In Kramm & Dlugi On Illuminating the Confusion of the Unclear I pointed out that the authors of Scrutinizing the atmospheric greenhouse effect and its climatic impact are in agreement with climate science on the subject of “back radiation” from the atmosphere contributing to the surface temperature.
No surprise to people familiar with the basics of radiative heat transfer. However, Kramm & Dlugi are apparently “in support of” Gerlich & Tscheuschner, who famously proposed that radiation from the atmosphere affecting the temperature of the ground was a violation of the second law of thermodynamics. A perpetual motion machine or something. (Or they were having a big laugh). For more on the exciting adventures of Gerlich & Tscheuschner, read On the Miseducation of the Uninformed..
The first article on the Kramm & Dlugi paper was short, highlighting that one essential point.
Given the enthusiasm that new papers which “cast doubt” on the inappropriately-named “greenhouse” effect are lapped up by the blogosphere, I thought it was worth explaining a few things from their complete paper.
If I sum it up in simple terms, it is a paper which will annoy climate scientists and add confusion to scientifically less clear folk who wonder about the “greenhouse” effect.
And mostly, I have to say, without actually being wrong – or not technically wrong (note 1). This is its genius. Let’s see how they “dodge the bullet” of apparently slaying the “greenhouse” effect without actually contradicting anything of real significance in climate science.
Goody & Yung’s Big Mistake
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a huge respect for Richard M. Goody, who wrote the seminal Atmospheric Radiation: Theoretical Basis in 1964. (The 2nd edition from 1989 is coauthored by Goody & Yung).
However, they have a mistake in a graph on p.4:
Kramm & Dlugi say:
..This figure also shows the atmospheric absorption spectrum for a solar beam reaching the ground level (b) and the same for a beam reaching the temperate tropopause (c) adopted from Goody and Yung . Part (a) of Figure 5 completely differs from the original twin-peak diagram of Goody and Yung. We share the argument of Gerlich and Tscheuschner [2,4] that the original one is physically misleading..
I have the same argument about this one graph from Goody & Yung’s textbook. You can see my equivalent graph in 4th & 5th figures of The Sun and Max Planck Agree – Part Two.
There is nothing in the development of theory by Goody & Yung that depends on this graph. Kramm & Dlugi don’t demonstrate anything else in error from Goody & Yung. However, I’m sure that someone who wants to devote enough time to the subject will probably find another error in their book, or at least, an incautious statement that could imply that they have carelessly tossed away their knowledge of basic physics. This is left as an exercise for the interested reader..
To clarify the idea for readers – the energy emitted by the climate system to space is approximately equal to the energy absorbed from the sun by the climate system. This is not in dispute.
Kramm & Dlugi point out that one should be careful when attempting to plot equal areas on logarithmic graphs. Nice point.
Kepler & Milankovitch
Kramm & Dugli spend some time deriving the equations of planetary motion. These had been lost by climate science so it is good to see them recovered.
They also comment on Milankovitch’s theory in terms that are interesting:
Thus, on long-term scales of many thousands of years (expressed in kyr) we have to pay attention to Milankovitch’s  astronomical theory of climatic variations that ranks as the most important achievement in the theory of climate in the 20th century .
The theory definitely has a lot of mainstream support as being the explanation for the ice ages. However, as a comment to be developed one day when I understand enough to write about it, there isn’t one Milankovitch theory, there are many, and of necessity they contradict each other.
Interesting as well to suggest it as the most important achievement in the theory of climate last century – as the consequence of accepting Milankovitch’s theory is that climate is very sensitive to small peturbations in radiative changes in particular regions at particular times. In essence, the Milankovitch theory appears to rely on quite a high climate sensitivity.
Anyway, I’m not criticizing Kramm & Dugli or saying they are wrong. It’s just an interesting comment. And excellent that Kepler’s theories are no longer lost to the world of climate science.
Energy Conversion in the Atmosphere & at the Surface
The authors devote some time to this study (with no apparent differences to standard climate science) with the conclusion:
..Note that the local flux quantities like Q(θ, φ), H(θ, φ), G(θ, φ) and RL↑(θ, φ) are required to calculate global averages of these fluxes, but not global averages of respective values of temperature and humidity.
An important point.
They also confirm – as noted in Kramm & Dlugi On Illuminating the Confusion of the Unclear – that the energy balance at the surface is affected by the energy radiated by the atmosphere. Just helping out the many blog writers and blog commenters – be sure to strike Kramm & Dlugi off your list of advocates of the imaginary second law of thermodynamics.
The Gulags for Everyone? – Climatology Loses Its Rational Basis
The authors cite this extract from the WMO website about the “greenhouse” effect:
In the atmosphere, not all radiation emitted by the Earth surface reaches the outer space. Part of it is reflected back to the Earth surface by the atmosphere (greenhouse effect) leading to a global average temperature of about 14°C well above –19°C which would have been felt without this effect.
This website statement is incorrect as the radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface is absorbed and re-emitted by the atmosphere – not reflected. This is a very basic error.
Kramm & Dlugi say:
Note that the argument that “part of it is reflected back to the Earth surface by the atmosphere” is completely irrational from a physical point of view. Such an argument also indicates that the discipline of climatology has lost its rational basis. Thus, the explanation of the WMO is rejected..
Well, we could argue that if one person writing a website for one body writes one thing that is not technically correct then that whole discipline has lost its rational basis. We could.
Seems uncharitable to me. Although I have to confess that on occasion I am a little bit uncharitable. I wrote that Gerlich & Tscheuschner had lost their marbles, or were having a big laugh, with their many ridiculous and unfounded statements. We all have our off days.
I think if we want to uphold high standards of defendable technical accuracy we would say that the person that wrote this website and the person that reviewed this website are not technically sound as far as the specifics of radiative physics go. I’m hard pressed to think it is justified to cast stones at say Prof. Richard M Goody for this particular travesty. Or Prof. R. Lindzen. Or Prof. V. Ramanathan. Or Prof. F.W. Taylor. Otherwise it might be a bit like Stalin with the Gulag. Everyone and their mother gets tarred with the sins of the fellow down the road and 30 million people wind up digging rocks out of the ground in a very cold place..
But let’s stay on topic. If indeed there is one.
The Main Point
Now that we have found a graph in Goody that is wrong, a website that has a mistake and have rediscovered Kepler’s equations of motion, we turn to the main course.
Kramm & Dlugi turn to perhaps their main point, about the surface temperature of the earth with and without radiatively-active gases.
As a clarification for newcomers, average temperature has many problems. Due to the non-linearity of radiative physics, if we calculate the average radiation from the average temperature we will get a different answer compared with calculating the radiation from the temperature at each location/time and then taking the average.
For more on this basic topic see under the subheading How to Average in Why Global Mean Surface Temperature Should be Relegated, Or Mostly Ignored
First citing Lacis et al:
The difference between the nominal global mean surface temperature (TS = 288 K) and the global mean effective temperature (TE = 255 K) is a common measure of the terrestrial greenhouse effect (GT = TS – TE = 33 K).
The authors develop some maths, of which this is just a sample:
Using Eq. 3.8 and ignoring G(θ,φ) will lead to:
<Ts> = 23/2Te/5 ≈ 144K (3.9)
for a non-rotating Earth in the absence of its atmosphere, if S = 1367 W/m² , α (Θ0, θ, φ) = αE = 0.30 and ε(θ, φ) = ε = 1 are assumed 
Ts = 153 K if αE = 0.12 and Ts = 155 K if αE = 0.07
It might surprise readers that these particular points are not something novel or in contradiction to the “greenhouse” effect. In fact, you can see similar points in two articles (at least) on this blog:
- In The Hoover Incident we had a look at what would happen to the climate if all the radiatively-active gases (= “greenhouse” gases) were removed from the atmosphere. Here is an extract:
..And depending on the ice sheet extent and whether any clouds still existed the value of outgoing radiation might be around 1.0 – 1.5 x 1017 W. This upper value would depend on the ice sheets not growing and all the clouds disappearing which seems impossible, but it’s just for illustration.
Remember that nothing in all this time can stop the emitted radiation from the surface making it to space. So the only changes in the energy balance can come from changes to the earth’s albedo (affecting absorbed solar radiation).
And given that when objects emit more energy than they absorb they cool down, the earth will certainly cool. The atmosphere cannot emit any radiation so any atmospheric changes will only change the distribution of energy around the climate system.
What would the temperature of the earth be? I have no idea..
Notice the heresy that without “greenhouse” gases we can’t say for sure what the surface temperature would be.. (It’s definitely going to be significantly lower though).
..The average for 2009 [of outgoing longwave radiation] is 239 W/m². This average includes days, nights and weekends. The average can be converted to the total energy emitted from the climate system over a year like this:
Total energy radiated by the climate system into space in one year = 239 x number of seconds in a year x area of the earth in meters squared..
ETOA= 3.8 x 1024 J
The reason for calculating the total energy in 2009 is because many people have realized that there is a problem with average temperatures and imagine that this problem is carried over to average radiation. Not true. We can take average radiation and convert it into total energy with no problem..
The point here is that the total emitted top of atmosphere radiation is much lower than the total surface emitted radiation. It can be calculated. In that article I haven’t actually attempted to do it accurately – it would require some work (spatial and temporal temperature across a year and the longwave emissivity of the surface around the globe) – it is a straightforward yet tedious calculation. (See note 2).
A note in passing that this difference between the top of atmosphere radiation and the surface radiation is also derided by the internet imaginary second law advocates as being a physical impossibility because it “creates energy”.
Now I am not in any way a “representative of climate science” despite the many claims to this effect, it’s just that the basics are.. the basics. And radiative transfer in the atmosphere is a technical yet simple subject which can be easily solved with the aid of some decent computing power. So I have no quarrel with anything of substance that I have so far read in textbooks or papers on radiative physics. Yet I appear to have stated similar points to Kramm & Dlugi.
Perhaps Kramm & Dlugi have not yet stated anything controversial on the inappropriately-named “greenhouse” effect.
They take issue with what I would call the “introduction to the greenhouse effect” where a simple comparison is drawn. This is where the “greenhouse” effect is highlighted as “effective temperature”.
It could more accurately be highlighted as “difference in average flux between surface and TOA” or “difference in total flux between surface and TOA”
Is it of consequence to anything in climate science if we agreed that the difference between the TOA radiation to space and the upward surface radiation is a better measure of the “greenhouse” effect?
Kramm & Dlugi comment on a paper by Ramanathan et al:
“At a surface temperature of 288 K the long-wave emission by the surface is about 390 W/m², whereas the outgoing long-wave radiation at the top of the atmosphere is only 236 W/m² (see Figure 2 [here presented as Figure 17]). Thus the intervening atmosphere causes a significant reduction in the long-wave emission to space. This reduction in the long-wave emission to space is referred to as the greenhouse effect”
As discussed before, applying the power law of Stefan and Boltzmann to a globally averaged temperature cannot be justified by physical and mathematical reasons.
Thus, the argument that at a surface temperature of 288 K the long-wave emission by the surface is about 390 W/m² is meaningless.
Just for interest here is how Ramanathan et al described their paper:
The two primary objectives of this review paper are (1) to describe the new scientific challenges posed by the trace gas climate problem and to summarize current strategies for meeting these challenges and (2) to make an assessment 0f the trace gas effects on troposphere-stratosphere temperature trends for the period covering the pre-industrial era to the present and for the next several decades. We will rely heavily on the numerous reports..
We could assume they don’t understand science basics, despite their many excellent papers demonstrating otherwise. Or we could assume that someone writing their 100th paper in the field of climate science doesn’t need to demonstrate that something called the “greenhouse” effect exists, or quantify it accurately in some specific way unless that is necessary for the specific purpose of the paper.
However, this is the genius of Kramm & Dlugi’s paper..
Dodging the Bullet
Casual readers of this paper (and people who rely on the statements of others about this paper) might think that they had demonstrated that the “greenhouse” effect doesn’t exist. They make a claim in their conclusion, of course, but they haven’t proven anything of the sort.
Instead they have written a paper explaining what everyone in climate science already knows.
So, to clarify matters, what is the emission of radiation from the top of atmosphere to space in one year?
ETOA= 3.8 x 1024 J
What is the emission of radiation from the surface in one year?
Esurface = ?
My questions to Kramm & Dlugi:
Is Esurface significantly greater than ETOA ?
Obviously I believe Kramm & Dlugi will answer “Yes” to this question. This confirms the existence of the greenhouse effect, which they haven’t actually disputed except in their few words at the conclusion of their paper.
Hopefully, the authors will show up and confirm these important points.
The authors have shown us:
- that a graph in the seminal Goody & Yung textbook is wrong
- Kepler’s laws of planetary motion
- that a website describes the “greenhouse” effect inaccurately
- that without any “greenhouse” gases the effective albedo of the earth would be different
- the average temperature of the earth’s surface can’t be used to calculate the average upward surface radiation
However, the important calculations of “radiative forcing” and various effects of increasing concentrations of radiatively-active gases are all done without using the “33K greenhouse effect”.
Without using the 33K “greenhouse” effect, we can derive all the equations of radiative transfer, solve them using the data for atmospheric temperature profiles, concentration of “greenhouse” gases, spectral line data from the HITRAN database and get:
- the correct flux and spectral intensity at top of atmosphere
- the correct flux and spectral intensity of downward radiation at the surface
We can also do this for changes in concentrations of various gases and find out the changes in top of atmosphere and downward surface flux. (Feedback and natural climate variations are the tricky part).
The discussions about average temperature are an amusing sideshow.
They are of no consequence for deriving the “greenhouse” effect or for determining the changes that might take place in the climate from increases or decreases in these gases.
Note 1: I didn’t check everything, so there could be mistakes. As the full article makes clear, not much need to check. I don’t endorse their last paragraph, as my conclusion – and article – makes clear.
Note 2: The calculation in that article for total annual global surface radiation doesn’t take into account surface emissivity. The value of ocean emissivity is incorrectly stated (see Emissivity of the Ocean). There are probably numerous other errors which I will fix one day if someone points them out.