Foundations of Greenhouse Theory Challenged by New Analysis of Solar System Observations

Foundations of Greenhouse Theory Challenged by New Analysis of Solar System Observations

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop


Back in late 2011, the Talkshop splashed the story on a ‘Unified Theory of Climate’  developed by PhD physicists Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller. They set out to show that the ‘greenhouse effect’ is not a phenomenon arising out of the absorption and reemission of outgoing long-wave radiation by the atmosphere (as thought for 190 years), but is a form of compression heating controlled by solar radiation and the total atmospheric pressure at the Earth’s surface. Pressure is in turn a product of the gas mass contained in a column of air above a unit surface area, and the planet’s gravitational effect on that mass.

It’s been a long and treacherous road involving many revisions and refinements of the original study. On several occasions the manuscript was rejected unread, but Ned and Karl have finally got their greatly improved and expanded paper published. This latest version is a tour de force strengthened by the rigors of criticism from an army of peer reviewers at several journals along the way.

Using dimensional analysis (a classical technique for inferring physically meaningful relationships from measured data), they showed that the long-term global equilibrium surface temperature of bodies in the solar system as diverse as Venus, the Moon, Earth, Mars, Titan and Triton can accurately be described using only two predictors: the mean distance from the Sun and the total atmospheric surface pressure. This type of cross-planetary analysis using vetted NASA observations has not been conducted by any other authors. It represents the first and only attempt in the history of climate science to assess Earth’s temperature in the context of a cosmic physical continuum defined by actual planetary-scale observations. The result is a new insight that planetary climates are independent of the infrared optical depth of their atmospheres (arising from their composition), and that the long-wave ‘back radiation’ is actually a product of the atmospheric thermal effect rather than a primary cause for it.


The implications of this discovery are fundamental and profound! It turns out that gravity and the mass of a planetary atmosphere, rather than its composition, are the crucial factor in determining the uplift in temperature the surface enjoys compared to the temperature that the surface would have if there were no atmosphere above it. This means that human industrial activity cannot in principle affect the global climate, since we have no influence over the atmospheric mass.

Another implication is that the planetary albedo is largely an emergent property of the climate system rather than an independent driver of the surface temperature. A further key inference is that, on centennial timescales, Earth’s climate is rather stable, since the mass of the atmosphere changes relatively very slowly under the influence of solar wind and the gradual emissive and absorptive gas processes on Earth. Centennial variations of the cloud albedo on earth induced by fluctuations in solar magnetic activity are limited to surface temperature changes in the order of  ±0.65 K. This is because of stabilizing negative feedbacks within the system (e.g. a reduction of cloud cover causes surface warming, which in turn tends to increase evapo-transpiration, thus promoting cloud formation).

Ned and Karl’s published study also brings to the attention of researchers the role of atmospheric pressure as a direct controller of planetary surface temperature. Pressure has been misunderstood in climate science for well over a century. The current greenhouse theory only allows for an indirect effect of pressure on ground temperature through the atmospheric infrared opacity via absorption line broadening. This is despite the fact that, in the classical thermodynamics, gas temperature is known to be closely dependent on gas pressure. For example, the diesel engine harnesses this dependence (a.k.a. the principle of compression heating) into a practical technology we’ve been enjoying for 120 years. These points are well explained in this latest version of the paper.

To further validate their new model, Ned and Karl have made predictions for the surface temperatures of celestial bodies which have not yet been studied close up by probes, but are scheduled to be visited over the coming two decades. Theories live and die on the success and failure of predictions made from them, so kudos goes to Ned and Karl for sticking their necks out!

This expanded and revised version of Ned and Karl’s theory is outstanding in its comprehensive treatment of the subject, citing over 130 previous papers from the scientific literature. I highly recommend you download and read it at your leisure to fully appreciate the profound implications it has for our understanding of the physics of planetary atmospheres and the near-surface thermal enhancement hitherto known as ‘the greenhouse effect’.


Full paper available here

Footnote for Willis Eschenbach:
Math-illiterate amateurs won’t be responded to again unless they get their criticism published in a journal.  🙂


via Tallbloke’s Talkshop

June 1, 2017 at 12:48AM

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