a metaphor for the Earth atmosphere. They do this because they think there is a parallel between the mechanisms of warming in the two cases. Their thinking is incorrect; there is no such parallel. Therefore, the name GHE is not apt for the purpose for which it’s used.


  4. GLOBAL mean temperature is not about variations from day to night (you might as well throw in seasonal differences too, and blame them on humidity as well), nor transient weather conditions. And you are just confusing anyone who listens to you, yet has been told over and over by the “experts” that the global warming greenhouse effect is about the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (the EPA and Supreme Court have officially deemed carbon dioxide a pollutant on that utterly false basis), not water vapor.

    The Venus/Earth temperatures comparison I brought out 4 years ago shows the Venus/Earth temperature ratio (at points of equal pressure, over the range of Earth tropospheric pressures) is precisely explained solely by the ratio of their distances from the Sun, nothing else (including water vapor level). This simply disproves the GLOBAL WARMING greenhouse effect (due to carbon dioxide, water vapor, or any other so-called “greenhouse gas”). That you cannot disentangle local and transient variations (nor day from night) from a global mean, this late in the public dispute over climate science, shows you are as dogmatic and dismissive of new knowledge as any alarmist. You don’t make any better climate science czar than those you deride daily–like them, you only know what you believe, regardless of definitive evidence to the contrary. And you are far too quick to verbally bully anyone who does not accept your undiscriminating belief (so how much good are you really doing in the present situation of runaway dogmas on every side–no one, including you, is learning anything that can solve that real problem).

      • Truthseeker says:

        Well there is an intelligent, reasoned and considered response to someone who has got actual data and done a comparative analysis, you know the stuff climate alchemists are meant to be doing … (just to be clear, Harry is not a climate alchemist) …

        I guess when the alarmists look at your temperature data raw verses adjusted analysis they can respond with “Blah blah blah blah” and you will now consider that to be a valid critism …

  5. Rosco says:

    If the desert temperature changes by 60 degrees in less than 12 hours then surely this proves how transparent to IR our dry atmosphere actually is at terrestrial temperatures ?

    Either that or convection dominates radiative cooling ?

    DLR is supposedly the smoking gun proving the greenhouse effect as the Sun’s radiation runs out of power beyond about 4 microns.

    But there is plenty of shortwave and IR from the Sun at appropriate wavelengths to explain DLR.

    Absorption of the solar radiation by Ozone, water vapour and CO2 occurs at appropriate wavelengths and represents a value strikingly similar to the “back radiation” figures quoted.

    To say DLR is the result of recycled surface radiation seems incredible to me. Even Trenberth et al claim roughly 23% of the insolation is absorbed by the atmosphere – that’s 0.23 x 1368 = 312 W/sqm DLR right there !

    If their estimate is only a few percentage points out and absorption is slightly higher then it is conceivable the incoming solar radiation is responsible for DLR far higher than the values Trenberth et al quote as back radiation.

    Their whole premise is based on the claims about the wavelength values of the solar radiation yet there is wide agreement from all sides that the atmosphere absorbs a significant amount of the insolation yet this is supposed to have no heating effect ?

    We know that 1368 is right because the Sun’s radiation is not spread all over the globe – it is exclusively on the daylight side so the 341 Trenberth et al quote is wrong.

    To claim this incoming radiation doesn’t have any heating effect on the atmosphere while significantly lower energy radiation from terrestrial surfaces results in a 33 degree increase in atmospheric temperatures just seems like religious fervour not science. Plot a Planck curve for the Sun at 5778 K (NASA’s value) scale it by the inverse square law and there is plenty of high energy at appropriate wavelengths to cause DLR.

  6. nielszoo says:

    I really hate to disagree with our host, but in this case I will. There is no such thing as a “greenhouse effect” when it comes to an atmosphere in a gravity field. A greenhouse allows radiation in to heat the solid matter inside, which heats the air inside by convection and the glass or plastic windows physically prevent that warmed air mixing with and transferring heat to the outside air.

    The fictional atmospheric “greenhouse effect” supposedly “traps” heat with “greenhouse” gases because they absorb and re-radiate LWIR (long wave infrared radiation.) That’s BS. Very little energy transfer in our atmosphere is due to radiation (below the stratosphere.) It’s all via convection, “simple” physical, mechanical energy transfer… atoms and molecules bumping into each other at atmospheric pressures. As I’ve said other places, if LWIR was bouncing around in our atmosphere thermal vision systems like FLIR, based on ambient temperature microbolometers, would not work. All you would see would be a thermal fog as the absorption and emission wavelengths of the “greenhouse gases,” CH4, CO2 and H2O, cover the device’s full spectrum. You can, of course, see for extremely long distances with them because there is no radiation bouncing around unless there are superheated jets of gas being created by things like jet engines. Even when looking at those devices on FLIR you will see the plumes stop radiating very quickly as the temperatures drop down within an order of magnitude of ambient and convection takes over.

    Gas law will give you a static snapshot of the heat that air will keep at a given pressure. The difference between warm humid and cold dry at night is primarily due to the fact that water vapor holds 4 times as much energy as air does at the same temperature and pressure. Start with more energy and it takes longer to lose it, all else being equal. Even when treating water as a gas it has double the gas constant value. Water is good at holding heat. That’s why we use it as a coolant and a heating fluid and gas. It has nothing whatsoever to do with greenhouses. We should be calling it the “atmosphere effect” and NOT the “greenhouse” effect.

    • Neil, the only waves that can be detected by the FLIR are those that radiate directly toward the FLIR. The other ones are as invisible to it as a vacuum would be. So, not seeing a signal while using FLIR doesn’t disprove the presence of surplus LWIR, since the vast majority of the radiation in question here radiates on a heading other than toward the FLIR. The remainder, then, could simply be too weak to be picked up above background noise. Especially if there’s hardly any of it to begin with.


      • nielszoo says:

        I can’t see omnidirectional radiation? Since when? Have you ever been in fog? That is (almost) omnidirectional radiation and that is what the “greenhouse” theory “predicts” happens with LWIR and “greenhouse gases.” (In this case refraction and emission are doing the same thing optically. Just flip the fog upside down as they say the LWIR from the ground is what’s being “trapped.”) Microbolometers work just like any other radiation sensor or piece of film with a specific energy sensitivity. If you look at a 150°C plume of steam blown into a 20°C room with a FLIR camera you will see it plain as day. It is not directional, it is radiating in all directions. If it’s “too weak to be picked up above background noise” that means it CANNOT be transferring any heat because it has to have more energy than that “background noise” to start with. That is the point. Atmospheric gases and vapors cannot transfer heat to a another molecule unless there is another molecule COLDER than the source for it to move to. That’s what the second law of thermodynamics says. It makes no difference whatsoever what the emission spectra is of the gases in our atmosphere at normal pressures… they never have time to drop to their ground state to emit a photon anyway, they’re too busy bumping into each other and transferring energy that way.

        I design imaging systems from visible to LWIR and if our atmosphere was radiating, a bunch of them that have been running in classified buildings for years… they could just not work if that LWIR emission meme was valid. You have to get air pretty damned hot at atmospheric pressures before it starts radiating energy to it’s cooler surroundings.

        • Unless your atmosphere that you’re looking at comprises a bunch of nano-lasers, then all the particles radiate omnidirectionally. That was my point … you can only see the rays that hit your device. You cannot see anything that goes in a different direction, which is 99.99… percent of the IR that is absorbed after being radiated from the surface. So with a very small absorption to begin with (almost zero at prevailing temperatures), then you take less than 0.01% of what is absorbed, that’s going to be what you can see, and if that is below the sensitivity of the device, it will not show be able to show it to you.

          The main point is that any ray of any intensity or frequency cannot be picked up if it is not on a collision course with your device. I speak in terms of rays and waves because photons are without merit.


        • Also fog comprises droplets of liquid water, which is obviously a completely different ball game from water vapor or any other gas.


        • Tel says:

          That was my point … you can only see the rays that hit your device. You cannot see anything that goes in a different direction, which is 99.99… percent of the IR that is absorbed after being radiated from the surface.

          Your device is only going to get warmed by the rays that hit said device… and that applies to any “device” you care to name including, say, a rock that happens to be sitting around the place. If 99.99% of the IR isn’t hitting it, then don’t worry about any warming either. If it isn’t warming one rock on the surface, then quite frankly it isn’t warming any of them.

        • nielszoo says:

          Richard, by your logic no photographic device will ever work, your eyes will never see nor will any sensor read any type of radiation. Radiation follows the inverse square law unless concentrated by some type of reflector or collimator. Sensors only pick up that portion that intersects them. Cameras, eyeballs, FLIR, NIR, Vis or UV it doesn’t make any difference what the wavelength is, it all behaves the same.

          In the case of “downwelling” LWIR the ONLY way it is being “measured” is by improperly using devices that do not measure it directly. They point a pyrgeometer or pyrradiometer up and take a measurement (yes, in the direction of the sky where all incoming solar radiation comes from) then they point a pyrradiometer down at the ground and take a reading (or use one with two sensors 180° apart) then they subtract the result… voila, the sky has more radiation than the ground… duh. They “shade” the device from the sun but ignore atmospheric scattering. As if shade is 100% free of light… The measurement they make is fiction. It is a mathematical product of a flawed formula that ignores how the real world works. Add the fact that CO2’s emission line is around 80 below C… almost two orders of magnitude below atmospheric noise.

          When you get into the top of the upper atmosphere, low pressure and low temperature then you will see radiative effects from CO2 and CH4 as it is only there that the miniscule amount of energy they emit when dropping back to ground state actually has somewhere to go… the 3°K of space.

        • Neil,

          I don’t get the sense that you are understanding me. For the second time you have thrown my own point back at me:

          “Sensors only pick up that portion that intersects them.”

          That was my point. I was bringing it up because you were claiming the opposite with respect to your FLIR goggles. To wit, you wrote:

          As I’ve said other places, if LWIR was bouncing around [i.e. traveling in all directions — RTF] in our atmosphere thermal vision systems like FLIR, based on ambient temperature microbolometers, would not work. All you would see would be a thermal fog as the absorption and emission wavelengths of the “greenhouse gases,” CH4, CO2 and H2O, cover the device’s full spectrum..

          In other words, you claimed we would see a thermal “fog” because, according to you, all of the absorbed and re-radiated energy would be visible to the FLIR, even if it wasn’t intersecting the FLIR.

          The rest of what you’ve written in your latest comment, I almost completely agree with, and I am very baffled why you’re throwing all this at me. All I did was point out a minor error, and it was an error, in fact you have now said the same thing I said, which contradicts your original statement. (And you’ve said it twice, no less!)


      • nielszoo says:

        Richard, I think you’re right, we’re saying the same thing. I misunderstood the way you made your point… I’m just a dumb engineer and I should have been more careful when I read through your posts. My bad all the way around and you have my apologies for beating that dead horse (don’t tell my Arabian I said that.)

  7. geran says:

    Here is how IPCC “greenhouse effect” BS works:

    1) The Earth’s surface radiates to the atmosphere.
    2) The “greenhouse” (atmosphere) captures the heat energy in CO2 molecules (and other GH gasses, but they emphasize CO2).
    3) Then, the “greenhouse” radiates half back to Earth, and half to space.
    4) The “half” returning to Earth, which they call “back radiation”, warms the planet.

    So, all you have to do is plug in the numbers to see how ludicrous this is.

    Earth’s average surface temperature: 59 ºF (15 ºC, 288 K) ===> 390 Watts/m^2
    Half returning to Earth (back radiation): 195 Watts/m^2
    S-B temperature from back radiation: -24 ºF (-31 ºC, 242 K)

    This is like saying you can warm a cold cup of coffee (59º) by putting an ice cube in it!

    And some folks actually believe this….

    • No, for the analogy to be apt you have to have a heating element inside the coffee, an ice-cold (say, -18°C) top for the coffee, and an even colder “ice cave” (for example -75°C) for the coffee cup to sit in. The “cave” surface would have to be controlled artificially to remain at -75°C. Then, by having the cap off in the control case, and on in the experimental case, you will see a difference. This is not invalidated by any valid experiment that I am aware of. Of course, the radiative behavior of CO2 is a totally different question, and one with considerable uncertainty as to the intensity of the effect in situ.


      • geran says:


        Hey RTF, have you ever thought about changing your first name to William, or Wally?

        • inMAGICn says:

          WTF, RTF, WTF.

        • I don’t understand what the problem is. We are arguing over whether CO2 absorbs zero, or almost zero, an amount so small it effectively cannot be measured with current technology. My views on this are not new. What’s strange is a couple of people who apparently don’t like it if I am willing to express any uncertainty about anything. I spent a long time investigating this. Go to my blog if you like and follow the links, and you may see examples of how I got attacked for it. I ended up here because this was the only place I was welcome. Not at Watts, not at McIntyre (the latter of whom would disappear my posts without the courtesy of a “snip”.) Not at the Air Vent. Climate etc., almost no one would even reply to me. Air Vent, they stopped when they realized what I was saying. Anthony posted up a fatwa saying people would be banned if they continued to say what I believed So I ended up here. And neither of you were here at the time I started commenting.

          Besides Gail, I am the only person who posts here who openly states that he doesn’t believe the instrumental raw temperature record, because I have seen it get falsified; the only person who openly states that there has been global cooling since the 70s, global cooling since 1985, and I also believe there is global cooling since the 1880s. I haven’t seen geran say that. I haven’t seen you say it. But that doesn’t make me think there’s something wrong with you. Not everyone has the same focus or exactly the same observations.


        • CO2 absorbs plenty of radiation.

        • Sorry, but at prevailing surface temperatures, I think the jury is still out on that. Claes has had a lot to say about special relativity and quantum mechanics, and these things are the key to understanding CO2. These things are also carefully constructed hoaxes. Otherwise, I would agree with you.


      • Sorry if that makes me seem barking-at-the-moon BONKERS. But I have to call them as I see them.

    • tom0mason says:

      With energies that high why are we messing around with solar energy? Lets go straight to a IR back radiation concentrator – say like the mirror arrays that are frying the birds in the desert – and get energy from there? It’s also available 24/7.
      Free energy from the mighty CO2 molecule, what could possibly be wrong with that?

      • CO2 appears to be an insulator of LWIR, but a very poor one, so poor at prevailing temperatures that the amount of its insulative capacity cannot be clearly measured over the effects of the Sun. Hence the 100+ year argument over whether the effect is real. This is the meaning of the word “negligible”.


        • tom0mason says:

          My idea is that if the dingbats of power must waste my taxes on something then make it electricity generation by IR back radiation concentrator. That way at the least a worthless theory is killed-off, allbeit expensively (but they were going to waste my taxes anyway), in the process.

        • Well, they know as well as we do that there is no net absorption of back-radiation in nature (i.e. without work being done.) So they won’t take your bet, or if they do, they’ll rig the results.

        • Tel says:

          But in the middle of a moonless night you can safely ignore the effects of the sun (in terms of radiation at any rate). Under such circumstance there must be something available that can directly measure this downwelling ratiation. As I mentioned above, Dr Roy Spencer demonstrated that you can easily measure the difference between a clear night sky and a cloudy night sky by using a pyrometer (or using your cheeks if you point your face up at the night sky, but pyrometer is more “scientific” and less subjective). Thus we conclude that clouds deliver downwelling radiation.

          OK, let’s not measure any cloudy night and let’s focus only on the IR band that relates to CO2, can we still measure night time downwelling radiation? Turns out, it’s very difficult to measure, might still be there, but rather small.

        • “But in the middle of a moonless night you can safely ignore the effects of the sun (in terms of radiation at any rate).”

          No, you can’t. We were talking about warming vs. cooling of the atmosphere. This is primarily a function of TSI, as proven by a multitude of actual thermometers, read and recorded over a long period of time.


        • Tel says:

          The thermometers I care about are on the surface. I only care about warming at lower altitude than a few hundred meters. If I can’t measure back radiation coming down and hitting the surface, it doesn’t matter a jot how much radiation is flying around higher up.

          At night time, there is no sunlight hitting the surface, therefore no TSI therefore the surface is cooling. That’s normal at night, it always cools at night. What else would you expect?

        • “The thermometers I care about are on the surface.”
          Same here. Those are the ones I was talking about.

          ” I only care about warming at lower altitude than a few hundred meters.”
          Same here. Two for two.

          “What else would you expect?”
          I’m not saying it doesn’t cool at night. I’m simply saying that in evaluating claims of a GHE, even while looking at a moonless night, one cannot disregard the effect of TSI on long-term surface temperature. Its effect is huge, and even at night the amount of TSI that has been received in the past is by far the largest factor in determining momentary atmospheric temperature. TSI goes up, temperature goes up. TSI goes down (such as at night), temperature goes down. This is by far the strongest factor affecting the temperature, at any time of day.


    • That’s not how the greenhouse effect works geran. CO2 absorbs IR and turns it into tangible heat which it transfers to N2 and O2. It doesn’t back radiate anything. The time it takes for CO2 to re-radiate a photon is microseconds, but the time it takes for it to lose the energy by conduction with N2 and O2 is fractions of a nanosecond. So, the CO2 loses its heat by conduction not radiation.

      • Tel says:

        As a person who lives on the surface of Earth, I really don’t see any good reason why I should care if some N2 is warming far above my head. Maybe a passing aircraft will achieve slightly lower fuel efficiency by fractions of a percent, that’s about all.

        Unless there’s some mechanism to transfer that extra heat back to the surface, we might as well say there is no Global Warming at all.

      • geran says:

        “That’s not how the greenhouse effect works geran. CO2 absorbs IR and turns it into tangible heat which it transfers to N2 and O2. It doesn’t back radiate anything.”

        >>>From the link:
        “The energy that radiates back toward Earth heats both the lower atmosphere and the surface, enhancing the heating they get from direct sunlight.”

        • geran says:

          (Note that I do not support the faltering hypothesis of the greenhouse effect, but folks that do support it need to know, and understand, the faltering hypothesis they are supporting.)

  8. markstoval says:

    “People who don’t believe in the greenhouse effect, aren’t thinking clearly.”

    Well that all depends on what you mean by “the greenhouse effect”. It is obvious that the temperature gradient of the planet is different from that of a no-atmosphere planet. The atmosphere does, indeed, do something. The question is what exactly.

    Freed Singer just wrote:

    I should note that I am somewhat out of step here with my fellow skeptics. Few of them would agree with me that the climate sensitivity (CS) is indeed close to zero. I will have to publish the analyses to prove my point and try to convince them. Of course, nothing, no set of facts, will ever convince the confirmed climate alarmists.

    We live on a “water planet” and I think the atmosphere plus water is the key to understanding the weather engine. CO2 does have some tiny, marginal effect but it does not look to be the cause of any alarm.

    • Well, well, Singer is finally starting to come to his senses about that! Excellent news. People are waking up. Will it be enough people, and will it be soon enough??


    • tom0mason says:

      You state “We live on a “water planet”… ” therein is the key to debunking the warmists arguments about climate and the thermal processes of this planet.
      It’s the water. It aint no stinkin CO2!

  9. markstoval says:

    The should be S. Fred Singer who is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project. Apologies for typing “Freed”.

  10. tom0mason says:

    Essential difference between Steven/Tony’s example and the warmist position is that Steven’s is small and local, the warmist say it’s universal.
    IMO as clouds, convection, and humidity effects on and within our planet’s open skies, are poorly understood, poorly modeled, and by the IPCC mostly ignored. As such I do not ascribe any theory to what is happening in Steven’s example, there simply is not enough facts and data.

    What I do know is the greenhouse effect as stated as the effect of gasses, especially CO2, in keeping greenhouses hotter the outside world is complete illogical nonsense. It is, as so often stated, is just the containment of a body of air, restricting its movement and thereby stopping convective effects, that keeps the greenhouse warmer thanthe exterior.
    It is not the level of CO2 that dictates the ultimate temperture reached, or the speed at which it attains it its peak temperature, or the time it takes to dissipate once the sun has set. Professor Woods has already proved that to be so. Theories and hypothesis abound – where are the physical experiments and the pertinent measurements?

    Remember that, unlike a greehouse, our planet has no roof and that as NASA has measured a few times our atmosphere both expands and shrinks. This effect appears to be controlled by solar events and is not understood.

    • Tel says:

      We do have a general belief that the physics of the small scale should work the same on the larger scale. Admittedly, with convection that forms cells and other quasi stable structures, scale does matter. Radiation should be reasonably linear though (you would expect).

      • tom0mason says:

        You have nearly said it.
        IMO mostly bulk effects of molecular movement, convection, etc., dominate in the air mass below the troposphere. Above the troposphere IR radiative effect mostly dominate, with these effects being more obvious the higher you go.
        Indeed at ground level solar heat causes macro effects on a molecular scale – air movement, convection effects, clouds, rain and evaportation.
        As you ascend higher in the atomosphere the more atomic effect abound in the form of IR effects and ionic exchanges. Nature has stacked our atmosphere to go from the mechanics of fluid movements at its base, to the interaction of atomic plasma at the highest levels.

    • nielszoo says:

      … and don’t forget that the near vacuum of space makes for an almost perfect insulator from convective losses. We live on a spherical Thermos® bottle with a gradation to vacuum. The only convective losses are from those atoms or molecules that are stripped away by solar wind.

  11. higley7 says:

    The desert is hot in the day because there is little water to carry away heat from the surface by evaporation. It is cold at night because the “radiative” gases, CO2, water vapor, and methane, efficiently convert heat in the air into IR radiation that is lost upward to space. During the day, these “greenhouse” gases are saturated and their IR absorption and emission are a wash, having no measurable effect.

    Remember, it is in the upper tropical troposphere where “climate scientists” claim warming HAS to be faster than at the surface and then warming the surface. At -17 deg C up there and 15 deg C on the surface, there is no way that the cold upper troposphere can warm the surface; thermodynamically impossible. That said, actual measurements of that region of the atmosphere show that not only is it not warm up there, but it has been cooling a bit over the last 30 years.

    Why is it, when “climate science” fails completely, that the fact of failure does not faze the warmists that it is NOT doing what they think. Reality is clearly not part of their world view. But, reality will have its way and they will be proven to be charlatans in the end.

    The Earth’s surface would be 107 deg C on average in the lunar daytime. This is the most important temperature as the computer climate models do not include night time, only daytime. It is the presence of the atmosphere that COOLS the planet’s surface by providing the surface more ways to lose heat than by just radiation. Conduction and convection transfer over 85% of the Earth’s energy budget to altitude where adiabatic cooling and water vapor condensation result in the lose of energy (to space).

    So, there is no greenhouse effect, but rather a chilling effect during the day and major heat loss during the night by having an atmosphere. By necessity, spacecraft have to have large radiating surfaces to get rid of excess heat, as IR radiation is rather inefficient compared to conduction.

  12. Chris says:

    I think there may be a way to reconcile the above comment (by higley7) and Steven’s original post – at least partly. I agree with Steven that cold nights in the desert imply a *surface* greenhouse effect. However, the more dramatic the surface cooling, the more likely it is to be associated with an inversion (and the stronger the inversion is likely to be). In this situation, adding water vapour to the warmer layer above the surface should actually increase outgoing radiation to space (as well as warming the surface). Hence no ‘atmospheric’ greenhouse effect in this scenario?

  13. kuhnkatt says:

    You are confusing clouds and humidity.

  14. KevinK says:

    Tony, with respect;

    “People who don’t believe in the greenhouse effect, aren’t thinking clearly.”

    The “GHE” is still (over 100 hundred years after being postulated by Arrehinus) JUST a hypothesis.

    As a hypothesis it requires empirical evidence that the hypothesis is at the very least plausible (IE: the average “equilibrium” temperature is higher as a result of the “GHE”) . As your very capable work has shown THERE IS NO CORRELATION BETWEEN THE CONCENTRATION OF “GHG’S” AND THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE.

    If one discounts the intrepid mutildecadal search for evidence and admits that; “there is no “THERE” there one must admit that the “GHE” is a failed/unproven/unsubstantiated hypothesis.

    But, it was a really elegant hypothesis, imagine that a tiny fraction of the gases in the atmosphere of a massive planet (with oceans with MASSIVE thermal capacities) could command the temperature of the ocean’s…. It’s a lie so big that even Goebbels would blush.

    You tell somebody that there are billion;s of stars in the universe and they say “Ok, that’s sounds right”, but if you put up a “wet paint” sign they have to touch it to make sure….

    Cheers, Kevin,

    • Angstrom observed IR going into a tube of air, and not coming out the other end. Not much question about it.

      • geran says:

        Are you kidding me?
        Do you actually believe that is proof of the “greenhouse effect”?

        (Tony, my last email address for you does not work. Please email me your current email address.)

      • KevinK says:

        Yes indeed that is all correct for a “tube of air”, now; remove the tube (restraint of convection), add a massive heatsink/heatsource (the oceans) and a cyclic energy source (sunrise/sunset) and it gets just a bit more complex.

        Cheers, Kevin

  15. northernont says:

    I believe CO2 can be classified as an insignificant GHG with little to none trace effects on our atmosphere. I also believe burning all of the fossil fuels on this planet will multiply CO2 levels in the atmosphere tenfold, but the effect will still be insignificant and most probably beneficial to producing more life on the planet.

  16. tom0mason says:

    Lets see all that CO2 radiation at ground level –

    The horizontal black broken line is to indicate the approximate position of the tropopause.

    Below the tropopause a hole in the radiation spectrum just where CO2 should radiate. Umm, and above the tropopause lots of CO2 radiation, flinging IR e/m radiation out in all directions.
    IR from where?
    IR from the radiation that is ejected from the clouds and water vapor below the tropopause and if it is daytime, incoming solar IR. There really is lots of water there!
    For more read –
    and why CO2 does not a blackbody make see –

  17. Anto says:

    The GHE is real in, say, a lab experiment, or in a…well, in a greenhouse. Whether or not that translates to any measureable greenhouse effect in the atmosphere of Earth is something else entirely.

    As higley7 says, above, if you want to know what the Earth would be like without the atmosphere, just look at the Moon. Dark side temp of -233C and daytime temp of 123C.

    So, the Earth’s atmosphere tempers both the extremes of heat and cold. Nothing like a greenhouse at all, actually. The term is a complete misnomer.

    The real question is whether increasing CO2 from 0.03% to 0.06% has any measurable effect on the atmosphere’s tempering capacity. I’m voting “No” on that.

    • Tel says:

      I agree that the term “Greenhouse Effect” is designed to be confusing, and does not describe the physics.

      So, the Earth’s atmosphere tempers both the extremes of heat and cold. Nothing like a greenhouse at all, actually. The term is a complete misnomer.

      Convection transports heat sideways from warm places to cold places, and a heavy body of water will regulate daytime temperature and night time temperature just by thermal mass (the ocean is a large thermal mass so it makes an effective regulator). On top of that, surface evaporation and condensation is strongly nonlinear, thus the latent-heat cycle of water has an additional regulation effect (God’s air-conditioner, powerful negative feedback). Put these things together and you get a much larger livable patch on Earth than you do on the moon. The size of the livable patch on Earth might adjust slightly as boundary conditions change, but the reason why such a patch exists will never change.

      On the moon you have no convection, no latent heat of water evaporating and condensing and thus you have extreme high and low temperatures (but a meaningless global average similar to Earth). Even if we could breathe on the moon, the temperature extremes would be the problem… no one lives in a global average temperature. People live in the temperature of a specific place at a specific time.

      People worried about whether their calculated global average temperature is the comfortable temperature that they want it to be are fools.

  18. Fred says:

    In January of 1979 I was in Stratford TX (middle of the panhandle) working on a gas compressor station. The first night I was there it got to be 12ºF 2 hours after sunset by 11 am the next morning it was 85ºF. This was pretty much the same the entire week I was there. What is the mean temperature of Stratford TX in January? As far as I remember it is either freeze your ass off or wear a tee shirt.

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