Posted on Thu 04/26/2018 by




The absolute foundation bedrock, cornerstone and keystone of man-caused climate change is the unassailable & sacrosanct radiative greenhouse theory (RGHE). This theory claims that there are GHGs (greenhouse gases) inside the atmosphere that “trap” and recirculate long wave infra-red (LWIR) heat warming the surface similar to a greenhouse. (Much disputed analogy, btw.) Mankind’s fossil fueled production of GHG carbon dioxide, a distant second to water vapor, leads to increased, even catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW). This GHG energy loop is exemplified by the Kiehl-Trenberth power flux balance diagram (Figure 10 Trenberth et al 2011jcli24) and numerous clones.

As noted in my WriterBeat papers this diagram and GHG energy loop have numerous thermodynamic issues: 1) energy out of nowhere, 2) energy from cold to hot without added work, 3) a 100 % perpetual energy loop with no losses.

All of this is driven by the Stefan-Boltzmann radiative heat equation that relates the temperature of a surface to its radiative energy flow. Any surface above 0 K temperature will emit infrared radiation. There is much handwaviium over this equation, but the following is rather basic, HS algebra level.

The following discussion deals with the origin and substance of the GHG energy loop.

S-B Equation

OK, first let’s write the Stefan-Boltzmann equation like we know what we are doing.

3.6 kJ/h = W = σ * ε * A * T^4

(kJ=kiloJoules, h=metric hours, W=watts, σ=S-B constant, ε=emissivity, ratio of actual radiation/ideal BB radiation, A = area, m^2, T=absolute degrees Kelvin)

Remember, to preserve an equation’s balance an operation done to one side must be done to the other OR what is done to one side must be undone on the same side. Inserting a term = 1.0 does not alter the balance.

Say the emissivity is 0.7. We can’t just stick 0.7 in for ε. Inserting any value other than 1.0 unbalances the equation. But 1.0 can take many forms: 0.9/0.9 or 0.7/0.7 or 0.4/0.4 or 0.2/0.2.

Consider the more popular form using W/A, W/m^2 or power flux.

W/A = σ * 0.7/0.7 * T^4

Now, what to do with the 0.7 in the denominator?

If we know the power flux as was actually measured in my modest experiment
(see https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6394226874976919552):

125 W/8.95E-3 m^2 = 1.4 E+4 W/m^2 = σ * 0.7 * T^4 / 0.7 and T increases.

But if we know T as in the case of the earth, e.g. K-T power flux balance uses 289 K:

W/A * 0.7 = σ * 0.7 * 289 K^4 and the power flux decreases, e.g. from 289 K, 1.0 ε, 396 W/m^2 to 289 K, 0.16 ε, 63 W/m^2.

And ——- the LWIR GHG net 333 W/m^2 energy loop simply vanishes back into the thin air from whence it came.

Emissivity & the Heat Balance

Emissivity is defined as the amount of radiative heat leaving a surface to the theoretical maximum or BB radiation at the surface temperature. The heat balance defines what enters and leaves a system, i.e.

W/m^2 = radiative + conductive + convective + latent

Emissivity = radiative / W/m^2 = radiative / (radiative + conductive + convective + latent)

In a vacuum (conductive + convective + latent) = 0 and emissivity equals 1.0.

In open air full of molecules other transfer modes reduce radiation’s share and emissivity, e.g.:

conduction = 15%, convection =35%, latent = 30%, radiation & emissivity = 20%

The Instruments & Measurements

But wait, you say, upwelling LWIR power flux is actually measured.

Well, no it’s not.

IR instruments, e.g. pyrheliometers, radiometers, etc. don’t directly measure power flux. They measure a relative temperature compared to heated/chilled/reference thermistors or thermopiles and INFER a power flux using that comparative temperature and ASSUMING an emissivity of 1.0.

The Apogee instrument instruction book actually warns the owner/operator about this potential error noting that ground/surface ε can be less than 1.0.

That this warning went unheeded explains why SURFRAD upwelling LWIR with an assumed and uncorrected ε of 1.0 measures TWICE as much upwelling LWIR as incoming ISR, a rather egregious breach of energy conservation.

This also explains why USCRN data shows that the IR (SUR_TEMP) parallels the 1.5 m air temperature, (T_HR_AVG) and not the actual ground (SOIL_TEMP_5). The actual ground is warmer than the air temperature with few exceptions, contradicting the RGHE notion that the air warms the ground.


So, the 396 W/m^2 upwelling LWIR and net 333 W/m^2 GHG energy loop of RGHE and the K-T diagram and RGHE claim that the air warms the ground are all illusions due to misunderstood instruments.

No GHG energy loop = No RGHE theory = No man-caused climate change.

Nick Schroeder, BSME, PE